After you read Mark Regnerus on that fabricated gay-marriage “study,” click over to The Weekly Standard, where Andrew Ferguson makes an excellent point about the same:
You can’t help but suspect that had such a questionable piece of work produced a result unflattering to the cause of “gay equality,” social scientists and journalists would have flogged each of its methodological mistakes. But this assumes that such a study could get published in the first place.
Which leads us to what should have been the brightest red flag of all. The study confirms—perfectly, exquisitely, suspiciously—the picture that gay marriage advocates hold of the believers in traditional marriage, who are assumed to be at once brainless and heartless. Given that no rational or objective reasons exist for opposing gay marriage (goes the assumption), the only explanation for such a view is an unfamiliarity with gay people and a lack of sympathy for them. That’s why the gay canvassers just had to be more persuasive than the straight canvassers.
Ferguson is making a point about a particular “study” of a particular issue, but the conclusion should be understood generally. We can observe the logic.
The reduction of all same-sex marriage opposition to irrational hatred is not a reasoned conclusion, but a matter of dogma among many on the left. We saw this when Ted Cruz visited two gay hoteliers in Manhattan last month. As my colleague Charles C.W. Cooke wrote at the time, Cruz’s visit was inexplicable to many liberals — because they had closed themselves off to the mere possibility that opposition to same-sex marriage might be based on articulable reasons or principles.
And the inevitable result of casting one’s opponents as sub-rational or anti-rational is the end of debate. From the position of Maggie Haberman, the Times writer so perplexed by Cruz’s visit, trying to convince Ted Cruz to support same-sex marriage is like trying to convince a caribou.
The problem, of course, is that community life is subverted when matters of public importance are removed from the realm of debate. And if I can’t convince you, I am left to appeal, finally, to force.
Which is what this study was. The conclusion was known from the start, and the study was fabricated to bolster that conclusion, because the conclusion was unquestionably, incontrovertibly “right,” and if it’s right, and the other side can’t and never will understand that, there is no reason to waste time debating. The insidiousness of this act of force is that it pays lip service to “reason,” masquerading as an “empirical,” “data-based” contribution to a debate — because the desire to “start a conversation” remains the great palliative of American political rhetoric.
One can see this playing out in several arenas. Many on the left have condemned skeptics of anthropogenic global warming as “anti-science” — that is, as people who can never be convinced. Thus there is no point discussing global warming. So they turn to force, ie., more cooked studies.
And the feminist Left has declared, “If we use proof in rape cases, we fall into the patterns of rape deniers.” So what are the trials-by-media of accused attackers — such as Columbia’s Paul Nungesser, or the brothers of UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity — but exercises of force by people who have declared that their claims are not subject to doubt?
The health of a democratic polity depends in no small part on the generousness of its civic discourse — that is, opposing sides ought to give one another the benefit of the doubt. If same-sex marriage proponents allowed that same-sex marriage opponents might, just might, be motivated by something other than animal hatred, we might be able to reach solutions that balance the competing interests unavoidably present in any political body.
But our discourse is growing increasingly ungenerous. We ought not be surprised when the result is less debate and more dishonesty and coercion.