Transcripts from a great lecture, and a whole lot of ramblings

Hi folks.  I just spent the last 2 hours transcribing the following from a talk given by Princeton professor, Robert George, entitled “On the Moral Purposes of Law and Government.”  In advance, let me apologise for this being exceedingly long.

During the first part of his lecture, he addressed the role of the government in society.  A subsidiary role of gov’t is to support the work of families and other organizations, who shoulder the primary burden of forming decent upright citizens.  It’s not the main function, but it is A function, and an important one.  The government should show respect towards those institutions (families, churches, etc) – not undermine them.  When it harms those institutions, it harms the people they serve, and essentially undermines itself.  Here’s a great quote along the lines of discussing some of the more pressing issues in society today:

“Sound positions cannot be effectively advanced and defended by citizens and statesmen unwilling (or unable) to engage in moral arguments.”

I like that, and I believe it’s true.  This is not to exclude more pragmatic considerations, but I do think it equally important to include the moral argument.  You can’t exclude it.  Our government was founded on a moral society.  People are expected to be law-abiding citizens not because of fear of the government, but because of moral conviction.  Yes, there are legal repurcussions to illegal behavior, but only if you get caught.  And clearly, it’s all too easy to get away with it.  A MUCH more effective way to have a safe, law-abiding community is to have people who believe in keeping the law out of sheer allegiance to it and to their consciences. 

It should be noted, as Prof. George noted, the government cannot create such honest, & upright citizens.  The government depends on them, but cannot make them.  Families make them, hence the family is the fundamental unit of society.  Destroy the family, you destroy society.  Period.

And.  “Marriage is the indespensible foundation of the family,” as he put it.  Destroy marriage, and you strip the traditional family of it’s support structure (as I put it).

If you undermine the organizations that are primarily responsible for strengthening the family, you will undermine society. 

Below are some highlights from the last half of his talk, and *thankfully* address directly some things that have come up in comments recently here. 

In the absence of a strong marriage culture, families fail to form.  We now know that from the experience of so many of our inner cities.  And when they do form, they are often unstable.  Absentee fathers become a serious problem, out of wedlock births become common, and a train of social pathologies follows.  With families failing to perform their health, education, and welfare functions, what happens?

It’s predictable.  The demand for government grows.   Somebody’s gotta step in to deal with the problems, whether in the form of greater policing, or as a provider of other social services.  Beaurocracies then have to be created, whether they’re for increased policing or for delivery of social services, and these beaurocracies inexorably expand, and indeed –we all know it—they become powerful lobbyists for their own preservation and expansion.  Everyone suffers, with the poor and most vulnerable members of society suffering the most. 

Insert: YES!  yes yes yes.  This is so true.  I have seen it, vividly seen it, happen in low-income areas nearby, and in other states we’ve lived in.  Where the family disintegrates, so does society.  The government makes a sad, sorry substitute for a two-parent home.

We need to rebuild the family in so many places where we have such breakdown, not primarily for the sake of the middle class or upper class, although they suffer too from family breakdown; the real victims of the loss, the decline, the erosion, of the integrity of the institution of marriage are the poor and vulnerable, who depend so vitally on that institution.

The effective defense of marriage against the current onslaught will require an understanding of marriage as a matter of moral truth.  Practical or pragmatic arguments are legitimate and important, but too few pro-marriage politicians are willing to say much about what marriage actually is.  This gives those who would abolish the conjugal conception of marriage, replace it, redefine marriage, an important advantage in the public debate.

They hammer away with their rhetoric of love makes a family, and demand to know why anyone’s marriage would be threatened if the same-sex partners next door were allowed to marry.  You’ve all heard that argument.   “Why’s it any concern to you?  Why does it hurt your marriage or your family, hurt your church, if the law recognizes as a marriage the relationship of the same-sex partners next door?”  and a lot of people seem to be stumped on the pro-marriage side, stumped by that argument.

33:00

Well, everyone agrees that marriage, whatever else it is or does, is a relationship in which persons are united, it is a union of persons.  But what are persons? What does it mean to be a person?  And how is it possible for two persons to unite? How is it possible for two persons to become one?

