Saturday, March 28, 2009

God saved her.

Thank you, Anchoress, for beating the drums for life. I am in awe of people like Faith's mom and Eliot's parents. There is already such tremendous social pressure to abort the "less than perfect." Everyone owes these parents their deepest gratitude for sheltering and loving their beautiful children. It smooths the way for the rest of us when we have to make the difficult choices.

I wish I could say that I always trust God that way, but too often I don't. Everything I know today I learned the hard way - including life.

Abortion is ever-present in my life. So many women lawyers I know waited too long to have children, only to resort to Clomid, IVF, and other fertility means. If they get lucky and it takes, "selective reduction" is the next step in the fertility process. Whatever you call it - abortion, reduction, procedure - it seems sterile and clean, modern and responsible. It's the only thing you really can control when it comes to childbearing, which every woman finds out is more of a medical wilderness than you can imagine. Abortion seemed like the only easy answer for a universe of hard problems. Of course I was pro-choice. Everyone I respected was. And if it conflicted with my church, well, then maybe the church was wrong. Besides, how could I believe in a faith that would force me to behave so "irresponsibly." How could I believe in a faith that would force so much gratuitous pain? Pro-life seemed like being pro-cruelty in some circumstances.

Then I got pregnant.

And you know what, it was kind of gruesome. The sicker I got, the more weight I lost, the more I became convinced that no one, no one had the right to dictate that I or any other woman to go through this. I lost 12% of my body weight in two months. Swallowing anything, even water or my own saliva, made me vomit. When I finally got insurance approval for a $100 per pill anti-vomiting drug, it held the sickness at bay so long as I didn't try to move. I was dizzy and sick even in my sleep, when I could sleep. But even as I blamed my body for being so tremendously bad at being pregnant, I grew to love the tiny baby inside.

But love without grace wasn't enough to stop me from trying to kill it. At 18 weeks and some change, we didn't know the gender, so when the hemorrhage started, the baby was still an "it." And when the doctor said he had some bad news, I was the one who asked for the "procedure."
The emergency room doctor gave us some privacy while he left to go schedule the D&C. I didn't want to face delivering the remains of my dead child at home. They'll just take it out, he said. A friend in the same position only took one day off work when her first fetus was determined to be "growing too slow" and removed. It was New Years Day. I wouldn't even need to take vacation.

My ob-gyn came in a few hours later to do the pre-op. Yet another pelvic exam left me so sore I could hardly move. Hospital policy required a Foley catheter for an ultrasound that hurt every second it was in. Insult to injury - the ultrasound showed that my body was having severe contractions. I don't know what it showed the baby's body as doing. All they told me was "dead."

"Schedule the procedure," I demanded. I know my rights.

I was angry when my doctor told me it was better not to do any medical intervention if at all possible. What were we supposed to tell our families? "Oh hey, my dead baby is going to fall out of me any minute. And Happy Holidays, by the way." Ever tactful, we told them exactly that.

And then we waited.

How many days are you supposed to wait for your dead baby to fall out of you?

We waited 22 more weeks.

There is such relief in not having to be God.

She is so beautiful it will make your heart stop.

I nearly killed her.
I wrote that a few months ago. She's even more beautiful today.

By rights, I should never get up from my knees in thanksgiving to the Lord for saving me, and her, from my outrageous and ungrateful stupidity. It was such a close thing. The thought of what could have happened causes me physical pain.

God intervened, but it should not have been that close. Who am I to reject the gift of life, just because it's going to be scary and messy and potentially painful? Who am I to reject the gift of faith? What stupidity to reject the only bulwark and protector of all children - born or unborn - against the scared or selfish or misguided acts of their own parents. God gave me everything I needed to know to save my children, and I disregarded the information. By rights, I deserved no child. But God is merciful.

It's a hard thing to hold on to what is right in this world, but the parents of Baby Faith and Baby Eliot have done it. I am certain that their loving example will give comfort to those who struggle against the modern world to see that there is another way.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Self-important faux conservative columnists - They're just like us!

I suppose the only silver lining here is that we all know that Kathleen Parker's byline is going to be about as credible as any other celebrity worshiper at US Weekly.
I was also struck by how lean and fit everyone is. The Obamas are thin people, a sight to behold in the age of obesity.
Complete with creepy uber-fan stalking:
Uninhibited and guileless, they seemed utterly at ease with five strangers— especially, may I say, with the sole female, who just happened to have a little green Ugly Doll hanging from her purple purse, very similar to one spotted several weeks ago on Sasha’s book bag.

