Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I recently issued a challenge which included, amongst other things, showing how same-sex marriage should be illegal. Today, I found a website that claims to do just that, so I being as open minded as I am I read through it, wondering if this was the one that would finally convince me there's actually a reason for all of this. I'm sure you can guess how that went. In case you can't because you are terminally stupid, no, I did not decide I'm an evil deviant that doesn't deserve rights. Partly because I'm not really gay, partly because are full of crap. Point by point rebuttal to follow, of course.

For starters, this is the phrase they claim sums up their position:
"Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,
they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."
First off, it's not just gays and lesbians that are "redefining" marriage. As mentioned above, I'm not gay (my sexuality would best be described as "complicated" without going into much detail) and yet I agree with them. Plenty of straight people do too. Second, you are implying that a huge social issue nowadays is nothing more than a discussion of semantics. What if it was decided that the state no longer recognises marriages, only civil unions (or whatever other term) which have no gender requirement? Would you be ok with that? You can keep your special word that you apparently love so much, everyone gets equal rights, and we don't have to deal with "separate but equal" crap. No complaints, right?
Language to avoid at all costs: "Ban same-sex marriage." Our base loves this wording. So do supporters of SSM. They know it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. Don’t use it. Say we’re against “redefining marriage” or in favor or “marriage as the union of husband and wife” NEVER “banning same-sex marriage.”
Problem is, that is exactly what you want. As I pointed out above, there's a simple way to avoid the dreaded Redefinition of Doom that will apparently destroy us all. Therefore, if you were against redefinition but not for banning same-sex marriage, you shouldn't have any objections. Anyone taking any bets on whether they will?

Marriage is between a husband and wife. The people of [this state] do not want marriage to be anything but that. We do not want government or judges changing that definition for us today or our children tomorrow.

If you take into account the fluid nature of language (that means, definitions change over time), the fact that you are trying to protect a single word to the extent of denying other people rights seems kinda nonsensical. Makes one wonder what's so bloody great about a word that's already undergone a few changes in definition (Amount of spouses, age of consent, etc.)By the way, I wonder what you would think if we redefined "husband" or "wife" instead.

We need a marriage amendment to settle the gay marriage issue once and for all, so we don’t have it in our face every day for the next ten years.

How cute. You really think that legislation will silence the gay rights movement. Reality check, you'll have the issue on your face until you give them the right to marry the people they love.

Marriage is about bringing together men and women so children can have mothers and fathers.

That's why childless couples are forced to adopt and the sterile aren't allowed to marry, right? Wait, no. But I'm sure you have some evidence to support why this should be the case. I'm all ears
Do we want to teach the next generation that one-half of humanity—either mothers or fathers—are dispensable, unimportant? Children are confused enough right now with sexual messages. Let’s not confuse them further.
And your method of avoiding confusion is to put up pretence to defend a lie? Cold facts here, no study shows two parents of the same sex will be significantly worse at raising a child than two parents of different sex. If you can show otherwise, you are welcome to do so.
Are you a bigot? “Why do you want to take away people’s rights?”
“Isn’t it wrong to write discrimination into the constitution?”

A: “Do you really believe people like me who believe mothers and fathers both matter to kids are like bigots and racists? I think that’s pretty offensive, don’t you? Particularly to the 60 percent of African-Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t new; it’s not taking away anyone’s rights. It’s common sense.”

Tip: Saying minorities can't be bigoted is a fallacy, just so you know. Offensive truths aren't any less true, and as it turns out, the overwhelming majority of people trying to keep same-sex marriage illegal are doing it out of homophobia. Guess what? That makes you a bigot. Your way of marriage being old does not make it better, and not granting rights is the moral equivalent of taking them away. In the case of California, rights were actually taken way, and if you succeed you'd be doing the same to Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Vermont. Finally, "common sense" isn't an argument.
Isn’t the ban on gay marriage like bans on interracial marriage?

