Bench Memos

More Posner Delusions

The New Republic has now posted online Bryan Garner’s response to Judge Richard Posner’s incompetent and libelous review of the treatise that Garner co-authored with Scalia, together with Posner’s rambling reply to Garner.

Rather than directly contest a single point in my five-part series, Posner resorts to the ad hominem fallacy, as he tries to dismiss me in his opening paragraph by asserting that I head “an extreme conservative think tank preoccupied with homosexuality (which Whelan believes is destroying the American family), abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and other affronts to conservative theology.” His attack is a logical fallacy because, even if its factual assertions were true, they have nothing to do with the merits of my criticisms. But his factual assertions also aren’t true.

I don’t in fact  believe, and I don’t believe that I have ever said anything that can fairly be reduced to, the proposition that “homosexuality … is destroying the American family.” Quite to the contrary, I have written that the collapse of our marriage culture is “largely the result of what heterosexuals have done to marriage in recent decades.” Posner of course—consistent with his usual pattern of sloppiness—doesn’t bother to cite anything for his false assertion.

As for Posner’s disparagement of the think tank I head, the Ethics and Public Policy Center: EPPC may fairly be described as conservative, but I don’t see how anyone familiar with the American political spectrum could fairly describe it as “extreme conservative.” His claim that we are “preoccupied with … affronts to conservative theology” is inane: our scholars, of various faiths (or no faith), set forth their public-policy positions on grounds of reason, not theology. The claim that we are “preoccupied” with certain issues of course begs the question what the proper level of attention to such issues is, but the reader reviewing our website and the work of our scholars should find Posner’s claim baffling.

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