Handel with care

Karen Handel, now member of the US Congress from Georgia, sat for an interview in which she was pressed for answers about gay marriage and gay adoption. Here’s a video.

It’s a little long (well ok it’s five minutes). The interesting remark, for me at least today, comes at the end. Asked (at about 4:55) why she thinks gay parents are not as legitimate as heterosexual parents, she responds:

Because I don’t.

That’s a puzzling answer. In the first place, she certainly has a reason. She has even, earlier in the Q&A, given it: Christianity demands it. Second, does anyone or rather can anyone hold a view for no reason at all? Is “I just don’t” ever an answer to such a question?

I just don’t think so.

This is just not the nature of beliefs. Try it yourself. You don’t of course have to articulate those beliefs, but they’re always there. Hers, I imagine, is just too alienating or silly or (more likely) question-begging.

4 thoughts on “Handel with care”

  1. Hey John, I wonder about what gets communicated when one just reiterates the commitment under consideration. For sure, it’s a picture of circularity, but I’d guess that it’s a way of saying something like: there’s a very long story to be told, and I’m not getting into it with you right now.
    Another question is whether those kind of answers are more for onlooking audiences — you don’t answer cooperatively to a questioner who is clearly impertinent, which is a way of signalling to those on your side that you’re principled.

  2. Hey Scott–

    Yes, I agree with these two points. There don’t exist, in my view here, views for which you have no reason. The question, in this case, is what you say–what gets communicated in the refusal or the instance that you “just do.”

  3. Hey John, Now I understand the bigger game here. On your view, it’s a kind of psychological impossibility to look at one’s own beliefs and think they don’t have some evidential backing? I’m very sympathetic with that view, but these Handel cases look like prima facie counterexamples, right? It’s just that in this case, Handel is just avoiding saying what those reasons are…

  4. Hey Scott,

    I can see that I was unclear on that score–but yes, indeed, that’s the view. I think the initial spin on the video was that Handel was a huge ignoramus who didn’t even know controversial beliefs require evidence. I think I might have been more clear here had I located those claims.

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