what she said, +1, ditto, etc.

Libba Bray wrote a heart-rending and powerful essay on Proposition 8, growing up with a gay father, and the definition of “family”.

Quoted for truth:

There is nothing wrong with being gay. There is nothing wrong with the way you love. Jesus, we should count ourselves lucky that we ever find love at all. Love is hard going and it takes guts and work and self-reflection and constant negotiation, not only with our partners but with ourselves, with our preconceived notions of what’s-what and the ever-ass-kicking reality of what-is. Love is not for the faint of heart—and it’s the best thing we’ve got going. I won’t even go into the ways marriage forces you to grow up. Why would we want to deprive other human beings of this basic right, of this chance to grow? (Or, if you’re into Schadenfreude, the right to feel like you want to scream over the dishes in the sink?) Why do we think it is okay to deny other human beings, other tax-paying citizens of this country, people who teach or doctor or minister to the sick and weary or serve in the armed forces or, hell, hula dance for all I know, the same rights and privileges that are afforded heterosexuals? What crazy act of hubris allows one segment of the population to determine who can love equally under the law?

Go read the whole thing.

65 thoughts on “what she said, +1, ditto, etc.

  1. ChrisB says:

    I wonder how much these and other “issues” would simply go away if the govt weren’t in that business, but no, we talk about this divisive nonsense instead how how we are all, gay and straight, being sold out by Washington.

    The govt has no more business being involved in marriage than it does in baptism.

  2. Tam says:

    The .gov could fuck up a two-marcher parade.

  3. i was right there with her until this:

    “What crazy act of hubris allows one segment of the population to determine who can love equally under the law?”

    well, the crazy act of hubris would be democracy, if you consider that the decision was by referendum. but it wasn’t to determine who can “love”, but rather who can qualify for the economic advantages of a legally sanctioned union…it’s not about the love, it’s about the money.

    and while .gov has about as much business in the marriage game as it does in owning car companies and banks, it is a red herring -and a particularly disingenuous one at that- for third parties to project their own emotions and feelings and misplaced empathy into the purely economic and fairness issues that are the true heart of the arguments both “for” and “against”.

    jtc

  4. divemedic says:

    Except that we are not a Democracy, and I do not ever wish to live in one. A democracy is a form of government in which 50.1% of the population gets to tell 49.9% of the population what to do. So, a 50.1% vote to legalize slavery would be the law of the land in a democracy.

    • divemedic: considering that 48% of the population is currently being told what to do by the duly elected godhead of 52%, i guess i’m missing your point?

      • Kristopher says:

        His point being a little document called the Constitution.

        It says that there are some things in a constitutional republic that 51% aren’t allowed to do, unlike a democracy, where that 51% can simply have the other 49% executed for being wrong.

      • Regolith says:

        Kristopher: It hasn’t stopped Obama so far. See: Chrysler, GM bankruptcies.

      • MarkHB says:

        Didn’t we just have a day of rememberance for everyone who died opposing systems which mistreated and oppressed others for being different?

        Pretty sure we did.

        I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that gubment got into the marriage game to help sell promote heterosexual marriage. For gays to then turn around and point out that all the tax breaks et cetera is discriminatory and shit is just what happens when gubment meddles.

        Two generations from now it’ll be as wierd to think of gay marriage as “bad” as it is to think of mixed-race marriage as “bad”. People being people though, every excuse from “My Invisible Friend Sez So” on down will be used to shit on folk for being different. I honestly think – sorry – it’s more because people can than because they honestly think it’s right. But then I have a dim view of bullying regardless of it’s venue, so using a broad brush on motivation comes easy.

  5. J T Bolt says:

    Marriage is not love. Strawman. Prop 8 doesn’t necessarily deny the same rights that afforded heteros. Just marriage.

    • Kristopher says:

      So you have no objection then to the state getting out of it, and having only civil unions for everyone?

      After all, it is “just marriage”.

      • Marko says:

        There’s an idea.

        If marriage is Just A Word, and civil unions are Just As Good, let’s have all existing marriages converted to civil unions, call state-sanctioned partnerships civil unions from here on out, and let the term “marriage” go back to the churches. If the Baptists don’t want to bestow the term on a gay union, they don’t have to do so. If the Wiccans or Unitarian Universalists are willing to marry gays, then they can.

        Any bets on how many (or few) gay marriage opponents would support that?

  6. Dr. Feelgood says:

    “There is nothing wrong with being gay.”

    Oh, well then, as long as you say so.

    Boy, I’m glad that’s finally settled. [/sarc]

    Elephant hurling is a poor substitute for reasoned defense. Before making such an assertion it would be prudent to lay some philosophical groundwork regarding the nature of right and wrong.

    • Marko says:

      There is nothing wrong with being gay.

      Any “philosophical groundwork regarding the nature of right and wrong” I’ve ever heard in opposition of homosexuality boils down to “(My) God sez so.”

      • Dr. Feelgood says:

        Then this was Bray’s golden opportunity to set the record straight. She failed. It’s not a particularly convincing argument even granting the premise; since, as others have pointed out, marriage and love are distinct arenas with only mild overlap (Sammy Cahn’s interpretation notwithstanding).

        But my problem is with the whole, “end-of-discussion, ’nuff-said,” approach to an immeasurably complex set of social dynamics. It’s weak.

        It’s no secret that I’m a fundamentalist Christian (at any rate, it’s not now), so it’s no surprise that I refute Bray’s conclusion. But assuming that the full breadth of my opposition to homosexuality is merely “God says so,” is as fallacious as presuming that “God says so,” is inherently invalid. It’s even less interesting when the counter argument amounts to nothing more than an unsubstantiated “I said so.”

