The Era of Bad Feelings
November 20, 2003
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 bigotry.
The worse Israels crimes
get, the more its supporters want to talk about its critics
feelings. Shooting Arab children is as nothing compared
with these feelings. Personally, Id call killing real
live kids the worst form of bigotry. The Israelis have ugly
feelings about Arabs, but thats not the crime. Its 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 Israels weapons of mass destruction. Never mind
that Israels bigotry is not a matter of mere feelings, but of its
basic law and its constant action.
Zionists arent the only
ones who resort to irrelevant ad hominem charges about
feelings. Everyones doing it. Its 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.
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, its also severely logic-challenged. It tries to make
Feelings the issue in every controversy. But anyone who isnt a
dimwit should be able to see that if even a Stalin makes a valid syllogism,
its validity isnt 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
doesnt have to be reserved for opposite-sex unions;
thats what it is, and thats 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 arent 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 doesnt apply. Nonsense is
constitutionally mandatory. Obviously the Massachusetts court has the
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
peoples 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?
Thats 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 lets not even go there. It could lead to all
sorts of Bad Feelings.