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September 2013

Tyranny of Liberalism 5

In a chapter called "Blind Alleys," Kalb discusses various responses to liberalism. I'll be posting a bit from each of them. Here is what he calls "simple conservatism."

Simple procedural conservatism is a view for moderate worldly men attached to what is established but willing to accomodate new developments that seem sensible or inevitable. It aspires to a sort of mixed society, in which there is a place for the most helpful aspects of liberalism as well as nonliberal tradition. On ultimate standards, however, it is agnostic, with no final reference point other than what people do. As a result it tends to drift, and when social tendencies are liberal it becomes hard to distinguish such a stance from the moderate wing of liberalism....

However, such an outlook is not self-sustaining and cannot be relied on to keep liberal tendencies from going to extremes. Its lack of definite principles is its downfall. Simple conservatism is not seriously concerned with truth. It treats all social understandings, even the most basic, as negotiable interests. ...

The simple conservative is not impressed by philosophical claims. He reduces religion to a combination of traditional observances and optional private belief.... Simple conservatism is therefore unable to find a place to make a stand....

Simple conservatism has been unable to prevent the triumph of increasingly radical forms of liberalism. It has accepted the creation of a radically secular public order that treats substantive appeals to anything other than human will and scientific reason as irrational and oppressive.... It can no longer think or act coherently, because it cannot sustain substantive arguments at odds with those of its opponents.... Simple conservatism grumbles, drags its feet, and tries to moderate the disruption caused by implementing liberal demands, but it cannot argue against the justice of those demands or deny them ultimate victory. The most it can do is to try to delay and cushion its own defeat.

This is the sort of establishment conservatism which is a pretty powerful element in the Republican party, the element which is scorned by the more committed right as being just like the Democrats, but less; or as promising to reduce the speed at which we approach the cliff's edge. And the criticism is justified. It is also the kind of conservatism that accounts for some large percentage of that large percentage of Americans who describe themselves as "conservative," especially in my region, the South. And it is, tellingly, the element which earns praise from liberals for being "pragmatic" etc. I have a little sympathy for it--I've hoped that we might find "a place for the most helpful aspects of liberalism as well as nonliberal tradition." Recent developments, having to do with, for instance, same-sex marriage and religious freedom, incline me to think that the hope was misplaced. As Kalb says:

In recent decades the great compromise at the heart of American political life has unraveled. In spite of resistance, liberal principles came to be understood and applied more and more comprehensively, until social unity could no longer be based on vague Protestant moralism and religiosity and on the moral authority and halfway liberalism of those long-dead white male propertied slave owners, the Founding Fathers. A destructively pure form of liberalism became authoritative in American public life. Ruling elites came to understand conservatism as simple resistance to the plain demands of public morality and therefore as a threat to any tolerable public order.

The key period in the transformation was the sixties....

With that breakdown of the American compromise, the link was snapped between government and American tradition as a whole--and between government and the people. The American public order has consequently entered an enduring state of crisis that features a combination of anarchy and soft totalitarianism.....

The result of such developments was the appearance of a broad-based explicitly conservative movement for the first time in America.

More about that in another post, but I think it is insufficiently recognized that the rise of the religious right and other conservative movements in the 1970s was in great measure a defense of threatened goods, a response to the attack on all existing institutions by the radical movements of the '60s, not the mere reaction to loss of power, as it's generally described by the official recognizers.

Blossom Dearie: I Won't Dance

Weekend Music

The absence of comments on my previous Blossom Dearie post causes me to be concerned that people have failed to appreciate it. Obviously the solution for that is more Blossom Dearie.

I really like her on these upbeat tunes. I had not heard this charming and catchy little song before. As light as her touch is, she nevertheless suggests restrained but powerful passion and longing. The tune is by Jerome Kern, the lyrics by Dorothy Fields. That's Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, and Jo Jones on guitar, bass, and drums respectively, names which jazz fans will recognize. I like to think they're on this session (recorded in 1956) because they recognized what a special talent she was. The video, unfortunately, is silly Laurel and Hardy stuff that does not especially complement the song. 


One more: I absolutely love the way she does "Surrey With the Fringe On Top." Not my favorite song but she makes it enchanting. I believe this is from the Jack Parr show.


