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Deconstructing An Argument

I read this piece by Andrew Sullivan (Full Disclosure - I have a great distaste for Sullivan from the days that he was engaged in the New McCarthyism (calling war opposers "Fifth Columnists") while he cheerleaded the Iraq War and his days championing racist and sexist pseudo science like "The Bell Curve") and I am not sure what he is trying to say. In it he says some things that make no sense to me. Let me parse it on the flip.

First, he titles his piece "Freedom or Power?" At first read, it appears to be a critique of gay rights activists' criticisms of President-Elect Obama over the Rick Warren Affair. Sullivan writes:

[T]his Rick Warren flap at its core, I think, is about the difference between those who see a civil rights movement as a means to wield power and those who see it as a means to spread freedom.

What a strange statement. Perhaps Sullivan is not capable of seeing a civil rights movement as an exercise of power as a means to spread freedom. A truly singular view. And as a defense of Obama, a community organizer (one assumes Obama was organizing a community in an attempt to empower it) it becomes even less coherent. Especially when one considers that Sullivan's support for the use of American power in Iraq was based upon, at least rhetorically, the supposed goal of spreading freedom.

Sullivan's strange ramble continues:

I want to live in a free society alongside people who genuinely believe I am a sinner destined for hell - and I want to get along with them. I am concerned (but not obsessed) with changing their minds, but totally repelled by the idea of coercing or pressuring them to do so.

(Emphasis mine.) Coercing or pressuring them to change their minds? What in Gawd's name is Sullivan talking about? Does he mean the way Martin Luther King, Jr. "coerced and pressured?" Does he oppose activists generally? Is not all activism "coercion and pressure" at its heart? Again, Sullivan's arguments are not coherent to me.

He continues:

I am simply interested in having the government treat me as it would treat them. Once we establish that, we can all believe and say and argue for precisely what we want. May a thousand theologies bloom.

Hmmm. Is there someone arguing for something different? The point of the "pressure and coercion" is to in fact achieve a state where "the government treat me as it would treat them." What the heck is Sullivan talking about?

So I oppose hate crime laws because they walk too close to the line of trying to police people's thoughts. I support the right of various religious associations to discriminate against homosexuals in employment. I support the right of the most fanatical Christianist to spread the most defamatory stuff about me and the right of the most persuasive Christianist to teach me the error of my ways. I support the right of the St Patrick's Day Parade to exclude gay people - because that's what freedom of association requires. In my ideal libertarian world, I would even support the right of employers to fire gay people at will (although I am in a tiny minority of gays and straights who would tolerate such a thing). All I ask in return is a reciprocal respect: the right to express myself freely and to be treated by the government exactly as any heterosexual in my position would be treated.

Set aside the hate crime law part and replace the words "homosexual" and "gay" with African American, Latino or women. Thus written, let's reread Sullivan's paragraph:

I support the right of various religious associations to discriminate against [African Americans, Latinos, Asians and women] in employment. . . . I support the right of the St Patrick's Day Parade to exclude [African Americans, Latinos, Asians and women] - because that's what freedom of association requires. In my ideal libertarian world, I would even support the right of employers to fire [African Americans, Latinos, Asians and women] at will (although I am in a tiny minority of gays and straights who would tolerate such a thing). All I ask in return is a reciprocal respect: the right to express myself freely and to be treated by the government exactly as any heterosexual in my position would be treated.

The concept of public accomodation seems foreign to Sullivan's thinking. He seems to be opposed to, like the Southern Segregationsits MLK fought against, the civil rights laws of the 1960s. But indeed, logic is also foreign to Sullivan's thinking. Consider this:

[T]he notion of the president stigmatizing someone because of his religious views, and the gay movement pressuring to ban such a person from a civic ceremony, strikes me as coming from precisely the wrong place. A president is president of all the people.

According to Sullivan, not beinging invited to deliver the invocation at the inauguration is stigmatizing to all the reverends in the United States. By choosing Warren, Obama has stigmatized all the others. Of course this is ridiculous. By choosing Warren, Obama has ELEVATED Warren and his beliefs to respectability. For no good reason. This is a poor use of the bully pulpit of the Presidency.

