Home / General / Gay-Bashers Shouldn’t Be Covering LBGT Issues For Your Publication

Gay-Bashers Shouldn’t Be Covering LBGT Issues For Your Publication


I’m rooting for Ezra Klein’s new project to succeed, and he’s brought some first-rate talent (including Brad Plumer and Sarah Kliff) to his new venture.  I am, however, puzzled why he would hire a dispositive argument against “contrarianism” like Brandon Ambrosino. (Apparently B. Daniel Blatt was too expensive.) For a representative example, consider this, which was published in the Atlantic for some reason:

What exactly do we mean when we say “anti-gay,” or “homophobic”? Often when I try to understand where my conservative opponents are coming from, my gay friends accuse me of being homophobic. It isn’t homophobic of me to try to understand why someone might be opposed to marriage equality. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt takes courage; dismissing him before considering his argument—well, that seems a bit phobic. Beside—me? Homophobic? I write essays about being gay, and then I publish them, and everyone goes, “Oh yeah, he’s gay.” I have no reservations about my sexuality, so as far as the accusation of homophobia goes: that gay ship has already sailed to Disneyland, with a speedo-clad Tom Daley carved into the bow.

If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word “homophobic” is exhausted on me or on polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them? Disagreement is not the same thing as discrimination. Our language ought to reflect that distinction.

First of all, if Ambrosino is going to try to be witty at his new venue, Vox is going to need content warnings. Second, you’ve heard the Chris Rock routine about people who think you can’t be racist unless you personally shot Medgar Evers? Apparently, Ambrosino finds the argument Rock is mocking intriguing and would like to subscribe to its newsletter. Third, on what planet are bans on same-sex marriage not “discrimination”?

Someone else who apparently shouldn’t be called a homophobe? Jerry Falwell:

Well, what about Jerry Falwell himself? After all, he did blame 9/11 on the gays. He did make that remark during service about “even barnyard animals knowing better than that.” He also did make certain to ban Soul Force, a gay-affirming Christian ministry, from stepping foot on our campus.

But what about when he opened the Liberty Godparent Home to take in unwanted children? Or when he hosted a forum on campus about homosexuality, and invited 100 prominent gay leaders to take part in the discussion? Or when he would drive around campus every night at lights-out to blow his horn and wave goodnight to all of us students?


I never told Dr. Falwell that I was gay; but I wouldn’t have been afraid of his response. Would he have thought homosexuality was an abomination? Yes. Would he have thought it was God’s intention for me to be straight? Yes. But would he have wanted to stone me? No. And if there were some that would’ve wanted to stone me, I can imagine Jerry Falwell, with his fat smile, telling all of my accusers to go home and pray because they were wicked people.

So, in spite of his extensive history of anti-gay bigotry, Falwell is not an anti-gay bigot because 1)he says goodnight to students at his university, and 2)probably believes that violently executing gay people would be wicked. Perhaps Ambrosino’s first article for Vox can be an argument that James McReynolds wasn’t really a racist anti-Semite; after all, to the best of our knowledge he never firebombed Louis Brandeis’s house or hurled boulders at African-Americans who argued before him. And Martin Luther King would never have called out bigotry.

Mark Jospeh Stern comments:

On Wednesday, Ezra Klein’s new media venture, Vox, announced that it had hired Brandon Ambrosino as a writing fellow, presumably to cover the LGBTQ beat. Vox likely thought that by hiring Ambrosino, the outlet would be introducing a brash, unconventional new voice to a broader audience. I understand the desire to explore exciting and avant-garde ideas. But Ambrosino’s ideas are not brash, unconventional, exciting, or avant-garde. They are reckless, retrograde, and vapid—and hiring Ambrosino reflects startlingly bad, potentially catastrophic judgment by Vox.


…Ambrosino’s worldview, so far as he has one, is primarily comprised of crass opportunism and toxic narcissism. His writing is a quagmire of tedious ideas and sloppy prose; his angry jabs at the LGBTQ community reek of a writer legitimizing his insecurities by presenting them to an audience that should know better. A typical Ambrosino article takes a self-consciously contrarian thesis (Jerry Falwell was a gay-friendly saint, gay-rights activists are bigots) and immerses it in a muddle of casuistry, victimization, and unintelligible nonsense. On first read, his pieces aren’t infuriating so much as they are baffling: Ambrosino ignores the basic principles of journalism and simply spews free-form argle-bargle, as though he’s swinging a bat at a piñata that’s hanging from a different tree.

So why in the world did Vox hire Ambrosino? Certainly, Ambrosino draws a lot of attention—from the worst possible crowd. Breitbart and Townhall are fans, and Glenn Beck even invited him onto his show to perform his tricks on camera. For a young writer, this strategy of aligning yourself with your logical enemies is a smart business move: Outside of GOProud, there aren’t many gay homophobia apologists left, and Ambrosino has proved himself adept at conning otherwise sensible editors into placing his name under their mastheads. Despite his overwhelming mediocrity, Ambrosino has still managed to corner a market niche in under a year, an ascendance now capped off with a plum fellowship at a glittering new venture.

Being a “liberal” who professional bashes liberal values is always the best way for an untalented writer to get ahead.

…Gabe has more. His use of Foucault to claim that sexuality is freely chosen is particularly special.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • sharculese

    If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word “homophobic” is exhausted on me or on polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them?

    I’ve never heard of degrees of conduct either.

    • Homophobe double plus ungood?

    • cpinva

      “then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them?”

      last I checked, “asshole” is still perfectly serviceable.

    • colleen

      then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them?

      1. a criminal 2. a Republican or a ‘new’ Democrat.

    • MAJeff

      If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word “homophobic” is exhausted on me or on polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them?

      Aren’t the people who beat us up and prefer not to hire us from the same pool of people who would like to see our families cease to exist?

      • mojrim

        Why would you assume that? May men of reasonable goodwill not disagree on basic principles?

        • GeoX

          The sets “men of good will” and “homophobes” do not overlap even a tiny bit.

  • “Being a “liberal” who professional bashes liberal values is always the best way for an untalented writer to get ahead.”

    Yes, and also the best way for a punTWIT to get face-time on the boob-tube “news” shows.

    • Aaron B.

      I think of this as “Mickey Kaus at the Aspen Institute Syndrome”

      • Sarcastro The Munificient

        So that’s Tamarian for “goat-blower”?

    • He’s an affirmative action hire. They looked around and realized that almost everyone was a white 20-or-30-something from an Ivy, and knew they had to diversify by hiring someone who didn’t attend an Ivy.

      Seriously, check out the backgrounds of their staff. No exaggeration, about 2/3’s went to Ivy schools. And Ezra says he’s having a hard time finding minority staff. Maybe he ought to branch out from hiring only white Ivy-leaguers while he’s at it.

      • Maybe he should hire people outside of the set of insular, self-referential cobags with whom he normally hobnobs. Why would anyone want to see him succeed? I say this thinking that he’s only partially terrible.

      • Mike D.

        Ezra didn’t go to an Ivy FWIW.

        • Nope, not an Ivy, but UCLA, and his dad is an MIT PhD. And his wife is a Harvard grad.

          • …who prior to working for the NYT, Wiki tells me, “served on the editorial staffs of Foreign Policy and The New Yorker.” I followed one of the links on the Wiki page, and this is the first sentence:

            “Before Harvard, I attended boarding school…”

            • Lee Rudolph

              Nothing wrong with boarding school. Certainly we don’t want people who don’t know one end of a hammer from the other involved in nailing planks across broken windows!

