The New York Times has come up with an editorial that contains a perfect bootstrapping argument, one that works off the premise it is supposed to prove. It's an almost impressive piece of dishonest rhetoric, whether or not one agrees with the sentiment expressed.
The context for this amazing piece of rhetorical sleight-of-hand is the Times' editorial chastizing the President for supporting the anti-gay marriage amendment. I should say here that I agree with the amendment. As I've noted before, I don't have a big problem with extending legal rights to committed gay couples via civil partnership laws. I've known many extremely committed gay couples who have ended up in heinous end-of-life situations because of the absence of such protections.
However, to me, marriage is also a religious issue, and male/female marriages, with their commitment to children, cannot be tossed lightly aside because in the last 25 years there's been agitation to change dramatically an institution that is as old as recorded human history — that is, the joining of a man and woman. And while I would never liken homosexual relationships to such things as bestiality and pedophilia, I don't have any doubt but that a door opens when homosexual marriages become the law. To the extent a society contemplates a fundamental change like this, it should do so after a bit more very, very, very serious thinking.
But I'm digressing wildly here, aren't I? (A not uncommon thing for me to do.) Let's get back to the Times. First, it takes the President to task for actually thinking the gay marriage issue is important. How dare he get his knickers in a twist about an amendment aimed at preserving traditional mores and, in many people's minds, saving the whole fabric of society? But the real kicker for me lurks in the editorial's second paragraph:
Mr. Bush's central point was that the nation is under siege from "activist judges" who are striking down anti-gay-marriage laws that conflict with their own state constitutions. That's their job, just as it is the job of state legislators to either fix the laws or change their constitutions.
Please note the unproven assumption in the above paragraph that these various state judges are correct when they decide that their respective state constitutions support gay marriage. That's a pretty big leap of faith. I say that with special emphasis because I've known so many judges who are, if you'll pardon the expression, drooling idiots who can barely read the Constitution with their fingers tracking slowly under the words and their lips moving. (And my humble apologies to any judges reading this who are brilliant legal thinkers and who truly possess that rarity, a judicial temperament. Further, if one of you is reading this, I bet you have some colleagues who fit my description perfectly.)
Just to itself look even more stupid than those judges I described, the Times goes on to say this:
If there's anything the country should have learned over the past five years, it is that Mr. Bush and his supporters have no problem with judicial decisions, no matter how cutting edge, that endorse their political positions. They trot out the "activist judge" threat only when they're worried about getting out their base on Election Day.
This is the same Times, of course, that got itself into an apocalyptic frenzy over the spectre of a Scalia, Roberts or an Alito, all of whom were going to send this country back into the Stone Age. I don't even want to touch the Times' behavior with regard to Clarence Thomas, in part because, in those days, I have to admit I was cheering the Times on when it mounted its loathsome attacks against him.
Anyway, does anyone take these Times editorials seriously any more, or are they just a more polite version of the usual Left of center rhetoric, aimed at overawing with emotion to hide the lack of any intellectual core?