John on ABC’s This Week

ABC twitter

On ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, I discuss the recent “bathroom bill” in North Carolina. From the interview:

The idea that this is about safety and security, it’s kind of like when somebody says that they ate all the ice cream in order to make room in the freezer. I mean it’s just obvious that that’s not the real reason. This is about discrimination, particularly against transgender people.

It’s a quick interview, and by the time I start getting warmed up, it’s over. But you can watch the full segment here.

Applied Philosophy Out of the Closet

rainbow flag

At The Philosophers’ Magazine, as part of an issue on “50 New Ideas In Philosophy,” John discusses the emergence and future of LGBTQ philosophy as “applied” philosophy. An excerpt:

[M]uch of what occurs under the mantle of applied ethics is neither applied nor ethics. The word “applied” suggests taking a developed theory and then drawing out its lessons for a particular topic; yet “applied ethics” often invites us to revise theoretical commitments. Moreover, much interesting work in applied philosophy comprises metaphysics and epistemology, as has long been the case.

Read the full post here.

Freedom of Religious Expression Panel at UT Austin

tower_hero_v2

I’m excited to return to the University of Texas at Austin–where I received my Ph.D. in 1998–to participate in a public panel on the “Freedom of Religious Expression.” It’s on Thursday February 4th at 5:30 pm in the College of Liberal Arts Building (CLA) 1.302B; my co-panelists are Prof. Douglas Laycock of the University of Virginia and Prof. Marci Hamilton of Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University. More information here.

Why Marco Rubio Needs Philosophy

Photo by Scott Olson

Photo by Scott Olson

At the Detroit Free Press, I give a brief lesson on the pursuit of wisdom. From the op-ed:

By mocking philosophy, and the humanities more generally, Rubio devalues the pursuit of wisdom: the critical scrutiny of our fundamental beliefs and convictions; the quest to understand the world and our place in it, the exploration of great ideas about reality, knowledge, and value. Judging from our current political scene, we need more of that pursuit, not less.

Read the full article here.

What’s Wrong with Religious Arbitration?

At CU-Boulder’s What’s Wrong? blog, my colleague Katherine Kim and I consider some of the pros and cons of religious arbitration. From the essay:

An important feature of liberal (i.e. free) states is to protect citizens’ moral agency, allowing them to align their actions with their moral convictions. Many citizens base their moral convictions on their religious beliefs. For these citizens, religious arbitration may provide an important opportunity to resolve disputes in accordance with shared values.

Read the full essay here.

“Bake Me a Cake”: Three Paths for Balancing Liberty and Equality

gayweddingcake

At the CU-Boulder “What’s Wrong?” blog, I respond to religious conservatives who claim that anti-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation strip them of their liberty. From the essay:

It’s worth emphasizing, however, that this concern is not unique to same-sex marriage. Oregon prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age . . .” If Ron and Nancy want a wedding cake, the Kleins may not refuse them on the grounds that one of them is previously divorced. If Rebecca and Mohammed want a wedding cake, the Kleins may not refuse them on the grounds that they have an interfaith relationship. If Richard and Mildred want a wedding cake, the Kleins may not refuse them on the grounds that they’re of different races—and so on.

Notice that virtually no one would frame these cases as “forcing” the Kleins to be “complicit” in the resulting marriages. That’s partly because there’s greater moral consensus on these other issues. But it’s also because people recognize that baking a wedding cake is not tantamount to participating in a marriage: If it were, there would be a lot of polygamous bakers in the world.

Read the full essay here.

Rejoinder to Dan Johnson

In response to Dan Johnson, who critiques my New York Times piece “Gay Rights and the Race Analogy,” I offer a rejoinder at The Partially Examined Life. An excerpt:

I actually support antidiscrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and gender identity. But I think we need a better argument for them than “because … segregated lunch counters.” In the original post I make a plea for nuance and fine distinctions; that plea is lost on Johnson.

Read the full rejoinder here.

Davis Defenders No Better at Interpreting Bible than Interpreting Constitution

150828-kentucky-kim-davis-802p_35a9efa09849d0dca68f9e3e047975be.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Yesterday at the Detroit Free Press I argued that supporting Kim Davis’s religious liberty doesn’t mean tolerating her refusal to do her job as county clerk. “Religious liberty does not entitle the bearer to line-item vetoes for essential job functions,” I wrote.

In passing I mentioned that she has been divorced multiple times, which shows how inconsistent she is in enforcing Biblical law. Others have made the point more sharply, noting that she became pregnant with twins from husband number three while married to husband number one, in Maury-Povich-worthy twists. Husband number two, who adopted the twins, is also her current, fourth husband.

In response to revelations about her marital history, her Liberty Counsel attorneys have rushed to her defense. According to U.S. News and World Report:

[Attorney Mat] Staver says “it’s not really relevant, it’s something that happened in her past” and that her conversion to Christianity about four years ago wiped her slate clean. “It’s something that’s not relevant to the issue at hand,” he says. “She was 180 degrees changed.”

Her colleague Casey Davis makes a similar point:

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, who is not related to Kim Davis, tells U.S. News he believes there’s a difference between getting a divorce and then repenting and living in a same-sex relationship.

“I don’t have any problem with that whatever, how she was before. If the Lord can forgive her, surely I can,” he says. “That’s something that’s forgivable just like any other sin, but if you continue in it and live in it, there’s a grave danger in that.”

Apparently these people are no better at interpreting the Bible than they are at interpreting the Constitution. For Jesus himself says quite clearly:

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10: 11-12).

Notice that, in Jesus’ words, divorced and remarried people are not people who did sin (past tense) and then had their slate wiped clean. They are people who are sinning, as persistent and unrepenent adulterers. Why isn’t there “grave danger in that”?

I recognize of course that divorce is sometimes the best option for those in a bad marriage. On the other hand, unlike these folks, I don’t go around trying to substitute “God’s law”–or my own self-serving interpretation of it–for the laws of the state.

Read my full Freep piece here.

Gay Rights and the Race Analogy

Tucker Nichols for The New York Times

Tucker Nichols for The New York Times

At The New York Times, I urge caution on use of the race analogy and argue that the issues are more complex than they’re typically treated:

The present debate is too often dominated by hasty generalizations and false inferences, on both sides. The left slides too easily from “similar” to “the same.” The right correctly counters “No, not the same,” but then jumps to the false conclusion “Not at all similar.” Where both sides go wrong is in treating analogies as if they were identities. If we want to apply the lessons of history to the current controversy — as we should — we need to take seriously both the similarities and the differences.

Read the full article here.

Fall Speaking Engagements

John New Student Convo

John is currently working on the details of his fall speaking calendar, with talks planned at the University of Colorado, Boulder, on October 22 and 23 and at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, on November 6. Details to follow soon at the calendar page.

1 2 3 29  Scroll to top