Tangled webs, etc.

10 11 2008

Can anyone tell me what is so dangerous about allowing homosexuals to get married? Before you answer, I categorically reject any so-called “explanation” based on scriptures of any religion.

While I’m waiting for an answer, let us delve a bit deeper into the morass. Why does any government entity in this country have to get involved in a religious ritual such as marriage? I’m pretty sure that is a direct violation of the Constitutional prohibition on establishment of religion. If you want to legally formalize a relationship with another person, the most the State (however defined) should have any control over is the legal paperwork (assigning heirs, acknowledgement of shared property rights, etc). The actual joing of two people need not involve religion in any way, shape, or form. If a legally united couple wants a religious ceremony, that is a separate issue between them and the religious venue of their choice. As far as the State is concerned, the signing of the legal documents should be all that matters.

That alone would put “paid” to this nonsense playing out in California. A bunch of religious extremists managed to get a simple majority of voters to agree to deny basic civil rights to a minority segment of the population. Astonishingly, 70% of black voters in California voted in favor of this. Historical context seems to have eluded those folks. Try re-wording Prop 8 to read that marriage is defined as a union between a white man and a white woman, and perhaps those black voters would understand the problem.

To his credit, the Governator seems to be trying to get this bullshit tossed out. The newly-passed Proposition 8 seems unlikely to pass Consitutional scrutiny in any case. I’m pretty sure the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution applies Federal Constitutional restrictions to the States. In other words, the States cannot override the US Constitution- regardless of whether or not it might be the “Will of the People”. The phrase vox populi, vox dei doesn’t really mean, “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” It actually means, “My God! How did we get into THIS mess?”

One cannot help but wonder why the historically liberal Californians voted to deny civil rights to a minority group. This is the same state Will Rogers famously described as being like a bowl of granola (what ain’t fruits and nuts is flakes). The state where certain cities passed ordnances levying fines against whomever might set off a nuclear weapon within city limits. The only colors that seemed to matter to people in California are blue (the state registers overwhelmingly Democrat because of the large populations in the south of the state) and green (money or eco-friendliness, take your pick). Apparently, however, they have a problem with pink.

How about minding your own damned business, California? If you don’t want to be homosexual, that’s your business. If your neighbor does, that’s his business. The reverse of both statements also apply. The fact that church groups get their panties in a bunch over the subject should serve to remind people that the Government has no business legislating morality. Period. Full stop.

I have heard some people claim that the majority of voters chose to approve Prop 8, and therefore it should become Law. Here’s a clue for those who say such tripe: Tyranny of the majority. back in the 1800’s, a majority of voters decided that human beings with black skin only counted as 3/5 of a person. Up until the early 1900’s, a majority of voters decided that women did not have the right to vote. There is a reason the founding fathers crafted their new nation as a republic.  The Founders clearly were concerned about allowing the majority to dictate laws injurious to the minority, and set the nation up to prevent that to the extent possible.

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Guess what the voters in California are doing?


Current status: Irked

Current music: Boadicea by Enya




18 responses

12 11 2008

Keith Olbermann had a great “special comment” on the passage of Proposition Eight in California, it’s on my blog.

14 11 2008

Oh My God. I agree with Kieth Obermann?
Looks like I will have to slip down to hell and get me some ice cubes!

14 11 2008

pf: Your trip will be a little faster if you ride one of those flying pigs.

15 11 2008

Don’t they have those at Pink Floyd concerts?

btw, SPOT ON! on this post. Freakin’ California…

16 11 2008
The BoBo Carnival of Politics - November 16, 2008 Edition | The BoBo Files

[…] presents Tangled webs, etc. posted at A Dark and Sinister Force for Good, saying, “Whatever happened to minding […]

25 11 2008

I was astounded that California passed it. I mean, it’s not surprising that the ass-backward folks down here in the county’s wang (FL) passed their own version of this. But I always thought California was a bastion of tofu-eating, electric-car driving, sodomy-loving socialists. At least, that’s what outlets like Faux News and others seem to say.