The guys may talk football, leaving some women reporters clueless, but guys don’t know jack about the Ugly Doll fashion phenom begun by one Sasha Obama several weeks ago. I wouldn’t call my Ugly Doll “bait” exactly, but I might call it strategy. As a conversation starter, it worked.

Poor Sasha. There will come a time when those little girls realize that almost every new person they meet is just exploiting them. They're going to feel manipulated and betrayed. And in this case, they would be right to think so.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Honeymoon's Over, Jerk

Andrew Sullivan is a bad man, a disgrace to any group who would have him. His public attacks on Sarah Palin and her minor children are outrageous and delusional. He more than anyone bears the responsibility for mainstreaming these criticisms for the gleeful media pile on, which he then used to reinforce his insane belief that there's a "there" there. His "who me?" attempt to shirk responsibility for doing so is flatly dishonest. More than anyone else, he is responsible for bringing our nations politics and discourse to a new and disgusting low. His collective lunatic rantings evince a once-talented mind now rotted by misogyny, misopedia, and heterophobia. He remains willfully beyond redemption.

So when I hear that Obama invited that scumbag to a private little dinner party, giving him both a further platform and dignifying his unhinged campaign attacks, "getting mad" doesn't cover it for me. Obama has always been kind of a jerk, but that kind of overt low-class petty little attack, especially after what Palin suffered during the election, is astounding.

That kind of deeply personal insult is not the kind one readily forgives.

Where exactly do I sign up for the volunteer office for whatever Republican challenger has the best shot in '12?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sacred, Profane, Inane: The Same?

Via Althouse, who highlights the same portion discussed here, a very interesting and good article from Christopher Hitchens. But then he gets the conclusion exactly wrong. He answers the question: "Is nothing sacred?" by saying that religions aren't, but speech is. I say that the only reason speech matters is because religion does. Valuing and emphasizing speech without reference to the reason and purpose of freedom of speech corrupts our society and our discourse. The value of speech is only in its value as tool for the conscience.

I can’t remember quite what I answered then, but I know what I would say now. “No, nothing is sacred. And even if there were to be something called sacred, we mere primates wouldn’t be able to decide which book or which idol or which city was the truly holy one. Thus, the only thing that should be upheld at all costs and without qualification is the right of free expression, because if that goes, then so do all other claims of right as well.” I also think that human life has its sacrosanct aspect, and though I can think of many circumstances in which I would take a life, the crime of writing a work of fiction is not a justification (even in the case of Ludlum) that I could ever entertain.
He uses the phrase sacred to describe things like books, idols, and cities. But then he says that free expression should be upheld "at all costs" even above human life, which is "sacrosanct," but only in part. So for Hitchens, speech is sacred. The Bible, Ganesh, and Mecca are not.

Freedom of conscience is the more sacred freedom; any value in the freedom of speech derives from the extent to which it serves freedom of conscience. (I'm not the only one who ties these together; both are protected by the same amendment to the U.S. Constitution). Freedom of conscience means the freedom to apply your reason, judgment, and morality to your life. In doing so, you may strive to become a better person. It happens on the individual level, with or without speech.

Freedom of speech is the tool that freedom of conscience uses at the society level. Only through speech can a society as a whole engage in the kind of self-questioning necessary to progress into something better. Speech allows society to evolve a conscience. Speech is the tool, but conscience is the goal.

I do respect speech. The value it serves is so important that I believe almost all limitations on speech are to be avoided so as not to hinder the progress of the underlying goal. But that's no reason to celebrate all speech whether harmful or valueless. We don't do that anyway. Obscenity, for example, is illegal in many jurisdictions. Lots of speech isn't considered by law to be as valuable as other speech. The highest protection goes to political speech, the very means by which society works out its morals and values, the public conscience. Other speech is protected for the sole reason that curtailing it would chill this most valuable type of speech. I can think of lots of occasions in which speech can and maybe should be curtailed (time, place, and manner restrictions are often held to be constitutional). I can think of few, if any, situations where the government or society can or should impose on the conscience. I think that the farther speech strays from its essential purpose as tool for the development of the social conscience, the less valuable it becomes.

