Tag Archives: Mother Jones

Contemporary Decency

Kevin Drum is traveling at the moment and as so been temporarily replaced on his blog by Mother Jones writer Nick Baumann. I really do love Drum’s writing, but how nice to have Baumann to read in his place for a few days. He’s discussing subjects that Drum wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Like this theoconservative take on why the proposed Ugandan law to execute gay people is horrible and indefensible, from a Catholic perspective.  The author of the piece later responded to one of the many commenters who said he has a friend that defends slavery because the Bible says slavery is okay. Woah. Who knew, as Baumann points out, there were still people trying to make such arguments?  Haven’t we gotten to a point in time when polite company doesn’t question the idea that slavery is horrible?

The passage where Baumann really struck me is this:

It’s all well and good, I suppose, to offer lengthy attacks on the Ugandan law. But at this point in human history, given the experience of the twentieth century, some things should really be part of a broad moral consensus. The immorality of slavery or of executing minorities shouldn’t really require long arguments.

I suspect this is why it’s been hard for Sullivan to find examples of the National Review or the Weekly Standard or the American Conservative or Commentary denouncing the Ugandan law. The writers at those magazines may disagree with Sullivan on a lot of things, but I suspect they think it’s pretty obvious to most Americans that executing gay people is wrong. The problem for conservatives is that it’s inconvenient for them to defend any sort of gay rights—even the right not to be executed—because doing so brings up awkward questions about why conservatives want to deny other rights to gay people.

I don’t think I’d thought of it in those terms before, but of course that’s write. And that’s why, on the one hand, we owe our intellectual and political opponents deference when it comes to issues of this kind, but on the other, we should continue to press them in the direction of letting of their false logic when it comes to the rights of, among others, gay people.  Just as that justice of the peace in Louisiana (who didn’t want to marry a black and a white person) was roundly denounced for his antiquated views, perhaps one day some of these same conservative writers will no longer feel comfortable, or believe in the necessity of, writing about why gay people shouldn’t get married.