The Lileks Zone

The Reverse Groucho Rule

On the way back from the coffee shop – sustainable shade-grown fair-trade coffee served by a twentysomething hipster with a metal bone through his lip – I was listening to Michael Medved. (It all averages out at the end of the day.) The subject was the Supreme Court decision that required the Christian Legal Society to accept, oh, Atheist Anarchist Hermits for leadership positions. A young woman called in, announced she had graduated law school, and with the familiar voice of someone who had been raised by parents who ensured all her toys were empowering toys, she said that anyone who got school money should be required to accept everyone.

There you go! Simple enough. On one hand, it’s the usual logic: we will require you to pay for something, and then we will require you to follow the rules. If you pay the king his shilling, you have to do the king’s bidding, I guess. In her mind this just made sense because it was Fair, and no one was Excluded. (One of the self-flattering concepts on the left is the dedication to Inclusion, which usually means bringing in people who believe exactly as you do but have a different skin pigmentation or eye color.) When Medved asked her if an Orthodox Jewish Legal Society should be required to have a leader who doesn’t keep Sabbath, there was a pause, just as there’s a pause when Kirk is confronting a computer with its illogic and makes its circuits smoke. She restated her original position. And that was that! There you go. Simple enough.

The manifest absurdity of the position can be summed up with a parade of Straw Men, each of which is equally Fair:

Men in charge of Women’s Center for Women’s Issues

A Young-earth believer heading up a group of Evolutionary Science majors

An openly gay Jew on the board of the Muslim Students Association

You can say some of these hypotheticals are different, because . . . because they are, dang it, but also because they’re ridiculous. The Reverse Groucho: no one would want to belong to an organization that wouldn’t have him for a member. But it’s precisely because there aren’t any such examples that the Christians get smacked and no one really cares. Since Christians are bigots, what with their believing things and thinking that others who don’t believe them are wrong, then forcing them to accept different viewpoints advances the cause of Inclusion. Muslims are not bigots because they are a race, sort of, well, kinda, and African-Americans are certainly a race and historically entitled to group solidarity, and putting men on a woman’s group would create a hostile environment. Rock-solid arguments; loophole proof! But now that the CLS has had its right of free-association shredded, there’s no legal justification for anyone seeking to define their membership, if they’ve taken the money everyone was forced to cough up.

The situation cries out for campus pranksters to push and prod and poke every group on campus to violate its own standards, but it won’t happen, because the rights were denied to a group no one cares about. The left cares little for the rights of the wrong people, so they can be spit upon all day. The soft bigotry of low expectorations, if you will.

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