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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Friday, February 26, 2010Leland has been attending Ruth Institute since our founding. He came to our Same Sex Marriage Affects Everyone series (now up on our You-Tube channel, and available for sale.) I asked him to start posting for us, because he kept sending me interesting news clips, too many for me to post myself! So, he has agreed to share his clippings and his thoughts with us. Leland describes his faith journey to me, in this way:
My journey to salvation took me from nominal Roman Catholic, to agnostic, to atheist, to New Ager, to pseudo-Christian, but eventually (and finally) to orthodox, born again, follower of Christ. I began to acquire an exhaustive (albeit informal) education as a Christian thinker shortly after moving to the Los Angeles basin and discovering the abundance of Christian theological, philosophical, and apologetic ministries that exist in Southern California. I have spent thousands of hours over the course of the last twenty years learning from some of the world’s foremost Christian scholars (including of course, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse). I am a member of the Seventh Day Baptist church.Welcome to the Ruth blog, Leland!
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010I have blogged about this Quebec Policy Against Homophobia when the document first appeared. I pointed out that the Quebec government has written itself a blank check: they plan to wipe out homophobia and heterosexism. Now, heterosexism is the view that heterosexuality is normal. News flash: heterosexuality is normal for our species. It is simply not possible to wipe out this view and all its manifestations. Hence, my claim that the Provincial govt has given itself permission to intervene in every aspect of civil society. I was beginning to think that I was the only person who noticed or cared about this massive state power grab. But, now, I have discovered this hard-hitting essay by Prof Douglas Farrow of McGill University.
The Québec policy against homophobia was released in December with introductory fanfare from Premier Jean Charest and Justice Minister Kathleen Weil, who is officially “the minister responsible for the fight against homophobia.” It diagrams a full-scale assault, to be coordinated by an inter-departmental committee, against “homophobic attitudes and behaviour patterns” and “sets out the government’s goal of removing all the obstacles” to full recognition of LGBT interests and modes of life. What is thus promulgated is no ordinary policy document, for it aims at the conversion, not merely of this or that piece of public infrastructure, but of the psychological and moral and sexual infrastructure of a generation. ... Herewith the Ministry of Justice moves boldly and decisively into territory once reserved for the voluntary organs of civil society. Not only is homophobia to be eradicated “at all levels of society,” it is to be eradicated as a matter of government policy and by means of government action. “The first challenge,” we are told, “is to ‘demystify’ sexual identities and orientations and the realities they involve. Prejudice is the foundation for homophobic attitudes and behaviour, and because of prejudice, sexual minority members are often forced to keep their sexual identity quiet, perpetuating the lack of understanding and the rejection of difference.”So the government will undertake to “raise awareness of the realities” and promote respect for the rights of sexual minorities, to “rally all players in society” to their cause, and to “ensure a concerted approach” to the matter in all branches of the bureaucracy.... This putative de-mystification, as we shall see, is actually an exercise in obfuscation. But there can be no obscuring the fact that the Québec policy against homophobia is an official endorsement of – indeed, the assumption of full responsibility for – the activist agenda of so-called LGBT groups. As such, it is also a declaration of war by the Charest government on all groups and citizens who oppose that agenda. ...That is a very broad front indeed, just as the ambition to create social, and not merely legal, equality is a very large ambition. But the government is determined to assert “the state’s role as a leader in upholding rights and freedoms and keeping public order,” as well as “the responsibility and commitment of all institutional and social players, and of the general public, to combat homophobia.” Can the government win such a war? Perhaps not. But a government so lacking in constitutional modesty, in moral judgment, and in political sense as to wage it, is a government that can and will wreak havoc in Quebec society. I feel it my duty to point that out to my fellow citizens, and to comment on some of the tactics displayed by the document, though these will already be familiar to anyone who has observed the earlier stages of this Kulturkampf, when the combatants were volunteers rather than conscripts(Regular Ruth Readers may recall my review of Prof Farrow's book, Nation of Bastards.) Scroll down about a third of teh way.