The Truth About Richard Dawkins

Discovered by one of his fellow atheists:

Can there be any residual doubt, after this latest imbecility, that Richard Dawkins is in the service of the global cabal of faiths henceforth to be known as Big Religa?

In other atheistical news:

Some atheists are starting a "church", which strikes me as very odd and yet rather predictable for the inverted religious fanaticism which seems prevalent in contemporary atheism. There's something sad as well as ridiculous about wanting to "enjoy the benefits of an idealized, traditional church...without the stinging imposition of God Almighty."

The Unitarians have been doing this kind of thing for a while. I went to a couple of their meetings many years ago. They were a bit absurd--just lectures and discussion on miscellaneous topics of a vaguely leftish socio-political slant. I didn't believe in anything in particular myself, and couldn't understand why their rejection of Christianity still left them with an urge to do something Improving on Sunday mornings. 

How Much Damage Did the Pope's Interview Do?

I think that's the question--not "did it do any damage?" Rod Dreher, in the New York Times, thinks it was a lot:

Whatever the evangelical merits of Pope Francis’s game-changing interview, there can be no doubt that the pontiff has decisively undercut the efforts of American Catholic politicians and Catholic bishops on issues related to abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception – and, ultimately, religious freedom.

(Read the whole thing.)

There's also the question of how much good it did, if any--the "evangelical merits" of which Dreher speaks.  I haven't seen any evidence of people who are not already committed Catholics receiving the message in anything like its entirety. The scornful comments on Dreher's piece are indicative and typical. For the most part, what I've seen of secular reaction, even when positive, does not consider taking another look at what the Church offers but is at most only hopeful that this is a first step in moving the Church in a direction more acceptable to them.

And note the headlines on the accompanying opinions by an "activist" nun and a well-known abortion advocate, who are both very pleased and encouraged by the apparent abandonment of Catholics working politically against abortion etc. As I said in a comment on one of my other posts on this topic:

I'm afraid the effect of this is going to be more, not less, divisiveness. He seems to want the Church to make the outward turn that I've anticipated and hoped for, but he may be doing it in a way that may undermine it, by setting us to fighting among ourselves again.

Mario Cuomo must be loving this. Is Phil Donahue still alive?

Four Recent Movies

Recent to me, I mean. Not very recently made.


Made in 1946, this purports to be a biography of the Bronte sisters, but can most generously be described as "based upon." Among other historical crimes, it invents a love triangle involving Charlotte, Emily, and their clergyman father's vicar. It stars Ida Lupino as Emily and Olivia de Havilland as Charlotte. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times panned it pretty harshly when it came out: "a ridiculous tax upon reason and an insult to plain intelligence." Well, I guess so, and I wouldn't make any claims for it, but as an atmospheric 1940s Korngold-scored romance, well-acted and with a charming-if-ersatz English setting (and a funny mixture of accents), I found it enjoyable. I particularly liked the brief appearance of Sydney Greenstreet as Thackeray. Here's a review by a lover of old movies who calls it a guilty pleasure.


The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

I really had no idea what to expect of this one. I can't remember why I recorded it (from TCM) in the first place, because it was well over a year ago. Maybe I had heard the word "noir" associated with it. The title suggests something racy, if not semi-pornographic, but since it was made in 1946 I wasn't too worried about that. It's the story of a woman who as a teenager semi-accidentally kills the mean old aunt who is her guardian, and successfully keeps the secret for many years, until the childhood friend who may or may not know what really happened comes back to town. Martha is now rich and powerful; the friend, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, is now a bit of a shady character, not exactly a criminal but not respectable, either. Martha thinks he intends to blackmail her. Things happen. 

It's an excellent story, and noir indeed. Unfortunately for me, Martha is played by Barbra Stanwyck, and I have never really found her convincing in these femme fatale roles (e.g. Double Indemnity). I also didn't care much for the actress who played the other major female character, Lizabeth Scott. I hadn't heard of her before. She looks rather like Veronica Lake but has some mannerisms that bother me--too bad it wasn't Veronica Lake. But these are just my quirks, and if you don't share them and like this kind of movie, this is probably one of the better ones.  Kind of a weird title.