              • Blogs by boarding school grads:

                The New Republic’s “The Plank”
                Jonathan Bernstein’s A Plane Blog
                Crooked Timber

                • Ronan

                  Im not sure what that says re Crooked Timber though- i dont know the other blogs – (if its the case, I dont know anything about the background of the bloggers bar what theyve posted)
                  It has a pretty strong pro union line from the OP’ers when the subject comes up, and on topics like inequality, redistribution, living wage etc it’s pretty consistently pushing progressive policies.

                • Uh, Ronan, you’re reading that too literally. Go back to Lee’s comment.

                • Ronan

                  Im ashamed for missing the pun

  • DrDick

    The mind she boggles. On the other hand, given that it is Ezra, I am not really surprised.

    • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

      I don’t really get the “Ezra Klein is secretly conservative or at least not very liberal” thing. He’s not Bob Avakian, but he’s pretty consistent in advocating for liberal policies from what I’ve seen.

      • junker

        I think as Wonkblog got more popular and big that he has slowly walked back perceptions of himself as being a liberal. Even this new venture, from his description, sounds more like a bipartisan effort to teach people than it is any kind of attempt to push liberal policies.

        • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

          But in practice it seems like Vox is going to be left-of-center, just judging from the overall hires so far. So if it’s not labeled “here’s some liberal stuff,” so much the better to reach people who would reflexively turn away from another HuffPo or Salon.

          • It’s a type of left-of-center that’s soooooo needed! We need more Ivy-leaguers telling us what we need to know and telling us we only need one chart to know it all.

            Look, I think Ezra generally does good work. But in the last year or so I’ve detected a shift toward establishment not-rocking-the-boat bullshit. And elitism. And nothing convinces me of that more than the prominent role he’s given Dylan Mathews.

            • djw

              And nothing convinces me of that more than the prominent role he’s given Dylan Mathews.


              • Yeah, I’m not real confidence about this site. Taking the most centrist writers from WonkBlog and adding a heaping dose of Slate contraianism does not a quality venture sound.

              • Last year I was in DC about 4 months for work. One morning I was in the neighborhood coffee shop, and next to me was a 20-something couple. The woman didn’t say much, but the guy barely stopped talking, and when he did it was mostly to laugh a wheezing laugh that could have carried the plot of three episodes of Seinfeld. The guy exuded one of the more powerful “I’m a dorky guy who doesn’t read social cues” vibes I’ve encountered. I was trying to block him out by listening to my iPhone, but some of what he was saying was getting though the music anyway. And after a while, he said enough, and I turned to the side to catch a quick glimpse, and sure enough…

            • Prok

              Or Evan Soltas.

          • He’s just working a brand and he’s a gutless tool. Please, Ezra, tell me how SMART Paul Ryan is. The last of his assumed principles will be sublimated into an automated tone trolling machine in this new venture. I look forward to more hires of 20-something no-experience entitled wunderkinds.

      • DrDick

        While Klein is often progressive on a number of issues, he has always had a Slate-pitch contrarian side.

        • sharculese

          I think of him as a kinder, gentler Jonathan Chait with all the positives and the negatives that implies.

          • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

            I feel like that’s about 85% to the plus side all told, although Klein is much less amusing than Chait.

            • Scientia Est

              No one can resist a good Chaitfeud, after all.

              • sharculese

                I kind of wish he would stop arguing with that one libertarian kid. It’s punching down, but also he is giving that dude a much bigger platform than he deserves.

                • Scientia Est

                  Which one? Wilkinson? He already has too big a platform at The Economist, what harm can Chait do?

                  But yeah, after a while, it just becomes troll feeding.

                • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

                  I dunno, Wilkinson often reaches conclusions I disagree with, but he seems to have his ducks in a row more than most libertarians. And he’s actually coming from a good starting point (in the sense that he’s a utilitarian as opposed to a Nozickian). He’s just very skeptical of government’s efficacy, which isn’t a terrible thing. And he’s excellent on civil liberties and the topic of police being all up in people’s shit.

                • sharculese

                  No, it’s some kid. Quinn whatever, I think. Chait had a habit for a while of getting into fights with him on twitter and then turning it into the basis of a post.

                • Nonym

                  Conn Carroll (sp?) I think

            • Also less partisan. Chait can at times be a jerk, but he makes it clear when someone is being a jackass. Ezra just writes about how their arguments could be more sound, while Chait peels off their hides and revels in the act.

      • Manny Kant

        He’s spent the last three or four years or so saying that he’s not a liberal and never was. He’s given sympathetic interviews to Paul Ryan, repeatedly. He’s responsible for foisting anti-labor asshole Dylan Matthews on the world. He hired this douchebag. He’s hired Yglesias, who gets less liberal by the minute, as his Executive Editor.

        The Wonkosphere was a dead-end. Politics has to be about passionate engagement, not an amalgam of dull technocracy and infuriating contrarianism, which is what Vox looks to be aiming for.

        • He’s also hired Evan Soltas for his new venture, who has been going on and on about how unions should no longer exist.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Yglesias is pretty horrifyingly kneejerk anti-labor, but other than that, he seems as reasonable as anybody else, especially given his range and volume of output. Yes, he always shotos from teh hip, but he still hits the tagret more otfen than many.

          I guess that it’s really easy to confirm your biases with him. He’s said so much that if you want to find stupid things there, you certainly can; but if you’re looking for his home runs, they’re there too.

          • Manny Kant

            I’d say more than his labor views, his views on education are genuinely awful – in ways relating to labor, but also in numerous other ways. His stuff on local government is also pretty reliably facile and terrible, and I say this as someone in favor of more urban development and public transportation.

            Certainly there are areas where he’s fine, but I got to the point where the stupid stuff seemed to be outweighing the stuff I actually agreed with, so I mostly stopped reading him around the time he moved to Slate. Occasional reading since then has led me to believe things haven’t improved, but maybe that’s not fair?

          • He was reasonable enough to support the Iraq war and never really offer up much of a mea culpa.

            • Manny Kant

              Yglesias’s mea culpa, from what I remember, was much better than Klein’s.

              • rea

                Yglesias abandoned his support for the war before the war actually started.

                • Do you have a link, or can you roughly remember what he said?

          • I’d like to see a few home runs, if you got a few handy.

        • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

          The Paul Ryan interviews and Soltas especially are troubling. That said, I really don’t like this developing sense on the progressive web that we should strive to be Tea Party North, where your loyalty is suspect unless you both support the right policy and get all angry about it.

          • Manny Kant

            Well, part of the problem is that these guys frequently don’t support the right policy (education reform, I’m looking particularly closely at you). Part of the problem is that Klein seems to be aping the non-partisanship of a David Broder.

            I don’t want political commentary to be *angry*. I want it to be based on a backbone of actually believing in things. I never really get the sense that Klein believes in anything – he seems to be interested mostly in perfecting journalistic “objectivity” rather than renouncing it. The problem with David Broder, for Klein, was just that he didn’t know what he was talking about, not that the whole idea that journalists should be objective arbiters is wrong.

            Yglesias believes in many things I disagree with, and seems to spend increasing amounts of time writing about them rather than areas where we agree.

            • Aimai

              Yeah–what MK said. This is not about perception, or emotion, its about core values and expressing them through work. I haven’t bothered to read EK or MY in years because I got tired of the “whiz kid spells it out for you” when they are just eternally commenting on policy without having any interest in getting it right for the people who have the least power in the equation. They have (IMO) been neo liberal or liberal lite for a long time, prizing their ability to be read and make phone calls over and above what happens on the ground to real people.

              • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

                I’d agree with the assessment that Yglesias seems to be drifting rightward. But I think you have to separate fake-ass journalistic “balance” from actual objective thought. The former is utterly useless. But the latter, applied to policy analysis, will generally end up favoring liberal policies, due to reality’s well-known liberal bias (at least relative to current U.S. politics). And that’s where I think Klein usually ends up these days.

                • Manny Kant

                  I’m not sure there’s any such thing as objective thought. Humans are deeply non-objective creatures. We don’t support liberal policies because they’re objectively correct. We support them because we have *values* that we think liberal policies promote most effectively.

                  Liberal policies make sense if you actually believe that the government should act to soften the rough edges of the free market, to whatever degree. But that’s not just “common sense.” The reason conservatives disagree on policy isn’t because they’re numerically illiterate. They’re numerically illiterate because they disagree on policy, but are unwilling to explain why because their values are actually toxic and would lose them elections if openly expressed.

                  Ignoring this is the reason why Klein proved an important tool of the Republican campaign to make Paul Ryan into a respectable “budget wonk.”

                  Compare this to someone like Chait, who has very similar substantive policy views to Klein. Unlike Klein, who is extremely protective of the idea that he is non-partisan, Chait is willing to spend most of his time talking about how awful Republicans are and making fun of them. I find that a much more useful rhetorical tool than whatever Klein does, which mostly strikes me as boring.

                • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

                  The basic problem with Republicans is that they are not consequentialists. Their values come from a combination of religion and leftover intuitions from The Very Old Times (such as the ludicrous fiction of free will). On the other hand, liberals usually start with some form of utilitarianism. And once you pin down the meta-ethical starting point, you can certainly at least estimate how much a policy will advance it.

                • sharculese

                  The basic problem with Republicans is that they are not consequentialists.

                  See, for example, Davey, who actively brags about his principles being unaligned with reality, as if that were somehow noble and not deeply delusional.

                • elm

                  Oh, crap, sharc, I invoked Davey in the socialism thread. If one more person mentions him, he’s gonna show up!

        • Politics has to be about passionate engagement, not an amalgam of dull technocracy and infuriating contrarianism, which is what Vox looks to be aiming for.


          • Certainly we need more of dull technocracy and infuriating contrarianism- I really can’t think of any current purveyors of such. Seriously- Matt Y as Executive Editor. If the Wikpedia for Alanis Morisette’s “Ironic” needs one more example of something that is actually ironic, this would be it.

      • He isn’t liberal so much as an “even the liberal”, somebody who at heart is a centrist, inside the Beltway technocrat who was smart enough to brand himself through blogging at a time when that was still new and not quite institutionalised yet. Ultimately what’s important to Klein is his career, nothing else.

  • Malaclypse

    If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word “homophobic” is exhausted on me or on polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them?

    Shorter: if you didn’t kill Emmett Till, you must not be racist.

    • Malaclypse

      Dammit, that will teach me not to read all the post before snarking.

    • FMguru

      I didn’t beat Matthew Shepard to death, so how can I be a homophobe?

      • Scott Lemieux

        As long as you didn’t shoot Harvey Milk, you’re safe.

        • Malaclypse

          Nonsense – Dan White’s heart was filled with nothing but love – the love of Twinkies.

        • Mike Schilling

          Dan White also shot the very heterosexual George Moscone. The murders were about rage and revenge, not homophobia.

          • Hob

            What makes you think those things are incompatible?

            Dan White described himself as “defender of the home, the family and religious life against homosexuals, pot smokers and cynics.” He had problems with a lot of people, but way more problems with Harvey Milk, and it’s hard to imagine his anti-gay feelings didn’t have a lot to do with that. White was seeking revenge against a bunch of people due to his sense that there was no place for him in SF politics, but a large part of why he felt there was no place for him was that SF was becoming more open to things like gay rights. (Or at least that’s my understanding, as someone who was 6 years old at the time.)

            • Mike Schilling

              Dan White was a violent homophobe, which is why he went on a killing spree, machine-gunning gay bars and bathhouses until he was finally …

              I’m sorry, I’ll start over.

              Dan White was a particularly ineffective and unsuccessful city supervisor, who murdered the two men he blamed for destroying his political career, one of whom happened to be gay.

            • Mike Schilling

              By the way, I’m a bit older than you are. I was 19, attending Berkeley, and following Dan White’s disastrous political career in the newspapers. The huge furor that led to the famous protests wasn’t about the murders, which were pretty clearly motivated by personal animus, but about the lightness of the sentence.

              • john not mccain

                Fortunately, a couple of years after he got out of jail typical conservative Dan White self-administered the justice he deserved.

                • Mike Schilling

                  So “typical conservative” = “double murderer”. Yeah, I come here for the insightful discussion.

          • elm

            I’m gonna go full-Godwin here, but it illustrates the fallacy I think your argument contains in very stark terms:

            Hitler also killed the very goyish Poles and Gypsies. The Nazis were about xenophobia and power, not antisemitism.

            • Mike Schilling

              Yup, creating a system to exterminate millions of people is exactly like murdering someone you consider an enemy.

              • elm

                Exactly? Obviously not. As I said, it illustrates the fallacy in stark terms, that one can have multiple motives for related acts. The Nazis were antisemites, clearly, but they also murdered non-Jews for reasons other than, though related to antisemtisim.

                Now, I don’t know enough about what was in White’s heart to know whether he was motivated by homophobia or. revenge, but that he also killed a straight guy does not disprove that he was a homophobe as your comment suggested. At least, no more than the fact that Hitler killed gypsies proves he was not an antisemite.

                • Ronan

                  The comparison doesnt really make sense because ‘we do know’ what was in Hitlers ‘heart.'(in that we have reams of documented evidence of the Nazi regimes views on racial superiority)
                  I dont know about White though ..

            • Aimai

              Thats a weird way of looking at categories like “goy,” let alone poles and gypsies. Its more accurate to say that the Nazis believed in racism as a natural and important part of human life and a cornerstone of the kind of society they wanted to build. They lumped lots of people into the category “untermenschen” including jews, gypsies, and poles. They had different theories about why each of these, to them slightly separate, categories of untermenschen were different. But its not like antisemitism was their only racist sin or focus.

              • Lee Rudolph

                elm was copying the form of Mike Schilling’s post timestamped “11:52 am”; the points you make about elm’s post were present as a feature, not a bug.

                • Mike Schilling

                  Except he wasn’t. My point is that killing a personal enemy who’s an X doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bigoted against X’s, particularly when at the same time you kill a guy who’s a personal enemy for the same reason and isn’t an X.

                • Aimai

                  Sorry, Elm!

                  But I actually kind of side with Mike Schilling on this one. The fact that the killing of Milk later became a cause celebre and retrospectively became a signficant stage in the rise of public and politicized homophobia doesn’t mean that it was the cause of White’s murders. I’m not even sure it was a necessary component given all the other crap that was happening to White–do people think that he wouldn’t have gone in and done the shooting in a generic angry white male way if Milk weren’t gay? Because people flip out all the time when they are losing in life and often end up shooting or physically attacking their perceived enemies. It happens a lot with a changing of the guard scenario, sure, but it happens periodically pretty much everywhere and anywhere.

                • Mike Schilling

                  generic angry white male way


                  I’ve been angry quite a few times in my life, and haven’t ever shot anyone.

                • Aimai

                  I’m comparing white men to white women and up until recently the number of white women who have walked into a building and shot up their co-workers is quite small compared to white men who do so. Are you telling me that this is inaccurate or that this is not the explanation you are reaching for/assuming in asserting that Dan White went postal (we even have a word for it!) out of ordinary anger and not overweening and pure homophobia.

