April 10, 2013

Don't Ask

Hatched by Korso

If you've ever wondered why it's so difficult to actually engage a liberal in a conversation about the issues, the answer is really quite simple. Most leftists don't actually want to engage in a conversation on the issues. Oh, they'll passionately advocate their positions to be sure -- but when it comes to defending those positions against hard-line questions, well things tend to get a little dicey.

Part of that is because of the cultural bubble in which liberals are ensconced. Surrounded as they are by an entertainment and news media that are in near lockstep with their own views, leftists simply aren't accustomed to being presented with different points of view. Specifically, when confronted with the potential downside of their progressive agenda, they tend to get that deer-in-the-headlights look as their minds scramble to come up with a rebuttal. A perfect illustration of this happened last week when Jeremy Irons, the guy who won an Oscar for playing Claus von Bulow in the film Reversal of Fortune, made some rather salient points about the implications of same-sex marriage to the Huffington Post:

It’s a very interesting one, that, and I don’t really have a strong feeling, but what I see … what we had in England, which was not marriage, but it was a union you could make if you were gay and you wanted to make a civil partnership … same rights but not the name … it seems to me that now they’re fighting for the name, and I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that. I mean tax-wise it’s an interesting one, because you see, could a father not marry his son?

Horrified, the interviewer protested that there are laws against that sort of thing. Irons, however, had clearly thought the issue through and responded:

IRONS: It’s not incest between men. Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don't breed, so incest wouldn’t cover that. Now if that were so, and I wanted to pass on my estate without death duties, I could marry my son, and pass on my estate to him.

INTERVIEWER: That sounds like a total red herring. I’m sure that incest law would cover same sex marriages.

IRONS: Really? Why?

INTERVIEWER: 'cause I don’t think incest law is only justified on the basis of the consequences of procreation. I think there’s also a moral approbation associated with incest.

Ah, yes. Moral approbation. His argument seems to be that because he personally finds the idea of an incestuous marriage to be icky, then it shouldn't be allowed. It doesn't occur to him that a lot of people oppose same-sex marriage for exactly the same reason.

Of course, Irons was taken to task by the usual suspects for being anti-gay, against equal rights, blah blah blah -- but if you read any of the rejoinders, you'll notice that none of them has a satisfactory answer to Irons' questions. That's because there isn't one. Irons is indeed correct in observing that once you open the door to same-sex marriage, it will be difficult if not impossible to close it on others who would seek to redefine the limits of holy matrimony. After all, if gay couples can marry, what justification would the law have to deny that same right to anyone?

Polygamy? Hell, that's been around for thousands of years already. Polyamory? A little more on the exotic side, but not unprecedented. Then you have the possibility of couples marrying each other. Sure would make the day care easier. And think of the tax benefits you could get out of that kind of arrangement!

But no, we're not supposed to ask any questions before taking such a radical step. In that respect, at least, the left is treating SSM the same way they treated Obamacare: We have to pass it to find out what's in it.

No wonder they want Irons to shut up. As for me, it's enough to make me forgive him for doing In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Keep asking questions, Jeremy! Keep asking!

Hatched by Korso on this day, April 10, 2013, at the time of 11:43 AM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: Beldar

If one reasons deductively -- looking at many, many examples to try to discern common features -- one cannot help but note that throughout nature, through and including human nature, pairs who partner together are more common than any other size of group. Sometimes but not always this is for procreation; often it's for security, company, amusement, or satisfaction of other needs.

There is a rational basis for saying, then, that in making our policy judgments as a society, we may rationally wish to prefer and promote pair-sized partnerships — as, indeed, civil and religious law have done since long, long before recorded human history began.

So I reject the assertion that if I endorse a change in public policy to permit same-sex marriages, I'm irretrievably committed to stumbling blindly down a slippery slope that will inexorably lead to transvestite zebras marrying hermaphroditic triplet Ukrainians.

Put another way: I can recognize as unwise the public policy pronouncements that deny same-sex couples the same legal treatment that opposite-sex couples enjoy, without abandoning all other rationality.

The answer to Jeremy Irons' question is: If the British tax law is worded in a way that would permit a new, unintended loophole for fathers marrying their sons, then the British tax law should be amended to fix that. It would take one sentence, and that would thereby restore the public policy originally intended to be promoted by that tax law. It's an interesting word game he's playing, but it's rhetorical, not substantive.

The above hissed in response by: Beldar [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 11, 2013 12:43 PM

The following hissed in response by: Korso

You raise a good point, Beldar, but sadly it probably wouldn't stand up to a legal challenge. You're basically proposing that under the law, certain marriages would be treated differently than others for tax purposes. In the United States, at least, this would run afoul of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. And even though Great Britain has no such protections, I imagine that it wouldn't be long before people brought lawsuits against the government for assigning marriages between close relatives a second-class status.

I personally would like to believe that allowing SSM would not create an avalanche of crazy people wanting to redefine marriage in the kooky ways that I described above; but the point is simply that if we do allow SSM, there will be no practical way to deny anybody the right to marry anyone (and in any number) that they want.

And that's the problem with changing the fundamental purpose of marriage. Throughout history, marriage has been primarily about creating a stable environment in which to raise children. Nowadays, with the availability of cheap and reliable birth control, marriage is seen primarily as a vehicle for personal fulfillment -- so in a way, it's not surprising that there is a good deal of public support for extending marriage rights to same sex couples. However, I just don't think most people have thought the idea through to its logical conclusion. Like so many other elements of the progressive agenda, the downside is either de-emphasized or completely ignored. As Irons points out, we ignore those things at our own peril.

The above hissed in response by: Korso [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2013 7:12 AM

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