Taxi Driver

So, thirty-five years later, I finally got around to seeing this film which I know to have been the source of the apparently pointless catchphrase "You talkin' to me?" I vaguely remember thinking, at the time of its release (1976) that I didn't need to see a movie about urban decay, violence, and child prostitution. As everybody but me (and my wife) has known for many years, it's about an alienated and slightly cracked New York City loner nursing fantasies of apocalytptic violence--a type who has become all too familiar to us. It's one of the movies that established Martin Scorsese as a big-name director, but I've never been terribly interested in his work, and the truth is that I only watched it now because it's considered such a classic and I've been trying, in a desultory sort of way, to fill in these gaps in my knowledge.

I was a little surprised to find that I more or less concur with those who think it's a great film. Maybe I wouldn't go as far as great, and I don't think it would make any list of essential works that I would compose. But it is really fine. I found the resolution unconvincing, but other than that it's a powerful piece of work. And I really liked the Bernard Herrmann score, his last. Robert de Niro's performance is great, as everyone has always said.


The Departed

I was not having a Scorsese festival, and didn't even realize that this was a Scorsese film until the credits. I only picked it because I'd heard it was an excellent crime drama. And it is. The basic premise almost guarantees intensity and suspense: two cops working for the Boston Police Department, one an informer for a mobster, trying to protect him, the other working undercover for that same mobster, trying to bring him to justice. Jack Nicholson is the disgustingly evil mob boss. Matt Damon is the bad cop, and Leonardo DiCaprio is the good cop.  Each becomes aware of the other's existence, but not his identity. You can imagine the sort of tension and paranoia generated by that situation.

Of course I'm familiar with DiCaprio's name, but the sort of movie that he stars in is not usually the sort of movie I see, so I didn't really know what sort of actor he is. But his performance in this movie struck me as stunningly fine. His character comes from a family with a lot of criminal associations--which helps him to infiltrate the mob--and is a pressure cooker of tension and conflict which DiCaprio renders with great intensity. 

This is not a big idea movie; it didn't leave me reflecting on its themes. But I'll certainly remember the people, especially Billy Costigan, DiCaprio's character. And it is a very gripping story. (It's also, of course, pretty violent.)


Interesting to see the change over the years in the way trailers--or "previews," as we used to call them--are made. The old ones were a little ridiculous, but the new ones are irritating. 

Three Observations on the Pope's Interview

My wife's typically brief and accurate take: "He's sort of loosey-goosey when he talks, isn't he?"

Someone else, whom I'll refrain from identifying but who can speak up if he or she sees this and wishes to: "We've got Paul VI again."

It was a brief conversation, but what I took the Paul VI comparison to mean, among other things, is that Francis, like Paul, sometimes does not seem to grasp accurately the way his words and actions will be perceived, and the effect they'll have.

And finally, from me: I have read all but the last few paragraphs of the interview, and most of it by far is somewhere between good and wonderful. It's unfortunate that certain remarks have been so subject to incomprehension and distortion. But that phenomenon mustn't blind us to things like this:

I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”


I really do want to like this pope. And I really do like many of the things he's said (I especially loved the remark that shepherds should smell like their sheep). But his admirers in the secular media are making it difficult. I know, they always distort things where the Church is concerned, and he can't be held responsible for that. But I'm not simply being reactionary. I really have my doubts as to whether these apparent efforts on his part to take attention away from the more difficult questions will have the effect of drawing people in, or will simply encourage the Church's enemies.

And there's also, of course, the implicit rebuke--not only from the media, but imputed to Francis as well--to the past two popes.  It is massively unfair, at least--if not actively dishonest--to suggest that either of them "focused" on "gays and abortion." It is the sort of calumny (like "pro-lifers never do anything to help pregnant women") that makes me see red on behalf of the calumniated.


I have not actually read the interview yet, btw (it's here). And I have to admit, with much embarrassment, that I haven't even read Lumen Fidei yet.

Tyranny of Liberalism 4

I went off on another trail, as is my tendency, and haven't finished this book yet. But at this point, about halfway through, I think it may be the best book I've ever read on the contemporary social-political situation. Maybe that's not saying a lot, since I haven't read many such books. Suffice to say that it's one of the rare books that effect such a clarification of a heretofore muddy picture that it almost seems to have changed the way one thinks.

I find something on almost every page that I want to post here, but I won't do that; it would be far too much, and even too much would still not really do the book justice. So I really recommend that you read it. I'm now reading a section which discusses the situation of conservatism as a response to liberal encroachments, but before I say anything about that I thought I should back up and explain how Kalb is using the word "liberalism."

