A National Review Contretemps

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Introduction

Brian Mattson has done me the honor of engaging with my recent interactions with the French/Ahmari debate. And what I would like to do, weather permitting, is engage right back. He did this over at National Review at the Corner, and you can read all about it here. My two most recent posts on the subject are here and here, and my recent letters section (also referred to by Mattson) can be found here. Go read all those, and come on back.

The conservative world really does need this frank conversation, and we need to do it without freaking out at each other. As one friend put it, what should “a structurally pluralistic society” with “competing truth claims” look like? My short answer is that it should look different than that. And then the real question comes—so how are we to get there?

Lest There be Any Undue Confusion . . .

Consider this to be a very simple paragraph-length statement of my actual views of the relationship of the Christian faith to the classical liberal order, lest there be any more unnecessary confusion on this point. Here it is. I do not wish to abandon the classical liberal order, and yet I do object to the very common identification of secularism and classical liberalism. I object to secularism as a form of political incoherence, and do not object to classical liberalism. Classical liberalism need not have all those internal strains that lead to the kind of nervous breakdown that secularism is currently having. But I also object to the naïve notion that a classical liberal society can be sustained for any length of time without the cultural capital that can only come from a widespread acceptance of, and civic respect for, the Christian faith. So I do not argue for jettisoning the classical liberal order; I am simply pointing out that rejecting the norms that historically supported that classical order is just a slow-motion way of accomplishing an effectual rejection of the classical liberal order. I do not reject the classical liberal order, but rather defend it; those who try to defend that order without defending its essential preconditions are the ones throwing rocks at the moon. John Adams once said that our Constitution presupposes a moral and religious people, and that it is wholly unfit for any other. This testimony is true.

The solution is not to throw away the classical liberal order. The solution is reformation and revival. More about that at the end.

Below the Belt

I am not claiming that it was intentional, but there was one point from Mattson that was, as a matter of fact, below the belt. To this particular jab, my initial response is simply ow.

“And David has been busy ensuring that Doug can continue all this cultural work by asserting on his behalf the legal principles embodied in our liberal order. It really is a marvel: a guy spends his life making sure cultural influencers like Doug Wilson and Sohrab Ahmari might legally go about influencing things; and when they face widespread lack of societal influence they decide to blame their lawyer. It’s not amusing.”

Jonah Goldberg retweeted this, saying that it was “brutal.” And it was, but not the in the way that I think he meant. But Jonah is a spectator here, and he is a few rows back, and so he probably didn’t see what happened. If he had been the ref, I am sure that he is fair-minded enough to have issued at least a caution.

I have written a good deal about David French, and over the course of numerous posts I have gone out of my way to publicly praise him for his courage, commend him for his work protecting religious liberty, and to accept the testimony of people I trust that he is a good man. This is not patronizing or condescending. I meant it and I mean it. I have said these sorts of things repeatedly.

But at the same time I can believe that David French is an attorney I would want to call in a crucial religious liberty case, and also believe that when he is doing political epistemology out in the public square he ought to make better sense than he is currently making. Viewpoint neutrality is not what we need to defend.

A Point of Agreement

Given the foregoing, let me mention one place where I agreed with Mattson’s piece.

“Be that as it may, perhaps French, and those of us in his camp, believes that the American experiment is the greatest political arrangement yet devised for the triumph and flourishing of freedom and virtue, precisely because free virtue is real virtue, organic moral fiber, not outward conformity produced by fiat.”

I agree with just about everything there, and I might even agree with that last phrase, depending on how it is construed. A moral order cannot be imposed on an immoral populace by coercive means and have the results be in any way satisfactory. Virtue must be free to do any civic good at all, and so I agree with French and Mattson here. But when vice runs free it burns the place down. Liberty builds civilizations, and licentiousness leaves them shattered. When licentiousness is applauded and subsidized by the civil authorities, the whole thing becomes a smoking ruin.

As Steven Wedgeworth put it in a tweet:

“The majority of “liberal” political thinkers in the 18th & 19th cent. presumed an objective moral order which would provide boundary markers to the legitimate use of freedom.

The fact that people/we blew up those markers is the problem.

No one actually knows how to fix this.”

To believe that the American experiment is the “the greatest political arrangement yet devised for the triumph and flourishing of the freedom and virtue,” as I do, is not to believe that it is somehow impossible for corruption to lead that great American experiment to the point where it becomes a hollow shell. The American experiment was a great thing. So would this be the first time that decadence, sin, rebellion, and impudence destroyed a great thing?

