Dennis Prager joins the chorus of wingnut voices responding to Sen. Rob Portman changing his position on marriage equality after finding out his son is gay. It’s all the standard rhetoric you’re used to hearing, but with a bunch of psychobabble at the beginning:
In order to explain why, let’s analyze some of Sen. Portman’s words:
“I’m announcing today a change of heart … ”
These words are well chosen. Portman’s position is indeed “a change of heart.” That’s why he didn’t say “change of mind.” His change comes from his heart.
In this regard, Portman speaks for virtually every progressive/left/liberal position on virtually every subject. To understand leftism – not that the senator has become a leftist, but he has taken the left-wing position on redefining marriage – one must understand that above all else leftism is rooted in emotion, not reason. That is why left-wing social positions always refer to compassion and fairness – for blacks, for illegal immigrants, for poorer people and, of course, for gays. Whether a progressive position will improve or harm society is not a progressive question. That is a conservative question. What matters to progressives is whether a position emanates from compassion.
Wow, seriously? He thinks liberalism is based on emotion but not conservatism? First of all, fairness is not an emotional question. Sure, we may have an emotional reaction to a lack of fairness (anger, most likely), but fairness is an ethical question that can be answered without reference to our emotions. Secondly, conservatives constantly appeal to emotion — mostly fear and disgust — in making their arguments.
In fact, there is good psychological literature on this that fear and disgust are the dominant inputs to conservative political positions, and nowhere is that more obvious than in their arguments against marriage equality. The appeals to disgust are clear in their constant dehumanizing of gay people as dirty, sinful, demon-possessed and so forth. The appeals to fear are clear in their constant declarations that allowing gay people to marry will hurt children, destroy families and even civilization itself — all without even a minimally coherent argument, much less evidence. Here’s Prager himself doing that in this very column:
Yes, societies have changed qualifications for marriage regarding age and number, but no society before the 21st century ever considered redefining the fundamental nature of marriage by changing the sexes. That is why it is not honest to argue that same-sex marriage is just another redefinition. It is the most radical change to the definition of marriage in the history of civilization.
He conveniently leaves out the change 45 years ago of allowing interracial marriage, which was also a clear part of the traditional definition of marriage going back centuries at the very least. And all this talk of redefinition is nonsense. Marriage is not being “redefined,” it’s merely being made open to gay couples. Doing that will not change the relationship of any straight couple even one iota. Absolutely nothing changes for them. So all this nonsense about changing the “fundamental nature of marriage” makes no sense at all if you can’t show that it changes the nature of any particular marriage.