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Message > RE: Marriage and Equal Rights
Ensis: More than one person has raised the question: Why bother talking?

A fair question. Maybe we can cut to the chase because I have one thing I don't understand about the point of view you all seem so to share. I know I'll never be able to convince you but I do want to understand you better.

The point of view that these views spring from seems to be rooted in a post-modern / post-post-modern view of the world which involves an evolutionary explanation of our origin and a morally relativistic approach to moral questions.

My point is simple. It might reflect a lack of understanding, so I'll give you an opportunity to clarify if you wish.

But before I do, maybe I should discover for a fact that I am arguing with morally relativistic evolutionists. Maybe yall decided to be something else since last we knew each other well. :)

Unordained: Evolutionist? Yeah, pretty much. Post-modern? Yeah, I guess. Moral relativist? Hmm, not exactly. But I think this makes the problem clearer. I think we need a new word: next to morality, add politeness (in the sense of polity, of getting along in a civil society.)

I have no objection to you being a moral absolutist. I can't, won't, don't desire to take that away from you. I think we're each a moral absolutist within the boundaries of our minds. What I'm asking you to do is look at the civil society around you, and find a way to comingle with those people. We're not asking you to partake, we're only asking you not to be an obstructionist for no (civil) reason.

Without meaning to demean your fervent beliefs about homosexuality, let's assume we're talking about rock'n'roll vs. classical music. Let's say you fervently believe classical music to be holy, perfect, and the only good music. It's the 40's all over again. Along comes rock'n'roll. You believe it's morally wrong. You won't play it in your house. You believe classical music makes people smarter, and rock will make people dumber. You believe that every time someone plays rock, classical music cries a little inside. You're afraid that if rock becomes acceptable, classical will disappear altogether. Nevermind that for generations, classical has been evolving and one generation's classical isn't the next generation's -- at least it was all classical. But no longer. This is different, and a line in the sand must be drawn. So you try to prevent people from playing rock at all, prevent them from listening to it. Eventually that fails, the courts tell you that regardless of your reasoning for classical being better, you can't use the force of law to eliminate rock. But you find a work-around: what if rock were allowed, but it were taxed differently from classical? It'd be like cigarettes, gasoline, or alcohol -- don't prevent, just impose a tax! Now you don't have to be all strong-armed about it; you don't have to go around beating up rockers; you can tell them that you're fine with them, you're tolerant, but what they're doing is wrong and therefore unworthy of equal treatment under the law. You're being perfectly gentle about it, but you're still using the force of law against them, in the form of taxes (which, maybe not obviously, do have big men with big sticks as enforcers.)

What I'm suggesting is this: if you're going to room with someone in college, and you believe classical is the one and only true music, and he thinks rock is the way to go, find a way to coexist that isn't overly painful to one or the other party. As long as he's not forcing rock down your ear canal, you can live with it. You don't have to tax him. You don't have to demean him. You also don't have to like rock or go around marketing it to others. All you have to do is learn that you can put on your earphones and listen to your classical, and as long as he keeps his noise down or even puts on his earphones, you're okay. Maybe his rock makes him dumber. Maybe it'll lead to the downfall of society. But probably not. Your job is to convince him -- without the aid of force, or taxes, or unequal treatment -- that your way really is intrinsically best. If you can't do that, using your muscle to make life difficult for him may make you feel moral, but it doesn't make you polite. It doesn't try to find a way for the greatest number of consenting participants to have the greatest amount of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

The public, polite choice doesn't have to be the same as the private, moral choice. I'm not asking you to be gay. I'm asking you to realize that it does you no harm -- neither breaks your leg nor picks your pocket -- and nobody else is being coerced either. There are practical benefits to being polite: you usually get something in return. I know that common-sense these days is not to trust your neighbor, to expect that if you give an inch, he'll take a mile, but think of what it's like when everyone's polite: you give up something you didn't really have a right to in the first place (who said that your membership in a pluralistic society gave you the right to penalize others?), and they'll probably do the same. You could actually see benefits to religion -- some of those "oppressions" you feel could go away, when society as a whole no longer feels the need to fear you, to hem you in, to prevent more harm. You can still try to convince gays not to be gay. Fine. Just don't use the law to do it for you. Get out there and do it yourself.

‎"Political correctness" is a framing term, a marketing ploy, abused by conservatives to portray themselves as just "speaking the truth bravely, honestly, without pretense, emotion, obedience to the hive-mind, or ulterior motive", etc. Those same politically-incorrect actions, portrayed differently, could come across as crass, overbearing, out of line, racist, bigot, etc. I bring this up because I'm using the term "polite" in a specific sense, and this other term could cast it in an undesirable light. Which was exactly the point of the framing, to channel, redirect, and ultimately whitewash. It's very effective. "They dun'good."

In case my "tax rock'n'roll" analogy doesn't make immediate sense: if you take two people (or two pairs of people) doing the same thing, but give one of them tax breaks, incentives, refunds, extra benefits, etc. -- then you're effectively stealing from one of them to fund the other. It may not be a "gay marriage tax" (in that the marriage would have to exist first, to then tax it extra), it's a "non-gay-marriage un-tax". But you're taking people who are going to be gay regardless, who are going to find a partner regardless, who are going to want to settle down and cohabitate no matter what (love trumps taxes) ... but you don't give them the same benefits, but still tax them at the same rate, then logically part of the taxes they pay go to the heterosexuals in the form of tax breaks. It's like Robin Hood, only you're stealing from the gays to give to the straights. I wanted to be very clear on the math, sorry if I'm overdoing it.


