Sunday, October 22, 2006

On Bigotry and Polygamy

Two things you hear a lot about in debating the Marshall-Newman amendment are Bigotry and Polygamy. They are usually dismissed for very good reasons, but I thought sense I only have a hundred other perhaps more important things to do... What the heck! Let's give them the time of day!

Are Supporters of the Marshall-Newman Amendment Bigots? (A Challenge)

Proponents tend to get real upset when called bigots by opponents of the amendment. This isn't too terribly common with the everyday Yes-voter, but Bob Marshall gets accused of bigotry so often you would think he went to debates dressed as a ghost... with a pointy hood.

So the question is, can you vote yes and not be a bigot?

Well, let's put it a test shall we. First lets look at the word itself so we are all playing by the same rules.

Hmm.... Ironically the word has roots as an insult towards Normans, which is new to me and I expect is not commonly know by those on either side that use the word. This seems due to the word evolving so much to mean the opposite in modern definitions.

Accurately or not, the intended use of the word by opponents towards outspoken proponents has been to accuse prejudice. Bigotry in common language has come to mean generalized prejudice. Someone that you would call a racist could also be called a bigot. Chauvinists and anti-Semites are also bigots by the common use and it is for that reason that the word has been used towards proponents. There are shades to racism. You do not need to hate black people to think them less than you, nor do you need to be a misogynist to be a chauvinist. That is the point; we are not trying to simply say that all in favor want to tie gays to fence posts and beat them to death. We are saying that to promote this amendment, let alone come up with it, is to promote discrimination in legislature and to ultimately be prejudice.

Perhaps a better word is needed than bigot to call such people. I will from this point on take the word into much consideration before applying it to someone. Still the intended use has been to identify those that would discriminate homosexuals with a name equivalent to racist and chauvinist, and recognizes the complexity of those words in its own use. To simply say someone is "anti-gay" does not take into account the subtleties of discrimination and can over vilify the ignorant, misinformed and harmfully good intentioned. This intended use of bigot, I will continue to explore when questioning proponents' prejudice.

The Challenge

To better understand the dilemma in someone voting for the amendment and not harboring discriminatory feelings as previously defined, I would like to offer a challenge to any reader still with me on this increasingly not so little ride. I would like to challenge you to offer a reason in defense of segregation that is not racist. Furthermore, I would like you to offer a reason for woman to not have the right to vote that is not sexist. To be clear, I'm not saying you have to find a reason you agree with, only one that holds some reasonable degree of validity (note that I did not ask you for a reason not to have abolished slavery. I'm considering the matter of context too in this!). I'm also not saying that this is impossible, only that I have failed in all efforts to find one that struck me as to any degree being a worthwhile excuse and thus I challenge you to try as well. If you succeed then I hope at the vary least the difficulty in finding one will provide you with some perspective as to why it is so hard for proponents to believe it is possible. I look forward to this discussion.

Is Polygamy a Real Threat?

A common concern for proponents of the amendment and Bob Marshall himself is that there is a "homosexual agenda." That once gay marriage is legalized (and don't forget voting against this amendment will not change its already present prohibition.) the next step will be polygamy and then all sorts of scary boogey men will come out. This is commonly dismissed as a red herring, and I'm tempted to due the same, but instead I'll explain why it is basically a red herring.

First the claim that there are some people that have such an agenda is not inaccurate. There are some people who want Polygamy to be a legal form of marriage. There are some (though probably fewer and certainly less sane) people that want to legally do the hokey pokey with their little dog Smokey too. These people however do not make up a notable portion of the population let alone the anti-amendment movement. To claim such is to label religious leaders and notable republicans along with conservative democrats as such, and though certain scandals have left the nation raising more than a few eye-brows towards the republican party, the fact is that most of them really aren't that wild. It is an attempt to broadly paint a diverse group of people with the very controversial life style and view of an extremely small minority. (A minority that is currently under a lot of flack do to that Mormon scandal.) To say that all opposed to the amendment or even a portion worth being concerned about are pro polygamy is like saying all Christians are Dominionists.

Besides the lack of proponents for polygamy, lets look at the logistics of legalizing such a form of marriage. With a homosexual marriage there is only a few minor things to sort out such as how the court will deal with custody cases if a homosexual union breaks up, or gender based benefits. Even there it really looks more complicated than it should be. Judges might favor the biological parent if it is not a pure adoption and ultimately will grant custody to the parent best capable of providing a healthy environment (education, shelter, competent parenting).

