Monday, June 05, 2006

The H-Bomb.

(I warn you all that this post is both lengthy and serious; despite the generally satirical nature of this blog, one must make an entirely serious point from time to time.)

I picked up my copy of Crunchy Cons from the local library over the weekend, and I find myself reluctant to start reading it. Instead I spent my leisure hours finally reading a book I got last year: Worlds of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Volume Three. I suppose I found the idea of reading a fictional story about the rapacious Ferengi to be more pleasant than trudging through Rod Dreher's apparent accusations about the greed of mainstream conservatism.

Rod's recent behavior hasn't helped things.

I'm reminded of Jonah Goldberg's criticism of Rod's book and thesis, an NRO article that Rod will apparently, finally address in the paperback edition of his book.
Crunchy conservatism strikes me now--as it did back when I first heard about it--as a journalistic invention, a confabulation fit for some snarking liberal reporter at the Washington Post "Style" section. It plays upon the Left's stereotype of conservatives and adopts it as its own. To Rod's credit, he doesn't claim that "mainstream conservatives" are racists; but he does claim that they are uptight, blue blazered, two-dimensional men motivated by greed. They are Godless materialists, unthinking dupes of Madison Avenue, with no connection to spirituality or religion unless, that is, you think being an idolatrous votary of the free market counts as being religious.

To his credit, Rod still hasn't adopted the Left's nasty habit of playing the race card, but I think he's now guilty of a charge that is equally disgusting.

The rhetorical H-bomb. Homophobia.

In less than a week, Rod has twice asserted a socially conservative position on the issue of redefining legal marriage to include gay couples -- namely, opposition to such a redefinition. He has twice defended himself against the charge of bigotry, and he has, both times, immediately implied that the charge of bigotry is accurate when it comes to the Republican mainstream.

This past Thursday:
As for the Republicans, I support privileging traditional marriage for reasons that have nothing to do with animosity towards gay people, but for philosophical and sociological reasons. I deeply resent the charge from same-sex marriage activists that the only reason one can oppose gay marriage is bigotry. It's a cheap and emotional way of arguing. That said, I think it's a pretty fair accusation that the GOP plays on the fear and loathing of gay people in its campaign-season appeals to voters based on gay marriage. It makes it hard to reward them with my vote. [emphasis mine]

And today:
As I've blogged before, I resent it when gay-marriage proponents (like this windbag) resort to the cheap slur that the only reason anybody objects to gay marriage is "bigotry." This is pathetically weak, because as Maggie Gallagher and others have tirelessly argued, there are solid legal, sociological and philosophical reasons to reject same-sex marriage. These reasons may not be persuasive to many, and possibly even most, people -- but they are reasons, not expressions of blind prejudice. But President Bush and the Republicans cut people like Gallagher off at the knees by the way they treat this issue. If it really is a civilizational issue as the GOP claims (and which I believe), then they wouldn't just trot it out cynically at election time, but would instead fight for it, and articulate a political and moral case for the amendment. It's hard to see how this kind of activism isn't, on the part of the GOP operatives, merely appealing to anti-gay prejudice, stoking an emotional issue transparently for political gain. [emphasis mine]

I have responded to both blog entries (here and here), and I emailed him this morning before the second questionable post was made. Each time, I asked for a clarification: "Are you suggesting that a large number of Republican voters are homophobes?" As of the writing of this blog entry, I have received no reply in public or via email.

Thus, I can only take Rod at his word as it is written. Since he made the same point twice, I believe I can be confident in supposing that he means what he writes.

He opposes redefining marriage for "solid legal, sociological and philosophical reasons." He resents the charge that people can take his position only out of bigotry, and he rejects the charge as a slur, as "a cheap and emotional way of arguing."

And yet, though the GOP is taking the same position Rod is taking, it is "a pretty fair accusation" to say that the party is now appealing to "anti-gay prejudice", to "the fear and loathing of gay people."

One word best describes anti-gay prejudice, and the fear and loathing of gay people. That word is homophobia.

For opposing the redefinition of marriage, Rod believes he is principled. At the same time, Rod apparently believes that we mainstream conservative Republicans are prejudiced for taking the exact same position. We hold the right position for the wrong reason.

I wonder how he knows this. If he doesn't know this as a fact, I wonder how the Christian virtue of charity permits him to assume the worst about us. And I wonder whether I'll even bother reading his book.