According to the view implicit in sexual liberationists ideology, the “person” is understood as  the conscious and desiring aspect of a self.  A person is fundamentally  a consciousness, a center of emotion, thought.  The person thus understood, inhabits a body, but the body is regarded, if only implicitly in many cases, not as a personal part of the human being, or a part of the person, but as a sub-personal aspect of the self.  The body is viewed as serving the interests of the conscious and desiring aspect of the self by functioning as an instrument by which the individual produces or otherwise participates in satisfactions and other desirable experiences, and realizes various objectives and goals.

33:36

For those who formally or informally accept …. 

According to this view, human beings are not non-bodily persons, who inhabit and use non-personal bodies as mere extrinsic instruments.  The body is no mere instrument for inducing satisfactions for the sake of the conscious and desiring aspect of the self; rather a human person as we’re constituted here on this earth, is a dynamic unity of body, mind, and spirit.  The body, far from being a mere instrument, is intrinsically part of the reality of the human being.

35:15

Bodily union, therefore, is personal union, and comprehensive personal union –marital union—is founded on bodily union.  Marriage as a comprehensive sharing of life means a union at all stages, all levels of a human being:  the bodily, the emotional, the dispositional, the rational, the spiritual.  But what’s special about marital friendship, making it different from all other forms of friendships and sharing and unity, is that at all of the levels at which life is shared, the sharing is founded upon, the foundation of it is bodily communion. 

That also helps to make sense of the historic requirement, for example, of the consummation of marriage.  It also explains why marriage can be only two people, and not three or five or seven.  Two people can unite as a reproductive union; they can fulfill the behavioral conditions of reproduction, whether or not the nonbehavioral conditions happen to obtain, but that’s not something that three people or five people can do. 

36:22

If marriage is merely an emotional union, because the person is merely the emotional center – the conscious and desiring self , the body not being  a part of the personal reality of the human being – then it’s true that sexual  complimentarity is no part of the picture.  Two people of the same sex can be emotionally united.  But by the same token, so can three or five or seven, so no account –no intelligible account—can be given, no rational principle can be identified for saying why marriage should be two and only two people, rather than three or four or five.

Fundamentally it’s clear that any argument that would give you, if you wanted to get there, a justification for same-sex marriage, would equally give you an argument for polyamory, understanding marriage as available to more than two people, three or five or seven, sharing sexual relations as a unit.

Very interesting, to dive down to the level of “what is a person, then” and take it from there.  And very interesting that this lecture was given last week on BYU campus.  He goes on to discuss more along these lines… And then brings up the following:

The acceptance of the idea would result, indeed, is already resulting, in a massive undermining of religious liberty and family autonomy as supporters of same-sex marriage would, and are now, in the name of equality, demanding the use of governmental power to whip churches and other institutions into line.

The experience of Mass, now in CA as well, and many foreign jurisdictions, is that once marriage is compromised or formally redefined, principles of nondiscrimination law are quickly used as cudgels against religious communities and families, who wish to uphold true marriage by precept and example.  The idea that the legally recognized union of the couple next door who are of the same sex as being married has no bearing on your life, on your family, on your religious community, turns out to be spectacularly false.

 We see it now in California.  We see it in schools, where students are subjected to same-sex curricula,  that their parents have a very difficult time opting them out of, in some jurisdictions are not permitted to opt out of, where they are taught that marriage is the union of any two people, that love makes a family.  If their parents think something different, the view that is communicated to the children is that their parents are bigots. Their parents are suffering from mere irrational phobias.  Their parents are guilty of the same sort of thing that people of an earlier generation were guilty of when they discriminated against blacks or Jews or other minorities…

 In my religion, we believe it is wrong to drink coffee, alcohol & use drugs.  Lots of good reasons for it, and mostly, “God says so,” (which, as previously noted, is politically incorrect reasoning.)  (Does that make it a huge, central part of our religion?  No.  Central is Christ, and His role as Savior and Redeemer.)  Continuing with my drinking/drugs example…

Let’s take it further.  Is there another group coming, about defending the”right” for public sanction of adultery?  Let’s teach kids that it’s okay to have sex with anyone at any time, for any reason, regardless of marital status.  If you aren’t “in love” with your spouse any more, the tie has been cut!  If you are “in love” with someone married to someone else, it doesn’t matter!  Love makes a family!  No, no, no — don’t tell me this is a different issue.  Legally it may not pull the same “equal rights” weight, but this is STILL a moral-founded principle, exactly on the same footing to many, many religions, as homosexual behavior. 

