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Katherine Kersten on liberals, same-sex marriage and life at the Star Tribune

Katherine Kersten
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
Columnist Katherine Kersten: “I have a very thick skin.”

First of two articles.

Perhaps no columnist in town raises a liberal’s blood pressure more than Katherine Kersten.

For some time I’ve wondered how Kersten — a columnist for the Star Tribune in various incarnations since 1995, most notably in the metro section, and now in the Sunday opinion pages — feels about being a lightning rod for local liberal rage. So I met with her last week at her Edina home for a two-hour conversation and asked her about liberals and a lot of other subjects.

What follows is the first of two installments from that interview. In this installment, we discussed same-sex marriage, liberal rage and life at the Star Tribune.

But a little background first: Before becoming a columnist, Kersten was a senior fellow for cultural studies at the Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis. A founding director of the center, she was its chairman from 1996 to 1998.

Kersten has written on cultural and policy issues for a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Christianity Today, Policy Review, American Enterprise and First Things. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame, from which she graduated summa cum laude, and a master’s degree from Yale. Kersten is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Now on to the interview.

MinnPost: You wrote a column recently for the Star Tribune on gay marriage that lit up their switchboard like a Christmas tree. You looked at the issue from an interesting perspective. Care to elaborate?

Katherine Kersten:
The question we always hear is: How will same-sex marriage harm heterosexual marriage? That, I think, is the wrong question. You have to ask: How will it change the institution of marriage itself? And how will it change our lives going forward?

Marriage is a universal institution, across the world, through time. It has always involved two people of opposite sexes. The reason the institution came into being is that when a male and a female get together, a baby can be the result. The joining of an egg and a sperm is the only way a human being can come into existence. And, of course, without that, civilization will come to a grinding halt. The purpose of the institution of marriage — the fact that nature requires a mother and a father — there’s a reason for that: A child needs the complementary parenting of a mother and a father.

Some of us would like marriage to be a different institution, but it isn’t. Some think marriage should be focused not on the perpetuation of society and civilization, but strictly on individual adults — strictly on affirming a relationship between two people who want to be interdependent and who feel affection toward one another.

Marriage is already under such tremendous stress as an institution. We know what’s happening to marriage in this country in terms of divorce, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, etc. And when we add to those stresses to the transformation of the institution — the fundamental idea behind it — we essentially cut it loose. The redefinition of marriage will have a snowball effect: People will think to themselves, how is this institution relevant anymore? Why should I go to the hard work of getting married and making a public commitment to another person and to the idea of family, when the institution is essentially meaningless?

Interest in marriage among gay people, particularly gay men, is far less than it is among the heterosexual population. Two thirds of all gay people in legally recognized same-sex unions are lesbians. Which, of course, shows you that there is, in fact, a difference between the sexes.

If we redefine marriage to be an institution focused simply on two people who feel affection toward one another and who want to live interdependently, then, legally, there’s absolutely no reason down the line that we shouldn’t expect further redefinition — polygamous marriage, for example. Redefining marriage opens a Pandora’s box. Why shouldn’t a brother and a sister who are dependent on one another, or two female friends, who don’t have husbands and who live together and try to share responsibilities for raising kids — why shouldn’t the state acknowledge and respect their unions as “marriage”?

The reason, of course, is the central sexual component of marriage. Marriage honors that, holds it up as the means of creating children. This fundamental institution is so critical. Today, we are literally tampering with the foundation of society, and we have no idea where it could lead. As a society, we have an increasing focus on the importance of nature, the importance of natural systems and of ecology. We’re learning a lot about the unintended consequences of human actions. Why in the world, then, would we tamper with marriage as our critical, fundamental institution when no one has an idea of where it might end? It doesn’t make sense.

MP: Do you anticipate the legalization of same-sex marriage here in Minnesota, or elsewhere in the country? When the issue is put to the voters, it invariably goes down to defeat. Maine was the latest example. To what do you attribute that?

I think there are a number of forces at work here. I think there’s the majority of gay people, who intend to live good, ordinary lives, and who don’t feel a vindictive loathing of norms and limits in human society.

But then there are people in the “gay rights” leadership — or in the leadership of the same-sex marriage movement — who take a radical view. They want to see an upending of the institution of marriage. I mean, that’s very clear. There’s lots of evidence that some of these people would like to see, essentially, the end of marriage as an institution altogether. In its place you’d see a variety of civil unions, of the kind I just mentioned.

I’ve seen so much anger on the part of these people. They often exhibit an authoritarian, totalitarian impulse. We see some of this in the schools, for example, with regard to the Welcoming Schools curriculum that was so controversial recently in Minneapolis. There is an attempt on the part of some of these leaders to place themselves in positions of great power in order to work a transformation in society — having to do with male-female relationships and marriage and families. There’s so much anger there, I sometimes think that a lot of those folks are unhappy, frankly, for reasons of how they are living, of choices that they’ve made, and they project that anger onto people like me.

If you look at my recent column on same-sex marriage, it is very rational, very calm in its tone. It simply presents arguments — arguments, in fact, that the majority of Americans would agree with. If you look at the comments that I got afterward, it was amazing. The vicious, ad hominem comments full of hate-crime-type language that you get from people who are clearly angry and unhappy, but accusing me of being the angry one. It is ridiculous.

MP: Do you get a lot of hate mail?

I get many, many positive and encouraging emails — far more than the vitriolic emails I get.

After my recent same-sex marriage column, for example, I got a blizzard of supportive messages. Among them were a couple of really moving and private emails from gay people who said, “I agree with you, but I wouldn’t dare say this to my gay friends.”

It was clear to me that these people aren’t self-dramatizers — reflexive victims, like many in the gay leadership — and they are being silenced. The shrill tone of the leadership is having a chilling effect in the gay community.

The gay leadership includes many people who tend to want to make a splash, and they are looking for the most public forum possible. So they tend to flood the on-line Star Tribune with comments which can be seen publicly. These folks are waging a political campaign. I’ve noticed a pattern in their actions. They tend not to send me emails right away. Instead, they jump on the website, right away, get their comments out there in this public, self-dramatizing way, and then the next day they started sending me emails.
MP: How do you feel about being a lightning rod for liberal rage?

I enjoy it! I really do. I have a very thick skin. There are often letters to the paper after my columns appear, and they tend to be weighted toward my opponents’ points of view. And you know, I think the more the better. Sometimes the angry responses make my point more effectively than I could. The average reader is pretty sensible and looks at these letters and thinks: “Whoa, this person is over-reacting” or “This person didn’t read what she actually wrote.”

I suspect that many of the people who attack me in ad hominem terms live surrounded by people who think just the way they do. The tunnel vision of the left is incredible. It’s not possible for me to live like that, hearing only one point of view. I read the New York Times and the Star Tribune, and I see CNN on-line. As a result, I can’t escape the worldview of the left — what Thomas Sowell calls “the vision of the anointed.”

Sowell describes “the anointed” as the intellectual and political elite who believe strongly that they are not only smarter and more able than everybody else, but that they are also better human beings. They see themselves as more virtuous, as having only good intentions — unlike those who disagree with them. If you’re surrounded by people like that — as many on the left are — it’s hard to get a sense of the complexity of life.

MP: In view of the tumultuous changes at the Star Tribune, how are things going there for you?

It’s very different, because now I’m an independent contractor, not a regular employee. So, I’m in the position of, say, a Garrison Keillor. And, of course, [former metro columnist and now opinion pages contributor] Nick Coleman is in that position as well. It’s good in the sense that I have completely free rein. The one thing I don’t really do anymore is the kind of human-interest stories I tended to do as a metro columnist. I miss those. I really like people, and I did love meeting the extraordinary variety of people I met when I did the metro column.
MP: Have you ever had any column for the editorial pages, or column ideas, rejected?