26 11 2008

I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote about the issue of legally formalizing relationships. Adults of sound mind should be able to form unions with other adults of sound mind regardless of sex or gender. I’ve often thought that I would like, in my old age, to be married to my best friend, man or woman, with or without sex, just so I would know that someone who I care about and who cares about me would be able to handle things legally if I became incapacitated and for whom I would do the same.

Anyway, traditional marriage was a financial/social contract between families, not some god-driven mandate to procreate. Let’s take back traditional marriage!

26 11 2008

CyberLizard: In my opinion, I think most folks passed the bill because they simply did not understand it. Add in the far smaller number of religious loons and similar whackjobs and you have a majority.

RebekahD: I’m not so sure we want to get into defining what a “traditional” marriage is. For most of our species’s existence, “traditional” marriages were one dominant male with multiple wives. In my opinion, the Gummint needs to get out of the marriage and morality business entirely.

27 11 2008

Yeah, agreed. I was being silly, since the anti-gay folks have their own arbitrary definition of “traditional” marriage.
I also agree that many did not understand what they were voting on. I’ve seen several accounts of people bragging about voting for it, then when they discovered what they did, they ended up red-faced and angry.

8 12 2008
Deep Thought

“…the Government has no business legislating morality”

What?! Are you serious? Listen, pal – ALL LAWS exist to legislate morality! That’s what laws are for. Why is murder illegal? Because it is immoral. Why is breaking a contract illegal? because it is immoral.

Let me repeat that – the only reason tohave laws is to ‘legislate moraluty’. Learn it. Live it.

8 12 2008

Deep Thought: Did you get that from the mice?

All seriousness aside, I disagree. I contend that murder is illegal because (from a cultural evolution point of view) it created unnecessary survival stresses in the group in which it occurred. Permitting murder within a group made the group’s survival less likely, so groups with cultural prohibition against this behavior would tend to have better chances for survival. Ditto for breaking contracts- doing so demonstrated an individual’s unwillingness to conform to socially and culturally advantageous behavior, thereby putting the group at risk. Please describe why allowing homosexuals to voluntarily conform to a socially and culturally valuable behavior (marriage) is not in the best interest of our society.

“Marriage” involves getting a license from the State, with or without a corresponding religious ceremony. Given this fact, why should we- as a society- prohibit people from getting a license and legally combining their resources? Why are the religious objections of one group allowed to interfere in matter between any two people and the State?

15 12 2008
Deep Thought

Nah. The mice only paid for a single gig. I freelance now. The taxes bite, though.

Feel free to disagree. But your rather strained attempts to describe ‘certain actions which are negatively-impactful to the gestalt-community’ in pseudo-evolutionary psychology terms is a rather poor gloss of ‘good and evil’.

I didn’t say ‘religious’, I said ‘moral’., as in ‘good’. But lets dip into the waters of ‘murder is illegal because it is disruptive to society, not because it is evil’. Is so, the case against gay marriage might be stronger.

Society/culture exists to not just create a hierarchical structure and cultural norms, but to survive and propagate itself *as a culture*. The selfish gene idea writ large. or the meme concept with a book of manners. The only way a culture survive over time is by inculcating cultural norms into new members of society. The best way to do so is something called ‘children’. Add ‘children’ to ‘social norms’ and bingo! Acculturation.

Been going on about, oh, 50,000 years or so. Minimum.

There’s a problem, though. Some cultures are terrible at producing children. Don’t believe me? There is fairly serious evidence that a ‘mere’ lack of children was quite contributory to the decline of classical Greece, the fall of Rome, the end of the Han, Ming, AND Qin dynasties, and the fall of the beaker people. At the same time, highly successful cultures (in this context, ones that lasted a long time, avoided cultural dilution, and spread) have been quite pro-natal. The Shogunate period of Japan (including the Meiji period), the Victorians of the West, and (of course), Judaism and Catholicism. These groups shared a focus on children as valuable and really strong acculturation.

