Monday, November 08, 2004

Proving our nuance, once and for all
Yet again, Lileks does a great job of expressing how I feel: "Finally, post-election thoughts. On and on, no resolution. This graphic has been floating around here and there. (Doesn't come from the German paper in the link.) If the Democrats ever wish to become the majority party again, they should run this graphic past their strategists, ask them what they think, and fire anyone who says "well, we need to learn how to reconnect with Jesusland, obviously." I'll give you one boring example: additional federal funding of stem-cell research. I don't support it. But I do not favor a ban on private funding. I think it's one of those morally gray areas, and perhaps we had best not force people to pay money for this sort of thing. Ah, but I'm opposed to defense spending, can I withhold my taxes? No, you can't. Defense is one of the obligations of the government. You could argue that the government is obligated to fund any sort of medical research because it provides for the general welfare, but you could say the same thing about subsidized cable TV rates. You could say that about anything. Hence it's one of those things I prefer to leave to the private sector.
So I'm not particularly impressed when someone concludes that this stance, as well as a few other "moral issues," results from my habit of handling snakes on Sunday morning. Nuance, people. Nuance. Let's look at another example: let us postulate that objection to the gay marriage isn't based in "homophobia," but an unwillingness to redefine a long-standing institution. At least without a vote. There are two possible responses:

1. Gay-basher! Bigot!

2. Hmm. Really? Interesting; can't quite agree, but go on.

If the Democrats want to get back in power, they'll be wise to choose option two."

The opening is about his personal stuff, but scroll down until he starts this stuff, and keep reading -- it's entirely worth it.
The fact of the matter is, my views are pretty nuanced, but you'd never believe it from someone on the left, especially when they attack me. I'm opposed to gay marriage by judicial means, but not opposed to putting it up to a referendum vote by the American people. I oppose federal money for embryonic stem cell research before we know definitively that useful cures will come out of it, and in the meantime having an honest and open debate about it, instead of claiming that people like Christopher Reeve will get up and walk out of their wheelchairs if we break the bank funding new stem cell lines. And I agree with Lileks on this one: "I support gay adoption - unless there's a M/F couple in line, in which they should get preference. That has nothing to do with sexual identity or heterosexual chauvinism. I think a kid does best growing up exposed on an elemental level to both male and female characteristics; does that make me a raging bigot? Can we not even talk about that?"

The simple fact is, the views of people like me are nuanced -- just not on every front. We believe that there are shades of grays to this issue, just as strongly as we don't necessarily believe that such shades exist for abortion. But ask a liberal, and my hesitant support of gay rights makes me a homophobe, and my opposition to federally funding all stem cell research removes any sense of compassion from my views. No, I'm not nuanced on the war in Iraq or the broader war on terror, because I don't think we can afford to be. But that doesn't mean I'm an ignorant 'Jesusland' asshole. It just means I'm open to multiple points of view, and sometimes I accept them in concert with my own, other times I dismiss them as incompatible. When you dismiss my range of opinions entirely, or swear at me for the columns I've published, you show how much more close-minded you are than me.

Keep that in mind.


laura ellen said...

always be reminded that liberals are just as nuanced, something that the right often forgets, preferring to reduce us to crazy spending and gay love.

i have two questions.

1) do voters always make the right decisions? should everything be left to them?

2) why should m/f couples get preferential treatment in adoption lines? if the list is first-come, first-served, why shouldn't same sex couples get their places?

Tanstaafl said...

It's not just a first-come, first-serve system. A much greater weight needs to be given to the welfare of the child than to who comes first. What Lileks is saying, is that he believes that a child will be better served if he or she is raised by a mother and a father than by some other combination. You're free to disagree with that assumption, of course. But, given such a belief, it would make sense to allow a gay couple to adopt only if there are no suitable straight couples waiting to adopt the child. Frankly, the debate on adoption should not be about the parents' rights, it should be about the best interest of the child, and what constitutes the best environment in which to raise a child. I would argue, that even if gender of the parents should be considered as a factor (I'm undecided on that), other factors - like the stability of the parents' relationship, their ability to provide economically for the child, and their ability to give the child the time, attention, and love he or she deserves - should be considered first.

laura ellen said...

i agree with you. i think that lots of different factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding which families are allowed to adopt children, and which are allowed to take in foster children. i just disagree with the assumption that m/f families are necessarily better for child development. fair enough.