Jon Stewart shows journalists how to interview a social conservative

December 10, 2008 | By | 7 Replies More

Not all social positions are equally defensible.   Thus, a good journalist will call out injustice and bigotry, rather than simply nodding his or her head out of “respect” for all opinions that an interviewee cares to serve up.   That’s the thought I was thinking as I watched Jon Stewart conducting this excellent interview of Mike Huckabee.  I’m glad Stewart didn’t let Huckabee hide behind the Bible or hide behind social “tradition” when Huckabee argued that gays shouldn’t have the same rights to marriage as heterosexuals.

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Category: Bigotry, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Mark Matiszik says:

    Couldn't agree more, Erich, and I actually respected Mike Huckabee for doing the interview since he's been interviewed by Jon Stewart enough to expect this kind of questioning going in. I'd definitely watch a weekly show with these two guys debating issues.

    I was disappointed that Stewart didn't push even harder on the point that to me has always been the crux of this issue – is homosexuality something you are, or something you choose to be? Stewart deftly led Huckabee into making the statement, "there's a big difference between a person being black, and a person practicing a lifestyle," and then followed up strongly, but didn't then focus the rest of the interview on this point.

    I've never understood why the pro-gay marriage community hasn't tried to reframe the issue as being primarily about the fact that homosexuality is not simply a lifestyle choice.

    In the interview, I wish Stewart would have pinned Huckabee down by saying something like, "if you could be convinced that being homosexual was something a person is rather than a choice, would you still be against gay marriage?" I've always sort of liked Huckabee, and it would have been fun to see him wage the internal battle between how I think he'd answer if he were intellectually honest vs. how he'd feel he needed to answer in order to keep the viewers of his new show happy.

    It seems that with an issue like abortion, the debate has been framed with clarity around the difference of opinion about whether life begins at conception. As a result, even in an interview like this Stewart is able to articulate that he understands the pro-life position even if he does not agree with it. I wish that sort of clarity would happen with the gay marriage issue as well, but as long as the debate is about the institution of marriage rather than whether homosexuality is a just a choice I'm betting it never will.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I remember reading about the idea of same-sex marriage in an anthropology magazine lone ago where in at least one culture permitted an infertile woman to be considered as a man under the local laws and could marry a widow with children. The was in an agrarian culture where women were treated as possessions of the men, and were generally relegated to being housekeepers and sex slaves. In nomadic and agrarian cultures, the women are protected because of their child-bearing abilities, and the men put themselves in danger of hunting the wild animals to provide for the family. In those cultures, it is a survival strategy. In modern industrial societies, this means nothing.

    In the context of the nomadic Judaic culture of the old testament, marriage was a contract between to families, and required a payment to the bride's family for the privilege of marriage, payment was made either through livestock or through indentured servitude of the groom to the bride's family. Often the marriages were arranged by the parents when the bride and groom were children in hopes of gaining political or financial power.Multiple wives and concubines were allowed ,and the only real prohibition was for a man to mate with another man's wife. In this frame of reference, same sex marriages simply did not happen.

  3. Erika Price says:

    I think it's especially hard to call out nonsense when it comes from someone as likeable and benign-seeming as Huckabee. For some reason, no matter what poison he spews, I have warm feelings for the smiley, formerly pudgy guy. Though he didn't prove to have much presidential mettle, his cutesy charm could have been dangerous. I'd rather have an easy-to-hate Fred Phelps any day. Huckabee could actually persuade sane people.

  4. The key answer from Huckabee was toward the end when he explains that marriage is not just to create the next generation but "to train our replacements." Which means to raise the next generation to think like its creator.

    And if the creator says homosexuality is evil….

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    Mark Matiszik wrote, "It seems that with an issue like abortion, the debate has been framed with clarity around the difference of opinion about whether life begins at conception."

    Actually, Mark, framing the abortion debate around the question of whether or not life begins at conception does nothing to advance the debate. Please read: http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/01/10/frami….

  6. Ebonmuse says:

    "I think it’s especially hard to call out nonsense when it comes from someone as likeable and benign-seeming as Huckabee."

    Well said, Erika. I've always thought Huckabee was more dangerous for that reason – his evident charisma and warm, affable demeanor helps conceal the fact that his outlook is every bit as bigoted and reactionary as the religious-right hatemongers who stand behind him. When it comes to science, to gay rights, to women's rights, or a dozen other issues, Huckabee as president would be every bit as disastrous as Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell.

    I think this interview, however, may have taken some of the shine off his public persona. Jon Stewart peppered him with some very smart questions, and it was evident that he was squirming a bit trying to defend his bigotry. Having to admit what he really believes does put a dent in his affable image, in my opinion.

  7. grumpypilgrim says:

    If you listen to Huckabee's answer, he's basically saying that the only reason why we should ban gay marriage is that it would require us to "redefine" the 2000-year-old definition of marriage. What he doesn't mention is that this 2000-year-old "definition" of marriage is the product of two thousand years of bigotry by our ancestors, and that much of this bigotry was created, promoted and, ultimately, mandated by the Christian Church. At the time of Jesus, homosexuality did not have the negative overtones it has today. The overtones now exist because of Christians — people whose fallibility in establishing moral values, and even in interpreting their own holy book, is well documented.

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