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Why PJG Is Wrong About Everything

It’s lunchtime! I have a few minutes, and I’m going to waste them blogging. I’m going to finish out the week on the whole Prop. 8 business and hope to get back to posting new novel bits on Monday. The problem with that is that I have to do some major rewrites to the next chapter, which includes some plot developments that have now been radically altered. I may have time to get to that this weekend, but then again, maybe not.

Anyway, I was thrilled beyond measure to see PJG responding to my Olbermann post, despite the fact that we can’t seem to agree on a dang thing. But I have to believe that it’s constructive to have both sides of this issue talking to each other, and I couldn’t ask for a better foil than PJG, who has been expertly sparring with me since long before puberty. He once insisted that I was the reason that the California coastline is crooked. Barring any evidence to the contrary, I’ll have to concede he’s right about that one. Which is good, because as far as Proposition 8 is concerned, he’s wrong on everything else.

His responses begin thusly:

The issue, as my father points out, should be that the State should have nothing to do with marriage at all, but rather allow all consenting adults the chance to enter into a union that is recognized by the state.

This statement is wildly contradictory. It begins with the idea that the state should have “nothing to do with marriage at all.” It ends with the state recognizing any and all unions entered into by consenting adults as marriage – or perhaps a new marriage equivalent that doesn’t use such a loaded label. In other words, to get out of the marriage business, the state will say that everything is the equal to marriage, but nothing is marriage. Paraphrasing Frank Zappa, this is akin to curing dandruff by means of decapitation.

He continues:

This avoids letting possum eaters in Arkansas pull legislative flimflammery to dis-allow gay couples from raising children, etc.

Our pal the Arkansan Possumeater will surely be disappointed to discover that nothing in Proposition 8 will “dis-allow” gay couples from raising children.

More from PJG:

The State has no business in the matters of religion and religion has no business in matters of the State.

I’m trying to decide whether I agree with this statement, or whether this statement should really be part of another discussion. As such, it’s a bit of a non sequitor here. Which of my arguments draw on religion to justify their claims? Is PJG saying that marriage itself is an inherently religious concept? Perhaps it is. Yet it is one so deeply ingrained in our societal structure that to remove it forcibly would be for the state to intrude unduly on the religious sphere. And why should the State have the power to take precedence over marriage? The State of California has been around for about a century and a half. Marriage has been around for millennia.

If it’s between the State and Marriage, Marriage was here first.

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To further this, people in other states (UT) should stay out of the business of other states (CA), if you want to be consistent in righty philosophy about states rights trumping federal, etc.

If what happened in California stayed in California, I might find this convincing. But upon judicial review, I’m confident that the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution will rightfully require others states (UT) to recognize all contracts conducted by states (CA, MA, CT) that disregard marriage’s traditional definition. The Defense of Marriage Act that President Clinton signed into law to prevent this from happening is a fig leaf that is unlikely to pass muster in the Supreme Court.

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P.S., thursowick, whoever you are, you consistently make me sick.

That’s payback, I would imagine. I used to consistently make thursowick sick by leaving a dirty butter knife on the counter of our weird little farm house that we lived in together in Thurso, Scotland for three months.

thursowick is my favorite missionary companion, a good friend, and quite the musician himself. Indeed, he orchestrated all the music for the demo recording of my musical Neverland that appears on this blog. That’s his voice playing Smee in the song Hook of the Jolly Roger. Captain Hook was sung by the late and sorely-missed Scott Morgan, a remarkable man whose life story provides a valuable perspective on this whole debate. You can – and should – read more about him here.

Incidentally, PJG, I spoke to thursowick after reading your comment, which amused him to no end. However, he was confused as to how he “consistently” makes you sick, as this is the first time he has ever commented on anything remotely political. All his other comments on this blog are book suggestions. Is it his grammar that makes you nauseous?

More from PJG:

And no, Mr. Stallion, your argument doesn’t follow and doesn’t stick, per usual.

1. People who believe that marriage is by definition all wrapped up in religious mumbo jumbo do not believe that my marriage by a judge is a “real” marriage, much less that interracial couples were “married.” This contradicts all sorts of Bronze Age nonsense, and is therfore invalid.

