30 Issues: The Culture Wars - Is There Common Ground?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rachel Laser, director of Third Way's Culture Program, works to find common ground on issues like abortion and gun regulation.

David Buckel, Marriage Project Director at Lambda Legal, looks at areas of agreement--between the candidates and in the country--on the issue of gay unions.

Anthony Licata, editor of , Field & Stream magazine, talks about the urban/rural divide when it comes to guns and hunting.


Anthony Licata, David Buckel and Rachel Laser

Comments [46]

Dave from New Orleans, Louisiana

I am a gay man, and since 1992, my civil rights have been a political football. While the GOP has achieved solidarity in their uncompromising opposition to equal rights for GLBT Americans, from Bloomberg petitioning the courts of New York State to not sanction Equal Marriage to Schwartzenmegger's refusal to sign any bill from the California legislature on the matter, from the Federal Marriage Amendment to statewide bans on marriage recognition in half the country, the GOPhas declared war on GLBT Americans.

The Democrats have done little better. They mostly just ignore us, or say that the topic of our civil rights is a sideshow, a distraction from the really important issues.

One party hates us. The other would like to ignore us to death.

I voted early on Monday (you can do that in Louisiana), and I voted for the Dems. Not because I particularly like the Democrats or their apathy. I just figure that if the GOP wants a war with gay America, then gay America should stand up and fight back. I've donated thousands of dollars to Democrats running for Senate seats or gubernatorial offices across this country where that candidate has voiced support for GLBT equality, especially Equal Marriage.

A political sideshow? Not to me. To me, my rights are the most important thing in thsi election.

Oct. 23 2008 10:54 AM
Edward Helmrich from Larchmont, NY

US Bishops in 'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship':

'89. As Catholics, we are led to raise questions for
political life other than “Are you better off than
you were two or four years ago?” Our focus is not
on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even
competence and capacity to perform duties, as
important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on
what protects or threatens human life and dignity.'

I don't see how a Catholic can vote for Senator Obama.

Oct. 23 2008 07:33 AM
Kale from NYC

To #35 - While hunting may not be a true "sport" it is a proven addition to many a wildlife management strategy. Hunters help grow healthy animal populations.

Where I'm from family members work with neighbors to ensure that the herd of deer on a swath of 3500 acres is kept to a healthy size. Hunters work together to go above and beyond specifications set out by the state - no antlered deer is killed that is under 3+ years old. The population is kept to a size where no deer starves due to a lack of food resources.

Hunters and fisherman are very much on the pulse of what is going on in the woods and the ocean. Who else to turn to when you want to know how the striped bass population is doing?

For many young people hunting is an initiation into understanding the environment as a system in which people play a big role. Helping the environment is an issue rural and urban people are both concerned with, though they look at it from different angles. For this, as far as guns and hunting go, there is utilitarian nature that is as much important today as it was 100 years ago.

Oct. 22 2008 04:40 PM
seth from Long Island


Oct. 22 2008 01:47 PM
AWM from UWS


I don't mind him questioning either side, it is necessary to do so. I have a problem with his approach. In referring to Obama, have heard him use the cheap and easy labels that I hear all the time, and it wasn't to encourage a discussion about them, he'd use them as an addendum to a question of his own and the answers of his guests.

And, even though it's obvious and I was already aware of it, I appreciate you explaining to me how supporters of each candidate may perceive this show.

Oct. 22 2008 12:37 PM
mc from Brooklyn

The percentage of gun of gun deaths that are accidents are somewhere in the 70's

Oct. 22 2008 12:23 PM
mc from Brooklyn

Agreed about what Graham will say when it comes to McCain. He has been an avid supporter since before 2000.

As to Brian, my guess is that if you support Obama you hear more criticism about him from Brian and if you support McCain or HRC then you hear it about them. There are a number of McCain supporters who post here who are convinced that the show is a Democratic screed. I think that Brian tries to be even handed, and maybe the station just hears from more Obama supporters than anyone else.

