- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 25, 2005

In today’s culture wars, a significant number of participants on the left are bent on silencing opposing viewpoints. To do so, they have invoked various methods. These usually are lacking in substance.

Their methods include, inter alia, calling opponents names, projecting evil motives upon them, or taking offense at the slightest self-perception of insult. Their objective is not to engage their opponents but to demagogue them. Lately, they’ve even taken to throwing pies.

A common theme motivating many of their positions is disdain for all things religious. To them, religious ideas have no place in the public square and, if put forth, are per se irrational or illegitimate. Borrowing on that belief (or lack thereof) they have begun to dishonestly frame opposing arguments as religious. This dishonest transformation allows them to avoid debate by summarily discrediting contrary views as religious and, therefore, invalid.

There are many stark examples. One was then presidential candidate John Kerry’s “Catholic belief” that life begins at conception. Although medical science has definitively concluded human life begins at conception, Mr. Kerry morphed this scientific fact into an “article of faith.”

He of course assured everyone he would not impose this “article of faith” on those who did not share in his “Catholic belief.” So, instead of being forced to defend why favors aborting human life, Mr. Kerry’s transmutation provided him a spurious means to avoid substantive debate.

This method has been applied to the entire abortion debate. Anyone who criticizes the seminal decision Roe v. Wade is characterized as a religious extremist. Never mind that the legal analysis in Roe is at best questionable and its framework of trimesters a singular example of raw judicial activism.

But those who are happy with the decision need not bother defending its content: They simply dismiss any and all opposing arguments as religious hogwash.

In Georgia, it is now unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal for a local school board to ask its students to study the Theory of Evolution with an open and critical mind. Why? Because by doing so would be “an impermissible message of [the] endorsement” of religion, or so says U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper (a Clinton appointee). Thus, the Theory of Evolution, unlike any other scientific theory, is not to be questioned and its adherents have no need to defend it.

Sex of course is a big point of contention. Any suggested curb on sexual conduct is anathema. Teaching children about abstinence before marriage, fidelity within marriage and about some of the dire consequences of ill-advised sexual activity is pooh-poohed as religious oppression.

Though abstinence and fidelity are the only medically proven ways to completely prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, these facts are simply ignored. Instead, the left clings to condoms as its panacea, while illegitimacy rates, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases reach staggering levels. Of course liberals proclaim kids will do it anyway, so they might as well be “safe.” Which, of course, reflects their view that humans are nothing but soulless animals controlled by their base instincts. Holding children accountable to a higher level would of course admit there is a higher level. So, it’s condoms for the children, and anyone who disagrees is just plain naive — i.e., religious.

This dishonest transmutation has been devastating on AIDS. This disease is transmitted by overwhelmingly voluntary conduct that is therefore easily avoided. However, suggestions this conduct should stop produce howls as if someone were trying to impose a theocracy. So instead, the left openly promotes the behavior that leads to AIDS and accuses those who seek to curb it as being cruel and hateful i.e., religious.

Marriage, long under attack, is the latest issue to be transmuted. The left now want to redefine it and, in so doing, destroy it. Marriage, between one man and one woman, has been the bedrock of civilization. Today, after 40 years of destructive public policy and coarsening social mores, the United States is reaping the consequences of its dissolution. These consequences have been thoroughly documented. Yet, liberals simply feign ignorance. To them, marriage is just a religious construct and, therefore, invalid.

Open and honest public debate is important to the health and welfare of this country. However, those who transform all opposing arguments into religious ones to try to discredit them add very little to the discourse. They should not be allowed to succeed, and those in opposition should confront their dishonesty. Besides, this deceitful debate avoidance reveals a lack of confidence in the depth and substance their own ideas.

DAVID P. MCGINLEY

Associate Counsel

Center for Individual Rights

Washington, D.C.


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