Physician Heal Thyself

Another Update. This time on the matter of voting dogs and marrying gays, of the ethics and etiquette of comparing gays to dogs, of Johnson’s joke and rhetorical animalia, of ad hominems and arguments, of substance and style, of professionalism and irony, of sarcasm and insults, of cabbages and kings.

Chris at Crooked Timber posted yesterday about Burgess-Jackson’s, shall we say, provocative simile, with an amusing addendum about canine psephology. Burgess-Jackson commented on Chris’ comment later the same day.

The folks at Crooked Timber are having fun at my expense…What’s interesting (and ironic) is that nobody at the site engaged my argument. In the insular world of liberalism, argumentation is unnecessary. One mocks conservatives; one doesn’t engage their arguments. Perhaps this explains liberalism’s failure in the public arena.

That’s a remarkably disingenuous comment, it seems to me. It’s true that the post in question didn’t engage his ‘argument’ but then Chris did say that Richard Chappell had already done a good job of exactly that, and did provide a link. That particular post (like mine) was about the analogy, not the entirety of B-J’s argument against gay marriage. I’ll speak for myself: I wanted to comment on the analogy, period. I didn’t want to address the whole gay marriage argument; it doesn’t interest me much; but the analogy did, and does. It interests me all the more now because of Burgess-Jackson’s apparent inability even to see what the discussion is about. I find that kind of odd. I also find it odd that B-J complains that people ‘mock conservatives’ when surely his own post mocked gays, and that’s why people object to it. And people at CT haven’t even compared him to any animal, not even a cuddly bunny or a darling little hamster! In fact they haven’t even done all that much mocking. What they have done is take exception to the dog comparison – so B-J equates that to mocking conservatives? How, why? Because it was the only thing he could think of?

Then John Holbo posted on the subject, and so did Burgess-Jackson. Holbo did it amusingly, B-J did it even more weirdly and evasively. Did it in a manner even more inadvertently self-accusing and self-condemning than the first one. Which is interesting – as an example of strange psychology, of bad moves, bad thoughts, clumsy rhetoric, some or all of those.

Several people have written in the past few hours to tell me that there’s a reply to my posts about homosexual “marriage” somewhere in cyberspace, the implication being that I’m obligated to respond to it. I don’t have time to respond to every critic, much less the uncharitable ones, much less the nasty ones. Does Peter Singer respond to even 1% of his critics? Did John Rawls? If they did, they’d never get any work done. David Hume didn’t respond to any critics. Was that a failing on his part? My rule is simple: Reply only to those who are personable (but certainly not to all of them, for time is limited). When I read something, including e-mail, I stop reading as soon as the author gets sarcastic or insulting. If you want me to read your prose, you must be kind and respectful. Is that too much to ask?

Humble, isn’t he. What about Kant, did he answer his mail? Spinoza? Aristotle? Don’t be shy.

The posts I saw on Crooked Timber yesterday are personal and vicious.

Um…Oh, never mind. It’s too obvious.

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