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Dreher: You Are Nihilists, You Believe in Nothing

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Dreher: You Are Nihilists, You Believe in Nothing"

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Via Ta-Nehisi Coates and Hilzoy, Rod Dreher offers his views on the stakes in delegitimizing homosexuality:

If homosexuality is legitimized — as distinct from being tolerated, which I generally support — then it represents the culmination of the sexual revolution, the goal of which was to make individual desire the sole legitimate arbiter in defining sexual truth. It is to lock in, and, on a legal front, to codify, a purely contractual, nihilistic view of human sexuality. I believe this would be a profound distortion of what it means to be fully human. And I fully expect to lose this argument in the main, because even most conservatives today don’t fully grasp how the logic of what we’ve already conceded as a result of being modern leads to this end.

Well, I agree with Dreher that he’s going to lose this argument. But drawing the red lines around homosexuality seems mighty arbitrary to me. The front lines of the gay rights movement, after all, are at this point about the right to marry rather than the right to have sex, which has basically been conceded. It’s an effort to find social and legal legitimacy for the aspects of a loving sexual relationship that go beyond “nihilistic” desire. Alternatively, if the view is that the only alternative to a nihilistic view of sexuality is a narrow focus on reproduction, then the horse got out of the barn a long time ago with contraceptives.

In other words, even given Dreher’s strongly conservative premises, continued discrimination against gays and lesbians still looks mighty arbitrary and unfair. Basically, conservatives know they can’t enforce their preferences on the heterosexual majority, so they’ll pick on the gay minority instead. It’s as if I were to say that eliminating the home mortgage interest tax deduction only for Asian-American homeowners was a good second-best to my preferred, but infeasible, policy of eliminating it altogether.

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