What's truly funny about Sullivan's piece is how he ends it. After extolling his fight as one for freedom and condemning the fight of others as one for power, Sullivan then has the gall to write:

Much more important, with Obama's election, power has shifted. Gay people helped win this election. We will be part of this administration in ways that we would never be under a McCain or a Bush.

You see why gay rights activists should calm down? They have more power under Obama, NOT more freedom. He has just undermined his entire strawman thesis. It becomes an appeal to power, not to freedom. The incoherence here is manifest.

I am not gay so I can not walk in the shoes of gay rights activists, but if they are indeed up in arms about someone like Sullivan, I can hardly blame them. He writes:

this is why I think gay people of faith have a central role to play now. In the battle between a frightened fundamentalism and a wounded gay community, we are called to be healers and bridge builders. This is our Christian obligation, the part we have to play. The dynamic between the short-term pleasure of power and the long-term argument for freedom affects all civil rights movements. The central element in the success of black civil rights was the role of Christianity in tempering and guiding and restraining the temptations of power in favor of the deferred promises of freedom and charity. Gay Christians are needed now as much as ever to help in that task, however hard it can be to swallow the spiritual hurt and to rise above it in charity. I know how hard that is, and I haven't met the standard always myself. I'm not preaching; I'm just saying what I've learned - in prayer and in action.

(Emphasis supplied.) MLK learned his nonviolence from his Christian principles? Um no, MLK is not Sullivan's model. MLK did not advoacte for powerlessness as Sullivan seems to believe. History tells us otherwise:

Prior to becoming a civil rights leader, King entered a theological seminary in 1948 where he began to concentrate on discovering a solution to end social ills. He came to the conclusion that the while the power of love was a compelling force when applied to individual conflicts, it could not resolve social problems. He believed the philosophy of "turn the other cheek" and "love your enemies" applied only to conflicts between individuals and not racial groups or nations.

While at the seminary, King also read about Gandhi and his teachings. King was struck by the concept of satyagraha, which means truth-force or love-force. He realized that "the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom. King, however, was still not convinced that nonviolent resistance was a viable method in the United States. His acceptance of nonviolence would come years later during his involvement in the Montgomery bus boycott. It was at this time that King's earlier intellectual realization about the power of love was put into action. As nonviolent resistance became the force behind the boycott movement, his concerns were clarified. He recognized that nonviolent resistance was a powerful solution, and he committed himself to this method of action.

Boycotts and resistence. The power of nonviolence:

[King] argued that even though nonviolence may be perceived as cowardly, it was not. In fact, it was a method that did resist. According to King, a nonviolent protester was as passionate as a violent protester. Despite not being physically aggressive, "his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade the opponent that he is mistaken.(2)

Nonviolent Resistance Awakens Moral Shame

Second, the point of nonviolent resistance is not to humiliate the opponent, but instead to gain his friendship and understanding. Further, the use of boycotts and methods of non-cooperation, were the "means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent.(3) The result was redemption and reconciliation instead of the bitterness and chaos that came from violent resistance.

. . .

(Emphasis supplied.) It seems quite clear that Sullivan does not understand the history of the black civil rights movement, the theory of nonviolence or Martin Luther King. Indeed, I would argue he does not understand his own thinking on this issue. In any event, I was struck by the utter incoherence of his piece and thought I would share my thoughts with you.

Speaking for me only

< Sunday Open Thread | Symbolism >
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    Sullivan is gay and a believing Catholic (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by MKS on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:35:44 PM EST
    From that conflict arises a number of contradictory and somtimes interesting views...Coherence often takes a back seat.

    Gay and a believing Catholic. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:33:32 PM EST
    Personal tumult.  And a big of a masochist, I guess.

    Parent
    His descent into the Bell Curve (none / 0) (#4)
    by MKS on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:41:13 PM EST
    abyss appears driven by his need to biologically explain being gay....

    How many people actually make decisions based on logic and reason....He is quite human in this regard...Pointing out the contradictions does over time sink in, I think.