No, not for the editorial page, no.

MP: And your columns have never been limited in any way?


MP: When you were a metro columnist, how did you feel you were treated in the newsroom?

Well, there are a lot of very nice people at the Star Tribune. And it was helpful for me when I started the metro column to have [former editor-in-chief] Anders Gyllenhaal there as my mentor. Anders saw a role for a person like me. As I explained to him, “You’re missing half the stories in Minnesota because your folks here, for whatever reason, tend to see the world pretty much the same way.”

The newsroom was an echo chamber of a kind, as is true of most mainstream media. Many of the journalists there have been working in the newsroom for 20 or more years. What that means is that, not only do they tend to be at the same end of the political spectrum, but they often haven’t had much interaction with the sort of people I know. I didn’t become a journalist until quite recently. As a result, I’ve spent lots of time with small business people, military people, people trying to make a living in the private sector — you name it. I come from a very different background than most journalists.

People always talk about diversity. Well, in the context of journalism, I’m a good example of what diversity of ideas and background can bring. When you are telling news stories, it can be very helpful to see the world through a different lens. Given my different experience of life, I saw a lot of things other folks in the newsroom didn’t see. Before I joined the newsroom, my perspective — and that of people like me — was largely missing.

MP: The newsroom has been characterized by some as left-liberal. Is that accurate?

Oh, yes. Certainly. I would think almost everybody there would agree with that. Somebody who’s no longer at the paper, as unfortunately so many are not, told me when I joined the metro staff, sort of whispered to me, “You should have seen this place on the day after Election Day in 2004 [when President George W. Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry]. It was like a tomb, it was like the world had ended,” he said. That’s not a good thing, especially if you’re trying to cover the news objectively.

That said, there are many wonderful people at the Star Tribune. There were many who extended themselves to me and who were friendly. I think it’s helpful, too, when you meet someone who represents a point of view that you don’t like, but are not exposed to very much — it does humanize the situation. It’s really easy to demonize a person you don’t know. But then when you meet that person, you see that he or she is a human being like you.

Friday: Kersten on the future of the conservative movement, the Republican Party, the Obama presidency, the shootings at Fort Hood, her world view and the role of religion in her life.

Comments (85)

  1. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 11/19/2009 - 08:49 am.

    I sympathize with the interviewer not wanting to get off-track and cover a handful of topics, but I continue to believe – even though nobody actually doing the interviewing seems to – that part of being a successful interviewer is stopping the subject when they say something patently false, eg, “Marriage is a universal institution, across the world, through time. It has always involved two people of opposite sexes.”

    She tries to make her argument sound a little more nuanced then the usual “those homo-sexuals will ruin my straight marriage!” but at the end of the day, it’s really the same, and simply leaves me saying, “huh”? She’s too vague to be convincing. Gay marriage will “further stress” the “institution of marriage”, but there’s no “how”. Are people going to say, “oh, I’m not interested in this because gays can do it?” I have no sympathy for that person.

    She doesn’t even bother to respond to the blatantly obvious counter-argument that her definition of marriage excludes people who can’t or don’t want kids. If you’re not going to bother to respond to a strong and typical counter-argument that you must be aware of, you’re not even trying to engage in any conversation – it’s just spouting the same points over and over with no development.

    At this point you’d think she and conservatives would have figured out that gay people are, well, *actually gay* and not just kidding around, and aren’t going to marry anyone of the opposite sex. So the best thing she could do to get more people married is open it up. The fact that she doesn’t want that exposes her as hateful.

    In any case, her 1950s vision of American will disappear as her generation dies off anyways. Half my friends are evil co-habitat ors, and they’re perfectly content people who don’t seem to have any particular need for marriage, at least not now.

  2. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 11/19/2009 - 08:50 am.

    Call me a “liberal rager” if you must, but in her very first answer, in her second paragraph, she states without equivocation this notion that marriage has always been two people, one man one woman.

    Its just utterly not true. Never mind various gender mixings in various indigenous cultures, Biblical times were rife with men with multiple wives.

    So clearly she starts out – once again, after thoughtful people have repeatedly pointed out her false basis for argument – she starts out with an utterly false premise and is off to the races.

    Thanks for interviewing her, I suppose, but I stopped reading as soon as I hit that first big lie.

  3. Submitted by Paul Scott on 11/19/2009 - 08:53 am.

    Seven paragraphs to explain her position on marriage.

  4. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 11/19/2009 - 08:57 am.

    Wow, one of the reasons that I quit reading the Strib is haunting me here too. Super.

    I think she may have been misquoted. “I have a very thick skin.” shouldn’t that be “thick skull?”

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/19/2009 - 09:17 am.

    I used to read Kersten once in awhile, but eventually concluded that she has nothing worthwhile to say. She is completely predictable. Unlike William F. Buckley, she never comes at an issue in an original way nor backs her biases with even the slimmest veil of research or factual information.

    She’s simply a hack repeating for a particular audience exactly their own biases. She and those who support her will never allow reality to intrude on their cozy little world built of rumor, innuendo, quarter truth (or less), and outright falsehood.

    With that in mind, I did not read this article, nor will I read the follow up. I see no point in wasting my time reading someone who’s essays would have received a failing grade in a Freshmen English Composition class at every university across the nation (with the exception, perhaps, of “Liberty” university).

  6. Submitted by Eric Schubert on 11/19/2009 - 09:17 am.

    It’s too bad she uses such great academic credentials to tout stupidity.

  7. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/19/2009 - 09:24 am.

    I’m no fan of her either but I wish the interviewer had taken the marriage thing a step further. She doesn’t want to grant marriage to gays but would she grant “dometic partnerships” or something similar that would give legal status to gays and maybe others in unconventional, but loving and committed relationships.

    This would be, I think, an easy and reasonable step for her if she were willing to cede that many/most/all gays are living with the feelings and orientation that God gave them and that it is good for society to encourage and support them living in exclusive, monogamous relationships

  8. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 11/19/2009 - 09:29 am.

    It didn’t take long for Tobias, Schubert and Kapphahn to confirm Ms. Kersten/s comments on ad hominem insults.

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/19/2009 - 09:57 am.

    To what degree are we as citizens aware of the moral principals that we are appealing to? Whether it’s the utilitarian idea, or some conception of individual freedom or some conception of civic virtue and the common good. I think that too often these days our politics does not articulate the moral principals or understanding of justice underlying the policies that we advocate. And I think that is one of the reasons our public discourse is so impoverished.

    I think we should be open to the full range of moral resources available that people may bring to bear. Purely secular moral arguments to moral arguments that may be formed by some people and their faith traditions. I think its important when people appeal to religiously informed moral convictions that they try to persuade people who may not share that faith persuasion.

    Some religious arguments are dogmatic. Some secular arguments are dogmatic as well. Just listen to the arguments on the floor of the congress everyday. I don’t think that those whose views are formed by faith have a monopoly on dogma. Dogma is not a very good contribution to public discourse. But I wouldn’t associate it uniquely as some people tend to do with religiously informed moral arguments.

    Jesus didn’t speak at all about homosexuality. There are about 12 verses in the Bible that touch on that question. Most of them are very contextual. There are thousands of verses on poverty. I don’t hear a lot of that conversation.

