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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Let's be extremists

With apologies to Mr. Goldwater, moderation in the cause of truth is no virtue.

It worries me a bit to see that my fellow conservatives sometimes seem more worried about being considered extremists than they are about simply upholding the truth when it comes to important matters of morality and public policy.

It should go without saying that the liberal media has simply defined "extremism" to mean "whatever conservative positions we are demonizing this week," and that of course they are not actually going to use any objective statistical standard in order to apply the term even-handedly to liberal positions that are held only by a small minority of Americans. Thus we have the sorry spectacle of a country in which the adulated leftist President opposes a legal requirement for the care and treatment of born-alive infants who survive an abortion but is not considered extreme, while a Senator who states that even children conceived in violence are a gift from God is (the media tells us we must think) a dangerous extremist making war on women.

So it goes. But what else did we expect, since those who write the media script just are enemies of the truth on social issues? If I truly believed that pointing out the insanity of the left in their use of a term like "extremist" on life issues would help to fend off the day when all pro-lifers who oppose a rape exception for abortion are held in odium not only among the general public but also among mainstream conservatives and Republicans, I would be happy to trumpet the double standard from the rooftops. But will it? I don't know. Perhaps I am too cynical, but it seems to me all too likely that the only people who are listening to such complaints are fellow "extremists" and that those who think of themselves as moderate will continue to let the concrete content of their moderation be defined for them by the Manipulators and opinion-makers in the mass media.

I don't want in any way to derogate those who are doing yeomanly work pointing out, with justified righteous indignation, the double standards to the public at large, but my own inclination is to use a slightly different tactic--namely, to point out to those who are really conservatives on an issue (who aren't angling for the "moderate" label) how standards are shifting and to call them to vigilance and toughness, even at the cost of being said to be "extreme" by some spanking-new definition which is about as stable as the last of this autumn's dandelion fluff.

Which brings me to the actual subject of the rest of this post, which is not alleged extremism on life issues but alleged extremism on homosexual rights issues.

A few years ago when I did an interview with a small, conservative talk radio show based in Arizona, the host asked my opinion on the air about civil unions. I pointed to the Lisa Miller case as an excellent reason for rejecting civil unions. I said that the debate should not simply be about the word "marriage" but about special societal recognition of homosexual relationships and about giving those relationships legal status similar to that of heterosexual couples. The host apparently had some other guests on his show who were listening in to our segment, and he later told me, off the air, that his other guests (allegedly conservatives of some stripe or other) declared themselves somewhat shocked by my position. Not, mind you, that they had answers to my arguments, but simply that they considered me extreme for opposing civil unions.

That now appears to be the new normal among some self-styled conservatives. Civil unions--good. Homosexual "marriage"--bad. My attention was drawn to how far this has gone recently when an acquaintance approvingly linked this article by Doug Mainwaring. A little googling also turns up this three-part series by Mainwaring saying the same things at more length.

The series was published by the Potomac Tea Party as part of the opposition to homosexual "marriage" in Maryland, and the editor characterizes the author like this:

The author, Doug Mainwaring, is a principled conservative residing in Montgomery County, MD who is gay. He is a cofounder of National Capital Tea Party Patriots and his commentaries regarding the Tea Party movement and conservative issues have appeared in The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Wall Street Journal, American Thinker and others.

If one read only portions of what Mainwaring has to say, one might indeed think that he is a principled conservative, at least on the issue in question. This, from Part II, is quite good:

Statists see great value in slowly chipping away at the bedrock of American culture: Family life. The more that familial bonds are weakened and religious beliefs are undermined both in our daily experience and as a matter of legality, the more Government is able to freely insert itself into our lives in an authoritarian way.

And this:

Marriage is marriage — an immutable concept proven by society’s renewal from generation to generation. Marriage is not the same as other types of relationships. For thousands of years marriage has served as society’s building block. It is the framework for human existence that leads to human flourishing. At the outset of the 21st century we should not be so quick to redefine it.

To all of which I say, "Amen."

But then things go south:

Let’s face it, within our society committed relationships between two men or two women are a “new thing,” which we should not attempt to force into an old construct that was never meant for same sex partnerships. We should welcome the opportunity to christen a new tradition, beginning a new chapter in the history of gays and lesbians within American society. Same-sex relationships are different from heterosexual relationships and gays need to accept that and design their own tradition.

[snip]

Same sex marriage is not optimal. Certainly, gay relationships need to be supported, respected and held in esteem by society.

And in our complex modern society, this involves government recognition. But to propose that gay unions are precisely equivalent to marriage by heterosexuals is beyond the pale. The two are apples and oranges. The expectation of fully equal rights with regard to Marriage stretches the limits of reason. The expectation of fully equal treatment with regard to respect, dignity, and a protection of couples rights is rational and judicious.

The nation is being trained to view “Civil Unions” as a lesser concept; a moral and philosophical back seat to marriage. The term “Civil Union” lacks the sense of history and tradition that “marriage” instantly conjures up in our minds, but this is true precisely because marriage has a long history and elaborate tradition and gay relationships don’t. This is new territory for gays and for society in general.

Instead of coveting marriage, gays need to break new ground, defining their own tradition.

A Washington Post Editorial published January 21, 2010 suggested the following:

“Justice and simple decency require that same-sex
couples be afforded the same legal protections and benefits
of marriage that are now, with a few exceptions, reserved for
heterosexual couples . . . But the group (Equality Maryland)
and its lawmaker allies are shortsighted to refuse to consider –
let alone accept — anything short of full marriage equality . . .
Lawmakers who back this provision should at least consider
whether domestic partnerships or civil unions might stand a
better chance of passage.”

Civil Unions should not be viewed either as second class treatment or as a stepping stone to marriage. Civil Unions should be the goal.

It is in everyone’s best interest to have marriages and the families they produce be the strongest they can be, and likewise, for gay and lesbian couples and the families they form to be as strong as they can be as well, more than anything, for the sake of all our children. (emphasis added)

Say, what???

Since when is a person a "principled conservative" when he openly advocates that homosexual relationships be "supported, respected, and held in esteem by society" and recommends express government recognition to the end of promoting such esteem for homosexual relationships? How consistent (or conservative!) is it to refer to marriage as "society's building block" while at the same time referring to homosexual "families" and to "all our children," meaning inter alia the children deemed to belong to a homosexual couple qua couple?

It wasn't all that long ago (ten years? fifteen years?) that a person who said all those things would have been considered a social liberal as a mere matter of accurate, neutral categorization. Indeed, a person who wanted society to "hold homosexual relationships in esteem" and wanted to shape public policy for that purpose would have thought of himself as a social liberal and might even have been insulted at being dubbed a conservative.

I don't have a very clear idea as to why Douglas Mainwaring wants to be known as a conservative. His articles imply that he has some libertarian leanings and realizes that homosexual "marriage" would increase the power of the state. In that case, he has quite a blind spot about the fact that a legal copycat status to marriage that just happens to have a different name (civil unions) does much the same. Pastor Miller is probably going to federal prison because of civil unions; the word "marriage" was not required for the persecution of Lisa Miller, her young daughter Isabella, and her friends. For that matter, just having homosexual relationships "esteemed" in society and having that enforced by the government in the form of non-discrimination law is sufficient for plenty of statism, including forcing a photographer to celebrate a lesbian commitment ceremony, forcing Catholic charities to give children to homosexuals for adoption, and on and on. All of this was happening before the precise word "marriage" was brought into the mix.

But frankly, I don't much care what Douglas Mainwaring is thinking. I'm more concerned about what people are thinking who call him a conservative and about what people are thinking who think of themselves as conservatives and who are compromising on the issue of civil unions.

