My Nation column is called “Bin Gotten.” I think you can guess its subject, here.
And here is a just amazingly great version of “Whipping Post” from the Fillmore, in 1970.
Now here’s Reed:
Conflicts of Inference
Two weeks ago, the rapidly withering legal battle to save California’s anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8 took an interesting turn. That’s when forces supporting the law moved to completely dismiss the rather devastating judgment Judge Vaughn Walker handed down last August. As far as legal arguments go, their appeal takes a rather novel approach, one that is considered a long shot to succeed in the courts. But if you look closer, you’ll see that the tendrils of this legal argument grow from a more robust and widespread conservative rootstock that has already invaded our political discourse and colored our media coverage as well.
The defining principle of this Weltanschauung is one that prefers to overlook the individual words or actions of ideological opponents, and instead relies upon broad caricatures of what they (may or may not) believe or who they are as evidence of their flawed nature. There’s no need to listen to or honestly engage with opposing arguments, in other words, because those arguments are already intellectually compromised by who makes them. This anti-dialectic doesn’t bother with mere disagreement; its aim is squarely fixed on delegitimization.
The gist of this worldview is perfectly distilled in the pro-Prop 8 groups’ motion to vacate, which foregoes any attempt to address the intellectual paucity of their side’s testimony or the “extremely powerful” and “carefully crafted” legal reasoning behind the decision. Instead, it attempts an end run around the decision by arguing that the judge himself was the problem. Walker, a gay man who is in a long-term, same-sex relationship, had an inherent conflict of interest when presiding over a case about legalizing same-sex marriage, the pro-Prop 8 forces contend. And because he neither recused himself nor swore off any interest in marrying his partner, his ruling should be summarily dismissed, they believe.
“[Judge Walker’s] failure to do either was a clear violation of Section 455(a), whose ‘goal … is to avoid even the appearance of partiality.’…
“For only such an unequivocal disavowal would negate the strong inference, arising from his acknowledged long-term, committed relationship and his findings in this case concerning the benefits of marriage for same-sex couples, that he has a personal interest in exercising the federal constitutional right he recognized to marry a same-sex partner should the injunction he issued be affirmed. That inference is strengthened by the fact that Chief Judge Walker did not disclose the existence of the relationship before entering judgment and has never disclosed whether he has any interest in marrying his partner.”