    Aristotle did not have anything directly to say about same sex marriage nor did most of the philosophers. But the debate over same sex marriage involves competing conceptions of rights. Competing accounts of the relation of moral judgment to law. Competing accounts of what forms of association in family union are worthy of honor and recognition by the wider society. And all the famous philosophers that we look back upon did have powerful views about all those things. About who deserves what? About how we should decide what qualities and virtues are worthy of recognition. What does morality have to do with law? So at the heart of the debates we have from the standpoint of justice, do raise these big questions of principle.

  10. Submitted by Patrick Guernsey on 11/19/2009 - 10:07 am.

    Isn’t once a week in the Sunday Paper enough? I agree with most of the posters here. If she’d have some original ideas with more than an inch of depth, she’d be worth reading even if you don’t agree with her. But she goes on an on with the same extreme right wing talking points, so most liberals just tune her out.

  11. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 11/19/2009 - 10:11 am.

    How is it possible to be that certain about things, yet unable to name a single critic? “These people” are not going after Kersten, “we people” are and we have names.

    Kersten is deeply into smearing “the other,” because if her angry and sanctimonious rhetoric were directed at individuals, people could weigh both sides. Instead there is Kersten’s way, and then there’s everyone else lumped under the convenient pronoun “they.”

  12. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 11/19/2009 - 10:15 am.

    I find myself wondering if MinnPost would have received 158 charitable donations on “GiveMN day” if they had had the guts to publish this hit-job before hand.

  13. Submitted by michael monten on 11/19/2009 - 10:32 am.

    If MinnPost wants to be a seriously considered media site, why do they have their self-admitted conservative advocacy journalist – Quite Right – Mr. Bonafield to a puff-piece on a conversative columnist? If non-spin news reporting is all but dead as it seems to me to be, shouldn’t advocacy journalism at least try to be challenging? Shouldn’t Bonafield be interviewing someone like Nick Coleman, and leave Katherine Kersten to someone who could challenge her POV?

  14. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 11/19/2009 - 10:32 am.

    For those who wish that the interviewer would have called out Kersten on her patent falsehoods and logical fallacies need to go back and read some of Bonafield’s prior work on Minnpost. This guy makes Kersten look like a legitimate journalist by comparison.

    I understand that MinnPost feels the need to offset its perceived liberal bias, but its just sad to see this kind of tripe mixed in with the normally excellent writing here. Why not have David Brauer or Eric Black interview Kersten? That might have produced something worthwhile. I can read this kind of thing in the Star Tribune.

  15. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 10:33 am.

    Leftists are loath to admit it, but as our democratic process has proved beyond all doubt, in the matter of homosexuality Katherine speaks for the overwhelming majority of Americans.

  16. Submitted by Mike Vanderscheuren on 11/19/2009 - 10:43 am.

    I’m with Mr. Hintz — this profile done by someone with sufficient gravitas and intelligence, and in this case I would nominate Mr. Black, would have been a lot more interesting. Frankly, this sophomoric effort is not fitting of Minnpost.

  17. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 10:51 am.

    Oh, and by the way; given the rapacious incivility of the opposing fringe, the majority would be hard pressed to find a more articulate, gracious voice to speak for us.

    Katherine is an embodiment of the successful legacy of Phi Beta Kappa.

  18. Submitted by Ed Stych on 11/19/2009 - 10:54 am.

    Thanks for bringing SOMETHING conservative to MinnPost.

    You commenters crack me up. All you do is prove Kersten’s points. Plus, all you prove is that MinnPost is written by and read by liberals. You get SOOOO angry when there is anything remotely conservative on the site.

    I wonder how many of you stretch yourselves and read the WSJ opinion pages, or something similar? Or is Kersten right that all of you liberals only surround yourself with like-minded people?

    The idea of having liberals like Brauer or Black interview Kersten is a good one. Why did it take the once-a-month conservative columnist to do it? Brauer and Black have had plenty of opportunities.

    And when will MinnPost hire full-time conservative writers to interview the liberal newsmakers that populate this site?

  19. Submitted by Dann Siems on 11/19/2009 - 10:55 am.

    Liberal rage? Liberal disgust would be a more apt label. Why does anyone give Kersten a platform for her vapid and dishonest screeds. She consistently misrepresents the facts (out of blatant dishonesty or willful ignorance?) while maintaining a tone of smug superiority. I am very disappointed that MinnPost chose to give her more undeserved attention.

  20. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 11/19/2009 - 11:07 am.

    Whatever comments Ms. Kersten receives from liberal and leftist critics, one has to look at the comments that Nick Coleman receives on the Strib website.

    I rarely read Ms. Kersten’s column, but when I do, the commentators are usually attacking her facts or her interpretation of the facts.

    Nick Coleman seems to be lightning rod for vicious ad hominem attacks from the right. The commentators don’t attack Coleman’s facts; they just hurl insults that sound like verbatim transcripts of Glenn Beck’s rants. They are so worked up about him that they accuse him of being a “Communist fascist” (proof that they don’t know what either word means) even when he writes about non-political topics.

    On the whole, Kersten has it easy. She has at least as many adoring fans as critics, and her critics include a smaller percentage of rabid illiterates than Coleman’s critics do.

  21. Submitted by Martin Flom on 11/19/2009 - 11:13 am.

    Nice article, she gave straight, honest answers. That is something our politicians need to learn, then we might trust them and not call then losers it builds a good reputation that is hard to earn.

  22. Submitted by Tim Walker on 11/19/2009 - 11:19 am.

    So, Kersten believes that marriage should be between men and women exclusively because of nature’s law, i.e., sperm + egg = baby.

    A true journalist would have stopped her then and there and asked Kersten if she thinks sterile M-F couples should be allowed to marry.

    I mean, if they can’t produce a baby — the seminal (pun intended) reason for the institution of marriage according to Kersten — then aren’t they diluting the true meaning of marriage just as much as a same-sex couple who also lack the sperm + egg = baby ability?

    And, as others have pointed out, a competent interviewer should have stopped her plenty of times previously, and called her out on the several falsehoods on which she bases her opinions.

    And it’s typical that when the letters to the editor that follow her columns point out that she has based her opinions on faulty assumptions, she cries “Ad hominum attack”!

  23. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 11:34 am.

    Infertile couples can adopt…many (most?) do; Mission Accomplished.

  24. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 11:52 am.

    Satire, David…sacred satire. Good, clean fun.

  25. Submitted by Paul Mielke on 11/19/2009 - 11:53 am.

    Tired of the conservatives whining about how angry liberals exclude their thought. It is just entirely ALSO true that in conservative media and in MOST conservative writings, the left-liberals are completely shut out, ridiculed, and RAGED AT by conservatives.

    It’s hilarious to see to conservatives clucking together about how oppressed they are by libs. HOGWASH!!!!!!!!!

    I’m NOT a lib, either!!

  26. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/19/2009 - 12:11 pm.

    Mr. Swift–
    Gay couples also can (and do, where legal) adopt, with equally good results.

  27. Submitted by Barbara Miller on 11/19/2009 - 12:21 pm.

    “Liberal rage” is a conservative talking point. What’s at issue here is human rage, having nothing much to do with politics (though we have had it wedged up the wazoo by the right) and everything to do with compassion and the human condition.

    Remember the “compassionate conservative” meme? The radical right is fond of labels that mean nothing. They are incendiary devices, intended only and always to injure the left. There is no substance to these talking points whatsoever.

    Is there such a thing as a compassionate conservative? Yes. But they have become an endangered species. The game that’s afoot in this decade is to shout down civility. And civility used to be the hallmark of the left. But in order to be heard over the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, Palin, Bachmann, Kersten, etc., it has become necessary to shout back, ratcheting up the rancor.