A Modest Analogy

Suppose there is an older house in a nearby neighborhood. It is my favorite house. I love that house. Sometimes I walk by it just to look at it. As it happens in my “little suppose” here, I am also a remodeling contractor. I fix up old houses. One of my favorite daydreams is that perhaps one day I will be given the privilege of working on this house, the house that I love.

And then one day, the call comes. The owner has decided that it is time for an upgrade, but it must be one that respects all the old lines of the house, that maintains the historical integrity of the house, and which does not do anything to clash with the historic neighborhood. Out of all the remodeling contractors out there, he called me. The dream is alive.

But alas. When I go over there, I discover that all the floor joists holding the house up have been eaten nearly clean through by ravenous termites, termites that might have been seen in a nightmarish vision by a rather severe minor prophet from the Old Testament. Had they called me a month later, it would have been too late—the whole house would have been sitting down in the basement. Nevertheless, we are in time. I propose, since there is not a moment to lose, that we get some supports under the house, jack that baby up, and replace all the floor joists with new ones, sans termites.

And this is where my analogy goes south on me. This is where it gets kind of bizarre. One of the neighbors, put up to it no doubt by one of my nefarious competitors, an outfit called Secular Supports, the people marketing Styrofoam floor joists (“half the cost and twice as pretty”) accuses me to the owner of wanting to destroy his house. Did I not plainly say I wanted to remove the joists that are holding it up? Yes, but only because they won’t be holding anything up very much longer, and only because I wanted to replace them with something that will do the same job the originals did, but only way better. So, to be clear, loving the house does not necessitate loving the rotten floor joists that are going to fail, any day now, such that they will no longer hold the house up.

Maybe They Will Believe C.S. Lewis

I am really saying nothing more or less than what Lewis observed in The Abolition of Man. So maybe I should come at this from another angle. Let me name drop. C.S. Lewis taught at Oxford, and did not live in Podunk, Idaho.

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

And if someone points out what we have done, someone who (let us say) has been warning us not to do this dumb thing for some thirty years now, telling us that it is going to be really bad if we keep on this way, then, when it all starts to come crashing down, just as he said, we can accuse him of wanting these dismal results.

Coercion and Fiat

Throughout his piece, including the quote above that I (mostly) agreed with, Mattson assumed that I was somehow wanting to resort to coercion and fiat in order to get everything back in order again, which I most certainly do not. I don’t quite know how the issue of coercion got into this. I have not been writing about it.

“The legal principles embodied in our liberal order are insufficient to a just and flourishing society. We need to alter those legal principles and grant the coercive state the prerogative to nudge things along to our—well, Ahmari’s—desired ends.”

“Since Wilson is enjoining the debate on the side of Sohrab Ahmari, does he agree that we need to dispense with the liberal order itself by grasping the reins of power and coercing our way to a society ordered to the ‘highest good’?”

Again, we are not the ones who dispensed with the liberal order. Somebody else did that. And I agree. We will not be able to coerce our way back to it. So let us talk for a moment about the limits of coercion.

Ten years ago, if the drag queens had come to a public library to ask for permission to have a story hour for the kids, they would have been laughed out of that tax-supported establishment. They would have been laughed out of there even if the librarian had been one of their number. And the argument would have run something like this: “We can’t do that.” This is a function of moral capital. There would have been no coercion involved. Nobody would have called the cops. No lawsuits filed. Just a simple “we can’t do that.”

Ten years from now, what monstrosities are going to be pressed upon us? Unthinkable (even) now, they will most decidedly not be unthinkable then. A lot of decay can set in over the course of ten years. What are we going to do about it? Again, more in a bit.

All laws are coercive, but it is also true that in healthy societies such coercion only occurs around the edges, dealing with outlaws and outliers. When coercion has to be applied at the center, something is really off. And when coercion is applied, as it is now, to allow Bruno to shower with the junior high girls, things are officially demented.   

Kicking Down an Open Door

Mattson wants to say that some of the things I am insisting on are things that David French would affirm, and that I am mistaken in thinking that he would have a problem with it.

“The very first person who would agree that we have a culture problem is David French.”

But let us say that God shows His kindness to us, and there is a massive religious revival. Let us say that it has all kinds of consequences that were not coercively implemented by the magistrate—the demand for certain things evaporated, and cocaine dealers started going out of business, and PornHub shut down. Say that happened, and the “culture problem” that David French and I agree on is largely solved. Great. Are drag queen story hours still happening at public libraries? I didn’t think so.