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010This article in the New Oxford Review follows nicely on my posts about the CA Human Rights Amendment. After going on about the inconsistency of some people in the pro-life movement, (an argument I haven't got time for, frankly), he makes this observation:
It could be called the Personhood Movement. It would have a very specific goal: legal recognition of the personhood of the human individual from fertilization onward, with accompanying absolute legal protection. In fact, its goal would be precisely the federal Personhood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution advocated by Judie Brown in her February 2009 NOR article. But there will never be a Personhood Amendment without a Personhood Movement. The Personhood Movement would jettison the term "pro-life." If we must have some pithy moniker, then pro-personhood, pro-human child, and pro-child are credible options. Opponents of the death penalty or any given war would have a moral obligation to keep those causes separate from that of recognizing the personhood of preborn children. The Personhood Movement would embody this obligation by focusing solely on human personhood from conception to birth. It would drop stale slogans like "respect life from conception to natural death," unless modified to "respect innocent human lives from conception to natural death."Within the academic community, there are many abortion apologists who know perfectly well that the being inside the womb is a member of the species homo sapiens. They deny that these particular human beings count as persons. That is the battle that needs to be fought and won. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, "A person's a person, no matter how small." Learn more about the CA Human Rights Amendment here. PS: I wanted to post a link to this post, over at the New Oxford Review, but you have to be a subscriber to post. If anyone is a subscriber, please let them know that I'm talking about them!
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010This recent clip from the Vatican news service reminds me of our Ruth Institute conference coming up next week at BYU.
The president of the U.S. episcopal conference drew an unusually large crowd at the Mormon Brigham Young University, telling his audience that Catholics and Mormons have to unite to defend common values. Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, addressed a group of about 12,000 on Tuesday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "I'm personally grateful," Cardinal George said, "that, after 180 years of living mostly apart from one another, Catholics and Latter-day Saints have come to see one another as trustworthy partners in the defense of shared moral principles."The Ruth Institute will be providing speakers for the Stand for the Family Symposium at BYU. We are also sponsoring the student Essay Contests, which attracted over 150 entries from undergraduates, graduate students and law students. We are psyched!
Posted on: Wednesday, February 24, 2010I am totally on-board with the CA Human Rights Amendment. I have been deeply influenced by the Rev Walter Hoye, African American pastor of Oakland, and tireless defender of the unborn. To me, in this essay, Rev Hoye sounds like William Lloyd Garrison, American abolitionist of the 19th century and editor of The Liberator. I did my radio show today on this topic, including this billboard campaign in GA. There are simply too many parallels between slavery and abortion to overlook.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 24, 2010My debate at Stanford, with Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute, has just been put on our podcast page. Pretty fun debate, pretty friendly debate, too, especially compared with some of my encounters on same sex marriage. I especially like the Q&A at the end of this debate. Enjoy!
Posted on: Monday, February 22, 2010has an intelligent and down to earth analysis of Joe Stack, the suicide flyer who flew his plane into a federal building. Lee Harris points out that the chattering classes have rushed to try to pin Mr. Stack on their ideological enemies. But Harris observes that this just betrays their own biases. Ordinary Americans by and large, do not think in ideological terms. And the best way to understand Joe Stack is as a visceral response, not an ideological response.