Regardless, Rod Dreher should be called out for making such a disgusting accusation -- and for being such a hypocrite as to defend himself against the charge of bigotry while making the same slanderous charge against the rest of us for holding the same position.

Early in his blog at NRO, Rod Dreher had the audacity to imply that he, unlike those in the mainstream of conservatism, numbered among the "honorable conservatives."

That was clearly wishful thinking on his part.


Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Oh boy. This is more tangled up than a bowl of spaghetti.

Good- rule out all the folks who aren't hanging with Rod and Maggie in the faculty lounge. Then the entire anti-gay marriage movement will fit in a Greyhound bus.

Is it Bigotry for Old Man Murphy to say, "That boy just don't seem right to me?" Or is that the expression of traditional wisdom rooted in the permanent things? Ask most people for a philosophical/sociological exegesis of why they're opposed to child porn and they will explain, "What? It's just plain sick." It's usually the Left's M.O. to draw people into word games to force them to concede that they can't explain why, say, bestiality, is "wrong."

The whole point is that until the Left figured out how to redefine the debate in terms of things like "bigotry," we didn't need to resort to statistical analyses of census data in the Netherlands to argue against something as patently ludicrous as gay marriage.

I think this is another example of the manner in which Crunchy Conservatism is really more rooted in coastal intellectual elitism than any sort of earthy middle-American mode of thought.

PS- I'm an intellectual elitist living in Boston, so I think I'm qualified to diagnose the disease ;)

8:48 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

PPS- I'm also in favor of gay marriage. Discuss.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Rod's only phobia has to do with Catholic priests, I guess. Unordained gays, well, no homophobia there.

ConCrunchy, I oppose so-called "gay marriage" and I'm willing to discuss it providing you present your case for it; the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, so to speak. You go first.

9:24 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Any proponent of gay marriage worth his salt would point out to Rod/Ray that his "philosophical and sociological reasons" for opposing gay marriage are simply another covert manifestation of bigotry against gays. For example, no doubt Rodray's "sociological reasons" for opposing gay marriage include data from the Netherlands stating that more dutch babies are born illegitimately since gay marriage became legal there. But arguably such statistics were gathered in the first place in efforts stemming from what he would call "bigotry". It is highly unlikely that RodRay could marshall such stats without the efforts of "bigoted" anti-gay-marriage types (though who knows, maybe he does spend mornings at the office poring over illegitimacy rates in European countries just for kicks)

In short, another tiresome example of RodRay's rhetorical self-aggrandizement. "I'm too special...."

("philosophical and sociological reasons" ... give me a break.... sorry, Rod, but bigotry itself is a philsophy of sorts)

10:45 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Contra, I personally oppose the legal redefinition of marriage, but I grant that reasonable people can disagree. I also believe that this isn't an issue of rights (and that arguing such opens a Pandora's box that will lead to marriage be defined out of existence), but -- even then -- I believe reasonable people can disagree.

I will furthermore grant that at least some people who oppose the redefinition of marriage do so because of their bigotry toward gays, but that's no different than recognizing that some militant feminists are surely guilty of misandry and that some extreme environmentalists look at the entire human population as a plague on the earth.

But Rod should know better than to paint with such a broad brush, implying that large swaths of the Republican base are bigots, and it's appalling he did that twice while making damn sure each time to rebuke others for applying the cheap slur of bigotry to him.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

> I also believe that this
> isn't an issue of rights

This is one of my main contentions and I get roasted by gays whenever I bring it up. This may seem tangential to the "gay marriage" discussion, but the issue of rights is the basis for their arguments for it and they love to focus on what we supposed cross-eyed right-wingers think about gay rights. But the elephant in the middle of the room is represented by the question "What do the majority of blacks and other minorities think about gay rights?"

The immediate retort is that gay people can't help being gay just like black people can't help being black. There's the connection to civil rights. It's the way they were born. I will grant that completely for this argument. However, gays do decide whether to identify as gays or not, a luxury which 99.99% of blacks do not have. Even out-of-the-closet gays don't have to write "I'm gay" on their resume; blacks might as well have "I'm black" written on their forehead.

Black people understand this completely. As a subgroup, they have a lower income than average whereas gays have a higher average income. There are gays who no one suspects are gay and heterosexuals who everyone suspects are. Just as a personal example to support this: multiple people have thought I was gay in the past and I've even been hit on by gays. But I'm not gay. No one has ever suspected that I was black, Asian or Hispanic.

