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 The Era of Bad Feelings 

November 20, 2003

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 bigotry.”

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.

[Breaker quote: Never mind facts and logic.]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.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
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