    Parent

    I don't think he needs analyzing. (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Jake Left on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 11:38:21 PM EST
    He's a tool. We can debate whether it is knowing or unknowing self-loathing,  priest-in-the-confessional trauma, or just plain desire to appear smarter than he really is.

    It doesn't matter. He's a tool.

    Parent

    Mr BareBack with no apologies (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by DaleA on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:39:49 PM EST
    Whenever I read AS, I try to remind myself that he did not grow up in the US and thus does not understand our culture and history very well. His libertarianism is of the Southern type: defending enforced local laws as an example of freedom. It is one of the weirder readings of individualism. SOFM, there is more to individual liberty than defending a bunch of bigots. But the great Southern strategy of the economic conservatives demanded that Jim Crow be enshrined in terms of personal freedom. This personal freedom manifested as 'freedom of association'. Which meant that a law mandating separate drinking fountains was simply a personal preference. Bizzare thinking, but real.

    After living for many years with someone who had progressively advancing HIV dementia, I also try to be charitable to AS.

    I try to avoid the personal attacks (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:50:45 PM EST
    but Sully seems a perfect example to me of a person who formed his political opinions by adopting the principles of people who hate him. Not very healthy, if you ask me.

    Parent
    Andrew Sullivan is (5.00 / 6) (#63)
    by caseyOR on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 03:39:54 PM EST
    an idiot. (apologies to Jeralyn.) I dropped a subscriptiion of many years length to the Atlantic magazine because they hired Andy.

    Sullivan is a wealthy, white, misogynistic gay man. In fact, he is so much in that group that he is practically a parody of it. He believes his privileged position shields him from the slings and arrows that attack the rest of us. In my 30 years as an LGBT activist I have run into many men like Sully. Not surprisingly, most are Republicans.

    Sully is also Catholic and never stops trying to get the Church to love him. I, too, was raised Catholic. At a very early age I realized that the Church will never love its LGBT sons and daughters. Sully clings to a fruitless hope. This need, unfortunately, informs his thinking.

    He has been touting his opposition to civil rights protections for lesbians and gays since at least the early '90s. He has no reasonable argument in favor of his ideas because there is no reasonable argument to support Sullivan's ideas.

    Parent

    His ideas on treating AIDS In Africa (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by DaleA on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 07:52:09 PM EST
    were another mileshed. He basically argued that Africans were too stupid and didn't have clean water, so there was no reason to send high powered drugs there. These drugs are the ones he takes himself, the ones that saved his life. And he was blithely willing to cut off a whole continent from this hope.

    Parent
    He did??? (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 08:13:57 PM EST
    Add that to the list of reasons I don't read him anymore.

    Parent
    So his logic was (none / 0) (#76)
    by Fabian on Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 05:08:40 AM EST
    that until Africa reaches the level of sanitation and education of the developed nations, it's a waste to send them drugs?  He's entitled to have access the drugs and they aren't because he lives in America?

    Does Sullivan have anything to say on social issues that is worth listening to?

    Parent

    I don't know the answer (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by SOS on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:43:01 PM EST
    The fact is it's going to take a while and some real work and sweat to change our "image" as one of the dumbest, most-mean-spirited, spiritually vapid Empires of all time. IF. . . we can manage to avoid a total economic meltdown.

    I am very happy (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:48:43 PM EST
    that I did not read Sully in his original context. I think without your takedown, I would have blown a gasket.  

    Thanks for posting on this BTD.

    Without knowing that (none / 0) (#70)
    by Fabian on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 07:57:39 PM EST
    was indeed Andrew Sullivan, if I had read that as an anonymously authored piece, I think I would have alternated between scoffing and and pity.  

    Parent
    He has a real aversion (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Maryb2004 on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:57:52 PM EST
    to having the courts decide anything.  I think that's what he's talking about in part with his discussion of power - which of course makes no sense because he wants the government to treat him with equal respect and the courts are part of government.  

    MLK didn't try to force anyone to do anything?  heh.  A complete misreading of the civil rights movement and MLK.  But his discussion of MLK comes immediately after his diatribe against Jerry Brown using the courts in California.  He conveniently forgets any correlation between the courts and MLK - the fact that, for instance, in Selma MLK strongly wanted to wait, and indeed did NOT try to force the issue, until the federal court overturned Wallace's prohibition on the march.  

