Description: Clarifying last week, before moving on.
Date: 8 November 2004
I didn't exactly follow up on my mission here, but I'd like to rethink this in terms of my teaching.
Last week I may have implied that I'm against abortion and gay marriage, or think they're unimportant. I feel a responsibility to my readers to clarify my position, especially to those readers searching Internet archives in 30 years when I'm unexpectedly appointed to the Supreme Court.
When I was writing last week, I didn't know that Satan's Army (aka the RNC) would successfully use gay marriage as a wedge to pop the competent candidate out and hammer the incompetent bully back into place. If Ohio hadn't had the measure on the ballot, who knows if the wacko turn out would be as high. Now, it'd be simplistic to wish that the DNC would disassociate itself from the issue, especially since the national ticket was against it. The measures in 11 swing states were calculated to do what they did-- solidify the Orcish army. The problem is that in conservative world views, gay marriage is a strong issue, since they really think God hates homosexuality and that gay marriage is a sign of the end. But in liberal world views, it's less compelling, an afterthought-- of course all citizens should be equally protected. Similarly, pro-life is stronger for its believers than pro-choice is for its party: the former see it as murder, the latter as a legal interpretation of the right to privacy. Even I'm not sure: pro-lifers turn me off with their distasteful virulence, and I'm not particularly drawn to the sanctity of life. Since those positions of mine are hardly mainstream, it's easy to see how that particular wedge works.
The problem we're having, then, is that the other side is setting the terms of the debate. I'm hardly the first to point this out, I know. The work we need to do, and liberal educators need to think about in particularly, is to reframe the issues. We should tax-and-spend abortion out of existence: bury girls and boys in condoms and sex education and we'll hardly ever hear of abortions. We should redefine marriage as strictly religious-- the govt will have no role in it whatsoever, but anyone can petition for a civil union at the courthouse. My strategy as a scholar and educator is to go back to the very books the right treasure so much, the Bible and Federalist Papers, and reinterpret them: use these and other texts to build a new frame for national debate on issues.