      • Tam says:

        It’s no secret that I’m a fundamentalist Christian (at any rate, it’s not now), so it’s no surprise that I refute Bray’s conclusion.

        No, you disagree with Bray’s conclusion. You won’t be able to refute it until you die and wake up in the fluffy cloud place, if that is indeed what happens to you. If it all just stays dark after lights out, then you didn’t refute it.

        Refute != Disagree.

      • Dr. Feelgood says:

        Tam, I meant “refute” in the sense of denying the logical validity of the argument (unsupported premise–invalid conclusion), which doesn’t necessarily prove the whole point to be false.

        Perhaps “rebut” would be more correct.

      • Tam says:

        “Rebut” is good; I’m down with “rebut”.
        🙂

      • Bill Nance says:

        There is no argument to be made.

        Condemning lifetime homosexuality, a practice among perhaps 5-8% of the population at most, amounts to “God sez so” or “I’m a c*ck-craving closet queen and if it’s allowed I won’t be able to control my urges to XXX.”

        There ARE no other arguments to be made about it. The fact that you reach to some back-flipping sophistry to hide your religion or sadly repressed sexuality doesn’t change the facts.

        Arguing the point is, as Heinlein put it, like teaching a pig to sing: It wastes my time and annoys the pig.

      • Y.T. says:

        I don’t care about the whole issue much(not gay, other side of the world from California, etc), but I have to admit this argument by Dan Simmons(writer) makes a lot of sense.

        http://tinyurl.com/pb8zd9

        Basically, it says that in a democratic society, what is allowed/supported by law is a matter of citizen’s choices.

        So then, those who are campaigning to overturn Proposition 8 are campaigning against the idea of democracy, that the majority’s opinion of what marriage ought to be should be discounted, because…

  7. Sigivald says:

    I should point out, as others have, that not only is “love” not the same as “marriage recognized by the State”, but that the latter is not necessary for commitment and growth.

    I’m perfectly happy with civil unions and, if the residents of a State approve of it, gay marriage recognized by the State (or the State getting out of the marriage-recognition business, even better).

    But I don’t buy the idea that the State’s recognition is important to “love” or “growth”; it’s only important for some legal benefits. Those benefits are real and significant, but they’re not love and they’re not what produces growth through the negotiation of partnership with another person.

  8. Wild Deuce says:

    Rarely do the opposing sides want to debate the “terms” used in any of these controversial arguments.

    If the debate is about marriage, there is usually an assertion that it (marriage) is (only?) about love and the debate proceeds from there … definition unchallenged.

  9. William the Coroner says:

    You know, let all marriages be called “civil unions” or whatever, and let the state get out of this business. After the 1950’s–when people who were transgendered could do something about it–the whole question of “what makes a man” was out of the box. Is it genetics? Phenotype?

    And the significant legal benefits aren’t important for love. They are important for kinship, inheritance, and having your loved one see you in the hospital, and all the little things. So, yeah, either the state can get with the program, or get OUT of the program, I don’t care.

  10. MarkHB says:

    Odd. I meant that comment to land at the bottom, so to speak. No matter.

  11. kristopher: it might well have been divemedic’s point that our republic is not a pure democracy. but both he and you apparently missed the point of marko’s post and my comment, which is that the california referendum certainly is democracy in its truest form: majority rule. and the court simply upheld the constitutionality of the people’s right to legislate by popular vote.

    is the decision of the electorate to limit government sanction of marriage to one man and one woman wrong? i don’t think so, and i don’t believe that there is “nothing wrong” with homosexuality, but unevenly and unfairly doling out monetary and legal advantages of government sanction certainly is wrong, no matter the subject of debate. and the solution, as it so often is in my view, is to limit the intrusion of government into areas that have no bearing on common or collective good. get .gov the fuck out of the marriage business, and don’t stop there!

    as far as i am concerned, the more important part of my comment was the co-opting of a “cause”, any cause, by third parties who attempt to attach their own sentiments to issues they have no active part in, and which the active participants themselves do not necessarily espouse. when that happens, a closer look will often reveal hidden motive on the part of the self-appointed advocate.

    and in this case, our host here uses the red herrings of sentiment and feelings (love) to accuse and deride his pet cause…religion, or rather the specific belief in supernatural creation and afterlife. his normally extremely articulate and reasoned discourse quickly devolves into crass belittlement and invective…an emotional gambit that he himself despises when used by others.

    what is the backstory of this derision? we don’t know, and when called on it, marko has demured, and has repeatedly said he is supportive of the beliefs and positions of others. but time after time, the lie is put to that claim. whenever an issue is discussed where some of the opposition may be shrill, ignorant, and emotionally claimed as God’s work, he has resorted to those same tactics himself, painting all who disagree with his anti-religious activism in the same derogatory and demeaning black-and-white, ignoring all the shades of gray in between. it is the one facet of marko among all the others which i so admire, that i find extremely unbecoming, distasteful…and unexplained.

    jtc

    • Marko says:

      jtc,

      there’s a world of difference between supporting the right to a belief, and supporting the right to make that belief the law of the land for everyone else.

      “Anti-religious activism?” Please. Show me one posting, one shred of evidence, where I actively support taking away anyone’s right to believe as they wish. The only time religion gets under my bonnet is when someone thinks their belief entitles them to force *others* to live according to it.

      And for “crass belittlement and invective”, look through this comment thread, and see if you can spot the most crass and belittling example. Hint: it didn’t come from my keyboard. In fact, I’d like for you to go back through my archives and dredge up some examples of that “crass belittlement and invective”, so I can gauge whether we’re using the same definitions here.

  12. For the sake of argument, what if the voters of CA amended the state constitution to prohibit the transfer of firearms from one party to another within the state? What you happened to own on the effective date is yours to keep, but that is it.

