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Federalist Society Student Symposium:
This weekend the Northwestern University Law School will host the Federalist Society's annual Student Symposium; the topic is Law and Morality, and you can see the schedule of events here. Two Conspirators will be participating. Randy is speaking on a Friday panel entitled, "What is Morality? The Philosophical and Theological Foundations of Moral Debate," where he will be joined by Michael Perry, Robert Burns, John Baker, and panel moderator Rick Garnett. I will moderate a Saturday afternoon panel, "The Morality of First Amendment Jurisprudence," which will feature Geoffrey Stone, John McGinnis, Phyllis Schlafly, and Andrew Koppelmann.
Randy R. (mail):
Sounds interesting. But how can you have a serious panel discussion with Phyllis Schlafly? She is probably one of the most immoral people in existence today, although she thinks that she is God's gift to the nation. I don't know the other people -- will there at least be one person, especially on the same-sex panel, who actually support same-sex marriage?

One point to remember: When Schlafly gets on her high horse about gays, just remind her that her own son is gay. She'll get angry very quickly and try to shut you down. It's pretty amusing to see a parent disown their own, and claim that the 'moral' thing to do.
2.19.2007 11:33pm
JonC:
I'll be attending the conference, and am very much looking forward to hearing from the conspirators and other panelists who will be speaking.

To answer Randy R.'s question, one of the panelists on the same-sex marriage panel is Prof. Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown Law, who testified before Congress in opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment.
2.19.2007 11:54pm
Cornellian (mail):
Opposing the FMA isn't the same thing as supporting same-sex marriage. Heck, Bob Barr opposed the FMA and he wrote the so-called "Defense of Marriage" Act.

I'm guessing Andrew Koppelman supports same-sex marriage, judging by the faculty bio that came up when I typed his name into Google.

Speaking of Schlafly, has anyone noticed how remarkably common it is for that sort of anti-gay fanatic to have a gay child or other close relative? Just off the top of my head I can think of Alan Keyes (daughter) and that guy in California (Knight?) (both son and brother). It's almost like they've adopted their strange views as some kind of self-therapy, like they're stuck in denial about their kids.
2.20.2007 1:04am
BobNSF (mail):
Not to be difficult, but opposition to the FMA does not equal support for same-sex marriage. From what I can tell by Googling Prof Seidman, he is an outspoken opponent of the FMA and does support same-sex marriage. I doubt he's the best person to present the case from a moral point of view, but I suspect he's well-respected in conservative circles, so maybe he'll change some minds.
2.20.2007 1:08am
BobNSF (mail):
Difficult, no... redundant, yes

;-)
2.20.2007 1:11am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Why would you use her daughter as a talking point? Run out of substantive ideas? Even if she was gay herself it wouldn't change the argument a bit.
2.20.2007 8:06am
JonC:

Heck, Bob Barr opposed the FMA and he wrote the so-called "Defense of Marriage" Act.


Bob Barr's views on a whole host of issues have changed dramatically since he left Congress. I can't say whether he's gone from anti- to pro-SSM, but he's gone from anti- to pro-drug legalization from pro- to anti-PATRIOT Act, etc.
2.20.2007 8:15am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Amazing that Phyllis Schlafly is still going strong at 82.

I always find it amusing that persons who want no moral judgements applied to their personal behaviors none the less believe that the mere expression of a poliical opinion is grossly immoral. It would seem to me that actions are more likely to be immoral than opinions.

Then there's the logical disconnect about having queer children supposingly forcing a change in one's view of queerness. I doubt that if Chelsea starting voting Republican, we would expect Hill and Bill to switch parties. Since there is nothing illogical in a homosexual opposing SSM (and some do), it can hardly be illogical for the straight parent of a homosexual to oppose SSM.
2.20.2007 8:37am
SimonD (www):
I'm going to be there for the Saturday, so I'll try to find you to say hi, Orin. :)
2.20.2007 8:58am
MDJD2B (mail):
[Schlafly] is probably one of the most immoral people in existence today.... When Schlafly gets on her high horse about gays, just remind her that her own son is gay. She'll get angry very quickly and try to shut you down. It's pretty amusing to see a parent disown their own, and claim that the 'moral' thing to do.

REALLY moral people engage in this sort of ad hminem discussion, I suppose.
2.20.2007 9:19am
Colin (mail):
Duncan, I'm sure that there are people who feel that Schlafly's advocacy is immoral in itself. The criticism leveled here, though, was not that she disapproves of her son's lifestyle, but that she disowned him.
2.20.2007 10:47am
Randy R. (mail):
First, it's her son that is gay.
Second, when she appeared on Bill Maher, it was her that brough up the topic of gays, and when Bill mentioned that her own son was gay, she got very angry, said, "oh come on, Bill!" and refused to talk about the matter further.

