Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gay marriage and having sex with your sister

With the supreme court considering California's proposition 8 regarding same-sex marriage*, my social media feeds are full of self righteous crusaders crusading for the cause. Leaving alone the legal considerations and even questions about the potential socio-moral fallout in denying people civil rights or alternatively in devaluing marriage, the supercilious sanctimony of so many of the morally superior proclaiming in favor presents an almost irresistible opportunity to play confounding contrarian, so--inspired by Jonathan Haidt--I've been posing the following questions as thought experiments:

Is having sex with your sister in the privacy of your own bedroom, with protection and the knowledge that neither of you have an STD, wrong?

Is eating your pet dog after it gets hit by a car wrong?

Is consenting to have parts of your body preserved after you die to be used as home decor for those interested in them wrong?

Is a cop who secretly gets off to infant pornography confiscated from a child sex offender before turning it in as evidence, but who would never buy the stuff or encourage its being created, wrong in so doing?

The crusader's mental framework consists of an obvious moral good championed by ethical people being denied by homophobic bigots who nefariously want nothing more than to make gays miserable. But for many people--I'd guess most, actually--opposed to same-sex marriage, the opposition stems from a visceral reaction of disgust to gay sex, specifically gay male sex. That reaction is no more irrational or illogical than the negative reactions most people--supportive of same-sex marriage or not--have to the four hypothetical questions posed above. In fact, negative reaction to gay sex is, logically-speaking, more sensible than negative reactions to any of the four questions are because in those cases no one is harmed nor is the harm of others encouraged, while there are lots of negative real-world consequences of gay (male) sex, most notably AIDS. The rectal lining isn't 'designed' to take the thrusting abuse of an erect penis like the vaginal lining is.

I took the moral foundations questionnaire and scored lowest on the purity/disgust dimension. Personally, it's not difficult for me to find in favor of same-sex marriage and all four of the above, and am amenable to the argument that same-sex marriage should be permissible now since the majority of the country favors its becoming so, while the others should be publicly condemned at present in accordance to the predilections of the majority. But just like I'm worried that the society I live in is increasingly coming to share my sentiments when it comes to spirituality and religion, I'm similarly unsettled by the thought that the rhetorical devices employed above won't be effective for much longer. Not much is sacred anymore (at least not in the liberalized West, anyway, but then again, the liberalized West is the past, Africa and Islam is the future).

* I prefer the phrase "same-sex marriage" over "gay marriage", since it more accurately captures the essence of the issue in a strictly legal sense. There is no prohibition on gay people getting married--the question is whether or not a man may marry another man or a woman another woman, irrespective of their expressed sexual orientations. The Civil War vs The War Between the States vs The War of Northern Aggression, I suppose.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Promiscuity amongst gay males is significantly higher than it is than any other sexual orientation demographic. Ideally, gay marriage will reduce such rates.

Anonymous said...

Ideally, gay marriage will reduce such rates.

AHAHAHAHAHA!!! *wipes eyes*

Anonymous said...

Emphasis on "ideally."

ivvenalis said...

Ideally, gay marriage will legitimize homosexual "ethicists" telling husbands to get over their "possessiveness" of their wives.

Fixed.

szopeno said...

This is not a civil rights issue.

Marriage is a privilege, given by society to few, in hope of special gains for the whole society. I am open to discussion whether modern marriages are still providing this gains (mostly creation and raising new citizens), however gay marriages seems to me will not provide those gains, so it;s hard to understand why they should get those privileges.

sykes.1 said...

First, Griswold v Conn. invalidates almost all regulation of sexual conduct. This includes homosexuality (and same sex marriage), prostutution, polygamy and beastiality. It might not allow sex with prepubescent children, but adolescents might be fair. The courts and not the legislatures will decide.

Second, marriage per se should be a legal contract subject to the usual state laws regarding commerce. the contracts would have to include some state specified provions regarding children, inheritance, divorce, property , etc.

