Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Santorum again

Christianity Today has a short article on the Santorum/Casey race and an interview with Rick Santorum. Casey apparently declined to be interviewed. Does this mean he doesn’t think he needs evangelical votes in Pennsylvania? Or that he already has them sewn up, so that the less said, the better? Or is Santorum right about his opponent?

What about your opponent Casey’s perspective on the Iraq war?


I think it would be very difficult for anyone, including Al Qaeda, to figure out what my opponent has to say on virtually any issue. He’s been about as cryptic on the issue of the war as he is on what he wants to do with Social Security or with solving the deficit or a whole host of other issues. He’s been on both sides of almost every question with respect to the war.

I doubt that there’s anything new here for folks who have been following the Pennsylvania race, but we sure are reminded of how smart and articulate an advocate of his positions Santorum is.

Discussions - 20 Comments

Santorum must be some kind of litmus test... from my side of the spectrum, he’s known as the guy who equates homosexuality with bestiality and is roughly as dumb as Lou Ferrigno. I guess it depends on which blogs you read.

Oh, shut up. You’re talking crap.

Well, if it isn’t a fine late-night display of Claremont civility and diplomacy! Do you deny that Santorum equated homosexuality with bestiality or do you just resent the slam against childhood hero Ferrigno?

I’m no great defender of Santorum, but it isn’t true that he "equated homosexuality with bestiality." He said that if we recognize gay marriage we have no principled reason not to accept bestiality. If he’s wrong about that, Craig, please explain why.

I’ll take that one John.

Because animals aren’t people? That’s the best one I can come up with. There is no logical linkage unless you regard homosexuals as sub-humans. Also its like saying if you allow people to curse, you have to allow heroin use.

Okay, I’ll concede that animals aren’t humans, but so what? If I want to enter into a loving relationship with a sheep (let’s say a ewe--wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a homo or anything), for instance, why should the government try to stop me? Nobody would object if I wanted to kill and eat the sheep (except perhaps the sheep, but she doesn’t get a vote).

My point is this: either we accept Mill’s harm principle as our reason for prohibiting or not prohibiting certain activities, or we look (as most conservatives do) to some other standard. According to the harm principle we cannot possibly object either to homosexuality or bestiality. If liberals want to accept the former and not the latter, I want to know that the basis for that distinction is.

And yes, I fully realize that if I’m ever dumb enough to run for elected office, I can expect the above statements to turn up in campaign commercials for my opponent. Thank God I’m an academic.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure there are laws against torturing/mistreating animals. So yes, you can slaughter a sheep for food, but you can’t sexually abuse it. Two gay adults can both consent to be in a sexual relationship, but most sheep cannot.

Still, Moser, I really hope it works out with you and Dolly.

Thanks, Phil--we’re very happy together.

I would argue that our laws for the humane treatment of animals stem not from any idea of "consent," but rather are a reflection of people’s basic sensibilities. I support such laws, but I don’t acknowledge that they rest on anything fundamental. To claim that homosexuality is okay, while bestiality is not, based on "consent" strikes me as silly. Why does consent suddenly become an issue for having sex with an animal, but not with killing it (and, contrary to your view, the law sanctions killing animals for more than just food)? My guess would be that if animals could express an opinion, they would prefer sex to death.

Still, homosexuality to bestiality... a less insulting slippery slope argument would be homosexuality to incest. It’s also absurd but at least it doesn’t dehumanize your opponent.

Your argument supposes that since society is creeped out by homosexuality, we should pass a law against it. My feeling is, THAT slope is frictionless. Worst case, it leads to genocide. Even in a best case it’s unconstitutional thinking.

Even if all the laws are amended to allow same-sex marriage, I don’t see a sudden rush among straight people to hook up with their golfing buddies, do you?

a less insulting slippery slope argument would be homosexuality to incest. It’s also absurd but at least it doesn’t dehumanize your opponent.

You certainly haven’t established its absurdity--assuming we’re talking about consensual relationships between adults. And what about polygamy? Don’t forget that one. You should add prostitution as well.

By the way, Daniel, I’m not out to "dehumanize" anyone. Believe it or not, I’m not engaged in some cheap rhetorical ploy. I’m personally sympathetic to gays, but this is a serious philosophical question, one that defenders of gay marriage need to ask themselves. So far the only coherent argument I’ve heard in favor of gay marriage is that gays want it, no one is harmed by it, so it should be granted. Fine, but if you buy this you should also ask what other practices are justifiable according to the same argument. Maybe at the end of the day you want to accept Mill’s harm principle, but you should have the intellectual integrity to admit that this is what you’re doing. Dare to accept the consequences of your own way of thinking.

