“As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will no longer accept, nor will it print, op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage.”
When any faction isn’t getting its way in Washington, it’s popular to quote (erroneously) Thomas Jefferson: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
While it would be senseless for dissent to always be the most patriotic course, this popular concept points to something true: We have a solemn duty to advocate that the state conform itself to certain moral standards that are outside, or prior to, the state. The state is best—it fulfills its role, dare we say its nature, most perfectly—when it pursues objective standards of truth and justice.
Patriotism, then, is not about conforming oneself to the state, nor is it about encouraging the state to conform itself to the majority. It is rather about advocating tirelessly for the state to conform itself to the truth.
I thought about this in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, especially when a friend alerted me that the editors of The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, PA, had declared, within minutes of the announcement of the decision: “As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will no longer accept, nor will it print, op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage.”
In a tweet later in the morning, the paper’s Editorial and Opinions Editor John L. Micek (until recently a state capitol reporter—yikes!) explained himself curtly: “This is not hard: We would not print racist, sexist or anti-Semitic letters. To that, we add homophobic ones. Pretty simple.”