    Sullivan wants MLK to have existed in a world without Thurgood Marshall.  Revisionist history.

    He doesn't really seem (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:01:35 PM EST
    to know any American history at all. His prose is like cotton candy, and that's only when you agree. When you don't agree, it's maddening, incomprehensible word salad.

    Parent
    On the Constitution (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 04:09:46 PM EST
    Isn't AS appleaing to the lst amendment rights of free speech and assembly incorrectly by tying them in with right to discriminate.  I am no Constitutional scholar, but I believe the 1st amendment rights are not unfettered, and do not extend to certain behavior, such as inciting the overthrow of our government, etc. It seems to me that our 1st Amendment rights are tied to responsibilities.  Libertarian beliefs may work for AS personally, but our Constitutional rights are more complex.  
    I'm still shaking my head, asking, What was Obama thinking? Surely there must be other pastors he could have chosen who, at a minimum, are more charitable to those who are different from them.

    Parent
    A lot more power? (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:03:16 PM EST
    You know, I personally think that Obama has a lot to prove to me there.

    Seems to me you're (correctly) walking back (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:14:40 PM EST
    your original pronouncement. I mostly expect that he will be better than Bush, but a "fierce advocate" would deliver much more than that.

    Parent
    Warren is on the same page (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:29:27 PM EST
    as McClurkin.  See here.  

    Obama may be able to push forward policy, but I resent implications that that is all that matters.  Don't you think by embracing people who hate gay marriage that he is creating an atmosphere where gay marriage as a political goal is more difficult to obtain?  Even at a state level, where he probably thinks these things should be decided?

    Parent

    It's worse than just (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:34:19 PM EST
    creating a bad atmosphere for marriage equality.

    This appearance alone is very likely to hurt real people indirectly.

    Parent

    I think it certainly suggests (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:39:37 PM EST
    to the Religious Right, hey, let's try to get Obama to do some of the things we want him to do!

    After all, and amazingly enough, they don't think they are bigots.  And apparently Obama doesn't either.

    Parent

    Difference between campaigning & governing? (none / 0) (#65)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 04:21:09 PM EST
    Since right-wing Christians are reported to be furious at Obama's choice for its lack of sincerity, and Obama's constitutent's are annoyed at the slap in the face to the LGBT community, I don't see how this move helps the Pres-Elect or his Administration. His campaign was able to get away with snubbing the community while the candidate professed sympathy, but the campaign is over; everything the Admin-Elect does, especially vis-a-vis the inauguration, is under full scrutiny now.

    Parent
    from my ThinkProgress link above (none / 0) (#32)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:41:06 PM EST
    John Aravosis points out that Warren's church doesn't allow gay men or women who are "unrepentant" to be members.


    Parent
    John Cloud, Time magazine, (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:46:12 PM EST
    on Warren, his having dinner with gay people, his church members ministering to people dying of AIDS, and his ranking of gayness in the hierarchy of sins:

    link

    Parent

    Pretty likely with a modicum of effort (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:02:36 PM EST
    a minister of a community, non-denomination church who did not campaign for Prop 8 and who does not express the view gays can be un-gayed could have been found to deliver the invocation.  

    Parent
    I'm not outraged either (none / 0) (#77)
    by dk on Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 09:28:30 AM EST
    that Obama's symbolic move shows that we are moving from one born again, sexist, homophobic bigot President to another on Jan. 20; more resigned to the fact that this seems to be what our Presidents will be like during my lifetime...or at least the next 4-8 years.

    Parent
    You are likely never going to hear about (none / 0) (#16)
    by tigercourse on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:14:36 PM EST
    Nancy Sutley again. She isn't in a position that would make her visible, so she's not going to give you a good image. We barely hear or see most Cabinet members. You think a third tier figure is going to be in the news alot?

    Parent
    Well, I hope you get what you want but (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by tigercourse on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:24:44 PM EST
    I think it's more likely that if we have a good energy policy, the credit will go to the Secretary of Energy (or more likely Obama).

    Parent
    Nancy Sutley? Are you kidding me? (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by tigercourse on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:08:19 PM EST
    Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality = alot more power? Come on.