Objectivity or Neutrality?

Let us say that I am a judge, and a civil case comes before me. It is a business dispute between a Muslim and a Christian. As it happens, the facts of the case favor the Muslim. How should I decide? Obviously, I should decide in favor of the Muslim.

I would want to do this because I am an honest Christian, and not because I pretended to be some creature that has never yet existed on God’s green earth—a neutral, floaty kind of judge.

“It’s also the case that things like equality before the law and not showing partiality are decidedly not neutral; they are divine commands in the Bible, however imperfectly we might apply them.”

Yes, this is exactly right. Not showing partiality is biblically required and “decidedly not neutral.” So perhaps David French ought to stop calling it neutrality. I don’t call it neutrality. David French calls it neutrality. So Mattson is right about the principle, and wrong in assuming that I would not affirm it. I do affirm it. I would just call it Christian honesty. It is a biblical objectivity. Nothing neutral about it.

Legal Architecture and Ultimate Commitments

And another thing. Consider this.

“Except, of course, nobody was talking about some kind of ultimate epistemic commitment to relativism. They were instead talking about the legal principle that the state should provide equality before the law when it comes to accommodation for use of public spaces.”

Nobody doubts that David French, Brian Mattson, et al. have an ultimate epistemic commitment to Christ, and that this commitment to Christ is what motivates and strengthens them when they fight the good fight. I am aware that individual Christian citizens have these commitments, and I believe it is entirely a good thing. I share those commitments, and they function in my life in the same kind of way.

But step back for a moment. I am not arguing against this need for such personal commitments; I believe it to be most necessary. At the same time, I also believe that societies also have (and must have) ultimate epistemic commitments. In contemporary America, those public commitments are relativistic. And when the highest courts in the land are muttering with Pilate “what is truth?” you start to get the same kind of court decision that made Pilate so famous.

To say it again: societies have ultimate commitments, not just individuals. If those commitments are false or nonsensical, bad things start to happen.

Secularism is Illiberal

There are numerous places in his article where Mattson demonstrates that he was not reading me carefully, and not really paying close attention. Here is another instance of that.

“If people want to equate the Western legal tradition with the illiberalism of contemporary aggressive secularism, they are entitled to make that mistake. I would just point out that that is exactly what the aggressive secularists want you to do.”

But this is the very distinction I have been careful to make. I reject secularism, and I applaud classical liberalism. Secularism in its early forms seemed benign enough, but the illiberalism of aggressive secularism is descended from it in a straight line.

So We Come to the Heart of All Questions

But I would end all this by commending Mattson for asking the right question, which boils down to “who shall save us?”

“So the problem is a depleted reservoir of historic Christian moral capital, not the legal architecture of the liberal order (itself a product of that very moral capital). Who has the responsibility to replenish this reservoir of moral capital? Politicians? The state? If Wilson doesn’t like our current arrangement, what is the alternative? But wait! I was told by Wilson himself that he is defending the liberal order.”

The answer to our political disease is not more politics. The answer to our corrupted laws is not more legislation. The leprosy of our entertainment industry is not going to be fixed by increasing the ratio of G-ratings. I cannot tell how many times I have said that politics is not our savior, but that politics will in fact be saved. I do not believe that we can usher in the millennium by banning drag queens in libraries. But I also believe that, were the millennium to be ushered in by the appointed means, there would be no drag queens in libraries, and no attorneys needed to stand up for their non-existent civil right to be perverted in public.

“Who has the responsibility to replenish this reservoir of moral capital?”

The only answer possible is the Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. And because God in His wisdom has determined that we will not hear without a preacher, the solution is to beseech God to pour out His Holy Spirit on a host of preachers, such that they all quit playing at “woker than thou.”

Our situation is such that we cannot be saved without a Savior. And we will not be saved if we refuse to call upon Him. He shed His blood in order to purchase men for God, and He purchased them from every tribe, language, and nation. The Lord Jesus, precisely because He was crucified in this world, and because He rose from the dead in this same world, has obtained universal dominion over this world.

The prophet Daniel put it this way:

“And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

Daniel 7:14

And the prophet Daniel did not carve out a postscript for America when he foresaw that we were going to conduct a fascinating experiment in political neutrality, in which the civil liberties of all, drag queens and Baptists, were to be suspended over Washington D.C., hanging from a great sky hook, secured to a passing cirrus cloud by twenty-eight inviso-bolts.