    I would like to believe that the radical right hasn’t lost its collective mind (thank you, Charles Barkley), but evidence points suggests that may be so.

    And about the Star Tribune being a liberal publication in this era of desperate pandering to advertisers and big money? I think not.

  28. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 12:34 pm.

    “Gay couples also can (and do, where legal) adopt, with equally good results.”

    That’s one story. Plenty of studies say not so much.

    Usually comes down to what one is willing to accept as “good” as opposed to “better than nothing”. Even that’s not settled.

  29. Submitted by Bradley Traynor on 11/19/2009 - 12:40 pm.

    The gays want to destroy marriage by getting married…

    I wonder if this logic was at work when Kersten found religion. Maybe she’s trying to destroy Christianity from the inside. Keep up the good work, Katherine!

  30. Submitted by Rick Prescott on 11/19/2009 - 12:44 pm.

    My favorite part:

    MP: How do you feel about being a lightning rod for liberal rage?

    KK: I enjoy it! I really do.

    Of course she does. Without it, she would have no job.

    The saddest part of this story is that the Strib, knowing full well that Kersten’s arguments are either absurd, based brazenly on falsehoods, or both, still keeps her on the payroll. That she is simply a parrot should be enough to dispense with her as a columnist. (Yes, her presence — and Coleman’s — is yet another reason why I reluctantly stopped my subscription to the newspaper. It’s talk radio in print form.)

    My only hope is that somewhere some teacher of logic is having students dissect Kersten’s writing/thinking to learn just how it is that fallacies can be so seductive and deceptive (and difficult to detect).

    And I hope that some teacher of journalism is making students try to verify her various historical claims to understand that half-truths and non-truths must be outed rather than allowed to pass for The Truth.

    And I hope that some theology professor is making students dig into the wide variety of opinion found in sacred texts (especially the Bible) regarding the social issues Kersten portrays as settled.

    In this way, Kerten’s work could be of value in so many fields: biology, sociology, reproductive medicine, even the learning of the scientific method.

    If only we as a society could tap this resource, modern popular thinking and reasoning might actually be advanced beyond what this article takes as a given: the perpetual and regrettable Battle of Simplified and Labeled Ideologies.

  31. Submitted by Christa Moseng on 11/19/2009 - 01:03 pm.

    This was about as illuminating as watching Bill O’Reilly interview Sean Hannity. “How do you feel about being a lightning rod for commie pinko sympathizer rage?” “It would be a burden were my opinions not so cogent and the factual premises upon which they rely so inviolable.”

  32. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 01:10 pm.

    “The gays want to destroy marriage by getting married…”

    Not only is that a distortion of what Kerstin actually said, she says exactly the opposite:

    “Interest in marriage among gay people, particularly gay men, is far less than it is among the heterosexual population.”

    Kerstin says it’s the devaluation of marriage the radicals are after, not the inclusion.

    Another a victim to lack of comprehension:

    “in her second paragraph, she states without equivocation this notion that marriage has always been two people, one man one woman.”

    Actually, she says that marriage has always *included* two people of differing genders.

    Since I’m quite sure Notre Dame’s summa cum laude graduates are quite aware of our polygamous history I think the thoughtful reader is safe to assume she meant marriage has always included *at least* two people of differing genders.

    Katherine also said she gets responses suggesting “This person didn’t read what she actually wrote.”

    Perhaps a re-reading of the piece at hand is in order for some.

  33. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/19/2009 - 01:18 pm.

    Thomas Swift says: “Leftists are loath to admit it, but as our democratic process has proved beyond all doubt, in the matter of homosexuality Katherine speaks for the overwhelming majority of Americans. ”

    Once the overwhelming majority of Americans agreed with the ideas of the Klu Klux Klan concerning the humanity of black people, a point that rightists “are loath to admit”. Once the overwhelming majority of Christians thought Jews should be burned or converted, a point that rightists “are loath to admit”.

    That little point aside, and I almost always side with the liberals in political discussions, but I think the near-universal vituperative response here is pathetic. You prove her point.

    I’m glad Minnpost has this contrarian here. I don’t agree but I enjoy the contrast and I can read her seriously hoping to see something I can agree with.

    The problem I have with Kersten is she speaks in her articles only to those who already agree with her. There is no effort to persuade those who would start out disagreeing with her. I see most here will never be persuaded but it is the fault of both sides of the debate that they strive only to convince themselves and not look for common ground. Hence my point in an earlier post that I wish he had asked if she would agree to domestic partnerships for nontraditional households.

  34. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 11/19/2009 - 01:40 pm.

    This idea that the people fighting for marriage equality are radicals who are rabid and angry is just not supported by the facts.

    Oh, sure, you can find bloggers who foam at the mouth. But they are not actually doing the work of marriage equality.

    Come to Bloomington some Sunday morning and meet the sweet, married, gray-haired grandmothers at Minnesota Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

    They’re working hard for equality for LGBT people. And they don’t embody ANY of the characteristics KK smears marriage activists with.

    It is because KK can hold us all apart as other that she can claim all these smear-filled characterizations of marriage equality activists.

    The movement includes countless people of good will and who see the redemptive power of inclusive love. I sure don’t feel redeemed by Kersten’s scornful descriptions of activists she doesn’t even know.

  35. Submitted by Bradley Traynor on 11/19/2009 - 01:44 pm.

    Señor Swift:

    To quote the lady herself:

    “But then there are people in the ‘gay rights’ leadership — or in the leadership of the same-sex marriage movement — who take a radical view. They want to see an upending of the institution of marriage. I mean, that’s very clear. There’s lots of evidence that some of these people would like to see, essentially, the end of marriage as an institution altogether.”

    Boil that down and tell me how it doesn’t sound like “The gays want to destroy marriage by getting married…”

  36. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 11/19/2009 - 01:46 pm.

    So… um… Thomas Swift is backing Kersten’s argument that if marriage was always some particular way, it should remain that way… and then clarified that she means “at least two people of differing genders”.

    I’m left to believe that Mr. Swift is advocating polyamory.

  37. Submitted by Randi Reitan on 11/19/2009 - 01:58 pm.

    This piece was nothing more than another Kersten column. Sad to see it on MinnPost.

    As a mother who dearly loves her gay son, I am so weary of Kersten’s tired old rhetoric against the gay community.

    Truth will triumph in the end but it is sad MinnPost doesn’t understand the pain felt by so many dear people whenever Kersten is the given the opportunity to speak.

  38. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 02:02 pm.

    Actually, Bill, at no time did even a simple majority of Americans subscribe to the KKK’s philosophy…you might remember a little thing we called the civil war?

    But to your larger point.

    Concerning human rights, when you can convince anything nearing a majority of people that a behavior is like skin pigment you’ll be on a roll.

    Best of luck.

  39. Submitted by Roy Johansen on 11/19/2009 - 02:19 pm.

    Its bad enough with having to put up with her bigotry, homophobia, Islamophobia in the StarTrib, but now you, The MinnPost give her a platform to spew more of her hate. And to give her two days to do it in is the pits.

  40. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 02:21 pm.

    Bradley, it doesn’t sound like that because it doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say that because that’s not what Kerstin wishes to convey.

    (sigh) Look.

    Kerstin says, explicitly says, that homosexuals are not really interested in “getting married”; they want to distort and destroy marriage.

    Are you so intimidated that you’d rather invent something than read the actual text?