Third, what I said about Schlafly was a bit tongue in cheek: It is Schlafly herself who goes about proclaiming who is moral and who is not, something I don't generally do because I'm not a know-it-all. However, anyone who can claim to know everything about morals, and then trys to force it upon all of us through legislation, is not, in my mind a 'moral' person, and in fact is rather dangerous. Anyone can claim morality for doing the most dispicable things, and indeed the Bible and 'morality' has been cited by murderers of gay people as justification.

Feel free to disagree.

(Incidently, Beverely LaHaye, founder of Concerned Women of America, also has a gay son, who works for the organization).
2.20.2007 10:49am
Colin (mail):
Eh, hasty posts are sloppy posts. I don't mean "disown" in the Allan Keyes sense, but the looser sense in which Randy R. was presumably using it.
2.20.2007 10:52am
Randy R. (mail):
When Schlafly says things like "homosexuals are immoral", would that constitute an ad hominem attack?
2.20.2007 10:57am
Cornellian (mail):
Bob Barr's views on a whole host of issues have changed dramatically since he left Congress. I can't say whether he's gone from anti- to pro-SSM, but he's gone from anti- to pro-drug legalization from pro- to anti-PATRIOT Act, etc.


Amazing how being relieved of the burden of re-election frees one to say what one really thinks. If he really has switched from being a stalwart supporter of the "war on drugs" to a supporter of legalization of drugs, then I say "keep up the good work Bob."
2.20.2007 11:54am
BobNSF (mail):
Daniel Chapman:
Why would you use her daughter [son] as a talking point? Run out of substantive ideas? Even if she was gay herself it wouldn't change the argument a bit.


Why? Because perhaps it exposes hypocrisy. Wouldn't public knowledge of Strom Thurmond's mixed-race daughter have blunted his racist career? Heck, he might have even tried to fight racism, not build a career on it.

As for Schlafly, as I understand it, her son lives with her, presumably committing sodomy -- at least from time to time -- under her very roof! It's remarkable how easily people like her manipulate the "conservative" masses. It's all about $$$$$ and power. Principles have little, if anything, to do with it.
2.20.2007 2:35pm
Colin (mail):
It's remarkable how easily people like her manipulate the "conservative" masses. It's all about $$$$$ and power. Principles have little, if anything, to do with it.

To be fair, I think that she says more or less the same thing about Bush.
2.20.2007 2:56pm
Cornellian (mail):
It's remarkable how easily people like her manipulate the "conservative" masses. It's all about $$$$$ and power. Principles have little, if anything, to do with it.

I've sometimes wondered how certain self-styled men of God get away with living like multi-millionaires while continuing to beseech working people to send more money "to do the Lord's work." Jim Bakker wasn't the only one but it seems some people will fall for anything.
2.20.2007 3:12pm
Cornellian (mail):
It may not be entirely hypocritical for Schlafly to condemn gay people as immoral despite having a gay son. She might, after all, consider her son to be immoral for being gay, and as a long as she's willing to say so I don't think she'd be a hypocrite on that point. She'd be a beastly, horrible parent, but not a hypocrite. I think the hypocrisy would come from the assertion that being gay is simply a matter of choice, and chosen due to some type of childhood experience, and thus avoidable through proper parenting. If she made that assertion, then it would be entirely appropriate to ask her what she did wrong on raising her son such that he turned out gay.
2.20.2007 3:19pm
Colin (mail):
I've sometimes wondered how certain self-styled men of God get away with living like multi-millionaires while continuing to beseech working people to send more money "to do the Lord's work." Jim Bakker wasn't the only one but it seems some people will fall for anything.

If you found him amazing, prepare to be astounded by "Dr." Kent Hovind, tax protestor and "citizen of Heaven." Somewhere around the web you can find the recordings of his jailhouse calls to his wife and son, in which he continues to insist that he's in the right, the IRS should be sued, and that his wife needs to stop questioning his halfassed legal theories, submit to his authority, and hide the damned assets before that tyrannical judge gets around to seizing them. (I believe the DOJ wound up using them to show that he hadn't accepted responsibility.) I listened to a few this weekend and could not pick my jaw up off the ground.

Horribly off-topic, but in my defense, also horribly amusing.
2.20.2007 3:35pm
neurodoc:
Maybe OK, who is to serve as the panel's moderator, can tell us how Schafly came to be chosen as a panelist. Did those who invited her do so because they regarded her as a thoughtful person on issues of morality, or because they wanted to liven things up with an inflammatory personality? Would a Reverend Jerry Falwell have been any less well-suited?