    Incoherence (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by SOS on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:11:28 PM EST
    is definitely a good choice of word to describe Sullivan's blurb.

    Interesting viewpoint. My straight, (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:16:56 PM EST
    early-Obama adopter friends were not taken aback by the selection of Warren to deliver an invocation at the Inauguration.  Very quick to say so also, when I asked their opinions.  

    It's very easy to look past things (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by andgarden on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:20:22 PM EST
    that you don't have a personal investment in.

    Parent
    My reaction also. My question (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:27:20 PM EST
    to them included the statement Warren is giving the opening invocation.  My friends sd., as if in one voice, he isn't giving the opening invocation.  But, he is:  link

    Parent
    By the way, it's unlikely that Obama will (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by tigercourse on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:19:31 PM EST
    pass anything anti-gay. The much more liely possibility is that he won't pass anything that is pro-gay.

    BTW (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by lilburro on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:31:45 PM EST
    how many books do you think Rick Warren is going to sell as a result of giving the invocation?  Do you think that helps create a political atmosphere where Obama (and politicians at the state level) are able to pass progressive gay rights legislation?

    Warren's books were all over the local B&N.  $$$ for Warren!  Thanks Obama!

    Honestly, I cannot stand (5.00 / 4) (#33)
    by Jjc2008 on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:41:10 PM EST
    Andrew Sullivan.  He and Christopher Hitchens just turn me off.  Both come off to me as selfish, self centered prigs.  I remind myself to not judge other folks from Britain like them.

    And frankly I have no respect for Sullivan's libertarian views.   Then again I am all about the commons, shared communal responsibility, and a sense of community and fairness.  Like Hillary and the communities she learned from, I believe it does "take a village."

    That said, Sullivan is an arrogant misogynistic pig.  WHY he has any credence with anyone is beyond understanding for me.  Why are such hateful men, like Sully and Hitchens constantly given a platform?

    He doesn't seem to see (5.00 / 4) (#37)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:59:23 PM EST
    that it takes the exercise of power to hold on to even the status quo of civil rights, not to mention to expand them. It's as if the ideal of libertarian freedom is some natural state that will occur by itself if just left alone to happen. Just because he doesn't want to control others it doesn't follow that no one else does. And it's usually the most pernicious elements that try the most ruthlessly to exert control over others unilaterally, simply because what they offer is the least likely to win agreement from a broad enough range of others in a free contest of ideas.

    He's a naive idealist still. It doesn't seem he'll ever learn. His repudiation of Bush has been simply personal and he's not learned anything broader from the past eight years.

    That's a nice word for what he is (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:06:20 PM EST
    An accurate one, I think (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:10:59 PM EST
    Though I'm sure other words come to mind if one takes him more personally.

    Parent
    I am not sure it is accurate (none / 0) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:12:28 PM EST
    What is the ideal?

    Parent
    He's not seeking to push the (none / 0) (#46)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:15:52 PM EST
    use of power to control others like other conservatives do currently. That alone makes him an idealist. He believes in the power of ideas as opposed to simply force. He's a fool but not a cynic.

    Parent
    See therein lies the problem (none / 0) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:34:07 PM EST
    He supported using power to "fight for freedom" in Iraq.

    So what ideal again?

    Parent

    That's true (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:51:53 PM EST
    I was talking about his current argument.

    I'd never accuse him of consistency. He seems to me to be a very emotional thinker and not very systematic at examining his own logic and following through its implications to the bitter end. We're helping him do that here.

    Parent

    Ah (none / 0) (#56)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:57:26 PM EST
    well. On this we agree.

    Parent
    I've always appreciated (none / 0) (#60)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 03:25:33 PM EST
    him for his willingness to lay out what is to me a kind of alien way of thinking, and he is one of the more articulate conservatives. And he's concerned with ideas and principles instead of just politics and maneuvering for power. I do prefer Larison lately though for my "principled conservative" reading.

    Parent
    And besides (none / 0) (#43)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:12:44 PM EST
    I'm nothing if not nice. :)

    Parent
    Mostly true (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:14:03 PM EST
    I am nothing if not "not nice."