In a society so constantly over-sexed by the media, the principle of self-control seems lacking.  Expecting people to bridle passions and control their behavior almost seems out of place today… As does compassion & respect for people of differing cultures, opinions and beliefs.  Yes, I would expect someone identifying themself as homosexual to curb their passions and not act on them.  I would also expect an unmarried heterosexual to do the same.  It’s wrong, wrong, wrong of people to persecute homosexuals – but I don’t agree that we should legalify their same-sex relationship as marriage.  In California, domestic partnerships already have every legal “benefit” bestowed on a married couple – except the title.  Let’s teach love and respect in our schools, not alternative lifestyles. 

(Rambling:  In fact, let’s do away with sex ed altogether while we’re at it, and while I’m writing on my blog I suppose it’s my priviledge to say such things.  Sex Ed belongs in the family, is most effectively taught in the family, and it’s a sad society that needs it to be taught elsewhere. If it really is necessary to teach it in school, let’s give equal (if not more) weight to abstinence, shall we?!  It’s the ultimate cure for STD’s, unwanted pregnancies, and a host of other problems.)

One of the problems with the written word is that it often seems much, much harsher than intended.  Rest assured, reader, I really don’t mean to distance myself from my anti-8 friends here.  On the contrary completely.  I am just trying to explain myself and my position further, and hopefully bridge some gaps of misunderstanding.

 

 

Does that mean I shun my family members or friends who choose otherwise?   Does that mean I teach my kids to beat up their kids?   If we find our neighbor owns a coffee maker, do we cease all contact?  (We’d have been friendless in Washington… )Does that mean I should be singled out for teaching my kids to avoid addictive substances like alcohol & drugs?  I’m being discriminatory, right?  I’m teaching dangerous, unhealthy prejudices and bigotry, and there aught to be a school program to teach my children that I’m wrong — drinking & drugs are fine.  We should support people in their addictions because they can’t help it, it’s their right, and it’s alright any way.  You shouldn’t harm yourself by curbing those desires for substances that are harmful.

Hopefully it’s *very* obvious that I’m going overboard with this analogy.  We do none of the above.  I teach my kids they shouldn’t try substances that could be addictive because physical addictions impair their spirit, and those substances irreperably harm their bodies, and because a prophet of God revealed that we shouldn’t.  When they see someone smoking, it’s a brief conversation.  “Yep, he’s smoking.  Some people do.  But we still love him, and Heavenly Father does too!” 

I realize many don’t feel the way I do about Prop8, but perhaps they can at least understand my desire to protect the right to teach my children my version of morality — not society’s political-correct, anything-goes lifestyle.  People who desire a homosexual lifestyle do it for a variety for reasons.  It isn’t fair to throw out a blanket statement like, “They were born that way,” and use it for the whole group, any more than others can say “They chose to be that way” and apply it to all people engaging in homosexual behavior.

 

This religious freedom aspect is a huge issue for me, and the reason I’m continuing to fight a battle that’s not even my state’s.  Those who promote same-sex marriage quickly jump to the conclusion that those who desire the liberty to freely teach that homosexual behavior is wrong, are therefore bigots, full of homophobia and hate towards same-sex couples.  I wish I could show them how teaching that certain behavior is wrong is different from teaching hatred of people engaging in that behavior!  I will say it until I turn blue, and I will act it as well as I am able.  There really is difference. 

 Yes, there are families and maybe even whole churches that teach persecution of gays.  I think they teach it wrongly, and I know you think it too.  We need to love each other, and show respect at all times.  Thanks again for those with differing opinions who haven’t thrown insults or pointed fingers, and who in the process have much more effectively educated and shown their side of the issue.

