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View Diary: The Weekly Standard On Opposition To Gay Marriage (383 comments)

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  •  Fascinating. (0+ / 0-)

    That article comes closer than anything I've ever seen to actually laying out in some sort of comprehensible fashion some of the actual social/cultural underpinnings of our marriage institution, and thus, why so many people are so uncomfortable with "redefining" marriage to mean something other than what it has meant, so far as I know (and i don't claim omniscience), in every human culture since the dawn of civilization.

    Nonetheless, the messenger is reviled as an idiot and a bigot.

    Of all the things that annoy me about the left (and i'm way more left than most of the people on this site, and for that matter, most of the people who are so appalled by this article), i think the refusal to acknowledge that "opposition" to gay marriage (quoted because i want to distinguish between active, forceful opposition, versus an attitude that there is just something about the idea that is discomfiting) is not necessarily about knee-jerk bigotry or hyper-religious raving, but might be about something a little more deep, a little more human, a little more understandable, a little more sympathetic than the Angry Liberal Mob wants to admit.

    Personally, I don't give a rat's ass who marries whom, and I don't see why the state should either -- actually, in fact, i'd like to see the state stop issuing marriages, and instead issue only civil unions. Leave "marriage" up to the churches and other non-governmental social organizations. But that's not likely to happen any time soon, and in the meantime, ensuring that gays have the same rights as straights seems fair and right to me.

    However: Gay marriage does fundamentally change the meaning of marriage, which has always been about much, much more than Two People In Love. Some of us deny that there is a change in the meaning, basically by playing a version of Wittgenstein's categories game. Nonetheless, as leftists, if we saw a modern industrial power going into a less-developed nation and forcing a cultural change like this on the locals, we'd be going ballistic. Given that we do insist on making this essential change in the fundamental meaning of our culture's most fundamental institution -- the one institution that transcends almost all others -- it seems to me that we ought to show a little sensitivity to the hapless benighted natives whose culture we are remaking.

    Gay marriage is simply the latest battle in the Sexual Revolution, and it's worth observing that we still haven't worked out the ramifications of the battles we've fought so far. Once upon a time, divorce was quite unusual in our culture. Now it is commonplace -- common as dirt, by the time one's children are grown. The article cited above mentions the incest taboo -- but our taboos are not keeping up with our changing institutions. If Alice and Bob marry in their 40s, is there any reason that Bob's daughter Carol, an accomplished lawyer, should not subsequently marry Alice's son Ted, a neurosurgeon? What, precisely, would that reason be? I can't think of one -- yet I'm sure the idea would cause a lot of people some discomfort. Well ... what are you going to call those people? Bigots? Against whom are they bigoted, exactly -- adults whose parents are divorced? I imagine that a large percentage of them would be adults whose parents are divorced.

    No, the problem there isn't bigotry -- it is culture. tradition. meaning. the cornerstones of our humanity.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Tue May 26, 2009 at 08:23:42 PM PDT

    •  I grew up in Mississippi in the 1960's... (0+ / 0-)

      The argument that I heard supporting segregation and even, as late as the 1960's, was that they were a matter of culture and tradition that the North had no business interfering with.

      Would you also be moved by that argument?

      I'm pretty fascinated that you are so easily impressed with such a crazy commentary from a man who has had THREE marriages.  Is this the kind of marriage culture and tradition that you think needs protecting?  Are you STILL impressed with the messenger and his message?

      •  Uh ... since my comment specifically references (0+ / 0-)

        the fact that gay marriage is clearly another step in the social process that has produced A Man Who Has Had Three Marriages, i find your response wanting in its understanding of my point.

        Your response is exactly the sort of response that makes me crazy. Yes, there is plenty of hypocrisy on the issue -- but that hypocrisy is grounded, not in some sort of fundamental evilitude, but in the reality that our social institutions have been changing so fast that our attitudes cannot keep up, and that people need time to adjust to cultural changes.

        And you will note that I am not supporting the argument that "gays should not be allowed to marry, because marriage is a matter of culture and tradition that the gays have no business interfering with."

        What I am saying is that if you're going to dynamite a culture it is decent to show at least some compassion for the people who are uncomfortable with the demolition project, and to not assume a stance of contempt and moral superiority over them. If folks have been raised to believe that white people and black people ought not to mix, then that's what they're most likely going to believe, and even if they believe at an intellectual level that whites and blacks are equal, they will be uncomfortable about desegregation. treating people who believe what they've been taught to believe as if they are demonic wingnut evil monsters makes me fucking puke. I've been denounced as a purist on this site more times than I can count, primarily by people who themselves have neither sympathy nor empathy for or with conservatives whose cultural assumptions have, in fact, been under an endless 50-year assault by social liberalism.

        Every day, I must interact politely with a mass of human beings who hilariously, delusionally believe that Grandpa In The Sky:

        1. Created the universe
        1. Created the Earth for his specialdy special kids (us),
        1. Created us. In his own image. (What the hell does that mean anyway?)
        1. Takes a one-on-one, "personal" interest in the lives, fates, emotions, ideas, beliefs, actions, of every single one of the 8 billion humans on the planet -- nevermind that collectively we we comprise about 1/10000000000000000000000000000th of all the matter in the universe he supposedly created.
        1. When we die, we get to go somewhere else -- somewhere better, happier, specialer -- where we will get to hang out with the same people we used to know back here in this life.

        5b. But only if we behaved ourselves and/or believed in just the right things while were were.
        5c. Otherwise, we're subjected to endless fiery torture for the rest of eternity. (Why Grandpa should bother remains a bit of a mystery.)

        Etc. Etc. Etc. I could go on, but it's been done to death in the atheism diaries.

        The point is, all of this stuff is self-evidently nonsense to me, as equally nonsense as the belief that whites and blacks shouldn't mix, or that gays "can not" marry, because that isn't what "marriage" means -- but that doesn't mean I'm going to go around telling other people that their faith doesn't matter, because it's nonsense. I don't proselytize for atheism among my friends and family, despite the fact that I sincerely believe the entire human race would be far better off if tomorrow morning we all woke up and all supernatural superstition -- astrology, christianity, hinduism, wiccanism, whatever -- were simply erased from our minds.

        I understand that even though it's all delusion and nonsense and wishful thinking and desperation and fear and silliness and ignorance and largely stupid, it nonetheless doesn't render the many humans who subscribe to one version or another of it completely delusional and silly and desperate and ignorant and stupid and of a fundamentally inferior ethical status to mine. So, although I find their beliefs to belong somewhere well out on both the "hilariously foolish" and "dangerously stupid" axes, I don't dismiss or disrespect the holders of those beliefs as hilarious fools and dangerous morons. They're just people, acting within the frameworks of their culture, and they need to be treated with some respect.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Thu May 28, 2009 at 08:15:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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