Let it be understood: Civil unions are and always have been bad news in themselves, aside from the evident fact (pace Mr. Mainwaring) that they have been merely softening up society for applying the word "marriage" to homosexual couples. Civil unions are by design identical to marriage in legal respects. They convey the legal prerogatives of marriage as regards intestacy, employer benefits, and the like, in any state in which they are recognized. If you want to get out of one you go through a divorce process. If there are children, custody decisions (i.e., joint custody awards) are made as they are in a divorce, even when one partner is the child's biological mother and the other partner utterly unrelated to the child. Homosexual relationships are raised in civil unions to the level of a specially state-recognized type of relationship with a prestige very similar to that of marriage. With civil unions the state also recognizes implicitly the notion of a "homosexual family," in which a couple which in the very nature of the case cannot produce children nonetheless is deemed to be capable of forming a family with children, whether adopted or conceived by one of a lesbian pair. If one thinks that homosexual acts are intrinsically wrong, that homosexual desires are intrinsically disordered, and that there should not be such a concept as a "homosexual family," one should oppose a special governmental category carved out for homosexual couples with the express purpose of giving them a simulacrum of marriage. One should oppose this regardless of the name used. This all ought to be basic conservative understanding. It ought to go without saying, but evidently it doesn't for everybody, not even for all who think of themselves as conservative.

What I have gathered from some private conversations is that some people believe they can blunt the impact of these points by inventing a status which is not actually what civil unions are in the real world, dubbing what they have in mind "civil unions," and then saying that that is what they advocate for homosexual couples. It is possible that none of my readers here actually takes this position, so I apologize if I'm about to argue against a position that no one reading this holds, but it seems worth taking a bit of time to knock it out of the ballpark in case someone comes upon it and is unsure what to say.

The idea here seems to be that these highly unusual "civil unions" would not involve children. Evidently some who deem themselves conservative think that we can say we advocate "civil unions" and then add, upon questioning, that the "civil unions" in question would come along with a clear indication that the union had no relationship to children or child custody and conveyed no parental rights. Perhaps even, so runs the thought, we could combine the recognition of these "civil unions" with laws (as if any such would be upheld by the courts!) outlawing both artificial insemination and IVF, while maintaining or reinstating bans on homosexual couples' adopting. In that case, wouldn't these by-definition-childless "civil unions" be all right, maybe even useful in some way?

The answer is no, no, and again, no. First of all, it is pernicious folly tending unto deception to say that one supports civil unions while actually supporting something that bears no resemblance to any civil union regime that has been seriously advocated anywhere in the world. Why, if one truly opposes "gay parenting," would one say something that undeniably will be taken to be an endorsement of marriage-like set-ups, with all that that entails in terms of "homosexual families," while privately really intending a far more unusual and truncated legal union that is not permitted to be tied to parental rights or custody assumptions?

But there is more: It pains me to say this, but some conservatives, and I'm afraid especially Catholics (in my admittedly limited blogospheric experience), have a kind of nearly pathetic concern for the highly unusual and often purely hypothetical "chaste homosexual couple." Indeed, there is a similar over-eager excitement over the open "chaste homosexual" individual--a person who, under his own name, goes about telling everyone about his "orientation" and even taking it to be part of his identity, while at the same time at least allegedly living chastely. That situation is, at a minimum, a rather dangerous one to be in, but I'll try to restrain myself from a digression on that subject. The point for my argument here is that this emotional desire by conservatives to do everything possible to accommodate homosexuals who are or even might be chaste appears to have led to a desire on the part of some to give marriage-like rights to homosexually oriented partners. This is on the (in many cases, undoubtedly fictional) assumption that two openly homosexual partners living together are merely doing so because they are just so, so, so personally committed to one another and their lives so intertwined that they think it would be wrong to break up their menage. And that this has nothing to do with sex. Y'know, maybe they did get together in a wrong relationship originally, but now we should assume they are chaste, and they just love one another now and just need to stick together and help one another, etc., etc.

But even in the extremely rare cases where such a thing is actually true and can somehow be carried out without being a grave cause of scandal, why, in the name of all that is good, ought the state to give quasi-marital status, by any name, to such a couple?

This reminds me, I must say, of the feminists and the way that, away back a hundred years ago or so, the rare, frustrated, "woman as good as a man" was used as a wedge to change all of society to treat all women as being as good as men at all important tasks. With disastrous results. If there ever were a case for the adage, "Hard cases make bad law," surely this is it.

After all, let's think about it: If two homosexuals who are now just living as friends (or two who aren't, for that matter) have such "intertwined lives," what precisely do they have to do in order to put down that "intertwining" in black and white? Well, they need to make wills. Don't most people need to make wills, ideally? Shouldn't even married normal couples make wills? Well, yes. It might also be a good idea to hold their stocks as "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" and to own their house in both their names. Well, once again, isn't this a good idea for legally married couples as well, in order to minimize probate? Yup. How about those "medical visits" we hear so much about? Well, there are these wonderful little forms you can get at the doctor's office and fill out designating any other adult, related or unrelated, to have the right to know your medical facts. And everyone should make a durable power of attorney for healthcare designating a DPA/patient advocate in the event of severe illness.

Need I go on? Surely the picture is clear enough. In our complex society, it behooves all kinds of people to get their houses in order, and there is no reason whatsoever why homosexual couples should think that they don't have to bother worrying about things like intestacy, medical privacy, and medical advocacy, and filling out (gasp) individual legal forms, because they have a civil union.

Also: Consider the fact that once your child turns eighteen, if he is in an accident, you, the parent, may be locked out of knowing about his medical condition because of HIPAA regulations. Yet your life is very much "intertwined" with a child who is merely away at college (paid for by you) and happens to have just had an eighteenth birthday. It would be a kind of reductio to suggest that these "harmless" civil unions could or should exist between, say, a mother, on the one hand, and each of her five children, on the other. No, parents and young adult, unmarried children are among those most vulnerable when it comes to issues of intestacy or medical privacy and advocacy, and they need to be alert and fill out that-there paperwork. It would be stupid, not to mention perverse, to try to set up "civil unions" that would cover the relationship of a parent to several different adult children. But then the question arises: Why should two people who set up their couplehood on the basis of perverted sexual activities be able to make some kind of claim on justice for a specially state-recognized relationship (because their lives are just so darned "intertwined") to ease their paperwork load, when perfectly normal people have to do the paperwork so that they can take care of their own natural family members in an emergency? There is no good reason at all.

There are also questions of justice concerning a homosexual person who already has children from a previous marriage. Is it really just that his biological children should be disinherited in a case of intestacy in favor of the homosexual lover for whom he left them and their mother? It doesn't seem so to me, and it shouldn't seem so to any conservative.

Then we have all the issues of conscience concerning employers forced to treat a homosexual partner as a "family member." How does any conservative get around that if he advocates any form of civil unions whatsoever, with or without children?

We might as well face it: Civil unions always have been intended to serve the purpose Mainwaring describes. They were intended as a means of gaining social acceptance and affirmation for, specifically, sexually active homosexual couples. There was never any grassroots demand or social need for civil unions for sexually chaste couples, for parent-child pairs needing to be able to support each other, for Platonic friends, or anything of the kind.

This is about sex, and it's about transforming society. Let's not be fools.

That, of course, is why Douglas Mainwaring is not going to succeed in convincing his fellow homosexuals to stop at demanding civil unions. Since this was always about societal transformation for purposes of getting homosexual sex approved of and celebrated, the demand for the talismanic name "marriage" will continue, because it will be such a coup for the social manipulators. It doesn't matter how few homosexual couples actually apply for marriage licenses, because that isn't what it's about. It's about symbolism and thought control. And, whether he realizes it or not, Douglas Mainwaring is part of the cadre of transformational social engineers.