    Leaving out the 2nd Amendment issue, is there any doubt that they could indeed so amend the state constitution?

  13. MarkHB says:

    Misfit,

    Meddling in the affairs of others is endemic to the human condition. Saying that your imaginary friend says to also seems to be so.

    (I think I may be the one doing crass belittlement calling people’s gods their invisible/imaginary friend. I’m trying to work up to proper invective, but I can only really get as far as resigned sorrow, akin in intensity to the mild gastric pain following a slighty-too-large burrito).

  14. not much dredging required to find crass belittlement and invective from your keyboard:

    “Any “philosophical groundwork regarding the nature of right and wrong” I’ve ever heard in opposition of homosexuality boils down to “(My) God sez so.””

    and as to the perfectly reasonable proposition (heh) of “marriage” being the exclusive realm of churches, you predictably single out extremes: baptists -which i take to mean strictly devout southern holy rollers- and those you think are most distasteful to those baptists, wiccans and unitarians, attempting to pit one against the other: “Any bets on how many (or few) gay marriage opponents would support that?”

    since i know you’re too smart to think that those are the only choices, i’m left to believe that your extreme examples are intended as surreptitious anti-religious activism.

    of course none of this addresses the fact that the original subject, the passing of prop. 8 and its upholding by state judges, has not been shown to have been orchestrated or rammed through by religious interests in the least-religious and most-gay state in the union…it was simply a convenient springboard for (another) anti-religion tirade.

    but i could be wrong.

    jtc

    • Marko says:

      You are.

      If that “my God sez so” comment is crass belittlement in your eyes, then I can’t really mention religion in anything but positive terms to make you happy on that subject, can I?

      (That was a simple statement of fact, by the way–I’ve never heard a “right and wrong”-based argument against homosexuality that didn’t have a religious basis. Note that I didn’t write “there is no such argument”, but “I’ve never heard one”.)

      You know my opinion on religion. Yet you come back and read my writings, and jump on me every time I make a statement about religion that offends your sensibilities. Considering that I don’t force anyone at gunpoint to type my blog’s address into their browsers, I’d say you have a great deal of nerve to accuse me of “anti-religious activism”, as if I stand on a street corner with a sandwich board and a bunch of “Why Christians are Morons” pamphlets that I press into the hands of unwilling recipients.

      Why is my blog “anti-religious activism”, and your commentary on my opinions (which *you* seek out voluntarily) is merely a defense of your right to believe as you do? Why can’t your commentary be considered “anti-Atheist activism”? You’re more active seeking out my opinion and then commenting on it than I am forcing my opinion on you, after all.

      My “normally reasoned and articulate discourse” doesn’t devolve when it comes to debating religion. I measure all arguments with the same yardstick, and the reason I tee off on religion so often is that it fails to measure up to reason and logic. It’s outside of the realm of reasoned discourse, because you can’t prove or disprove the claim at its core, or even define the concepts in question. You admire my use of reason when I apply it to most other subjects, but when I focus it on supernatural or religious claims, you call it “belittlement” or “anti-religious activism”.

      You can’t stack the deck that way, jtc. I have been in enough debates where I had to listen to religious people claiming that atheists have no basis for their morals, and that atheism leads to genocide (“Hitler and Stalin were atheists!”), but who immediately claimed hostility against religion when *I* took offense to those statements and tried to refute them.

      Lastly: my dislike of religion is a product of the sum of my education. Much as you’d like to hear it, there was no seminal event that made me reject religion altogether. I wasn’t molested by a priest when I was an altar boy, or forced into a broom closet by my hyper-religious mother to pray for three hours under a crucifix every day. I just started questioning the claims put before me by religion, and gradually came to the conclusion that mysticism and religion are incompatible with my understanding of the world–illogical, untestable, and supremely inconsistent, bendable to support any viewpoint or position as “God’s will”. I know you’re looking to point to a specific trauma upon which to lay the blame for my turn away from religion, so you can say “a-ha!” and tell yourself that I was just scared off the path. In truth, I left it on my own accord, without duress. Belief (or the lack thereof) is not an act of will, it’s the result of all your intellectual processes over your lifetime. I can not *force* myself to believe or disbelieve anything–it just happens.

      You have the right to believe as you do. You have the right to voice that belief. You do not have the right to take offense to the way I voice my own beliefs–not while you’re on my turf, and not while you have a functioning “Back” button on your web browser. If you don’t like the way I take religions and their claims to task, then tune out when I talk about the subject–but don’t ever presume you can guilt me into changing the way I voice my opinion on my own blog.

      • “I’ve never heard a “right and wrong”-based argument against homosexuality that didn’t have a religious basis.”

        easily rectified: natural law dictates that (in most cases) male and female participants will produce offspring and ensure survival of the species (right), and a coupla chimps discovering that their dong fits in various alternate places doesn’t (wrong).

        but rightness/wrongness of private human behavior has nothing to do with “marriage”, and neither does love…or religion. love was brought in as a manipulative device, and religion as a gratuitous whipping boy in this case.

        on your virtual street corner your electronic sandwich signs invariably do read: “Why Christians are Morons” when the purported subject is anything where blame and demeaning, snide commentary can conceivably be heaped on religion. as you say, it’s your corner, but i guess i thought that your being made aware that your comments on the subject are not on the same level as your writings on every other subject, and wondering/asking about the basis for that, would be fair fodder for debate and not reason to angrily kick me off of your property, but that is your call…just say the word.

        jtc

        Belief (or the lack thereof) is not an act of will, it’s the result of all your intellectual processes over your lifetime

  15. Leatherwing says:

    I am a Christian, theologically very conservative. And while I believe that marriage is a spiritual act and intended to be between a man and a woman, I don’t see anything in scripture that allows me to enact laws that force that belief on everyone else.
    My reading of scripture teaches me how I am supposed to conduct myself in the world I live in. It does not teach me to force my belief on anyone or to force them to behave as if they are practitioners of my faith. I may find a particular action distasteful (or even sinful) but I have no basis to force anyone to act in any way.
    That is my interpretation based on my belief in God. Based on my belief in freedom, I come to the same conclusion. Whether I agree with a person’s activities or not has no bearing on whether it should be legal. If it doesn’t violate my freedom, harm another, or damage another’s property, what right do I have to limit their actions.
    Government has no business being involved in marriage (as a spiritual act). The financial benefits given to married couples is unfair and should be offered to all or eliminated. If any particular religious organization wants to perform marriages for same-sex couples, that is up to the leaders of that religion.