Japan and the Victorians are really good secular examples of how the loss of focus on children weakened the societies. In both cases rising costs of children led to declines in birth rates. This was generally accompanied by a growing acceptance of such ideas as childless couples and perpetual bachelors being more acceptable. Those branches of Judaism and Catholicism that separate and then lose the emphasis upon child-rearing and (since they seem to go hand-in-hand) the norm of a male/female couple with divorce being virtually unattainable as being Da Bomb also tend to lose their existence in any meaningful manner with a few generations.

In short, there is a fair amount of evidence that cultures that accept non-traditional marriages cease to be pretty quickly (the demographer Kaufman has some good stuff on this). Well, quickly on the scale of cultures, so that is a handful of generations, sometimes.

So if we are haring off down the ‘survival traits’ path, traditional marriage seems to be the way to go.

15 12 2008

Deep Thought: Morals derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level. -RAH

In that narrow sense, I will concede that a law against murder is a law against immoral behavior.

My point is that laws exist to enforce survival behavior. That is the only (cultural and social) reason to put up with limitations on our behavior. You claimed that murder was unlawful because it was immoral. I contend that murder is contraindicated for group-survival, and that is all that matters.

Let’s take a look at some statistical data. According to the Adoption Institute, there were approximately 581,000 children in foster care in the US at the turn of the century. According to Wikipedia, there were between 600,000 and 1,800,000 homosexuals in this country in 2005 (2-6% of the population). in 1998, a survey found that 18% of US females of childbearing age (defined as ages 15-44 by the survey) were childless. This number grew to 27% in 2005 (according to a review of US census data by the Guardian UK in August of 2008).

The point of these numbers is that your child-rearing argument has no value in the argument about same-sex marriages. If your sole purpose in banning same-sex marriage is to support child-bearing, what about married heterosexual couples with no children? What about unmarried couples with children? What about women who get fertilized by an anonymous donor from a sperm bank and have no interest in marriage?

As I said before, marriage is a legal contract between the people involved and the State. The state formally recognizes that the two people in question shall be considered each others’ heirs, and shall have certain specific legal rights and obligations as a result of this legal contract. Where does morality enter into this equation? If it is socially and culturally advantageous to permit two consenting adults to combine their lives and fortunes in this way, why should a bunch of religious fanatics have any say in the matter?

Back to the subject matter at hand. I contend that laws are cultural artifacts designed to maximize group survival potential. I further contend that marriage is a legal contract between the State and two consenting adults. This legal contract is advantageous to the society and the involved individuals in that it improves personal productivity and efficiency and ensures continuity of assets to individuals within the contract.

With that in mind, what is the pro-survival argument for denying two consenting adults the right to join in any legal agreement?

16 12 2008
Deep Thought

Careful! My argument is not about *rearing* children, but *generating* children. Therefore, pro-natal cultures tend to dominate non-natal cultures over time. Encouragement of those laws and cultural norms that promote the birth and nurturing of children within the cultural milieu are cultural positives. Thus, advocation of early marriage, prohibitions on divorce, cultural pressures to produce children, etc. are all positives because they promote these goals. While allowances must be made of those couples that are infertile, this is too be seen as tragic, not advantageous.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. That is the traditional legal/cultural/social pressure framework of, too be blunt, successful cultures as defined by survival and propagation.

All your statistics do is point out that acceptance of anti-natalist laws cultural artifacts by society leads to a decline in birthrates, the thing I am claiming is negative. Demographers have been warning of a coming crisis of underpopulation since at least 1970 and the problem is escalating to the point that several nations have cash bonuses to encourage child birth to stave of the economic and industrial collapse of nations (Japan, Russia, and Australia are the most prominent).

So, even within the narrow confines of your definition, nations as nations are realizing that pro-natalist policies are critical to cultural survival.

18 12 2008

Deep Thought: Once any society moves from being primarily agrarian to primarily urban, the birthrate drops. Large families are a boon for agrarian societies but a hindrance for urban ones- especially in an industrialized country. All the industrialized nations are suffering from a glut of older people and a deficiency in younger ones. All the industrialized nations are also suffering from declining populations as a result- wth the exception of the US.