Religious rites of marriage would have no legal status and would not constitute a marriage contract enforceable by the state. This would prevent the state from requiring clergy to perform marriage rites that offend their tenets.

Thomas said...

Can you prove your assertion that "same-sex marriage should be permissible now since the majority of the country favors its becoming so" It's only at the supreme court because it can't win on the ballot...even in CA.

Gay marriage, same sex marriage, both denote the irrefutable fact that the word means something. Always has, always will. All of a sudden It's bigotry? Hilarious

Anonymous said...

Has ideally been redefined as a synonym of absurdly?

Anonymous said...

33 states including CA voted to make marriage man+woman only. That seems high enough to get a national constitutional amendment passed. Conservatives should have seen the writing on the wall and got 'er done 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

am amenable to the argument that same-sex marriage should be permissible now since the majority of the country favors its becoming so


If majority of the country does favor that then they can elect representatives who will make such laws. Thus far the majority of the country shows no such inclination.

The way law is actually made in this country is that the "judges" make it. And they're not answerable to "the majority of the country". In fact they pride themselves on sticking their fingers in the majority's eye.

Anonymous said...

Griswold v Conn. invalidates almost all regulation of sexual conduct.


Griswold v Conn is a judicial monstrosity which made zero attempt to ground itself in the US Constitution.

marriage per se should be a legal contract subject to the usual state laws


The people should get some say into which contracts they are made a part of. The "usual state laws" are not imposed on us by jackbooted thugs in robes, as you wish "gay marriage" to be.


The courts and not the legislatures will decide.

What a fascist thug you are.

Anonymous said...

Promiscuity amongst gay males is significantly higher than it is than any other sexual orientation demographic. Ideally, gay marriage will reduce such rates.


Crime among inner-city blacks is significantly higher than it is in any other socia-racial demographic. Ideally, transplanting these people to the leafy suburbs will reduce such rates.

Note that "ideally" here has the same meaning as "magically".

Anonymous said...

Crime among inner-city blacks is significantly higher than it is in any other socia-racial demographic. Ideally, transplanting these people to the leafy suburbs will reduce such rates.

Isn't that actually true though (obviously not "reduce entirely")?

The things stopping us doing this are that there are a finite amount of suburbs and costs money to make more and more money for people to live there, beliefs in human freedom, etc..

If we could make more suburbs (attendant infrastructure, amenities, parks, etc). for basically free (ethical qualms about force relocating people aside), we would probably just do this.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Anon - actually, we just did that in the last few years with no-down-payment mortgages that minorities defaulted on at high rates, leading to a recession. (Admittedly, clever money manipulators swopping worthless paper at lightning speed hastened the fall.) It is unfortunate but true that home ownership seems to work only when it is the result of bourgeois values - it does not create them.

I resisted for years how much our first small house owned me instead of I, it. I still fantasize how a condo, apartment, or itinerant retirement would be so much easier. But I wanted a yard for the boys and for dogs, freedom from the noise and habits of others, and my wife wanted gardens, so I learned split wood and repair plumbing.

If you can't make those sacrifices, you won't succeed at owning a home.

Rev. Right said...

"* I prefer the phrase "same-sex marriage" over "gay marriage", since it more accurately captures the essence of the issue in a strictly legal sense"

This is absolutely correct. There is no civil rights angle to this debate, no discrimination in how the law is applied. Whether you or gay or straight, the rules are the same: Marriage is only a contract between two people of the opposite sex.

Preference has nothing to do with the law. If you enjoy wine, and I enjoy heroin, our preferences do not affect how drug laws are applied. We both can drink wine, but neither of us can legally use heroin. There is no discrimination.

And szopeno also makes a very important point: Marriage is conferred certain (limited) benefits by society because of the benefits it provides society. Chief among these benefits is the production of children, something same sex marriage is incapable of, absent the contribution of a third party. Therefore, gays are demanding a benefit they have not earned.