The Corner

Law & the Courts


H.L. Mencken famously defined puritanism as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Progressivism, it seems, should be defined as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be making a decision you disapprove of—and the fervent use of government power to prevent and punish such a decision.”

As to where progressivism intends to lead us, I sure hope that progressives will answer the seven questions Ross Douthat poses. Here is my own stab at channeling the candid progressive’s answers:

1 & 2. Religious colleges that fail to accommodate gay relationships should lose their accreditation. Religious colleges, high schools, grade schools, and nonprofits that fail to embrace SSM should lose their tax-exempt status.

3. Public and private universities should withdraw recognition from any student groups that subscribe to traditional religious views on sexuality.

4. No one who embraces traditional religious views on sexuality should be allowed to take part in what Douthat refers to as “our society’s elite level institutions” (including any respected position in government, business, or academia).

5. Ministers who perform marriages recognized by the State are functioning as agents of the State. Therefore, any ministers who refuse to marry same-sex couples shall be denied permission to perform marriages recognized by the State.

6. Churches that decline to bless same-sex unions should have their tax-exempt status withdrawn.

7. Parents do not have any fundamental right to raise their children according to their religious beliefs. Inculcation of traditional religious views on sexuality is a form of child abuse that ought to lead to forfeiture of parental rights.

Does any progressive repudiate these conclusions? If so, on what ground?

Far-fetched, you think? Well, as Douthat reminds us:

One of the difficulties in this discussion [about what the future portends], from a conservative perspective, is that the definition of “common sense” and “compromise” on these issues has shifted so rapidly in such a short time: Positions taken by, say, the president of the United States and most Democratic politicians a few short years ago are now deemed the purest atavism, the definition of bigotry gets more and more elastic, and developments that social liberals would have described as right-wing scare stories in 2002 or so are now treated as just the most natural extensions of basic American principles.… Of course all of this is happening because underlying attitudes have changed rapidly, and what’s politically and socially possible is changing with them; that’s all understandable. But the pace involved is unusual, and its rapidity makes it very easy to imagine that scenarios that aren’t officially on the table right now will become plausible very, very soon.


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