    And if you’d care to look at the statistics from states that have had “gay marriage” foisted upon them by the courts or legislatures (no state has legalized “gay marriage” through the will of the people), you’d find plenty of evidence to prove her right….they’re not getting married where they can.

  41. Submitted by Bradley Traynor on 11/19/2009 - 02:27 pm.

    um… mr. swift, when you discover that being gay goes far beyond ‘behavior’ perhaps you’d like to join us here in the 21st century.

  42. Submitted by Howard Miller on 11/19/2009 - 02:40 pm.

    If the Strib was Fox News, Garrison Keillor would play Hannity – the dominant view, well-articulated – and Kersten would play Coombs – the utterly invisible spokesperson for the other view – that WAS the invisible guy’s name, correct?

    Kersten makes assertions about the history of marriage and the beliefs of liberals that are knowably false. That is frustrating, rude and has the effect of killing intelligent conversation.

    Her impressive educational credentials have not helped her critical thinking skills enough in my view.

  43. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 02:50 pm.

    Bradley, sexual relations are a behavior.

    If you can name one, just one trait, that defines homosexuality other than the desire to have sexual relations with a member of the same sex, I will admit that gay rights are equivalent with “human rights” in the broader sense.

  44. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 11/19/2009 - 03:20 pm.

    Going to church is a behavior but for some reason we’re pretty comfortable with “religious rights” and not only grant complete equality for religious actions (eg, religious speech) but have all sorts of special rights and exceptions for religious behavior (eg, certain types of drug use).

    But anyways. It’s true that that desire is defining, but the point is that it stems from an immutable place inside a person and appears to have significant genetic components.

    And so what if it didn’t? I don’t think the question about “choice” or “not choice” – basically meaningless in this context anyways – matters at all. Because only the most selfish and meddling person tries to deny things to others than will do them no harm by making them available. You’d think a conservative would be the first to put “liberty” and “freedom” above all else – or at least they pretend they do. Isn’t part of freedom giving people maximum possibilities so long as they don’t infringe on your own? Ha! If anyone’s guilty of “social engineering”, it’s conservatives, not liberals.

    • Submitted by scott gibson on 07/19/2012 - 12:58 pm.

      Very well put

      I thought conservatives would not be about interfering in your personal life. Of course, I also thought they would be about ‘conservation’.

  45. Submitted by Charlie Quimby on 11/19/2009 - 03:22 pm.

    Rick Prescott, in his litany of Kersten’s potential contributions to college curricula, forgot to mention a hope that some psychology professor is using this interview to illustrate a really advanced case of projection.

  46. Submitted by Bradley Traynor on 11/19/2009 - 03:34 pm.

    thomas, being gay is about loving someone of the same gender. love is not sex.

    where should i send your ‘i support gay rights’ t-shirt?

  47. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 03:36 pm.

    You’re right, Jeff. We do many things to encourage some behaviors, and we do things to discourage others. And yes, it is nothing less than social engineering.

    Given that, the truthful point of the “gay rights” argument is most succinctly “do we wish to encourage homosexual behavior”?

    I’m all for having a thoughtful debate on the pro and con of that question, unfortunately most leftists are not ready to be honest enough with themselves or anyone else to engage that one.

    I give you credit for at least confronting the obvious starting point.

  48. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 03:46 pm.

    Bradley, I love my brothers, I loved my Dad, I love a few life long friends.

    But I don’t want to have sex with any of them; because I’m not homosexual.

    Love is not a singularly defining trait of homosexuality.


  49. Submitted by Kris Berggren on 11/19/2009 - 04:09 pm.

    Here’s the thing: if you think about it without the rose-colored glasses, marriage is a social contract, a business transaction. Who knows how marriage actually got started? Sure, early humans did pair off, I would guess mostly or always in male-female couples–but back then reproduction of the species drove everything–division of labor, kinship arrangements, tribal cohesiveness, right?

    Over time, church and state adopted authority over marriages because of property rights, and then imposed a moral overlay on top of the institution of marriage as a means of organizing society. Unfortunately, women in many cultures has been/is considered property to be dealt from male father to male husband. Hmmm. Children, same deal. Marriage for love and from free will — and the romanticization thereof — has only been around for a relatively tiny part of human history.

    In any case, today the way we do marriage in America confers some commercial and legal benefits–visitation and decision making in medical emergencies, inheritance rights and tax benefits. If same-sex couples want to make a marriage contract, and are capable of entering into it, seems fair and balanced to me.

    I’m a long and happily married (21 years) straight woman and mother who’s been active in her faith community for years. I’m not knocking marriage for love or for any other reason but since we’ve evolved from those hunter-gatherer days why not allow marriage to evolve with us?

  50. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 11/19/2009 - 04:11 pm.

    So you can “encouraging homosexual behavior” or “discouraging homosexual behavior”. Fine. I’d say it couldn’t matter less – there’s no reason to encourage or discourage it. And since you’re not going to make homosexuals heterosexual, there’s no possibility to successfully discourage it anyways.

    In any cause, the rights being requesting for by this community are the same as already exist for the heterosexual community – they’re not different. So allowing these rights to exist is simply a neutral policy anyways.

    At the end of the day, the only reason to have a problem with marriage benefits and such is because you want to actively discourage something that has no negative effect on you and can’t be successfully discouraged anyways. What a waste of time. Surely you have some more important conservative cause to crusade for.

  51. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 11/19/2009 - 04:12 pm.

    Mr. Swift, your riposte to Bradley completely and willfully misses the point.

    Of course the love one feels for a parent or dog or best friend has qualitative differences than that for one that we pair-bond with (unless you have the misfortune to be named Oedipus).

    But the urge to pair up, to open one’s heart to one true and only love may *or may not* include any tab A – slot B activities.

    Get your mind out of your prurient place for a moment and you might have to acknowledge that love is about commitment, honor, shared sacrifice, etc. The gender of the beloved is the issue, not the sex.

  52. Submitted by Bradley Traynor on 11/19/2009 - 04:16 pm.

    two things, thomas:

    one, ‘homosexuals’ do not want to have sex with their brothers or dads or lifelong friends either… unless their lifelong friends are hot.

    two, i don’t know if you’re married or have a girlfriend or what, but… my love for men is no different than your love for women. it’s not just about sex.

  53. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 11/19/2009 - 04:26 pm.

    I’ve read this a number of times, just to be sure that I want to say this. I am very sure.

    My beef with Kersten is that she is not a very good writer. She does not formulate arguemtns in a way that lays them out logically and rarely offers specifics or useful analogies. This article is like everything that she writes – a series of statements. That only goes so far towards presenting an argument.

    I realize that I do this too, so feel free to call me a hypocrite. But I’m not paid what she is, either.

    I’m also dismayed that in the Q&A that some of the obviously wrong statements that were strung together were never questioned. The reporter is passive, never responding to the material presented by Kersten. What Would Mike Wallace Do? (WWMWD).

    There is often a fine line between reporting and commentary and another fine line between commentary and political campaigning. What’s wrong with Kersten is that she rarely seems to even try to stay near the line, always operating like a politician. This is another example of that MO.

    To me, that’s a quality issue first and foremost.

  54. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 04:36 pm.

    I agree. Most people don’t want to encourage it, and discouraging it won’t stop it from occurring, so we pick door #3.

    We tolerate it. Nothing to help, nothing to hurt.

    When you say “the rights being requesting for by this community are the same as already exist for the heterosexual community – they’re not different” you leave the tracks and are headed for the losing side of a rational, fact based debate.

    The right to marry is extended to every American under exactly the same circumstances; there is no discrimination other than age and genealogy, which we’ve all agreed is necessary.

