Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A dialogue, sort of, about gay marriage… 

Some background:

I'm very new to Tweeter. I "took it up" (ahem) a couple weeks ago, partially because I got a new "smart" mobile phone recently, and partially because I've heard Twitter is the more "professional" social medium. (I think LinkedIn really is the professional social medium to use, but I've found Twitter to be much less consuming, and much more focused, than Facebook.) I suspect it's not a coincidence that the core of the word "twitter" is "witty". In fact, I might say I've found my " twiche ". Probably my favorite aspect of Twitter is that it forces me to be concise. I can write more by outlinking to TwitLonger, but I like the challenge of trying to make my point in 140 characters. As Goethe said, "Der Meister zeigt sich in der Beschränkungen."

So, the following dialogue is a revised reconstruction of an actual dialogue I've been having on Twitter the past week or two.

Full disclosure: my interlocutor's moniker is nothing less inflammatory than "ifollowHATE". He or she chose to follow me because I have either retweeted comments against "gay marriage", or voiced my own objections to it.

Codgitator: [Upon discovering that I was being followed by "ifollowHATE"] So if you hate hate, do you follow yourself? Or hate yourself? Or just hate others for differing from you?

Some Tweeter: No, I hate the lies that people tell to harm others. That is hate. It is sinful.

C: You mean lies about the Catholic Church's authentic teachings? I assume you follow me because I oppose "gay marriage".

S: We are talking about civil laws, not the Catholic teachings. The organizations that you follow advocate for laws that harm others.

C: By tarring nonconformity "hate" I feel you cheapen the language and derail dialogue -- the prerogative of demagogues.

S: By supporting banning gays from marriage, I feel you cause harm to them and derail their rights.

C: I get your angle. The question is whether marriage is a right in service of individuals or in service of the common good. Law forbids consanguinous, underage, and bigamous marriage. Law is for a common future, not for special interests.

S: Not special interests. The same right that everyone else enjoys. The right to marry the one person that you love.

C: Why limit marriage to 1+1? Awful prejudice. Why not 1+1+1? 1+1+/-1? 1+x+y? Is the point of law only point to protect "love feelings"? Defending gay marriage as a civil right begs the question. What is the point of marriage? To what do gays want access by winning "marriage"?

S: What important government purpose is accomplished by banning gay couples from Civil Marriage? Do you have a reason for limiting marriage to all those people, or is it just prejudice against them?

C: Any definition of marriage imposes limits, as I've shown in your monogamy bias. A definition… by definition… is limiting. The key is to legislate to the long-term good of marriage.

S: What important governmental purpose is furthered by banning gay couples from marriage? Just one.

C: If legal limitations are implicitly unjust, what's the point of any government marriage laws? What is the purpose of marriage? What does "gay" add to it? Indeed, why can't siblings marry, if they're as deeply as in love as any gay or straight couple? Making that kind of bond "marriage" undermines the common benefit of marriage over generations.

S: What good does it do to ban gay people from marriage, then? Give your reason for the line that you have drawn.

C: First, marriage is no more a right than hunting or driving or bartending is, hence we need licenses for them. It's not in the interest of the law to widen the licensing gate for marriage [or should I say, lower the bar?], and thus lower the long-term stability of marriage as a pillar of society. Gay marriage adds nothing to the long-term security of marriage (to put it mildly), and bars gays from no more than enjoying the feeling of having Sneetch-belly-stars of their own. No bloodlines can be formed in gay marriage, so it's not marriage. Marriage is the social analogue of biological continuity.

Second, asking why government can "ban" gays from marriage is not only inflammatory but also begs the question. It has never been the case that a loophole was open for gays to marriage, until one day some conservative cabal decided to "ban" the trickle of gays who were finally taking advantage of their "right" to the loophole. What has happened is that one group has stormed the courts to jam a loophole into marriage law for their own special interests. No-fault divorce advocates did the same decades ago, to the grave detriment of marriage. Why add insult to injury with another judicial revamping of nature? Gay people aren't being banned from loving and living and dying with whomever they wish. They are being denied a license on the grounds that their lifestyle would adds nothing to the actual, long-term practice of marriage as a biological and social reality. Not giving a motor license to a blind man is radically different from banning him from traveling at all, by other means, such as private or public transit. As pro-queer journalist Victoria Brownworth has stated, "[A]llowing same‐sex couples to marry will weaken the institution of marriage."

S: Prove it.

C: The point of the quotation is precisely that Brownworth is pro-gay-marriage.

S: I know who she is. I also know the entire quote. As I said. Prove it. It should be easy.

C: Here's my basic problem: you deny that marriage has any essential features–– you deny there is any real nature of marriage beyond how we speak of it–– yet you want gays to enjoy this chimerical "marriage". But what is marriage? If marriage is just a social convention, a purely legal custom, then what is it gays could possibly gain by "marriage"? Any essential features you propose for marriage–– gay, straight, or otherwise–– must be based in something above the law. The problem is that, for whichever features you propose as maritally non-negotiable, there is a special interest group which would brand those features as narrowly prejudiced and as merely legal customs. (If you were lucky, you'd even get a boob from their camp to follow you via a popular social medium.) Failing that, if you admit marriage is just a word, just a social game, then why should thee be any marriage law at all? There cannot be laws about pure fictions. You can't have it both ways. Either marriage really is of an unalterable nature, which must be explained and obeyed by all, or it is just a wax nose, and law is irrelevant to the satisfaction of gay intimacy.

Fourth, I'm not sure I should bother giving you reasoned answers, since your moniker implies the only reason I could have for opposing gay (as well as bigamous, underage, incestuous, fraudulent, necrophiliac, etc.) marriage, is because I "HATE". Yes. That's it. How insightful of you. Here's to an America where the only choices are doe-eyed social conformity or blind "hate". If you honestly think having principled objections to a radical, partisan innovation just is "hatred", you are a boob and really ought to follow yourself.

S: So… owning a gun isn't a right, because it requires a license?
C: Even American toddlers lack a right to guns without a license. Call it inflammatory or not, you put the cart before the horse.

S: In all that, you still didn't answer the question. What is the important governmental purpose accomplished by banning gay marriage? "We will be more American on the day after we permit gay marriage than we were on the day before". That's one of your guys [Blankenhorn in Propostition 8 corss-examination].

C: I have said why it's not in the interest of the state to reinvent the wheel on marriage. Gay marriage is no more banned than unicorn chariot rides are: both are fictions. Government policy should aim to promote longterm good for the whole polity. Gay marriage (GM) merits no more government aid than bigamy.


Agellius said...

This is great. I especially like the point you raise about the essential features or the nature of marriage. That seems like a good point to keep the discussion focused on and keep pressing.

Erundur said...

Enjoyed it. Particularly the comparison to unicorn chariot rides :)