On these issues, as on all others, let's uphold the truth and not worry about how we are labeled. Let's just go ahead and be extremists.

Comments (58)

How then do you suggest how to deal with gay and lesbian couples in civil unions who already have children under their care?

That's like saying, "Hey, nah-nah-nah-nah, we set up this situation in which we give people with bizarre sexual inclinations familial recognition, and now we're going to hold you normal people with normal societal ideas hostage to the crazy situation we managed to put into place."

I refuse to play. Those custody set-ups are abominable. They are horrible. Now the poor children have (at least in some cases) bonded to a pair of people whose entire relationship is based on perversion. The poor children have been taught to think of them as parents. And these innocents are now being held hostage to try to tell the whole world that we have to maintain them and have more and more of such relationships.

The short answer to your manipulative question is that I don't know for every single case, and that it would depend on individual circumstances. But certainly, if there is no legal adoption and one parent is the biological parent, it should be made clear that the other parent *does not* have parental rights. No more Lisa Millers. If one lesbian wants to leave the relationship with her biological child, she should be free to do so. The other woman should have no special claim on a woman's biological child just because the two of them once had a perverted sexual relationship and got it dubbed a "civil union" by the state. If a child is very young--a baby--and there is no biological relationship to either of the people involved, I think that it could be entirely legitimate to remove the child and place him for adoption with a normal couple.

But for the sake of everyone, *no more* such situations should be set up. All states which presently have civil union bills should put a moratorium on any more such unions being contracted, and no further states should set them up. And homosexual adoption should be banned everywhere. The fact that we have done something horrible and stupid in some states is no argument for keeping on doing more of it to more kids.

Besides, surely "will" doesn't think of himself as a social conservative. If he does, he's delusional. I'm far more interested in getting my fellow conservatives to be smart and stand firm than in debating some homosexual activist.

But there is more: It pains me to say this, but some conservatives, and I'm afraid especially Catholics (in my admittedly limited blogospheric experience), have a kind of nearly pathetic concern for the highly unusual and often purely hypothetical "chaste homosexual couple." Indeed, there is a similar over-eager excitement over the open "chaste homosexual" individual--a person who, under his own name, goes about telling everyone about his "orientation" and even taking it to be part of his identity, while at the same time at least allegedly living chastely

I'm guessing this is at least in part directed at me. A while back I posted a thread and referred to the person I quoted as a chaste homosexual. The guy was indeed a bit whiny and unseemly about not fitting in either with practicing homosexuals or good Christians. But I quoted him primarily because he said what I've known for a long time: that most of the fuel for the societal juggernaut for sodomy comes not from homosexuals, but ideologically-addled heterosexuals of which I think the Chik-fil-A incident is a perfect illustration. For the record, I am not soft on homosexuality. I think it is bogus as an essential identity. I think the conservative "let's get the government out of the marriage business and you secularists go over there and have your version of marriage, and us Christians will go over here and have ours and never the twain shall meet and peace will reign in the land" is a disastrous punt and that the Lisa Miller incident is but a foretaste of what is to come. Whenever a Catholic starts sounding goofy on the subject, I am quick to refer him to this which reminds us that "Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children". There ain't no way around it. It's a hill we have to die on.

No, it really isn't, or scarcely at all, Scott, though perhaps I shd. have worded it differently so that you wouldn't think so. I think maybe you were a little too quick to take that guy's word for it that the drive for this is coming from elsewhere. I mean, there are homosexual groups all over the country, run by homosexuals, who really are pushing extremely hard on these things and even terrorizing those who disagree. There have been incredible incidents of groups vandalizing churches and engaging in threatening protests, threatening and terrorizing business owners who supported Prop. 8, and so forth. There are very large numbers of homosexual rights activists who are homosexuals.

I suppose one could argue that in terms of sheer numbers, the numbers of homosexuals themselves are small enough that they wouldn't succeed without lots of help from ideological allies who are heterosexual. That seems to me to be true, but "fuel" can come both in terms of numbers and in terms of passion and loudness (the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all that). The many pro-homosexual activists who are in fact homosexual have got that squeaky (and even screaming) wheel dynamic down to an art form and use it quite blatantly and effectively. They also work hand in glove with ideologically addled heterosexuals, but ideologically, they are all blood brothers and out to transform our society.

Actually, though, my comment there was aimed far more at others I have seen in the blogosphere such as Mark Shea, comments I have seen on Facebook, and some comments here in the comboxes at W4. Here at W4, for example, I have had commentators *immediately* respond to any discussion of discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace by going on and on about the hypothetical chaste homosexual, asking why he could not be hired for any job whatsoever. (Answer: He shouldn't be hired to be teaching swimming to boys, to give just one example, for obvious reasons. And if he isn't out to put it in your face, and if he's chaste, you will never know if you're just hiring him to sell used cars.) Also the very foolish promotion by First Things of Joshua Gonnerman as a wise counselor (which he most certainly is not) on homosexual issues. None of this is from you, and I have a pretty good idea of what you would say about all of it.

Addendum: When my own town passed a homosexual and transsexual rights ordinance three years ago, the town hall meetings for public comment had many homosexuals and transsexuals showing up to demand the ordinance. There was no violence nor threats, but my point here is simply that there definitely *was* civic drive at the grassroots coming from homosexuals themselves for this ordinance. Obviously there had to be enough heterosexuals in the town to vote for it, first on the city council (which was easy enough) and then, when it went to the ballot, in the city's population at large. But there was plenty of momentum coming from the homosexual lobby. The homosexual lobby isn't a bunch of heterosexuals posing as speaking for homosexuals or something. It's a joint effort among liberals of all sexual orientations, with many homosexuals all too willing to provide demand.

The author, Doug Mainwaring, is a principled conservative

That's got to be just a plain, flat out bald faced lie. That is, somebody may repeat the lie not knowing that it's a lie, but the origin of it, either Doug himself or some colleague, is playing hooky with the truth. If it came from liberals, it was probably a conscious and deliberate lie. If it came from conservatives, it is probably not deliberate but is still dishonest. Oh, I imagine that for a moment, for some split-second of time, some such persons might manage to convince themselves that it is theoretically possible to be conservative from principle AND to be in favor of civil unions, but they wouldn't accept the very same sort of reasoning about a host of similar category judgments. Their thoughts during that split second manage to be driven not by their apprehension of right but by something else, like that they want a friend and ally (on some things) to be a conservative. Well, allowing your feelings and wants to control what you think is precisely NOT what we mean by being "principled" anything. Just as Mainwaring has, himself, managed to become royally screwed up in the head and conscience by his deformed sexual appetite, so also others that accept him in that situation as being OK.

How then do you suggest how to deal with gay and lesbian couples in civil unions who already have children under their care?

Gays and lesbians living openly together are doing something heinously evil, disgusting, and socially damaging. There is no reason a good society need tolerate such behavior. We won't get there overnight, but it ought to be our goal to return to sanity and treat such behavior as beyond the pale. As for the children: since every child has a right to grow up in relation to his natural, biological father and mother, keeping him or her instead in a false "family" relationship with 2 men or 2 women is per se violence against the child. We ought not continue doing violence to children.

Fair enough, Lydia. I'll try to stop my narcissistic paranoia. :) As far as the source of the drive, I think there are plenty of homosexuals driving it, but I think if you subtracted the heterosexuals from the equation, then most of these initiatives never get off the ground.

