I have elsewhere expressed my annoyance at same-sex marriage advocates who claim that same-sex marriage is just like interracial marriage. Every time I read one of these analogies, I feel a inclination to oppose same-sex marriage a bit more than I do, and oppose its opponents a bit less than I do. This is extremely dangerous, but it’s a very common mental error, and one that I try to bear in mind when I approach hot-button issues. Just because the people who support an idea are stupid, or foolish, or venal, does not ipse facto make the idea a bad idea. Or, as my favorite atheist transhumanist blogger succinctly puts it, “reversed stupidity is not intelligence.”
The Iraq War schooled me on this point like a hot stove schools a toddler. In the lead-up to the invasion, I started out strongly opposed to the war, and for all the right reasons: the connection to al Qaeda seemed tenuous at best; no concrete evidence of WMDs had emerged; Iran would be empowered; Iraq’s borders are drawn arbitrarily, and so a quasi-authoritarian regime is necessary to keep the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis from attacking each other. However, as the anti-war protests got sillier and sillier, my opinion started to shift. Rolling my eyes at the umpteenth sign comparing Bush to Hitler, I made the natural, easy, unconscious, but terrible mistake of thinking the invasion justified because the people most visibly opposing it were obviously idiots.