March 26, 2013
Roberts on Berry on SSM
As the Supreme Court takes up the marriage question, Christopher Roberts offers an interesting reflection on Wendell Berry's recent reversal on the question:
Berry’s talk does not hold together either in its logical implications or with the vast majority of his prior work, yet it makes some rhetorical sense if he is merely distancing himself from bigotry. But if so, he protests too much. His speech concludes with some lovely and mystical words about the interconnectivity of all creation, and it’s clear that he imagines himself on the side of the gentle and good. But as his own substantial earlier work demonstrates, and as should have been obvious to a man of his public experience, not every commitment to traditional marriage is irrational and poisonous. Berry’s philosophical shortcuts in this talk are not benign.
I have to say I find this to be a common theme among people writing reversals.
A particular case is Sen. Portman's reversal based on his son's coming out. The strong implication is that any compassion whatsoever to those same-sex attracted must lead to supporting marriage equality for same sex couples.
It's hard to argue with compassion, but essentially this boils down to calling those who have not had such a transformation, including themselves the day before yesterday, bigots. And while that's rhetorically useful, I don't know that it gets us to a more truthful place.
It also leads to questions that touch populations that senators and legal scholars are typically not going to come into contact with -- the truly poor, immigrants, the unborn, and so on.
Posted by: JohnMcG | Mar 26, 2013 12:27:27 PM
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