I only heard about the Mark Shea kerfuffle through the grapevine as I stopped following his blog much (not against him, but out of a general disdain for Patheos), so I didn't really have enough info to weigh in. What I do remember vividly was Gerald Agustinas and his blog, The Cafeteria is Closed. He stared in with the conservative punt on marriage. Then things started getting weird when he replaced his Catholic-themed banner with the Constitution preamble (reminding me of the guy who said in all seriousness, "MY holy book is the U.S. Constitution." and this creepy picture. Which is to say it goes to your point that being 5-10 years behind liberalism, does not a conservative make.

That time period is shortening. The President only "grew" into supporting homosexual "marriage" this year. As I said to someone recently, the Democratic Party was to the right of the Democratic Party just last year.

All of which makes the dubbing of Douglas Mainwaring as a conservative all the weirder.

I have to admit, Scott, that I find the combo. of that particular painting (creepy and poor art though it definitely is) with punting on marriage to be a surprising sociological phenomenon. I would expect someone who really liked that painting at least to be completely sound on marriage, civil unions, and all such issues, not punting.

At this point I can't say I have much expectations for anyone who is not a hardline anti modernist/traditionalist. James Kalb is really the only author who I can say I have never had much disagreement with, but he is also has a very theoretical approach to things rather than an immediately practical perspective.

"the very foolish promotion by First Things of Joshua Gonnerman as a wise counselor"
This is just one more reason why I side with Front Porch Republic over First Things.

I agree about the use of "extremist." That's been one of my pet peeves for a while. On other blogs, focusing specifically on the Middle East, I've seen people routinely describe 90 percent of the population of certain countries, who support the status quo, as "extremist." The "moderates" are then a handful of people way out on the political fringe calling for radical change.

When "extremist" and "moderate" are used normatively like that, it usually means the speaker has his own morality in mind as the norm, and extremism is measured by one's deviation from that, regardless of how one fits into the distribution of public opinion. In other words, it's usually nothing more than name-calling.

It seems that the crux of the matter is the definition of "conservative".

I always felt that I was a conservative due to my belief in limited government, strong national defense, law and order and strong family values.
As time went by though, I grew more uncomfortable with the idea of trusting the government to be the arbiter of family values and morals. I also felt that seeking government intervention in these areas violated my core belief in limited government and could ultimately backfire (as it indeed has with "morality" now legislated in the form of "hate crimes" and enforced by "diversity police").

So now I advocate for limited government and maximized liberty. I realize that if I want the government out of my life and my church, I need the government out of everyone's life and everyone's beliefs.

I feel I am a now a more principled conservative because my conservatism is logically consistent and my faith is placed - not in government, but in God and his Church.

Chucky, it's not a matter of "want" but a matter of principle. That's the problem. Principled conservatism isn't based on "giving to everyone else's wants the same status as my wants." That's more like libertarianism, or liberalism (seeing as how it derives from Lockean liberal theory). You don't get principled conservatism from a starting point of wanting government out of your life, because that's not a root starting point, it's a conclusion. Conservatism comes to that conclusion from more basic principles, especially those of natural law. You cannot get government out of everyone's beliefs, because government RESTS ON beliefs. To be a nation and a polity is to have in common with others a certain degree of agreement on what government is for and what its structure is to be, and if THOSE beliefs are gravely at contest then the polity itself cannot long endure in peace.

Mainwaring: "Certainly, gay relationships need to be supported, respected and held in esteem by society...The expectation of fully equal treatment with regard to respect, dignity, and a protection of couples rights is rational and judicious."

Then why wouldn't he want marriage for them? It's the ultimate in esteem and equal dignity.

will: "How then do you suggest how to deal with gay and lesbian couples in civil unions who already have children under their care?"

Pass a law making it illegal for homosexual couples to have a child under the roof. Better yet, a court should impose it. That's the way it's usually done these days.

Chucky Darwin,
You also miss a point that the individual conscience is largely formed by the laws of one's nation, written or unwritten. The religion is a PART of national laws, if the religion in question is not entirely a stranger.

Eg libertarian views exist mostly in USA. Were you to be born in Third World, it would have been next to impossible for you to have the libertarian views.

"To be a nation and a polity is to have in common with others a certain degree of agreement on what government is for and what its structure is to be, and if THOSE beliefs are gravely at contest then the polity itself cannot long endure in peace."

The liberalism essentially denies this separation of a neighbor (that shares your beliefs) and stranger (that does not share your beliefs). The liberal deems it wrong and the gravest injustice that the mankind is divided into neighbors and strangers. Thus the liberal denies the Political nature of man.

Dostoevsky said that man wants to worship in common and if denied, he would make war in order to be able to worship with his follow man--he would compel his follow man to worship along with him.

The liberal denial of political nature takes Progressivism and Libertarianism as its two forms.

The progressive erases neighbor-stranger distinction by making everyone a neighbor to everyone i.e. he seeks universal citizenship and a world government.

The libertarian erases the same distinction by making everyone a stranger to everyone. That is, no more common laws, no more common anything, over the basic pre-political laws that define chattel property.

Bill, I can't figure out Mainwaring. I didn't mention above that he seems to think that if a lot of homosexuals aren't actually applying for "marriage" licenses in states that have passed such laws, this means the homosexual "community" isn't really behind the homosexual "marriage" push. That definitely does not follow! It's extremely easy to think of counterexamples. Suppose that somebody proposed that Christians in America not be able to buy houses worth more than $300,000. Obviously, I would oppose such a law even though I don't have any interest in buying a house worth more than $300,000. There are all sorts of things that I would support or oppose based on their importance, symbolism, etc., even though they don't affect me directly. And some of these would affect me indirectly by putting in place some kind of invidious view of people like me. Self-identified, unrepentant homosexuals are, I would guess, pretty likely to think that giving them the state of "marriage" is a matter of justice even if they don't personally want to avail themselves of the opportunity. There may be some of a strongly libertarian bent who don't think this, but I wouldn't put that number very high. And as we see with Mainwaring himself, the fallback then is that civil unions allegedly _are_ required by justice, and that, now, is seen as a "conservative" position, because conservatives are so desperate for allies of all stripes and "orientations."

Mainwaring seems to want to portray homosexuals as somehow being used as mascots by the liberal heterosexuals. Of course, liberals (regardless of sexual orientation) are very inclined to use minority groups as mascots. But it doesn't follow that the mascots in question are merely victims or somehow aren't on-board with the agenda. Even demanding the agenda. And as a matter of fact, Mainwaring himself _is_ demanding a very significant part of the agenda!

Surely, on the specific issue of gay marriage, supporters are the extremists? Even leaving aside the religious context, I can't think of anything more extreme than overturning several thousand years worth of custom for a passing fad.

I suppose that's the contemporary lay of the land, that supporters of homosexual "marriage" are extremists. But let's remember that as the terms are used, the democracy of the dead doesn't get a vote. All that it will take for the term not to be used that way even by those who are somewhat careful about the use (the media, of course, are irresponsible and don't count) is for a sufficient proportion of contemporary Americans to support homosexual "marriage."

Remember that civil unions between two homosexual men or women are themselves an entirely new and radical invention. On any sort of traditionalist or "democracy of the dead" definition, advocating civil unions a la Mainwaring, and advocating that society "esteem" homosexual relationships, is extreme. But that's definitely not the definition that anyone uses, and in the country as a whole, opposition to civil unions is eroding fast. Or what about the very legal act of making homosexuals a "specially protected class"? There are middle American populations who would be fine with that and are fine with that, yet it is historically speaking very radical, not to mention highly mischievous in its effects.

So I suppose we have to choose for ourselves how we're going to use terms like "extremist," especially if we want them to be evaluative.

