Wednesday, May 01, 2002
Andrew Sullivan is confused by William F. Buckley's latest piece on homosexuality and Catholicism in National Review Online. He's sufficiently confused that he gives Buckley credit for pro-gay views when Buckley is in fact attacking those views.
Buckley's piece delineates (in his words) the "three postulates of U.S. liberal sociology." Given that description, these are three postulates that he surely rejects. They are: (1) that crimes are society's fault; (2) that homosexuality is like left-handedness, without moral significance, and prejudice against it is irrational; and (3) that the free dissemination of prurient material does not contribute to a culture of promiscuity, and, indeed, the freedom to disseminate such material is a central freedom on par with freedom of religion.
Buckley then lists 3 "howevers" that in some sense qualify or contradict these premises. Thus (1) crimes in general may be society's fault but predation by priests is an individual failing with no broader cultural implications, and the priest individually must be held criminally liable; (2) Catholic teaching, while ostensibly acknowledging the true nature of homosexuality (its innateness) is in fact deeply prejudiced against gays because it commands them to be celibate but does not so command the heterosexual laity; and (3) Catholicism, while ostensibly protected by the same First Amendment that protects pornographers, in fact must be attacked because its opposition to sexual expression is unhealthy, and, therefore, the freedom of the sexual libertine is not a neutral freedom on an equal footing with the Catholic's freedom but a superior freedom which necessitates a change in the Catholic Church.
I think it's clear from this translation that both the "three postulates" and their "howevers" are all intended to represent the positions of liberals whom Buckley opposes. Indeed, the point of the essay is to illustrate the purportedly inevitable contradictions in the liberal position, thereby making the case for Buckley's unabashed anti-gay stance.
He is indeed, however, hard to understand at times, as Sullivan notes.