A: “Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races apart so that one race could oppress the other. Marriage is about bringing two sexes together, so that children get the love of their own mom and a dad, and women don’t get stuck with the enormous disadvantages of parenting alone.” “Having a parent of two different races is just not the same as being deprived of your mother—or your father.”

You've still to show any benefits coming from heterosexual parenting. Until then, null hypothesis means a certain gender is not a specific requirement in a parent. Plenty of kids grow up deprived of a dark-haired parent. Should we demand that all marriages be between a dark-haired and a light-haired person? If you are thinking that sounds absurd, take a good look at your own beliefs and show me how it's any different.
Why do we need a constitutional amendment? “Isn’t DOMA enough?”

A: “Lawsuits like the one that imposed gay marriage in Massachusetts now threaten marriage in at least 12 other states so far. We need a marriage amendment to settle the issue once and for all, so we don’t have this debate in our face every day. The people get to decide what marriage means. No-end run around the rules by activist judges or grandstanding San-Francisco-style politicians.”

The issue won't be settled. It's that simple. Even if you get your amendment, people will still fight for their rights. There's nothing you can do about that, and you'll have to learn to deal with it.
What’s the harm from SSM? “How can Adam and Steve hurt your marriage?”

A: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.”

And you think your right to holding on to an archaic definition is more important than other people's right to marry?

A: “If courts rule that same-sex marriage is a civil right, then, people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.”
Hate to break it to you, but you already are, and deservedly so. Your belief is not based on facts, but on prejudice. That makes you a bigot. The legal status of same-sex marriage will not change that. It might show it more clearly, but it won't change it.
“Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions, or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage."
First, I've yet to see anything that makes me think this would happen. Second, it's about fucking time they joined us in this century
“Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”
So? Do you want schools to lie to children? I'm not even sure that'd be an actual consequence of same-sex marriage, anyway.
“When the idea that children need moms and dads get legally stigmatized as bigotry, the job of parents and faith communities trying to transmit a marriage culture to their kids is going to get a lot harder.”
Homophobia is bigotry. This talk about children needing mums and dads is either ignorant crap or a thinly veiled excuse for that homophobia. If those are the values you wish to instil in your children, go ahead. You are free to teach your kids as you see fit, but don't expect the rest of us to give our silent consent, because we won't and you don't deserve it.

Why do you want to interfere with love?

A: “Love is a great thing. But marriage isn’t just any kind of love; it’s the special love of husband and wife for each other and their children.”

Been through this before, your right to your special word isn't more important than people's right to marry those they love. If you really care that much, I refer you once again to the plan I outlined in my first point.
What about benefits? Don’t gay couples and their kids need the benefits and protections of marriage?”

A: “If medical proxies aren’t working, let’s fix that problem. If people need health care, let’s get them health care. Don’t mess with marriage.”

A: “The issue isn’t benefits, it is marriage. Local folks can decide benefits. This is about the meaning of marriage, our most basic social institution for protecting children. “

"Mess" with marriage? We want to fix it to account for a situation it doesn't. Simpler and less discriminatory. And yes, the issue (or part of it) is benefits. Get over your delusions, marriage isn't what protects children. Parents, married or not, are.
Isn’t divorce the real threat to marriage?

A: “High rates of divorce are one more reason we should be strengthening marriage, not conducting radical social experiments on it.”

OK, that really doesn't make much sense. At all. How is more people getting married going to weaken marriage? By the way, did you know the highest rates of divorce in your country, after Nevada, are in the Bible Belt? Coincidentally the most homophobic area in your country. Gets you thinking, doesn't it?
Are you saying gays cannot be good parents?

A: “Two men might each be a good father, but neither can be a mom. The ideal for children is the love of their own mom and dad. No same-sex couple can provide that.”

Put up or shut up. Show how different-sex parents are better at childrearing than same-sex parents.

9. What about older or infertile couples? If they marry why not same-sex couples?

A: “Every man and woman who marries is capable of giving any child they create (or adopt) a mother and a father. No same-sex couple can do this. It’s apples and oranges.”