Lydia,

This blog post is the perfect answer (even though you didn't intend to respond to him) to the latest column from David Brooks, who embodies the anti-extremist position perfectly:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/opinion/brooks-what-moderation-means.html?_r=0

I say down with moderation and three cheers for extremism (at least as defined as it is in this post)!

Tony,

I guess I'm not a conservative anymore then.

Gian,

I'm new to Libertarian thought and have not yet heard anything like the anti-social tendencies you describe. In fact Ayn Rand once answered a similar charge by pointing out that the central tenet of Libertarianism is free trade and the free market - which consists of free individuals, businesses and nations engaging in mutually beneficial interactions with each other. So Libertarianism is centered on interactions with both neighbors, strangers and more. "Every man is an island" is not Libertarian.

Jeffrey S., wow, what a strange, unsatisfying, and patronizing post that is by David Brooks. I'm glad you think mine is a good antidote! I'm referring to the content, even aside from the distracting repeated use of "she" all the way through it. I kept picturing Buffy the Moderate Economist asking herself, "What Would David Brooks Do?" as she formulates her plans for saving the country.

Chucky Darwin,
You make my point
"central tenet of Libertarianism is free trade and the free market"
"interactions with both neighbors, strangers and more"

The libertarian does not make the proper distinction between a neighbor and a stranger. To him, politics is nothing, at best a necessary evil, with State having being evolved from banditry ( a standard libertarian view--see Prof Kling of GMU).
The libertarian prefers to replace all politics, by which a free people rule themselves, by suitably designed voluntary transactions. See David Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom.

Can you reduce dispensing of Justice to voluntary transactions?. The essence of Justice is that it is delivered from upon high. Individuals submit to judgment.

So, the neighbors are those that live under a common involuntary state of laws. These laws extend far beyond necessary for commercial transactions. They cover family, morals, religion, relation with other states etc.

Ultimately, the liberal believes that only Individuals exist but for conservatives, The City is Prior to the Individual and the Family, as Aristotle puts it. The ethical laws may also be justified on the grounds of the continuity of the historic identity of the City, quite apart from any benefits these laws may bring to individuals.

Gian, I'd prefer that this not just be a general discussion of libertarianism. Obviously, it would be the height of folly to attempt to abolish marriage or anything remotely like it in the name of fairness. Also, given child custody issues, impossible. If favored relationships of some sort did not exist, they would have to be invented by the courts on a piecemeal basis when custody questions, intestacy questions, and so on and so forth, arise. If some libertarian refuses to acknowledge this, I can't help him. And believe me, I've tried. We've covered that ground already to no avail.

In any event, right now, a chart is circulating on the Internet advocating the present libertarian candidate for president which claims (apparently out of the horse's mouth) that the official party's official position is that homosexual "marriage" is a "fundamental right." So there one has it.

Chucky, libertarianism simply is not any kind of conservatism, as even Hayek knew and acknowledged. It is founded upon a reductionist and debased view of the Good, making a god of "freedom" and thereby, in the supreme irony that attends to all such heresies, achieving the ultimate Pyrrhic victory, losing both God and the thing it has substituted for Him: It trivializes the objects of our choice by reducing all socially interesting questions to the one really uninteresting question, "Was our choice freely chosen?"

To see this philosophical obscenity play out in practice, compare the responses of conservatives (the real kind) with libertarians to that story a few years ago about the German man who agreed to be literally devoured by another man. It was libertarians who insisted, though squirming and fighting against their own moral intuitions as they did so, that nothing should be done to the cannibal who ate another human being because, after all, they had freely contracted the arrangement in advance. The libertarian has absolutely nothing of interest to say in that situation, other than to fight against his own moral horror and submit to his ideology in spite of himself.

The bottom line is that libertarian political philosophy omits so much of what we know to be the Good, and is so self-consciously agnostic on questions related to it, that it can never be considered really conservative. It also, incidentally, omits to give care to key realities about human beings. The individual libertarian may acknowledge that "no man is an island" as a purely empirical observation,and in fact libertarians love to remind us that they are aware at some level that of course, people need each other, sort of. The only problem is that nothing in libertarian political philosophy actually follows from or accounts for this obvious fact.

Moreover, the notion that we can have a government and a political constellation that is officially neutral on all questions of the Good is a defining characteristic of liberalism, not of conservatism. Modern conservatism actually constitutes an explicit rejection of the silly lie that any society can ever be expected to proceed without a concrete idea of value, which it enforces whether everyone assents to it or not. Liberal society might pretend to do so, but it is just pretense (a subject covered here at WWWtW several times).

I can put it no simpler than to say that libertarianism consists in the false promise that everybody can have what he wants as long as he leaves others to do as they like. That promise is false for a very simple reason: Living in such a society is not what anybody really wants, much less everybody. One of the most basic things that people actually want is to live in the kind of society that is suitable for the raising of their children and the education of their fellow man in the Good. No amount of skeptical hand-waving about the nature of the Good can get libertarians off the hook for the fact that the society they offer us is one in which nobody actually gets what he wants since, as Chesterton said, "Man's most pragmatic need is to be something more than a pragmatist."

You know what the really nasty thing about extremists is? They are completely unable to put themselves in the position of different-minded persons. For an extremist the opponent is nothing less than a demon, a bizarre pervert, a depraved criminal, at best a stupid ignorant idiot. But very few people belong to one of these categories.
And of course extremists are always very proud of being extremist: for them the moderates are abominable traitors, or as Richard Dawkins, a fellow extremist of Lydia, likes to say, members of the Neville Chamberlain school. It's disgusting.

Grobi, any eloquence I expend on answering you here will doubtless be wasted, so I won't try to be eloquent. I'm sure that, as a fellow analytic philosopher, you'll be able to handle plain Anglo-Saxon words instead of eloquence:

The position that homosexual acts are, in fact, perverse, that homosexual inclinations are perverse, and that homosexual relationships should not be "held in esteem by society" was not regarded as an extremist position until very, very recently. In the main post I am urging fellow conservatives to stick to specific, contentful positions that they have reason to believe are true and not to be intimidated by the ever-shifting term "extremist." I am "proud of being an extremist" only in the sense that I am determined to stick to what I have reason to think true rather than shying off because, according to this year's definition, my position is said by the Lord High Opinion-Makers to be "extreme." It would, of course, not be a very wise guide to truth to decide to believe something *just because* it is held to be false by a very great number of other people. In that sense, of course one shouldn't be proud of being extreme, or fringe, or quirky in the content of one's beliefs for its own sake. And obviously I wasn't saying that one should be.

Chucky, libertarianism simply is not any kind of conservatism, as even Hayek knew and acknowledged. It is founded upon a reductionist and debased view of the Good, making a god of "freedom" and thereby, in the supreme irony that attends to all such heresies, achieving the ultimate Pyrrhic victory, losing both God and the thing it has substituted for Him: It trivializes the objects of our choice by reducing all socially interesting questions to the one really uninteresting question, "Was our choice freely chosen?"


If "the Good" and "Justice" is what government really is all about - then I guess, for you, Government = God.

I do view government as a necessary evil. I believe "the good" consists also in freedom from tyranny and evil. I believe that the Church has more to fear from government than from freedom. If those things make me a liberal, then so be it. Rather a free liberal than a conservative slave.

(I think that's enough bumper sticker slogans for one post!)

BTW, if Libertarians are not conservative, why is it the Republican party that actively opposed allowing the Libertarian candidate on the ballot (in OK, MI and PA) and not the Democratic party? I guess the Republicans were worried about all those liberals breaking ranks!

...in the supreme irony that attends to all such heresies...

And I find the implication that I am some sort of heretic for being a Christian Libertarian highly objectionable.

