Culture War

Thursday, August 5, AD 2010

People justly tire of the term “culture war” and find themselves asking, like the philosopher Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

And yet watching the disparate reactions to yesterday’s Federal Court ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8 (for now) it struck me that the culture war terminology is quite apt. What is termed the culture was is essentially a zero sum game over which of two roughly equally numerous groups will be allowed to define the dominant understandings of culture and society in our country. by taking this to the federal level, same sex marriage advocates have made it clear that no degree of regional acceptance is satisfactory — their understanding of the nature of marriage must be the single dominant understanding enforced throughout the country, and those with a traditional understanding of marriage must be the ones who find themselves aliens within their country. And, presumably, is same sex marriage advocates lose, they will in turn consider themselves aliens within the country. Given that it is the most basic units and purposes of society which are in dispute, it seems hard to see how it can be any other way. And while the dispute is to an extent regional, it is much more so philosophical and ideological, making the culture war more resemble the Spanish Civil War than the American. Every city and region has representatives of both sides.

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19 Responses to Culture War

  • To your point about it being impossible to make the traditionalist case: I thought Frank Beckwith’s following comment over at What’s Wrong With the World was spot on:

    Political liberalism was invented in the mid-1980s in order to provide a theoretical foundation that can exclude religiously-informed policy proposals while seeming to defend religious liberty and citizen participation. There had, of course, always been many liberalisms, including the Lockean, Kantian, Millean, Hobbsean, and Roussean varieties. But each suffered from the same problem: each presupposed a particular philosophical anthropology as the correct account of humanity. This was a problem because popular liberalism suggested neutrality on matters of worldview. So, you could not very well say that the state should be neutral on such matters while requiring it to embrace a particular one. Social conservatives understood this since the mid-1950s, as seen in what Bill Buckley called “the great liberal dilemma.” But with the ascendancy of the religious right and its insistence that “liberalism” is not as neutral as its proponents claim–that it too tries to answer the same questions that traditional religions answer–folks like Rawls needed a new way to defend liberalism in a pluralistic society that was both morally required but did not depend on a particular metaphysics. Presto, we get “political liberalism,” and with its numerous defenders including Rawls, Gaus (who is more of a libertarian), Nagel, and to a certain extent Dworkin.

    So, instead of explicitly defending metaphysical liberalism, we get political liberalism with allegedly none of the metaphysical commitments. But, strangely, on every issue about which metaphysical liberalism would take a stand–e.g., abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, etc.–political liberalism gets the exact same results. Wow, what a coincidence! But the benefit of political liberalism is you can rule your opponents’ views as a priori violations of political liberalism while saying that their views are still “rational.” This means you get to sound like you respect pluralism, diversity, and the rationality of your opponents’ point of view while shutting them out of the debate on “principled grounds.”

    This is why on the issue of homosexual conduct, those that are critical of it for moral reasons cannot be considered reasonable actors who simply disagree with others on the issue. They must be irrational. For if they are rational–that is, if there views are not unreasonable to hold–then the state cannot, according to the canons of liberalism, force these citizens to acquiesce in their public and private lives. But this means that same-sex unions would not be treated equally, since political liberalism would grant the legitimacy of those who think homosexual acts are immoral. Consequently, the bigot charge is so fierce and not well-argued. It is meant to intimidate and silence, not persuade or convince. For, again, to suggest the position is arguable is to grant it legitimacy, and that simply cannot be allowed.

    So, despite Rawls’ wonderful intention to provide a theoretical grounding on which people with differing points of view on worldview matters can dialogue in a climate of mutual respect and understanding, he failed miserably. For what he in fact did was give to either side in the culture war, the ultimate weapon: declare the other side “unreasonable,” for once that sticks the game is over and there is no need to treat the other with respect or equal regard.

  • Well, apparently the history standards used in CA are even worse than I thought if Judge Walker can say with a straight face that historically there were no restrictions on marriage based on gender and that marriage was traditionally a matter of mutual consent. Heck in many parts of the world today, mutual consent STILL has nothing to do with marriage. I bet he would die before giving the Catholic Church credit with introducing consent as a feature of marriage.

    And since when does marriage have nothing to do with procreation? Many states require blood tests for Ruebella, which has everything to do with preventing birth defects in the future children of the marriage. (They don’t excuse you from the blood test just because you say you don’t plan on having children.)

    Also, inheritance law is very much intertwined with marriage both now and historically. But hey, with after death conceptions now due to IVF technology, maybe our culture should just declare children chattel and stop trying to pretend everything that the adults want magically is good for the children. We can just declare it so and move on with clear consciences!

  • Why should they (gays) be happy? They may as well be miserable like the rest fo us. Farce/OFF

    Did the judge rule YOU cannot have religious morailty in LAW? I like that part. Get the welfare (Catholic Social Justice) state off our backs.

    To your point: J. M. Barrie, “God gave us memory so that we could have roses in December.”

  • The following comment of mine was censored by the Huffington Post and taken off the site. It stated, “This comment was removed in accordance with HuffPost’s moderation guidelines.” I was totally taken aback. My words were neither offensive or in bad taste in anyway. Here is what I wrote:

    When anyone is vocal against gay marriage and homosexuality, supporters of gay rights like to label them as intolerant, prejudice and ignorant. I don’t consider myself any of the three. I was taught that we are all part of the human race and, therefore, no one is better than anyone else, regardless of race, class or religion. I feel I have always been on the right side, fighting for the poor, the minority, etc. But being gay is a desire and not a right.
    Whatever people do in the privacy of their homes is their business. It is not anyone’s place on this earth to judge others’ actions and desires. I know people who are gay, and I treat them no differently, than I do anybody else. Everyone should be free from ridicule and attack, but to go so far as to give rights to an abnormal desire that contradicts nature since the beginning of time is wrong and can only lead to an untested and precarious road. You don’t have to be religious or a moralist to know that what isn’t natural shouldn’t be. Gay people should neither be attacked nor encouraged, but helped and prayed for. This ruling is misguided because the law has no place in sanctioning unnatural and defective desires and acts.

  • Well now you’ve said several offensive things. Calling homosexuality a “desire” and not a “right”. Calling it an “abnormal desire that contradicts nature” and labelling it “wrong.” Finally you call for us to “pray” for them. You are engaging in hate speech you know.

  • by taking this to the federal level, same sex marriage advocates have made it clear that no degree of regional acceptance is satisfactory — their understanding of the nature of marriage must be the single dominant understanding enforced throughout the country, and those with a traditional understanding of marriage must be the ones who find themselves aliens within their country

    well, obviously that was the goal all along. But they would not have gone the federal route if they could have won state by state. when the people are asked, they emphatically say no.

    Today, gender is not
    relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law.

    where the hell does he come up with this?

    It is not anyone’s place on this earth to judge others’ actions and desires.

    I would have to quibble with this. It is precisely our place to judge actions and desires. We do that all the time – it’s called enforcing the law. The judge himself did it in this case by judging that those whose actions/desires are that same sex couples should not be recognized as married are wrong.

    It is not our place to judge the eternal destination of someone’s soul because of those actions and desires.

  • The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household

    Great. So when does polygamy kick in? I chose a spouse in 2010, then I chose another spouse in 2011, then I chose another in 2012….

    Someone owes the Mormons a BIG time apology!

  • If those words were offensive, then most comments would be pulled, since I have seen a lot worse on the web. We have something in this country called freedom of speech. You may not agree with me, but I kept it clean. I guess they just thought my simple words would sway others.

  • I was being sarcastic. I actually agree with you.

  • But I suspect others would not be sarcastic if they said such to you. That’s why your post was pulled. Soon you may not be able to say it publicly.

  • Ruth,

    It’s pure and simple censorship.

    You are evil if you disagree with them. At least they are not planning to destroy you, yet.

  • Jess,

    …maybe our culture should just declare children chattel…

    Welcome to the Roman Republic circa 150 BC.