Oct. 22 2008 12:21 PM
leoinnyc from Staten Island


Actually your notion that cities are less moral and have more gun deaths is wrong -- probably an assumption influenced by often racist TV crime drama.
According to a 2004 study:

In the 1990s, the United States experienced over 330000 deaths intentionally committed with firearms.1–3 A considerable number of these firearm deaths were homicides occurring in large US cities.4 Although these numbers argue for serious consideration of urban crime prevention programs, they may also contribute to the perception of intentional firearm death in the United States as a principally urban, principally criminal phenomenon.5

Over the same decade, firearm suicides occurred in greater numbers than firearm homicides, accounting for over half of all intentional firearm deaths in the United States.3 A disproportionate number of these firearm suicides most likely occurred in rural areas.6 Nevertheless, because rural health issues are often not on equal footing with those in urban areas,7 and because suicide is not a crime,8,9 attention to firearm suicide as a preventable public health problem was limited in the 1990s.10

Oct. 22 2008 12:12 PM
AWM from UWS

Colt said:

"Could it be that we simply have better people in the places where there are lots of guns?"

Yes. It is that simple if you are simple minded.

Oct. 22 2008 12:11 PM
mc from Brooklyn

"You people" does not sound like a term one uses if one is interested in common ground.

Ellen from Manhattan:
Apparently there is a bill right now making its way, it makes it possible for a federal employee to put his/her same sex partner on his/her benefits. This is not possible now because of the outrageously named Defense of Marraige Act. The bill making its way now was penned by none other than Joe Lieberman.

Oct. 22 2008 12:09 PM
leoinnyc from Staten Island

To Inquiring Minds

Please don't. Really. We're fine, and you're not helping. Go home, relax, drink some herbal tea. Your guns are making us less safe, not more. And I don't know who it is you think the wolves are and I'm not sure I want to know. Let it go. You aren't helping. You want to help? Give some money to doctors without borders; go work in a soup kitchen. The guns -- not helping. I promise.

And certainly don't for an instant justify your gun fetish in my name. I don't want your "protection" and I don't need it.

Oct. 22 2008 12:07 PM
zen from ny

First hunting is NOT A SPORT !! It was a means of surviving, so as long as we view it as a sport there will be very mixed feelings about it. Second I live in Putnam county, very rural, and am strongly opposed to hunting. There is no reason one can not experience the same challenge if not greater with a camera vs a gun. I am not anti gun, in fact I enjoy shooting guns, in fact I own a few myself, but they are never used to kill !. The need for hunting no longer exists, how much meat is thrown away in every supermarket every day. The only justification for hunting is if you need it to feed your family.

Oct. 22 2008 12:05 PM
AWM from UWS


So! You're defending him? You're some kind of right wing spy like Brian? Aren't you?


I'd like nothing more than to give him the benefit of the doubt. But after listening throughout the campaign I have heard him slip in cookie cutter obsevations about Obama that I haven't heard him use in reference to McCain or HRC before him.

If he's going to hold him to a higher standard because he is lesser known he should use an approach that is of a higher standard.
As for Graham, whatever his record is when it comes to McCain he'll say anything necessary.

Oct. 22 2008 12:03 PM
leoinnyc from Staten Island

Why are these people SPORTSMEN!!!??? Why is shooting a defenseless animal a sport? Eat a damn vegetable and toss a ball around.

Oct. 22 2008 12:01 PM
Ellen from Manhattan

I agree with Jim's analysis of the Obama/Biden position on gay civil rights, although I am voting for Obama rather than a 3rd party.

We don't have to wonder how Obama and Biden feel about gay rights when it comes to, say, Federal immigration policy.

Senator Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill S.1328 into the current Congress in May 2007 (concomitantly with a parallel bill introduced by NYC's Rep Nadler into the House) "to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws" based on sexual orientation. Eighteen other senators signed on as cosponsors (among them, Schumer, Dodd, Lautenburg, Kennedy, Kerry, Feingold, and Boxer).

Obama and Biden have refused to cosponsor this legislation.

Oct. 22 2008 12:01 PM

But isn't the problem not guns but the people who own them? Isn't simply that the people who live in big cities don't have great values? Isn't that the reason for the crime? In small towns we can keep our cars and doors unlocked and we have tons of guns. Could it be that we simply have better people in the places where there are lots of guns?

