Rick Garnett at Mirror of Justice has chosen the right word to describe Adam Gopnik’s comments on abortion: confused. What is striking (and mildly amusing) is that those comments are so poorly informed and intellectually unsophisticated. Now, I’m guessing here, but I suspect that Adam Gopnik regards himself as a well-educated and sophisticated person. He would, I have no doubt, view himself as intellectually superior to those people in small towns who allegedly cling to guns and religion and antipathy to people who aren’t like them. But judging from his comments, he isn’t. Perhaps he read Aristotle and John Rawls in college, but evidently he didn’t learn anything from them. Rawls, even in arguing for a quite limited role for religion (and other “comprehensive views”) in public life, knew that the question is complex and difficult. He was aware that there are serious counterarguments that needed to be engaged, and he famously retreated under the pressure of intellectual criticism on the question of abortion and “public reason.” He knew that he could not dismiss or defeat the pro-life argument by hand waving and name calling. He was far too well-informed and sophisticated for such shenanigans. Rawls was a serious man making a serious argument for liberal political morality. Judging from Gopnik’s comments, he by contrast is the journalistic equivalent of Yosemite Sam.
Monday, October 15, 2012, 10:14 PM