In a saner time, the questions Ryan wants to raise are exactly the ones we should be debating. I think the answers would still come out against him, but Enlightenment reason has as only one of its themes the corrosive destruction of enchanted medievalisms. Isn’t it another theme of Enlightenment reason, the positive one, that we need deep concern for our policy choices, deep research about sociological impacts, and profound thought about the effects on political foundation?
In a world where an Indiana pizza parlor can be shut down—then receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations—for what was in essence not even a crime of wrong action but wrong thought, we have moved into a world of metonymy, where an argument is judged not by its argumentation but by its symbolic place.
You could trace all this through the sadly hilarious videoof Ryan’s having his microphone cut off on an MSNBC program this March. An even more recent spat shows the pattern, as well. On April 15, a not-bad profile of Ryan appeared in the Washington Post. The writer’s voice was mostly one of bemusement that someone not obviously insane could oppose same-sex marriage, but within the confines of that voice, the piece was respectful and interested. As schools are wont to do, his old high school, the Friends School of Baltimore, put on its Facebook page a link to this profile of one of its increasingly famous graduates—only to replace it quickly with a message from the headmaster groveling over this failure to grasp the true inwardness of the bigotry and evil manifest in his school’s former student.
The most ironic part may be this: Opposition to same-sex marriage is commonly caricatured as a religious prejudice, and against such prejudice stand the forces of reason, rational argument, and thoughtful debate. But on the ground, where Ryan has taken his stand, it’s far too often the supporters of same-sex marriage who are reacting religiously—symbolically and metonymically, in horror at the evil-mindedness of their opponents. And Ryan who has quixotically, naively, and old-fashionedly assumed that this is all a debate about public reason, rational choice, and political theory.
Excellent piece... read it all... but know what Mr. Bottums' bottum line is.
Marriage as we know it will soon be completely redefined and it'll have nothing to do with reason. It instead will have everything to do with emotion.
And that does not bode well.