Oct. 22 2008 11:59 AM
leoinnyc from Staten Island

Inquiring Minds said:
‘‘Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State.’’ — Heinrich Himmler

‘‘The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.’’ -- Adolph Hitler

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!!?? What in the world does this have to do with the urban ghettos of D.C.? Where do you see the American S.S. meeting and planning to take away your guns?

This is exactly the kind of absurd leap of "logic" that you people make. It has nothing to do with reality. You know what -- Nazis wore brown. UPS guys wear brown. They're Nazis!!!!! No more deliveries!!!! Ban all deliveries of any kind!

Oct. 22 2008 11:58 AM
Inquiring Minds

@28 Leo

Some say there are sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. I am the sheepdog. I give thanks to those other sheepdogs that keep us all safe at night. From that I will never tire, for that I will not apologize.

Oct. 22 2008 11:58 AM
leoinnyc from Staten Island

I will just never, ever till the day I die understand the gun fetishists like "Inquiring Minds." I think liberals sometimes overstate the importance of guns in the national debate. But the gunrights people just baffle me utterly. I just do not understand the intense desire to posses a killing machine. I don't get it. The idea of making the easy killing of another human being (or animal, frankly -- don't get hunting either) a central "right" and the objects that make that possible widely and easily available -- it's just bizarre. You can argue about the 2nd amendment all you want but ultimately it's this basic and obviously deeply held desire that it strange to me. I don't want to walk around all amped up to kill someone. I live in the ghetto and have some unsavory folk on my block but I don't live in fear of them and I don't want to kill them, or prepare to kill them to "preserve my safety." The whole thing is just perverse.

Oct. 22 2008 11:52 AM
{{BL Show}}

Reminder: Stay on topic and refrain from name calling or innuendo.

Oct. 22 2008 11:49 AM
Inquiring Minds

@23 Ralph

"We all must learn to live with the 2nd Amendment, but we must require more from gun owners than we do car owners (require liability insurance, register and track all weapons from the moment they leave the factory, owners must pass a test, carry a license and renew it, ammunition limits like mileage requirements, etc.)"

Statements like this keep the NRA, GOA, and JPFO in business (thank God!)

‘‘Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State.’’ — Heinrich Himmler

‘‘The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.’’ -- Adolph Hitler

Oct. 22 2008 11:48 AM
Phoebe from NJ

@19: Too true. I was not married in a church, nor with a religious ceremony. So my bond with my spouse is equal to any created by a loving same-sex couple. "Marriage" needs to become a religious ceremony, meaningful only to the participants, which has no bearing on laws governing relationships.

Oct. 22 2008 11:45 AM
leoinnyc from Staten Island

It's ridiculous to give Palin credit for "common ground" just because she very grudgingly acknowledged the most basic decency, as opposed to actual civil rights. It's like saying, "I don't believe slaves should be free, but don't whip them." and saying that's common ground with an abolitionist. It's facile and not worth very much out in the real world.

Oct. 22 2008 11:41 AM
Ralph from Bowery

Regulate business transparency to the max', but leave the free markets alone (do what you want as long as you're not hiding it).

Both right and left must acknowledge that 2 things do not respond to market forces: healthcare and education - we will pay any amount to not die and no amount to learn anything.

We all must learn to live with the 2nd Amendment, but we must require more from gun owners than we do car owners (require liability insurance, register and track all weapons from the moment they leave the factory, owners must pass a test, carry a license and renew it, ammunition limits like mileage requirements, etc.)

Oct. 22 2008 11:41 AM
mc from Brooklyn

In defense of Brian, I think what he tries to do is play devil's advocate in order to draw out a person's argument. I do not assume that he is expressing his own opinion.

Lindsay Graham, as unpleasant as he may be on some social issues actually has a better bi-partisan record in the Senate than most Southern Republican senators.

Oct. 22 2008 11:40 AM
Robert from NYC

It should be called marriage PERIOD. Thank you yes equality means it's all called the same thing and that would be either marriage for all or partners for all. None of the crap in it. Obama talks about equality and if same-sex marriage is not called marriage there is no equality.