If someone thinks my opinion of Ms. Schafly an unfair one, I would be glad to hear what they see as recommending her for this assignment other than that she is well-known for being outspoken on "moral" issues. If the aim was ideologic balancing, wouldn't a National Review type have been a better choice?
2.20.2007 6:55pm
Randy R. (mail):
One thing: Young people in America increasingly view the Republican party as beholden to the rightwing religious fundamentalists who preach hatred of gays, are totally anti-abortion, want prayer in the schools but no sex-ed, insist on displaying the Ten Commandments in every public building, and so on and so on.

Having Phyllis Schafly on a panel to discuss morality and the law only encourages that belief, whether or not it is actually accurate. So the Federalist Society is doing it's part to keep the new generation of voters away from conservatism.
2.21.2007 11:28am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Bob Barr, much to the disappointment of many libertarians and the horror of many Libertarians, has not reversed himself on the drug war, though he has come out strongly against the Patriot Act.
2.21.2007 8:45pm
theobromophile (www):
When Schlafly says things like "homosexuals are immoral", would that constitute an ad hominem attack?

There's a huge difference, theologically, between homosexuals and homosexuality. For those who believe in abstinence until marriage, homosexuality is a sin: as there is no marriage, there should not be physical intimacy. From what I understand, most Christians who disapprove of homosexuality disapprove of the act, not of the person. So long as the person does not act on his urges (not saying that it's easy), there is no issue.

I really dislike the idea of attacking people because of their children (or parents). The attacks on Mrs. Schafly, taken to their logical conclusion, would indicate that the parent of murderer could not condemn killing, or the parent of an alcoholic could not publicly condemn addiction. Judge her by her own characteristics and actions, not those of her children.
2.22.2007 3:04am
Randy R. (mail):
"There's a huge difference, theologically, between homosexuals and homosexuality." Perhaps so. But as a recent poll has shown, gay people are just one notch above atheists as least likely to be voted for public office, even if qualified. People like Schafly do not make such distinctions between gay people and their act of homosexuality, and continually condemn 'homosexual activists', (especially the militant ones, which apparently are all gay people, in their view). I agree, there is plenty to criticize Schafly without having to resort to her son.

But just as Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter, it is fair to ask him how the laws he espouses will affect his daughter, and soon to be born grandchild. Schafly would like to outlaw all acts of sodomy, and prohibit all teaching of homosexuality. The only kind she likes is the teaching that says that the 'homosexualiy lifestyle' (whatever that is) leads to death and disease, and is immoral. Her writings make clear that we should reject gay people

In light of that, it is certainly fair to ask her whether she believes her son should be jailed, whether he is immoral and leading a sinful and disease-ridden lifestyle, whether he is trying to convert young children to homosexuality and so on, and whether he made the choice of being gay, and why she didn't put him in a ex-gay camp, like Ted Haggard. If she hasn't rejected her own gay son, should she be asking others to do the opposite?

In your example, if the parent of a murderer condemns killing, but says that my son the murderer should be left alone, that would be hypocracy. And so it is will Schafly. (I'm sure you didn't mean it, but it really grates me when people always compare gay people with murderers or alcoholics. Being a gay person, I really see nothing immoral or bad about it. In fact, I view being gay as a positive, and I really hate analogies which assume otherwise.)

If you raise the topic, and in fact base a big chunk of your philosophy on the immorality of gay people, then don't complain when people ask you how your stance applies to you personally, or your family.
2.22.2007 12:45pm
theobromophile (www):
Thanks for being understanding re: the murderer comment. I was certainly not implying that homosexuality is akin to deliberate killing.

Some people, however, believe that both are sins. My point is that morality cannot change - and it would be ridiculous to expect it to so change - on account of one's children. It is the amoral person who changes her views as convenient: Mrs. Schafly should not be criticised for being consistent despite personal struggle. Usually, we applaud people who retain their principles in the face of adversity; Mrs. Schafly is criticised only because people here happen to disagree with her principles.

The family dynamics involved in loving the person but hating the actions are not appropriate subjects for television, despite the proliferation of Jerry-Springer-esque programmes. Would a rabbi's discussion of kosher eating be any less applicable because his son chooses to eat double bacon cheeseburgers?

Mrs. Schafly's beliefs about homosexuality are very different from my own, but, being an equal opportunity killjoy/Puritan, I understand them. Criticising homosexual activists is part and parcel of criticism of the entire liberal agenda of this country - homosexual teachings in schools, sex ed, mandatory STD vaccines for 11-year-olds, the liberal dogma of modern universities - because Heaven forbid that parents actually be allowed to raise their own children. If your religion dictates that homosexuality is wrong, or that eating meat and milk together is wrong, you don't want public schools teaching the exact opposite.
2.22.2007 4:53pm