The more I write more opinion columns for Daily Xtra, the more I attention to how other columnists do their job. One common method is to be needlessly inflammatory, substituting rhetoric for reason while ignoring the arguments of those who disagree with you and generally using logical fallacies to advance an agenda that your audience already agrees with. But you can also make logical arguments founded on well-cited data - and you can combine it with passion and wit. If you do it well, you should change the minds of your own readers. Or at least advance the dialogue with people who disagree with you.
So I try to make sure that every column I write is based in a combination of past study and present research. I know it works if it challenges my assumptions to the point where my conclusion is no longer the same as when I started writing it. And I like to think that this is why I hold my opinions. Because opinions can be facts, or they can at least be well-grounded in facts. But we forget this.
When we see that we can prove how transuranic elements decay, but we can't ultimately answer prove what god(s) want(s) us to do with our genitals or if ze/they exist(s), we conclude that particle physics and gay rights are totally separate realms of argument, subject to different rules. It's true that the morality of an action cannot ultimately be logically proven. However, the components of an argument that reach a moral conclusion *can.* Thus, while it is reasonable to take a pass on the issue of divine interest in our groins, we can prove whether or not gay marriage affects particular social indicators. And while we know how plutonium turns into other elements in very dangerous ways, we cannot prove the morality of eating it - we know the latter is lethal to the diner and probably everyone around them, but we can't actually prove it's wrong.
The reason I don't agree with a lot of culturally conservative viewpoints is not one of mere bias. I grew up in a conservative area where these viewpoints were the vast majority. I know them. When I moved, I saw the arguments for and against various issues, and realized that usually, especially on cultural issues, the left simply has stronger arguments. Often this was because the left had arguments that engaged with the right while the right had arguments that engaged with little other than re-stating a baseless opinion.
That there is no quantifiable social detriment to gay marriage, and that there is no evidence to support that trans inclusion will have a detrimental impact on quality of life is part of why these causes tend to win in court, even before judges with contrasting politics - because judges are called upon to meticulously and publicly justify their opinion, and when your entire professional body of work is weighed on that basis, it's harder to go off the rails.
So I believe it is a columnists' job to construct arguments that are sound, grounded, relevant and interesting. And the more I look at other people in the field of punditry, I wish that other columnists covering issues relevant to human rights would do their damn job too.
Failing that (see, this is where the wit comes in), I would be happy to see less dutiful columnists address particle physics, or neurology, or paediatric nursing with the same reckless knee-jerk usually-conservative abandon that they treat human rights. Because I would actually enjoy reading someone's take on what Leviticus says about Bohr's model of the atom, or how they just weren't raised to believe in spindle neurons, or how we can alleviate respiratory ailments by just having a stronger work ethic. That would still be illogical, but at least it would be creative.