Several months ago, I published a link to a particularly wacky letter to the editor written by a spokesman for the Constitution Party of Virginia. That person, Mitch Turner of Hamilton, has apparently stumbled across that post, and is unhappy with what I wrote. I freely confess to ridiculing his letter, and I make no apology for that. Sometimes ridicule is an appropriate response, and this was one of those times. However, I do think that my response to his comments has shown too much of an unwillingness to seriously engage his arguments (you’ll understand why below). Rather than continuing to respond to his multiple comments on a months-old post, I thought I would provide him with a fresh forum to explain and expand on his views. My hope is that he can attract more of those who share these views to the Constitution Party, since they seem to be so disappointed in the alternatives. I think Mitch is right when he says that the Republican Party will never really provide a comfortable home for those who believe, as he does, “that individuals ARE NOT sovereign over their own lives” and that our Constitution was not intended to safeguard that sovereignty. There’s a wing of the Republican Party that shares this belief, but it will never cease being a site of divisive conflict with those who have more libertarian and pragmatic beliefs. In my view Mitch’s party would be more accurately named “The Christianist Party,” since its objective is the installation of imperial Christianism, not the defense of individual liberty.
At any rate, Mitch tells me that he is the webmaster for the CPV, not the chairman as I had stated in the previous post. He doesn’t share to what extent he has autonomy or is directed to post content to their website, but much of that content appears to be authored by him, including the gems I highlighted in the previous post. I don’t question the sincerity of his statements. To his mind, they are logical and self-evident – which is why I think he sincerely finds it evasive and infuriating for me to not address them the way he would like them to be addressed.
This will no doubt seem like a waste of time to many of our readers, and I can understand that as well. Box Turtle Bulletin recently published a series of posts entitled “Anti-gay Arguments We Don’t Bother With (And Should)” that unpack some of those anti-gay activist memes that are too fringe to be taken seriously within mainstream venues for discussion. They are, in the words of the BTB author, “the stuff of anonymous online comments, the product of an amateur punditocracy.” All of Mitch’s statements are in this category. The reason for bothering with them is simply that there are real people like Mitch who do take them seriously. One of the failures of the No on Prop 8 campaign was, I think, the failure to sufficiently educate voters about fundamental issues like religious freedom. Claims that religious leaders will be “forced to perform gay marriages,” or will be prosecuted for violating “hate speech laws” may well be silly, baseless, and “complete and total nonsense” as one of the Lambda Legal attorneys just called them; but that doesn’t matter if people who don’t know any better believe them.
We extend an invitation in our commenting policy to all in the larger community who want to engage in principled debate and discussion, as long as they don’t cross certain boundaries of civility. Mitch has expressed, by his repeated commenting, a desire to defend his statements and engage in some sort of discussion – so I invite him to do so. Let’s take a look at some of those statements and give him a chance to explain them more fully.
Mitch, you stated by implication that you think sex between consenting adults of the same sex should be illegal. Your central argument in favor of that proposition is this: “How can incest be declared illegal when homosexual sex is not?” You go on to declare that this implied statement is true because opposition to “incest,” along with “adultery, abortion, lying, and cheating” is “grounded in the same morality that opposes homosexuality.” The question I think you need to answer is this: What, other than your own designation of them as being in the same category do these assorted things have in common? Other than by relying on your own classification, can you explain, for example, how a gay or lesbian couple is the same as an incestuous couple? Please be specific. For example, are you trying to say that “incest” is a kind of sexual orientation? Are you trying to say that incestuous couples have historically been the target of discrimination? I think you should be able to recognize that so far, you have only made what I would call a tautological argument. You have essentially said only that “this list of things are the same because they are in the same category of things,” and then you justify putting them in the same category of things by saying that they are the same. This is meaningless. A “good reason” (my words) for opposing the legalization of incest would be one that doesn’t rely on this tautology. Can you think of one?
Moving on, you also made the statement that GLBT people “already have equal rights.” Can you explain specifically what you mean by this? I’ll refrain from asking more explicit questions here – it’s such a broad, sweeping statement that I’d like to see what your assumptions are first.
I think that’s probably enough for now. I would ask that you take a look at our commenting policy if you haven’t already, and give a little thought to what that might mean in terms of how you choose to frame your answers. Remember that you are a guest in our home.