Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Not!

Robby began a post some weeks back--a post in the to-and-fro with Chip Lupu--with a comment about how things were getting "curiouser and curiouser".  Well, let me begin this post with the comment that at Robby's end, things seem to be getting angrier and angrier:

"I'm afraid the diversionary tactics won't work, Michael.  Nor will repeating yourself.  Or shifting the discussion to the opinions of Cathleen Kaveny on Germain Grisez's thought.  Your Christmas eve post was a smear against people who do not share your views about sexual morality.  You attempted to tar them as the equivalent of racists and then, in classic passive-aggressive fashion, you claimed to 'understand' how difficult it is for them to escape the 'socialization' and 'psychology' that saddle them with views that reflect nothing other than 'aversions' to the 'unfamiliar.'  I called you on the smear, and now you depict yourself as the victim.  It won't work. . . . [Michael's and my] dispute is about whether his Christmas eve post was a smear against honorable people who deviate from the liberal line on sexual morality.  I say it was, and that is why I called him on it.  It's time---past time---people refused to tolerate this sort of conduct."

That's sweet, Robby.  Real sweet.

Despite Robby's confident interpretation of what I was saying in my Christmas Eve post, the relevant point in the post was not that people who, like Robby and his mentors, believe that same-sex sexual conduct (and masturbation, and contraception, and non-marital sexual conduct) is always and everywhere necessarily and gravely immoral "are the equivalent of racists"--or even that they are like racists in some hideous sense.  I suppose that given what Robby and his allies have had to deal with in their campaign to persuade us that same-sex sexual conduct is always and everywhere necessarily and gravely immoral, it is not surprising that Robby would be only too ready to assimilate *my* point to *that* point--and then fulminate against it and me.  What, then, was my point?  That there is this similarity between many who opposed interracial sexual conduct and many who oppose same-sex sexual conduct:  Their visceral--yes, visceral--opposition is rooted in a deep-seated emotional aversion to--a disgust at--the conduct, which some of them will then naturally try to rationally vindicate by constructing arguments that those who do not share their emotional aversion regard as, to put it charitably, farfetched.  My point--that point--is a far cry from claiming that people who, like Robby and his mentors, believe that same-sex sexual conduct is always and everywhere necessarily and gravely immoral "are the equivalent of racists".  In his passion to paint me as smearing others in making the point I did--a point that Martha Nussbaum elaborates and defends in her two most recent books, which I've cited today--Robby is smearing me.  If Robby continues in the same vein, now that I have told him what I meant, I will have to conclude that he is not only angry but venomous.

What Cathy meant by my "conscripting" her was simply that I, without notifying her,  referred to her work, and to Jean Porter's, in one of my posts.  I took it that what Robby meant, by contrast, was that I had solicited Cathy's comments.  If Robby says that he did not mean the latter, so be it.

Now, I repeat some of what I said earlier, not because I think Robby will respond to it.  He's made it pretty clear he's in no mood to do that.  I repeat it because Robby keeps saying the same things (e.g., "the liberal line on sexual morality") and I want to emphasize what Robby has not responded to today:

1.  “Liberal ideology”?  “Liberal people”?  Robby overlooks, in his rhetorical slap at liberals, that many of those who agree with me on the issue at hand—and disagree with Robby—are not at all liberals:  Jonathan Rauch, Dale Carpenter, Dick Cheney, etc.  Government’s role in regulating the economy is a right/left, liberal/conservative issue.  But the issue at hand is not such an issue—and should not be so characterized, however useful in may be to do so in polemical statements and fundraising letters.

2.  Am I not correct that moral theology should be informed by the yield of modern and contemporary experience—and that it loses credibility if it is not so informed?  Am I not correct that today, there is good reason to reevaluate traditional attitudes toward, and judgments about, the morality of homosexual sexual conduct?  Even good reason to think differently about the morality of homosexual sexual conduct than our parents and grandparents did when they were young?

3.  Isn’t it clear that in the world’s most established liberal democracies, there is ongoing a generational shift in attitudes toward, and judgments about, the morality of homosexual sexual conduct?  What are the principal determinants of this generational shift?  Are we to believe that shifts in socialization and psychology, due to a contemporary experience of homosexuality that is rather different from that of our parents and grandparents, do not play a significant role.

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