The average family in the US has 1.9 children (according to the Census Bureau). This means we are not even maintaining a replacement birthrate. The only reason the US still has a positive population growth is because of immigration. This is a different argument, which deserves discussion in another article.

The original discussion was about Californians voting to deny homosexuals the right to get married. The active measures taken by several church groups during the pre-election campaign to exclude a minority group from the liberties enjoyed by all Americans prompted me to demand that Government refrain from legislating morality. This apparently prompted you to espouse the position that all laws are based upon morality.

The discussion ensuing from my response has been interesting, but wide of the original point.

Marriage is a contract between the State and two individuals who wish to combine their resources and ensure continuity of assets. The contract provides measurable legal benefits to the individuals involved. A license is required, which is issued by the State. If a couple wants to have a religious ritual to formalize the contract, the State has authorized certain religious persons to legally perform this function, but no religious rituals are required.

Given the legal nature of this arrangement, what is the legal basis for denying any two consenting adults the right to enter into this State-managed contract?

22 12 2008
Deep Thought

As I stated, my primary response was that all laws are legislating morality. The argument that I see here is more of a ‘to-may-toh/to-mah-toh’ effect. But, again – ok. I’ll take your definition and your handicap and try again.

Human rights, as defined by the US constitution, are negative rights, i.e., the state can’t *stop* you from doing some things. They can’t shut you up (unless x, y, and z), they can’t take your guns, they can’t make you house and feed soldiers, etc. The issuance of a marriage license is a positive act (the state must issue a license). Positive acts are, arguably, about the good of society as a whole, not the rights of the individual as an individual.

The majority of society, as we have clearly seen, don’t want this state-managed contract issued in certain cases. In this case, as in many others, the society has used the legislature or direct voting to control, limit, or prevent certain positive laws from coming into existence. In other cases the statement ‘the public doesn’t want it’ suffices.

Heck, let’s talk freakin’ zoning laws. I can’t have a vegetable garden in my front lawn (an obvious good for me and my family, as it will reduce costs, increase health, etc.) but local zoning laws prohibit that (not covenants, zoning). This is because the issuance of permits (a contract between the state and a home owner) is a positive act – I have no legal expectation of being able to do whatever I want with my own property. Hunting licenses and fishing licenses are the same. As are drivers’ licenses. All are contracts between individuals and the state, all are positive actions (meaning the state does something) and they all face restriction for the ‘good of society’ that are often hated by those restricted and open to being changed by legislation and referendums. Liquor licenses; legal drinking age; the right to vote. All of these things are positive state actions, all are restricted, sometimes in ways people don’t like and want to change. Heck, voting was limited to 21 and above not too long ago until the public’s dislike for that hit a level that prompted change.

So – while most gays and their supporters see marriage as a human right, almost everyone else sees it as a positive action. An action they don’t support and/or oppose.

[sorry for the delay. I was busy with work and re-building my own site]

23 12 2008

Deep Thought: Interesting argument. I don’t agree with it, but your argument is at least consistent with your earlier comments.

The majority of society, as we have clearly seen, don’t want this state-managed contract issued in certain cases. In this case, as in many others, the society has used the legislature or direct voting to control, limit, or prevent certain positive laws from coming into existence. In other cases the statement ‘the public doesn’t want it’ suffices.

I disagree strongly with this argument. Tyranny of the majority almost always ends badly. Our government was set up specifically to reduce the probability of the majority dispossessing or oppressing the minority. Saying “the public wants it” has been used to justify epic-scale horrors in our past. The majority of American society once felt that dispossessing the Indians from their lands was the best course of action. It was the best course of action … for the descendants of European settlers. The fact that people are willing- even eager- to consider their fellow citizens as being outside American society to the extent that the laws don’t apply to them (because they’re different) is both shameful and stupid.