Talk about missing the point. And considering you are answering your own questions, that is something of an accomplishment. This question (when asked by a rational person) aims to show that childrearing isn't the purpose of marriage. Also, once again, give us a reason to buy your crap about children needing male and female figures.

Note: Digging through the site, I found a document that is supposed to support their assertions on heterosexual marriage being better for children. Curiously enough, all the statistics provided were about single parents, unmarried couples and divorced couples. The difference between single parenting and same-sex parenting should be obvious enough (hint: one of them has half the amount of parents). Those about divorced and unmarried couples do not apply to married couples, unless they assume that homosexual and heterosexual couples have significant differences in parenting, which is of course what they were trying to prove in the first place. We call that particular fallacy begging the question or petitio principii.

I haven't yet checked the sources of the statistics either, they linked to which is not exactly an unbiased source. Not one study on homosexual couples raising kids, I noted. The document repeats some of the bullshit above plus adds two quotes as scare tactics. Too bad any two random people who may or may not have been misquoted are not representative of an entire movement, otherwise they might have a semblance of an argument

In conclusion, the challenge is still open.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Speaking of religion

If, hypothetically speaking, I had readers, I'm sure they would've noticed that I frequently voice my opinion on matters of religion. Additionally, they would have noticed that I myself am not a member of any (real) religion. For some mysterious reason, I never found the combination of those two factors paradoxical. Thank Ungod for idiots in the internet trying to silence their opposition without actually providing any arguments.

The specific idiot I'm talking about responded to someone's comment advocating all or none religious education by something to the effect of: "What is your religion, [commenter's name]? Or are you one of those that live as if there is no God and you still talk about religion?" There is not one idea expressed in that comment that I don't find ridiculous.

First, that the religion of the commenter is relevant to the discussion. How? I seriously have no clue. If the same idea had been expressed by a Hindu or a Muslim or a Catholic or an atheist, would it make a difference? Basic logic tells us that an argument is not judged by the one who words it, but by its own merit. Therefore, the question can only be a waste of time or an attempt at an ad hominem. Probably both. What's wrong about that should be obvious enough.

Second, and here's where it becomes slightly more interesting: The remainder of the mental defecation I referenced above implies that the reason the question was asked was that the writer believes those without religion should not speak on the subject. My first reaction to that was mostly incoherent due to the sheer illogic of the concept interrupting my usual stream of consciousness. The reaction immediately following that was bewilderment at the idiocy of the concept. What possible reason could there that causes my opinions in the field of religion to be invalid?

I'm no theologian or even close, but I do know more about religion than the average person (not a difficult feat, honestly). Limiting myself to Christianity, I have explained canonization to Catholics and quoted Paul and Jesus to Protestants. I've read more of the Bible than almost anyone I know (personally, not online). I've studied to a greater or lesser extent the claims of all religions I've come across. This holds true for a significant portion of all the atheists, agnostics and other non-religious I've met. The why seems obvious to me, really. When you hold a position that differs from the mainstream, you are driven to the question of who is right and who is wrong a lot more frequently than those whose ideas are not challenged by the majority. Those that leave religion do so after taking a good look at it and concluding it doesn't add up (or at least that's what they tell me). Those like me who were not raised religiously often wonder why the rest of the world holds those beliefs and we bother to investigate them.

To remove the non-religious from discussions on religion would be like demanding that only the critics that liked a film publish their reviews. If it wasn't for Hanlon's Razor, I'd say it's no more than a manoeuvre to artificially inflate the perceived value of religion. I'm quite sure a number of those that use it in fact have that exact purpose, even if they don't put it in those words.

So, my esteemed internet moron: if the best argument you have is saying that I don't have a right to participate in the discussion, perhaps you should reconsider your position, or at least find a new argument. The only defence you can find for an idea being a fallacy is often a signal that the idea is flawed. Just a friendly warning :)