Neutral Zones

Here’s an intemperate comment from Peter Hitchens:

“If I never again had to read or write a word about homosexuals, I would be very happy. I really don’t want to know what other people do in their bedrooms. But these days they really, really want us all to know. And, more important, they insist that we approve. No longer are we allowed to keep our thoughts to ourselves, while being polite and kind . . .”

Which brings to mind Chris Dierkes’  interesting post on religion and metaphysical neutrality. To Hitchens, letting gays be and never speaking another word on the matter is a perfectly neutral position. To Andrew Sullivan, real neutrality demands gay couples’ inclusion in heterosexual institutions (ie marriage). Who’s right? I’m not really sure, but I think this spat says something about the elusiveness of a truly neutral political arrangement. People who don’t share Andrew Sullivan’s assumptions about governance aren’t going to be convinced to support gay marriage because it’s “fair.” They’re going to be convinced when you make a case for gay marriage that emphasizes positive social goods.

I think this is why conservative critics of gay marriage are more concerned with social breakdown than social equality. If you’re convinced that the other side’s definition of fairness is not – despite all their protestations to the contrary – value-neutral, procedural appeals are always going to fall upon deaf ears.


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Filed under Conservatism, Culture

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