    @jtc/pawnbroker: You said “you predictably single out extremes: baptists -which i take to mean strictly devout southern holy rollers”. A minor correction: holy rollers usually applies to charismatic congregation (those that believe in speaking in tongues and faith healers) and doesn’t apply to most branches of Baptists.

  16. Nomen Nescio says:

    natural law dictates that (in most cases) male and female participants will produce offspring and ensure survival of the species (right), and a coupla chimps discovering that their dong fits in various alternate places doesn’t (wrong).

    assumes reproductive sex is “right” whereas non-reproductive sex is “wrong”. that assumption needs some philosophical support. folks who’ve been surgically sterilized are clearing their throats getting ready to ask you for said support.

    also, naturalistic fallacy. just because something does/doesn’t happen in “nature” doesn’t mean anything much for its ethical value.

    also also, if you’re going to go looking to the example of nature to decide what manner of sex you are or are not going to have, sooner or later some biologist is bound to ask you why you don’t seem to be using the praying mantis for your moral guide. or the anglerfish. or parasitic wasps… they’re all equally natural, after all. (don’t think limiting yourself to mammals, or even just the great apes, will do you much good. bonobos, gorillas, …) — this is why the naturalistic fallacy is, ahem, fallacious.

    also^3, “natural law” is stuff like Newton’s laws or Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism — descriptions of what will happen because it must. they’re not the sorts of laws you can decide to up and break. there are no laws of ethics or morals, not in that sense of “law” at least, and certainly none to be found in nature. fallacy of equivocation, in other words.

  17. ChrisB says:

    “easily rectified: natural law dictates that (in most cases) male and female participants will produce offspring and ensure survival of the species”

    Natural law also dictates that if a couple of guys go Brokeback they will likely not be passing on much in the way of genes, so their defective genes will be taken out of circulation. Problem Solved!

  18. LabRat says:

    As one of those biology types, I am in absolute hysterics at the idea of taking our cues on sexual mores from nature.

    Traumatic insemination is so common among invertebrates that it’s definitely persisting for selective reasons, therefore screwing someone through a hole you gouged in their flesh is okay as long as there’s a chance the sperm will reach an ovary.

    Want me to stick with primates? Oh, okay. Fine. We’re as closely related to bonobos as we are to chimpanzees, and we can all relax now, because not only is gay okay– it’s gotta be because it’s so persistent nonconceptive sex is all OVER the damn place- but involving the kiddies from the time they can toddle and stroke is fine, too.

    • man, those boneabro’s are some randy little bastards huh?

      flawed science though, rat. those guys aren’t burdened with the capacity for morality are they?

      you do pretty regularly assign the behavior of lowers to humans though, yes? so the exceptions (do you really posit that deviant sexuality among them is the norm?) are in essence a natural thinning of the herd?

      huh. wonder if that is the plan for human homosexuality too? interesting theory, chrisb…

      jtc

      • Tam says:

        you do pretty regularly assign the behavior of lowers to humans though, yes? so the exceptions (do you really posit that deviant sexuality among them is the norm?) are in essence a natural thinning of the herd?

        No, because in many animals the pleasurable stimuli produced by sex are used for things other than just making babies, from pair-bonding and -maintenance to status establishment to stress defusing.

        I would wager that you have used sex and the happy feelings it causes for things other than making babies, no?

      • “I would wager that you have used sex and the happy feelings it causes for things other than making babies, no?”

        not only that, i keep shoveling the fried chicken and mashed ‘taters (and pie) into my piehole well past the minimum daily adult requirement for caloric intake, and regularly suck down three beers when one had quenched my thirst well enough.

        so i guess we shouldn’t wonder at that boneabro hyperactivity when even humans, who theoretically have the capacity to consciously limit nonproductive and/or destructive behavior, can’t/won’t/don’t.

        so to ensure special survival regardless of capacity/ability/discipline to act in their own best interest, nature adds irresistible effect (pleasure). awesome, innit? almost like there’s some kind of plan…

        and if i can’t resist that second hunk of blackberry cobbler smothered in vanilla ice cream even when i know i’m already carrying the weight of a second small person around my middle, or begging my sweetie for some sugar even sweeter than the cobbler in spite of the knowledge that i’d rather eat my gun than make another baby, then who the hell am i to try to tell someone that their idea of love should be prohibited by law? nobody, that’s who. i won’t and i don’t, even if i don’t think it’s “right”.

        so all the debate over religion, morality, etc. was just an entertaining tangent; a strawman, as someone said. the original issue was, as i said here:

        “it wasn’t to determine who can “love”, but rather who can qualify for the economic advantages of a legally sanctioned union…it’s not about the love, it’s about the money.”

        and the answer imo, is as i said here:

        “unevenly and unfairly doling out monetary and legal advantages of government sanction certainly is wrong, no matter the subject of debate. and the solution, as it so often is in my view, is to limit the intrusion of government into areas that have no bearing on common or collective good. get .gov the fuck out of the marriage business, and don’t stop there!”

        everything else was a scenic side trip.

        jtc

  19. Nomen Nescio says:

    those guys aren’t burdened with the capacity for morality are they?

    how do you know that?

    heck, human philosophers have been debating what morality even is for several thousand years now. granted that 90% or more of them are worthless navel-gazers, that still leaves an awful lot of really smart people who’ve failed to get any good, universally convincing answer to that question. so how could we possibly know which non-human animals might or might not have some sense of ethics?