By your logic, it would acceptable to deny homosexuals the right to drive cars, vote, and sell or consume alcohol if the majority of the American people were all for it (using your examples of so-called “positive acts”). This argument leads to pogroms. Different is not synonymous with evil.

I disagree with your positive vs negative acts argument as well. All of those things you listed as “positive acts” were gradual impositions on the rights of the citizenry, voted for by the citizens themselves, intended to act as a check upon their own behavior for their mutual betterment. This is far different from the citizens voting to disenfranchise left-handed people because of their difference (for example). I am still waiting to hear a valid reason why any minority group of American citizens should be specifically denied the right to enter into a legal contract with the Government. Before providing such an answer, you may wish to play a simple transposition game and use some other minority group in lieu of “homosexual” in your reply. If the answer is stupid or meaningless with any other group, it is most likely equally stupid or meaningless when applied to homosexuals.

The People have all rights except when they (or their elected representatives in their behalf) impose restraints upon those rights. This principle is embodied in the IXth and Xth Amendments to the US Constitution. The last time I looked, any American citizen qualifies as “the People”. If you have some other definition of “the People”, please provide it.

Your original argument was that all laws exist to legislate morality. Please describe how it is moral to penalize someone because you do not approve of them. Would it be moral to penalize people for biting their nails? Would it be moral to prevent left-handed people from becoming citizens? Would it be moral to deny a liquor license to people of Nipponese ancestry? All of these groups exhibit differences from their fellow citizens which some find objectionable. How does legislating on that basis meet the definition of moral?

13 01 2009
Deep Thought

Back again! Holidays, wrok-related travel, etc.

I love the idea of swapping out ‘homosexual’ with other groups! Let’s try, say… ‘first cousins’. ‘The people oppose issuing marriage licenses to first cousins’…. Does that sound unreasonable? I haven’t seen any marches demanding that Kentucky allow first cousins to marry.
[Trivia question. What is one of the difference between these states

Group One
West Virginia

And these states?

Group Two
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island

Answer: In group one first cousins may not marry, in group two they may]
Nor am I aware of a hue and cry that polygamists be allowed to take multiple wives. Ditto for underage kids (indeed, the minimum age to marry has been consistently going UP for decades!).

Face it, marriage is already pretty tightly restricted and narrowly defined. as i have stated repeatedly on my own blog for over 2 years this massive, unpopular push is a fool’s venture.

Also, there is NO ‘disenfranchisement’ going on! This is not an attempt to reduce or limit a previously-existing law, but an attempt to expand a law. No one has a ‘right’ to get married any more than anyone has a ‘right’ to a car loan or, more closely, no one has a ‘right’ to a license to practice law.

If you want to take the ‘governs least’ argument, then the government should never have been involved in the marriage business to begin with. It is a holdover from matters of European Protestant aristocracy to control inheritance of large estates. Up until relatively recently marriage was the purview of religion.

“Marriage is a contract between the State and two individuals who wish to combine their resources and ensure continuity of assets. The contract provides measurable legal benefits to the individuals involved. A license is required, which is issued by the State. If a couple wants to have a religious ritual to formalize the contract, the State has authorized certain religious persons to legally perform this function, but no religious rituals are required.”

This is a very, very recent idea. Originally marriage was a contract between two people (or families) within a religious context for the creation of children. Until the last 150 or so years the idea of ‘continuity of assets’ was meaningless to the vast majority of humanity. The legal advantages to marriage were to encourage not marriage, but procreation and stable families. To try to gain these advantages because you want them is to dodge why they were put in place!

Here is a direct analogy. The government contracts out a number of services to non-civil servants each year. If a bidder for one of these contracts is a veteran-owned firm, they get a slight preference. If they also are staffed by majority veterans, they get more preference in contracting. This preference exists to encourage and reward service to the nation as a soldier. If a group of people started saying ‘hey! that’s unfair! *WE* want those same benefits! This is discrimination!’ they would be laughed at. OF COURSE it is discrimination – it is an attempt to discriminate in favor of actions beneficial to society as a whole. It becomes especially since there are other ways to get preference for contracts!

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