    Where children were actually described as property of the father (they were a strictly paternally driven society back then).

    So with that, progressives are advocating for a regression towards olde tyme Roman Law.

  • Dear Judge: repeat after me: The state did not create marriage. The state does not own marriage. The state receives marriage as a cultural institution. The state is not the culture, it serves the culture. The state is a servant obligated to respect and foster the culture’s pre-existing and more fundamental institutions. Marriage is a cultural institution constituting relations between a man and a woman, period.

  • Tony-
    Judge Walker would take your framework of thinking about marriage and say that homosexual unions are apart of the contemporary culture and that Prop 8 was the state trying to own marriage.

    But of course, I get what you are saying and you are correct: marriage is a pre-political, natural institution; the state has no competency to alter it.

    There is no chance for common ground on this issue: as Elizabeth Anscombe noted decades ago, this battle was lost when artificial contraception became normal.

    Time to get out your MacIntyre, reread it and weep.

  • Also, Frank Beckwith noted a key logical flaw in Walker’s opinion:

    “Oddly, the judge claims that the belief that heterosexual monogamy is better than homosexual unions cannot be one of the reasons. But in that case, the judge begs the question, since that is precisely why we should privilege male-female marriage. So, it turns out male-female marriage is unconstitutional become it is male-female marriage. That’s called begging the question.”

  • For the sake of a view from the other side, here’s a post by a Christian who voted against Prop 8 & now regrets it…good illustration of how constant media exposure can muddle thinking:

  • Fellow Catholics, we must beat on our own chests. Judge Walker’s reasoning is largely unassailable and may well be upheld by the Supreme Court, perhaps even with the votes of some Catholic justices. The case in favor of Prop 8 was prepared weakly, and the defendant (Gov. Schwarzenegger) didn’t really want to fight it. Both Schwarzenegger and the Attorney General of CA have since come out in support of same-sex marriage. Nobody saw that the issue shouldn’t be presented as about the nature of marriage but as about the nature of sex. It should have been built on “Male and female He created them” (Gen 1:26), by arguing that individuals (or, for Catholics, persons) by nature belong to one of two sexes and that there is no artificially chosen “gender”. Catholics appear to be about the only ones left who have an interest in pursuing the case. Will we even be strong enough to grasp the last and minute chance before the Supreme Court? Now or never. Unified and strong leadership by our bishops is necessary, as is support by our universities, media, and best legal minds.

  • Do any of you know anyone who is gay? Do any of you know any gay couples? There are many, many, gay couples in committed relationships who simply want the same benefits under the law. Spousal inheritance, survivor benefits, next of kin rights at the hospital, visitation rights. Have any of you read the science on homosexuality? It is not a choice, and it is natural. Homosexuality is present in nature in many different animal species. Homosexual people are physiologically different than straight people. 10% of all populations are historically gay, and not something people can control and not something you should discriminate against in civil law. It is the American Law we are talking about here. Now you can decide.. do you want to live in a Free country, where we are all able to pursue life, liberty and happiness, or would you rather your homosexual brothers and sisters just continue to commit suicide for fear of rejection by their families, be forced from their homes when their partners of sixty years pass away and their relatives come and take everything, or lose rights to children they raised in a break-up? Jesus Christ never spoke of homosexuality, and by the majority of theologians he was the radical liberal of his day. Learn to live and let live. The agreement two people have to each other under the law affects none but those two people. In a pluralistic, free society we have to learn that the law applies to EVERYONE, not just the majority. A man and a woman can still get married as they always could have so tell me how does this impact them? This is about equal protection under U.S. law for all families in this country. If you want the rule of religion to to be the basis of civil law in the country you live in, please go look at Muslim countries that run on Sharia law as an example of how backwards it could become. Separation of Church and state, as well as Freedom of Religion are a beautiful thing. Now, if you want to really focus on ridding the world of sexual deviance, take a look at your own “celibate”, child molesting priests and the Popes who shelter them.

  • David,

    There is an unselfconscious irony in someone showing up to demand tolerance, while loudly displaying his own intolerance of anyone with a view different from his own. A great deal of what you say is ignorant, or untrue, but what comes through very clearly is that you absolutely and unconditionally despise anyone who thinks different from you. How you expect this to be persuasive from those who differ from you because they have thought long and deeply about their beliefs is beyond me.

Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

Tuesday, August 3, AD 2010

The New York Times runs an article about how the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to address concerns about shrinking membership as they celebrate 100 years of boy scouting in the US. The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978, with 2.8 million boys currently in the Scouts.

To judge from the commentariat at the Times, you would think this is entirely the result of the BSA remaining firm in their ban of gay scout leaders and statement that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with obligations in the Scout Oath.” Not to mention saying that boys who refuse to recite the Scout Oath because of its references to God and reverence may simply not have a place in the program. Commenters claiming to be Eagle Scouts line up one after another in the comments to announce that no son of theirs will ever be a member of the Scouts while it remains homophobic and theocratic.

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6 Responses to Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

  • After a year in scouts, I allowed my son to walk away. My girl is still in scouts. There are many, many factors involved. A lot of it is the parental leaders. The pool is small for those able to do it, and they are volunteers after all. Another factor is other activities. There is a lot more for children to do, and of course those activities are also run by adult volunteers. Then there are the not so good reasons like there being more entertainment available at home through electronics.

    I always find the political explanations somewhat entertaining. In neither scouting group was their a vast amount of ideological diversity. For a den we’re talking 8-12 children. Politics and political issues don’t come up all that often and were it ever to come up, whatever instruction the kid had from the parent would generally be respected. Most people when they are off the Internet don’t look for excuses to beat other people over the head.

  • My sons are currently in scouting. My oldest son is 12 and in Scouts. My 8yr old is in Cubscouts. I am a den leader for the Cubscouts. I have been a leader for 6 years and being that I have a 2 year old will probably end up being a leader for about 15 years. I have found that in Cubscouts the focus is learning morals and some responsibility but also to have alot of fun with friends in your den and Pack but also to foster fun within the family. Parents are a key component to the success of the Scouts. The more you involve the parents the better chance that the boys will remain in Scouts and the better chance that they will get more out of the program.

    My goal has always been to get the boys to have fun at the den meetings, pack meetings and at home with the family. I enjoy seeing the boys mature in there confidence and there relationships with other members of the Pack and especially with there family. For me there is nothing more satisfying then getting the Cubscouts into Boyscouts where they will fully mature and learn life skills that are not taught today in the culture in general.

    Along with the factors you talked about another factor contributing to the loss of members in Scouting is the idea of sacrifice. I think that a culture that loses its connection with Christianity loses the idea of sacrifice. I think sometimes People are a little selfish with there time. They seem to feel that it is there time and they don’t have to share it with anyone. Now this is a small percentage that I am talking about but just wanted to add to the things that are affecting attendace.

    Scouts is one of the greatest organizations for boys to be involved with. Of course that is second to the Church.

  • “The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978….”

    Umm, there’s an even easier and more straightforward reason for this decline. The Baby Boom. The number of boys born between 1946 and 1964 accounts for the peak number in 1978.

  • Good point. Maybe simplier is more correct.

  • The population went through a sudden period of growth with the baby boom, but the population has continued to grow since that time. The absolute number of boys 8-18 is higher now than it was in 1978.

  • My husband is the scoutmaster of my son’s troop at our parish church. My son-15 is the oldest scout in the troop and hopefully will complete his Eagle project within the next year and a half. That being said, my son has told me repeatedly that it’s not “cool” to be in Scouts. He likes Scouts but doesn’t want it mentioned to anyone. I embarrassed him once by mentioning he was in Scouts to two girls he liked. In our troop, once the boys make Eagle or turn driving age, they drop out of the troop, leaving the troop pretty leaderless(as the troop is supposed to be self-led. we do have adult volunteers). Being a clean cut Scout is no longer appealing to a lot of teenage boys.

Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

Tuesday, June 29, AD 2010

Back in 1979 I was one of the founding members of the Christian Legal Society at the University of Illinois.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Hastings College of Law at the University of California was within its rights to deny recognition to the Christian Legal Society because the group requires that members agree, among other principles, that sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful, and that members must be Christians.  Hastings contended that these principles violated the open membership policy of the university, in that it would discriminate against prospective members on the grounds of religion and sexual orientation.  Go here to read the decision.

Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, wrote a thought provoking dissent.

The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 654–655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Today’s decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.

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23 Responses to Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

  • Kagan once said, it’s okay for the government to ban books because the gestapo would be ineffective at enforcing it.

    You have to scratch a liberal just a wee bit to get to the totalitarian essence under the uber-thin vineer of warm and fuzzy bu!!$hit.

    Isn’t there a right, somewhere in the US Constitution, to free association, in addition to the rights to abortion; gay privileges; being fed, clothed and housed by the taxpayer.

    The king denied the Colonists the right to meet. They met anyway – Committees of Correspondence. The king isn’t king of this country. We shall overcome.

  • The pairing of decisions yesterday reminds us that our constitutional rights are basically at the mercy of the whims of Justice Kennedy. It’s truly frightening. Though he seems to have re-discovered some measure of a backbone, on social issues he remains completely inept.

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

  • Question: If Hastings is a state institution, thus receiving government funds (from the tax payer), does that not mean it is essentially a politically-funded entity?

    And if so, should we not be surprised that what is politically correct weighs heavey on their policy choices?

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

    I think the issue is more that it makes it very difficult for CLS to assemble, hold activities, etc. on campus if theyr’e not recognized as a campus organization.

  • Darwin, CLS can, and probably will, amend its pledge banning gays and the club will continue with business as usual, i.e., without gays.

  • One of the things I find interesting is that the argument that a group should be allowed to keep out people they do not like is being argued by two different groups.

    First, CLS. They say they should be free to have a group which follows the principles they hold dear. Of course, if they were not on a campus, looking for funding and approval to use facilities on campus, I think no one would question such a right.

    However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.

    Can someone show me why CLS can discriminate and not the university? I am in favor of free associations, and I do think a university should encourage such free associations (the university’s policy is wrong), but I also do wonder how a university is not accorded such a right?

  • BTW, I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights.

  • Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences. 🙂

  • I am not a huge Kennedy Basher but bioth the right and left are right at times he gets carried away with his verbiage. I am amazed that a Catholic Justice basically said that Creed like matters are like Loyalty Oaths

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision?

    I disagree. Traditional morality is only tenuously tolerated. This further institutionalizes its banishment from the public sphere. It has very little to do with whether CLS admits gays or not; look beyond the legal ramifications to see the cultural narrative. A Christian group, along among others, is singled out for chastisement. This has everything to do with what metaphysical premises are acceptable in polite company.

    “Untenured” at WWWtW said it best (with respect to another story):

    Increasingly, we are seeing secularists posture as though their pet metaphysical and moral committments are some kind of reasonable “default” that everybody would naturally gravitate towards if only it weren’t for the malign influence of religious “indoctrination.” There is a very real movement to portray traditional morality as some kind of “pathology” that is okay to exercise coercion against. Witness, for example, the attempt to make moral objections against homosexuality appear as if they are *no different* from objections to interracial marriage. Even people with philosophical training who ought to know better, like to pretend that this line of reasoning is cogent out of some kind of weird “political solidarity” with “sexual minorities.” They don’t give a darn about intellectual honesty- they want to deny traditional moral beliefs a toehold in the space of reasons, and they will do so by any means necessary. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that we are soon going to see people arguing that there is *no difference* between a homeschooler being taught traditional morality and an underage bride at a Mormon polygamy compounds. Then some arguments, with the pretense of hand-wringing, about how reasonable people have no choice but to coerce these backwards homeschoolers out of existence. For the sake of the children, of course.

  • ” I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights”

    Henry I think it is clear that the University cannot , as a general matter with exceptions of course) discriminate against viewpoint discrimination.

    Now I realize this is a complicated case and in hindsight I am willing to bet the Justices wised they never took up the case because they discovered it was such a procedural mess and the factual record was clouded.

    That being said while many are saying the Opinion is narrow ( focusing just on this odd unique all comers policy) I am not so sure if it that narrow at all. The comments by some of the Justices on how they got there are perhaps the most disturbing and I am hoping like Justice ALito this si an aberation

  • “Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences.”

    Well the case is not over. They still have a chance to prove that this “all comers” policy was a pretext for unlawful discrimination

  • “However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right?”

    I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society. All Catholics, members of an organization that is looked upon with hatred by many of the elites in our society, should look with alarm at this decision. “The Catholics want to prevent women from being priests? Fine, we will pass a law dictating that no non-profit may have tax exemption unless they sign on to this non-discrimination policy.”

  • I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society.

    Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination. In other words, their argument is if they support the society, they are supporting such discrimination as a public institution. They are not saying what CSL can or cannot do, just what they can or cannot do if they want to be a student group at Hastings. The court, of course, said something unusual, in that it said a university can engage in such rules, but does not have to. It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

  • “Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination.”

    That is a way of saying that the public entity will discriminate against a group based upon its membership policies, unless the private group has membership policies acceptable to the public entity. The implications for Newman Centers on public campuses are clear, along with any groups that are in official disfavor. The true absurdity of this policy of course is that almost all private groups, by definition, discriminate. A staunch Republican like me would not be wanted among College Democrats. If I join a Chess group on campus, I will be expected not to insist upon the group playing checkers. Why this absurd policy of no discrimination in admissions by private groups of course is being implemented on campuses is as a hammer to beat groups that do not sign on to the gay rights agenda. This is governmental action engaging in viewpoint discrimination in order to banish from campuses those groups engaging in heretical thoughts.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

    I don’t think I agree or understand what you said before, but I agree with this sentence. Whenever one tries to enforce what SCOTUS said in this opinion is a “viewpoint-neutral” outlook, you run into problems once you have conflicting viewpoints. Instead of ditching the whole flawed approach, the majority here tried to argue “this form of discrimination isn’t really discrimination” by pointing out that CLS can exist off campus (which as a college student I can tell you is a waste of time; w/o events on campus and the funding to throw even small lunches, recruitment is difficult to impossible).

  • Says Kennedy, via the Washington Post: “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Memo to Kennedy – as an American citizen, I have a right not to engage in dialogue. As an American citizen, I have the right to freely associate with whomever I choose. And the students on that campus, a public campus, have those rights as well.

    The right to associate and exclude on the basis of values may be the only thing that prevents radically different groups from going to war with each other. American governments and courts that think they can force everyone to “dialogue” are going to be in for a rude awakening. This isn’t Europe.

  • “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Kennedy is always good for a bone-headed quote. This one is hilarious for two reasons.

    First, the clear intent of the Hastings Policy is to quash a point of view that the administration of the law school finds distateful by denying the Christian Legal Society recognition.

    Second, if there is any group more cloistered from opposing views than the federal judiciary, with lifetime appointments, I am unaware of it.

  • Henry Karlson wrote: “If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.”

    This is exactly what my husband said when we discussed it. He’s pretty libertarian in outlook. His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules. He says it’s better for them to do so and believe what they want to.

    Things are coming to a head, and I’m afraid that anyone looking for tolerance anywhere is likely to be disappointed.

  • “His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules.”

    It should not be the role of any government entity to set the membership policies for private groups. It is of course especially ironic that this attempt to stifle a viewpoint is taking place at a university, a supposed citadel of intellectual liberty. Of course most universities in this country, as demonstrated by repeated attempts to impose speech codes on students, are as enamored of freedom of speech as they are of cutting their budgets to reduce the exorbitant tuition that they charge.

  • The libertarian outlook sees this case as yet another illustration of the need for separation of Schooling and State.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.-Henry Karlson

    Seems? (Hint: category error.)

