Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, November 17, 2008

GOP Clings Too Much To Religion?

So says Paul Hsieh, in this guest column at the Denver Post - he was turned off by "the Republicans' embrace of the religious 'social conservative' agenda, including attempts to ban abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and gay marriage."

I'm sure this comes as a surprise to my evangelical readers who feel like the administration put the social agenda on the back of the bus and abandoned it at the first rest stop.

Hsieh is fisked at the Rottweiler, where I throw in my three cents (emphasis in original):

Abortion. The issue hasn't been prominent any more than it has been in the past, except for the stem cell issue (see below), than it has been in the past. Post-natal "abortion" doesn't count.

Stem cells: This story should have gone away a couple of weeks after Bush signed the second-best compromise possible. (The best was this: "Except for NASA and national security stuff, we're not gonna fund any more freakin' scientific research - we in Washington are a bunch of tinhorn partisan hacks who can't be trusted to judge the worthiness of scientific endeavors.") Bush's policy would fund research using adult stem cells and embryonic strains that had already been created prior to the policy's enactment.

Same-sex marriage: Bush didn't ask for this issue - the gay activists put it on the table. Voters have resoundingly voted against SSM measures every time they make the ballot, almost always by wide margins. It would seem that the majority of Americans believe that homosexuality is some kind of disorder - albeit with a wide range of disagreement over just how messed-up-in-the-head it is - and do not want the government to pass a law rooted in an untrue assumption about basic human nature.

Paul Hsieh expresses a common prejudice that underestimates - or denies outright - the degree to which nonreligious influences shape negative attitudes toward homosexuality. Many simply take for granted the assumption that heterosexuality is the psychological norm - since we're built for heterosexuality, our natural psychology must be configured likewise. Some are aware of studies suggesting psychological problems inherent in homosexuality. Some are swayed by anecdotal evidence; they look at the gay activist segment or gays in their personal lives, and perceive negative behavior vastly disproportionate to that of the population at large, and on this basis conclude that there is something wrong with homosexuality.

Keep in mind my purpose here - not to argue these claims, but to establish their existence. Ignoring the widespread secular criticism of homosexuality ignores a vast bulk of the dissident view on this issue.

Hsieh is an occasional commenter at the Volokh Conspiracy. His home page is here.

Update: I remarked about the column in this Volokh thread. Hsieh is right about the Republicans going south on us regarding fiscal and government growth issues.

Bush didn't do a good job of reminding the American people why we had a security interest in Iraq, and he pretty much destroyed any illusions that he's a spending conservative.


Paul Hsieh overestimates the prominence of social conservative issues, (The War has been the dominant issue), but he's right that the GOP has been lax on promoting "limited government, individual rights, and free market capitalism." I've already harped on the budget issues (which have direct bearing on the limited government issues). Bush signed the McCain-Feingold censorship law, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the hyper-interventionist approach to addressing the financial crisis, all contributions to individual non-freedom.

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