With Polygamy however... the paperwork would be a nightmare. Can you even begin to fathom distribution of benefits? The complexities of divorce? If you want to talk about a child getting shuffled around just ponder that mess. In short, gay marriage would redefine gender's role in marriage while polygamy would redefine the entire structure. One is a skip, the other is a huge leap.

(Reminder: Let's not forget this amendment is actually only dealing with other unions. Gay marriage is very illegal in Virginia. You do not have to be for gay marriage to be against this amendment.)

Polygamy is decades if not centuries away from being a serious issue of discussion. If there is anything to become ready for with polygamy I can say we are not ready as a society for it now. So few of us can even get one marriage to work; how anyone could find time to make multiple ones work is beyond me. I've known polygamist and can say that even though I can respect them as individuals and as a group, I've yet to be convinced that it is a fully functional and adequate form of family structure beyond perhaps the rarest of circumstances. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that makes me the "bigot" now. (It would seem fitting since the word also comes from hypocrite in French.) As it stands I see polygamy as a social movement, a choice of life style rooted in a radical outlook. A polygamist is not in any way defined as such the way a homosexual is. I've yet to even hear a debate considering polygamy a biological trait. I'm not beyond convincing that I'm wrong, but it would take one hell of an effort to do so. So let me assure all that fear the boogey man that if there was a vote tomorrow to legalize polygamy as a form of marriage, I would vote against it. Some people that live in Virginia may want polygamy, but there are also people in Virginia that are Anarchists. They make up pretty much the same crowd actually. Is anyone really worried about Virginia becoming an anarchist state?

Does anyone else find the words "anarchist state" really, really funny?


Blogger Cory Capron said...

My intent was never to imply the broken logic that:

A sometimes = B and A = C

Thus B = C

Polygamist that I've met dabbled in Anarchy movements. That was the level of radicalism that polgamy was locally represented to me by. I was also pointing out that anarchy was another radical movement and by its example, one can see that not all movements are an actual threat.

Sorry for any confusion there.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Scott Nolan said...

Very good definition and discussion Cory, thanks for the logic and reason process.

My wife and I (just celebrated 13 years together) have been baffled about why there is so much fear and passions against allowing gay marriage run so hot. We are baffled because some of the strongest relationships we know are between gay and lesbian friends, who are strong proponents of marriage itself. In fact, our own marriage was in large part saved by some good-friend intervention and counseling from one gay couple we know.

The only logical reason we have been able come up with for being against gay marriage is that misogynists would be threatened. It's a stretch, but if "John" is a misogynist and has a subservient wife "Mary" and next door "Gay Bob" and "Gay Mike" move in; then I can see where misogynist John would be very nervous as his wife can now see a marriage of equal partners living right next door. This would not bother my wife and I in the least, because our marriage is an equal partner marriage.

I have not heard anyone using that specific argument, and I am pretty sure they'd get no sympathy from any voters even if they did. Every other argument I have heard has been based on "faith" (that way they can dodge the whole reason and logic evaluation entirely) or false logic (when canvassing I heard that damned anti-polygamy and anti-bestiality rant over and over again - both are pure bull-feathers).

If you stretch the word bigotry to include most forms of prejudice (which I do, but thanks for the word-history lesson), then this amendment is all about bigotry.

Of course it's also all about driving emotional and unreasoning voters out to the polls to get emotional and unreasonable people re-elected against any logical analysis of who might be the better candidate, but the cost of approving this rediculous and redundant amendment is way too high. We are losing the best minds in the state because of the implicit bigotry in the amendment.

Vote No on #1 and furthermore, we should throw Marshall and anyone else associated with this amendment and shifty politcal scam out of office next year or as soon as possible.

5:05 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

Hey Scott. Thanks for the link.

Your theory would seem to go along with Bob Marshall's desire to return Virginia to a magical 1950s where women knew there place and everybody danced along to the song "Love and Marriage."

Homosexuals do tend to throw a wrench in a lot of cookie cutter views of how the world works, but hey, so do women. Freud built all his best known theories around men and even admitted he didn't no bo diddly about women.

To me bringing up polygamy is like trying to debate the war and out of nowhere changing the subject to legalizing pot. It's random and a complete distortion of priorities that is going to make it very hard for me to take anything else someone they say seriously.

9:10 AM  
Blogger I LOVE YOU said...


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