Some comments are obviously missing here. Facebook seems to have eaten them.


Unordained: bigot, n: someone who is blindly and obstinately attached to some creed or opinion and intolerant toward others You wouldn't qualify if you were only obstinately attached to your creed; but when you become intolerant toward others ... yeah, I don't know of a better word. That's exactly the distinction I'm trying to make.

Ensis: How obscenely arbitrary. Gay people: ok. Bigots: not ok. People who hate bigots: ok. Pedophiles: not ok. Cheesburgers: debatable.

Note too that I am not blindly attached to a creed and I am not intolerant toward others. Tolerance does not mean "give them whatever they want." Tolerance does not mean allowing people to redefine a centuries-old institution because they feel like it.

This is why we don't want to swim in your moral sea, it is altogether too fashionable for us. We don't want to have to change our morality every year to match what others are wearing.

Unordained: tolerant: tending to permit, allow, understand, or accept something; tending to withstand or survive

Yeah, I'd saw you're intolerant. Your default is not to permit. Your default is to stick to the status-quo. You permit only when forced. That's what a tyrant does -- see the stories of petty tyrants all over the middle-east in the last few weeks.

*What* institution? What does that even mean? Because you have some idea of what "marriage is", that means it's now an "institution" that you have to defend? Because it's been a certain way means that it can be no different? Let's never change! Let's stay the same forever! Change is bad! Change kills! That argument ... isn't even wrong.

Ensis: Aint that the pot calling the kettle black. What a joke. You arbitrariliy decide what's right and wrong and you arbitrarily decide who's good and bad. You arbitrarily decide what to tolerate and to shun. And anybody who shuns what you tolerate, you shun.

What a joke.

Unordained: Shunning you would require less effort than this, but you asked to understand.

I've offered reasons, without resorting to magic, to explain the reasoning behind the position. There are real-world consequences to having a society that limits freedoms unnecessarily, in terms of cohesion and efficiency. If this were a free-market question, we'd be discussing competition, the equivalent of gays (and other minority groups, depending on the situation) seceding from the union every time you limit them. It's harder to switch (and split) countries than it is to switch cell phone carriers (though maybe not by much), so instead of a well-lubricated self-correcting system, we already have friction and stress. I'm saying you're adding to that. I'm not normally one to call economic and social sciences "real science", but this stuff is testable. It's real. It's tangible. It's not arbitrary. And it's not funny.

You've failed to show any real-world consequences. I think Uncle Midriff's questions are fair, and still give you an opening to advance your position. I also started a separate comment thread for compromises, which you agreed to offer.

Ensis: Semantics (shunning vs merely labeling me a bigot) aside, it's is still rooted in arbitrary value judgements. I'm genuinely hoping that your moral system is more than that. Is it?

Is there any real difference between a moral system that is rooted in a biblical fantasy and a moral system that is rooted in trendy ideas?

Unordained: See my other response about trendiness, but again, morality is beside the point, this is about government. It wouldn't matter if any given moral system were absolute, unchanging, and measurably well-defined. You still have to deal with a pluralistic government overseeing the interactions of people who disagree at least on the finer details of morality.

Because you won't stop bringing morality into this, I'll lay out why I find it irrelevant. User the word as referring to what an individual considers acceptable behavior on his own part, regardless of the world around him. It's what he could do and still live with himself, without guilt and shame. I don't have a word for the inverse, what he could accept being done unto him, so I'll go with needs. And then there are the freedoms he wants, thing he would do to himself or others, given the choice, to enhance his own life. I think we're approaching a concept of government concerned mainly with allowing people as many freedoms as it can without violating other's needs. There will always be someone out there who feels hurt every tine a note of jazz music is played anywhere, even out of earshot -- and it's hard on us to tell him he's just being oversensitive, that his demands are unrealistic, and hurtful to others, because it's entirely likely, as with you, that he's not joking. But I, for one, would rather start by talking him down from his crazy tree. This isn't about morals, you see? It's about negotiating needs and wants. The anti-jazz guy's morals aren't a part of the government equation. They come in to play when he's granted freedoms that he doesn't feel right taking advantage of.

Ensis: Remember what you said here. I plan to use it against you in whatever other thread it is germane.

Unordained: Smack? I thought we couldn't go any lower. I wouldn't blame the lurkers for unsubscribing at this point. Or any other.

I haven't until now even brought up that you yourself stated, in the previous public thread: "That's not in line with our theology. It's not our job to save this country." How you reconcile that with the next statement: "Vote your conscience? Fine." is anybody's guess, because it sure looks to me like you were admitting that your religion does not require you to push your morals on everyone else, yet ... you do anyway, in the name of your religion? And you want to argue vociferously in favor of doing so? Please illuminate.
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Owned by Insignis - Created on 03/27/2011 - Never edited

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