On Controversy

I am not a controversialist. I seem not to have the “happy warrior” gene that animates people like Leah Libresco; she can argue vigorously about deep matters with those that deeply disagree with her without apparently losing charity with them. And then, the few times I’ve tried to give someone else’s post a righteous fisking I’ve always repented of it later. It simply doesn’t seem to be my calling to tell people how wrong they are. So I don’t engage in controversy on other people’s blogs, and I don’t spend my time blogging about the latest scandal.

And then, I tend to avoid blogging about my own views on controversial subjects, for two reasons. First, it attracts controversy, which means I need to tell people who disagree with me why I think they are wrong, and second, I hate being misunderstood, and to avoid being misunderstood on a controversial topic you have to watch absolutely everything you see and be particularly careful to nuance everything properly, which makes me succumb to nuance fatigue before I even get started. And then, of course, people read right past the nuance, and tell you how evil and bigoted you are without taking time to understand what you said.

At least, people don’t usually do that to me, because I’ve already succumbed to nuance fatigue and so haven’t written anything controversial, thus not giving them a target.

However, the afore-mentioned Leah Libresco has written some posts on same-sex marriage recently that have gotten me thinking. I could respond in her comment box; but hey, I’ve got my own blog, and I’d rather do it here, especially since my thoughts are somewhat tangential to the point she was trying to make.

If I say that I support traditional marriage (which I do), or that I oppose same-sex marriage (which I do), I expect to have people tell me that I’m a homophobic anti-gay bigot. Leah doesn’t do that—as a happy warrior, she avoids the ad hominems—but she notes that those living in stable, loving, same-sex relationships are liable to think that I want to break up their families. I don’t, in fact; but I’ve decided that it’s worthwhile for me to work out, in detail, just what I do mean when I say that I support traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage, and just what effect I think my views should have (if any!) on said stable, loving, same-sex relationships.

I hesitate to say that I’m starting a series of blog posts, because when I do that I tend to write one or two posts and then never come back to the topic again. On the other hand, there’s a lot more to be said than I can fit into a single post. So what I propose to do (and feel free to hold me to this) is to post a number of reflections, all exploring aspects of the issue, rather than trying to post a connected linear series of arguments. We’ll see how it works out.

A few comments on comments, although it’s probably a waste of time. I welcome comments; however:

  • If you are rude, insulting, abusive, or obscene, your comment will not see the light of day.
  • If you are egregiously off-topic, or try to ride your own hobby-horse rather than my own, I may suppress your comment. If so, I’ll try to tell you why I’ve done so.
  • I especially welcome requests for clarification.
  • I find it hard to express myself about complex matters in the comment box. If your comment requires a lot of thought, I’m more likely to try to work it into a subsequent post than deal with it in place.

Not that I usually get that many comments…but controversial topics seem to bring commenters out of the woodwork.

  • By Mark Lambert, August 9, 2012 @ 6:24 am

    Just want to say that your blog is one of the most gentle I’ve seen. I’m sure that you will approach any topic with tact and sensitivity, and this makes you a joy to read. (I’ve stopped reading one of your link blogs on the right because the author seems to have a chip on his shoulder.)

  • By Will Duquette, August 9, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

    Thanks, Mark, that means a lot.

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