A wonderfully temperate and respectful speech on an emotional issue

Andrew Sullivan embedded this video from the Scottish parliament earlier this week because he saw it as “The Conservative Case For Marriage Equality.”

I was impressed with it for another reason: It was so thoughtful, mature and respectful to people who might disagree.

We don’t see a lot of that on this side of the pond when it comes to these Culture War issues. For that matter, we seldom see politicians sincerely addressing themselves to people who disagree with them about anything — the parties are so far apart that speeches are just about lambasting the opposition, and gaining the admiration of those who agree.

Unlike the rhetoric I routinely see in press releases, or in commentary on the Web, there is no name-calling, no castigation of those who disagree as narrow-minded bigots, as the spiritual heirs of lynch mobs.

Instead, we have thoughts such as those contained in this passage:

I therefore commend all of the contributors to this debate over the past few months and years who have sought to make thoughtful contributions, to elevate the ideas and to temper the language, displaying a respect for beliefs which differ from their own, but recognizing that those beliefs are just as sincerely held.

And I hope that that temperance will continue this evening, demonstrating that while this may be a fledgling parliament, that it has a maturity too….

If this woman, Ruth Davidson, is a representative sample, hers is a mature parliament, indeed.

31 thoughts on “A wonderfully temperate and respectful speech on an emotional issue

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    I so respected what she was saying that I didn’t even crack up when “that it has a maturity too” came out as “that it has a maturity teeyoooooo.”

    I love Scottish accents. I suppose a lot of people do, which has helped Mike Myers make a tidy living, from “So I Married an Ax Murderer” through the “Shrek” franchise…

  2. Barry

    Sorry, Andrew Sullivan? Hmmm…..

    There is no disrespectful disagreement on this issue to be had or offered anymore despite whatever link ( i didnt watch it, not interested at all) you posted here.

    Those with religious objections or even reservations are “full of hatred” – that has been made very Lear by Andrew Sullivan and everyone else on “that side” of the issue.

  3. Bill

    It’s not an ’emotional’ issue,unless you’re a bigoted and heartless person.Your condescension is nauseating.

    1. Bart

      “It’s not an ‘emotional’ issue,unless you’re a bigoted and heartless person.Your condescension is nauseating.”…Bill

      And your response is not “emotional”?

      1. Bill

        I don’t want to make myself miserable by getting into a useless argument,but those seeking justice and civil rights are in a different place than those who have those rights,but take them for granted*..

        *The golden rule.

          1. Brad Warthen

            Which is Kathryn’s preferred, relatively civil, way of utterly dismissing anyone who disagrees with her.

            It’s related to “you’re a man (or you’re white), so nothing you think or say matters.”

          2. Kathryn Fenner

            No, plenty of people disagree with me who are not privilege blind. You, sir, however, are most often in disagreement with me because you are privilege blind. We also disagree about strong mayor, but that is because you don’t live where I do.

          3. Brad Warthen Post author

            Anyway, bottom line — great speech. And you’re right that the Parliament in London could learn much from this.

            If only everyone spoke like that, and was that respectful of others’ opinions.

          4. Kathryn Fenner

            I respect your opinions; I believe, in some cases, they are significantly impaired by your lack of empathy.

          5. Kathryn Fenner

            Another commenter on the blog overcame daily panic attacks. While he is a statistical sample of one, if he were to say that panic attacks can be overcome with positive thinking, I would value his opinion more than the same one from someone who has never suffered from them.
            For the record, I don’t believe clean living or positive thinking alone can overcome panic attacks, depression or cancer, but at least if someone who has experienced these ailments thinks so, I respect their experience.

          6. Bart

            Does “privilege blindness” and “micro-agressions” work in tandem when it comes to how white males are perceived as oppressors and unfeeling when it comes to the way minorities are treated?

            Micro-agressions – “Subtle verbal and nonverbal insults directed toward non-whites, often done automatically and unconsciously. They are layered insults based on one’s race, gender, class, sexuality, language, immigration status, phenotype, accent, or surname.”

  4. Mark Stewart

    It is easier to speak with grace and noble magnanimity when one is on the “right” side of an issue – any issue. It’s a good litmus test of fundamental truth. If one needs to rationalize, construct elaborate justifications, or otherwise try to enforce a status quo, one is in denial. It is hard to see when we are personally heavily invested in a thought pattern or architecture. But right does, ultimately, prevail.

    1. Brad Warthen

      Do you think that’s true? Do you truly believe that right always triumphs?

      If that’s the case, then all who want what’s right should rest on their oars. No point making any sort of effort, because the world is always getting better, and right will prevail. They need not even tax their brains trying to decide what is right, but right will out no matter what.

      I look around me and see some things get better, others get worse. It’s all in flux, and depends to a great extent upon what we do…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Next, we’ll discuss predestination and foreordination, and the mystery of why people who believe in them bother to be virtuous…

          I suspect you’re still operating under the influence of “Candide.” Or rather, of Pangloss.

