Teacher’s report

If I were an editor … well, actually, I’m not sure what I would do if I were an editor. So let me just speak as a teacher. If a student submitted this essay to me, in a freshman English composition class, say, I’d have a few concerns. My comments might go something like this:


First and foremost, I’m wondering who these people are you’re responding to — do you have any particular writers or speakers in mind? If so, it would be helpful if you quoted from them; it’s hard for the reader — especially the reader who doesn’t already agree with you — to know whether you’re representing people’s views fairly, because you don’t mention anyone in particular.

So, when you speak of people “distancing our educated selves from her simple faith,” I wonder if that’s accurate. Do people who disagree with Davis’s actions do so because they’re highly educated and she is less highly educated? It would be good to have some evidence about that, especially since you’re not contesting people’s arguments but assuming you know their motives. If they have said or written something that indicates that contempt for the less educated is among their motives, then you should probably cite that.

Similarly, when you assert that these unnamed people think that “Kim Davis is a simpleton of a Christian who should have resigned before embarrassing us Christians,” it would help if you could cite someone who has called her a simpleton (or something like that) and who have confessed embarrassment.

Moving along, and in in a similar vein, your suggestion that people who have criticized Kim Davis desire “to show the liberal gestapo that we really are for the ‘rule of law’” — do you have reason to suspect that these people want to please “the liberal gestapo”? If so, citing that evidence would be the right thing to do; otherwise people could say that you’re just making ad hominem assertions rather than substantive arguments. I also wonder whether the use of “gestapo” is your best option, given the problems that have long been associated with the reductio ad hitlerum.

You refer several times to Kim Davis’s sincerity, e.g.: “it doesn’t take much Christian thinking to see how Kim Davis can believe herself to be acting in accordance with God’s moral law which is now written on her heart as a convert.” But have Davis’s Christian critics — you seem to be addressing this only to your fellow Christians — impugned her sincerity? If so, you should cite them. After all, it’s possible to disagree with people while thinking them perfectly sincere. Also, perhaps you could explain why you have such confidence in the purity of Davis’s motives and such equally absolute confidence in the wrong motives of her critics.

Finally, near the end you accuse Davis’s critics of “wishing she would just offer a little incense to Caesar and go back to obscurity already.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but that certainly sounds like you’re accusing your fellow Christians of being idolaters — of worshipping at Caesar’s altar, or at the very least of wanting other Christians to do so; and if they’re not idolaters themselves, why would they ask other people to be? In short, this is an extremely serious, indeed quite damning, accusation, and not the sort of charge that should be made without strong evidence.

So, summing up, I think you need to go back and make clear who your targets are, provide more evidence for your claims about them, and try to stick to substantive arguments rather than ad hominem claims. As it stands, this is not passing work.


That’s what I would say as a teacher. Maybe I don’t understand the challenges of editing a magazine’s website.