It's so ironic that Barry Goldwater used to call himself a "conservative". But by today's loony political standards, he was a flaming liberal ! He was pro-choice,
pro homosexual rights, and abslutely loathed the religious right, which he said
"scared the hell out of him".
President Obama did NOT vote to allow infants who survive botched abortions to be left to die. This claim has been long debunked . Such occurrances are extremely rare, anyway , yet so many people who oppose abortion make it sound as though this happens all the time, which is far from the case.
In fact, Obama and his administration have been striving to PREVENT as many abortions as possible in America by providing more help to poor pregnant women and making sure that they have easy access tro contracpetives, which is an eminently sensible thing to do . Yet abortion foes have been calling him a "baby-killer" !
Obama doe snot even have the power to stop women from having abortions, and even if he were to issue an official decree making abortion illegal, which would be unconstitutional and make him deserving not only of impeachment but removal from office, he would not be able to do so.

President Obama did NOT vote to allow infants who survive botched abortions to be left to die. This claim has been long debunked .

Then the debunking needs to be debunked, bucko. I've read the transcript from the floor of the Illinois legislature, and he made horrible comments including the infamous "...if it isn't just coming out limp and dead," he expressly opposed making it a requirement that these infants be given assistance because it might "burden" the abortionist, and he insisted on insinuating that requiring such assistance would somehow be unconstitutional according to Roe v. Wade. Go do your own research. The transcript is what it is.

In fact, Obama and his administration have been striving to PREVENT as many abortions as possible in America by providing more help to poor pregnant women and making sure that they have easy access tro contracpetives, which is an eminently sensible thing to do .

Utterly misleading. Obama's administration has rushed, rushed, again and again to provide funding to Planned Parenthood wherever states have managed to cut it. He has taken the states to court when possible to the same end. He has brooded over the fortunes of the nation's largest abortion provider as a mother hen broods over her chicks. This is not "striving to prevent as many abortions as possible." He has not the slightest motivation or desire to prevent abortions. Moreover, the evidence that widespread and aggressive contraception provision of all sorts prevents abortion is scant to none. I debunked the most recent attempt along those lines right here at W4, in detail. Meanwhile, the party of which he was a candidate went full speed ahead to remove even the pretense of the word "rare" from its party platform on the abortion issue! I suppose we should be thankful for the gleam of honesty: They don't claim anymore that they want abortions to be rare. But presumably they assumed that they could do that to appeal to their base while simultaneously counting on some members of that base, such as Robert Berger, to go around the Web spreading the lie that they want to prevent abortions! That way, they get to have their Halloween candy and eat it, too.

Please, don't waste my time. Mr. Berger, since I and I daresay my conservative readers here are better informed than anyone you might previously have successfully bamboozled, if any such person exists.

If "the Good" and "Justice" is what government really is all about - then I guess, for you, Government = God.

That's totally silly and completely illogical, Chucky. Government can be all about good and justice by being wholly ordered to them without being the defining foundation of them. As long as government is for the sake of something more important than government, then there is no reason to even suggest equating it with God.

BTW, if Libertarians are not conservative, why is it the Republican party that actively opposed allowing the Libertarian candidate on the ballot (in OK, MI and PA) and not the Democratic party?

Well, that's pretty illogical, too. Obviously, the answer is that the Republican Party is not the Libertarian Party, and holds different goals and principles than the Libertarian Party does. That's why it opposes the Libertarian candidates. Opposing their being on the ballot is just another step in opposing their being elected, of course. In addition: In an election in which there is a clearly conservative Republican, a conservative-sounding middle-of-the-road Libertarian, and a liberal Democrat, the conservative Republican has a lot lower chance of winning the general vote than if the same election were solely between the Republican and the Democrat. The fact is that some not-quite-conservative, not-particularly-liberal people will vote for a Republican over a Democrat, but may not vote for a Republican over a Libertarian. But that fact does nothing to support the Libertarian's conservative credentials.

There are non-conservative Republicans in office - rather lots of them. There are just a few conservative Democrats left in public office. There are Libertarians that fit the bill as conservative, but others that fit as more liberal than conservative. Given that, I fail to see why we should assume Democrat support for Libertarian candidates getting on the ballot is for any reason other than that the Democrats can get along with that Libertarians in office just fine.

The sad thing, Lydia, is such people DEFINITELY exist, and I know many of them. It's the reason conservatives often look so bad and so "bigoted" in arguments, because many of us don't really know why we believe what we do.

"Homosexual marriage is unnatural!"

"Well medicine is unnatural, but you use that."

"But...but...homosexual relationships are different!"

...And that's all many conservatives can say, because though they know inherently something is wrong there they have no idea why they believe that or how to make any good arguments for their beliefs. In some ways, that IS bigotry due to ignorance, and it's sad because it puts a stain on the entire conservative spectrum that it doesn't deserve.

Or another example-infidels.org. Many conservatives see them "debunking" the proofs for God and have absolutely no clue how to respond.

Chucky Darwin,
Tyranny may be defined as the state of laws contrary to the natural law.
If a Govt suppresses pornographers, it is no tyranny but acting according to the natural law.

In some ways, that IS bigotry due to ignorance, and it's sad because it puts a stain on the entire conservative spectrum that it doesn't deserve.

MarcAnthony, there I'm going to disagree with you. I would say rather that people are perfectly within their rights to have a perception of the natural law yet to be unable to go into an articulate disquisition on it when something totally crazy and perverse is proposed. This is why young people flung into a contemporary ethics class can be gotten to believe just about anything--cannibalism? infanticide? killing for organs? why not? Their teachers, well-schooled in the sophistry of contemporary ethics through their own undergraduate and graduate school experience, act as though things that are self-evident by the natural light require an elaborate defense and often tacitly require that that defense be cast in utilitarian terms. If, for example, ordinary folk were to say that eating one's own excrement is crazy but be unable to articulate a full-fledged "theology of the body" explaining why this is so, they would not be bigots. Rather, it is our present world that is out of whack, that proposes crazy things and then acts as though the burden of proof is on the sane to say in excruciating detail why the crazy is crazy.

Will someone please start a thread on Libertarianism so we can stop thread-jacking and finally just have this discussion?

That's one of the problems though, isn't it. We live today in a world where "It just seems wrong" is simply not enough. If conservatives don't learn, then we lose-the sophistry of the ethics class wins out, because what background do they have to defend against it?

Society has changed. If one is to be a conservative today it is becoming increasingly necessary to know why you believe what you do. The devil is a liar, after all.

"Rather a free liberal than a conservative slave."

Ah. So the peoples of the pre-liberal, non-libertarian West were just slaves. Because the Good consists in "freedom from tyranny," and if a man does not think the Good is utterly reducible to the pat observation that freedom from tyranny is good, then he must not think freedom from tyranny is important.

And this contempt for the whole pre-liberal social order is "conservative" how exactly?

This is what people mean when they say that libertarianism is a child's political philosophy. A conservative talks of "the Good," referring to that transcendent ordered whole encompassing the myriad goods which, because the world has a tragic character, sometimes exist in tension. He says that the Good is not reducible to a mere object of our experience, like freedom, or niceness, or tolerance, or lollipops. This means that while freedom from tyranny is obviously a good, it is a radically truncated and insufficient basis for political life as a whole. The conservative thinks that ordered liberty is possible without making a fetish of freedom for freedom's sake, and he has a lot of history to back him up on that point.