But love and respect does not mean that I aught to be required to accept & legally sanction a lifestyle I believe is contrary to the commandments of God.  Perhaps I should illustrate.  Forgive me, this example is not a perfect one, for it only illustrates this one thing.

 

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6 Responses to Transcripts from a great lecture, and a whole lot of ramblings

  1. jesurgislac says:

    We need to rebuild the family in so many places where we have such breakdown, not primarily for the sake of the middle class or upper class, although they suffer too from family breakdown; the real victims of the loss, the decline, the erosion, of the integrity of the institution of marriage are the poor and vulnerable, who depend so vitally on that institution.

    And yet, he’s building towards an argument that some couples mustn’t be allowed to marry, and some children can’t be allowed to have married parents. Weird, isn’t it – that people will simultaneously argue that marriage is very important, the basics of family life – and at the same time argue seriously that it’s very important that some families ought to be denied this in law.

  2. Anita says:

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but the Prop8 debate here is centered on whether or not
    4 judges
    aught to be allowed to change the definition of marriage already passed by 60% of Californians.
    Before they abused their position as judges (and I know this isn’t the only time judicial review has taken over the responsibility of the legislative dept) — marriage in CA was technically defined as only between a man and woman. If there was sufficient momentum to back changing that definition, it aught to have been done properly. This is going about it the wrong way, and I should point out that in the other two states gay marriage is legal, it was also brought about through judicial review.

    He’s arguing that marriage is very important to society, and he’s working from the position that marriage is only between a man and woman.
    So, I see your point, but we’re working from an obviously different frame of reference. You maintain that love makes a family, regardless of gender. He (and I) maintain that, no, man+woman = marriage.

  3. Husband John says:

    On the contrary, Jes, it’s not weird – in fact, his formal logic is sound.

    Assuming I’ve understood, his rationale is that same-sex marriage is unable to fulfill the purposes of marriage, which collective purposes explicitly define marriage. Specifically, marriage is the communion or cleaving of every coneivable kind between two persons: “the bodily, the emotional, the dispositional, the rational, [and] the spiritual.” Let me elaborate with my own thoughts, if I may.

    Whatever union may exist between same-sex partners, it’s self-evident they simply cannot fulfill the bodily communion purpose required by the core definition of marriage. Without getting too detailed, the body parts of men are incompatible; likewise for women. Efforts to the contrary (via science or otherwise) are unarguably inconsistent with the body’s anatomy.

    Accordingly, same-sex partners simply cannot fulfill all the purposes of marriage, which collective purposes explicitly define marriage. Formal logicians would perhaps define it thus: Not A, not B.

    In context: Not reproductive bodily communion, Not marriage. Perhaps mathematicians would define marriage thus: 0+1 = 1.

    Male same-sex partners: 0+0 = 0; female same-sex partners: 1+1 = 2. Neither 0+0 nor 1+1 equal 1. No matter how much they may want or demand, they simply are not and never will be equal to 1; it’s neither logical nor rational to argue otherwise.

    Homosexual relationships are therefore not, by definition, marriage– they don’t equal 1! Again, the precise collective purpose and formal definition of marriage is to cleave together in all possible ways– to be one.

    Efforts to the contrary, to alter the definition of marriage such that
    “Not A, Then B”, or “0+0=1”, or “1+1=1”, are both illogical and irrational.

  4. jesurgislac says:

    (Er, you’re still logged on as your husband, to whom I am never going to respond again until he apologises and retracts the claim that I am incapable of virtue.)

    Whatever union may exist between same-sex partners, it’s self-evident they simply cannot fulfill the bodily communion purpose required by the core definition of marriage.

    Who says?

    Without getting too detailed, the body parts of men are incompatible; likewise for women. Efforts to the contrary (via science or otherwise) are unarguably inconsistent with the body’s anatomy.

    Without getting too personal, you are absolutely wrong. The body parts of two men or two women are completely, inarguably, compatible for bodily communion. I can speak to personal experience for the latter: I can tell you that personal testimony from close friends has proved the point for the former.

