Hobby Lobby thoughts…
After a brief flurry of links, I haven’t commented much on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case and the resulting controversy. In part, that’s because I got bronchitis and was rather out of it for a week and am still distinctly under par, and felt like I wasn’t capable of thinking clearly enough about the issue. But also, as time went on, and I read more and more comment and response, I found myself getting more and more depressed and scared by the debate.
Not by the decision, which (I think) I broadly support, or by the passionate disagreement with it, which I expected. But by the debate, and what I was seeing happen in discussions of the issue.
My Facebook friends list includes an extremely wide variety of political and religious beliefs, from Atheist European Socialists to American Fundamentalist Christian Conservatives via Moderates, Anarchists, Right-libertarians and more. So I saw a lot of different discussions, and links to many articles from different perspectives. And across nearly all of them, I have rarely seen such total failure to really communicate.
It’s not that agreement wasn’t reached: I didn’t expect that. It’s that there has been a near-universal failure to even accept the possibility that the other side might have any valid points at all.
There has been a near-universal assumption of irrationality and bad faith on both sides. Both sides dismiss the other’s claims to any kind of moral principle as simply a disguised power-play, a tool in their quest for total cultural dominance.
Both sides have frequently framed the issue in the most absolute and ultimate terms. In a Supreme Court decision that certain companies may be exempted from a requirement to provide certain contraceptives to some of their employees, one side sees the flicker of the bonfires of the Inquisition. And in the legal and political dissent from that decision, the other sees the shadows of the guard-towers of the Gulag.
This depresses and scares me for the future of America, frankly. If we cannot even have a rational discussion, how can we possibly resolve the inevitable conflicts of our plural society?
I post the following link not because it solves all these problems, but because it is one of the first things I have read that tries to dig to the roots of this failure of comprehension on both sides. I don’t think it’s all of the answer, but at least – just possibly – it gives us some philosophical issues to discuss that we might be able to talk about meaningfully, without the heat and flames.
If the title, or the source has you already writing rebuttals in your head, I plead with you – I beg you – to read through the article and respond to the philosophical points.