The Corner

Re: Chris Cuomo Doesn’t Get How Religious Freedom Works

Andrew posted yesterday on Chris Cuomo of CNN’s tortured understanding of religious liberty. Cuomo also doesn’t get how analogies work.

Here’s the relevant exchange that Cuomo had with attorney Kellie Fiedorek, who was defending the right of a photographer to decline a gig at a same-sex wedding:

Fiedorek: There’s a big distinction in America that government should not force us to ever use our business, use our talents to go against what we fundamentally believe. . . . We would not force a Muslim to participate in a Koran-burning ceremony. We wouldn’t ask a black photographer and force them to go take a picture of a KKK event . . .

Cuomo: Counselor, tell me that you’re not analogizing burning a Koran or the KKK with gay marriage. Do you really see those things as the same thing?

No, Chris, she doesn’t. The whole point of an analogy is to compare situations that are not the same but where an underlying principle — in this case, free association — might equally apply. In fact, some of the best analogies are those that compare very different things, so that we can sharpen distinctions or correct our inconsistencies.

Irrational responses to analogies are everywhere in politics, of course — when people are asked to explain why a general principle should apply to X but not to Y, their reaction is often to express shock and disdain that anyone would even mention X and Y in the same sentence. It’s a way to avoid thinking and analysis.

Maybe this was just a heat-of-the-moment slip-up by a news anchor intent on asking tough questions. But when such an anti-intellectual response has become commonplace, it suggests a deeper problem: Many journalists are simply uninterested in being consistent about general principles (such as religious liberty and free association). To them, same-sex marriage = good, and people who oppose same-sex marriage = bad. That’s as deep as their thinking appears to go.

Jason Richwine — Jason Richwine is a public-policy analyst and a contributor to National Review Online.

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