The Corner

The Wonders of Rigorous Logic

Rachel Maddow just made a very valuable point, in some comments about today’s Supreme Court decisions. Looking to the future of the gay-marriage movement, she said the next step will take place when some same-sex married couple in New York gets transferred to, say, Utah, for work. They will then bring suit, asking why on earth they are denied marriage benefits in Utah when they are legally married in the State of New York. Rigorously applying the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction, Rachel pointed out that is impossible to be married and not married at the same time. Whether you are married or not doesn’t depend on the opinions of others: You either are or you aren’t. So justice demands that you be treated as married.

I applaud Rachel’s commitment to the principles of reason here – and not just because, like her, I support gay marriage. I’m also delighted because the principle she enunciates has a much broader application, one that she, and society at large, should take to heart. A fetus in the womb is recognized as a person by people who allow it to come to birth; harming it, in circumstances outside the parameters of the “peculiar institution” of abortion, is a crime. On Rachel’s principles, that fetus cannot be both a person and not a person at the same time; the opinion, as to its personhood, of a woman carrying the child to term – or, indeed the opinions of anyone else — cannot change the underlying reality.

Rachel is contending that, say, Utah, cannot be “pro-choice” on marriage equality; it must, rather, bend to an underlying truth and the demands of logic. I thank her, again, for drawing attention to a very important general principle.

Most Popular

White House

John Bolton as National Security Adviser

All his critics call him a neo-con, but he’s a hard-headed realist. The Twitter and cable-TV mob is saying he’s a Fox News analyst, as if that were the sum total of what he’s about, when, of course, he has extensive diplomatic and governmental experience. He is shrewd, knowledgeable, and always speaks his ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Do Not Congratulate

Do you want some good news out of the gargantuan budget bill now making its way through Congress? Buried among the mountains of pork and assorted unmentionables, there is one random provision I really like. It requires the Congressional Research Service -- which does a huge amount of very valuable policy research ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Top Trump Attorney Resigns

John Dowd, the lead attorney representing President Donald Trump in the special-counsel investigation, resigned Thursday, two sources briefed on the matter told the New York Times. [jwplayer PCWBu1GF-wKJ9CRQU] Dowd, who began leading Trump's legal team last summer, has repeatedly floated the idea of ... Read More

Thursday Links

It's William Shatner's birthday: Here he is in 1978 'singing' Rocket Man, plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup. Sold: Isaac Newton’s Notes on the Philosopher’s Stone. It was a long time before anyone admitted that he was interested in alchemy. High-tech forgery: Computer-generated 'Rembrandt' ... Read More

Korea: A Deadly Question

Olympic Games often have political significance, as in 1936 and as in the Olympics just past -- the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Those Games seemed as much political as athletic. I talk about this with Michael Breen on my latest Q&A. Breen is one of our best Korea-watchers, one of our soundest ... Read More
Film & TV

Superannuated ‘Idol’

In the pilot episode of Fox’s American Idol, Simon Cowell defined the show’s thesis: “We are going to tell people who cannot sing and have no talent that they have no talent. And that never makes you popular.” The show’s producers and its three judges -- Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson -- kept ... Read More