This sounds very simplistic, but the issue is very simple. All this talk on the left about gay rights is couched in the language of civil rights. But racial bigotry is totally different than homophobia. Old Man Murphy never said, "That boy just don't seem white to me" unless his eyesight was completely gone. Had Rosa Parks a white lesbian neighbor I doubt she would have been asked to surrender a seat regardless of the prevailing attitude toward lesbianism in 1955 Alabama. Prejudice relies on knowledge of the characteristic of the party against which one is prejudiced.

Blacks have had to put up with far more than people who choose a gay lifestyle, let alone those who are simply "born gay". So although I can see how it may be said that there is some sort of real collective "bigotry" against homosexuals by some, it simply doesn't translate to impacting people on an individual level as with bigotry against minorities based on personal appearance.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

I've discussed the issue online, more than has probably been healthy, with those who are adamant in their support of redefining marriage. A few inconsistent lines of argumentation come up quite frequently.

First is the conflation of cohabitation and legal marriage. A "gay marriage" proponent will assert that consenting adults have the right to have a sexual relationship with and live with whomever they choose -- a right that hardly anyone disputes -- and then absurdly argue as if a legal definition of marriage that excludes gay couples prevents those couples from cohabitating, from privately referring to that cohabitation as a marriage, and from having the sanction of some church or other religious group.

This confusion spills over into the issue of privacy. You can almost detect the violent typing with which one will scream that what happens in the bedroom is no one else's business, but the issue has been about the public courthouse, not about a private bedroom.

And, most frustrating of all, the same people who assert that marriage is a right demand that others' religious beliefs are to be excluded from the discussion -- as if a person's rights are more empirically and scientifically verifiable than Jehovah. Our first national document asserts that rights are God-given; at the very least, they cannot be deduced from the material universe. Thus, if rights are objectively real and not mere social constructs, then they are as literally supernatural as any deity.

(And if rights are mere social constructs, what are arguing about?)

11:06 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Has Rod spelled out his extra special, totally honorable plus, "philosophical and sociological reasons" anywhere? or are we just supposed to take his word for it that his reasons are honorable, in contrast to bigoted mainstreamers?

Maggie Gallagher has a habit of influencing facts to support her logic. For instance, she insists that people who marry young statistically do not have a higher chance of divorce, which is simply wrong in recent experience. but I think she is probably presenting data from the past, say, 60 years instead of the past 30, and not saying so. Don't get me wrong, she has every right to do this-- she is an advocate and forthrightly presents herself as such. but "facts" are malleable, prone to influence and bias and even bigotry -- it's Disraeli's "lies, damned lies and statistics" argument.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

And if rights are mere social constructs, what's with this obsession with 2 people getting married? Why can't 3 or more people who truly love each other and want to have a relationship together be able to have a marriage just like the "duo-sexual" folks?

11:54 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Kathleen said:
> or are we just supposed to
> take his word for it that his
> reasons are honorable, in
> contrast to bigoted mainstreamers?

Uh, yeah, Kathleen because he links to Andrew Sullivan.

11:59 AM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...

My main bitch about the gay marriage debate is that there are at least two debates going on and if you are impolite enough to bring that up you are called a bigot.

What do I mean by that. Well the "marriage" debate in the gay community goes out of its way to make the point that they are out to "queer" marriage. That the rules of monogamy will "of course" not apply and it is often asserted that this lack of hypocrasy will influence heterosexual marriage and liberate it.

This is a mainstream enough gay position that I heard it a couple of years ago on a SF Bay area debate on the local NPR outlet. None of the mainstream gay participants contradicted the position. It certainly squares with my extensive experience with gay people, their own publications and how they talk under "friendly" circumstances.

There is this other debate about how it is just bigotry to deny homosexuals the right to form families that would be virtually identical to heterosexual families. This is an idea that has no real following among homosexuals except for its strategic value in the debate.

Now try bringing the contents of the debate in the gay community into a political debate about gay marriage in the wider community. Will anyone answer you? No. You are just called a bigot. None of the substantive points will be engaged.

Why? Because the real project is to change the entire center of gravity for sexual relations in society. Restraint is bad and free wheeling sexual excess is positive. That is the real debate and the one that is being circumvented for strategic reasons.

12:11 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

I see I committed the classic journalistic sin of stepping on my lede. My point was mainly to say that I found his logic tortured despite what should have been a sympathetic position.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Ah. :-)

Truly, I don't mind the digression, but one shouldn't think for a moment that I'm letting Dreher off the hook for this crap.