Does anyone other than Hitchens believe that speech should be upheld "at all cost and without qualification"? Does he? This position glorifies speech that causes harm. I'm not talking about questioning the status quo, I'm talking about speech that causes real harm. The liberal intelligentsia would have us believe that obscenity prosecutions are bad. If we're talking James Joyce, or Salman Rushdie, who Hitchens' article discusses, then I agree. But do we all really think that we should tolerate or celebrate all speech that really is obscene? Fiction writers may be providing speech of value to society, but what about that Brazilian guy who got prosecuted for obscenity for the 2 Girls 1 Cup video a.k.a. "gonzo porn" (spoiler alert! 2 women poop and barf into each other's mouths).

Is Hitchens right that we should venerate speech because we can't have any certainty as to which religion is correct? If we can't, then how can mere primates determine that speech is always the correct value to celebrate? Answer: by exercising the faculty that separates us from rest of the primates - reason. People can use reason and evidence to determine what religion is correct. One piece of evidence of the rightness of Christianity that led me back to the fold was during a secular theology class at a public university, the texts for which tried to argue against the miraculous nature of Christ.

To debunk what some see as a miracle - the amazing spread and worldwide dominance of Christianity as a world religion in its first few centuries - the authors of the text argued that it was really just due to biological factors. The world population was being wiped out by disease, where Christians came to dominate through attrition. Christians tended to survive disease where heathens did not because the Christian doctrine of caring for one's neighbor led Christians to provide the basic hygeine and sustenance that led to dramatically greater survival rates. Patients who survived were either Christians cared for by their brethren or heathens eager to convert out of gratitude and awe to those who cared for them.

The authors took great pains to point out how foreign the concept of caring for one's neighbor was in the society at the time - the better to justify their theory of the disproportionate impact of Christianity on demographics. That's right - they tried to debunk a supposed miracle by arguing that the doctrine led to the better chance for survival of humanity and Christianity. We are to disbelieve Christianity because Jesus told us how to survive plague. Luckily, this primate is able to apply her faculty of reason to say that Jesus got the whole "love thy neighbor" thing right. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church - it's scary how right that thing is; Thank God he loves us. And what does it tell you right up front?

"Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason." Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God's revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created "in the image of God".

Reason, again. So yeah, I disagree with Hitchens as to whether we can know religion is sacred. Reason tells us. We are primates, but not merely so. But for him the speech faculty trumps. Why is that?

Why is he threatened by this:
"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."
Why would Hitchens have us call this into question - why can't we apply this teaching to our lives, view the results, and decide for ourselves whether the evidence bears out that we must love each other, do what is good, and avoid evil? Evidence and reason won't tell us whether this is true?

But no, according to Hitchens, it is sacred to say the following, so long as we are not convinced of its rightness:
Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:

Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.
And the saying of this is equivalent to the creation of gonzo porn, or at least entitled to the same protection.

Hitchens' answer embodies the thesis of this guy, which is that the modern left believes that the evil in the world comes from the insistence of rightness. It's okay to say as long as you don't believe it, as long as you don't think you are right. Now that I think about it, Obama is their perfect candidate - he'll say anything, and no one thinks he believes it. The left defended his going to a radical church by arguing that he professed a faith he didn't believe for mere political reasons!

When you fetishize and overemphasize speech the way Hitchens does, unmooring it from the values it serves, you create a sick discourse and you hurt society. You end up with people like the guy at the porno link who assert that not only should poop videos be protected, but that people who watch them for sexual kicks are less threatening to society than people who only like missionary sex with the lights off.

Is that the society we want? Are those the values we intend to serve?

(Quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1776, 1777, 1778, 6)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Seasons Greetings from the Cultural and Commercial One-Party State!!

(In which I determine that Christopher Hitchens' hates Christmas solely on the basis that the newspapers print more crap in December, including his own.)

Christopher Hitchens hates Christmas. What a shock. Let's find out why . . .
Isn't Christmas a moral and aesthetic nightmare[?]

A moral nightmare? I'll reserve judgment on that. But I suspect that the aesthetic nightmare is a substantial part of it. [LATER: Having read the piece, he makes no case for Christmas/Christianity as a moral nightmare, merely an irrelvancy. He does go on about the aesthetics of it. Thank goodness for the cultural elite.] Those plastic heat-molded nativities have given rise to the unabashedly tacky ten-foot tall inflatable penguin snowglobes on every other lawn down the street. Oh yes, those are an aesthetic nightmare, along with the ugly criss-cross of wires across roofs and lawns you see in the afternoon when you drive down our street, with odd sun-bleached creche trotted out by the less fortunate (those without Costco memberships). It's hideous, even. Luckily the sun isn't up long enough most days to get the full ugly effect. But the nights, the nights! The whole street blazes.

