March 17th, 2013

thanks, hunting, prayer

Explaining Portman

sandmantv and thekinginyellow have posted about Rob Portman, but I don't think either of them has it quite right.

sandmantv says "I think there’s too much emphasis on the personal dimension of this." Then he follows up with "Yes this is their personal journey and lots of people have their eyes widened regarding tolerance because of how it touched them or someone close to them. Basic compassion is how liberal morals march on." Which seems to be pretty much saying that the personal dimension is all there is. I don't think that this is how liberal morals are supposed to work, but since I am not a liberal, I guess I can't say for sure.

thekinginyellow says it's about philosophy -- that what matters is getting the right answer for the right reason, and that our society doesn't value that enough. This is closer to right, because a philosophy is how you avoid making the same class of mistakes again. Portman has compassion for gay people now? Great! But he's still got a lot of work to do; he could, for instance, start having some compassion for cancer patients and support medical marijuana (yes, I checked; he doesn't).

I think it's actually all about cookies. Portman did a bad thing for a long time. His actions hurt a lot of people. It's good that he's no longer doing that bad thing. But he hasn't apologized. And he hasn't done anything to fix the problem that he was a part of. He could introduce a bill in the House tomorrow legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. It probably wouldn't pass, but it might shift the debate some. But even if he's a lazy bum, he could at least put his name on a brief. Where are you, Rob? Apologies and reparations matter, because they're the only thing keeping purely cynical politics from being a dominant strategy.

There's also the whole God problem. If you had asked Portman five years ago why he didn't support marriage equality, he would probably have answered with something about God. (You might have had to ask twice in order to get past the meaningless boilerplate "I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman"). So, what changed? Is God wrong? Or did God change his (God's) mind? Or did Portman "pray" and come to this conclusion? And if so, did God tell him something different than he told the next Republican over? Or is the next Republican over just really bad at this whole praying thing? Shouldn't this make Portman question all of the other stuff he thought that God had strong feelings on, like abortion?

This, I think, also explains some of the anger at Portman; he doesn't have to give up religion, but he's got to give up the kind of religion that's about controlling other people's lives. And because he hasn't done that, we simply can't trust him.