The American experiment lasted as long as it did because we had an informal Christian establishment. We had apples for as long as we did because—follow me closely here—we had an apple tree. Until that informal Christian establishment is restored, we will not be able to enjoy the fruit of such an informal Christian establishment.

And Mattson’s question concerns my plan for restoring it. If God does not rise up and scatter His enemies (Ps. 68:1), then it follows that His enemies will not be scattered. If God does rise up and scatters His enemies, He will do it through His appointed means, which means thousands of preachers, men with cool heads and hot hearts, men who have in their possession a gospel of efficacious grace that can and will bring life to the world, including this part of the world, the part where you and I live.

Mere Christendom. Not secular, and not sectarian.

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adad0
adad0
3 years ago

“…..and when they face widespread lack of societal influence they decide to blame their lawyer. It’s not amusing.”

A. Who does Mattson think does have “widespread societal influence”? Josh Harris?

B. And, who is Brian Mattson?

Michelle
Michelle
3 years ago

This was a fine answer, and as you said an extremely important discussion. Thank you very much. I’m sure many things are causing our inclination to misunderstand one another within the Body, including the vast differences between the coastal cultures and those of the heartland. However, it has seemed to me before that the blind assumption of “neutrality” is a widespread mistake made by anyone who has not noticed the corrosive effects of the modernist impulse to flatten everything out according to an abstraction and assume that a pure and objective analytic posture is possible. The analytic impulse itself needs… Read more »

Mike D'Virgilio
Mike D'Virgilio
3 years ago

Doug, Lest There be Any Undue Confusion . . . is perfection, the most clear and succinct explanation I’ve read on these issues. I will give you credit the first few times I use it:) Thanks!

David Graf
David Graf
3 years ago

Considering that Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world, it would seem to be wrongheaded to attempt to bring about a so-called “Christian America”.

Farinata
Farinata
3 years ago
Reply to  David Graf

Perhaps. But the question “should an evangelized America be substantially different than ancient Babylon?” would seem to bear upon our evaluation of the Church’s current work.

-BJ-
-BJ-
3 years ago
Reply to  David Graf

Jesus meant His kingdom did not originate or have it’s foundation in this world, not that it should never impact this world. Your reading of those words makes Jesus prayer that the Kingdom come and God’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, perfectly meaningless.

Nathan James
Nathan James
3 years ago

There are at least two distinct points of disagreement between Ahmari and French, one concerns drag queen story hour and the other concerns regulating social media so as to favor conservative Christians. The French side needs to be called out for confusing America’s tradition of liberty with DQSH. That confusion is shameful. On the other hand, Ahmari seems to think that because Trump is president conservatives have a golden opportunity to leverage the power of the Federal Government to permanently privilege conservative Christians. I doubt very much whether that can be accomplished. It seems to me that the French supporters… Read more »

Jim Blatzheim
Jim Blatzheim
3 years ago
Reply to  Nathan James

Show us an example of French “confusing America’s tradition of liberty with DQSH”.

Nathan James
Nathan James
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Blatzheim

“There’s this idea that victory is the natural state of affairs and defeat is the intolerable intrusion. What I’ve been trying to tell people is that none of this stuff is fixed. There is not necessarily an arc to history, and you don’t have to surrender first principles to fight over stuff that you care about. The day is not lost in any way, shape, or form. And, oh, by the way, you can’t define victory as the exclusion of your enemies from the public square. There are going to be Drag Queen Story Hours. They’re going to happen. And,… Read more »

Jim Blatzheim
Jim Blatzheim
3 years ago
Reply to  Nathan James

Can you articulate how or why this is “confusing America’s tradition of liberty with DQSH”? French and others have made the seemingly irrefutable argument that Americans have always done crazy stuff. Some of that stuff deemed crazy was done by Christians. Granted, the crazy today is a different breed of out-there, and I (and French) agree with you and Doug that our culture is in a very bad spot and trending toward even worse places. But we’ve always had our weirdos and yes, one of the blessings of the American liberal order, sprung from a worldview rooted in Christianity, is… Read more »

Nathan James
Nathan James
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Blatzheim

I guess I can’t comment from my phone? French claims that DQSH is a necessary part of the liberal order. This despite the fact that the liberal order existed in this country for over two centuries, during which time DQSH was illegal. On this point, French is not defending the liberal order that grew out of the Christian faith, he is defending a perversion of it. He can’t tell the cancer from the host. Prohibiting DQSH is well within the scope of legitimate government action. French needs to say so, but first he needs to understand why. I would accept… Read more »