    Parent
    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:16:24 PM EST
    Excellent post BTD (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by mexboy on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:18:04 PM EST
    I think people  try to hold on to their beliefs, and so, they will do logic contortions, in order to not go through the painful process of self evaluation and evolution.

    Rick Warren is no friend of gay people. He has compared gays to pedophilia, incest and polygamy.  

    Why  would anyone support a man who is bent on denying your value as a human being, or most importantly, trying to force you to live your life the way he defines it for you,  in order to have value?
    This is utterly bizarre.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by The Poster Formerly Known as cookiebear on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:22:39 PM EST
    It is pandering, but I do feel some understanding of where it's coming from. I live in an area with a very high minority population (American Indian, African American and, to a much lesser extent, Latino) and am employed at a college with an even higher minority population (same pop makeup).

    And it is a sad truth that a substantial majority of communtity members and students at my college do not support gay marriage, and that homosexuality is considered aberrant, even though there are more than a few respected gay students and community members.

    I dunno, I knew this was going to become a bit of a collision of cultures at some point.

    But I also believe Obama has an ethical duty to find some way to bridge the gap and lead people away from those beliefs by standing up for the rights of gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc. UNLESS he also believes homosexuality is aberrant and there should be no gay marriage.

    If that's what he believes, however, there are even bigger problems at hand.

    but he does (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by Nasarius on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:33:17 PM EST
    His stated position on gay marriage is essentially identical to George W. Bush's (Bush circa 2000, anyway). Marriage is between a man and a woman, and leave it up to the states.

    What he may or may not believe in his heart of hearts is irrelevant, because he's certainly not doing anything to help the cause. By embracing McClurkin and Warren, quite the opposite.

    I could at least respect John Edwards on this issue, who seemed to talk honestly about his difficulty accepting it, and said he "wasn't there yet." In mainstream national politics, that's about as good as it gets.

    Parent

    I didn't know that.

    Yikes.

    Parent

    Obama's stated position (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by liberalone on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:46:34 PM EST
    is no different from the Democratic party position.  He supports civil unions and supports repeal of DOMA.  

    In talking to those who do not support gay marriage, I find that it is the word marriage that bothers them.  They see marriage as a religious institution.  Unless the HRC can make a stronger civil argument, few Americans will risk hell fire for anyone's rights.

    Parent

    If marriage is a religious institution ... (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by cymro on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 08:41:13 PM EST
    ... in the US, then why do we have laws governing it, why is it the subject of civil processes, and why can people get married and divorced without the participation of any religious institution?

    Clearly marriage in the US is NOT a religious institution, it is a civil institution. Continuing to think of it as a religious institution is a mistaken view that can only be justified by deliberately ignoring the facts. I don't understand how people can keep making this argument without being corrected.

    Parent

    thanks for clarifying (none / 0) (#57)
    by The Poster Formerly Known as cookiebear on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:58:42 PM EST
    That jibes with my (faint) memory of his position.

    Parent
    Andrew Sullivan (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by KeysDan on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:50:44 PM EST
    seems as though he cannot get past his own internalized oppression and torment in the hope of acceptance by anyone or anything in power. At one time, perhaps, it was a step in the right direction to be "politically correct". However, advancement must be  more than saying the right thing, or not saying the wrong thing. So, for Mr. Obama to address the times and the needs of the time, he must work to change feelings and challenge hearts to be open to reality. Foundational to this change is leadership to set an environment and tone for human rights and equality, starting within his own administration. If it is interpreted that bigotry deserves respect and an equal hearing in the marketplace of ideas, Mr. Obama  will not take the country beyond, at best, a veneer of human rights and equality. We have seen, at a different but similar level, the effect campaign tone can have on even key staff members with the disrespect afforded to Mrs. Clinton in the drunken cardboard cut-out "tribute".  Reverend Warren may conjure up his very best, given the criticism, to offer a politically correct invocation--at least I am sure that the Obama team itself is praying up a storm for such--but everyone will know it comes with a wink and a nod. Not much gained in the process, much lost.

    Will The Rev. Warren's (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 03:09:04 PM EST
    invocation be vetted?