    But in any case: the idea that a complete outsider has any right to judge how sexually compatible a married couple are, or judge their degree of “bodily communion” – why do you find that acceptable? Would you want complete strangers judging your husband’s physical anatomy and your own and deciding that because they don’t think the “parts fit” you shouldn’t be allowed to marry? That’s your own personal business, entirely your own affair – as for any couple. No outsider has any right to judge what degree of “bodily communion” has been achieved.

    Not reproductive bodily communion, Not marriage.

    Oh, that argument – in summary, “men who have vasectomies can’t get married”. Refuted completely in more detail here.

  5. Husband John says:

    Actually, this is, and was, John’s comment – not Anita’s.

    While I enjoy your enthusiasm, Jes, it’s a far cry that your arguments “refute completely” the precepts we’ve discussed throughout Anita’s blog.

    Commentary on your 5 arguments
    1) Religion – We’ve debated this argument ad nauseum. The fact that we’re in clear disagreement, though, is evidence that your argument is not “complete refutation;”

    2) Tradtion – While I disagree with several of your points, I agree with your conclusion. Although it’s a valid argument, it’s weak;

    3) Heterosexism (never even seen that word)/Homophobia – While true that government has no business legislating what’s done in bed, the government retains authority to preserve itself through defense of the very virtues required in its citizens for the contintuation of the Republic. When bedroom behaviors are exposed, then it’s the government’s obligation to follow a course of self-preservation, which is possible only to the extent that its controllers, the people, are virtuous and moral (regardless of sexual orientation). I emphatically reject the notion that what occurs in bed, behind closed doors, has no impact on others (again, regardless of sexual orientation);

    4) Saving marriage for mixed-sex couples! – I don’t understand the orirignal argument or your refutation logic. The whole section seems emotionally charged, which is admittedly an area of weakness; and,

    5) Children – Allow me to quote from comments I made in a family emal thread to Big Bro, back in 2006, on the topic:

    Big Bro. challenged me to “demonstrate a way in which a homosexual monogamous union does ANY damage to [me] personally, or to society as a whole.” Here was my response:

    “Since I doubt any so-called ‘religious’ information will benefit you presently, here’s some easily confirmable info: studies suggest that instances of incest increase with homsexual parents; homosexuals are statistically sexually promiscuous before locating a monogamous ‘partner’ (e.g. most don’t find the #1 person from the get go), which therefore exposes the individual(s) to more STDs and other risks (as homosexuals are statistically more at-risk); homosexuals are statistically more likely to be substance abusers, [with] all its deleterious effects (financial, familal, health, etc); homosexuals are statistically poorer financial planners; homosexuals are statistically more prone to domestic violence; homosexuals are statistically less likely to remain in a monogamous relationship, thus increasing chances of exposure to many additional risks would would be mitigated if fidelity were maintained.

    “I’ve named but a few; the list if far from exhaustive. All of the above influence me directly, my family directly, your family directly, and society as a whole – violence, separation, lawsuits, financial burdens, healthcare, deaths, etc, to say nothing of the moral degredation & perversion of God’s laws, which you discount.”

    I of course provided references (note, these URLs were valid in 2006, don’t know about now):
    Incest

    Homosexuals’ sexual promiscuity and increased risk of STDs
    HIV first spread through the homosexual community, and male-to-male sexual contact still accounts for the largest percentage of new AIDS cases in the United States.” Biology, 7th Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, 2001, Pg. 914. ISBN: 0-07-013657-2 [This was the only textbook I retained from my exremely liberal undergraduate school, and my major’s books (Psychology) contained many similar references.]

    Corey, L, and Holmes, K.K., “Sexual Transmission of Hepatitis A in Homosexual Men,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1980, vol 302: 435-438;

    AIDS and Sexual Behavior Reported by Homosexual Men in San Francisco,” American Journal of Public Health, December 1985, 75: 493-496;

    Medical Aspects of Homosexuality,” Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality, 1985, Jaffe and Keewhan, et al; Sexual Preference. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1981 [this one indicates that ~2% interviewed classified themselves as monogamous or semi-monogamous];

    AIDS research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that average homosexual interviewed claimed more than 500 different sexual partners – those diagnosed with AIDS reported on average 1100 lifetime partners, and some reported as many as 20,000!

