Shaken not Smoked

Marijuana is becoming more socially acceptable and legally available. It would seem that a majority of Americans are in favor of decriminalizing the recreational use of pot, and the Department of Justice has advised federal prosecutors that possession of a small amount of it is not an . . . . Continue Reading »

Neither Side Got What It Wanted

On July 21, the President issued an Executive Order prohibiting government contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no exception for religious organizations with government contracts. But neither is there any override of existing legal protections for religious liberty. The Department of Labor is to issue more detailed implementing regulations in ninety days. Continue Reading »

Will Doctors Be Forced to Kill?

The wailing and gnashing of teeth in some quarters over the modest Hobby Lobby decision has me worried. Apparently, many on the political port side of the country believe that once a favored public policy has been enacted, it immediately becomes a “right” that can never be altered or denied. More, once such a “right” is established for the individual, others should have the duty to ensure access—even at the cost of violating their own religious consciences. Continue Reading »

Conservatives’ Mixed Message on Immigration

America has “bad-faith open borders.” We limit immigration but we enforce those limits only sporadically. Fred Bauer argues that this “is a distorted hybrid of the United States’ tradition of ordered borders and of the transnationalist aim of entirely open borders.” The distortion is real, but it is not rooted entirely in transnationalism. It is also rooted in a certain kind of American exceptionalism that has a history on the right, but that conservatives don’t talk about very much. Getting past “bad-faith open borders” will require rejecting romanticism and looking to the facts of the American present. Continue Reading »

Why Gay Rights Are Not The New Civil Rights

Supporters of same-sex marriage love to make analogies to the African American Civil Rights Movement. Analogies are rhetorical devices that require careful scrutiny. While I do not find the attempt to connect bans on gay marriage to miscegenation laws persuasive, nevertheless there is nothing inherently wrong in trying to find parallels between these two social movements. In that spirit, let me offer my own reflections on what we can learn by comparing them. Continue Reading »

Middle-East Meets Middle-Earth

Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!” What’s this? The ravings of a fundamentalist Jewish settler in Gush Etzion? Congratulations from a Christian Zionist hunkered down in his bomb shelter somewhere in the Deep South? Continue Reading »

For and Against Liberty

In 1969, Canada’s Criminal Law Amendment Act, known as Omnibus Bill C-150, was granted Royal Assent. Introduced two years earlier by Pierre Trudeau while he was still federal Justice Minister, the bill had sparked heated debate in the House of Commons and the popular press, because it proposed, among other things, to decriminalize homosexual acts, permit abortion and contraception, and allow government-regulated gambling. In the midst of shepherding this bill through the parliamentary process, Trudeau famously asserted that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” and that “what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” Continue Reading »

Unsolicited Advice On How To Find A Mate

In one of his lesser known comedies, playwright Neil Simon depicts the irrationality of undiluted physical attraction through the love-struck yearnings of Norman. A ’60s radical, second in his class at Dartmouth, and writer for a subversive magazine called Fallout, he falls hopelessly in love with the Star-Spangled and athletic Southern girl from Hunnicut who’s moved into his San Francisco apartment building. “I’ve become an animal,” he tells his friend Andy. “I’ve developed senses no man has ever used before. I can smell the shampoo in her hair three city blocks away. I can have my radio turned up full blast and still hear her taking off her stockings!” Continue Reading »

How We Portray Suffering and Suicide

Those of us who have never experienced severe physical disability have no clue about the depth of suffering it can cause. But NPR’s megastar talk show host Dianne Rehm does, up close and personal. Her husband John had severe and progressive Parkinson’s disease, leading him to suicidal despair. John asked his doctor for assisted suicide. Told that was not possible, he starved himself to death—a process that euthanasia activists call “voluntary stop eating and drinking,” or VSED. Continue Reading »

Winning at the Supreme Court, Losing in the Court of Public Opinion

With all the furor and dishonesty over the Supreme Court’s decisions on contraception and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it’s a good moment to think about what kinds of structural weaknesses the center-right has in public debate and what can be done to address some of those weaknesses. The truth is we don’t speak to nearly enough people often enough. Come election time, millions of Americans are not prepared to listen to conservatives—and the fault lies not with those Americans, but with the right. Continue Reading »