Everyone in this debate favors marriage equality. Everyone wants the law to treat all marriages in the same ways. The only disagreement our nation faces is over what sort of consenting adult relationship is a marriage. Since the Constitution doesn’t answer that question, the people and their elected representatives should.
As Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito pointed out two years ago, there are two different visions of marriage on offer. One vision of marriage sees it as primarily about consenting adult romance and care-giving. Another vision sees it as a union of man and woman—husband and wife—so that children would have moms and dads.
Our Constitution is silent on which of these visions is correct, so We the People have constitutional authority to make marriage policy.
4) In the longer term, is there a place for anyone associated with the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic view of sexuality in our society’s elite level institutions? Was Mozilla correct in its handling of the Brendan Eich case? Is California correct to forbid its judges from participating in the Boy Scouts? What are the implications for other institutions? To return to the academic example: Should Princeton find a way to strip Robert George of his tenure over his public stances and activities? Would a public university be justified in denying tenure to a Orthodox Jewish religious studies professor who had stated support for Orthodox Judaism’s views on marriage?
5) Should the state continue to recognize marriages performed by ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. who do not marry same-sex couples? Or should couples who marry before such a minister also be required to repeat the ceremony in front of a civil official who does not discriminate?
6) Should churches that decline to bless same-sex unions have their tax-exempt status withdrawn? Note that I’m not asking if it would be politically or constitutionally possible: If it were possible, should it be done?
No doubt others could add more questions to the list, but that seems like decent range to me. Again, I’m genuinely interested in the answers, and not just for the sake of putting people on the record or playing some kind of “follow the logic” game. At the very least, I think liberals would benefit from recognizing that the current thinking of religious conservatives is shaped not only by these kind of specific fears but by a near-total uncertainty about what happens after this, and after that, and so on.
Contemporary liberals increasingly think and talk like a class of self-satisfied commissars enforcing a comprehensive, uniformly secular vision of the human good. The idea that someone, somewhere might devote her life to an alternative vision of the good — one that clashes in some respects with liberalism’s moral creed — is increasingly intolerable.
That is a betrayal of what’s best in the liberal tradition.
What happened to a liberalism of skepticism, modesty, humility, and openness to conflicting notions of the highest good? What happened to a liberalism of pluralism that recognizes that when people are allowed to search for truth in freedom, they are liable to seek and find it in a multitude of values, beliefs, and traditions? What happened to a liberalism that sees this diversity as one of the finest flowers of a free society rather than a threat to the liberal democratic order?
Consider, for instance, the recent and curious episode of the “God Helmet.” If you have not heard of it before, this was a device that for a time was believed to have the power to induce “religious” experiences in those who wore it, simply by stimulating the temporal lobes of the brain with weak magnetic field emissions.
The clinical incompetence of the original studies, the extravagance of the conjectures surrounding them, the sheer absurdity of the device itself, and the religious illiteracy of those who took it all seriously. And indeed it would have been had Persinger’s theories not appealed so deeply to the materialist imagination, and had they not seemed for a brief exciting moment to confirm certain materialist dogmas.
Most of us tend to see what we wish to see, and to think that it is reality in its unadorned essence. Materialists believe that absolutely everything, even the formal structures of culture and the intentional structures of consciousness, can be reduced without remainder to an ensemble of mechanistic interactions among intrinsically mindless physical elements; and I suppose anyone capable of believing that is capable of believing practically anything.
Before World War I, (…) separatists did not command widespread support among the Armenian population, certainly not to the extent portrayed in modern Turkish propaganda. But for Ottoman leaders who had seen small nationalist movements in the Balkans grow into insurmountable rebellions, chipping away at their empire with European support, the pattern appeared all too familiar. In this context, destroying the empire’s Armenian population became an obvious, if brutal, way to prevent this pattern from repeating itself. (…) And as the fortunes of World War I shifted and Russian troops advanced into Ottoman territory, this cycle of violence continued, with Armenian militias’ atrocities against Muslim villagers living on in Turkish memory today.
Even in its abbreviated form, this history helps demonstrate how internal conflict served as a motivation for genocide, not grounds for denying or justifying it. Yet the idea of genocide as something incompatible with other forms of internal conflict remains widespread.
Perhaps the most striking example of how this mistaken belief can pose an obstacle to preventing genocide comes from Bosnia in the 1990s. Power shows how Washington officials skeptical of U.S. intervention regularly fell back on the claim that Bosnia was “racked by a ‘civil war’ (not a war of aggression) in which ‘all sides’ committed atrocities against the others.” This, according to Power, was “spin,” an effort to “mudd[y] the facts” and “temper public enthusiasm for involvement.” This spin, she argues, was perpetuated by journalists who “compensated for their ignorance with an effort to be ‘even-handed’ and ‘neutral’” by searching for “stories about atrocities committed by all sides.” Power, by contrast, praises the courage of those who challenged this cowardice and declared, as the editors of the New Republic put it, that “platitudes about the responsibility of ‘all factions’ for the war” were nothing but “an escape hatch through which outside powers flee their responsibilities.”