The blind spot of the political class is that they systematically tend to overrate the importance of their own stock in trade—namely, ideas and ideologies. In their model of human behavior, people first examine various political theories and positions, and, after careful reflection and suitable debate, they adopt whatever political position most agrees with all the facts. ... Now while this may or may not accurately describe how the political class makes up its mind about what political position to adopt, it is an appallingly bad account of how most people decide on political questions. It is also an extremely dangerous account, because it overlooks the immense influence of irrational factors in the shaping of our political ideas, both at the level of the individual and at the level of society—factors like anger, fear, frustration, resentment, and the sense of being wronged. No ideology motivated Joe Stack to kill himself by flying his plane into the side of a building. He was motivated by rage and his sense of utter helplessness. One of the features of his suicide note that has received scant attention are those passages in which he explains he once sincerely believed in the American dream, and thought that he could achieve it for himself. His intense bitterness was that which comes from a keen sense of betrayal. He believed that the nation that he once trusted to be on his side, and to stand for justice for all, had cruelly deceived him and all the other little guys, like himself, who have been marginalized and ignored, who have no say in how they are governed. Worse, the government he grew up trusting had become a mere tool of corporate greed, forcing ordinary hard-working Americans to bail out the filthy rich or conspiring to force them to cough up money to fill the coffers of insurance companies, under the specious guise of healthcare reform. President Obama is as bad as President Bush. ... This is no ideology—it is a cry of visceral anguish. To attempt to use Stack to score points against one's political opponents is symptomatic of a profound lack of seriousness. Equally frivolous is the attempt to dismiss Stack as a lone nutcase when already many Americans have hailed him as a folk hero. What he wrote and what he did has struck a deep, and deeply disturbing, chord in the psyche of many other Americans who, rightly or wrongly, feel a similar sense of having been duped and betrayed by a country that they had been brought up to love and to trust. These people share no set ideology. They are just mad as hell, and they are ready to applaud any act, even acts of violence, so long as it is a way of saying, "We aren't going to take it anymore."I second Harris' plea that the intellectual classes stop treating the emotions of ordinary people as tools. They act as it, "If I can use someone's pain as a tool for getting what I want politically, then I take those emotions seriously, and even stoke them. If the emotions are not useful to me, I am entitled to dismiss them." This has got to stop.
Posted on: Monday, February 22, 2010Here is what I got to do while I was stuck due to the snow storm in NYC last week. I got to be a guest on the Fox New web TV program, God Talk. In this short clip, I explain the mission of the Ruth Institute.
Posted on: Monday, February 22, 2010Here is a podcast of my debate at Columbia Law School on same sex marriage. Listen for my opponent's dismissal of the feelings of the Donor Conceived Persons. I can tell you: a chill went through the room when she said that. Even students who generally support ssm were surprised and I sensed, dismayed, by her cavalier response. See what you think.
Posted on: Monday, February 22, 2010Writing at the Vatican News Service, Fr. John Flynn summarizes a series of recent reports from British think tanks on the benefits of marriage. On Feb 9th, the English think tank, the Relationships Foundation published “Counting the Cost of Family Failure,” and the following day “Why Does Marriage Matter?”
In the first briefing the foundation put at 41.7 billion pounds ($64.49 billion) the annual cost of failed relationships. This works out at 1,350 pounds ($2,088) for each U.K. taxpayer. Public policymakers need to take into account this high economic burden and take appropriate steps to ensure more stable relationships, the briefing urged. “It is an unpopular truth that choices have consequences and costs, and that these are not always borne by the choice-maker,” the briefing commented.Note: this sounds alot like the reports from teh Institute for American Values on the Taxpayer Cost of out of wedlock childbearing.
In “Why Does Marriage Matter?” they explained that, while almost any relationship has benefits, the advantages are far greater for married couples. The briefing noted that some argue these matters should be a purely private decision between two people and so should not be of concern to public authorities. “But marriage affects not just two consenting adults, but also any children involved, the wider extended families and society as a whole,” the briefing affirmed. “In supporting marriage, policy is firstly recognizing that it is beneficial to see relationships as public institutions, not just private choices,” the foundation continued. Therefore, it should be rejected as just a myth that private living arrangements should enjoy the same legal protections and social support as marriage, the briefing argued.There is a move afoot throughout the English speaking world to do exactly that: make non-marital living arrangments the equivalent of marriages in various ways. I haven't heard of the Relationship Foundation before, but it sounds as if they are doing good work.