Family Guy Actor Sides With Palinth

Friday, February 26, AD 2010

Patrick Warburton, who the true geeks among us will remember as The Tick, sides with Palin over the FamilyGuy attack onTrig episode:

Cast member Patrick Warburton told TV critics Wednesday he objected to the joke.

“I know it’s satire but, personally, that [joke] bothered me too,” Warburton said on a conference call to promote his other primetime show, CBS’s sitcom “Rules of Engagement,” which returns for a fourth season on March 1. (On “Family Guy” Warburton does the voice of the wheelchair-bound police officer, Joe.)

“I know that you have to be an equal-opportunity offender, but there are some things that I just don’t think are funny.”

Shhh. Wait. It gets better:

“Look, I have fun. I like Seth [MacFarlane, the show’s creator]. He’s got a great comic mind and I think that the show can be fantastically funny. But I do believe that it can be hurtful at times,” Warburton said in response to a question about the episode posed by WaPo Team TV’s “Family Guy” bureau chief Emily Yahr. […]

“A show like that … is going to offend everybody at one point or another,” the actor said.
“My mother actually believes my soul’s in peril for being on the show,” he added.

Hold up, for the Post felt it needed to make sure readers knew Warburton was being sarcastic with that last line:

Note to Ms. Palin — he was making a joke.

Phew. And I thought he was being serious.

Warburton is a Catholic, and he and his wife have four kids.

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9 Responses to Family Guy Actor Sides With Palinth

  • He may be The Tick to geeks, but to us dorks he’s Puddy!

  • I’m a dork. The episode where Puddy gets religion jumps to mind.

  • If we’re going to play this game, I suppose I should note that Andrea Fay Friedman, the actress who played the girl on the Family Guy episode (and who herself has Downs Syndrome) thinks Palin was the one who was out of line.

  • “My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”

    Yeah, she’s a real sweetheart BA.

  • Ms.Friedman seems to be doing the part of the house “low life African-American” for the Family Guy IMHO.

  • Marv,
    I see you haven’t changed. Still wrong about pretty much everything, including contributors and commenters on this site. How very sad for you.

  • Oh, my goodness!

    That last comment actually interrupted the finishing touches on a homily that has to be delivered in 25 minutes!

    Judge much, Marv? “Her children are heavily involved in sex and drugs”? Scandalize much, either, for that matter?

    what do you know of what Chelsea Clinton has or has not done (not that it matters)? the one thing everyone knows about Chelsea Clinton is that she hasn’t given birth to a child. We know *nothing* else. (not that I care to, but there it is.)

    And it would not be inappropriate to moderate that little puppy out of the conversation.

    I’ll pray for y’all at Mass.

  • In all honesty, haven’t had a chance to read the comments re Pat Buchanan. I’m not singling you out, Marv, really. I’m singling the comment out.

    Re Sarah Palin and her motherhood, well…she ain’t Catholic. Is she a good role model for young women? I like much of what she does in public. MILF? Perhaps the carnal man might think so. But I choose to TRY not to think of ANYONE in that way, so as not to degrade either her or myself. Seems like she gets an awful lot of bad commentary based on the gifts god gave her. it isn’t like she spent millions on plastic surgery to look the way she does.

    Lastly, “judge not” in the context of Scripture doesn’t mean that we should never call anything wrong because we all sin. Right and wrong are OBJECTIVE. Just because I smoke crack doesn’t mean I can’t call someone else wrong for doing it; it just means I recognize that I am wrong too. And your comments really do verge on being awfully ad hominem (what difference does my opinion about Sarah Palin’s politics OR body have to do with the correctness of her criticism of Seth Macfarlane (the correct answer is, “none”)?

    We’d all be much more effective debaters if we stuck to the facts, and those conjectures and opinions supportable by facts. Whether Sarah Palin is pretty or not has no bearing, does it?

  • Marv, one of the joys of being a blog contributor is being able to pick and choose who I allow to comment on my threads. I have deleted your comments and you are now banned from commenting on my threads. Have a nice life.

Res et Explicatio for AD 2-4-2010

Thursday, February 4, AD 2010

[Update at the bottom of this post]

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:

1. The USCCB scandal continues as the U.S. bishops continue to issue denials of wrongdoings.

Mary Ann of Les Femmes blog asks why does the USCCB continue to cooperate with evil.

An interesting twist to this story is how the Boston Globe and New York Times covered the homosexual pedophile abuse scandal in the Church quite vigorously yet not one peep when the USCCB is caught red-handed with direct links to anti-Catholic organizations.

2. A great discussion about the origins of the phrase, “The Dunce Cap“, provided for a clarification by Friar Roderic.  He provided a video that explains the steady progression as a Protestant insult, ie, to call Catholic dunces for being aggressive in their Catholic beliefs, to the more secularized version which has turned it into a catch phrase for idiocy.

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Luke, Linus and the Nativity

Thursday, December 3, AD 2009

As a service to our readers who missed the Charlie Brown Christmas Special due to its pre-emption by Obama’s speech on Afghanistan.  ABC will show the Christmas Special on December 8th at 8:00 PM, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The words of Linus are of course taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

When I was a boy the Charlie Brown Christmas Special was my favorite TV Christmas Special.  As a man, I agree.

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8 Responses to Luke, Linus and the Nativity

  • I’m so glad that you posted this–when I was a kid, this is what started me down the path toward Christianity that culminated, more than two decades later, in my coming into the Church. The beauty of the passage, along with its crystal-clear separation between it and the fluff and trash all about, struck me even as pre-teen. Glorious stuff!

  • Thank you Bruce. I have always found the stark simplicity of the presentation of the central truth of Christianity vastly appealing.

  • This is one of the most beloved Christmas shows of all time (and one of my favorites as well), but when it was first produced in 1965 for CBS, the network execs were certain it would be a ratings disaster. They were uncomfortable with Linus’ lengthy Scripture reading and wanted it shortened but “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz insisted that it be left in in its entirety.

    Schulz was a devout Christian all his life and so many of his Peanuts strips touched on religious themes that a popular book called “The Gospel According to Peanuts” was published about them in the early 70s.

    Another piece of Peanuts-related Christmas trivia: one of my favorite secular Christmas tunes as a kid was “Snoopy’s Christmas” by The Royal Guardsmen, a sequel to “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.” I had a 45 rpm record of “Snoopy’s Christmas” that I played to death all year long!

  • Also one of my favorites. I loved all things “Peanuts” (including the footd item) as a child.

  • Thanks for the tip on the next broadcast. I’ll be working, but I have it on DVD. It’s remarkable that Linus’ recitation went over so well without fluffy music, only dead silence. How fitting that it’ll be on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, even if it’s probably coincidental.

  • Here you go, Elaine (with lyrics!) YouTube has a number of clips of the song, and audio alone can be found elsewhere.

  • Curse you Red Baron!

  • Thanks cminor! I’ve already watched the You Tube clip with segments of Peanuts cartoons.

    In the words of the Red Baron, “Merry Christmas mein friend!” :=)

Culture Crash

Friday, July 17, AD 2009

That mainstream American culture is something of a train wreck is hardly news at this point, and that regard there’s a certain wisdom to the approach, “Let the dead bury their dead,” rather than having the brashness to be the one shouting, “Oh, hey, look! A body!” Still, occasionally one runs across things which are at the same time so sad and so indicative of our cultural ills one feels the need to comment. Such a case, to my mind at least, was this article from the most recent Atlantic Monthly suggesting that for the modern Homo suburbanicus middleclassus marriage is a failed idea which should be pretty much abandoned. Or as the cheery sub-headline succinctly put it: “The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same?”

The author is a 47 year old woman, a successful performance artist married to a musician, who after twenty years of marriage and two children find herself in the aftermath of an extramarital affair deciding that she really doesn’t feel like doing the work to rebuilt a relationship with her husband.

