Friday, October 25, 2013

Witherspoon Institute attracts the best cranks

The secret to reading Witherspoon's pseudo-intellectual blog is to start at the bottom. The crackpot du jour is Robert Lowery Clinton. Mr. Clinton is a Fellow of the Center of Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute and was a James Madison Fellow at Princeton University in 2007-2008.

So now we know that he is a Robby Robot® (the Madison program is one of Robby George's pet projects). More importantly, we know that Mr. Clinton spends his days desperately trying to replace real science with superstition in our public schools which will disadvantage our children as they try to compete in the global economy.

I know. It's argument ad hominem. Nevertheless, before someone tells us how the world works, it helps to know how he works. Today's episode is “An Orwellian Warning for Conservatives.” Mr. Clinton goes on to tell us:
I believe that most Americans believe pretty much what we do. They believe that abortion is wrong, that religion has a place in public life, that people have a right to their property, to be let alone, and to decide for themselves how to raise their children as they see fit. They don’t even want to think about same-sex marriage—an unfortunate reluctance on the policy front that virtually assures gross over-representation of gay marriage proponents in the public debates.
The term “Gish Gallup” is named for another creationist who famously flooded debate opponents with falsehoods and half-truths. I don't really know who "we" is and I find Clinton to be simplistically wrong. Most Americans (including me) believe that abortion is wrong but they believe that women should have a right to choose. They don't believe that they should, or even want to, impose their judgment on anyone else. The overwhelming majority of Americans also believe in trying to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Religion in public life? Most Americans believe in the Establishment Clause. They sure as hell don't want religion being taught in public schools. They want their kids to be well educated with real science and math so that they can succeed. Most Americans do think about marriage equality. Half of us have loved gay relatives (including children) and many Americans have gay friends whom they care about.  When the only people you talk with are either members of Opus Dei or "colleagues" at the Discovery Institute, I am sure that you think that there is a “gross over-representation of gay marriage proponents in the public debates” but that's not the reality. Later on, it gets even better:
It is true that many young Americans either support or are indifferent to abortion, same-sex marriage, and other so-called “lifestyle” issues. But is their continued support (or indifference) really inevitable? After all, however tolerant of homosexual relationships one is, it remains true that the redefinition of marriage to include such relationships threatens destruction of the most fundamental and time-honored institution known to man. Likewise, however sympathetic one is to a woman’s desire to control her own body, it remains true that abortion is the deliberate snuffing out of an innocent human life.
Young Americans (most Americans) support choice, not abortion. Who refers to same-sex marriage as a lifestyle issue? Lifestyle? Where and how has that word been used? Notice how this guy relates his opinion as fact. “It remains true?” This person has just claimed that marriage equality will lead to the destruction of marriage. Yeah, it's really taken a toll in Massachusetts after ten years. Spain too. And, no, it is not true that abortion snuffs out a life, innocent or not. Abortion destroys a fetus. As a society we have agreed that there is a difference. What Mr. Clinton is referring to as truth is an interpretation of ancient texts. It gets even better:
As to why we seem unable to convince supporters of abortion, same-sex marriage, and the like that such practices are wrong—or at least that they should not be legitimized in public policy when they are still opposed by a majority of Americans—the answer is a bit more complicated.
Mr. Clinton lives in a strange world. The majority of Americans are pro-choice and in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. Therefore, the rest of the argument becomes irrelevant since it is based on a gross falsehood — like most of Mr. Clinton's arguments. But wait:
I realize that recent public opinion polls indicate an upsurge of support for abortion and same-sex marriage. But that is exactly my point. Morality is not a matter of public opinion…
Mr. Clinton just said that it is a matter of public opinion. Clinton can be rather frustrating and he goes on:
Supporters of abortion and gay marriage argue that we are being unjust in denying our fellow citizens basic human rights. But the fact remains, for example, that in order to sustain the “right” to an abortion, one must argue that the right to that liberty trumps the right of an unborn child to live. You can have life without liberty, but not the other way around. That is the high moral ground.
One more time. Nobody supports abortion. They support choice. Last year in Florida an eleven year old girl got knocked up by mommy's boyfriend. Eleven. Let that child be Clinton's niece and, suddenly, pro-life is no longer absolute. Clinton is dishonestly framing the issue of marriage equality. It is a basic civil right that is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to our Constitution. We have also argued that it is a benefit to the children of gay couples, something that Mr. Clinton would like to pretend does not exist. He goes on (yawn):
The point is this: our stances on abortion, gay marriage, religion, and related issues are fully in accord with traditional American values, with the values of the Founders, with natural law, and with basic common sense.
This guy believes that he has a monopoly on wisdom. Those judgments (what he calls "stances") are not in accord with our culture. Our founders were also slaveholders. Shall we? Common sense, Mr. Clinton, is to allow gay couples to marry. Other than theoretical fears that are not supported by experience, the real reasons for opposing marriage equality are based on religion. The very first amendment to the Constitution prohibits laws in recognition of religion which is precisely what Clinton is championing.

When one of these guys can honestly write something like "after 10 years of marriage equality in Massachusetts, it has caused the following problems" and then lay out real issues (in contrast to manufactured victimhood), people might actually listen. Until then, they are wasting pixels, keystrokes, keyboard wear and bandwidth. I would like to know how many brain cells I squandered just reading this crap.
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