    But radical homosexual activists are not interested in partaking of their existing rights, and as Katherine points out, they’re not really interested in their new version either. The point is to force upon society, the normalization of a behavior most everyone finds, um, un-natural at best.

    In order to do that, they have embarked upon a focused, deliberate attack upon all of the traditions and institutions that make their behavior choices stand out as “different”, to be tactful.

    “At the end of the day, the only reason to have a problem with marriage benefits and such is because you want to actively discourage something that has no negative effect on you”.

    Actually, I can point out many negative consequences of homosexual behavior that do indeed effect not just me, but “the commons” as a whole; but this is probably not the venue to have an effective debate about them.

    For now, I’ll simply state that there is no benefit to society by extending special privileges to folks that have alternative tastes in sexual behaviors…the one we were designed for has worked pretty well since the dawn of time.

    It seems that “toleration” is the choice of the reasoned, thoughtful person.

  55. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 04:49 pm.

    “Get your mind out of your prurient place for a moment and you might have to acknowledge that love is about commitment, honor, shared sacrifice, etc.”

    I served in the Navy, and although I didn’t see combat, every sailor, Marine or soldier I ever spoke to describes their relationship with their comrades in exactly those terms. For many I am still acquainted with, those deeply committed relationships continued through their lives.

    Leaving out prurient “A and B slot” references, none of their relationships could be described as homosexual.

    Sexual behavior is the single defining trait of homosexuality.

    You can argue passionately; you can attempt to cheapen the discussion by attaching unsavory references to your opposition, but the facts and the immutable law of nature will not be denied.


  56. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 04:57 pm.

    Eric, I think you’ve made some valid observations.

    There are several high profile, um, I hate to call them leaders….spokespeople is better, that have excellent grasps of their positions, but lack the skill to articulate them. And yes, I’d count myself as too often inarticulate (though certainly not a spokesman for anyone other than myself).

    Although as a opinion writer, I agree with her view point much of the time, that Katherine might benefit from a refresher course in debate is an proposition I wouldn’t argue with.

  57. Submitted by Steve Marchese on 11/19/2009 - 04:59 pm.

    Thank you, Erik. I completely agree.

    My beef with Kersten is that her work is intellectually sloppy, poorly reasoned and designed to purposely incite, as opposed to enlighten or inform. She’s completely free, of course, to say whatever she wants under the First Amendment. Whether I agree with her or not has nothing to do with it. (And I disagree with her about 98% of the time.)

    My question is why the Star Tribune has decided she is a worthwhile contributor who deserves to be paid be for her thoughts. Of all the potential conservative columnists, I can’t believe that she is the one who writes the best and most thoughtfully presents her perspective. Of course, that assumes that thoughtfulness is what the Strib wants (as opposed to theater).

    After reading a number of her columns, I finally decided not to bother. She’s not worth the time or attention. If she has something intelligent to say someday, I might hear about it. But, for now, I’d rather read a David Brooks or even a Ross Douthat — they at least put some real thought work into what they do.

  58. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 11/19/2009 - 05:15 pm.

    Alright, Swift. One more try – though it seems utterly hopeless.

    After my mom died in 1996, my dad started dating a woman in 1997. Very nice, attractive woman with similar values, same generation, friends in common, etc.

    When they obviously became ‘an item’ did I think bout their sex lives? No. Ugh, why would I?

    All I cared about (and still do, since they’ve been together 12 years) is: is there love between them? Are they kind to each other? Do they have each others best interests in mind and heart?

    The answer to all of that is yes. Is their relationship defined in your eyes by whether they have sex or not, Swift? Is that your criteria? How reductivist and sad.

    BTW, after 12 years and 11 years engaged to be married, they have been cohabitating “in sin” (quotes because I don’t feel that way at all, nor do they as far as I know). They haven’t married because of tax laws.

    If KK is serious about helping marriage, how about taking on that impediment to matrimony!

  59. Submitted by Christopher Taykalo on 11/19/2009 - 05:42 pm.

    The comments here are really quite fascinating. I don’t even know where to begin.

    It is said in journalism that “if it bleeds, it leads” and that if you are the group shouting the loudest, the media will pay attention to you.

    All of our media outlets, both progressive and conservative are giving the coverage to the people who are screaming the loudest. Right now, it is Kersten, Bachmann, Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, etc. who are screaming the loudest, so they are getting the most coverage. Wouldn’t it be great if the media stopped reporting on those who are screaming the loudest and started reporting the truth? This doesn’t exactly sound like “liberal rage” to me.

    For all of the people making negative comments about the GLBT community, I’m curious to know how many of you are divorced. Hasn’t divorce done more to destroy marriage and the family than the fact that 2 gay people actually love each other and want to share their lives together? Whatever happened to “till death do us part?”

    Mr. Swift, I realize that I have the same right as you do to marry a woman, but why should I make us both miserable? For the tax break? There are 1500 rights and privileges that come with marriage. Why shouldn’t I and my partner of 14 years be entitled to some of those same rights?

    You mention that same-sex sex is “well, un-natural.” For you, this is true, you are absolutely right. Look at it from the perspective of a gay person. Do you think a gay person views sex with the opposite sex as natural?

    Furthermore, Ms. Kersten mentions that “the tunnel vision of the left is incredible.” Really? The last time I checked, I believe it was the socially conservative people who were the narrow-minded ones saying hateful and hurtful things.

    She also mentions that she reads the New York Times and CNN. Well, I read the Wall Street Journal and at least their conservative columnists use logic and reason rather than fear mongering tactics.

    Finally, the whole “marriage is all about pro-creation” concept basically invalidates many people’s marriages because they choose not to have children. Or they are responsible and realize they don’t have the resources to raise a child so they serve the community in other ways.

    While I welcome hearing viewpoints from both sides of the aisle and fostering healthy debate and discourse, I’m really disappointed that MinnPost decided to post this interview to its site. Ms. Kersten merely likes to push people’s buttons and clearly she succeeded. I don’t think I’ll be reading part 2 tomorrow. We all know what Katherine Kersten thinks about gay people and the concept of same-sex marriage and since these are merely her opinions, they aren’t exactly what I would call news-worthy.

  60. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/19/2009 - 06:02 pm.

    Ralf, you’re right.

    The chance of making a successful argument in support of the proposition that sand is food by pointing out how tasty a Caesar salad is, is hopeless.


  61. Submitted by Adam Minter on 11/19/2009 - 06:20 pm.

    Just scanned the 60+ comments and unless I missed something, nobody has had a thing to say about anything mentioned in the second half of the interview. That’s a pity because, like her or not, she’s just leveled a pretty trenchant critique at the Strib newsroom, the overall lack of intellectual diversity there, and how that lack of diversity contributes to its cookie-cutter approach to covering the news.

  62. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/19/2009 - 06:35 pm.

    Wrong Mr Swift, the defining element of Homosexuality is the attaction not the action. Most gays say the attraction was there long before the action. Most would also so that celebite or no, they are still gay.

    But bigots always try to cover up what they really mean. You question my comments about racism by saying it was about slavery. Most white people in the 19th century, pro or con on slavery, believed that blacks were inherently incapable of higher academic achievement or finer thought and feeling in general, which is something that most people would say about Fox TV loving conservatives.

    Also you failed to answer my comments about Jews and Christianity, probably because you don’t have a glib, hypocritical, obfuscating answer. But your tricks are the tricks of your Fox friends and Republican leaders in general since Gingrich: Caricature the other side of your own crimes to avoid fair discussion: Say, “Oh, it’s the left that are the real racists.” “Oh, it’s the liberals who are full of rage. That’s why they hate America.” Or like the chicken hawks said: “Kerry was a coward.” You were in the navy, hero? When I was in Nam we all knew that guys joined the navy because it was the one sure place to avoid service in country.