Setting aside philosophical debates and Mill’s harm principle for a moment, Moser, I’d like to know if YOU believe that allowing gay marriage would eventually lead to society having to accept bestiality. Could a man and a sheep raise adopt a child and raise it together? Would we have wacky sitcoms about men and their quirky heifer significant others?

I have no idea if it would or not; I’m a historian, not a futurist. What I do know is that at one time homosexuality was regarded with the same sense of horror that bestiality, and incest, and polygamy generate today (well, okay, the stigma associated with the last is beginning to break down). Had you predicted in the 1950s that one day a show like "Will and Grace" would be possible, let alone popular, you would have been met with stares of disbelief. Sort of like the disbelief you express in your last post that bestiality might one day become acceptable.

One thing I can safely predict, I think, is that advocates will start popping up for the "hetero-speciesal community," no matter how small it might be. My question for you, Phil, is how--or indeed, if--YOU will say no to their demands for acceptance.

I’m afraid I’m not familiar with Mill’s Harm Principal (John Stuart Mill, yes?) but I might as well admit that I don’t think I have a right to stop you from harming yourself. In that respect I’m libertarian.

And even then, where is the personal harm in gay marriage?

And even then, where is the personal harm in gay marriage?

There isn’t, Daniel. That’s my whole point. Under John Stuart Mill’s harm principle homosexuality is perfectly acceptable--as are bestiality, prostitution, polygamy, (consensual) incest, and (since you mentioned it above) heroin use. If you’re going to "out" yourself as a libertarian, you might as well go all the way with it.

Bestiality: Harms the animal, who cannot give consent.

Prostitution: if someone else pays for sex, it doesn’t hurt me. And if it were legal, I doubt there would be much more of it than there is now!

Incest: potentially damaging to the gene pool, therefore bad for society.

Polygamy: I’m bothered by the idea that rich men might scoop up all the good wives, but I don’t think there should be a law against it.

As for heroin, well, alcohol is almost as bad for you, and pot is probably less bad for you, so should we bring back prohibition? Because you know, that didn’t work so well. :)

Bestiality: Harms the animal, who cannot give consent.

Haven’t we been through this? If we were worried about harm to the animal we’d be banning not only the consumption of meat, but the use of anything connected with animals. Mill pretty clearly believed that only humans counted in determining harm.

Incest: potentially damaging to the gene pool, therefore bad for society.

Be careful about heading down this road. As Dain will tell you, homosexuality can be bad for "society." But then again, all sorts of things that Mill was willing to countenance could be seen as bad in that sense.

As for heroin, well, alcohol is almost as bad for you, and pot is probably less bad for you, so should we bring back prohibition? Because you know, that didn’t work so well.

Haven’t you figured it out yet? I’m actually in favor of legalizing all the things I mentioned above. My point is that Santorum is right, not in his political conclusion but in his basic reasoning--if you want to defend homosexuality, you’d better be prepared to defend the rest of it, too. Otherwise you’re just defending something because it’s trendy.

John M. said, "it isn’t true that he ’equated homosexuality with bestiality.’ He said that if we recognize gay marriage we have no principled reason not to accept bestiality." Here’s the Santorum quote that I’m aware of regarding the issue:

"Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality."

So, he’s not lumping homosexuality, incest, and bestiality together? I guess it’s debatable whether or not his doing so in that fashion amounts to directly equating the three things, but I also don’t see how it amounts to the more neutral-sounding interpretation that you’ve given it.

Well, no matter if it’s Santorum or you that’s saying so, there are many problems with the idea that "if we recognize gay marriage we have no principled reason not to accept bestiality." That’s a standard-issue reductio ad absurdum scare tactic, and it’s decidedly more anti-gay than it is pro-marriage, regardless of who’s employing it. Several countries have allowed gay marriage for some time now, and I haven’t heard of people marrying dogs in those places, pressing for bestiality legalization, acts of bestiality gaining in popularity, etc. Where’s the connection with humans having sexual relations with humans and humans having sex with other species?

