Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, March 04, 2005

Gay Marriage and the Ten Commandments; or, A Case Study in Circular Reasoning

The wife tells me that radio blowhard Michael Savage reacted to the recent Supreme Court case on the Ten Commandments and public property by asking the question, "Who is really hurt by this?" None of his callers could offer a satisfactory answer, leading Savage to conclude that, because no one can point to any specific harm, it is constitutional to display the Ten Commandments on public property.

Let's leave aside for the moment whether or not that reasoning stands scrutiny.

The wife tells me that this morning, radio's favorite "vicious s.o.b." Neal Boortz (who doesn't want the Ten Commandments on public property) responded to Savage by saying he is harmed because it's an assault on the Constitution. I think Boortz' argument is facially circular, if you grant Savage's premise that nothing which harms an individual is unconstitutional.

More troubling, perhaps, is the argument I'd like to see Boortz (who, don't get me wrong here, I love like a very ill-tempered brother) respond to, is how he reconciles his Ten Commandments views with his gay marriage views. After the Supreme Judicial Court of Taxachussets held that gay marriage is constitutionally mandated, Boortz asked critics of that decision to explain to him how any anti-gay-marriage advocate was specifically harmed by the ruling. I don't know, Boortz, maybe we're harmed because it's an assault on the Constitution?

And the same consistency test applies with equal force to Michael Savage. If specific, personal harm is the touchstone of constitutionality, then how can Savage justify his opposition to gay marriage? It's not enough to answer, as I suspect he would, that gays are just a bunch of filthy sodomites, because that can be either true or false without causing him any specific harm.

What does that prove? Nothing more than that Boortz and Savage are equally inconsistent.