                • Mike Schilling

                  I’m objecting to using generic angry white male way to describe shooting people, when very, very few males behave in that fashion.

        • Scientia Est

          Scott, why do I feel like he’s being shot all over again in this comment thread?

          • Mike Schilling

            Because you’re invested in his being a matrty to homophobia?

            • Scientia Est

              That sound you hear is the “wrong answer” buzzer.

              • Mike Schilling

                No one is attacking Milk or trying to mitigate the evil of his murder, so clearly the answer is “for no reason that makes any sense.”

                • Scientia Est

                  Actually, what I meant was that you are needlessly relitigating Milk’s murder over an offhand quip. So what if Milk’s sexuality wasn’t the reason he was killed? He was still an assassinated gay icon, the first openly gay public official in California, murdered in cold blood for some damn reason. It was a joke. Give it a rest.

                • Mike Schilling

                  For some damn reason

                  Yeah, facts are stupid.

    • cpinva

      “Shorter: if you didn’t kill Emmett Till, you must not be racist.”

      no, no, that’s malcom X, Emmett Till was just collateral damage.

      “If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates,”

      no, you don’t get to “question” the validity of someone else’s constitutional rights, and simultaneously get to claim you’re not “anti”, it doesn’t work that way in the real world.

  • Lee Rudolph

    Look, there’re two parts of the idiomatic Vox: vox populi, and vox Dei. This proud out Libertyarian has been tasked with the burden of carrying the latter, that’s all! Pray for him, that he may have strength!!

    • N__B

      You left out Chicken Vox which, of course, helps protect us against the Small-minded Vox.

  • FMguru

    On what planet are bans on same-sex marriage not “discrimination”?

    I have actually seen this argument in the wild, and it goes something like this:

    – A gay dude can marry a woman, the same way a straight dude can.

    – A gay dude can’t marry another guy, but then a straight man can’t marry another guy either.

    – Looks to me like everyone is treated exactly the same under the law, so where’s the discrimination?

    – Check and mate, libtards

    • McAllen

      The law in its majesty etc. etc.

    • Malaclypse

      David St. Hubbins: It’s such a fine line between stupid, and uh…

      Nigel Tufnel: Clever.

      David St. Hubbins: Yeah, and clever.

    • Scott Lemieux

      We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”

      That could be my pitch for a fellowship: “Henry Billings Brown, misunderstood legal genius.”

    • cpinva

      “- A gay dude can’t marry another guy, but then a straight man can’t marry another guy either.”

      sadly, someone actually thought they were quite brilliant, when they came up with this. obviously, under the “equal protection” & “due process” clauses, both these gentlemen should be able to marry whomever they so desire. yes, it is still discrimination.

      • Ronan

        There are actually a couple of Irish journalists, with very prominent platforms, who’s (joint) position on gay marriage is (i shit you not, this is it in its entirety) ‘gay people arent excluded from marrying someone,they can marry someone from the opposite sex.’ One of them was involved in that whole Panti Bliss affair (linked here recently) where it was implied he was homophobic (shocking I know) and so he sued for libel.

        • Ronan

          actually, this is the position FMguru laid out, I should have read above.
          I cant belive this argument is a thingnow, at a transnational level

    • frogfan

      Yeah, but nobody’s ever been fooled by that argument, except the people who want to be fooled by it —

      It was said in argument that the statute of Louisiana does not discriminate against either race, but prescribes a rule applicable alike to white and colored citizens. But this argument does not meet the difficulty. Everyone knows that the statute in question had its origin in the purpose not so much to exclude white persons from railroad cars occupied by blacks as to exclude colored people from coaches occupied by or assigned to white persons.

      Plessy v. Ferguson (Harlan, J., dissenting)

  • McAllen

    This is a pretty common argument against accusations of homophobia, racism, etc. that goes:

    1. Bigots are terrible people
    2. Person X isn’t terrible in all respects


    3. Person X isn’t bigoted.

    Ambrosino takes this to ludicrous extremes–apparently unless you literally want to stone gay people to death you aren’t a homophobe. People need to realize that the problem isn’t just a few extreme homophobes, but societal ideas about queer people that everyone absorbs to some extent.

    • Also theres plenty of other evidence that jerry falwell was a terrible perso. Arguing about whether he is technically a homophobe or not is like complaining that john wayne gacy didnt clown in a true commedia del arte style.

      • Left_Wing_Fox

        Pardon me, I’m just going to admire this comment creepily from afar.

        • N__B

          Il commento è finito.

      • cpinva

        “Arguing about whether he is technically a homophobe or not is like complaining that john wayne gacy didnt clown in a true commedia del artestyle.”

        I believe this is the first time I’ve ever seen that referenced on a blog, congratulations.

    • Judge people not by their actions, but what you can’t guess about what’s in their heart

    • JustRuss

      Well said. Not a big Godwin fan, but countering with the “…and Hitler was nice to his dog” argument saves a lot of time.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Yeah, his defense of Falwell is pretty bizarre. I think Falwell is a classic homophobe, along with Pat Robertson and most others in the SBC leadership. But he does surface a ‘classically’ liberal compromise. There are millions of Christians who support the legalization of gay marriage who nonetheless consider gay sex to be a sin, in the same way they consider pre-marital sex to be a sin. I wouldn’t call them homophobes anymore than I would call them “hetero-phobes” for considering pre-marital sex sinful. This is a live and let live approach: They fully support both gay marriage and ENDA for LGBT people, but they reserve the right to hold on to their religious beliefs.

      Finally, there is some evidence in the recent survey that southerners may be rediscovering a value that is part of the historical DNA of groups such as Southern Baptists: the separation of church and state. Southerners are drawing a distinction between personal moral objections to same-gender sexual relationships and support for public policy that would legally recognize same-sex marriage.

      While 48 percent of southerners now favor same-sex marriage, only 37 percent of southerners say sex between two adults of the same gender is morally acceptable. To put it bluntly, support for the legality of same-sex marriage outpaces moral approval of same-gender sex by double-digit numbers.

      • cpinva

        actually, falwell hit the trifecta:

        1. racism.
        2. misogyny.
        3. homophobism.

        in his dotage, he hoped everyone had by then forgotten his (never disavowed) racist roots. many of us hadn’t.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Falwell was almost certainly guilty of more than just those 3…

      • Barry

        “Finally, there is some evidence in the recent survey that southerners may be rediscovering a value that is part of the historical DNA of groups such as Southern Baptists: the separation of church and state. ”


        The SBC was founded for slavery; they had no problems with state power whatsoever, so long as it was used for what they wanted.

        • Manny Kant

          Yes, the Southern Baptist movement, as such was founded over conflicts over slavery, but the Baptist movement from which it split was pretty firmly committed to separation of church and state, and my understanding was that Southern Baptists shared that commitment until quite recently.

          • Anonymous

            The Baptists were very committed to separation of church and state at times and in places where they were a disliked minority. Thus Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists.

            Most religions support separation of church and state in the same circumstances.

            • GoDeep

              Power can go to ppl’s head & it seems like that’s exactly what’s happened with them. Power corrupts… thank God their days of absolute power are over.

            • Malaclypse
            • Manny Kant

              Eh, the Baptist commitment to separation of church and state was pretty long-standing, and vanished really only in the 70s or so, I believe – certainly not until after World War II.

              Not that I expect the SBC to actually rediscover it, but it really was a significant principle of the Baptist movement for a long time.

        • MAJeff

          The SBC has always been a hate group.