Oct. 22 2008 11:40 AM
jim fouratt from greenwich village nyc

The Obama /Biden campaign decided in the very beginning to not take a progressive position on same sex civil marriage. Instead they stand with the Republicans on denying US citizens equal protection under the law. Rare was even the reference to gay ands lesbian people in the first 1o months of Obama’s campaign. Only recently has the words sometimes been uttered by Obama and than only is defense of his position of opposition to same sex civil marriage. He always makes it clear in his opposition that he supports domestic partnership and usually references our right to die with dignity.

I am an Obama supporter.

If I lived in Penn I would cast a vote for him, as I want him, not John McClain to appoint the next Supreme Court Justices.

But I live in New York, a very safe State for Obama … so I am considering voting for Cynthia McKinney.

Progressives have had to be silent on so many issues in order to support Obama. I certainly have. But now that Obama is certainly to win in NY I may just vote my conscience rather than be pragmatic in the booth.

I do not support the idea that some citizens have more rights than others.

Jim Fouratt

Oct. 22 2008 11:40 AM
Bo from Brooklyn - Prospect Heights

The problem (and the place for common ground) is the difference between "marriage" which is a civil contract and "matrimony" which is a rite of religoius institutions. The blurring of the lines between the two is the problem. I don't care if any church recognizes my partner and me, but I damn well care if the government to which I am paying taxes doesn't.

Oct. 22 2008 11:36 AM
Mike from Jersey City from New Jersey





Oct. 22 2008 11:33 AM
howard greenberg from edgeater, n.j.

slippery slope. The senator from south carolina 150 years ago may have said if you abolish slavery the next thing you know there will be a negro running for president

Oct. 22 2008 11:32 AM
Edward from NJ

Biden's "no civil rights distinction" statement raises more questions than it answers? Joint income tax returns? Immigration rights? Does the Obama platform really endorse those measures for people in civil unions? Those are the issues that the federal government actually has a say in.

Oct. 22 2008 11:32 AM
Zach from UWS

Palin has been insistent that she "tolerates" gay Americans. I do not wish to be tolerated, I wish for my 14th Amendment Rights to be upheld the same as any other citizen. The marriage debate is not a culture war issue, it is a constitutional crisis waiting to happen. State-sanctioned marriage for all or state-sanctioned marriage for none.

Oct. 22 2008 11:27 AM
AWM from UWS


Why do you think that injecting common sense into the discussion is lacking in conviction?

You keep judging Obama against extreme views, views that are responsible for the glacial movement to true progress. One extreme fighting another for what they want leads NOWHERE!

Your entire method of questioning embraces a perspective that has been proven useless... choose the extreme sides for "context" and label those who have ideas that truly exist in the "commom ground" as non-commital or vague.
Whatever happened to nuance?

Lindsay Graham? Please! Who cares what he says? He's as partisan as the come. Useless...

Oct. 22 2008 11:26 AM
Inquiring Minds


with all due respect,

You continue to misrepresent Obama generally in regards to his position on gun bans and SPECIFICALLY in regards to the Heller case.

Their were five votes -- a majority -- against DC in the Heller case; Obama is on record as opposing the nomination of Roberts, the Chief, and Alito, the author of the opinion. Further, there were four opposed and Obama is on record saying he would appoint jurists in their flavor.

You simply cannot maintain anything other than Obama's deserved "F" rating by the NRA.

Oct. 22 2008 11:25 AM
Doug Singer from Williamsburg

It seems to me that Sen. Graham is being intellectually dishonest.

In the clip just played, he criticized Sen. Obama saying a law against automatic weapons was "already on the books". The implication is that further laws are not needed and so Sen. Obama's support of current gun legislation is unnecessary. Then, practically in the same breath, Sen. Graham repeats the trope about Sen. Obama voting against healthcare for children of botched abortions.

It's possible he doesn't know that a law mandating such healthcare already exists, making Sen. Obama's 'No' vote equally unnecessary. It's seems to me more likely that he knows this perfectly well.