    (personally, i’ve got a vague definition of “ethics” which — though it’ll not likely end any debate with anybody else — seems like a good working concept to me. and by that admittedly personal definition, dogs certainly know what morals are. mine understand “bad dog!” just fine; that’s as much morality as a lot of humans claim there exists at all, and more of it than a few humans ever abide by.)

    and besides, YOU were the one who appealed to what goes on in nature as a key to what kinds of sex are right or wrong for humans. we’re just pointing out what actually goes on in nature. too late for you now to say that that somehow doesn’t count.

  20. Assrot says:

    I would like to personally thank all of you for the most hilarious comment thread I have read this year. This has indeed been an interesting and entertaining read.

    Having said that, I tend to agree with Marko on this one.

    Come on folks. Let’s keep the spittle flying and the hands waving on this one.

    Joe

  21. Dr. Feelgood says:

    *facepalm*

    This is why talking about this subject hurts. Both sides make emotional arguments. Leatherwing got it mostly right. I would only add that society has a vested interest in choosing to recognize (or not recognize) certain interpersonal relationships for the purposes of social benefits (whatever they may be). In other words, we’re free to promote and reward things that makes us better. What those things are and how to promote/reward them are the subjects of personal opinions and are best settled by referendum.

    If this truly was an issue of civil rights, then it would be a different story; but last time I checked, anybody can marry any consenting partner, provided that the relationship fits the accepted definition of “marriage” (until recently, one man-one woman). If that definition is fixed then the issue is settled. If it’s not then the issue is a matter of opinion and should be settled by our republican process (not by activist judges, Iowa). That it’s a matter of opinion could also explain why other cultures’ accepted definitions of marriage differ from our own. If this is the case then we’re free to change it, and we even have a process to do so.

    The only other alternative is that the definition of “marriage” is fixed but we somehow got it wrong, which is laughable on its face.

    I vote not to change it (I have my reasons, you don’t have to like or accept them). If the vote doesn’t go my way then I’ll abide by the laws, as long as they don’t violate my freedom to dissent and perhaps, yes, even to lawfully discriminate.

  22. MarkHB says:

    Dr. Feelgood,

    Thank you for a voice of religious sanity. I appreciate it more than you know, because the baby you represent is sometimes awfully hard to pick out in what looks like an ocean of icky, over-used bathwater.

    In the final analysis, that which ain’t covered by the Constitution should be looked at very very carefully before being legislated over. And, as ever, the Voice of the Majority is a damned dangerous thing to listen to. Let’s face it, we’re talking about Most People there. How many of them would you want in your gorram bedroom?

    On that note, I’m off to buy a couple of rolls of bubblewrap and some Swarfega.

    Don’t ask.

  23. Dr. Feelgood says:

    Sanity? You give me too much credit. I’m still one of those nutters who believes that humans co-existed with dinosaurs (come and get some, Matt Damon).

    “How many of them would you want in your gorram bedroom?”

    That issue was laid to rest long ago, with the final nail in the coffin being Lawrence v. Texas. I’m not trying to get into anyone’s bedroom, I just want to have my rightful say at the county office.

  24. MarkHB says:

    And nobody’s trying to gainsay you that – it’s when folk say that their Book trumps the county office, or goodness help us the Constitution Itself that I get hives.

    Which you most meticulously never do. Again, you have my thanks.

  25. LabRat says:

    flawed science though, rat. those guys aren’t burdened with the capacity for morality are they?

    It’s not “flawed” science, you don’t seem to understand what science IS. That was our entire point, which seems to have gone merrily winging its way over your head- nature is not moral. Neither animal behavior nor natural disasters have a right or wrong value. Science isn’t a source of morality, it just tells us how things are. It can *inform* morality in that it may make a difference in how we look at something if we have a thorough knowledge of how it works, but that’s all.

    YOU brought up animals and reproductive versus nonreproductive sex in answer to Marko’s challenge to provide an argument for why homosexuality is “wrong” if not some variant of “because God says so and I think my scripture qualifies as speaking for God”. This is YOUR bad argument. Argue philosophy or stop trying to argue that there’s another way to judge homosexuality as intrinsically wrong other than the religious one.

    you do pretty regularly assign the behavior of lowers to humans though, yes? so the exceptions (do you really posit that deviant sexuality among them is the norm?) are in essence a natural thinning of the herd?

    With respect to bonobos? Yeah, “deviant”- your word, not mine- sexuality is in fact the norm. Like Tam pointed out, sex has a lot more purposes than just babymakin’. They’re not really alone either, they’re just a convenient example in being so closely related to humans; if you want a real collection of perverts, try bottlenosed dolphins on for size. (It’s funny, it’s almost as if sexual behaviors beyond strict conceptive sex go up in direct correlation to how intelligent and social the species in question is.) Aside from “standard” sex, they masturbate, have homosexual sex and sometimes form homosexual pair-bonds (which they decline to do with members of the opposite sex), rape, and even gang-rape members of smaller porpoise species from time to time. Again, I’m not pointing out exceptional examples: sexual behavior and mating systems in animals are incredibly diverse.

    And, it’s not a natural thinning of the herd at all- these traits persist for fitness reasons just as other stable traits do. Hell, some bird species have rates of same-sex preference that make the human one look quite modest in comparison. I’ve written at some length about it in the past, but suffice it to say it’s no aberration of biology.