12:20 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Now, to answer those who have asked me to justify my stance, I will enumerate my arguments briefly:

1. They're here, they're queer, deal with it. The presence of "out" gays in society is a given, and will likely increase as the social stigma against it fades into history. This is purely a practical point. When GE shows an ultrasound video of a child sucking its thumb in its mother's womb, it makes it that much harder to compare it to a tumor or some other random growth. I grant that there are strong abstract arguments to be made against gay marriage, but for average folks the decision will be made by what they feel in their gut. The more this is an issue about friends and coworkers, the harder it will be for "traditional marriage" advocates to sustain an argument based on theory and statistics. Personally I believe it will be unsustainable in the long run, but will offer plenty of opportunities to squander resources and goodwill.

2. What is "traditional marriage," anyway? Heterosexual marriage today is an awfully long way from what it was in 1900, 1500, or even 1950. The notion that marriage was this stable arrangement for the past 5,000 years and all of a sudden the gays sprung this on us is silly. If there is a constant idea in marriage through the eons, it is that society benefits when people bind their fates before State and God. Gay marriage is implictly on the same page with this.

3. It's not about the kids. While childrearing is clearly part of the marriage picture, it's not the whole, nor a prerequisite. Since time immemorial, churches have been marrying the barren and those past childbearing age.

4. Who cares about the Dutch? Every time I hear a pack of leftists mewling about how statistics prove people are happier, better-off, healthier, or whatever in Europe compared to the US, I dismiss it. We are a European-derived nation, but our society and culture has been evolving on a distinct and separate trajectory for over two hundred years. Who's to say gay marriage in New Amsterdam is goign to work out the same way it does in original Amsterdam?

5. Correlation does not imply causation. I'm trained as an economist so I understand the methodologies being used by Gallagher and Kurtz. I just think it's a load of hogwash, the same way that I believe computer models of global warming are mostly bull. Human society is a machine of unspeakable complexity. Really, if you could statistically make these kinds of predictions, and isolate the real coefficients of each of the trends they talk about with any kind of accuracy... well, let's just say that if their tools were really that good, they would be predicting the opening and closing of Microsoft's stock for the next 6 months. Economics and sociology use empirical techniques but they are not scientific in the same way as physics or chemistry, which make claims that are independently falsifiable.

6. It reinforces social norms. Is it really better for society to have gay people running around, coupling, uncoupling, adopting children, etc.--outside of marriage? Because that is the alternative. As I said in (1), gays are only going to become more integrated into society. IMHO, having them all *not be married* strikes me as doing far, far more to push marriage to the back burner. Marriage is like guys with earrings--the more people see them, the more they accept them. Marriage exists primarily because it is a social norm. Gay marriage would reinforce marriage as a social norm--in fact I strongly believe it would do more to help preserve it than almost any other single thing we could easily do.

7. These are real people we're talking about. My best friend from high school is queer as a three-dollar bill. I can't find it in my heart to look her in the eye and say, "you can't have this." After all the philosophy, statistics, and whatnot, this is what it comes down to. And if I can't tell her, I can't tell it to anyone else.

1:12 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Steve: This is a mainstream enough gay position that I heard it a couple of years ago on a SF Bay area debate on the local NPR outlet.

Oh come on. That's about as significant as Pravda saying something nice about Lenin in the Moscow evening edition.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Contra said:
> That's about as significant
> as Pravda saying something
> nice about Lenin in the
> Moscow evening edition.

You're not suggesting that gays are as bad as commies, are you?

Juuuuuuuust kidding....

1:25 PM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...


Any gay press i've ever read is far more radical on these issues than NPR. That is why I used them as an example and also because that debate was pretty fair and open. The "conservative" representative for gay marriage agreed easily that marriage for gays should not be the restrictive institution that it is for straights.

I have never been able to locate any public source of gay opinion that supports a conservative position on homosexual relationships. I have never seen a gay rights advocate publicly oppose any of the extreme behavior that is the norm in the gay community. Ever been to a gay pride parade or festival?

I've lived in the SF Bay Area for 30 years. I lived for several of those years in a neighborhood adjacent to the Castro in San Francisco. In silicon valley, I've known lots of "mainstream" homosexuals. (Remember I used to be a counter-culture liberal) The standards of sexual conduct among homosexuals are nothing that most heterosexuals (even the most liberal) could relate to. I don't believe because homosexuals gain the ability to form a legal marriage they will form more traditional modes of sexual relationships. I see no evidence of it. In fact, I see the contrary.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...