The title of the book is no doubt off-putting to some, who will take it as being just another shot in the right-left war of words--mostly shallow words.  But not so. He means liberalism in the fullest sense, encompassing the entire post-Enlightenment program of metaphysical skepticism and pragmatic reason. It has often been said, especially by certain Catholics, that the contemporary political argument is largely between left-liberals and right-liberals. Kalb more or less starts from that position (as do I). Although he is plainly on the right, he has divested himself entirely of the idea that still confuses much of popular conservatism: that the world of large-scale business is generally anything but a cooperator with the broad liberal program.

In an ideally technocratic world, material goods might be provided by a rational unitary system, but the collapse of socialism has convinced even leftists of the continuing necessity of independent enterprises and markets, including capital and labor markets. Advanced liberalism thus allows a great deal of local and particular discretion with regard to moneymaking activities. The necessity of allowing considerable autonomy to private economic decisions limits somewhat the ability of the state to enforce the rationalization of social life in the interest of equal freedom, and it has led to an emphasis on the role of liberalism as a quest for social rationalization within the limits of a market economy.

But experience has shown that markets can easily coexist with state control of other aspects of social life, and shrewd liberals welcome the arrangement. It is no mistake that liberalism has always been associated with markets. Classic socialism aims at a uniformity that interferes with the growth and expression of diverse preferences, and therefore only makes sense for populations too poor to have formed them. It embraces a solidaristic ethos that can valorize reactionary working-class attitudes about gender relations, race, culture, and even religion. Socialism's focus on economics also denigrates the value of liberal assaults on traditional culture. For such reasons, among others, the Soviet Union had lost its position of ideological and cultural leadership on the Left long before it fell.

Market economies, in contrast, provide a way to fund and extend the welfare state while multiplying preferences and satisfactions. They tend to dissolve customary connections and make all goods interchangeable through the medium of money, thus promoting rationalization on hedonistic and technological lines and simplifying the setting of state action. Large business enterprises, with their rational bureaucratic methods of hiring, training, management, supervision, and promotion, provide the state with a ready-made instrument for reeducation and other forms of social control. The only freedoms they require are the freedoms to cut production costs and to attempt to satisfy whatever desires people happen to have. Otherwise, they leave the state a free hand. Indeed, they often find that complex state regulation gives them a competitive advantage over smaller enterprises, whose more informal practices make compliance difficult.

World markets in particular are an immensely powerful engine of rationalization. They lay the groundwork for the comprehensive regulation of economic life, and eventually social life in general, by nation and increasingly transnational bureaucracies....

World markets help promote what is in effect a worldwide union of the ruling classes. By liberating national ruling elites from the influence of their people they allow their activities and outlook to be integrated with those of elites worldwide. 

(my emphases)

A few weeks ago I read a complaint by a labor leader that the Obama administration was giving exemptions from various burdensome requirements to large corporations, but was ignoring similar requests from his group. Poor fellow: he hasn't gotten the message that liberalism at its current stage of development has little interest in the working class. It is interested in those things that concern its own elites, who are making money off that class (and the middle class) at the same time that they regard it with the deepest suspicion of what they see as its essentially barbarous nature. They have a certain amount of somewhat distant concern, especially when a show of concern is politically useful against conservatives.

But in practice their immediate interest in the difficulties of the working and middle classes seems to be to use them as a justification for the further centralization of power. This would explain, for instance, the government's curious intransigence over the contraception mandate in the health care law, which is financially negligible and has greatly added to the general suspicion and opposition created by the law. The principle at stake is just as important to liberalism as it is to the Church.

Ketil Bjørnstad: La Notte I

Monday Music

Somehow I never got around to posting this on Saturday, and by Sunday afternoon it seemed a bit late to call it "Weekend Music." It's a track from a recent ECM release which is my current enthusiasm.

I've been taking advantages of the low prices at to explore some of ECM's back catalog, and in browsing that I noticed this new one. I was immediately intrigued by the title, which refers to Antonioni's movie of the same name. It seems to be some sort of homage, and although I certainly wouldn't have made the connection without the title, but it's a rich association, especially in the hands of ECM, which put an evocative scene from the movie on the album cover.


