Monday, November 14, 2005

Sticks and stones . . .

Today was the second installment in the Katherine Kersten is really just a regular person, honest, campaign. On Sunday, Kate Parry explained Katie’s place in the crown of stars at the Star Tribune, which Spot panned. Today we hear from Katie. The great thing about today’s column is that Katie only had to interview herself! Here’s how it starts:
As a newspaper columnist, I get lots of responses from readers. Most are thoughtful -- many agree with me, many don't. I find it stimulating to exchange ideas with readers who like to think. But there are other responses, too -- quick and nasty blasts that rely on name-calling and personal insults, particularly over controversial topics.

Name-calling rolls right off my back, after years of writing. But it degrades the quality of the debate. It's part of the much-noted recent decline in civility -- an anti-intellectualism, or rejection of reason, that afflicts our public discourse. The goal is to shut your opponent up so you won't have to respond to his argument.

First off, it strikes Spotty as unlikely that Katie would enjoy an “exchange of ideas” with anybody, at least anybody who disagrees with her. Here’s a little altogether unscientific poll: if you ever sent a critical letter or email, of any kind, to Katie and got a substantive response back, please send it to Spotty.

And Katie, nobody really believes they will shut you up. Spotty suspects that some of your correspondents are just looking for catharsis, writing in frustration to a closed mind. Speaking of that, Spot challenges Katie to tell us of one instance in her lengthy writing career when a commenter changed her opinion on a non-trivial issue.

Kate told us yesterday that Katie seemed “inured” to criticism; today Katie tell us that name calling rolls right off her back. Well of course it does. To someone possessed of the Absolute Truth like Katie, there are no worthy critics. There is another word for a person like this: sociopath.

Katie’s particular complaint today is about being branded as a bigot for her anti-gay views. She says it is illegal to discriminate against persons because of their religious beliefs. She says that Christianity embraces some ideas (obviously referring to homophobia here) that some people don’t like, but she is entitled to them because they are religious notions.

Oh, where to begin.

First of all Katie, a lot of Christians don’t buy a much of the pre-scientific Bible hook, line, and sinker. Spotty realizes that you think that makes them less Christian, but it is nevertheless true. Many Christians are convinced that being gay is not “a lifestyle” but rather an imprint you are born with. Spot’s not a scientist, but he believes this is the case for this simple reason: Who would put up with the crap you are in for by being gay if it was a choice? Just doesn’t make sense.

Moreover, society as a whole doesn’t do what particular religious sects want. Mormons are supposed to have only one wife; we require basic health care for minors, even if a court has to order the parents to provide it; we don’t require all baby boys to be circumcised on the eighth day of life, and we don’t require women to wear headscarves. In America, when your eccentric religious ideas conflict with our basic notions of freedom and equality, we keep them out of civil society.

Don’t like same-sex marriage? Fine. Don’t have one, and don’t allow them in your church. But don’t expect to tell everyone else what to do.

The more Spotty thinks about social conservatives and their drive to control everyone’s agenda, the more Spot believes that the movement’s driving force is self-absorption or narcissism.


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