Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dryden on SSM and the dangers of passionate certainty

Flash Point Canada links to Ken Dryden's piece, Why I support gay marriage bill, in the Toronto Star.

Dryden has always had a gift of using 100 words where 20 would do, as this piece shows. Much is worth repeating, but especially interesting, I think, is this paragraph:
In the midst of this heated debate, it is hard not to be swayed, usually in the reverse direction, by the words and tone of the advocates who scream their certainty, who tell the rest of us that we surely must be stupid or at least depraved if we aren't as certain as they are. It's okay to be 60-40 or 70-30 on this. As the debate more and more attempts to polarize us, it is important to know that on one side of the question or the other most of us have more in common than it seems. It is important to know, because it will help us immensely to get along again when all this is done.
This puts its finger on something important. That it is not merely arguments that sway people, but their tone, too. There are many people who are uncomfortable with gay unions of any kind; there are many who would prefer to create some kind of separate-but-equal civil unions for gays. But I suspect that come the next election, most of these people will decide not to vote for anti-ssm candidates. Why? Someone who is 60-40 against ssm will be less comfortable with a 100-0 anti-ssm candidate than a 60-40 pro-ssm. There is something about the passionate certainty of a black-and-white world that alienates those who see more shades of gray in the world.

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