Point #1 seems less of an argument for gay "marriage" and more of an assertion that it is inevitable and that opposition will have a huge political cost, neither of which may be true, neither of which is self-evident, and neither of which strikes me as an argument for supporting the change.

Point #2 is a stretch. Yes, marriage is different now than it was in 1950, but even two thousand years ago, marriage was defined as the union of a husband and a wife. When Paul wrote about marriage, he used two different words for its two different particpants (aner and gune), and the two went together. This change will either require reworking the terminology (going to the gender-neutral "spouse") or require accepting the idea that these components can combine in ways that they never have before: husband-husband and wife-wife. Either way, the change that is ushered in is -- in degree and perhaps in kind -- much more dramatic than anything we've seen in a very long time.

On Point #3, you write, "Since time immemorial, churches have been marrying the barren and those past childbearing age." That's true, but before modern medicine it was impossible to make such determinations. Regardless, you're right that marriage is about more than childrearing; it is, I believe, about the complementary nature of the two sexes, the unique ability to reproduce through opposite-sex coupling being a part of that.

(And gays may now have an unavoidable presence in our culture, but so do children. Our country is being invaded, so to speak, by over four million infants each year, and our society has an obligation to ensure they grow up into productive, law-abiding, preferably mature adults. Even if marriage is about more than children, the government may have a vested interest in promoting particular arrangements as unique for the sake of those children.)

Re: Point 4, you're right that we're not the Dutch. Things might go better for us, but then again they might go worse. An argument why we're in a better position than the Netherlands would help here.

Points 5 and 6 are interesting: you say, perhaps rightly, that society is probably too complex to measure cause and effect with any precision, but you write, "Gay marriage would reinforce marriage as a social norm--in fact I strongly believe it would do more to help preserve it than almost any other single thing we could easily do." How do you know? How can we determine you're right, even in hindsight, if you've denied even the possibility of drawing conclusions from social science statistics?

Let's say that gay marriage does indeed reinforce marriage as a social norm: if it does so, it reinforces a new norm. You could reinforce marriage as a norm by opening all living arrangements to the institution, including confirmed bachelorhood; since every arrangement could be called a marriage, the word "marriage" is reinforced as a social norm, but there's hardly any substance behind the word. Currently, the institution enshrines heterosexual monogamy; redefining marriage may reinforce one part of that norm, but it does so at the expense of the other part.

As for point #7, there are real people who advocate and desire polygamous marriages. I don't think any gay adult should be prevented from living with any other consenting adult, from having a sexual relationship with that person, from drawing up legally binding contracts to solidfy that relationship, from calling that relationship a "marriage", and from receiving the sanction of a church that is willing to give that sanction. But we're talking about official sanction from the government; I don't think just any old arrangement should have that legal sanction just because those who want the sanction are real people.

2:07 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

There are a lot of gays who disdain legalized gay marriage for the reasons Silicon Steve says some gays support it. They wish to emulate precisely nothing of hetero marriage as it currently exists.

I think Camille Paglia counts herself among this camp.

I think such gays present the best argument against legalized gay marriage -- they acknowledge that homosexuality in its essence is inherently inimical to the ideals of hetero marriage relationship. BTW I don't think any of these gays would consider their position as a set of grand "philosophical and sociological reasons" either.

2:32 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Well now this is fun. First, Steve:

You're right to say that there is a significant presence within the gay community that wants to "queer" the institution of marriage generally. In fact there is a sizable chunk of the more radical element who believe that the movement should be focused on discrediting marriage per se rather than gaining access to the franchise. I don't know whether that is here or there, though.

2. "I have never been able to locate any public source of gay opinion that supports a conservative position on homosexual relationships. I have never seen a gay rights advocate publicly oppose any of the extreme behavior that is the norm in the gay community.

So, if I can find you one of either, will you concede the point?

Of course the "professionals" are going to be more on the radical frienge of things. Last I checked, the leaders of the AFL-CIO were gnashing their teeth about rights for illegal immigrants, while the members who pay their salaries would probably like to see mass deportations. I don't spend a lot of time keeping up on gay advocacy; it's not really relevant to me. I do have a fairly large number of gay friends and acquaintances leading normal lives and that's what my observations are mostly based on.