Which is not to say I’m against work. Indeed, what also came out that afternoon were the many tasks I—like so many other working/co-parenting/married mothers—have been doing for so many years and tearfully declared I would continue doing. I can pick up our girls from school every day; I can feed them dinner and kiss their noses and tell them stories; I can take them to their doctor and dentist appointments; I can earn my half—sometimes more—of the money; I can pay the bills; I can refinance the house at the best possible interest rate; I can drive my husband to the airport; in his absence, I can sort his mail; I can be home to let the plumber in on Thursday between nine and three, and I can wait for the cable guy; I can make dinner conversation with any family member; I can ask friendly questions about anybody’s day; I can administer hugs as needed to children, adults, dogs, cats; I can empty the litter box; I can stir wet food into dry.

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33 Responses to Culture Crash

  • I guess the first thing I’d say to any of these materialistic people is “No matter how bad you think your life sucks it can get a lot worse, trust me.” Not that that would dissuade them from any course of action.

  • Gee, I thought I heard “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy in the background as I read this article. Time to dig out the platform shoes and glitter T-shirts.

    You would think the author invented the idea of “nuturing superdads” staying home to change diapers and cook dinner while the moms went off to work. She’s not a youngster, so I wonder where she was in the ’70’s, when Mr.Mom and the sensitive male were supposed to be the wave of the future. In fact, all the alternative lifestyles she breathlessly catalogs were exhaustively discussed – and practiced by some “enlightened” souls – 30 years ago.

    Since then, research has clearly shown that children do best in a two-parent household where the parents are married to each other. But then, it’s not really about what’s good for the kids, is it? It’s about – well, Tom Wolfe didn’t call it the Me Decade for nothing.

  • It’s one thing for a silly post-modern feminist to come out against traditional marriage. When a “Catholic marriage spokesman” does it, it’s a bit more outrageous:

    Who said this?

    “Statistically, children do best in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving. Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples.”

    Was it

    (a) The head of the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Anti-Discrimination voluntary and Community Organisations

    (b) The chair of the Haringey and Islington Travellers, Roma and Refugees Education and Information Strategy Board

    (c) Terry Prendergast, chief executive of Marriage Care, the Catholic Church-linked marriage agency which is still paid for by churchgoers up and down the country?

    The answer, sadly, is (c). Well, at least he will say it today, in a speech due to be delivered today to gay and lesbian Catholics in Leicester.

    Prendergast is proof that the culture wars are well and truly over (and we lost). Surely there is some second-rate university sociology department that could put him on the public payroll, one would think, and yet so far gone is the fanatical loony Left infiltration of British public life that he ends up working for the Catholic bureaucracy.

  • I wouldn’t blame the institution of marriage so much as I’d chalk it up to a bunch of insufferable boors trying to live together.

  • The hardness of their hearts.

  • I think my dear husband summed it up pretty well, if not very kindly:
    “It’s people being idiots. That’s always a problem. They probably can’t be happy, just like (family friend who also seems to enjoy being depressed and alone, although he’s mild.)”

  • Funny, but just today on another conservative blog, the blogger quoted an article soon to appear in “City Journal” which claims that marriage is alive and well among the middle and upper classes — it’s the poor who are experiencing and suffering most from the decline of marriage — and that the divorce rate for college educated women has actually DROPPED in the last 30 years. I’ll have to look up the author’s name.

    Another thought: perhaps if “Ellen” and others like had not wasted her “hot 20s” on a bunch of “bad boys” and had instead saved themselves for their spouses, it might have made their single lives duller, but their married lives more interesting! I believe other studies have actually shown that the couples who are overall happiest with their sex lives are — surprise, surprise — religiously observant, married Christians who abstained before marriage!

  • The article cited above is “Marriage and Caste in America” by Kay Hymowitz, in the July 3-5 weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal.

  • Performance artist? Isn’t that just a narcissistic mime in denial? And someone took her seriously?

  • Those stories reminded me of the childish, unhappy spouses in the film Little Children.

  • Good one, Rick!

  • I too was going to mention how marriage is very much an upper-class or middle-class thing. Of course, part of that phenomenon may be because divorce is impoverishing.

    Ross Douthat writes about looking around at his Harvard classmates and noticing they all came from intact families. Pieces like these can only be written by someone so secure that ordinary, necessary human institutions seem superfluous. She looks for example to tribal Africa, with customs not operative in the West since prehistoric times!

    In a previous era, these women would be leading decency crusades against pornography. Now they have careers and permissive attitudes that seem cool in your twenties, but are deadening later in life.

  • Kevin, another part of that phenomenon is that people who can barely support themselves, let alone anyone else, due to lack of education or employment opportunities tend not to marry, even if they already have one or more children. Thus a vicious cycle develops: when men in particular lack employment prospects, they do not marry, leaving women to raise children alone; the children, lacking father figures in their lives, drift into lifestyles that hamper their future employability (dropping out of school, drugs, crime, having children out of wedlock), so they do not marry, and the pattern continues into the next generation.

    I think Darwin has hit on an important point, in that husbands and wives tend to get along better when each has a distinct role that they fill — even if that role is not “traditional” — rather than scrupulously trying to divide everything 50-50. For a number of years when our daughter was young, my husband was the stay-at-home parent and I was the breadwinner, due to the fact that my job paid more and had much better health insurance benefits than the job he had before she was born.

  • Donna V. – I agree with you completely. Terry Prendergast should have lied rather than saying what the studies have found. What’s more important, some silly and obsolete prohibition on “bearing false witness”, or the Greater Good?

    You see, the problem is that while there’s ample evidence that two parents are better than one, and that a stable loving relationship benefits children, what evidence there is also says that it makes no difference if the parents are married or not, or even of different sexes or not.

    Several studies have been conducted on this to prove that a married relationship, and only a married relationship, provides these benefits: but stubbornly, the children of stable, unmarried couples keep on doing just as well as the children of married parents. Even the children of gay or lesbian parents do just as well.

    It would be inhuman to persecute these children so they do badly – so our only course is to supress these dangerous studies, and manufacture from whole cloth data to replace them. Fortunately there are many groups such as NARTH who see the need for deceit here.

    While we all have moral qualms about deceit, it’s the only way open to us if we are to justify these beliefs. An alternate, minority view – one I subscribe to – is that a monogamous and faithful marriage is the best way of assuring that a relationship remains stable, and justifying it that way.

  • The problem with looking to studies, regardless of how great the data and process is, is that they still won’t matter. I don’t think for a minute that anyone who chooses to shack up rather than get married or enter into a gay relationship and adopt kids do so because they think kids will be better off in that sort of home. A study showing otherwise will fall on deaf ears. All the talk that attempts to turn common sense and the Natural Law on their head are merely an attempt to soothe the conscience or transform our society (for the worse, IMO).

  • The problem with looking to studies, regardless of how great the data and process is, is that they still won’t matter.

    Family law and public policy with regard to foster care, adoptions, and even school curricula and discipline can be properly informed by sociological inquiry, and if the politicians are receptive, these studies will matter.

  • Family law and public policy with regard to foster care, adoptions, and even school curricula and discipline can be properly informed by sociological inquiry, and if the politicians are receptive, these studies will matter.

    Very true, and that’s the way it should be. My point, or rather, my cynicism is based on seeing policy and laws derived from contemporary fads and PC mores rather than empirical evidence, common sense, any sense of morality. Those people are not likely to heed any empirical evidence that runs counter to their desires.

  • Folks are also very likely to canex any study that will get them labeled as haters, and thus fired.

    As much as that annoys me, I can understand it….

  • Whatever happened to giving your word and sticking to it? The quoted article is sickening in its childishness. “I want! I want!”.

  • Zoe Brain writes:

    “but stubbornly, the children of stable, unmarried couples keep on doing just as well as the children of married parents. Even the children of gay or lesbian parents do just as well.”

