November 17, 2008

The State of Thought on the Left

Justin Katz

Reading Pat Crowley unpacking a three-sentence summary from my recent post on same-sex marriage is like watching a bad magician pull rags out of his sleeve and pretend that they came out of a nearby jewelry box:

I guess the whole idea about "equal protection", that silly little constitutional issue, isn't relevant on the question of sex. But that is not my point. As a big fan of sex, I am pretty confident that its only purpose isn't child birth. Now I could be wrong about that since I didn't realize that the only purpose of marriage is to legitimize the sexual act. Now of course, that begs the question: which sexual act? I know of at least a few then when executed are guaranteed not to produce a fertilized egg. So in the AR world, I guess the only legitimate sex is the sexual act the does produce a fertilized egg. So what about sex, even THE act, that doesn't produce that fertilized egg? Does that not count? Or does that de-legitimize the marriage? What about the childless marriage, is that no longer legitimate or is the sex involved in the childless marriage some how illegitimate? What about the person who had a first marriage with children and then gets married a second time and doesn't have children? Is the second marriage valid? Would it be advisable for a married couple to keep having sex as frequently as possible in order to procreate? If the answer is yes then obviously AR folks don't have a lot of experience with marriage...

I'm reminded of a scene in Kung Fu Panda in which the clumsy bear bungles his first attempt at a training exercise to hilarious degree, and the master tells him, when the oaf drags himself across the floor, beaten and burnt, "There is now a level zero."

It should go without saying that Crowley's entire exercise is a ploy to avoid addressing my argument providing the reason that maintaining the opposite-sex definition of marriage — that is to say the definition of marriage — is not contrary to equal protection. Unfortunately, the reader base at RI Future was unable to produce a single comment suggesting that Crowley might be indulging in some intellectual dishonesty. Such a crowd is not likely to allow itself even to comprehend a contrary argument, no matter how succinctly put and no matter how free of discriminatory motivation. In them, we see the real anti-intellectualism in modern America.

But to provide something of a remedy, I'll offer the protest that at no point did I make claims about the "only purpose" of marriage or sex. Neither did I offer a declaration of legitimization for various behaviors; that would be a separate discussion.

The point is how marriage functions in society — what it is about marriage that makes it a matter of public interest at all — and that is to maximize the number of children born into households founded on the stable relationships of their mothers and fathers. It's an imperfect world, of course, and exceptions must be made, without belittling others, but it is the key understanding that men and women, together, even quite carelessly, can produce new human life that gives marriage its cultural force.

If marriage is only about their love for each other and their commitment to care for each other, then why is sexual intimacy implied at all? Why not let any two people who wish to help each other through life — mother, daughter, brother, brother — access the rights and privileges thereof?

Sex is well and good, but the burden is on those proposing a radical redefinition of marriage to explain why the public ought to care about the private matters of consenting adults, and why it has any business whatsoever in judging matters of "love."

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I wonder how many people voted for Prop 8 less out of anger at same sex marriage than out of anger at legislation from the bench,which affects many important issues eclipsing the same sex marriage question.
The courts have replaced the legislatures in many instances.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 17, 2008 9:22 AM

Marriage is between a man and a woman.

Any attempt to define the parameters of marriage outside of that simple statement will always lead to a circular debate and discussion much like the symbolism of a wedding band.

I'm waiting for the so extreme left, the ones past Pluto and Voyager II, to start arguments of whether or not a transgender person is a man or a woman and does that person have the legal right to marry either opposite sex.

Why not use the Bill Clinton defense of what is "is" and apply it to ALL aspects of what defines marriage?

We've heard the recent story of the 'man' who is pregnant for the second time. Here's a hint: if it has a uterus and is pregnant, it's a woman.

Does the child call the parent mom, pop or mop?

Posted by: Roland at November 17, 2008 10:56 AM

Excellent post. Crowley and his crowd are making the assertion that the SSM debate is only about ‘equal protection’ and that you are making the argument that the only purpose of sex is procreation. The assertion is false and the procreation is a straw-man argument. The ‘equal protection’ argument used to assert that SSM should be allowed on the basis of constitutionality of equal-rights is weak although clearly some judges have found otherwise. But if they take that, then what does the Crowley crowd think about polygamy, or adult incestuous relationships? If the sex/procreation is not relevant at all, then what is their response to the legalization of those relationships?

What they will not admit is that issue is about drawing lines between what relationships the law should/should not acknowledge. They use the ‘equal-rights’ card when it suits them but won’t apply it universally.

This is a challenging issue for many and I think you have done an excellent job making your point in the face of the assertions of bigotry. The folks at RIF apparently don’t have the insight to come up with a coherent response to you other than assertions of bigotry or misrepresenting your words.

Posted by: msteven at November 17, 2008 12:27 PM

You're right; the whole question of whether sex is meant for procreation is thoroughly irrelevant. I agree completely that Crowley is needlessly complicating the matter.
The argument should be this simple: gay marriage does no harm to hetero marriage (it sure poses no threat to mine). 'Nuff said. Why drag sex into it at all?

Posted by: rhody at November 17, 2008 2:48 PM

Did you really talk about Drag sex here, Rhody?

Posted by: Pat Crowley at November 17, 2008 3:01 PM

as usual crowley needs to cloud the issue with his ultra left wing drama..

Posted by: Randy at November 17, 2008 3:59 PM

The drag thing doesn't quite float my boat, Pat. I have trouble getting past that image of Guiliani...

Posted by: rhody at November 17, 2008 4:13 PM

Rhody, And I thought it was all about the noun, the verb, and 9-11.....

Posted by: Pat Crowley at November 17, 2008 4:46 PM

Rhody, the debate is not that simple – at least for everyone. For me, if they allowed humans to marry insects, it would not affect nor pose a threat to my marriage. But I still don’t think that’s a good argument to legalize SSM.

How about if we’d apply the ‘no harm’ argument to other issues? Allowing some people to invest some of their social security in the market doesn’t affect ‘my’ money; does that mean you support that choice? How about school choice? Where someone else chooses to send their child for school doesn’t directly affect your choice of school? The ‘no harm’ is the libertarian argument – which doesn’t make it wrong. I have a lot of libertarian tendencies. My point is just that the decision whether to change the law is not always as simple as ‘if it does no direct harm’.

Pat C., thanks for the validation.

Posted by: msteven at November 17, 2008 5:05 PM

Wouldn't it have been nice if Pat's parents were only doing it for recreation and left the procreation part for another sperm?

Posted by: John at November 17, 2008 5:39 PM


Be wary of that attitude. There is nobody without whose presence the world would be better off, even if their value is not immediately clear.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 17, 2008 9:16 PM

Justin-you apparently never met the turd who was married to my sister in law for 26 years.The only possible use he could have in this world would be as an organ donor.We sometimes wondered if it was all a big scam like "The Truman Show".

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 17, 2008 11:01 PM
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