    As for “assigning the traits of lowers”… uh, we could go into that, but if you honestly don’t think humans are animals and sometimes act like them (which we frequently, in our capable-of-reason way, define as behaving immorally), then we’re probably never going to see eye to eye unless you develop a sudden interest in biology and psychology.

  26. MarkHB says:

    Oh, Ratty.

    Sometimes you give me the same thrill as seeing a flight of A-10s ripping up a ridgeline.

    The heart, she go pitter-pat.

  27. science: the acquisition and body of knowledge.

    flawed science: the misapplication or misrepresentation of knowledge.

    norm: average or normal level.

    deviant: deviating or departing from the norm.

    percentage of u.s. population that is homosexual: two to ten percent.

    morality: concern or awareness of the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong.

    percentage of non-human species with the proven capacity for morality: zero.

    difference between academic and experiential application of psychology, reason, and its application in tangential argument: immeasurable.

    jtc

    • Marko says:

      Good heavens, jtc. Trying to debate you is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. You either dodge the argument, or redirect it.

      Fine: ethics are exclusive to humans. We alone have a concept of ethics. Point granted. That’s not relevant to your argument or mine, however. Whether humans alone have a concept of ethics or not, you still haven’t laid out a non-religious ethical basis for deeming homosexuality “wrong” or “bad”. Your first stab at an attempt was to try the natural/biological imperative of “gays can’t propagate the species, ergo homosexuality=bad”. That’s not only not an ethical argument, but also a self-defeating one, as LabRat and others have so handily demonstrated by trouncing that particular approach soundly.

      Again: what kind of ethical argument can you present in opposition of homosexuality without resorting to religious imperatives? By what ethical yardstick is homosexuality “bad” or “wrong”?

      Ethical questions hardly ever have a right/wrong, good/bad answer. Is stealing always bad/wrong? What about stealing the car keys of a drunkard who’s about to embark on a .20BAC cruise through a residential neighborhood? What about stealing medicine to save the life of a child? Is killing always wrong? What about using force in self-defense? Why are soldiers prosecuted for killing unarmed civilians with pistols, but pilots aren’t prosecuted for killing them with bombs accidentally in pursuit of a legitimate target? Same result, different motivations/decisions, different ethical considerations.

      (You may think religion offers precisely such answers in ethical questions, but you’d be mistaken. I can pull out any number of Bible quotes in defense or opposition of such ethical quandaries as torture, slavery, capital punishment, using lethal force in self-defense, and even abortion. Scripture is a universal ethics adapter that can be used to claim divine support for just about any desired action.)

      Homosexuality is a whole different ball o’ wax altogether anyway, because ethics apply to inter-human transactions. Being gay per se is just as much out of the realm of ethics as being a baseball fan or liking tea, because it’s a property contained in one person. Is preferring tea to coffee a question of ethics? It’s only when someone’s desire for a same-sex partner or my desire for a cup of Earl Grey involve interacting with other people that ethics come into play, because I can choose to acquire that tea in unethical ways, and the gay person can choose to acquire a partner in a similarly unethical manner. In and of themselves, both preferences are morally and ethically neutral.

    • Nomen Nescio says:

      norm: average or normal level.

      deviant: deviating or departing from the norm.

      perfectly good definitions, but not ones normally used in ethics. when debating ethical philosophy, “normative statements” are usually understood to be ones that set out or explain rules for how to behave; statements about what “good” is and why.

      percentage of u.s. population that is homosexual: two to ten percent.

      probably true, but irrelevant to ethics. we don’t determine “right” by popularity contest.

      morality: concern or awareness of the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong.

      fiddlesticks. now you’re just stuck defining “good”, “evil”, “right” and “wrong”, as well as proving that there is a distinction. good luck with that; you won’t be the first to try, and i really doubt you’ll manage to end that discussion.

      percentage of non-human species with the proven capacity for morality: zero.

      “proven capacity for morality”?! pray tell, do humans have such a thing? what would such a proof look like? you got a morality-capacitometer in your back pocket, or what?

      i propose that the only way we could prove such a capacity would be by observing the behavior of the person or animal we’re interested in, to see if it makes choices, and whether any of them appear to be based on ethical value judgements. by that standard, however, my dogs seem to have a system of ethics. it’s kindof a primitive one, but not much more so than what a whole lot of humans seem to cope with.

  28. MarkHB says:

    This isn’t a debate, it’s like pro wrestling with blog replies. The case of “Gay = bad” can’t be made. There can’t be any case made for prejudicial behaviour against them without recourse to “My Imaginary Friend Doesn’t Like It”, at which point the only ploy to is throw toys from pram screaming “Help, help! I’m being oppressed!”

    In a way, I’d be sad about seeing someone trying to defend their right to oppress a minority, except for the heartwarmingly piss-awful job they’re doing of it.

  29. *sigh*

    yes marko, it is difficult to use secondary comparative analogy to illustrate a point, especially when one side of a discussion seizes the analogy in lieu of the primary subject and runs to the end zone, jumping up and down at having scored, oblivious that he/she has run the wrong way down the field and put points on the board for the opposition.

    this was addressed in the response to tam above, but okeydokey…once more into the breach, friend.

    a third-party essay projects imagined (or worse, created) emotional elements into what is essentially a business/financial decision (prop. 8 and its upholding). a fourth party, ignoring the two primary parties’ true motivations, jumps onto that “feelings” bandwagon (manilow’s detestable whining can be heard in the background), but not satisfied with bemoaning the “heart-rending” effects of the failed business transaction (and ignoring the direct information from a party of the first part that business/financial consideration was the primary object), party of the fourth part hijacks the wagon and diverts it to his real destination; the assignment of blame. he chooses to blame religion, which he pretty much blames for everything that he doesn’t like. and taking a page from the obamarama playbook, he labels and caricatures all who embrace the belief that existence has an intelligent source, plan, and continuum, and even those who dare wonder or contemplate such…”bible-thumpin’ gun-clingin’ cousin-humpin’ porch-sittin’ mouth-breathers” smarmily restated as “cuz (my) God sez so.” never mind that all of theology boils down in his mind to this, it wasn’t even germane to the original topic (remember? it was a majority vote on a business transaction)…but it is now.