In this process, /Turkey’s/ system of checks and balances — a sine qua non ingredient of a democratic country governed by rule of law — has been completely destroyed. This demolition team lead by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — who is known to have complained about the “independence of the judiciary” even when he was marketing himself as a democrat — has annihilated everything that is related to rights, freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. In the monstrosities they have introduced in place of what they have destroyed, they have never thought they must comply with the principles of legality and legitimacy. Like Frankenstein, who went mad, they frantically demolished all democratic and legal institutions that were the outcomes of their own reform efforts. Dispensing with all rules, legal or ethical principles as the executive, the ruling mob not only defiled the judiciary but also made the legislature a prime accomplice in its crimes.
Anne Applebaum: Russia’s “strength” is questionable. The country is so corrupt it puts the legitimacy of the system continuously in question. The major reason behind Putin’s policy in Ukraine is his will to remain in power. It may seem absurd but he’s afraid of social unrest. He would not allow Boris Nemtsov to be killed and would not be jailing dissidents if he was not afraid. He runs a system, which cannot sustain itself without constantly resorting to violence. It’s a sign of weakness.
Lukasz Pawlowski: This is a paradox which I cannot figure out. How is it possible that we see Russia as an extremely weak state – with a lagging economy, omnipresent corruption and broken infrastructure – but at the same time present it as a global superpower, with an almost almighty leader who can easily exploit his opponents’ weaknesses?
AA: There are two huge advantages Russia has on a global stage. The first lies in the fact that Putin and the people around him possess political tools we cannot even imagine in the West. It’s as if Barack Obama was not only the president of the United States but also the chairman of Exxon, owner of theNew York Times and all the major television networks, as if he ran the FBI and the CIA and, on top of that, controlled Congress. That’s the kind of power Putin and his entourage have. They own the country.
The second thing they have – and this factor is strangely underrated at the moment – is a nuclear arsenal. If Russia was Albania and it had invaded Ukraine, we would immediately help Kyiv. The main reason we are not doing so now is not because we are too weak, but because people are afraid of Putin’s nuclear weapons, which he is in fact constantly threatening to use.
LP: That’s the same type of situation we had during the Cold War.
AA: Exactly, we were afraid then too. The West didn’t help Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 or Poland in 1981, did we?
Many of the eulogies to Lee Kuan Yew, the long-time prime minister of Singapore who died in March, singled out his successful battle against corruption. Often implicit in this analysis (when not made explicit) was the suggestion that Lee’s accomplishments were made possible by his authoritarian style of governing.
Aside from this supposition’s profoundly anti-democratic implications, it also happens to be empirically false. Yes, Singapore ranked seventh out of more than 170 countries on Transparency International’s corruption survey last year. But a look at the other countries in the top 15 is much more revealing: every one of them is a thriving democracy.
In the vast majority of the world’s least corrupt countries, a free press, a robust civil society, and a competitive political environment work together to keep dishonesty in check. Were Singapore to adopt a less authoritarian political system, the result would almost certainly be the same.
Zelo veliko je (…) majhnih stvari, ki bi lahko pripeljale k pozitivni konkurenci in stvari bi se valile proti boljšemu. Denimo, da bi študenti lahko zares študirali in se jim pri tem ne bi bilo treba ukvarjati s študentskim delom. Ob tem bi vlada morala razmisliti, kako visoko šolstvo financira. Mi v Sloveniji na univerze vpišemo 80 odstotkov generacije, pri čemer je razpisnih mest več kot potencialnih kandidatov zanje. Kar je sicer zelo lepo, da ima vsak to možnost – ampak ni vsak sposoben študirati. Treba je ustvariti sistem, ki ne bo nagrajeval količine, temveč kakovost. Ampak spet, to je stvar financerja – države.
Stvari se v Sloveniji premikajo na bolje, vendar počasi. Vse ideje, ki sem jih naštel, so že vnaprej obsojene na neuspeh. Imamo kompleksno delovno zakonodajo, sindikate, razne komisije ter odbore in na koncu se stvari zelo težko in počasi spreminjajo.
Slovenci smo zelo pametni in iznajdljivi. Problem nastane, ko postanemo iznajdljivi sami zase. Treba je samo najti vzvode, da bo dobro delo nagrajeno bolje od slabega dela. Pa ne ne mislim samo denarno, temveč tudi socialno. Saj se da ljudi nagrajevati na mnogo različnih načinov, in če se jim da priložnost, da se izkažejo.
So the problem is not that austerity was tried and failed in Greece. It is that, despite unprecedented international generosity, fiscal policy was completely out of control and needed major adjustments. Insufficient spending was never an issue. From 1998 to 2007, Greece’s annual per capita GDP growth averaged 3.8%, the second fastest in Western Europe, behind only Ireland.
But by 2007, Greece was spending more than 14% of GDP in excess of what it was producing, the largest such gap in Europe (…) Sudden stops are always painful: economics has not discovered a hangover cure.
Too much of the debate since then has focused on what Germany, the EU, or the International Monetary Fund must do. But the bottom line is that Greece needs to develop its productive capabilities if it wants to grow. The unfocused set of structural reforms prescribed by its current financing agreement will not do that. (…) Unfortunately, this is not what many Greeks (or Spaniards) believe. A large plurality of them voted for Syriza, which wants to reallocate resources to wage increases and subsidies and does not even mention exports in its growth strategy. They would be wise to remember that having Stiglitz as a cheerleader and Podemos as advisers did not save Venezuela from its current hyper-inflationary catastrophe.