    As I recall, children of such couples turn out to be more likely to be indifferent towards cohabitation and less inclined towards traditional marriage. That’s at least one sign they’re not doing just as well.

  • Zoe Brain: Can you provide a link? Ed West provides a link to one study which shows that children do best in a married two-parent family setting:

    It’s one thing for a silly, self-absorbed performance artist writing for a secular audience to bash marriage. It’s another thing for a man whose salary is paid by the Church and who works for an organization called “Marriage Care” to do it.

  • Oh, and noble truth teller Prendergast apparently missed this story, reported by the notoriously right-wing MSNBC:

    Children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents, according to a study of Missouri data published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005.

    Children living in stepfamilies or with single parents are at higher risk of physical or sexual assault than children living with two biological or adoptive parents, according to several studies co-authored by David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center.

    Girls whose parents divorce face significantly higher risk of sexual assault, whether they live with their mother or father, according to research by Robin Wilson, a family law professor at Washington and Lee University.

    “This is the dark underbelly of cohabitation,” said Brad Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist. “Cohabitation has become quite common, and most people think, ‘What’s the harm?’ The harm is we’re increasing a pattern of relationships that’s not good for children.”

  • Here’s the link to the story I quoted above.

  • Donna, there was also an article (on the same study, I think) published here:

    I thought it sounded more like “I am Woman, Hear Me Whine”, myself.

  • Oops, nope–multiple studies, opposite sides of the pond. It appears the Brits are finding the same problems we are.

    Recently I noticed a study indicating that the children of gay couples were significantly more likely to experiment with homosexual behavior (indicating behavioral influence and not just biology.) Keep in mind that gay couples raising children together are a very small population with not much history. Though it’s one case, I think the recent arrest of a Duke prof who was attempting to prostitute his adopted son (whom he and his parter were also abusing) should make us all rethink our prevailing paradaigms.
    Link here:

  • cminor: That Duke story is disgusting – that child the Duke prof was pimping out is 5 years old. Now, before Zoe Brain rushes back here to accuse me of close-mindedness and bigotry, let me say I think there are certainly unmarried couples – even gay couples – with children who love their kids and strive to do their best by them. And certainly abuse and neglect occur in married two-parent homes.

    “Single moms” have always existed: women who have struggled to raise their children by themselves because their husbands died or deserted the family. Many of them did, and still do, a very difficult job well and their children turn out fine. But never until the late ’60’s and ’70’s did anybody pretend that being a single mom was an enviable state of affairs and a model for young women to emulate. Never until then did people like Zoe try to propagate the romantic myth that children will blossom just fine in any exotic configuration of adults that happens to call itself a family.

    Zoe wrote:

    Several studies have been conducted on this to prove that a married relationship, and only a married relationship, provides these benefits: but stubbornly, the children of stable, unmarried couples keep on doing just as well as the children of married parents.

    Not this study, surely?

    Rates of victimization of children vary significantly by family structure, and the evidence shows that the married intact family is by far the safest place for children.6 (See Chart 3.) Although the United States has yet to develop the capacity to measure child abuse by family structure, British data on child abuse are available. These data show that rates of serious abuse of children are lowest in the intact married family but six times higher in the step family, 14 times higher in the always-single-mother family, 20 times higher in cohabiting-biological parent families, and 33 times higher when the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend who is not the father of her children.

  • Thanks for giving original sources.

    The heritage foundation material is entirely from a book published in 1993, supposedly based on raw data which can be found on the Bureau of Justice Statistics site.

    Except the raw data does not support the conclusions.

    The analysis ignores divorce as a factor. It compares couples who are still married, with single parents who have been in non-marital relationships for less than 6 months.

    If you compare those who have been married (including those subsequently divorced) with those who have been in stable non-married relationships (including ones that have subsequently broken up), the figures are as near as I can tell, identical. I’m open to correction on this, teasing this data out from the masses of tables is not easy.

    We have to be very careful not to confuse cause and effect here – it is not unknown for marriages to breeak up because one partner abuses the children. Being married reduces the chance of abuse, but having been married per se is no protection. If we made divorce more difficult, the rate of child abuse in marriage would rise.

    From Medscape:

    Oct. 13, 2005 (Washington) — An analysis of multiple studies of 500 households shows that rearing children in a same-sex household does not affect the their self-esteem, gender identity, or emotional health, a Boston researcher reported.

    The researcher and colleagues looked at data from 15 studies evaluating possible stigma, teasing, social isolation, adjustment, sexual orientation, and strengths. The findings were presented here at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition.

    “The vast consensus of the studies is that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way,” Dr. Perrin said. “In some ways, children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures.”

    It has been estimated that one to six million children are being reared by committed lesbian or gay couples in this country. Some children were born to a heterosexual couple and later raised by a same-sex couple; others were placed in foster homes, were adopted, or conceived through a surrogate mother through artificial insemination.

    Previous studies of same-sex parenting have been criticized for being biased, but Dr. Perrin said the research team was extremely careful to select only solid, evidence-based research for review.

    Based on nine studies from 1981 to 1994 of 260 children, aged three to 11 years, reared by either heterosexual mothers or same sex-mothers after divorce, the researchers found there was no difference in intelligence of the children, type or prevalence of psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, well-being, peer relationships, or parental stress. “The children all had a similar emotional experiences with divorce,” she said.

    What they did find was that after divorce children being reared by lesbian mothers had more contact with fathers than children reared by divorced heterosexual mothers, Dr. Perrin said. “There are interesting suggestions that these children are more tolerant of differences.”

    A separate longitudinal study of 37 children of 27 divorced lesbian mothers and an equal number of children with divorced heterosexual mothers found no differences in behavior, adjustment, gender identity, and peer relationships.

    “What is exciting about this study was that they followed the children 11 years later when they became adults,” Dr. Perrin said. “But they still found no difference in adjustment, self-esteem, psychiatric or psychological problems, family relationships, or in identifying sexual orientation.”

    Four other large studies of more than 100 couples that evaluated children either born or adopted into families found that same-sex parents were more likely to have contact with extended family for social support as well as a more equal division of labor in the home. However, children of same-sex parents did experience some stigmatization.

    “The researchers found no differences in the parents other than that lesbian couples share household and child care tasks more equitably,” said Dr. Perrin. “The children of lesbian couples also appeared to be less aggressive, more nurturing to peers, more tolerant of diversity, and more androgynous,” playing with toys for both boys and girls.

    A further analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health used randomly selected representative data from 44 adolescents aged 12 to 18 years. The study compared children living with two women in a “marriage-like” relationship to teenagers living with two heterosexual parents.

    The study showed that the adolescents were similar in intrapersonal adjustments such as self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. They also were similar in school success, family relationships, and neighborhood integration, Dr. Perrin said.

    “What is striking is that there are very consistent findings in these studies,” she concluded. “But further study conducted in a long-term systematic manner in community samples needs to be conducted.”

    Personally, I think it very likely that the additional stability of marriage vows is very desirable in a relationship. The problem there is that this inescapably leads to an argument for gay marriage, or at least a legal recognition of a relationship which is an exact equivalent, looking at things purely from the view of child welfare.

    I’m more troubled by the serial polygamy practiced in the USA, with it being seen as quite normal and socially acceptable for people to have been divorced and re-married, often more than once.

  • Donna V.

    Never until then did people like Zoe try to propagate the romantic myth that children will blossom just fine in any exotic configuration of adults that happens to call itself a family.

    I think it is time I put in a disclaimer, as honesty compels me to say that my objectivity has to be severely questionable in such matters.

    I am in about as “exotic” a relationship as it is possible to be. One that has had canon lawyers and theologians scratching their heads and praying for guidance. The Magisterium remains silent, and I expect an answer long after I’m dead, if ever.