    so someone, lured to the de-bait (heh) says that he believes there is right and wrong human behavior and in his view homosexuality is wrong. ha! says party of the fourth part, that is a religious statement because you can’t define right and wrong without spiritual reference. well, i don’t know why that’s a problem because there’s all kinds of spirituality…are we guided directly by a supreme being, is there a mystical force that acts as a bumper to keep us from falling off the bed, could it be that there is a consortium of life-force that has a power and existence beyond our living selves…?

    but of course there is a natural right and wrong; our world and its inhabitants couldn’t survive without it…in our dinky corner of the universe our sun has to shine just right, our planet has to circulate just right, our protoplasm had to evolve just right because even slight variation would spell annihilation. and since our party four denies that any of that has its root in design, then he must accept the rightness of that confluence even if it is accidental and random. since all parties concur (well, excepting the one correspondent who doesn’t know his name but believes he has a morally-centered pooch) that only humans have the capacity for self-determination, logic, and morality then let’s look at other earthly inhabitants not so gifted or encumbered. if they are to survive and multiply even if that is to evolve they (mostly) must mate. so the confluence of components that makes them what they are includes an uncontrollable, sometimes insatiable urge to engage in activity that even without thought or decision and even in spite of often carrying out that activity randomly and nonproductively, find the correct partner most of the time thereby ensuring that continuity that nature intended…in other words, they get it right.

    what is the nature of right and wrong? it can be complicated if all that niggly self-determination gets involved. is it morally wrong to engage in activity that cannot have as an eventual or occasional result that which nature equipped us for? we can’t make that determination without getting involved in all sorts of comparative decision-making as marko said…torture an individual to gain information that will save many? kill innocents to get at guiltys? concentrate control of all in the hands of few? allow a slim majority to decide how all can proceed? decisions, decisions.

    but what is morally right or wrong (a moving, changing dynamic as diverse as those humans making those determinations) is different than what is right and wrong in nature…as in, if some boneabro’s don’t get it right, you won’t have any bro’s to bone! and carried to an absurd degree, if all human sexual activity is same-sex, unless evolution gets in gear pretty quick to incorporate multisexual equipment and capacity, there won’t be any humans. and that, by any measure, is the definition of “you’re doing it wrong”.

    none of this matters one shit to the subject of homosexual marriage. that is why it is almost always wise to ignore emotional argument, especially when the emotional aspect is inserted by a third party. and most especially when that emotional component is co-opted by a fourth party to further his own agenda.

    jtc

    • Nomen Nescio says:

      but of course there is a natural right and wrong; our world and its inhabitants couldn’t survive without it…in our dinky corner of the universe our sun has to shine just right, our planet has to circulate just right,

      you’re equivocating again. these “rights” and “wrongs” are nothing to do with ethics. unless you’re postulating sunlight and Newton’s laws as being moral actors, and if you do, then you really have no reason not to accept bonobo sexual behavior as a meter stick for how humans ought to behave.

      (in fact, if you go that far, seems to me the “right” way for humans to live would involve photosynthesizing our nutrition. sun has to shine just right, after all, and you claimed that fact was relevant to ethics.)

      my dogs’ idea of “right” and “wrong”, however, is an idea within ethics. in fact, to the best of my ability to tell, they even appear to have consciences. they display guilt, after all.

  30. MarkHB says:

    The problem is that “Gay = Bad” can only be proven by bringing prejudice into it. Whether that prejudice is religion-driven or otherwise, at the end of the day the prejudiced have to admit that their argument is based on nonrational premises.

    If a person can’t admit that “God” is a nonrational premise, then I have no reason to continue debating with them. If it can’t be proven, and yet it’s taken as a tenet, then I have no place in the debate.

    As this isn’t a debate, however, I shall continue to chuck peanut shells.

  31. MarkHB says:

    *removes specs and polishes them on a corner of his shirt*

    I’ll tell you a little something, gentle readers of my friend Marko’s blog.

    *replaces his specs*

    I have one word that is sacred to me. One tenet. One simple thing, that to me encompasses all that proud America stands for, everything that I hold dear, everything that is perfect and wonderous about our fair land. One sacred word, one sacred concept.

    Freedom.

    Freedom is my Sacred Word. It is what I hold sacrosanct, it is what I hold dear. It is what I would defend unto death. Freedom is that thing.

    Freedom from oppression, freedom from tyranny, even if that tyranny is the minor matter of denying same-sex couples the same rights as alter-sex couples.

    Even though I’m straight, even though I’ve had my little heart broken when a lass I held a torch for turned out to be more into clam-jousting than I’d rather, even though it’s really nothing to do with me…

    …I support Freedom. Because that is my Sacred Word. My single precept of divinity is encapsulated in one person seeing something they disagree with – then thinking “It’s consensual, and harms nobody” – and letting it go.

    Freedom. It’s not just for what you agree with – it’s not just for what you support. It’s for anything that does not actively hurt anyone who doesn’t hurt anyone else.

  32. i usually ignore comments which make no contribution to the discussion at hand even when directed at me; it wastes effort, it’s nonproductive (heh) and it seems cruel as the giddy fanboy not only doesn’t know the score, but the very nature of the game escapes him. i’ll make an exception here.

