I don’t have the same dog in the fight that Ed Kilgore does, so maybe that’s why I’m less concerned by Damon Linker’s piece than I am befuddled. You could accurately describe me as a secular liberal who has little patience for the religious right. I support female reproductive autonomy and the right of gay couples to get married and be treated as spouses under the law. I think people should be able to get the kind of health care coverage they want, not the kind of health care coverage their whack-a-doodle religious nutcase employer deems acceptable to God. If it were up to me, I’d solve the whole religious conscience problem with health care coverage by abolishing employer-supplied health insurance entirely.

I agree with Mr. Linker and Mr. Kilgore that religion has flourished in America because of our liberal tendency to leave religion unregulated, but there’s something wrong with the argument that gay marriage regulates religion. And Kilgore makes a fine point on the contraception angle.

In the former case, aside from the Obama administration’s many efforts to accommodate religious organizations, there’s an inherent conflict between respecting the religious views of employers and those of employees—not to mention employees’ interests in obtaining health services. And when you get right down to it, much of the heat over the contraception mandate has involved the claims of religious organizations about scientific facts—particularly the claim that IUDs and Plan B birth control cause abortions rather than prevent pregnancies—where they are straying well into secular territory.

So, I might laugh a little at the poor-suffering lunatics who think their society is being ruined by gays, but I’m not actually looking to stick it to religious conservatives. I want to beat them in the political arena and I wish they would just go away and leave the rest of us alone, but I don’t want to molest their deluded congregations. Mr. Linker asks me to react to “the setbacks of [my political] opponents with a bit more magnanimity.” I feel like he’s asking more from me than has been asked of them in all the time they’ve been rampaging over my value system. I also feel like I haven’t been all that much of a sore winner. You know, I can kind of understand how some fucked up bastard might feel real downhearted every time he sees a black president on his teevee. I can feel for them. I can have a little empathy for the lonely bigot. I don’t have to dance on their dread and sense of loss. That’s about how I feel about someone who thinks contraceptive coverage in a health insurance plan is a godless Communist plot to commit genocide on the unborn. I mean, screw those people.

Liberalism means tolerance, but it doesn’t mean silence.

In any case, how can I be cocky when these fools are attacking abortion rights in the states like some kind of Mongol horde?

In the end, I just don’t understand what Mr. Linker is really asking liberals to do differently. We’re already bending over backwards to accommodate the religious beliefs of people who are living (mentally) in the 17th-Century. You want more?

What would Jefferson say?

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