Ok, I see now that perhaps you were using slippery-slope not so much as a scare tactic but, oddly, as almost a possible sales strategy for the other practices (although I’m also beginning to think you might be somewhat of a pariah in the Ashbrook realm, or at least you will come to be!), and maybe to try to recruit DanielK into the Libertarian Party, as well. In any case, I see no reason why "if you want to defend homosexuality, you’d better be prepared to defend the rest of it, too." I suppose the implication you’re getting at by pushing Mill’s harm principle so much is that you see all of the practices as "victimless crimes" and therefore the government must approach them with similar policies. I think it’s highly debatable whether all of the practices that you feel should be legalized (and, if I’ve read you right, those include hard drug use, prostitution, polygamy, incest, and bestiality) are actually victimless/harmless. While I’m more than certain that dain (remember, he doesn’t capitalize his pseudonym anymore) and I disagree on many or most of the details, the issue of harm/benefit to "society" (nice, simple Thatcherite dismissal of the term by putting it in quotes, btw) can be relevant.

"Had you predicted in the 1950s that one day a show like "Will and Grace" would be possible, let alone popular, you would have been met with stares of disbelief. Sort of like the disbelief you express in your last post that bestiality might one day become acceptable"

Just because homosexual relationships are now much more widely accepted than before does not mean that a similar percentage of people will ever come to accept or condone people having sex with animals. I don’t know about DanielK, but I also feel disbelief towards the notion that children’s cartoons may one day be primarily aired late at night on Sundays and will feature, for example, college professors copulating with sheep. Not all disbelief is unfounded, and not all predictions come true. Of course it IS quite possible that bestiality, polygamy, and incest proponents will feel encouraged by the government allowing homosexual marriages. These tiny minorities may also have felt encouraged as bans on interracial marriages were dropped (and surely racists of the time warned of all sorts of moral sky-is-falling consequences if it were to be allowed). Their feelings and their chances for widespread acceptance are two entirely different things.

"Why does consent suddenly become an issue for having sex with an animal, but not with killing it?"

That’s an interesting question, but it’s not unanswerable. Killing is an activity that, almost by definition, lacks the element of consent, no?. The only exception I can even think of - where we wouldn’t also have to engage in a debate about the meaning of the word "kill" and how the participants in the activities define what has occurred - is the nutcase in Germany who solicited over the internet for someone who wanted to be killed and would offer themselves up for a lovely dinner of human flesh and after-dinner death. Amazingly, someone apparently took him up on it. Anyway, it would be absurd to ask animals if we could kill them (and it was/is even between humans), but it’s hardly absurd for humans to seek and get consent before sex with other humans. I could have sex with my (human) girlfriend/wife tonight, after some consenting communication, but kill her tomorrow, without consent, if I saw her screaming maniacally and running towards my sister/daughter with a butcher knife in her hand. What you asked probably makes, more than anything, for an easy entry into a pro-vegetarianism argument. If a goal of civilized society is to move away from might-makes-right activities, then continued carnivorism begins to look less civilized. Who would have guessed 20 years ago (haha) that the old curmudgeon Andy Rooney would suggest, as he did recently, that a truly humane future would need to be one where people don’t raise animals just to kill them and eat them? He’s not a vegetarian, and neither am I, but his simple point, while hardly original, still seems significant. Anyway, back to humans and sex, humans are generally and increasingly expected to get consent before engaging in sex, and true, meaningful consent for such an act can only be gained by complex communication - that which is exclusively shared by humans; we can’t even establish with a chimp or a dolphin how we would know if they were giving consent or not - not by noting the absence of a squeal or a bark.

An honest question for John - are you both "personally sympathetic to gays" and also in favor of Santorum winning his race? I presume this is because you simply (and understandably) don’t prioritize gay marriage as an issue of primary importance to you?

Craig, thanks for the intelligent response to my comments. I understand that my argument could lead not just to vegetarianism, but veganism--after all, if we are to respect the rights of animals, would that not include the right of the cow to its hide or its milk, the chicken to its eggs, or the sheep to its wool? I reject animal rights because they have no philosophical standing--which is why Mill didn’t count harm to animals as coming under the harm principle. We have no compelling reason to recognize rights in animals; we must recognize rights in humans in order for society to survive.

An honest question for John - are you both "personally sympathetic to gays" and also in favor of Santorum winning his race? I presume this is because you simply (and understandably) don’t prioritize gay marriage as an issue of primary importance to you?

An honest question deserves an honest answer. If I were a Pennsylvanian (and I used to be--I grew up in Pittsburgh) I would most likely vote Libertarian, as I see little in either candidate worth supporting.

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