I don't believe because homosexuals gain the ability to form a legal marriage they will form more traditional modes of sexual relationships. I see no evidence of it. In fact, I see the contrary.

Well, the way I see it, if we don't allow them to marry, then there is really no positive inducement to "mainstream" their behavior. Meanwhile, their radical influence will seep into the culture all the same. That strikes me as pretty much a guaranteed weakening of marriage, while letting them in has at least a chance of turning the tide a little. But let's be honest, we're both applying Kentucky windage here, aren't we?

2:32 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Contra, respectfully, I'm not sure I understand the difference between your expressed goal of mainstreaming homosexual behavior and defining deviancy down.

3:01 PM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...

No contra,

As a conservative, I support the status quo unless I have a compelling reason to believe it to be wrong. The evidence that we have however is that far greater freedom for homosexuals has not created a more sexually conservative culture. The evidence is all to the contrary in my experience.

The widespread public acceptance of the homosexual concepts of sexual relations particularly in
regard to "marriage" are already weakening the entire social conception of marriage. If you are at all socially conservative, it is in a direction that you will not like. Even with the current legal state of affairs it is already occuring. There are many primarily "heterosexual" people
who self identify as queer. Many of them are now identifing as "poly" or "kink". They have children and form flexible families involving multiple sexual partners.

To think that further liberalization will have a opposite effect is counter-intuitive and illogical. Kind of like the usual liberal idea that although we have greatly increased our spending on education and had negative results, a far greater increase will have an opposite effect.

One thing in your post strikes me as kind of strange: "if we don't allow them to marry, then there is really no positive inducement to "mainstream" their behavior."

I think you've got it all backwards here. Marriage does not make people sexually conservative. It is the positive nature of heterosexual relations to move towards faithfulness and restraint. Woman push men towards this superior moral state and men benefit from it. This is a result of the naturally complimentary nature of heterosexual relations. The social sanctions against promiscuity only work to reinforce the natural pattern.

Where no such natural pattern exists, social sanctions are powerless.

3:09 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Bubba: Contra, respectfully, I'm not sure I understand the difference between your expressed goal of mainstreaming homosexual behavior and defining deviancy down.

The difference is that I believe that deviance is a matter of behavior subsequent to the fact of homosexuality. Merely being in a gay relationship does not constitute deviance, so allowing them to marry does not define the institution down.

Just to take the point further, let's say the bride-to-be sleeps with the best man a week before the wedding. While we might advise him not to, the groom is still free to marry his fiancee; the law does not take fidelity into account in that regard. For that matter, even so-called "open marriages" remain valid so long as both husband and wife wish to continue. While the Church might not marry such a couple, the justice of the peace certainly would.

Perhaps deviance should disqualify straights from marrying. But it doesn't. So the argument is not only logically tendentious but ultimately a red herring.

9:32 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

Steve: I think you've got it all backwards here. Marriage does not make people sexually conservative. It is the positive nature of heterosexual relations to move towards faithfulness and restraint. Woman push men towards this superior moral state and men benefit from it.

So, by this logic we ought to at least allow lesbians to marry...

9:37 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Contra, I guess what I'm confused about are these two sentences:

Well, the way I see it, if we don't allow them to marry, then there is really no positive inducement to "mainstream" their behavior. Meanwhile, their radical influence will seep into the culture all the same.

What behavior are you suggesting should be mainstreamed, and why should we attempt to induce that mainstreaming? How does it help homosexuals, and -- more importantly from my point of view -- how does it help society at-large?

And, what precisely do you mean by homosexuals' "radical influence"? Do you think their radicalism will be diminished by mainstreaming their behavior? (If so, why?) Or is there not a risk of making their radical influence even more influential?

In many ways, I'm really not sure what you meant in that paragraph, and I'm not sure it's a good idea for me to respond to subsequent comments until I understand this earlier point.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Just to throw my 2 cents in, Contra wrote in number 2: "Heterosexual marriage today is an awfully long way from what it was in 1900, 1500, or even 1950." I would argue that it might look different, but it is exactly the same. You could say the accidents have changed, but not the substance of the institution. In my opinion, some things are better now than in the 50's and 1500's and some things are not as good; e.g., the demise of the "rule of thumb" and chauvinism vs. the rise of the "welfare queen" and radical feminism. It's good to note that the argument can be made that it was the chauvinism which led to the rad. feminism which led to the tangled web of no-fault divorce, abortion, welfare dependency, etc. all moved along by generous helpings of selfishness and materialism.