          • GoDeep

            During the 1700s Baptists were a religious minority. The dominant group was Episcopalians (most of our POTUSes have been Episcopalian). So the reference is quite dated, but they remained a political minority until the 1900s and didn’t gain power until Nixon made overt appeals to them as part of his Southern Strategy to woo working class whites. Reagan of course doubled-down on that strategy. Baptists in power is an entirely modern phenomenon.

            Someone over the weekend I think posted that the Vatican had an official strategy of pushing religious tolerance in countries where they were the minority, and religious intolerance in countries where they were the majority. Baptists have followed the same strategy in the US.

            • junker

              I don’t think this is a refutation of MAJeffs notion that the church is a hate group. After all stormfront is almost certainly a minority group in number.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Yeah, there are people who consider all non-marital sex equally sinful. But here are some facts about those people:
        * If they’ve absorbed minimal social norms about politeness, they keep quiet about both.
        * If they keep quiet about the adultery but not about the buttsecks, they are fair game for the “bigot” label.
        * In fact, if they try to impose their values on others at all, they are pretty much fair game. Just because slut-shaming is a hallowed tradition, doesn’t make it OK.
        * >90% of them are hypocrites.

        Seriously, “it’s in the Bible” or “that’s how my momma taught me” don’t give you carte blanche. Insofar as people like that exist, they can believe what they want in private, but then they shouldn’t get their fee-fees hurt when we call out the public bigots.

        • GoDeep

          Personally the SBC has always struck me as a bit cultish…The way you can tell a Christian homophobe is when they rail against homosexuality, but somehow don’t get as excited about, say, coveting their neighbors wife…or manage not get to get exercised when that wife gets divorced. I think this phenomenon of ppl who hold gay sex to be sinful but nonetheless support gay marriage is interesting. I don’t know how they’ll fare as the culture wars heat up over this.

      • They’re still godawful people for holding these ideas, but as long as they shut up about it, it’s okay with me.

    • Ronan

      Yeah this argument has really played itself out when you’re using it to argue that Jerry Falwell (!!) (!) (!) isnt homophobic (!)

    • Ambrosino takes this to ludicrous extremes–apparently unless you literally want to stone gay people to death you aren’t a homophobe.

      Yep, in a nutshell (FYI Jesus was also demonstrably anti-ketchup. Because seminary.).

  • Ann Outhouse

    Tammy Bruce wasn’t available?

    • sharculese

      Tammy Bruce doesn’t really specialize in this kind of meticulously tail-chasing sophistry. You call her for the pure, psycopathic rah-rah, not the throat-clearing and the glasses-pushing.

  • NewishLawyer

    Does Ezra Klein even consider himself a progressive or liberal anymore? IIRC he tries to distance himself from the word and calls himself technocratic and a policy wonk.

    In my mind, he is one of the problems of the left. Someone who is very comfortable at reading and writing white papers filled with charts and graphs and talks about creating the proper incentives but someone who is explicitly worried by politics and probably finds politics to be distasteful.

    This is not unique to Ezra Klein but something I often seen on somewhat left leaning policy places. I agree with the ideas (more public transportation) as an example but often get the sense that Public Policy programs all have a course titled “Democracy is pesky and how to get around it.” The Atlantic Cities recently featured an article lambasting about how politicians and other agency types are too fearful to enact policies that really making driving an unattractive option. I fully agree we need more public transportation but the way to do this is to get voters to be more enthusiastic about public transportation, it is not to just create policies behind their back that manipulate them into taking the bus and train more and driving less.

    Then again, Ezra Klein also nabbed Matt Y and is in full contrarian mode.

    • Aaron B.

      Well, it takes different strokes. I understand that some people might be far more interested in policy than in politics. The problem comes in when you are explicitly disavowing that your choices and policy advocacy have any political consequences or impact on shared (or unshared) values. That’s just deluded.

      • NewishLawyer

        We need policy wonks but we also need people who can campaign on more than “read my white paper.”

        • ThrottleJockey

          Well, EK isn’t campaigning for anything… Also, I think you have to put up firewalls between policy and politics. Good policy may or may not be good politics, and vice versa. I’m actually ok with the proposition that “we’re going with good politics over good policy”, and I’m equally ok with “we’re going with good policy over good politics”.

          But its critical that we distinguish the two. A lot of time so-called “unintended consequences” arise simply because we’ve confused ourselves that good politics is also good policy.

          • Aaron B.

            Yeah, but the line is far from clear. Almost all policy choices are trade-offs between some value or other. Even decidedly sub-optimal policies will still be better than any given alternative on SOME axis. Very rarely do you find strictly-better choices. The choice of which values to maximize is always a political choice in the sense that it ought to be up for democratic dispute and not merely dictated by technocrats.

    • djw

      I fully agree we need more public transportation but the way to do this is to get voters to be more enthusiastic about public transportation, it is not to just create policies behind their back that manipulate them into taking the bus and train more and driving less.

      But in an era of limited resources (money for transportation improvements, lanes on existing roads that could be used devoted to transit only or free/subsidized car storage, etc), you’re doing one of the other. And, moreover, car use and storage are massively subsidized everywhere, in ways taht are popular in large part because the costs are so effectively hidden. So removing small pieces of that subsidy is a perfectly reasonable thing to do that makes driving harder and transit more appealing. And, indeed, it’s democratic: insofar as heavily subsidized car use is chosen over transit, it’s at least partly because the car use isn’t being paid for, and the electorate doesn’t appreciate the actual costs of the choices they make. The distinction you’re making doesn’t hold.

      • NewishLawyer

        Those things are heavily subsidized because politicians know that people want them. So you need to go out and convince people that it is very bad to subsidize parking instead of just doing it. The democratic process matters and I believe in having admin roles that are free of the political process but not completely free enough that they can violate the people’s will.

        There is probably a serious discussion to be had about how much democracy means allowing people to enact sub-optimal policies if that is what the majority wants and when this is and when this is not acceptable.

        Minorities must be protected from the tyranny of the majority when it comes to civil rights and being able to fully participate in economic and civil life but I am not sure that biking advocates or public transport advocates should be free to enact policies without entering the democratic process.

        It seems to me that a certain section of the left is uncomfortable with rhetoric and public advocacy and prefers wonky and complicated solutions to problems. This was a large part of Kevin Drum’s essay on how the Democratic party is perceived to have done nothing for the middle class. It takes way too long to explain the Earned Income Child Tax Credit or whatever. People want direct and easy to understand policies. The Ezra Klein’s of the world are needed but “read this white paper” is not going to win elections.

        Mario Cuomo said campaign in poetry and govern in prose. That seems about right.

    • Nick Danger – Third Eye

      Does Ezra Klein even consider himself a progressive or liberal anymore?

      Ezra started as a blogger on Pandagon. Then he handed it over to Amanda Marcotte.

      Ezra has become an important voice simply because he is not the wack-o bird that Amanda or the other liberal blogger (you know who I’m talking about) and explores all sides of the issue.

      Take a hint and become important. Do you want to be Ezra and gain true influence, or do you want to be Amanda and be relegated as an outlier with little influence?

      • dart evader

        (the above is meant to be heard in a hoarse raspy voice)

        • Patrick Phelan

          “All of this I will give to you,” creaked the ghost of Reagan, “if you fall down on your knees and worship Me.”

      • sharculese

        I dunno, Amanda Marcotte seems to have done pretty well for herself and I guess I wouldn’t mind being her except for the part where gross failures keep stumbling out of the woodwork completely unprovoked to obsess over you.

        Although actually I’m pretty sure your sad tears of rage give her power.

        • NewishLawyer

          I thought it was raging against Park Slope that gave her power.