The libertarian hears a conservative talking this way and can responds only, "But don't you see, this 'Good' to which you refer, that's just FREEDOM, and anyone who thinks otherwise is not only an advocate of slavery, but a slave himself." There is something peculiarly silly about the notion that if one does not elevate "freedom from government" to the organizing principle of a whole society, then one can have only contempt for freedom. It is, again, a child's argument, insisting on a remorseless consistency from a starting point that he has chosen--and chosen arbitrarily I might add, since without any more general conception of value in which to ground himself, he is not finally able to defend his choice of "freedom from government" as the sole and central basis of all his ideas about political life in a rational way, any more than he could defend his preference for chocolate over vanilla.

And what's even more depressing is that anyone could possibly think that the following argument doesn't have a massive problem in its first premise (not to mention its conclusion):

Republicans = Conservatives
Libertarians lean Republican
Therefore Libertarians = Conservatives

I'm sorry to have to be the one to say it , but the Republican Party is simply not a "conservative" organization, if by that word we mean a party dedicated to the preservation of traditional American culture, society, and so on. Not, that is, if we mean "conservative" in any substantive way, rather than just as a relative term to differentiate the Republicans from the openly leftist crazies that populate and largely run the Democratic Party. I say it again: There is absolutely nothing conservative about the notion that "freedom is the highest political value." A person who imagines a society which has some concrete and generally enforceable notion of value, and recoils in horror, seeing only tyranny and oppression, simply is not a conservative. He is, by definition, a political liberal.

But don't sweat it--virtually the whole of Western Civilization is now peopled by liberals, so you have lots and lots of company, though in my experience being a libertarian isn't all that much fun once one realizes that it doesn't actually make him much of an outsider on the things that matter most.

That's one of the problems though, isn't it. We live today in a world where "It just seems wrong" is simply not enough. If conservatives don't learn, then we lose-the sophistry of the ethics class wins out, because what background do they have to defend against it?

Society has changed. If one is to be a conservative today it is becoming increasingly necessary to know why you believe what you do. The devil is a liar, after all.

MarcAnthony, you raise some interesting questions. Let me give you a little more of an answer. Let's suppose that some young person, approximately college age, is given a more comprehensive worldview into which his intuitions about the evil and unnaturalness of something--abortion, for example, or homosexual "marriage"--are fitted. He is taught to make explicit such ideas as that the unborn child is merely a younger human being (and given scientific information showing this) and that it is always wrong to kill innocents. He is given a comprehensive notion of the complementary nature of man and woman, and is taught to make this explicit, so that he understands better the unnaturalness of homosexuality. In what sense is this now "enough" in a way that his original, pre-theoretic, "That's crazy!" was not "enough"?

I think the best answer to this is that, if he has a stubborn and independent mind, and for preference if he continues to have friends and family who also understand these things, he will remain more confident and calm *in himself* when confronted with the insanity of our society.

Even so, I'm not at all confident that he would be able to stand up to the sustained, third-degree, brainwashing treatment that goes on in some on-campus, immersion-experience, secular colleges. How many of us would at the age of, say, eighteen, even with a well-developed worldview? We're talking about incessant mind-pressure, with the implicit threat of harm to the young person's future.

But in any event, he'll be in a better position, and if his parents are smart, they won't encourage him to go deeply into debt (as like as not) to buy himself such an experience.

Okay, I'm willing to grant that.

What I think we need to be careful about, however, is any notion that even such careful worldview training is "enough" to convince the people who have been raised to think that "natural" means nothing, that the notion that human beings are special is completely false, that our bodies and their parts have no purpose, that men and women are interchangeable, that babies are not persons, and various other insanities. You might be able to convince them and then again you might not, but let's not be over-confident about it nor demand that our *own* young people, young people who start out with clean minds and hearts, are somehow deficient if they can't convince those who have already been thorough-goingly warped. Nor that their arguments have to be "enough" to sway the public at large, which also contains many people who have been thorough-goingly warped.

There is more: Frankly, I think we who educate and raise the young need to weigh up the pros and cons of telling our young people anything about what homosexuals actually *do*, what their sexual acts actually *are*. On the one hand, doing so would enable us to talk in more detail about what we mean when we say that this is perverted and insane and an abuse of the body. On the other hand, it would put material into our young people's minds that they don't need to have there. We need to walk a fine line. If doing "enough" in the way of argumentation has to mean graphic information, then I'm extremely hesitant to do that kind of "enough."

Let me be clear: I am an evidentialist. I certainly believe in being "ready to give an answer" when it comes to issues like, say, the existence of God or the reasonableness of Christianity. But when it comes to insanity and perversion, I really doubt that we need to sit around with, say, our thirteen-year-olds and expressly contemplate, in detail, all the insanity and perversion that our world has to offer, doing so in an ostensibly neutral fashion, in order to give them "arguments" against it that go beyond shock and horror. That might just do more harm than good, and in a number of different ways. Just one of those ways is teaching them that these are the sorts of things to be contemplated *at all*, much less contemplated as the sorts of things that reasonable people require *argument* in order to reject.

Lydia,
Usually it is the peer group that imparts information to a child and largely forms the child's sexuality, apart from the modern mass media. But even the mass media is viewed through the lens provided by the peer group.

Anthony Esolen has written many penetrating articles about how a growing boy's sexuality is affirmed by the peer group--the boy who fails to be properly affirmed may turn out to lack normal sexuality.

Now the normality of the peer group can not be taken for granted. Thus it is absolutely crucial for the parents to counterbalance the peer group. It is an unpleasant necessity, no doubt, but has to be done in an age-appropriate way.

Sage,
Libertarianism is, to an extent, the romance of the Frontier that has run rampart and got itself extended to the City.

The romantic believes that true freedom is to be found at the frontier and not in the city.

Thus, also the obsession with the Closing of the Frontier and settlement of the Space.

Gian, I guess it depends on what you mean by "peer group." Those of us who home school have rather a different relationship to our children's "peer group" than those who send children to school--any school, whether Christian or public. In any event, my children's friends are not, in fact, pressuring them to agree that homosexuality and abortion are fine. If they were, they wouldn't be my children's friends, especially not at a young age. That's my approach, rather than saying, "Oh, no, my twelve-year-old is sort of like a bigot if she doesn't have arguments against homosexual 'marriage', which her peer group is promoting."

Part of the issue here is one of burden of proof. The world doesn't just get to dream up some insanity and then tell us that we are bigots if we don't have lengthy, articulate arguments against that latest insanity. The number of crazy things the world could advocate is infinite. Here, I just thought of a new one: Cutting off one's hand and eating it. It's not a fad right now, but in the world we live in, it could be. People aren't bigots because they haven't sat down and thought of _arguments_ for why cutting off one's hand and eating it is crazy and abnormal. Yet many of the things now advocated as normal and to-be-celebrated in our world are at least as crazy and abnormal as that.

So long as the 19th Amendment exists, extremism is going to be a dead strategy. Women are incapable of having something be "legal but shameful" for long, especially when it provides a social use for them. The homosexuals are simply using the exact same strategy that suffragettes and feminists did.

The first step in sensible extremism, as well as the first step in sensible anything, is deciding where you want to go, and by extension, where you want to stop.

If you have no ability to visualize the image of the best possible society, proclaim it loudly, force the politicians of the day to kowtow to it, and let it shine brightly in the minds of the disenfranchised opposition parties, then you'll be ruled by the gravitational pull of hazy ideals without limits and general corruption till the crack of doom. But only men are theoretical, exacting, and abstract enough to drive and conduct the idea train into the right station(versus just going along for the ride whilst complaining about the shoddy service.)

Note: The end result of unrestricted gay rule is Iran's current situation, where homosexuality is so ubiquitous among men it doesn't exist. There's a good reason so many gays take so many overseas postings in Arab countries, and why liberal women never seem to criticize actual Islamic societies(in the land of the gays, the old women they fawn over are king.)