Jim Blatzheim
Jim Blatzheim
3 years ago
Reply to  Nathan James

“On this point, French is not defending the liberal order that grew out of the Christian faith, he is defending a perversion of it. He can’t tell the cancer from the host.” Have you read any French beyond this narrow controversy? This is a very silly, and uncharitable, take. French clearly stated in the Ahmari debate, and has expressed the same elsewhere, that his views on obscenity are decidedly non-libertarian and right in line with what you and Doug pine for. This tendency we all seem to have, Christians included, to cast a perceived opponent’s arguments in the worst possible… Read more »

Nathan James
Nathan James
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Blatzheim

I appreciate your engagement here. This is a crucial discussion for the church in America. French is one of the genuinely good guys. Probably a better man than me, all things considered. That’s why it’s so alarming that he can’t see what he has done. John Adams’ liberal order did not permit DQSH. It was illegal. Why does French think banning DQSH is incompatible with liberty? The Adams quote indicates that he believed an immoral people need less liberty, not more, nor even the same as 19th century America. We have now much greater liberty for sexual perversion than in… Read more »

Farinata
Farinata
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Blatzheim

One part of a solution would be to forbid perverts getting anywhere near children. Not that that is the whole thing, but it’s not irrelevant either. It doesn’t have to be by congressional fiat, either – I would be pretty happy with a social order that merely didn’t punish people who threw rocks at the drag queens until they left town or put on normal clothes. There are many ways to skin a cat. It is like a man who is depressed and not going anywhere in life and lives in squalor and has no job. There are many problems,… Read more »

Sleepy
Sleepy
3 years ago
Reply to  Farinata

In your pervert category, do you include Wilson’s disciple, Steven Sitler and former disciple Jamin Wight?

What proof do you have that drag queens are grooming children by reading to them in a public library?

Farinata
Farinata
3 years ago
Reply to  Sleepy

Sure. They were both bad dudes, and Wilson opposed them when they were revealed as such. They got in trouble with church and civil authorities. I don’t see your point.

Because perverts are perverted. A = A. The burden of proof is on those who think the sexually depraved will act contrary to their normal pattern in a given case.

Sleepy
Sleepy
3 years ago
Reply to  Farinata

You conveniently left out that Wilson approved of and married Sitler to a young woman and did his best to protect Wight while tossing the victim under the bus.

Your hypocrisy knows no bounds, sir.

Farinata
Farinata
3 years ago
Reply to  Sleepy

That’s what she said.

Wahoo Q. Delirious
Wahoo Q. Delirious
3 years ago

So, uh, wait.
What’s wrong with “drag queens” reading stories to children in a public space? Why is this used as such a clear-cut example of the decay of our society?
I’m quite serious.
Our society has MANY flaws and problems; DQSH would seem to be rather low on the priority list.

Farinata
Farinata
3 years ago

You know those fancy boutiques where if you have to ask how much the handbags cost, you can’t afford them? Well, if you have to ask what is wrong with it… you’re part of the problem.

Sleepy
Sleepy
3 years ago
Reply to  Farinata

Says you. Nice dodge.

Robert Mize
Robert Mize
3 years ago

I would ask you to read or listen one more time.
Humble, but clear.

Jon Swerens
Jon Swerens
3 years ago

I understand your question. The best explanation I’ve read is that DQSH is a “condensed symbol.” “Back in the 60’s, the sociologist Mary Douglas came up with the idea of a ‘condensed symbol.’ The idea is that certain practices or ideas can become a kind of shorthand for a whole worldview. She used the example of fasting on Fridays, which the Bog Irish (generally lowerclass Irish Catholics living in England) persisted in doing, despite the fact that their better-educated, generally-upperclass clergy kept telling them to give to the poor or do something else that better fit with secular humanist mores… Read more »

David Lee Parker
David Lee Parker
3 years ago

“I would want to do this because I am an honest Christian, and not because I pretended to be some creature that has never yet existed on God’s green earth—a neutral, floaty kind of judge.”

The natural man also has a reason to act righteously. Civil society has existed apart from divine revelation, by God’s common grace, ever since the flood. This is neither neutrality, nor saving grace. It is God’s providence for his creatures.

