Friday, September 03, 2004

Why I want Keyes to go away...

So, I disagree with Eric Zorn that having Keyes has "long-term benefits in the public's exposure to the cartoonish quality of this ideology and its harsh implications." Someone as crazy as Keyes does nothing to improve dialogue about these sort of social issues. In fact, that's why I tried to avoid them for the first few weeks of this blog--it's darn near impossible to change someone's mind on them. People like Keyes do nothing more than solidify people's opinion: the extreme religious right is inspired that someone is speaking for them (see the letter that Zorn received); more "moderate" social conservatives can distance themselves from Keyes by saying things like
You can be pro-life without comparing women who get one to terrorists. You can be pro-Second Amendment without sounding like you want to have everyone walking through the streets armed with machine guns. You can be anti-gay marriage without referring to the Vice President's daughter as a "selfish hedonist."
from Illinois Leader via Archpundit. And liberals just get pissed off and hate social conservatives more. All of this accomplishes little in the way of public discourse. But perhaps it isn't just the harshness of conservative ideology that Keyes gives public exposure to, possibly he also exposes the flaws in moderate ideology on gay marriage as well. Moderates tend to downplay what is implicit in the "Defense of Marriage" assertion that traditional marriage is better that same-gender marriage i.e. we (straights) are better than you (gays). What Keyes does is bluntly set that proposition at the fore. He boils the DOM position down to its ugly essence. Unfortunately, I think the anger of Keyes is just too extreme; no moderate is ever going to look at him and say "hey, that's my position, too." But the real truth is that I'm just skeptical about the point of public discourse in these areas. Speaking personally here, no amount of rhetoric ever made me come around on gay rights or abortion. Ultimately on gay rights, it took almost ten years of friendship with gay and lesbians for me to change my mind. Seeing them struggle with their sexuality convinced me more than any study that they weren't "choosing to be gay." Seeing them in loving relationships made me question why they couldn't have the same benefits and privileges that heterosexual marriage provides. So, although rhetoric and media has its place, I think the far better way to explore the fallacies in Keyes' ideology is not to argue with him or even keep him around, but rather to start introducing your conservative straight friends to your liberal gay friends.