    There’s a condition called “Intersex”, meaning born with a body neither wholly male nor wholly female. There’s hundreds of different medical syndromes under this broad category – women with the 46xy chromosomes usually only found in men, men with the 46xx chromosomes usually only found in women, both men (Usually) and women (rarely) with 47xxy chromosomes, people with ambiguous bodies classifiable as neither, mosaics and chimerae with either male or female body parts – and male or female chromosomes in them – depending on which part of the body you look at, all sorts.

    True fertile hermaphrodites are nearly unknown, one in several million.

    More common, but still rare, are serial hermaphrodites, those born looking like one sex, but who change in a natural process to the other. Very rare in humans, though the norm in many other species.

    Usually the change is from female to male, and happens during a late puberty, due to either 5ARD or 17BHDD syndrome. Very few such people marry that early. Usually. Female-to-male changes can sometimes be complete, and the men able to father children, though usually they’re partial, and the men are sterile.

    About 1% of such changes go the other way, and about 8 out of 10 of those happen around age 45-50.
    Before the change, the women concerned are usually misdiagnosed as mildly intersexed men. It’s only when they have a female puberty in their late 40’s that the medics give them vast numbers of tests, and re-diagnose them as severely intersexed women. The change is never complete, and sterility results. But while they’re infertile before the change, they may not be sterile. They’re often married, with children, as they have the normal maternal instincts.

    So… I’m married. But to another woman. And we have a son. Our relationship is celebate (of course), as neither of us are lesbian.

    “Exotic relationship” is right. But our vows were “in sickness and in health”, no cavils or waivers for what medical conditions counted. We love each other just as much as we always did. And we love our son, who is our whole world, and who needs two parents.

    If the data had said that being raised by same-sex parents was bad for children, we would have separated and found new partners. It would certainly have been easier than lifelong celibacy, even though we love each other dearly. You do after nearly 30 years of marriage. So we did a lot of research on the subject.

    I admit though that my objectivity under the circumstances must be questionable at best. My son’s welfare depends on us successfully making this “Romantic Myth” a reality. We just don’t have the choice to do anything else.

  • Zoe, thanks for sharing your story, though it must have been difficult for you. I would like to add a few points here that I hope will be helpful to you although I am hardly an expert in sociology or canon law.

    What is true as a general rule is not necessarily true in every individual case. I’m sure all of us know people raised by single or divorced parents who turned out just fine and went on to have stable marriages. We also know people who were raised in intact families who turned out seriously messed up. It doesn’t change the fact that IN GENERAL, it’s better for children to be raised by a married mother and father.

    Also, there’s a big difference between a “broken” or “exotic” family situation that occurs as a result of circumstance, through no fault of the persons involved (e.g. being widowed with young children; a single aunt/uncle taking in an orphaned relative) and one that is entered into deliberately with little or no regard for the welfare of the children involved (a single mom choosing to cohabit with a guy she just met).

    If I understand your situation correctly, you and your wife did not choose to enter a same-sex relationship — it happened long after your marriage due to a medical condition that caused you to become biologically female. As a result you now live in celibacy, but remain faithful to your original marriage vows. It’s not the same as a same-sex union in which the persons involved clearly identify themselves as gay or lesbian, enter a relationship intended to be homosexual, and choose to bring children into that relationship by adoption or some form of surrogate biological parenthood.

    I don’t know how old your son is, or how aware he is of your condition. You can explain to him at an appropriate time, if you have not done so already, that his dad has an extremely rare medical condition which made him become female later in life. It doesn’t change the fact that you and your wife entered a traditional, valid marriage. No “romantic myth” involved there, just two people who take their marriage vows seriously even when life dealt them a hand they probably never imagined.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d present a more objective point of view in hopes that it would be helpful to you. Your family will be in my prayers.

  • Zoe, in an earlier post I wrote: ” let me say I think there are certainly unmarried couples – even gay couples – with children who love their kids and strive to do their best by them. ” You are not unmarried, nor are you and your wife exactly a typical gay couple. You did not opt for a sex change operation; what happened to you was beyond your control and both you and your spouse have made the best of a situation that is unimaginably difficult. I apologize for my earlier snarky tone and wish you and your family well.

    I’m with Elaine here. I think the reason I reacted so strongly to the article posted by DarwinCatholic and to Prendergast’s statement is that I am only a few years older than the woman who wrote that article. Over the years I have known many people who think like her. I also have seen what impact the sexual revolution has had on their lives (and on my life; I am very far from being free of sin in this area). I have also seen the impact on the lives of their children and so I bristle when people who are old enough to know better still pretend that it’s all been just one big jolly romp and accuse anyone who says otherwise of prudery and intolerance. That is simply willful blindness.

    My ex- brother in law left my sister, his wife of 20 years and his then-13 year old son for a 26 year old. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I answered the phone at 2 a.m. to listen to her sob while that was going on. The 26 year old got pregnant, but, contrary to the other woman’s expectations, he did not marry her after he divorced my sister. So now he’s a 60 year old man with 2 year old twins who spends a lot of time in court. My best friend’s husband left her and their 2 children for someone he met online. I could go on and on and on – and so could most of us, I suspect.

    I agree that a stable relationship, even one outside of marriage, is probably better for children than serial pologamy. The trouble is that it is very difficult for me to think of anybody I know who has one. A lot of my friends “shacked up” with guys back in their 20’s and 30’s – none of them are still with those men. One issue I have with gay marriage is that none of the gay men I was friends with back in my younger years exhibited much respect for the idea of monogamy, whether they were in a relationship or not. And these were not flaming queens, but respectable, very “straight-acting” men. They did not fill me in on the specifics of their sex lives, but I learned enough to know that casual sexual encounters are considered entirely acceptable by many gay men, even those in relationships. Men with SSA who are living chastely are the outliers. (Apparently, fooling around is less acceptable among lesbians – I can’t say because I’ve never known any lesbians well.) So, at a time when children are already suffering from the effects of selfish and irresponsible behavior on the part of straight people who have to scratch every itch, do we open the floodgates even wider and pretend that marriage and adoption of children by people in a subculture already famous for promiscious sex will do no harm?

    My problem with Prendergast is that a spokesman for a Catholic organization that supposedly promotes Christian marriage ought to be, er, promoting Christian marriage, not pretending that having a wedding ring on the finger or not makes no difference as long as the relationship is “stable.” Especially in the UK, where marriage rates are at an all-time low. It’s like having the Surgeon General tell a group of smokers that an occasional Marlboro really won’t hurt.

  • A friend working in a large urban hospital in a poor section of town reports on the large number of abused babies. It happens in “relationships” where the man is not the father of the baby. And when the baby cries [as babies tend to do] will beat the child.

  • At the risk of (temporarily) de-railing the thread – my thanks to everyone for your best wishes. A few clarifications. Yes, it hasn’t been easy – but the change was a release from a terrible situation I’d resigned myself to live in with what grace I could. I just hoped for an early and honourable death.

    In that regard, I was no different from any trans woman. I don’t see their situation as being any more of a choice than mine was. In fact, the only difference between them and myself is that I lacked their courage to act with honesty and integrity. I kept on living a lie until that became impossible.

    My son has just turned eight. He was three at the time the change started. I used to do (and still do) some simple stage magic, making coins vanish and re-appear to entertain children, that kind of thing. He viewed my changing into a woman as being just another magic trick.

    He understands more now. There are some children at his school with two mommies, but he’s the only one whose daddy turned into a girl before his very eyes. He doesn’t say that to other kids though, as they don’t believe him.

    It is… difficult… explaining to new after-school carers and teachers just exactly what the relationship between my boy and myself is. You just have to see the funny side.

    Women as terribly intersexed as I am are almost always unable to have children. Now I could not carry my child, and yes, my instincts feel a pang there, but he is my son, my own flesh and blood, and my heart goes out to all those women who were unable to conceive. I wasn’t either, but I cheated.

    I’d count my blessings – but I have far too many of them to count. Let’s see, a release from a hellish situation (you know about half in that situation suicide?), able to have a child despite unbelievable odds… Oh yes, I’ve been blessed all right. The only question I have is why me? Why not one of the many people I know who deserve it far more than I did?