    Parent
    My snarky guess is that (none / 0) (#61)
    by KeysDan on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 03:38:02 PM EST
    the Reverend will (a) self-censor his prayer avoiding gays like Count Dracula avoided mirrors using his two minutes to portray himself as the Pope of Caring Evangelicals, or (b) be true to his beliefs and use the occasion to ask God on this auspices occasion to guide the president away from evil with death penalties for the abortionist and the woman seeking such as well as the husband/boyfriend; death penalties for scientists involved in stem cell research; and, in closing, invoke the clarion call of that infamous cleric Mullah Omar--death to gays. Well, if the death penalty seems way too much, he may settle for just jail time.   Oh, if the Obama team vets the speech and asks for changes, that would be as deadly as disinviting the Reverend.

    Parent
    he is doing his Ansley Hayes (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by TeresaInPa on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 03:07:42 PM EST
    imitation.  It's even cuter in person.
    Seriously, watch a few old west wing episodes and see if she doesn't make the same arguments about sexism.

    Incoherence deconstructed... (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by oldpro on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 03:39:29 PM EST
    the only reason to read Sully is to take him apart for those who cannot figure it out themselves.

    Well done.

    I quit trying to read Sully but glad you (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 06:54:51 PM EST
    take the time to deconstruct his fantasy constructions.  I've read all the comments and the things that stood out for me was andgarden's "word salad", and I'm relieved to know that I'm not the only person attempting to ingest Sully and coming up with only word salad.  The second thing is how misogynistic Sullivan is, and that was what caused me to just tune him out and think to self "Okay, you're an idiot".  He is a bizarre mix of conflicting ideals, few few gay dudes hate women as much as Sullivan expresses too.  They are out there though, everything is out there if you live long enough to experience everything out there.  Personally I think he likes being bizarre, it gets him attention......who can figure out Sully? If all of America embraced its gays and treated them like average folks, America would probably quickly tire of attention mongering Sullivan so he probably never does hope for a scenario along those lines.

    i'm not gay, and "pastor" warren (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by cpinva on Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 12:27:30 AM EST
    disgusts me, on several levels, not least of which is his "loving" bigotry. he's falwell and dobson, wrapped up in a banality of evil dress shirt.

    yes, i said evil. these people are all pretty much just one step short of the "final solution" approach, for those who's "chosen lifestyles" they (and their scum of the gene pool adherents) dislike.

    a pox on all of them!

    I've found (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by Matt v on Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 02:41:25 AM EST
    I've found that in order to make sense of Sullivan's ramblings, it helps to realize his schtick has always been the narcissistic rationalization of Catholic guilt.

    George Benard Shaw (none / 0) (#2)
    by SOS on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 12:39:06 PM EST
    "An asylum for the sane would be empty in America"

    A very measured post. And (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 01:29:22 PM EST
    quite informative.

    P.S. I am reading a history of India centered on the 50 years before India's independence from Britain.  Gandhi comes off as kind of a nut case and not entirely rational or consistent.  Writer emphasizes how the U.S. press portrayed him as quite different from actuality.  

    Facinating. (none / 0) (#45)
    by Faust on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 02:15:35 PM EST
    I must admit this whole Warren thing and the discussions surrounding it have me utterly facinated. While I think it was a poor choice politically the volume of discussion that has been generated out of it seems a good thing to me. The matter of gay marriage is an open wound in the culture and perhaps this torrent of discussion will help irrigate it.

    Nice Dissection (none / 0) (#66)
    by squeaky on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 04:26:21 PM EST
    And evisceration.

    Yes, excellent post (none / 0) (#67)
    by Lora on Sun Dec 21, 2008 at 04:42:06 PM EST
    I am in agreement with BTD's analysis and arguments all around, and I learned a lot as usual.

    Sully is trying to reconcile worlds that (none / 0) (#78)
    by ericinatl on Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 11:07:08 AM EST
    cannot be reconciled.  It is impossible for gays to be truly free in a world where the only argument against such freedom is one of morality and religion.  He wants it both ways -- freedom of religious faith that villifies the gays and freedom for gays.  One of them has to give.