The core objection, which I restate every December at about this time, is that for almost a whole month, the United States—a country constitutionally based on a separation between church and state—turns itself into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a one-party state.

Actually, the way I read it, the Constitution in both intent and as enacted was meant to ensure the full freedom to celebrate religion without restriction by the government. Presumably, the free exercise clause would extent to celebrating in both the cultural and commercial realms. The US was never meant by the vast majority of the framers to be a secular nation, the Constitution doesn't (and shouldn't) protect you from the free exercise of others' religion. People were simply meant to follow their religion without the dictates of the state. So the state doesn't get to decide that things are "too Christian" and prohibit the practice. It's not the state's fault that most of the roots of our culture are firmly Christian. God love the Constitution for it.

Hitch goes on to whine about "Dear Leader" propaganda (although I'm guessing he sees a bit more Santa than Jesus). But first he talks about seeing decorations in "train stations and airports" and then "to a more private place, such as a doctor's office or a store or a restaurant." All, though, are private property (if the first two aren't, they should be). So the Constitution isn't really something we're talking about anymore. The Constitution respects the rights of private actors to celebrate and take part in the celebration. Why would you object to the fact that so many private actors happen to agree! Unless you can tell me what your substantive objection is to the holiday observances, I call BS on your process argument.

He goes on to make the universal conservative fallback argument - "think of the children!!" (gasp/chest clutch).
you cannot bar your own private door to the hectoring, incessant noise,
Um, what is he talking about here?
but must have it literally brought home to you by your offspring.
Is he talking about the mention of Christmas in the public schools? At least that would tie his non sequitur about the Constitution into the piece. But of course, the most conservative and more observant Christians would probably tend to favor privatization of the school system. I wonder, though, how much the fact that government is so heavily involved in the nation's schools operates to promote, rather than dampen, widespread religious impulses and practices. I was fortunate enough to go to a private Catholic high school where we got to sing the religious carols in the liturgical choir instead of the Frosty/Rudolph pap. Maybe infusing more religion into the celebration would help to alleviate the aesthetic objection to December's decor. But if we're talking about indoctrinating the offspring, I don't think you can make the argument that it's the fault of the public school system for the celebration without recognizing that the existence of public schools may be suppressing religious indoctrination, which seems to be a more serious affront to the spirit of the Constitution's protection of religion (although admittedly not a violation of its letter).
Time that is supposed to be devoted to education is devoted instead to the celebration of mythical events.
Most of the kids around here are on month-long winter break. Should the kids not get vacations? At any rate, no celebration of mythology should be permitted. No wonder here - stamp that out. What poor beasts would Hitchens raise, I wonder. And Hitch? You're not going to win many people over by claiming that what they believe to be fact is mere myth. You may not believe that to be true, but guess what. We can agree to disagree. Why? The great United States doesn't impose one belief system on us all.

Then he whines for awhile about Christmas kitch in the media. Eh. The newspapers print garbage all year long. Literally. The unsolicited local rag is clogging up the recycling bin, still in its wrapper.
Imagine that conclusive archaeological and textual evidence emerged to prove that the whole story of the birth, life, and death of Jesus of Nazareth was either a delusion or a fabrication?
And then, after that, suppose we imagine that man walked the Earth with the Satan-lizards, who died in Noah's flood because they didn't fit on the big boat, and that there is a grand conspiracy to forge australopithicene remnants to fling into the Great Rift Valley when you secularists are all looking to other way. Wait, I can't do that. The vast weight of evidence is against that position. As does the vast weight of extant evidence exist on the side of the actual life and death of a person named Jesus of Nazareth. As for the divinity of Christ, the vast weight of evidence I've seen is on the side of the Church as well. Jesus told us what we are for and how we should live. I see the collective efforts of humanity to adhere to his message and what happens when they adhere to the message or deviate from it. I don't believe a mere mortal could have given such a perfect set of instructions, irregardless of how imperfectly we all follow them. That builds up credibility with me. As others have noted, Jesus claimed to be God. Therefore, he is either God, or he is a liar, or he is insane. I believe he is the former for a number of reasons. But I also believe his teachings on the meaning and purpose of humanity are too perfect for him to be either of the latter.
Serious Christians, of the sort I have been debating lately, would have no choice but to consider such news as absolutely calamitous.
Certainly, but what an argument to make! Imagine that every believer in history was either a liar or misguided. Imagine that all the evidence you've ever relied on was either a fabrication or delusion. Imagine you've been living in a Matrix-like fantasy programmed along the internal logic of Christian teaching, when the real world outside the mainframe follows no such moral logic. In short, imagine that you lack the capacity for reason. Then try to debate the point, and you will lose! Well, yes. But I am unsure of what that exercise proves.

