VerBruggen v. French: Miscellaneous Roundup

Robert, I must admit that I prefer sparring with you via blog posts. The last time we got in a scrape it was a bit more, umm, violent (though I have recovered nicely, thank you very much).

First, regarding tax credits and vouchers, in one of your recent posts you said, What’s at issue is whether these programs direct public money to private schools without the people’s consent.” I’m not sure I quite understand this argument. As one of your commenters notes, the tax-credit program itself was established by legislative enactment, thus ensuring the “people’s consent” to the same extent as a voucher program. Plus, the extent of the program itself is entirely contingent on individual choice. If people don’t give money to tuition organizations, no one gets a tax credit or a deduction. Like I said previously, I may even prefer the tax-credit regime to actual vouchers, which are more likely to wax or wane depending on the state’s budgetary needs. Credits — and deductions — tend to be more enduring and broader-based, incentivizing all taxpayers to fund private education (which tends to deliver a better education at a lower cost).

Next, I’d like to hook into the blogging equivalent of the wayback machine and revisit the science of sexual orientation. I think things are much less settled than some would like to argue. When I called the hair-whorl study you referenced “pseudoscience,” I forgot to note that it was recently debunked. The fact of the matter is that there is much we don’t know about human sexuality, and authoritative declarations about the origins of sexual desire seem to be a bit premature. After all, it now appears that gay parents are more likely to have gay kids, which makes intuitive sense — if parents have a profound influence on their kids’ lives, why would that influence stop at sexual orientation? I fear that we won’t begin to get definitive scientific answers on the origin of desire until there is less pressure from within the scientific community to get to the “right” answer . . . whatever that is.

At the end of the day, I think we’ll most likely find out that sexuality is influenced by multiple factors — genetic, environmental, cultural — and that it is perhaps more malleable than we might think. After all, in some societies where females are less sexually available, pairings of men with young teenage boys are literally rampant. But from the Christian (and Jewish) perspective, the origin of the desire is irrelevant to the morality of the action.  

But let me end this scattershot post with a partial agreement. Universities should not ban “Four Loko.” I have a hard time seeing it as more dangerous than the bathtub fruit punch/pure grain alcohol concoctions (what we called “hooch” back in the day) that have sent generations of catatonic kids to the emergency room. Enforce the drinking age? Yes. Ban individual drinks? No.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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