'Kellerism' comes to Alabama same-sex marriage wars, care of a political blast by New York Times

Heads up. We have a "Kellerism" reference on another blog today, including a shout-out for a GetReligion response.

But before we get to that, we need to look at what's going on down in Alabama right now, including that New York Times report that proclaimed:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Amid conflicting signals from federal courts and the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, some Alabama counties began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday in a legal showdown with echoes of the battles over desegregation in the 1960s.
In major county seats like Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville, same-sex couples lined up outside courthouses as they opened and emerged smiling after being wed.

As you would imagine, in the newspaper of record's own words, its "reporters have fanned out across Alabama to explore and explain how the same-sex marriage process is playing out in a handful of locations." The commitment is obvious and demonstrated at length.

Later in the story readers are told, with a hint of religion language thrown in:

A Federal District Court judge, Callie V. Granade, ruled last month that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but put her ruling on hold until Monday, to give the state a chance to appeal. On Sunday night, the state’s chief justice, Roy S. Moore, sent an order to county probate judges stating that they could not “issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent" with state law.
But on Monday morning, the United States Supreme Court refused the state’s request to stay Judge Granade’s order pending the outcome of the state’s appeal.
Chief Justice Moore’s position on the balance of federal and state power has deep resonance in a region with a history of claiming states’ rights in opposition to the federal government, and in a state where a governor, George Wallace, stood in a doorway of the University of Alabama in 1963 in an unsuccessful bid to block its federally ordered integration.
Although much has changed from Wallace’s era, Justice Moore has used a series of strongly worded letters and memorandums to insist that in the same-sex marriage case, Judge Granade, an appointee of President George W. Bush, had instigated a grave breach of law. The result has been a legal and cultural debate rife with overtones of history, religion and a chronically bubbling mistrust of the federal government, playing out at Alabama’s courthouses.
In an interview Monday, Chief Justice Moore, a Baptist who has called marriage “a divine institution ordained by God,” was unapologetic. He asked what would stop judges from redefining marriage in other ways, including potentially allowing polygamy. ”But this is not what this case is about,” he said. “This case is about the federal court’s violation of their own rules.”

OK, over at The American Conservative, Rod "friend of this blog" Dreher -- in a post called "Alabama vs. the Constitution" -- lit into Moore on legal grounds, even though Rod notes:

I don’t believe in same-sex marriage, and I don’t believe there is a constitutional right to it. Nevertheless, under our federal system, the US Supreme Court’s verdicts trump the verdicts of state supreme courts. Respect for the rule of law requires Roy Moore to stand down in this conflict.

At that point, one of Rod readers dropped him a note that, in Rod's own words, "blisters my butt." This is where the "Kellerism" reference comes into play -- although the term was used without definition.

Most GetReligion readers will know this term, of course.

It refers to that statement by former Times editor Bill Keller that his newspaper -- as a tolerant, sophisticated, urban voice -- no longer needs to do balanced coverage of many moral, cultural and religious topics since it is already clear which side is right. Click here and especially here for the specifics on that, including linked to video of his remarks.

Rod's reader, essentially, parses the Times report from the newspaper's troops on the ground in Alabama, stating that they appear to be going out of their way to avoid contact with anyone who disagrees with them on the legal issues at hand. Along the way, "Irenist" proclaims "Kellerism!" several times.

One statement in the current Times piece that drew this reader's ire stated:

Despite Chief Justice Moore’s protests, some analysts see parallels between his arguments now and those Wallace advanced in his own time.

To which "Irenist" replied:

Protests? They’re legal arguments from the head of a state judiciary. They’re not “protests.” And you gotta love that “some analysts see parallels.” They have one analyst quoted beneath, but I’m still reading that as “I, the NY Times advocacy journalist, see parallels, and I’m hiding my advocacy behind weasel words.” This desperately needs a Get Religion fisking or something. Are you reading this thread, TMatt?

Well, yes, I was reading the coverage and then the tread. However, around this cyberspace we try to focus our attention on journalism wars on the religion beat, while this Times case is -- start to finish -- primarily interested in politics as politics. That is, after all, what really matters.

So, yes, I see a kind of political-coverage Kellerism case here. Good point. I also see signs that the Times team on the ground in Alabama wants to say religion is -- note -- part of the Moore problem, but doesn't seem all that interested in what is being said about religion, if that is in fact part of the real discourse in the case.

So, has anyone seen a better report on this topic? One free of Kellerism?

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