I should point out to anyone who might consider purchasing the album that the quiet and sombre mood of this opening track is not continued throughout; it gets considerably more agitated, then slows down again. It's unclassifiable instrumental music--not exactly jazz, not classical, more substantial than New Age--but very much in keeping with the ECM tradition. Here are a couple of reviews:

At eMusic

At London Jazz News

And here's information at the ECM web site.


Prayer Request

Janet has asked me to post this request:

Please pray for my daughter-in-law Meghan who fell from a rather high porch onto her head. She seems to be all right, except that she has two cracked vertebrae, and will need surgery tomorrow. Please pray for her health and also that this might help to draw my son back to church. Meghan has not been baptized, and this concerns me a bit.

Voyager I Departs

Although there is still some argument about it, many experts seem to believe that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system. In the absence of a marker out there with a sign saying "You are now leaving the sphere of Sol," there are subtle differences in the relative emptiness of space that distinguish solar from interstellar space, and Voyager is detecting them. 

I don't think it's very likely that we'll ever go very far into space, and I strongly suspect there's really nowhere to go. (Yes, I know all those probability-based arguments about life on other planets, and maybe they're right, but they can't be anything more than conjecture.) Still, there's something a little awe-inspiring about this: that little bit of metal, sailing and sailing and sailing, at what would be an impossibly high speed on earth but is extremely slow in cosmic terms.

The probe has spent 36 years travelling 12 billion miles. A quick and very rough calculation: a light year is about 6 trillion miles, so that's about 1/500 of a light year. So 36 x 500 = 18,000 years to travel one light year. The nearest star (not counting the sun, obviously) is 4.2 light years away. That comes to a bit over 75,000 years. That may be longer than the human race (language, tools, and culture) as we know it has existed, although I'm sure there are widely divergent views on that.

I wonder how long Voyager will stay intact. Millions of years? I really don't know. In any case, I doubt that this is its future:


Tyranny of Liberalism 3

To assert seriously the superior authority of transcendent truth or to reject "inclusiveness"--to say, for example, that homosexuality or the cultural effects of immigration are a problem--is to be excluded from respectable public life, viewed as potentially violent, treated as a threat to social order, and subjected to social, vocational, and occasionally (especially outside the United States) criminal sanctions.

But the state is not willing that any should be lost. Where there are such offenses, "The goal is to rehabilitate."

That ought to bring a chill to anyone not hopelessly in thrall to liberal convention.

Dawn Eden Profiled in the New York Times (!)

It's focused on her connection to two other people: the writer of the profile, and the little-known '60s pop musician Curt Boettcher, who holds a deep fascination for both of them: "She Told Herself She Couldn't Die Because She Had to Write His Story." It's extremely interesting, and a little surprising for the NYT in that it's a sympathetic treatment of a committed Catholic. One wants to point out to the writer the name and nature of the bridge she's looking for (see the last paragraph), but I suppose she'll have to find it for herself.

I've known for a long time of Dawn's love for the recording which seems to be the main exhibit in the case for Curt Boettcher's importance as an artist. It's called Begin, and was the work of a group called The Millenium, which seems to have been pretty much a studio entity. It was a very expensive production and great things were expected of it when it was released in 1968. But it was a commercial flop, and the group never made another album. I don't recall ever hearing of it at the time, and I was pretty familiar with what was going on in pop music then. The last time I looked for it online it was out of print and the only copies available were quite expensive. But it's been reissued now. My copy arrived yesterday, and I'm about to listen to it. I will report later.

If I'm not mistaken Daniel Nichols has also mentioned his affection for the album. 

Motoring To A New World

Here is a vision of how the automobile would change the world, as seen in the Illustrated World of May, 1922.

It's easy to laugh at a lot of this: "There can be no slums in the future." But really, when you take away the naive gosh-it's-wonderful tone, and the irony of the predictions of peace and quiet and uncongested cities, the article is quite accurate in its broad point, that a whole way of life would be built around the automobile, and that town and country would be brought much closer together.

Appreciating the convenience of these highways, people move out of the city to have little homes and gardens along the concrete roads. Thus begins the building of residential communities, any number of which can now be found outside the large cities of the country.... Then the small country school disappears and a consolidated school...appears.

And so, too, the farmer that lives ten miles or fifteen miles from town on the concrete is closer in time and convenience than was the farmer who lived three miles along a mud stretch. Ten miles of concrete and an automobile makes the remote farmer almost a town citizen.

