Wash. Post Panelist Is Projecting Again

Of all the bigoted arguments the Washington Post promotes via its On Faith microsite, the most consistently infuriating are John Mark Reynolds' disingenuous attempts to co-opt the language of tolerance and to accuse those whose rights he wishes to limit of trying to impose their values on him.

I've previously noted that Reynolds has used the platform granted him by the Post to accuse gays (and those who believe in the legitimacy of gay relationships) of “the deepest form of sexism,” to compare gay rights advocates to racists, call them “the hateful,” and refer to support for gay rights as “prejudice.”

Despite these nonsensical, up-is-down complaints, the Post keeps inflicting Reynolds upon its readers, and endorsing him as a distinguished panelist engaged in “respectful” and “intelligent” conversation. Reynolds' latest post:

Republican voters must find a candidate who would restore to states the right to ban abortion. We should not have a system where the values of some states are imposed on states that reject them.

[S]tates should be allowed to define marriage as they see fit without forcing the entire nation to embrace the values of the other states.

Reynolds never explains why he thinks states are the appropriate level for codifying values, leaving the reader to conclude that it is simply because he believes they are the level at which he can win. In any case, it's dizzyingly absurd for Reynolds to complain about imposing values on others in the course of arguing in favor of states doing exactly that to their residents. Why is it acceptable -- desirable, even -- for people in one county to “impose” their values on residents of a neighboring county, but unacceptable for the same to happen among states? Reynolds doesn't explain; he simply treats it as a self-evident matter of principle.

To be clear: I don't think the problem is that Reynolds has failed to recognize the inconsistency of his position, or to articulate why state government is the level at which values should be codified in law. I think the problem is that John Mark Reynolds is willing to say things he does not actually believe. See, I doubt John Mark Reynolds actually believes that “states should be allowed to define marriage as they see fit.” I find it hard, if not impossible, to believe Reynolds would accept a state's decision to define marriage as a union between two men, or two women, but not between a man and a woman. It seems obvious that Reynolds does not really believe “states should be allowed to define marriage as they see fit” -- and that, instead, he believes states should be allowed to define marriage as he sees fit.

The Post's stated desire to host a respectful and intelligent discussion among people of diverse viewpoints is a laudable goal -- but it isn't served by promoting the disingenuous claims of someone who says supporting gay rights is like sexism and that those who seek marriage equality are imposing their values on those who wish to tell gays they cannot marry.