    “…the minor matter of denying same-sex couples the same rights as alter-sex couples.”

    nothing “minor” about that. for the third time in this shopworn thread, my own position is:

    “unevenly and unfairly doling out monetary and legal advantages of government sanction certainly is wrong, no matter the subject of debate. and the solution, as it so often is in my view, is to limit the intrusion of government into areas that have no bearing on common or collective good. get .gov the fuck out of the marriage business, and don’t stop there!”

    the clueless fellow earlier said:

    “it’s when folk say that their Book trumps the county office, or goodness help us the Constitution Itself that I get hives.”

    but in *his* book trumping the county office (the referendum approving prop.8) and the Constitution (the court upholding constitutionality of the vote) is just fine, hmmm?

    but i’ll cut him some slack, because:

    “a lass I held a torch for turned out to be more into clam-jousting than I’d rather, even though it’s really nothing to do with me…”

    i gotta admit, that is hi-f’n-larious right there, i don’t care who you are. maybe kramer can help…

    thanks to mw for his forebearance and bandwidth…i’m done now.

    jtc

  33. MarkHB says:

    “i’m done now”.

    I wish you and your shift-key every happiness.

  34. MarkHB says:

    One more little tiny thing.

    The doctor who was shot down like a dog by a religious person today died for someone’s God, someone’s book.

    Goaded on, indubitably, by Fox News, but their life was ended for a career of genuinely trying to maximise quality of life.

    Atheism and agnosticism never killed anyone. We’re not extremists, activists, corner-shouters or reason and mercy help us lobbyists. The worst atheists ever did was pay their own cash money to put words on a bus.

    We don’t believe in afterlives, divine judgement, life after death, forgiveness of sins by higher authority or any of that stuff that makes it OK to lie, cheat, murder, et freaking cetera as long as you chew the wafer and say “sorry”. We don’t have that illusory safety net, and we don’t have anything that tells us it’s OK to visit violence over a disagreement. The only thing that lets an agnostic or atheist get violent is a direct violation of their physical safety.

    Like that doctor some bible-thumper murdered today.

    Atheism and agnosticism in no way condone any violation of the non-aggression principle.

    Religion, however, kills.

  35. well, i thought i was done, but…

    so the solution is easy isn’t it?

    muzzle fox news, get rid of religion and guns.

    who needs those pesky first and second amendments anyway?

    yeah, you’re a real freedom lover, sport.

  36. btw, while the deranged vigilante that shot the doc needs to pay eyeforeye, the doc’s “career of genuinely trying to maximise quality of life” involved specializing in the killing and dismemberment of viable humans babies…they would probably quibble with your praise if they were, you know, alive. you do pick your heroes strangely, h-b.

    jtc

  37. Wild Deuce says:

    “Atheism and agnosticism never killed anyone” ….

    Now that’s funny! What’s the punchline?

  38. MarkHB says:

    Once more a three astronomical unit lunge to the side from the pawnbroker. When did I say anything about getting rid of guns, something I’ve been eternally locquatious in supporting in the hands of the citizenry?

    Never mind – that’s just some silly fact we can ignore.

    Regarding picking my heroes strangely – I’m not equipped to be anything but “pro choice” because if I were anything other, I’d be supporting forcing other people to do something I never could. Smells wrong, that.

    I admit – OK – people have been killed in the name of atheism (though not agnosticism as far as I can find). Plenty less than in the name of religion, though. *shrugs* If all your choices are evil, go for the lesser one if you can’t get out of the game.

    • Tam says:

      I admit – OK – people have been killed in the name of atheism (though not agnosticism as far as I can find). Plenty less than in the name of religion, though.

      I doubt you could prove that statistically, since the two heaviest hitters in the Genocide Lineup, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China, are both batting for Team A, and they’ve got Pol Pot as a leadoff hitter.

      You’re close to the truth, however: “Group-ism” has killed a shitload more people than Individualism. What motivates The Group (God, Allah, Yahweh, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, whatever) is immaterial.

      • MarkHB says:

        *ponders matters a smidge more deeply, and without the benefit of his weekend sauce ration*

        “Group-ism” as you cogently put it is, yes, a far more lethal thing than Individualism, and as you – again – cogently put it, the Whatever of it doesn’t really matter – it’s the result that makes HB want an orbital laser cannon.

        Someone said something like “Humanity will only be free when the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest” – but I fear that there’s something endemic to the human condition that so strongly years Groupism than Individualism that they’d rather choke their own selves than be their own selves.

        Oh, well. Only four more evenings ’til I can get sozzled…

  39. Wild Deuce says:

    If the debate is about evolution/creation … it is the definition of Science that is ignored. It is so much easier to label someone or something as anti-science.

    If the debate is about gay/straight marriage … it is the definition of Marriage that is ignored. It is so much easier to say that everyone has a right to love as they please.

    If the debate is about abortion … it is the definition of (Human) Life that gets ignored. It is so much easier to say that everyone has a right to choose without even knowing what it is they are choosing.

    It’s basically about “Man sez” versus “God sez” and since man is the one having the debate … well, what “Man sez” must be so.

  40. BlueNight says:

    Here’s the game-breaker: is marriage an expression of love (and thus a 1st Amendment issue), a religious institution (a different 1st Amendment issue), or a civil institution (subject to legislature)?

    In America, it involves a contract wherein two people’s property are pooled as if by a single owner. Divorce, annulment, and death are the only ways out of this contract. All three are heavily tied into the court system. Thus, the marriage contract is a civil institution. If a duly elected legislature passes a law stating that the marriage contract shall only be considered valid by the state if only one man and one woman are to be joined, then the law stands. If the same legislature holds civil unions to be valid, even if the text of the contract exactly matches the marriage contract, the law stands.

    However, marriage is all three, which complicates the issue.

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