It was indeed the beginning of a new world, for better or for worse.

I had stashed that piece away for comment several weeks ago, and now I can't remember how I came across it. But that's a pretty interesting web site. See, for instance, this account of portable radio, 1916 style.

Tyranny of Liberalism 2

The fatal flaw of liberalism was always its pretense or fantasy that the state could and would remain neutral on most questions of value, especially the big ones. This illusion was only possible because there was a broad consensus on most of the most serious matters in that realm. When, almost immediately after the establishment of the liberal constitutional order in the United States, a serious disagreement arose on a serious moral question, it led to civil war. I wonder now that the catastrophe didn't produce a deeper examination of the fundamental questions involved: what exactly is the moral status of the state, and by what right and according to what critera can it resolve a moral dispute? Lincoln's elevation of the preservation of the union as an ultimate principle has always struck me as strange, especially in a nation that less than a century earlier had separated itself violently from its rulers.

The pretense of neutrality is not only maintained today, but asserted ever more forcefully in the face of resistance to putatively neutral interventions in ever more situations, while liberal doctrines on questions of value have multiplied and solidified. Increasingly now we see imposition of those doctrines by legal force, with the imposer utterly untroubled by any sense of hypocrisy or contradiction. In The Tyranny of Liberalism, James Kalb explains that liberalism is now functioning as a state religion, "a system of moral absolutes based on a denial that moral truth is knowable."

As an established religion grounding a political order, liberalism tries to eliminate competing systems of religion and morality to the extent they cannot be reconfigured as representations of purely human aspirations and so converted into poeticized versions of liberalism itself. The effort is inevitable. Liberalism relies on claims of pellucid this-worldly rationality. Treating liberalism and equal freedom as simply rational, however, means that those who recognize other standards must be treated as irrational and not properly part of legitimate political discussion....

.... Simply by existing, transcendent religion and traditional morality are oppressive, since they affect the social environment by making it less tolerant and inclusive. They must be suppressed.

Suppression most often takes the form of insistence, backed by nagging and social pressure, that traditional faiths accept transformation into something radically different and, at bottom, trivial. They must be "tolerant," and "come to terms with modernity," which means that they must subordinate themselves to an official outlook that aspires to reorder the whole of human life. And they must accept their status as purely private pursuits with no implications for social relations or understandings of reality.

As if in illustration of Kalb's point comes the recent case in New Mexico in which the state's Supreme Court ruled that the Christian proprietors of a small photography business could not refuse to photograph a same-sex "commitment ceremony."  The concurrence written by a Judge Richard Bosson is striking. No clearer instance need be sought of the liberal doctrine that in case of conflict between religious and other rights, it is the religious that must give way.

 The Huguenins [the photographers] are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.

On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.

Not the least disturbing feature of this smug little exercise is the utter blindness of the writer to his own intolerance and decided lack of respect for the Huguenins' consciences. He appears to think it obviously right that all that glueing and lubricating requires a "compromise" in which only the Christian side must bend. But there is nothing apart from an unstated liberal dogma which demands that conclusion. I have no doubt that the couple could have found another photographer. (In fact, they did.) It was obviously important to them that the Christians be penalized, and it is equally important to the unimpressive mind of this judge. He seems to think that the Christians should be happy to accept as their share of tolerance that they are still allowed to believe as they wish, though the state reserves the right to force them to act against those beliefs. Perhaps that is the sense in which he feels that a compromise has occurred; he seems to court admiration for his own largeness of spirit in acknowledging that the Christians, crazy though they may be, are sincere.

And then there's the irony of the claim that the ruling is consistent with an effort to prevent discord. Well, I suppose it is, if failure to accept the liberal consensus equals discord. The judge sounds pretty pleased by the thought of that "tangible mark." A touch of the financial and legal lash will perhaps keep the Huguenins in line, and make "others of similar views" think twice about committing similar crimes. For, after all, it is but a short step from the refusal to document a homosexual romance to racial segregation, lynching, slavery, the Holocaust, and the Inquisition.

"It is the price of citizenship," says the judge. $6,637.94 is the price for the Huguenins today; it will be higher, perhaps, tomorrow.

"On a larger scale," says His Honor, "this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about." Indeed it does.

You can read the entire decision here. Bosson's concurrence is at the end.