November 20, 2003

by Joe Sobran

     A reader accuses me of revealing my "true feelings" 
in my columns about the state of Israel; my alleged 
"feelings," of course, are anti-Semitic. I have gone 
beyond "legitimate criticism" to "the worst form of 

     The worse Israel's crimes get, the more its 
supporters want to talk about its critics' "feelings." 
Shooting Arab children is as nothing compared with these 
"feelings." Personally, I'd call killing real live kids 
"the worst form of bigotry." The Israelis have ugly 
feelings about Arabs, but that's not the crime. It's the 
way they act on those feelings that counts.

     Those of us who point out real problems in the 
American-Israeli alliance are used to charges about our 
feelings. Never mind the facts. Never mind the trouble, 
including war, America keeps getting into because of its 
lopsided policies in the Middle East. Never mind Israel's 
weapons of mass destruction. Never mind that Israel's 
bigotry is not a matter of mere feelings, but of its 
basic law and its constant action.

     Zionists aren't the only ones who resort to 
irrelevant ad hominem charges about "feelings." 
Everyone's doing it. It's the way all pressure groups try 
to turn serious arguments about realities into personal 
quarrels about motives.

     "When I studied philosophy in college," my old 
doctor once told me, "the first thing we learned was that 
ad hominem arguments are invalid. When I got out into the 
real world, I learned that most people never use any 
other kind of argument." Amen to that.

     Consider the current furor about "same-sex 
marriage." By definition, there is no such thing. Two men 
can no more be "married" to each other than two bulls. 
Even homosexuals have always understood this.

     But nowadays, if you merely oppose talking nonsense 
on the subject, you are sure to be accused of having Bad 
Feelings. A silly word has even been coined to name this 
particular Bad Feeling: "homophobia."

     Our age is not only morally decadent, it's also 
severely logic-challenged. It tries to make Feelings the 
issue in every controversy. But anyone who isn't a dimwit 
should be able to see that if even a Stalin makes a valid 
syllogism, its validity isn't affected by his bad 
feelings, motives, or purposes. Two and two still make 
four, even if an ax murderer says so.

     Even conservatives get drawn into absurd contentions 
about Feelings. An editorial in a conservative paper this 
week carefully avoids using terms that might incur the 
dreaded charge of "homophobia." It argues that marriage 
"is properly reserved for unions" between men and women. 
But marriage doesn't have to be "reserved" for 
opposite-sex unions; that's what it is, and that's the 
only thing it can be.

     The editorial concludes that, in light of the latest 
court ruling in Massachusetts, "the only way to protect 
the sanctity of marriage is to amend the Constitution." 
Really? We have to amend the Constitution in order to 
anticipate every judicial absurdity? So far, even 
conservatives aren't suggesting the obvious remedy: 
impeaching justices who usurp power.

     The court found that the law may not "discriminate 
against" homosexuals by refusing to recognize their 
unions as marriages: "The Massachusetts Constitution 
affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It 
forbids the creation of second-class citizens."

     So even defining marriage as it has always been 
defined is now "discrimination against" people in unions 
to which that definition doesn't apply. Nonsense is 
constitutionally mandatory. Obviously the Massachusetts 
court has the Right Feelings.

     Well, what if, say, two *heterosexual* males want to 
"marry," on paper, so they can get job benefits, 
insurance, medical care, et cetera, at other people's 
expense? Do they become "second-class citizens" if they 
are denied marital status under the law? Would it be 
"heterophobia" to refuse to accord them the same rights 
the court wants to extend to homosexual couples?

     That's the trouble with nonsense. Once you are 
committed to it, there is no end to it. It has all sorts 
of implications its advocates fail to foresee, but which 
clever people will eventually discover. The history of 
"civil rights" should have taught us that by now. This 
ill-defined concept has resulted in, among other things, 
the very racial discrimination it was supposed to outlaw. 
But to oppose anything called "civil rights" is also to 
incur the charge of Bad Feelings.

     Another consequence of the Massachusetts ruling is 
that gerbils may soon find themselves being used as 
wedding gifts. But let's not even go there. It could lead 
to all sorts of Bad Feelings.


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