Isaiah Taylor
Isaiah Taylor
3 years ago

The summary as I see it: Wilson: The liberal order is a good state for mankind. The liberal order is the fruit of Christendom. Clinging to a fallen Apple will do you no good if the tree needs to be replanted. French: The liberal order is a good state for mankind. Now more than ever, we have to hold to it so that it stops dying. I think what either French has not articulated, or what he has and I have missed, is this: from what does the liberal order arise? What creates it, what fosters it, what maintains it,… Read more »

Jim Blatzheim
Jim Blatzheim
3 years ago
Reply to  Isaiah Taylor

This is precisely what makes this entire “debate” so foolish and unnecessarily divisive. French is not and has not argued that the liberal order is self-supporting. I’ve read almost everything French has written over the last 3-4 years. I challenge you to find one example of him arguing against the notion that Christ/Christianity is the fount of everything good about American/classical liberal/Western civilization. He’s a lawyer and a political commentator. He’s making real-world arguments against the National Conservative crowd and challenging them to construct a positive program and offer actual practical solutions to the problems they’re decrying – most of… Read more »

Nathan James
Nathan James
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Blatzheim

See, you’re ignoring here (or ignorant of) the fact that DQSH is a real part of this discussion. At some point, Ahmari said DQSH should be shut down by an act of government, French replied “na-uh, cause the liberal order.” That response should never have happened, but it did.

Jim Blatzheim
Jim Blatzheim
3 years ago
Reply to  Nathan James

And why did he say that? Because he digs drag queens? I just left a long comment in response to you above that I think covers anything I would say here. I would add here, however, that this seems to be an example of the unfortunate tendency in our various tribes to insist that everyone be as outraged about INCIDENT X as I am, or else risk having your tribal affiliation questioned or revoked. None of us is excited about DQSH. Why do we all have to achieve peak outrage over this particular inanity? If this keeps you up at… Read more »

Nathan James
Nathan James
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Blatzheim

It’s not a matter of varying emotional reactions, French defends DQSH as an inescapable part of the liberal order. That’s a tremendous blind spot -historical and moral, and it puts him in conflict with Christ.

Farinata
Farinata
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Blatzheim

Tribes respond to stimuli in characteristic ways – shoulder to shoulder, the mass of individuals as single organism. That’s what makes them tribes. Think about a haka or a well-drilled military unit marching in formation toward the field of honor. Think about a family that draws together under threat. If, when a tribe responds to a provocation, some member prefers to step out of formation and direct his fire toward his own putative in-group… the rest of the tribe is not paranoid to notice. They would be foolish not to, for that is the only time one’s tribal loyalty may… Read more »

David Lawrence
David Lawrence
3 years ago

Doug, I know that in the past you have stated that you listen to Ken Myers/Mars Hill Audio. He has a relatively new app where you can listen to excerpts every Friday of his conversations with various people. He has a recent Friday special called “James Peters & D. C. Schindler: What is Reason”, where both Ken alone, and with Peters and Schlinder discuss how reason itself is inescapably moral and decidedly not neutral. Given the fact that you asked for a discussion about these matters, I found his half-hour conversation to be an excellent addition to this overall conversation.… Read more »

Melody
Melody
3 years ago

California comes to mind. A number of years ago, the citizens of this great state voted to put in California’s constitution an amendment making marriage valid only between one man and one woman. Passing with over 52% of the vote, the measure was invalidated anyway by a federal judge. As with Roe vs. Wade, ‘rights’ to exercise evil were ‘found’ in the constitution by evil judges and were forced upon a people who did not want this. I find it confusing that this kind of fiat is what the “classical liberal order is supposed to be about.

Jim Blatzheim
Jim Blatzheim
3 years ago
Reply to  Melody

Who in this debate do you believe is arguing anything to the contrary? French is with you on Roe and Prop 8. We really have to stop shooting each other, folks.

Melody
Melody
3 years ago

Just one more thing. Why does the “classical liberal order” allow DQSH at the local library yet “prevent the free exercise of” a real dad reading stories to children in that same place that clarify the science of gender which only allows for two? Heck, the children’s teacher at school isn’t even allowed to teach proper science any more.

Mike Freeman
Mike Freeman
3 years ago

I see a difference between “value neutral” as a procedural rule versus “value neutral” as a substantive argument. The IRS gives tax exempt status to any religious organization that applies for it — Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, Moonie, Scientologist, Satanist. But that does not mean it endorses the theology of any of them (and it would violate the First Amendment if the IRS did). On that same principle, I don’t see why a library can’t allow drag queen story hour on one day and Doug to teach Biblical human sexuality on another day. The library is making rooms available, not… Read more »

Sleepy
Sleepy
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Freeman

Mike Freeman, thank you for informing those commenters above, who slept through 8th grade civics, about the 1st amendment.