          Or has she stopped doing that? IIRC she did not exactly take to Brooklyn at first when she moved there.

        • Karate Bearfighter

          On a side note, “Take a hint and become important” would be a great album name.

          • Lee Rudolph

            It’s the first EP from One Weird Fruit.

          • sharculese

            It’s like the perfect new wave album that never happened.

            • It was recorded, but they wouldn’t sell out and make changes, so the label never released it.

      • Ronan

        how exactely is this ‘true influence’ measured ? as oppossed to ‘influence’ speculated on in blog comment sections ..

      • Malaclypse

        Jenny is simply concerned for us all.

      • postmodulator

        Amanda Marcotte is a wonderful writer who has changed my mind, personally, on a number of topics in the past decade.

        You won’t accomplish as much if you live to be a hundred and fifty.

      • Scientia Est

        With respect, Marcotte has more balls in her right pinky than you have in your entire body, sir.

      • rea

        Ezra started as a blogger on Pandagon

        Not true–he blogged on his own before hooking up with jesse Taylor.

        • Malaclypse

          Still, this is the closest yet Jennie has come to being right about something. Are you going to hold mere factual inaccuracy against him?

          • OK, I’ve been around here on and off for…maybe a year? Whatever it is, I came in after the “Jenny” thing was fully entrenched. Can someone explain it to me? Is it the same troll all the time? And if so, why “Jenny?”

            • sharculese

              It’s mostly the same troll, and before he settled down on a combination of sadly hypermasculine names and posting anonymously, he went through a rotating cast of fake identities, one of which involved pretending to be a woman named Jennifer Steele.

              • Maybe his real name is Trent Steele. But more likely he likes Trent Steel.

                [The latter is maybe the funniest thing I’ve ever accidentally found on a Google search. Also, wtf is a “musk stick?”]

              • elm

                And another was “Honest Bob.” Hence, he also gets referred to as “JenBob.”

  • Has EK, or Vox, commented on this yet? And isn’t a wonk supposed to be into like research and shit, especially in the age of Teh Google? Given their lousy hiring practices can we stop claiming EK is anything other than a social climber with “connections”?

  • Anonymous

    I think the first block quote doesn’t support your argument. It looks like it might be the opening salvo of an a terrible argument, but it doesn’t get there in the part you quoted.

    You don’t just question arguments to defeat them. You also question arguments to make them sounder.

    Attempting to understand people with terrible ideas isn’t always about siding with them. It can also be about understanding how to change them.

    Granted, I don’t think he was going there. Considering the drek he wrote about Falwell, he was probably writing the prelude to a self-serving defense of the culture he was raised in. But that block quote can be read as a recommendation to understand your opponents and to be skeptical of your allies. Those are reasonable recommendations.

    • njorl

      Oops. Above was me.

    • Is jerry falwell misunderstood? I was not aware of that.

      • somethingblue

        Don’t you know that no one alive can always be an angel?

        • N__B

          Insert Santa Esmerelda drum solo here.

      • njorl

        No, Falwell is not misunderstood, hence the, “Considering the drek he wrote about Falwell…” comment.

    • sharculese

      Questioning arguments to make them stronger is good, yeah. But when you’re talking about an argument like ‘opposition to gay marriage is rooted in homophobia’ that has been attacked from so many conceivable angles, each of which has been found wanting, you should sound off pretty quickly that you have good reason to believe you’ve found a new approach, you should probably spend a bit less time congratulating yourself, and you should immediately segue into something as tired and unserious as ‘there are many levels of bigotry.’

      It’s the same logic that drives ‘race realists’ to ask why we’re so afraid to revisit the issue for the millionth time, and it should get serious side-eye.

    • McAllen

      I don’t disagree necessarily with trying to understand where anti-gay arguments are coming from, although given the rest of the article I question if that’s really the only reason people are calling him homophobic. But he also says shit like this:

      Giving someone the benefit of the doubt takes courage; dismissing him before considering his argument—well, that seems a bit phobic.

      Not only does this trot out the “people who argue for gay marriage are the REAL bigots” line, but his smug self-righteous line about the benefit of the doubt is, well, smug and self-righteous. It is incredibly easy for straight people and certain privileged gay people to give homophobes the benefit of the doubt, but when you’re dealing with arguments about restricting your rights it’s not some kind of sin to not treat those arguments as mere disagreements.

      If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word “homophobic” is exhausted on me or on polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them?

      As sharculese mentioned above, this is really ignorant of the ways both large and small people can manifest homophobia. Homophobia in society is not being fueled solely by a few extremists.

      • njorl

        Yes. I decided to read the article, and his arguments are terrible. I think Scott quoted some of the most innocuous material in it.

        This is what struck me:

        I would argue that an essential feature of the term “homophobia” must include personal animus or malice toward the gay community. Simply having reservations about gay marriage might be anti-gay marriage, but if the reservations are articulated in a respectful way, I see no reason to dismiss the person holding those reservations as anti-gay people.

        You can replace “marriage” with “rights” to get:

        I would argue that an essential feature of the term “homophobia” must include personal animus or malice toward the gay community. Simply having reservations about gay rights might be anti-gay rights, but if the reservations are articulated in a respectful way, I see no reason to dismiss the person holding those reservations as anti-gay people.

        and it is essentially the same argument, just more transparently odious.

        • Aimai

          To me the real tell is “respectful way.” This is nothing but the civility dodge all over again. Its totally ok, apparently, to call for laws which would forcibly separate a woman from her lifetime companion if the lifetime companion falls ill, is in a coma, and her parents refuse to let the two women see each other in the hospital as long as you do it “respectfully?” Isn’t this what this amounts too? Its ok to perpetuate laws that prevent gay people from adopting children they have, in some cases, raised since birth, leaving those children with no legal guardian under certain circumstances as long as you do it civilly?

          At this point the debate has narrowed and sharpened–no one on the left side is arguing that everybody has to be happy with freedom and equality for all but for fuck’s sake equal legal rights for everyone is a fundamental issue of social justice that really impacts people’s lives, all the way down to the bedroom and to the creation of their families. I dont care how “civil” or “respectful” a dialogue about people’s most basic human rights is its not respectful or civil enough if it is insisting on a stranger’s right to ask the state to intervene between a loving couple, or a parent and child.

          • Aimai

            Oh, btw, South Carolina’s House has just stripped out some 70,000 dollars worth of funding from three Universities and colleges because they had the temerity to assign a memoir by a gay woman and a book of essays about being gay in America to college students in some classes. I’m sure that can be quite civil and respectful, too.

  • Mike Schilling

    To be fair, Falwell didn’t blame 9/11 on the gays. He blamed it on the rest of us for tolerating the gays. So he wasn’t so much a homophobe as a non-homophobe-phobe.

    • ajay

      In other words, God doesn’t actually hate the gays, he just hates the tolerant.

      • Mike Schilling

        That’s actually very biblical. There are sinners and idolaters in every generation. You get punishment and plagues when everyone else tolerates it.

        • Scientia Est

          The basis of his argument is that homosexuality is a sin. That’s bigotry. Full stop. Biblical bigotry is just bigotry cloaked in ancient verse.

          It’s that collective punishment bit that makes me, as a lefty Reform Jew observing Passover, a little more thoughtful about the Plagues (fiction as they may be).

          • Mike Schilling

            That’s bigotry. Full stop.

            Absolutely. Once we decide it’s bigotry (which it is), we can stop thinking, because there’s nothing else that could possibly be said about it.

            • Scientia Est

              Absolutely. Once we decide it’s bigotry (which it is), we can stop thinking, because there’s nothing else that could possibly be said about it.

