Monday, January 2, 2012
One of my superstar former students, writing about his experience at one of our nation's premier law schools, sent me a note after reading my MOJ post on marriage, religious liberty, and the "grand bargain." Here is the text, with names removed to protect the innocent:
I had a first-hand experience with this reality in law school. One of my constitutional law professors taught the section of our course relating to same-sex marriage under the "inevitability" banner. I met with him in office hours later to talk to him about something else, but I brought up a question that I have been wrestling with: if the SSM advocates are right and opposition to SSM becomes analogous to racism in our society, what will happen to Catholics and others whose views on SSM cannot and will not change? Are they to be excluded from public office, political and judicial appointments, or places of trust and responsibility within private institutions (e.g., law firm partnerships)? I posed the question to him because I was curious to hear his response, since he is generally a kind and reasonable person who seemed open to other viewpoints.
His response was very disappointing, and it shook my confidence in him. He responded to me by saying something along the lines of: "Well, they [Catholics and others] will either have to change their views or be treated in the same way that white supremacists and the segregationist Senators were treated. They were excluded from the judiciary entirely for decades because of the South's views on race."
He evinced no sympathy for the traditional marriage position or those who hold it. They were to be relegated to the ash heap of history. He said all of this to me knowing full well (because I had foolishly just told him) that I was a Catholic who opposed SSM.
Is anyone prepared to say that the view expressed by the professor is merely a fringe opinion in the contemporary academy? Is anyone prepared to say that it is the view of only a small minority, or a minority at all, in what University of Virginia sociologist Jonathan Haidt calls the liberal tribal-moral community of contemporary academia? Would anyone deny that there is a significant element in the elite sector of the culture---an element with real power over the lives and careers of people like my former student---that wishes to penalize or discriminate against those who refuse in conscience to yield to the liberal orthodoxy on issues of sex and marriage? Consider the professor's own words. He made no effort to hide his goals and intentions. On the contrary, he made it abundantly clear that Catholics and others who persist in their dissent are to be treated the way we treat white supremacists. They are to be stigmatized, subjected to discrimination, and denied the right to hold certain offices.
And this professor, as my student observed, is a "generally a kind and reasonable person who seems open to other viewpoints." What are we to expect, then, from those who are even less "open to other viewpoints"?