    Homsexuality and substance abuse
    Alcoholism and Homosexuality

    http://www.acpeds.org/?CONTEXT=art&cat=22&art=50 (American College of Pediatricians)
    http://www.soberdykes.org/glabuse2.html
    http://www.narth.com/docs/symptoms.html
    http://www.psych.org/public_info/libr_publ/position.cfm

    Homsexuality and financial planning
    http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2005/Feb-05-Sat-2005/news/25808494.html

    Homsexuality and domestic violence
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=14650663&dopt=Abstract
    http://www.acpeds.org/?CONTEXT=art&cat=22&art=50
    http://www.familyresearchinst.org/FRR_01_12.html

    Homsexuality and monogamous relationships
    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0075.html – Your inclination may be to knock this site because of it’s domain name, but I think you’ll find its references at the end rather compelling.

    “Many of the references already quoted discuss the near non-existence of true monogamous relationships in homosexual partners. Fewer than 2% report monogamous or semi, of those 2% few statisitcally maintain absolute fidelity or ‘exclusivity’ as it’s called, and of those minor few who are exclusive, statistically they will not last past 5yrs.

    “Other deleterious affects I didn’t even mention originally: psychological pathologies up the wazoo. Homsexual behavior has a much stronger correlation with many psychological pathologies (depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc) than does heterosexual activity.”

    Homosexuality and a laundry list of bad effects
    http://www.acpeds.org/?CONTEXT=art&cat=22&art=50

    Quoted from the article, “Violence among homosexual partners is two to three times more common than among married heterosexual couples. 10,11,12,13,14 Homosexual partnerships are significantly more prone to dissolution than heterosexual marriages with the average homosexual relationship lasting only two to three years. 15,16,17 Homosexual men and women are reported to be inordinately promiscuous involving serial sex partners, even within what are loosely-termed “committed relationships.” 18,19,20,21,22 Individuals who practice a homosexual lifestyle are more likely than heterosexuals to experience mental illness,23,24,25 substance abuse,26 suicidal tendencies,27,28 and shortened life spans.29 Although some would claim that these dysfunctions are a result of societal pressures in America, the same dysfunctions exist at inordinately high levels among homosexuals in cultures were the practice is more widely accepted.30 Children reared in homosexual households are more likely to experience sexual confusion, practice homosexual behavior, and engage in sexual experimentation. 31,32,33,34,35 Adolescents and young adults who adopt the homosexual lifestyle, like their adult counterparts, are at increased risk of mental health problems, including major depression, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, substance dependence, and especially suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.36″

    Bottom line
    The argument that same-sex marriage has no effect on others: society, children, and adults, is blatantly and scientifically unfounded. Big Bro. and I continued that particular thread (also ad nauseum), with several additional points and counterpoints.

    If you don’t want a religious answer, then consider my opposition to same-sex marriage to be one of risk and cost: financial, psychological, social, health-ical, educational, political, and likely all other “al’s.”

    The risks & costs (outlined above and elsewhere, as I noted only some of the negativisms of homosexual behaviors) easily surpass denied benefits (which, as an aside, are themselves, in many instances, corporate sponsored – nothing precludes a company or organization from providing the same financial coverages and so forth to gay couples – the government need not MAKE them – if they wanted to they could pro-actively provide the benefits you want government sanction or permission is not required).

    We’ve examined the negative effects – what about the impact to those individuals desirous to have same-sex marriage? How many people are we talking?

    According to the 2000 census there are 105.5 million U.S. households, of which 5.5 million consist of unmarried partnershps, of which 595,000 consist of same sex partners. Put into proportion of the U.S. population, this is under 1.2million people. Out of a country with a population of over 300 million that amounts to .004 oor .4% of the population – hardly a “significant portion” of the populace. Even were that figure underestimated by a factor of 10x it would not even reach the minimal acceptance of a “significant” 5% p-value for any scientific inquiry.