          Surely, Mark and Kathryn, you can contemplate recent years or decades or centuries and see a pattern in which something has gotten worse. Or do only people of a conservative bent see it? Do some regard change as in and of itself good?

          I wonder whether it will take some great technological setback for people to lose faith in the Inevitable March of Progress. For instance, I was reading the other day about the time, which is coming, when all antibiotics will be ineffective. It’s something to shudder about. Will that shake people’s faith in the inevitability of their notions of progress — or in the notion that if it is a change, it is good? Or will it take something worse?

          I suppose a Zombie Apocalypse would do it. Not many people believing in the inevitability of progress on “The Walking Dead.”…

          1. Mark Stewart

            Yes, I do. And , no, I do not think it easy or requiring little effort. It’s the opposite, actually. It is far harder for societies to be virtuous and morally right. It is far easier to accept morally corrosive social and civic structures.

            Look at our legislative state. Look at the flag still flying in front of the State House. Look at our 80+ school districts. Look at our gerrymandered voting districts. Look at Columbia’s seven little councilmembers. Look at the acceptance of economic malaise. Look at the acceptance of acceptance.

            The work to do never ends. However, the bad does eventually fall to the good. What is hardest is finding the leadership to empower people to believe that there is the possibility, the reality, of a better tomorrow. What is hardest is mobilizing the majority to reject the tyranny of acceptance. But it happens all the time. Our history is full of successes. Vision and leadership model change. The heretical does become the inevitable. In time. With effort.

          2. Kathryn Fenner

            Well, we still have effective antibiotics, and more on the way.
            What precise time in the past, pick a year or a decade, was better over all than now?

          3. Brad Warthen Post author

            I don’t know if we can say that a time was “better” or “worse.” I think each individual human being is born into a time in which he will have to struggle with right and wrong.

            When I was in college, I was really into studying the period of the Revolution and the early republic in American history. I was deeply impressed with the quality of political leadership that generation produced, and the ferment of thought during the latter days of the Enlightenment.

            I used to think THAT was the time in which I’d like to live — except for the widespread lack of modern plumbing.

            Which sounds silly, but it makes the point — for every good in some earlier OR later time, there is a tradeoff.

            Then there is the problem of WHERE you are as well as when. When was, or will be, the Golden Age in Afghanistan?

            And what if you lived in the former Ottoman Empire? Would you consider history a steady march toward greater peace, prosperity and enlightenment, or would you feel like things had gone backwards, or stagnated, or at least suffered setbacks of several centuries’ duration?

          4. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, and on the antibiotics thing — the piece I saw indicated that the pace of microbes evolving into immunity was picking up:

            Penicillin-resistant staph emerged in 1940, while the drug was still being given to only a few patients. Tetracycline was introduced in 1950, and tetracycline-resistant Shigella emerged in 1959; erythromycin came on the market in 1953, and erythromycin-resistant strep appeared in 1968. As antibiotics became more affordable and their use increased, bacteria developed defenses more quickly. Methicillin arrived in 1960 and methicillin resistance in 1962; levofloxacin in 1996 and the first resistant cases the same year; linezolid in 2000 and resistance to it in 2001; daptomycin in 2003 and the first signs of resistance in 2004.

            Here’s another disturbing piece:

            Sometimes I imagine how our descendants will look back on our world. Unless something is done about antibiotic resistance, I’m very much afraid that they’ll look upon us the way 19th-century science fiction writers viewed Atlantis: as a lost paradise of magical technology — in this case, one in which you could go to a child coughing her life out with pneumonia, stick a needle in her arm, and watch the disease melt away almost before your eyes. The first doctors who treated patients with antibiotics felt like they were witnessing miracles. Our grandchildren may feel much the same way about the ease with which we cured disease.

        2. barry

          you sound like an MSNBC commercial with that line of logic.

          What is better to you?

          What is better to you may be worse for someone else.

          ” statistics show that the rate of depression is growing at an alarming rate”

          “Suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade. The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50s,”

          “almost 50 million americans live below the poverty line”

          “More Americans are receiving food stamps than ever before”

          and on and on…..

  5. Mark Stewart

    Or maybe we will simply discover a better, more efficacious approach to fighting the bugs than to attack the genetically weaker microbes while permitting the stronger to reproduce and thrive.

    We have made quantum leaps before; odds are we will, in time, do it again.

      1. barry

        You have to hope so- because there are people dying now from the ineffectiveness of antibiotics that 10 years ago would have made them feel better in 3 days.

        Tell them it’s getting better.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          and all those who live much longer than ever before with cancer, HIV, other infections, improved sanitation, safer cars……

          You have to pick a specific time to refute the argument. Everything isn’t getting continually better every day, but on the whole, things get better and better. I would not go back in time, but then as a woman, the range of potentially better years is much shorter than that for a man….

          You don’t get to pick what illnesses you get. You might get a MRSA infection, but far more likely, today you won’t die of something because of medical advances. Life expectancy has nearly doubled in this country in the last century.

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