              Pretty much, yes, at least in this context. Anything else quickly descends into apologia.

              Seriously, how is it fair to point out that he actually was blaming non-gays for not hating on gays? Does it matter? He was a bigot. It just so happened he was once indirect in his bigotry, using the Bible as cover. I hear he also loved Hitler’s dog.

              [puts $1 in the “Hitler” jar]

              • nixnutz

                Reading the initial comment I took it as “yeah but actually it’s much worse, he’s actually perverting Jesus in an even uglier kind of hypocrisy” but then the rest of the thread undercut that interpretation. Quit while you’re ahead Mike.

                • Mike Schilling

                  Sure, pointing out that Falwell thought of himself as an Old Testament prophet can’t possibly lead to any interesting discussion, could it? Let’s just stop at “We hate him.”

                • Scientia Est

                  Whenever you start a post with “to be fair,” your readers would not be amiss in assuming that you are coming to the defense of the subject in question, however grudgingly (or, perhaps, sarcastically). They would be wise to be on guard for apologetics. My response wasn’t an attempt to stop discussion in general. It was an emphatic statement that the precise details of Falwell’s bigotry are not relevant here and do not matter in making this judgment call; bigotry is bigotry no matter to whom it is expressed. I was replying to the implied apology. That doesn’t mean stop talking, it means tell me why I am wrong.

                  tl;dr I would like to know why you believe it is being “fair” to Falwell bring this up? Does it excuse his bigotry in any way, in your opinion? You certainly know mine.

  • Kevin Hayden

    As a college student, Mr. Klein supported going to war with Iraq because a bunch of longhair graybeards were protesting the Bush push to war on his campus. And what could hippies possibly know about foreign policy?

    For the sake of the viewing public, I hope Vox proves to be a news outlet with ethical investigative journalism standards and a commitment air points that are eminently debatable is a plus.

    But this hire indicates a desire to debate facetious arguments and grant cred to folks who are content to view the entire solar system and set aside a billion stars to discuss a dozen dust motes under the bed.

    And likely, an Ikea bed at that.

    I shall continue in my belief that Mr. Klein will mature someday. With his obvious skills at explaining dense policy analysis, he is only one carafe shy of a six-pack of Bud. And not the hippie kind of Bud.

    • sharculese

      I thought ‘I supported the war because I thought hippies smelled bad’ was Matt Y’s thing? Or did they both do it?

      • postmodulator

        In 2002 it used to be genuinely kind of difficult to tell them apart, I think. Eventually I, at least, figured out that Klein was the one who could spell.

      • Malaclypse


        And note how few lessons he actually learned.

        • JoyfulA

          Did not learn a damned thing. How can anybody think it’s a great idea to go to war and kill 100,000 people, create a million refugees, destroy a culture and an infrastructure, spend trillions of dollars, induce millions of orphans, disabilities, and mourners—just because some guy named Kenneth Pollack wrote a book you liked about how mean a ruler is of a country way far away?

          I’m sorry for the incoherence. It’s just too many people lacking any empathy.

        • Aimai

          Oh my god I forgot how vile his little mea culpa was:

          So here are some of my lessons. First, listen to the arguments of the people who will actually carry out a project, not the arguments of the people who just want to see the project carried out. Who manages a project can be as important as what the project is.

          Second, don’t trust what “everybody knows.” There is, perhaps, nothing more dangerous than a fact that everyone thinks they know, because it shuts down critical thinking. In a retrospective for Foreign Policy, Stephen Hadley, Bush’s national security adviser, said, “It never occurred to me or anyone else I was working with, and no one from the intelligence community or anyplace else ever came in and said, ‘What if Saddam is doing all this deception because he actually got rid of the WMD and he doesn’t want the Iranians to know?’ Now, somebody should have asked that question. I should have asked that question. Nobody did. It turns out that was the most important question in terms of the intelligence failure that never got asked.”

          Of course, it wasn’t asked. “Everybody knew” that Hussein had WMDs.

          Third, the people who are most persuasive aren’t necessarily the people who are actually right. Argument is a skill. Authority is a position. Trusting too much in either can lead you astray.

          Fourth, the U.S. military is a blunt and limited instrument. Tasks that require it to stray far outside its core competence, such as rebuilding societies rather than destroying them, are projects that aren’t likely to go well. In retrospect, the constant “to be sure” caveats about how this wasn’t worth doing if it wasn’t done right should have been a warning. It wasn’t worth doing precisely because the odds were high that we couldn’t do it “right.”

          I supported the Iraq War, and I’m sorry.

          The number of Iraqi deaths, the complete destruction of whatever moral standing we had with the world, and the right of the Iraqis to sovereignity and self determination apparently didn’t make a dent in his world view. The only problem with the war was that we didn’t do it “right” and that this made him feel terrible, like he had been suckered. Won’t get fooled again! Next time I’ll ask better questions of people in charge and maybe their minions.

          • Manny Kant

            Beyond what you said, look at the extent to which he’s giving Neocon warmongers the benefit of the doubt that they were arguing in good faith.

            Note the extensive willingness to trust that Stephen Hadley, of all people, is being honest. Note that there’s no mention of the extreme *dishonesty* of so many of the cases for war. This is exactly the same thing he does with Paul Ryan and company.

          • medrawt

            As with Yglesias, I think one thing that hurts Klein with some people is something that doesn’t bother me at all: their tendency to write kind of bloodlessly much of the time. (I do think that angry Yglesias, who can be aroused by racist attacks on the competence and qualifications of Justice Sotomayor or the vague proximity of Mike Pence, is the best Yglesias.)

            Unless you have a position that war is never just (excepting perhaps in immediate national defense) – a position I don’t quite share but do think should be heard more often – the list of terrible problems you provide is basically a consequence of Iraq being a terrible idea, not a cause of it. I have a hard time imagining that someone could say “I think this war is a good idea for many reasons, but ultimately a mistake because it will destroy American moral standing,” because if you think the former you also probably think you’ll ultimately be vindicated on the latter. Similarly, the number of Iraqi deaths is something I don’t think proponents of the war could’ve grappled with beforehand, because (1) of course people die in the course of war [which is we we shouldn’t be so damn cavalier about it] and (2) one of the things people like Klein acknowledge being wrong about is the planning for and length of the immediate war’s aftermath, which are the contexts in which so many Iraqi civilians perished.

            I think Klein is trying to restrict himself to why he made the wrong ideological choice, not why the war was so terrible; this isn’t the most rhetorically compelling approach for people who were denounced for being anti-war at the time, but I think it’s typical of the way he writes, and I don’t think it reveals that he’s actually an emotionless robot.

            As someone who was against the war, and is about Klein and Yglesias’ age, I think both of their explanations are pretty reasonable, though Yglesias’ has more value in the way of critical self-analysis.

            • Manny Kant

              I think it’s rather an understatement to say that Klein merely has a “tendency to write kind of bloodlessly much of the time.” He pretty much always writes bloodlessly, and mostly has in the past, too.

              As far as the Iraq War, I think it’s unfair to Yglesias to put his mea culpa in the same category as Klein’s. Yglesias genuinely grappled with the question of why he’d been so wrong, and his conclusion was basically that all of his pre-existing ideas about foreign policy were terrible, and needed to be thrown out.

              Klein is this bloodless analysis of how he didn’t use the best algorithm to interpret the data he was receiving.

              Maybe I’m giving Yglesias too much credit, though. Certainly it’s the only instance in his work that I can think of of a full repudiation of a previous belief, so maybe my memory exaggerates the extent to which he actually criticized himself. But I’m fairly certain it was a lot better than Klein’s.

