Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Robert George is unhappy with a review of his book and quotes of his own words

Robert P. George
Writing on Witherspoon Institute's blog (Public Discourse), Robert George goes after law professor James M. Oleske, Jr. with a piece titled “The Oldest Trick in the Book Reviewer’s Book: On Misreading Conscience and Its Enemies.” Oleske's felony was to write a review of George's book for the Harvard Law Review. George's response is a rambling bit of sophistry that accuses Oleske of intellectual dishonesty and making an argument ad hominem (the oldest trick in the book).

The problem with all of this is that I am now reading a review of George's book that I never would have read absent George's retort. The review is introduced with its intentions:
Part I of this Review details how, prior to the debates over same-sex marriage and Obamacare, Professor George rejected the type of presumptive exemption rights he now treats as essential to protecting conscience. Part II then dispels the myth, ironically perpetuated by George, that liberals have fundamentally changed their position on religious-exemption rights. The truth is, most liberals continue to support what they have supported since Justice Brennan authored Sherbert v. Verner five decades ago: religious-exemption rights for individuals and religious organizations. What liberals are opposing today is the unprecedented expansion of exemption rights to commercial businesses, something never countenanced by the Court prior to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
Little wonder why Robby is displeased with Professor Oleske. The full review, titled The Born-Again Champion of Conscience is a good read. It is well sourced and heavily side-noted. What seems to trouble George are quotes of his own words. Robby has victimized Robby. Of course these are all “out of context” or misunderstandings or whatever else it is that right wing crackpots must deal with when encountering their own spew. Professor Oleske concludes:
I would suggest that someone who alters his views on conscience rights in such a fundamental way without even attempting an explanation for the switch is hardly in a position to declare who qualifies as an “enemy of conscience.”
I do not know when George became a super-Catholic (I suspect that he is an Opus Dei super-numerary). He is a co-founder of both the Witherspoon Institute and National Organization for Marriage and he joined the board of the anti-gay hate group, Family Research Council. George seems to be in the shadows of a multitude of anti-gay endeavors. Perhaps the timing of his civil zeal coincides with when he got religion.

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