But none of these changes what marriage is in essence, either in society or in traditional Christianity. Both acknowledge that, unlike Rod's lemon-pepper free-range chickens, no marriage lives perfectly up to the ideal within the married life and vocation. That's why in the Catholic Church marriage was made a sacrament, a sign which imparts God's grace; we need all the help we can get to live out the vocation to marriage.

A related example of how bad behavior doesn't change an institution: In the 90's there were people (far-right conservatives mostly) who were moaning about how "Bill Clinton RUINED the U.S. Presidency!!" with all his goofing around, but this was utter nonsense. He might have ruined the carpet.... but this is like all these gay marriage advocates running around saying "Hetero's have made such a mess of marriage, they've ruined it, and now they claim they want to protect it." They have a point, but only if there is no core substance to marriage, no ideal apart from what we construct. We might destroy a million marriages with our deplorable behavior, but marriage as an institution, an ideal and a noble vocation remains intact.

7:33 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Pauli, aren't you weakening your argument a bit by insisting that marriage is a sacrament? after all, marriage clearly isn't a sacrament for every hetero couple -- doesn't that mean there is a sort of bifurcation of marriage already (civil vs. sacramental), and that therefore homosexual "marriage" (which would always be civil, at least in the eyes of, for example, the catholic church) and homosexual "civil unions" aren't somewhat redundant?

Maybe what conservatives should be fighting for is a homo and hetero "civil union", so as to distinguish between civil marriages (which secularist hetero couples might embrace) and sacramental hetero marriages. Perhaps we are weakening the institution of "sacramental marriage" by permitting justices of the peace to perform the same ceremony and call it a civil marriage.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

asKathleen, I'm not insisting marriage be a sacrament, just pointing out as a personal observation one reason which it is. For the same reason, the church doesn't confer the status of sacramentality upon coffee shops and wine boutiques because humans don't have as much trouble with those things, be they corporately of locally owned.

But your point is very well taken. I am probably weakening the argument by bringing up any type of religious authority. And also, to your point, I'm confusing the issue by using the word marriage in both the Catholic sense of "Christian marriage" and the legal/civil sense.

Re: civil unions I would maintain that, in a sense, gays bent on a long term relationship can already draw up all kinds of agreements which make them married fo all practical purposes. They can adopt kids, have visitor's rights in cases of emergency, wills and POA assignments and in places like Cleveland Heights, OH there is even some type of legislation whereby (at least some) employers have to provide insurance coverage for domestic partners which can include gays.

I don't have any problem with this from a legal/civil standpoint. The thing that's hardest for me is adoption, but I have to say that when I think of a kid that no one wants in a home for years and years I have to say let the gay couple adopt him/her. At least it will save them from Angelina Jolie's little Crawford-esque kid collection.

The only 2 immediate things I can think of that legalizing marriage for gays would give them is the ability for foreigners to become naturalized by marriage and widespread insurance coverage for gay partners. Someone smarter than me, please correct me. Long-term there would be other "intangibles" obviously.

Contra, I don't really see how legal gay marriage will help "mainstream them" except, and I'm really saying this seriously, it will give them the ability for the first time to get divorced which might prove to be an absolutely new cash cow for lawyers.

But I agree with Steve; there is the public "strategic" debate on this and the agenda debate where they call us "bettero-sexuals" and accuse us of screwing up marriage worse than they ever would.

Kathleen, I think your idea of a complete distinction in concepts and words between "civil union" and "marriage" might actually be a good thing. To some degree, this notion of the state having some role in marriage is a clumsy construct set in motion by the Protestant Reformation (oops, more spaghetti for the bowl....) That's why ministers say things like "By the power vested in me by the State of Ohio I now pronounce you....". Separation would eliminate a lot of the annulment confusion as well. I just don't know if it's practical to expect that this can be done; the roots of this mentality might be simply too deep. (Incidentally, I have friends who actually never went to the courthouse to get a license and the minister married them anyway. Later they tried to get a license and they were told "Oh - you have to apply before you get married" and they literally weren't allowed to get one! This was in PA.)

10:23 AM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

I wrote a long response yesterday, which Blogger promptly ate and... you get the idea. Then I was going to respond today, but I've been too busy smiling at the news that Zarqawi is on his way back to the beginning of the carbon cycle.

3:43 PM  

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