    So, weighing the costs and risks (of which I’ve outlined a few), versus the impact to those .4% of the population, it’s consistent for America to deny same-sex marriage. By doing so, it avoids the risks and costs for the other 99.6% of the population.

  6. jesurgislac says:

    Religion – We’ve debated this argument ad nauseum. The fact that we’re in clear disagreement, though, is evidence that your argument is not “complete refutation;”

    Hardly. It just proves that freedom of religion is not important to you, so long as the legislation enforcing lack of freedom is in line with your religion.

    Tradtion – While I disagree with several of your points, I agree with your conclusion. Although it’s a valid argument, it’s weak;

    Yet so many anti-gay marriage people use the “tradition” argument that it’s necessary to refute it, even though it’s a weak argument in the first place.

    While true that government has no business legislating what’s done in bed, the government retains authority to preserve itself through defense of the very virtues required in its citizens for the contintuation of the Republic.

    Like the freedom of religion issue, this is evidence only that your claimed belief “government has no business legislating what’s done in bed” is not important to you, so long as when the government does legislate, it’s enforcing your own beliefs about what people should do in bed.

    Saving marriage for mixed-sex couples! – I don’t understand the orirignal argument or your refutation logic. The whole section seems emotionally charged, which is admittedly an area of weakness; and

    I agree that it’s an emotionally charged argument that only mixed-sex couples ought to be allowed to marry. It’s the basic argument of Proposition 8, and if you don’t understand it, I don’t think you have any business judging it. Some people do feel an emotional attachment to the idea that they should be able to marry. Some people expand their attachment by arguing that people they don’t like (lesbians and gays, interracial couples) shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

    Children – Allow me to quote from comments I made in a family emal thread to Big Bro, back in 2006, on the topic:

    Your laundry list of bigoted nonsense is a pure waste of time, as is the “research” it presents.

    To quote the evangelical Christian I most respect:

    —-
    Racism, bigotry and xenophobia are immoral, of course, but they are also, just as fundamentally, untrue. They are unreal. They provide a theory and a framework for living in the world that cannot be reconciled with the reality of this world. The person who chooses to accept that unreal framework is thus constantly forced to choose between unreality and reality, between the theory and the facts. To hold onto the unreal framework, they must continuously reject reality. And every time they do that, they get a little bit dumber.**

    I don’t mean for this to be an entirely abstract discussion. I’m interested in the relationship between stupidity and racism because I want to know which is the root cause. This is a matter of both diagnosis and prescription. And I believe there is a prescription. The Mittens may be stupid, but they do not have to remain so. I believe there is hope for them.

    The truth is that unreality is simply unsustainable. Maintaining one’s belief in an unreal and untrue theory takes too much work. The vigilant rejection of reality has to be, on some level, exhausting. Even the elaborate support structures provided by Fox News and AM radio cannot wholly shield one from the constant intrusions of the world that is. Denying the existence of that world requires more help than even the voluminous right-wing echo chamber can provide.

    This, I think, is part of why we’re seeing such desperate vehemence at the Palin rallies. The crowd realizes that the unreality it has chosen cannot long survive if the majority of their fellow citizens and neighbors refuse to play along. As long as the entire crowd is choosing to “see” the emperor’s splendid new clothes, then it’s relatively easy to go along with that choice. But once the crowd reaches a tipping point, once the majority are choosing reality and the truth, then the emperor’s nakedness become impossible to deny. For those who have chosen bigotry, racism and xenophobia, this election represents just such a tipping point. They’re watching unreality slip through their fingers and they’re trying, desperately, to grasp it even tighter.

    After this election, part of our task — yours, mine and our new president’s — will be to find a way to gently invite and welcome these folks back into the real world. My suspicion, or at least my hope, is that eventually, once they are unburdened by the need to constantly choose unreality and therefore stupidity, they will find this a great relief.

    I gather your brother has already rejected unreality. So there’s clearly hope for you.

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