Then, a bold claim:
If monotheism . . . were to be utterly and finally discredited, we would be exactly where we are now.
Most Christians will tell you that the monotheism part is more incidental to the central message of Christianity, which is the essential goodness of God's creation. It's not self-evident that we would be where we are culturally or morally if we were to discredit the idea that existence is good.
All the agonizing questions that we face, from the idea of the good life and our duties to each other to the concept of justice and the enigma of existence itself, would be just as difficult and also just as fascinating.
Would they really? If you posit the nonexistence of any benevolent creator god, then you must be open to the question that mankind was not created. You admit the possibility that creation is not good. That man is not good. It seems to me that that would make the "agonizing questions" all the more difficult. It's not going to help us actually determine what our duties are to each other if we must first stop and debate whether we are, as a threshhold matter, worth anything at all. .
If the totalitarians cannot bear to abandon their adoration of their various Dear Leaders, can they not at least arrange to hold their ceremonies in private?
During the homily at midnight mass on Christmas eve/morning, the priest bade us to give thanks for our freedom. I do. I am very thankful that the Constitution protects me from people like Christopher Hitchens, who would have me celebrate the goodness of mankind and the hope for salvation in private, in secret, in the dark.

Pardon me?

(In which sweeping generalizations about character cause me to make a political prediction)

Megan McCardle writes:

Can we hold off excusing Clinton's egregious pardons on the grounds of Bush's pardoning all of his subordinates for horrible crimes until Bush, y'know, actually pardons some subordinates for horrible crimes?
Which leads me to wonder if perhaps she misread the post in question. But sure enough:
I wonder if the media will point out the comparative significance of the use (and abuse) of the power of the pardon in the context of Holder's hearings and the pardons that Bush will inevitably hand down to his inner circle.

I think the likelihood of Bush pardoning his inner circle is exceedingly low for a number of reasons: Bush's idealism and optimism, Obama's thoughtful rationality, and because it will create a wedge between Obama and the far left.

Bush seems to be a pretty principled guy - he decides what the right thing is then, everything else be damned, he goes for it. It's not conservative principle, and I disagree with what he's decided are the "right" things to pursue, but I have no doubt that he sincerely believes he's doing the right thing. (The extreme range of disagreement on this point is the most obvious dividing line between the mainstream Democrats and far-left netroots). But pardoning his inner circle will seem like an admission by Bush that he knows his administration has been in the wrong morally and legally (instead of just politically) throughout. That Bush would "inevitably" issue pardons would make sense for leftists whose worldview envisions Bush and Cheney as cynical cigar-toting fatcats laughing as they waterboard their subordinates. It doesn't seem that inevitable to those who think that Bush sincerely believes that he's doing the right thing, however misguided he seems to be at times. And I don't think Bush would want to give satisfaction or credence to those who've screamed the whole time that he's been acting with criminal intent.

Bush also seems to be an idealist and an optimist (see, "We'll be greeted as liberators"). I don't think he actually thinks that there will actually be any criminal prosecutions of members of his administration. I think he's expecting Obama not to play politics on this one. Obama, for all his shortcomings, is a pretty thoughtful guy. He's also a lawyer and law professor. I'm certain that he's spent huge portions of his adult life thinking about the theory of government: why it exists, what it should do, how it can be improved. Not just the policy, but the very nature and purpose, and how the structure of government itself helps to facilitate or impede its effects. And he's got to know, as Bush does, that the strength of the United States is its flexibility. Left-leaning "Living Constitutionalists" like Obama probably have an easier time wrapping their minds around the idea that the people should always be able to have a say to change the effects and the structure of government. After all, the Constitution, they tell us, is not a suicide pact. Obama knows better than to try to enact his agenda and then set it in stone. For one thing, he won't be able to accomplish everything he wants to and will need room for future "progress." The single greatest feature of the United States government is the free election. There is no flexibility in government without an orderly transition of power. There's no more need for the guillotine and attendant rivers of blood in the streets when you can vote a revolution every four years. But you're going to lose the "orderly" part of the transition when you raise the stakes of losing for the deposed party. Even though politicians are generally crooks, the increasing tendency to criminalize political conduct is concerning. Jailing your political opponents when they fall out of power is for banana republics. The United States is or ought to be better than that. It's a half-step removed from killing the sons of the conquered king. It's tribal. It's animalistic. It's an impulse we should resist. I think Obama will. I'm positive that it's something he's thought about quite a bit. And Obama hasn't ever, as far as I've been able to tell, made any representations about wanting to prosecute Bush officials. I don't know why Bush would expect him to. Without prosecution, there is no need for a pardon.