    Now after that little digression, back to the issues at hand.

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Thursday, April 30, AD 2009


Hattip to Catholic Key BlogBishop Robert W. Finn gave an address at the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention on April 18, 2009 that deserves to be read by every Catholic in this country.  He is blunt, forceful and truthful, qualities that have too often been in short supply among bishops in this country over the last four decades.  Here is the text of his address:

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Cultural or Political Axis?

Saturday, February 14, AD 2009

Donald linked below to a discussion of the death of “liberaltarianism”, which led many to ask what exactly that is.  As it so happens, I’d been reading about this seemingly contradictory phenomenon on Ross Douthat’s blog the other day.  It seems all this goes back to a piece Brink Lindsey originally wrote for The New Republic a couple years ago in which he complains:

Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.

Though he admits there’s not been much real movement on the part of Democrats to please libertarians, he cites a few things:

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6 Responses to Cultural or Political Axis?

3 Responses to The Coming Persecution?

  • The astute Mr. Bork raises these likely issues. But consider how wounded the administration has already become. Last week, GOP Congresspersons voted to a person against the Porkapalooza Bill. Mitch McConnell promises similar thumping in Senate. Now howling about HHS Secretary Designate Tom Daschle who failed to pay income taxes on limo travel. Well what’s a guy supposed to do take the Metro like the office drones and military non-coms? Now GOP certainly on watch to make sure that FOCA, Fairness Doctrine, other horrors not baked into future Porkapalooza cakes. Then again, there are some of our esteemed bishops who are bound and determined to close Catholic medical facilities in their sees rather than open them for abortions. The number of those facilities closed, along with the willingness for these shepherds to be cuffed and booked, and repeated showings of videos for these acts, will determine survival of this administration. Unlike Mr. Bork, I am always in faith that when our lib brethren achieve too much power, they will find ways to f—- it up big time. As bishops said before Benedict, we always have hope.

  • It would help keep matters clear were we to put “government” in quotation marks. There is no thing or person out there which is the “government”. It is officials, and officials who must be kept conscious of their actions.

    Is there a difficulty in referring to Mr. Obama, and Mrs. Pelosi, and Mr. Biden, et hoc genus omne as baby-killers?

  • What happened to Bork’s righteous beard?

7 Responses to What He Said

  • I posted some thoughts on this article indirectly in a separate post. Let me say that it is a very good exploration of some of the problems with President-elect Obama from a pro-life perspective and that people like Kmiec who claim to be ‘pro-lifers,’ but then make pro-choice arguments are not really worthy of engagement. However, I think the denunciations of the Vox Nova crew are unfair; they are in an entirely different category than Kmiec for the most part, and contra the post, they have spoken out rather clearly about their pro-life concerns in an Obama administration. I recognize they can be extremely irritating, obtuse, etc., however I frequently dislike the way they express themselves much more than with the substance of their posts.

  • We shall have to agree to disagree on this point John Henry. I believe that “pro-lifers” who voted for the most radical pro-abort to ever run for President simply cannot be taken seriously as pro-lifers.

  • Fair enough, Donald. I could not justify voting for President-elect Obama personally, and I can certainly sympathize.

  • John Henry, can you please provide me any links to where the Vox Nova bloggers who endorsed Obama also expressed concerned about his abortion policies?

  • Paul – they have devoted a page of their web-site solely to asking Obama to reconsider some of his positions on abortion:

  • John Henry –

    That post was put up by Henry Karlson, and I’m one of the original signatories on that petition.

    Henry was not one of the four at Vox Nova who publicly endorsed Obama for President, that I’m aware of.

    My view is that someone who is pro-life, and yet who spent so much energy persuading pro-lifers to vote Democrat, is now obligated morally to spend a like amount on energy on persuading Democrats to be pro-life.

    Not a single keystroke from any of those I’ve named has been spent in such an effort.

  • Paul,

    You are correct. Henry did not endorse Obama, and he has said he did not vote for him. I agree that it would be nice if the contributors showed as much enthusiasm for debating pro-choice Democrats as they do for attacking pro-life Republicans, but that is more because it is irritating than because I think it would make much of a difference in changing anyone’s mind.

    At the same time, I know MM, Michael and Katerina signed the petition (not sure about M.Z., RCM but I assume they did as well), and they all were happy to support it. That is something.

7 Responses to The Stakes Are Small

  • In other words, play nice in the sandbox, boys and girls.

  • You have a nice way of getting quickly to the point Gerard.

  • As a note, that xkcd comic tickled me pink the first time I read it, and it continues to do so. I haven’t spent as much time frequenting forums or discussion groups as I could have, but I have seen such a plethora of bad arguments that often my fingers twitch in an autonomic urge to respond. Of course, that doesn’t prevent my arguments from being bad themselves, but there is certainly an, “Aaaaahhhh! That person is dead wrong! The universe will come to a halt if I don’t rebut him!”

  • but there is certainly an, “Aaaaahhhh! That person is dead wrong! The universe will come to a halt if I don’t rebut him!”

    Right on! I think I have gotten myself into more trouble hastily interjecting myself into a discussion because I have seen someone making what I deem to be a bad faith argument – not just wrong, but wrong and full of strawmen argument. I have tried more and more to let trollish comments pass, but it’s a battle.

    That said, I do think that we can distinguish between ad hominen argumentation and strongly worded arguments. I think that Paul’s post falls more squarely into the latter category.

  • It does seem awfully easy in the blogsphere for quarrels to take on a family argument like quality, in which all slights are remembered as if they were yesterday and only unconditional surrender is acceptable.

  • Darwin,

    I agree entirely.

  • That said, I do think that we can distinguish between ad hominen argumentation and strongly worded arguments. I think that Paul’s post falls more squarely into the latter category.

    crankycon – I am afraid I disagree. I thought the post did a good job of laying out the pro-life case for being concerned about President-elect Obama. And I agreed with quite a bit of it. However, I had the following problems:

    1) The post: There is no doubt in my mind that this swing is due in no small part to a small number of allegedly “pro-life” self-identified “Catholics” who argued loud and long that Barack Obama was somehow the more “pro-life” candidate than his opponent

    This assigns a disproportionate share of the blame for Obama’s victory on people like Kmiec and the VN crew, which I think is inaccurate (the economy and W. were the real causes). VN only attracts about a thousand visitors a day (most of them repeats) and the comment threads suggest most of these people have already formed strong opinions. Assigning a large share of an electoral defeat (particularly by 8 million votes) to them is misguided.

    2) I do not think it is fair to equate Kmiec (who really was a fraud) with the VN contributors, many of whom I believe are sincere on the whole, even if I strongly disagree with them on many issues.

    3) The post incorrectly stated that none of the VN contributors “have taken the slightest action,” that reflects that they are pro-life, when, in fact, they have spent a great deal of time over the past several weeks putting together an open letter to Obama addressing pro-life concerns.

    4) The attack on RCM seemed unnecessary and out of place in the context of the post.

    5) The end of the post had the air of an ex-communication. As these writers all profess to be pro-life Catholics, I think this type of personal denunciation is unfair. In the larger culture war, the VN contributors are on our side and they are our brothers ans sisters in Christ. As Darwin described above, the language from the end of the post sounds like it is from a particularly nasty family feud:

    And I’m calling bullshit on this band of turncoats, these deserters, these cowards, these Quislings, Douglas Kmiec, Nicholas Cafardi, Morning’s Minion, Michael J. Iafrate, M.Z. Forrest, Radical Catholic Mom, and all the others who claim to be “pro-life” but who argued for the abortion president to get the votes of pro-lifers.They are not pro-life, and they are lying baldfacedly when they claim to be….We have tried to persuade them. The Church has tried to persuade them. They will not listen even to the Church. Let them be to us pro-life Catholics as pro-abortion liberals and tax collectors. May God have mercy on them. I will not forget.