Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tom Van Dyke Accepts Ed Brayton's Challenge

We got off to a rocky start, but Ed Brayton wrote me on his blog, Dispatches From the Culture Wars:


No, I will not offer you my mainpage for more whining about how unfairly you've been treated. I will, however, offer you my mainpage for an actual substantive response to my challenge.

Cool. We'll drop the question of whether my objections were well-founded or just whining. People don't care either way, and I don't blame them.

So let's move on to Ed's offer to move forward, which I accept.


Mr. Brayton---Ed---I accept your challenge and offer of your mainpage for my arguments. Very cool, a very fair and righteous offer.

In reciprocation, you will of course also have the mainpage at my groupblog, American Creation, as previously offered, unedited and uncommented upon by me as you'll be a guestblogger. It wouldn't be fair for me to foul your every argument with a rebuttal. Your remarks will appear in their entirety as a guestblogger, without editing or comment.

I hope you'll accept Jonathan Rowe as our moderator, as he is our mutual friend and mutual group-blog-brother. Who else would we choose? Mr. Rowe would have the right and duty to speak up anytime he feels he should. I trust him as a fair man, and I'm sure you agree.

I trust Mr. Rowe to arbitrate the details of our engagement, and accept his word as final.

This could be a beautiful thing for our country in our modest way, Ed, to disagree without being disagreeable and show 'em all how it's possible. You're a Great American and I'll try to hold up my end as one, too.

This won't be a cooperative discussion but an adversarial debate, so a moderator will be necessary to judge when one of us is hitting below the belt. We both already know the rules of civilization, debate, and fair play, so Jon should have little to do.


We both are not only Great Americans, but gentlemen, surely. The great questions of humanity are not settled in street fights. And I'll police my blog's comments section, and I'm sure you'll do the same.

Or as you elegantly put it yourself:

: Let me add one more thing. If Van Dyke does choose to reply here, I would ask the commenters to keep the conversation civil and respectful. Things have gotten out of hand in previous threads involving him and I've been too busy to police them. But I'm going to make a point of paying attention to this one. If you can't make your argument against him in a civil manner, please don't make it at all. Thanks.

I'll append that disclaimer to all your guestblog posts at American Creation, and will appreciate it when you do the same.

I'm looking forward to it, Ed. Let's show 'em how it's done, GK Chesterton vs. George Bernard Shaw at London's Reform Club. Neither of them were wrong, it was only a question of who was more right. It was a peak of Western Civilization. May we be worthy. Perhaps we'll even get some folks to think for themselves, which should be our highest ambition.


[HT: King of Ireland]

Ed Brayton is a top guy, and I'm honored to step into the ring with him. I think I'll prove I'm more right than he is, but that's up to y'all, not me or him, because these things are never knockouts, only decisions by the judges. And even then, if you've seen enough boxing matches, the judges sometimes get it wrong.

It's about having the guts to step into the ring, with what you think is the best argument. Sometimes it takes decades, or until after you're dead, before you're voted the "winner." Or the loser.

The Founders had so very many petty debates that are forgotten now, but what survives is when they argued for the ages. This isn't 1776 or 1787, but 2009 is where we are now, and it feels pretty pivotal too.

Bring the pain, Ed, make your best case. The streets of Faber are yours.


Daniel said...

"GK Chesterton vs. George Bernard Shaw at London's Reform Club"

Sometimes a throw-away reference can be the best part of a blog post. I was not familar with the Chesteron - Shaw debates. Wow.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Since you said Jon will have little to say, will the winner win at who gets the vote, which will decide the interpretion of the issue at hand?

After all, this is the "American CREATION"!

King of Ireland said...

Good for Tom, this blog, and all that will benefit from the exchange.

Ed Brayton said...

To be clear, my challenge has already been posted. It can be found here:


The question remains unanswered: Given the views you have expressed, which I cited in that post, would you say that Loving v Virginia was correctly or incorrectly decided? My position is that there is no consistent and intellectually honest way to make any form of conservative originalism (original intent, original public meaning or original expected application) support the 9-0 ruling in Loving. That leaves advocates of such interpretive theories with three choices:

1. To deny that position and provide a coherent and consistent argument from one or more form of conservative originalism that leads logically to the conclusion that the ruling in Loving was right.

2. Admit that conservative originalism will sometimes lead to results so heinous that it must be abandoned as a theory of interpretation in such cases, as Scalia has admitted. Or,

3. Argue that conservative originalism will sometimes lead to heinous results but that's okay.

Of the three, I regard the third option to be the most personally disturbing, but it has the great virtue of being intellectually honest and therefore more deserving of respect.

Of course, they may be other options I have not considered that one can argue for. But I think the point of this challenge is clear.

James Hanley said...

Tom has claimed to accept the challenge, but has not yet responded. When can we expect a response to Ed's question?

James Hanley said...

Two weeks have gone by, and despite exuberantly announcing that he has accepted Ed Brayton's challenge, TVD has yet to actually respond to Brayton's question.

Despite claiming that "this could be a beautiful thing for our country" (a grotesquely grandiose claim, to be sure), TVD has so far failed to follow up and do this "beautiful thing."

Of course as TVD noted, "It's about having the guts to step into the ring, with what you think is the best argument." Does TVD in fact have the guts to step into the ring and answer Ed's question?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I heard today where Jim Leach (is it) who is heading up a "humanities" project and going to all 50 states to talk about the culture wars. I think this is so necessary.

The humanities project is about historical, political and philosophical views. How we define morality across different political alliances, and how do we exist in a diverse culture, and remain civil and "free"!!! A very GOOD and needed discussion, and "ministry".