Finally, and this may be the most significant, refusing to pardon administration officials will cause Obama to stay closer to the political center and not to stray to the far left. Obama's already started to indicate that he's not going to marginalize the right. (See, Rick Warren). The far-leftists are screaming for the heads of Dick Cheney and John Yoo. I don't think Obama will want to prosecute for the reasons above and because I don't think he wants to get mired in the muck of the last eight years. Why would the "Change" president want to spend his political capital on fruitless prosecutions when he's got an extremely ambitious domestic agenda to enact? But by letting the far left scream about prosecutions, as I've no doubt they'll continue to do, Bush can help drive a wedge between Obama and the far left. Risky? Maybe, but it's not like Obama actually owes anything to the far left. Their support has been so enthusiastic and so unconditional that he hasn't had to make any promises or concessions for their support. If Bush takes the prosecutions off the table by issuing pardons, maybe he'll pave the way for a less fraught relationship between Obama and the leftists. Let them keep screaming for something they'll never get, and the far left will only marginalize itself.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Gays = blacks" is a bad political analogy.

(In which the Rick Warren outcry proves that pro-gay marriage forces really are engaged in a culture war against Christians.)

Let me get this straight: No one who isn't gay can oppose gay marriage because it's not going to affect your marriage. Ergo - it's not going to affect you at all.

Your concerns about the social, political, and governmental effects of such a profound legal shift are unfounded, because your slippery slope arguments are paranoid and after all, gays don't want to impose anything on you, they just want to be left in peace to quietly enjoy the rights that they have.

So you don't need to worry that people like Andrew Sullivan declare war on the "Christianists" and Mormons and the violent Prop-8 protestors because you started it, and they're going to back right off when they get what they want. You're not supposed to care that state bar organizations are considering requiring all new attorneys to swear fealty to the idea of gay behavoir as morally neutral as a condition of practicing law in the state. And you're not supposed to worry about the lefty outrage at Rick Warren's participation in the Obama inauguration, even though he's just there to say a prayer.

Except: Shouldn't we worry about that? Shouldn't we worry that political activists are trying to drum believers out of any participation in public life?

I support civil unions, but not marriage. It's a hard position, because all someone needs to do is throw out the phrase "Separate But Equal" to end the argument. We all know about "Separate But Equal" is evil. No more discussion. And I can certainly see the appeal in trying to analogize the gay-marriage activists of today with civil rights-era crusaders of the past. We can look back and identify in stark moral terms that one side of that issue was good, and the other was evil.

But that analogy backfires. There is no place anywhere near the mainstream of modern society for members of the KKK. Gay-marriage activists, when appealing to that argument, relegate most traditional Christians to the status of Klansmen. They are saying if this is your belief, then get out of society. We don't want you anywhere close to society. And if you give your kid some wackadoo name, we won't put "Happy Birthday, Jesus" on his birthday cake either.

Besides, if anything, the Christians will identify with the persecuted minority in the analogy anyway. The gay marriage activists act as though religious belief is something that can or should be changed. Strong believers might say that that religious belief is more like having a different skin color. It's not something you can change.

If it's just civil rights that gays are after (ie: "the 147billion government benefits conferred by marriage" that we're always hearing about), then perhaps the gay rights movement would be better served by finding a way to attain the rights themselves in a way that allows others to recognize and respect their rights without having to actually change their minds about the morality.

A good way to do that would be to push for marriage equivalent unions that the government labels as something other than "marriage," which has a distinct doctrinal meaning and special significance within many of the Christian faith.