Universal suffrage is the greatest source of corruption, talk to me about restricting the franchise to responsible men before you talk to me about how well-organized fringe groups are exploiting it.

So long as the 19th Amendment exists, extremism is going to be a dead strategy. Women are incapable of having something be "legal but shameful" for long, especially when it provides a social use for them.

Yeah, that's why it's a woman writing this post and men criticizing me, both here in this post (see in this thread Grobi, who I assume is male, and Robert Berger, and in other threads our commentator Al, who thank goodness has been very quiet lately) all over the Internet, why, for example, I was demonized by Brian Leiter a few years ago, for being such an extremist. I just learned yesterday that I've made some leftist blogger's "right-wing loon" list for my views on Islam. Ed Feser made the same list for his views on homosexuality and abortion. That's company I'm proud to be in.

Thank God, literally, that I found this blog. I'm simply blow away by the TRUTH I've read, just in this one post. I'm going to stick around and do lots of reading. Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!

Yeah, that's why it's a woman writing this post and men criticizing me, ...
Oh, do calm down. Dare I say it? "Stop acting like a woman!"

Does

So long as the 19th Amendment exists, extremism is going to be a dead strategy. Women are incapable of having something be "legal but shameful" for long, especially when it provides a social use for them.
really mean *all* women, without exception?

Ilion, I'd like to think that somebody who was abiding by even minor standards of "not looking like an ass" would have bothered to say, "Present company excluded" or something to that effect. After all, the irony of putting that comment, unqualified, on this post would hardly escape someone who possessed an ear made of something other than tin. Honestly, Ilion, I don't think you want to get involved defending commentator D.M. He's an even odder bird than you are, to put it mildly, judging by comments on past posts, some of which have had to be deleted or edited, IIRC.

But please, let's not go all meta. D.M.'s comment wasn't interesting or valuable enough to rate a lengthy discussion of my response to it.

Because the Good consists in "freedom from tyranny,"
Let me stop you right there. If you are going to quote me, do it accurately please. What I actually said was "I believe "the good" consists also in freedom from tyranny and evil" [emphasis added to highlight the one little word you apparently missed]. So the rest of your sentence: "and if a man does not think the Good is utterly reducible to the pat observation that freedom from tyranny is good, then he must not think freedom from tyranny is important" is totally irrelevant because it has absolutely nothing to do with what I actually said (IOW a strawman).
And this contempt for the whole pre-liberal social order is "conservative" how exactly?
Red herring. I never said ANYTHING about the "pre-liberal social order" so how do you conclude that I hold it in contempt?
This is what people mean when they say that libertarianism is a child's political philosophy.
Pot shot. Hope you feel better about yourself because of it.
A conservative talks of "the Good," referring to that transcendent ordered whole encompassing the myriad goods which, because the world has a tragic character, sometimes exist in tension. He says that the Good is not reducible to a mere object of our experience, like freedom, or niceness, or tolerance, or lollipops. This means that while freedom from tyranny is obviously a good, it is a radically truncated and insufficient basis for political life as a whole. The conservative thinks that ordered liberty is possible without making a fetish of freedom for freedom's sake, and he has a lot of history to back him up on that point.

Once again you're arguing against a strawman here. I gave a REASON why I prefer to champion freedom from government. Remember this: "I believe that the Church has more to fear from government than from freedom"? I have listed some of the reasons to be wary of a government defined "good" here and in other threads and that part always gets ignored. Why is that?

The libertarian hears a conservative talking this way and can responds only, "But don't you see, this 'Good' to which you refer, that's just FREEDOM, and anyone who thinks otherwise is not only an advocate of slavery, but a slave himself."
STRAWMAN!!!
There is something peculiarly silly about the notion that if one does not elevate "freedom from government" to the organizing principle of a whole society, then one can have only contempt for freedom.
STRAWMAN!!!
It is, again, a child's argument,
POT SHOT!!!
insisting on a remorseless consistency from a starting point that he has chosen--and chosen arbitrarily I might add, since without any more general conception of value in which to ground himself, he is not finally able to defend his choice of "freedom from government" as the sole and central basis of all his ideas about political life in a rational way, any more than he could defend his preference for chocolate over vanilla.
STRAWMAN!!!
And what's even more depressing is that anyone could possibly think that the following argument doesn't have a massive problem in its first premise (not to mention its conclusion):

Republicans = Conservatives


I never said that.

Libertarians lean Republican
I never said that either.
Therefore Libertarians = Conservatives
Let's see, how many strikes before you're out?
I'm sorry to have to be the one to say it , but the Republican Party is simply not a "conservative" organization
[sarcasm] Geez, you're kidding! I actually thought it was! That's why I left it after 34 years - because it was just too danged conservative for me! [/sarcasm] (by that I meant: "duh!")
if by that word we mean a party dedicated to the preservation of traditional American culture, society, and so on. Not, that is, if we mean "conservative" in any substantive way, rather than just as a relative term to differentiate the Republicans from the openly leftist crazies that populate and largely run the Democratic Party.
I'm for the traditional American values expressed by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. That's probably not "traditional" enough though huh?
I say it again: There is absolutely nothing conservative about the notion that "freedom is the highest political value." A person who imagines a society which has some concrete and generally enforceable notion of value, and recoils in horror, seeing only tyranny and oppression, simply is not a conservative. He is, by definition, a political liberal.
Yeah right. Political liberals are all about limiting government power.
But don't sweat it--virtually the whole of Western Civilization is now peopled by liberals, so you have lots and lots of company, though in my experience being a libertarian isn't all that much fun once one realizes that it doesn't actually make him much of an outsider on the things that matter most.
I really, REALLY don't know what this "libertarianism" you rail against even is. I've never heard it described in terms remotely like yours by the countless Libertarians I've encountered - only from you. I can only conclude that your descriptions are gross mischaracterizations. I guess you have an idea in your head of what libertarianism is and you just can't let it go - no matter what actual Libertarians say.
I'm for the traditional American values expressed by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. That's probably not "traditional" enough though huh?
Of course not. That is still early modern :)

Whoops, can you please delete my name from that last post Lydia? Thanks! I keep mistyping nowadays.

I don't see your name, Anymouse, just your handle. Maybe someone else already took care of this.

I did. All OK now.

Thanks, Tony.

Chucky Darwin,
"I prefer to champion freedom from government."
But you are not going to get it. It is impossible since man is by nature a political animal. All the libertarianism does is to accelerate the fragmentation of the bonds of solidarity such that the Progressive State has to "put in" the required solidarity by hand.

Dostoevsky knew the progressive-libertarian play (even though Russia lacked explicit libertarians):

"Starting from absolute freedom, I conclude in absolute despotism"
The Possessed.

It would appear that a thread on libertarianism at WWWTW would involve lots of all-caps shouting and hard-headed refusal to use the word "liberal" in anything other than the degraded, weird, purely American sense of the word, meaning something like "left of center." So it's not a surprise that there's not a dedicated thread to the topic, and I suppose we should all be grateful.

Good point, Gian. Conservatives need to put down Ayn Rand and pick up their Dosty. Liberty perceived as an absolute will end in despotism, whether it's money or sex we're talking about.

You said a mouthful there, Sage.

Gian:

All the libertarianism does is to accelerate the fragmentation of the bonds of solidarity such that the Progressive State has to "put in" the required solidarity by hand.

I don't think so. The desire for freedom is universal and unites us all.

Dostoevsky knew the progressive-libertarian play (even though Russia lacked explicit libertarians): "Starting from absolute freedom, I conclude in absolute despotism" The Possessed.

I don't even know what a 'progressive-libertarian' is - since the terms describe mutually exclusive ideologies. The progressive is a Statist, the libertarian is an anti-Statist.

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