Brian, it would be good for you to point out that the logical underpinnings of his criticims are shakey at best...

Oct. 22 2008 11:25 AM

Please, this 'issue' of culture wars is a deliberate political maneuver (usually associated with the right but certainly used by both political sides) intended to create political voting blocs without having to actually address the real interests of the people being manipulated. This tactic is used in proportion to the extent that those needs and interests are ignored or directly contravened.

Bitter and clinging (thereby not applying critical intelligence or investigating claims) is where these forces of divisiveness want their supporters to be -- and that was Obama's point.

The issues themselves, real as their moral and civic consequences may be, are irrelevant with respect to this political strategy. The point is not to find common ground.

Oct. 22 2008 11:25 AM
pete from manhattan

I have two nephews "on the job". I want mr. pro gun rights to console my sister if either of my nephews is killed on duty by some criminal with an automatic weapon. Have him explain his stance to my sister to ease her pain.
what is the reason for ordinary citizens to own military grade attack weapons?

Oct. 22 2008 11:24 AM
Mark from Brooklyn

So tired of Obama and surrogates having to apologize for Bitter-gate. It was a comment take completely out of context, and in context it betrayed an astute understanding of why people vote against their economic interests.

Oct. 22 2008 11:23 AM
Ralph from Bowery

Government needs to get out of the Marriage business and get real about Civil Unions. Why can't gov' handle only the civil union end and let each church marry whomever they want?

Oct. 22 2008 11:20 AM
Inquiring Minds

Faculty with GUNS has long been recognized as important for the security and prosperity of a free nation.

Ask Anthony Licata about this: We need more training and education, the anecdote to the hoplophobia represented in the views of Obama and other gun banners.

Another outstanding program, CREATED BY CONGRESS, is the Civilian Marksmanship Program

"The original purpose was to provide civilians an opportunity to learn and practice marksmanship skills so they would be skilled marksmen if later called on to serve the U.S. military. Over the years the emphasis of the program shifted to focus on youth development through marksmanship."

Oct. 22 2008 11:19 AM
Augustus Truhn from manhattan

Hurt people; hurt people. It starts with a nurturing childhood coupled with a sound education..Humans need the right tools out of the gate so they can make sound judgments as they start to face life and death issues in this violent world. Laws and amendments mean very little without these basic ingredients working together.

Oct. 22 2008 11:19 AM
Ralph from Bowery

we can not let contraception be the next lowering of the bar. if we are going to limit abortions we must all - left and right - get behind more and better contraception.

if we are going to ban 3rd trimester termination, then we must have an exception for the life of the mother. BUT, until we get specific about what exactly the exception is, this issue will not move forward.

Oct. 22 2008 11:16 AM
shaun from astoria

whoa whoa whoa!! Now, in the Biden-Palin debate, in regards to the question of civil rights in the gay community, Ms. Palin was clever with her answer and careful with her language. Pay very close attention:

Gwen Ifill: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that...

The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.

IFILL: Is that what your said?

PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.

IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy.

No - they DO NOT AGREE. Palin did not answer the question about civil rights - she dodged it by bringing it back to the original question of gay marriage. Clever, eh?

I read this as Ms. Palin not recognizing equal civil rights for homosexuals.

In this respect, the Obama-McCain ticket DOES NOT share common ground.

Oct. 22 2008 11:15 AM
Norman from NYC

Common ground:

You believe America should be free.

I believe America should be slave.

Let's compromise. Make America half free and half slave.

Oct. 22 2008 11:10 AM
hjs from 11211

Culture Wars = a distraction so you don't know how bad off you are.

'americans' don't think they just react.
live and let live. i'm not hurting you so stop hurting me.

Oct. 22 2008 11:09 AM
Inquiring Minds

In a polity, each citizen is to possess his own arms, which are not supplied or owned by the state.
— Aristotle

Support the Appleseed Project!
"The Appleseed Program is designed to take you from being a simple rifle owner to being a true rifleman. This country was founded and won by riflemen who fought and beat British forces."

Oct. 22 2008 11:03 AM

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