A timely article by Leslie Cannold. It's something to reflect on as Melinda Tankard Reist seems to be doing her best to avoid discussion of her religious background and motivations in campaigning against pornography, abortion, etc. How far are we obligated (in some sense or other) to reveal our background worldviews when taking part in public debate on these heavily-moralised issues? Should a public figure who is deeply involved in such debates, and who attempts to hide her religious views be seen as evasive, duplicitous, or some such thing?
There's an argument, of course, that arguments on these issues should simply stand or fall on their merits. I see some attraction in this, especially if we're talking about papers in, say, academic journals. But in practice, political debate is rather different - isn't it? Public figures involved in these debates typically attempt to persuade through creation of an attractive public image. What if that image is disconnected from what might reasonably and responsibility be taken to be their true motivations?
Personally, I don't want to have to dredge out my full motivations every time I talk on public issues. Then again, I don't cultivate a cuddly public image. You pretty much get me warts and all, though what you don't tend to get is a lot of blather about my personal life experience (as opposed to my view of the world).
Furthermore, if someone who has read what I have to say about a variety of subjects wants to join the dots - even if they get it wrong - I'm most unlikely to sue them for defamation. And this is from someone who is far less a public figure than Ms Tankard Reist.