What’s the issue here, PJG? Is it recognition by “people who believe that marriage is by definition all wrapped up in religious mumbo jumbo,” or recognition by the State? Because I thought “the State has no business in the matters of religion.”

Certainly the State recognizes your marriage before a judge, and Proposition 8 only deals with how California regards marriage, not any church. Are you demanding that my church be compelled to recognize a gay union as a religiously sanctioned marriage?

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Furthermore, this supposed argument that you keep trotting out that because culture has never before done something it means that there is some sort of positive ontology ascribed is absolute malarky. There is no argument here. It’s not even a classic strawman. Just nonsense said authoritatively. You’re wrong, as always. Wrong about everything.

I had to look up “ontology,” because the only other time I’ve seen the word referenced is in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, where Calvin laments the “ontological quandary” of understanding things we cannot see. The dictionary defines ontology as “the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such.”

I think you’ve got me on this one, sort of. Without question, great things are done that had never been done before. In 1776, no colony had ever broken off from its mother country. In 1987, no arms control agreement had ever actually reduced the number of arms in a military arsenal. In 2007, no African-American had ever been elected President of the United States. These three things, among many others, are things that had never been done before, and they were all worth doing.

But the converse is also true: i.e. just because something has never been done, it doesn’t mean we should do it. Indeed, even the good things we do to change society ought to be done with ample consideration for the weight and evidence of history, which has repeatedly demonstrated the intrinsic value of the nuclear family ideal, i.e. a mommy and a daddy.

Olbermann would have you believe that shifting the fundamental definition of marriage to include two daddies and no mommy is a slight thing, a chance to let people feel just a little less alone. And besides, what does it matter to you, Mr. Hetero? Your marriage won’t disappear. This is nothing. You don’t even have to like it. Just look the other way.

My authoritatively nonsensical point is that it’s not nothing. Marriage creates families. The State is made up of families. The family is the basic building block of civilization. Fundamentally altering its basic structure is a big, big deal, and we don’t have any idea what the long-term consequences will be. Belittling the reticence to make such a monumental shift is intellectually lazy.

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Okay, I’m having a hard time stopping here. My previous post points out why Olberman’s (and, clearly, this is not an original thesis) points are salient and relevant to this case. Inter-racial marriage was attacked on same grounds. Never in the history of humankind have we allowed. blah blah blah nonsense. I’m a non religious Jew married to a non religous Catholic. We also wouldn’t have been allowed to marry with same arguments against, not that long ago.

Again, you’re shifting the sands. The issue is state recognition, not religious sanction. The Catholic Church probably still doesn’t consider you married in the eyes of God. They probably never will. (I’m in the same boat as a Mormon/heretic.) If you try to get the State to change the church’s teachings, then you’re way out of bounds.

Again, the issue here is race and religion, not marriage itself. The State has historically placed restrictions on marriage, many of them unnecessary and misguided, but the State has never deviated from the course that marriage is a man and a woman.

What you’re saying, PJG, is that gender is as fundamentally irrelevant to human experience as race is. And that sounds egalitarian and loving and kind, but it just isn’t true.

PJG concludes:

Wake UP! Our society evolves. That’s the point. We grow better over time. Slowly, but better. We learn that all sorts of things, like human sacrifice isn’t so cool. We learn that wearing garments of mixed fabrics doesn’t damn one to the bad graces of a strangely jealous and petty deity.Eathing shellfish neither. WAKE UP

Good morning! I love shellfish. Although garments of mixed fabrics strike me as iffy.

I would substitute the word “evolves” with “changes.” Our society definitely changes, and many of the changes, like the ixnay on volcano virgins, are good ones. Yet most of the changes that I applaud have taken place in the physical world: Medicine, transportation, technology, that kind of stuff. Science helps in that regard as we better understand how the world works.

But societally, I’m not convinced that we’re on an inexorable evolutionary course to greatness. I think we, as a society, are growing coarser and ruder with time, not kinder and gentler, as George H.W. would want. I think the gradual erosion of traditional morality and mores leaves us increasingly vacant and devoid of purpose. For all our progress, human nature itself remains fundamentally unaltered lo these many centuries, and abandoning one of the elemental institutions to civilize our natural barbarism – the ideal of a mommy and a daddy – does not strike me as a good idea.

Good night, good luck, and good grief.

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