    I guess for the sake of this column I totally take back any concilitory comments I may have made about Kertsen or people on the right. The purposely dense My Swift proves every foul thought I’ve had about people on the right: Their bigotted, narrow thoughts were set before they were adults and they will spend the rest of their lives justifying them. I knew racists southerners in the service and went through the futile exercise of trying to get them to see the fallacy of their thought but it wasn’t possible. They learned it on their daddys’ knees and no one could tell them different.

  63. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/19/2009 - 06:35 pm.

    Christopher: here is a variation of the theme regarding your comment divorce…

    Were Jesus to return to Earth, he might be excused for guessing that the “Defense of Marriage Act” that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 had something to do with the prohibition of divorce.

    How disappointed, then, Jesus would be to discover that the “Defense of Marriage Act” has nothing at all to do with the prohibition of divorce but is, instead, a law that prevents the creation of new marriages–namely, gay marriages. The Savior, who never spoke a word about homosexuality, would need to have a young conservative activist explain to him that though this law does not prevent civil unions between gays, it has succeeded rather well, until just recently, in barring the path to gay marriage.

    “If your people are determined to bring your country into accord with my teaching,” he would say, “then let them dissolve all second marriages and write my prohibition of divorce into their Constitution. But if they insist on overruling that prohibition, then let them look to their other prohibitions and consider revising them as well. For how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the mote out of your eye,’ when there is a beam in your own?” (Matthew 7:4).

    And then Jesus would take his leave, saying to his young friend in his steely and unflinching way, “He who can take this, let him take it” (Matt. 19:18).

  64. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 11/19/2009 - 06:52 pm.

    A neutral, equal-right situation means giving them an equivalent right – because regular marriage is either here nor there to them – not a literal one.

    “there is no benefit to society by extending special privileges to folks that have alternative tastes in sexual behaviors”

    Only the most head in the sand literalist sees gay marriage as a “special privilege”. Anyone with the least bit of mental flexibility sees the need for a perfectly equivalent – not special, but different – privilege. That is the neutral stance.

    When the gay couple next door to you get married, it’s not a bit of skin off your back (in fact, you end up with the benefits to society that heterosexual marriage has: more stable relationships, which conservatives love, or so I’m told). Those two people, on the other hand, benefit hugely. The happiness of a significant portion of the population is at stake with no cost to you and you deny it to them, nothing short of spiteful and evil.

    What do you suggest they do, Tom? What? Become straight? Or simply live in second-class misery? Which is it?

    This is where Minnpost’s no-name-calling clause gets tough.

  65. Submitted by none none on 11/19/2009 - 08:03 pm.

    Author Editor Thomas Swift says:
    “…Sexual behavior is the single defining trait of homosexuality….”
    I am trying to understand your morbid obsession with other people’s sex lives.

    I too served in the Navy, am happily married and have a professional degree.

    I am not aware of any family members or close friends that are gay.

    This is one of those issues –and there are several– that have led to my departure from the GOP.

    You do the party no favors, Mr. Swift. You not only fail to persuade others who have a different opinion, you have also been complicit in the moderate exodus from your party.

  66. Submitted by Rick Prescott on 11/19/2009 - 09:20 pm.

    It disappoints me to see that the discussion has gotten mired in the gay marriage quicksand. Forget trying to convince anyone of anything. Minds are closed. It’s pointless. (The comforting inevitability is that if you are arguing against gay marriage now, you’re tomorrow’s Strom Thurmond.)

    But I wonder, why take the bait? Kersten reminds me of the Simspons episode where ignoring the rampaging advertising is the only way to kill it.

    You simply cannot reason with a person (or any segment of the population) which does not make decisions using reason. (And I’m not limiting this critique to any particular end of the political spectrum.) What passes for “argument” these days is generally nothing more than labeling and framing, with occasional forays into name-calling and obfuscation. Kersten’s writing is a perfect example of how these techniques get used and actually work. (More curriculum there, I think.)

    But setting that aside, and following on Adam Minter’s mention of the second half of this interview, to hear Kersten’s condescending tone toward her employer and coworkers is positively grating. To hear her call herself a “journalist” is deeply discouraging. To think that she makes money for WRITING or THINKING is heartbreaking. (I’m with Erik Hare. She’s not even a good writer.)

    And to think that the Strib is oblivious to her vast shortcomings is absurd. They know. But they also know that, because people take her bait so readily, her presence serves to raise the visibility of their corporation.

    Despite what her employer may say publicly about her, her column (with Coleman’s) is nothing more than a cynical profit strategy.

    How sad is that?

  67. Submitted by Sheila Ehrich on 11/19/2009 - 09:21 pm.

    “She holds a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame, from which she graduated summa cum laude, and a master’s degree from Yale. Kersten is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.”

    Given Ms. Kersten’s educational background, one would expect that she would know how to do research for an article and be able to document her sources.

    The aforementioned institutions must be desperately trying to find some way to disassociate themselves from Ms. Kersten and her inability to use documented facts rather than broad strokes of opinion unsupported by any documentation.

    I may be a liberal, but my rage is against stupidity, not conservatism. The Strib’s newsroom may have leanings, but at least when a reporter writes an article, you are able to check their “facts” from the original sources.

    Ah, but Ms. Kersten is not a reporter, she is a “Commentator”. So apparently adherence to the rules of good journalism go out the window. Opinon is the thing and the facts be damned.

  68. Submitted by Ambrose Charpentier on 11/19/2009 - 09:31 pm.

    I do hope that in tomorrow’s segment Mr. Bonafield asks Ms. Kersten about the details and sanctity of her own marriage. Is she happy in it? Is her husband? Has she been faithful? Has her husband? Is her husband heterosexual? Is she? Do the answers to any of those questions have anything to do with her persistent antipathy toward gay people?

    I also hope we get some insight into why Ms. Kersten is just so goldarned MEAN all the time. Which of her needs are not getting met? What resentments has she been carrying all her life and why? How have her (many) children been damaged by her life of hatred?

    I’m sure a fine reporter like Mr. Bonafield is up the task. And if he failed to get the answers to these questions in Part II, perhaps he will produce Part III for us and provide them.

  69. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 11/19/2009 - 10:38 pm.

    Adam, no one said anything about the second half of her article – her critique of the Star Tribune newsroon – because it is notable only for its sheer stupidity and Kertsen’s failure to recognize the obvious irony in her comments. Quotes like this are just priceless:

    “When you are telling news stories, it can be very helpful to see the world through a different lens.”

    Kersten is not only incapable of seeing the world through any lens other than her own extremely narrow-minded one, she is unable to even articulate a coherent defense of her positions. And to her it doesn’t matter – she’s just right.

    The thing about the gay marriage debate is that anyone who has friends/relatives/neighbors, etc. in committed same-sex relationships knows just how absurd and cruel Kersten’s arguments are. But Kersten’s world apparently doesn’t involve anyone who would actually be affected by the laws she is talking about, and she is incapable of looking beyong her own little world.

    If this was a story about small business owners or military families I would be willing to listen to her complaints about the Star Tribune newsroom being out of touch. She probably does have a better insight into their issues than most “liberal” Star Tribune reporters. But the issue here is gay marriage, and her only insight is her own ignorance and bigotry.