              • medrawt

                Oh, I agree on that; Yglesias’ is the “best” of the sorry genre that I’m aware of. But I didn’t want to harp too much on that because I’m sort of an Yglesias apologist anyway; at least I don’t think the things he’s wrong or obstinate about are worth excommunication. Klein is a little harder for me to pin down, because I haven’t read him as much and he seems to me, in his WaPo tenure, to have sort of effaced himself from his writing, the more to make him a “journalist,” whereas I more often feel like I understand where Yglesias is coming from in expressing bits and pieces of a holistic personal worldview (some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t).

                • No, the clear best by far was John Cole.

                  There is someone who found his worldview clashing with reality and revisited the whole thing including his own sense of his capabilities. And revisits that failure reasonably often.

            • Klein can writer bloodlessly about the War on Iraq because ultimately it’s only an intellectual exercise for him; these aren’t real people that died and what matters only is how it impacts him.

    • JustRuss

      Presumably not a North Ikea bed.

  • sharculese

    I have no reservations about my sexuality, so as far as the accusation of homophobia goes: that gay ship has already sailed to Disneyland, with a speedo-clad Tom Daley carved into the bow.

    On the scale stilted yet bland uncomedy this registers at .7 kiloJonahs.

    • sharculese

      scale of

  • postmodulator

    No one’s commented on the amusing fact that Stern’s article, calling Ambrosio a reflexive and mindless contrarian, was published on Slate.

    • Manny Kant

      They should know!

      • postmodulator

        Last month Yglesias had an offhand joke about “#slatepitches” in his column. I don’t know why I think it’s so funny that they know what we think of them, but I do.

        • Jordan

          Slate has been aware of the #slatepitch thing since the very beginning.

          (holy crap that creed article was 4 and a half years ago???)

  • Hob

    Am I the only one who got halfway through the Mark Joseph Stern piece and then stared in bewilderment at this phrase?

    “…at least Douthat’s views arise from real intelligence and conviction”

    • sharculese

      He’s half right. Doubthat’s conviction that the lower orders should be happy with their lot is completely genuine and at least… different from this dude’s crass contrarianism.

      The intelligence part is bullshit, of course.

      • Hob

        Tywin: “I always thought you were a stunted fool. Perhaps I was wrong.”

        Tyrion: “Half wrong.”

  • C.S.

    . . . as though he’s swinging a bat at a piñata that’s hanging from a different tree.

    I am so stealing this.

  • Halloween Jack

    Never heard of this guy, but he seems to be an obsession with Madonna short of being the male Camille Paglia.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Vicious, but fair.

  • “Being a ‘liberal’ who professional bashes liberal values is always the best way for an untalented writer to get ahead.”

    NOW you tell us. Where the **** were you mumblety-peg years ago?

  • Pingback: Vox (Updated) | Mock Paper Scissors()

  • MAJeff

    JenBob, I have a boyfriend. But I don’t hatefuck trolls, either. I’m sure Dagney would “enjoy” your “company.”

  • mojrim

    Or maybe he (Klein) is just trying to avoid setting up an echo chamber? Sounds like a formula for creating a raucous brawl over ideas. More fun and informative than group-think, anyway.

    • Arnaud de Borchgrave

      It seems pretty well established by now that Klein had not actually read anything by Ambrosino before hiring him, so the premise behind his selection was almost certainly not “Let’s get a diversity of opinions here” but “We need a gay guy, this one seems to be getting a lot of attention.”

    • sharculese

      If you think tedious throat-clearing about how we should try as hard as we can to come up with a scenario under SSM opponents aren’t motivated by animus, then you sound like the most boring fucking person on the entire goddamn planet. Just totally and completely lacking in anything resembling fun.

  • Scientia Est

    I wonder if they’ll give conservative apologia workshops? I mean, the economy is still terrible, and a job is a job…

  • Joshua

    Slate should make him their king.

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    It’s nice to know that Ezra didn’t even bother to read Ambrosino’s pieces before hiring him:

    So the big question: Why has a string of editors, culminating with Klein, given this guy a platform? In an interview on Wednesday evening, Klein told me he hadn’t read the pieces that had kicked up so much dust before bringing Ambrosino on but did so once he began facing criticism for the hire.“I don’t want to pretend that I have the context and the background to perfectly or authoritatively judge this debate,” Klein said. “But when I read his pieces, I didn’t come away with the impression that he holds an iota of homophobia.” “Homophobia”—which activists too often use as shorthand to describe anti-gay views that don’t necessarily stem from fear—may be the wrong word for it. But even a cursory read through Ambrosino’s writings should raise red flags. Klein, though, seems mystified by the blowback. He acknowledges that he is new to the process of staffing an enterprise like Vox. “I gotta be honest,” he said. “With a lot of this stuff, I’m trying to figure out what success means.”

    At least Klein and Matt Y will all be in one place, so that I can ignore them both a lot easier.

    • Lord Jesus Perm

      Damn bold tags. Didn’t mean to highlight damn near the whole paragraph.

  • you fakeleftists are so eager to put your efforts into gay rights and other identity politics distractions. You are the best friend of the plutocrats, keeping leftist energies on areas that help the rich and not hurt the rich.

    Multiculti/inclusiveness et al is all part of the propaganda regime designed to help manufacture consent for flooding the labor supply via mass immigration of nonwhite labor.

    Fakelefists turn my stomach.

    • I think the problem with your stomach is drinking all that raw pancake batter.

      • KmCO

        Loomis, can you mail me a check that covers my new keyboard? Kthanksbye.

    • Scientia Est

      Oh come on, the most brainless Bircher jackanape could write better than that. Where’s the sense of style? Pizazz? Tomfoolery?

      The trolls here have really taken a drop in quality lately.

    • Manny Kant

      Is your argument that Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein represent the true commitment of the left to create a socialist society? Because, um, no.

  • Aaron B.

    Sully’s lazy, smug defense of the kid is a thing of Pythonesque sublime ridiculousness. Especially since he literally just got done with a slapfest with Rod Dreher over Dreher making the exact same arguments Sully sticks up for here.

    • Aaron B.

      He wants to have his gay rights cake and eat his libtard-bashing too.

  • Manju

    Praise be to Falwell’s Restroom
    DADT sails at dawn
    Everybody’s shouting
    “Which Side Are You On?”
    Ezra Klein and R.G. Douthat
    Fighting in the captain’s tower
    While armed lawyers laugh at them
    And lumberjacks hold flowers
    Between the pillows of Michelle Rhee
    Where sully mermaids blow
    And nobody has to think too much
    About Desolation Row

    • Scott Lemieux

      For people who still can’t tell the difference between Manju and Jenny…

  • YellowCard

    I thought that distinguishing sincere perception of religious duty from true hatred as a motivation was still considered rational. I guess it’s now #slatepitchy. I feel so out of the loop.

    Since behavior now equals motivation, are we now referring to Orthodox Jews and the Amish as “anti-women bigots”? Or is there a “cute little minority religion” distinction that applies here?

    • Malaclypse

      I thought that distinguishing sincere perception of religious duty from true hatred as a motivation was still considered rational.

      I too am unaware that the KKK claims to be sincerely religiously motivated.

      • YellowCard

        Thank you Inspector Clouseau. You may now arrest everyone who claims to have not committed murder because that’s just what murderers say.

    • sharculese

      Uh we talk about misogyny among the Orthodox all the goddamn time.

      This is a cute if shallow attempt at a gotcha but it’s impaired by your general lack of skill at knowing things.

It is main inner container footer text