The myth of liberal neutrality

I made the stupid mistake of writing a serious comment on a Facebook post. Immediately, a good liberal--call him "Wilson"--popped up, robotically chanting about how "religious people" want to force their values on others. (I am quite sure he believed he was "thinking for himself" in repeating this mantra.)

When I noted that he was just as willing to force his values on others in the legislation he backed, he became outraged: "I am not the one who wants a special exemption from anti-discrimination laws!"

So in Wilson's picture of the world, when a Christian cake-maker declines to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, she is "forcing her values" on them. But when Wilson endorses using the full power of the law to shut down her business if she won't cater gay weddings, well, that is just common sense!

Note that the point here is not about who is right in these disputes or what discrimination should be legally permitted. For instance, I think basic anti-discrimination laws are just fine, even if I also think that we have gone overboard with them today, so I guess am a moderate liberal in that regard. No, my point is that in supporting, say, the 1965 Civil Rights Act, I am "forcing my values" on racists, among others.

This is what law does. The idea that liberals don't want to force their values on others is pure marketing malarkey.


  1. There is no value free position on such issues or any free of force, but only lesser and greater forces, for better or worse by our own values.

  2. Ack! No! You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Liberal neutrality can be done wrong, but it can also be done right! See my recent book on religion and liberalism! ;)

    (It's Kevin V, btw. I picked the handle to needle you.)

    1. Kevin, your "teammates" are throwing you over the ship's rail as we speak. Someone was just arrested in Britain for preaching a "hateful" Bible passage on the street.
      This was the goal a people like Locke and Jefferson from day one. Jefferson boasted that there would be no Christians left in the US in 50 years.
      Or morally neutral state is a nonsensical idea. Liberal states enforce liberal ideas. You can also see MacIntyre, Taylor, and Voegelin on this point. Voegelin is especially penetrating on the role of the cosmion, and how any state that does not "represent" people cosmologically will be replaced by one that does.