  70. Submitted by Sally Ayres on 11/20/2009 - 07:47 am.

    “As a result, I can’t escape the worldview of the left — what Thomas Sowell calls “the vision of the anointed.”

    Sowell describes “the anointed” as the intellectual and political elite who believe strongly that they are not only smarter and more able than everybody else, but that they are also better human beings. They see themselves as more virtuous, as having only good intentions — unlike those who disagree with them. If you’re surrounded by people like that — as many on the left are — it’s hard to get a sense of the complexity of life. ”
    Excuse me.. the view of the Left?.. What Ms Kersten describes is the Right Wing Gop group that calls themselves “values voters”. What could be more elite than her and the GOP crowd living in their echo chamber deciding who can and cannot be married, who can and can not raise children, who can and cannot have health insurance, becasue THEY know what’s best for all of us.

  71. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/20/2009 - 07:49 am.

    Conservatives like Kersten and Mr Swift like to focus on the word marriage when discussing gays. It is a key word that gets many fairly neutral people to support their position. That’s why gay marriage proposals keep losing.

    What they don’t want to talk about is granting equal or similar rights through dometic partnerships. That would be a sensible, moderate position. But for people like Kersten and Swift who’s core audience hates gays deeply and passionately, any hint of moderation would have them attacked as liberal wackos and traitors.

    Of course that assumes that Kersten and Swift don’t also hate gays deeply and passionately and the word for that is bigotry. Kersten’s job security rests on putting a smiling intellectual veneer over narrow, backwoods hatred and silly ideas like creationism and pandering to people’s selfish interests over social benevolence when discussing “the size of government” and tax issues.

  72. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 11/20/2009 - 08:47 am.

    MP: “…a lightning rod for liberal rage?”

    KKK: “I enjoy it. I really do.”

    What has evolved here is aggravating church policy by Kersten presented as policy for the state.

    And we should be ‘entertained’ by ultra-conservative church dogma so presented because Kersten obcessively enjoys the backlash?

    There is a lot of media slippage that went down here yesterday and it does not reflect journalism’s finest moments.

  73. Submitted by Henry Wolff on 11/20/2009 - 09:26 am.

    Katherine nails all the factors at play here. I’m not sure if I agree with her ultimate conclusion, but she understands and describes the landscape better than anyone.

  74. Submitted by Jenny McDougal on 11/20/2009 - 10:14 am.

    Oh lord. The only thing Kersten inspires in liberals is eye-rolling. Next time, Mr Bonafield should interview a conservative pundit who is actually relevant instead of someone who just spouts pre-packaged talking points. Yawn.

  75. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 11/20/2009 - 10:39 am.

    We could also describe the right-left divide in U.S. politics as an illustration of the belief that there are two kinds of people in the world:

    One believes that human beings are basically evil and must be controlled from above by parents and then the state(the Right).

    The other believes that humans are basically good and must be given the freedom and the help (guidance, education) to develop into the best person it is within their power to become (the Left).

  76. Submitted by Angeleen Rohda on 11/20/2009 - 05:05 pm.

    She talks about how rational she is in debating this and how ‘angry’ her opponents are as a way to defend herself as being right. It doesn’t make sense.

    I believe that ability to remain ‘rational’ or unemotional, or dispassionate when someone is disrespecting who you are as a person is a rare trait amongst all people. And it is a much easier accomplishment for her to remain calm when she is the one making judgements and hurtful accusations on others. To remain calm when degrading another person is actually quite easy and proves nothing.

  77. Submitted by Richard Blake on 11/20/2009 - 05:20 pm.

    I wonder how it is that the right gets to call the Left “the anointed?” Ms Kersten quotes Thomas Sowell as saying that “the anointed” are the intellectual and political elite who believe strongly that they are not only smarter and more able than everybody else, but that they are also better human beings.”

    It seems to me that description fits both sides of the political extremes. Surely the Far Right, who condemn those who believe anything other than what they believe as God-less and anti-American also see themselves as smarter, definitely more virtuous and far more able than others to make ‘the right’ decision. So how is it that they so often succeed in portraying the liberal left as “the anointed” ones and are able to escape that label themselves? And how is it that the liberals do not call them out on their hypocrisy?

    I believe Ms. Kersten when she says she puts a great deal of thought and exploration of other views into her own opinions. But in this case, I believe she swallowed Sowell’s depiction of the Left without examining the same tendencies in the Right.

  78. Submitted by Candace Carlson on 11/21/2009 - 02:09 pm.

    What is going to bring us to a grinding halt is overpopulation, deregulation, diseases and poverty. Can this strange woman from Edina really think that same sex marriage can endanger us as much as what the Republican majority and George Bush has done to our country?

    The untrammeled capitalism so touted by the powerful has done nothing but put the world at risk of economic collapse.

    The sectarian religious have created a world filled with terror and war.

    The industrial complex has bankrupt our nation.

    What did gays ever do to deserve such bias and hatred?

  79. Submitted by jim hughes on 11/22/2009 - 07:18 pm.

    Is there no escape from Katherine Kersten? I thought I was free of her, at MinnPost, but now she’s bigger here than she was back at the Strib. I guess my next stop will be the MPR news site.

  80. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 11/23/2009 - 06:31 am.

    All points of view need public airing be they conservative or liberal.

    However, the personal views of K Kersten are well documented, so why all the white space to reestablish what?

    Maybe if the interview had been more balanced in its questioning rather than the same ol’ predictable manifesto establishing KK as the ‘Baba Yaga’ of bigotry; questions that would more definitively reveal applicatory and self explanatory questions; questions that may have to some degree, possibly even validated the interview… such as:

    What would KK do if her son were gay or her daughter were lesbian?

    Would she welcome them with open arms and embrace their lifestyle choices as a loving mother?

    Would she welcome them at the family Thanksgiving feast?

    And if so, embrace their partners in spite of her publicly exposed views?

    Would she ‘pray for their soul’…or ask their forgiveness for hers?

    When the private lives of others are so embedded in the public manifesto exposed in these duo-interviews, is it not reasonable that such an interview explore also, the virtual or real personal choices so embedded in KK’s public condemnation of others’ private choices?

  81. Submitted by Terry Hayes on 11/23/2009 - 10:03 am.

    I didn’t read the story (can’t stand Kersten) but I do have a comment on the profound sanctity of marriage between a man a woman.
    My cousin’s niece, a woman, was recently married to a man. The marriage was performed by my cousin, a nurse, who went to and paid $10 to become a certified minister who can legally marry people (except in Hennepin County, which requires heftier credentials– she had to go to Anoka County to get licensed.) So for 10 bucks, she was able to unite the young couple in the holy sanctified pure sacrament of marriage between (one) man and (one) woman.
    Plus whatever Anoka charged for the minister’s license.

  82. Submitted by Sarah Gerton on 11/25/2010 - 01:11 am.

    Reading this article, and all the comments, has thoroughly convinced me that once we have made up our minds about gay marriage, no amount of reasoning from the other side will sway us either way, especially when it’s presented in a long, tedious back-and-forth between logical thinkers and people who will not listen to logic, like Ms. Kersten.

    The only thing that could possibly change these radical conservatives’ minds, I think, is actually getting to know someone who is homosexual and finally understanding that these are not reprobate monsters but real humans, with personalities and ambitions and fears. I am a straight woman who was apathetic about gay rights until I had the good fortune to befriend a boy who is kind, quiet, intelligent, modest, spiritual, compassionate, and gay. I wish I could introduce him to Katherine Kersten, Michael Bonafield, Thomas Swift, and anyone else that pretends not to hate gays. He would change their minds.

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