One quick thought on gay marriage

I really, really shouldn’t be blogging now. But I want to grab everyone I see by the shoulders and shout this in their faces (and isn’t that what blogging’s all about?) so here goes. Real quick.

It doesn’t matter whether your religion says that being gay is wrong. It doesn’t matter whether your religion has a particular prohibition against same-sex marriage. It doesn’t even matter if your ancient scriptures specifically say verbatim that the United States, in the 21st century C.E., should pass state constitutional amendments to cement their existing bans on same-sex marriage.

Because guess what? Your religion probably says it’s wrong for women to speak their mind, for men to shave their beards, or for anyone to wear poly-cotton blends. It’s plain to see, we don’t base our nation’s laws on your religious beliefs. And you know what makes this point particularly vivid? Your religion also says it’s wrong to be a different religion. That’s like, the most wrong thing you can do, in the eyes of basically every religion ever to exist. Unless you actually want to advocate repealing the First Amendment, making the US a theocracy and legally forcing everyone to believe your religion, please shut up about what your religion happens to say against civil rights and equality. Because it doesn’t actually matter here in the United States that actually exists.

The US is a plural society that tolerates — no, accepts — no, welcomes a variety of viewpoints. That means not everyone is going to share all your opinions and assumptions, and you don’t just get to pretend that they’re universal. So, if you can’t make a decent secular argument (not an atheist argument, a secular one) for why your policy position is good, please get out of the political discourse. You don’t belong in it.

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11 Comments

  1. Also, even that not being the case, if your religion condones actions that harm other people, and you think that because of that, you’re obligated do perform those harmful actions, then your religion serves as the ultimate Nuremberg defense.

  2. Well said and still not worth anything. The brain eaten g0d zombies will still think their position -whatever it is at the moment- is g0d inspired and they only way. And as long as the are the voting majority and the elected officials COMPLETELY IGNORE the constitution they will have their way. I am residing in NC (not living here) and the bigots have passed their bigotry into law.

  3. Wait, I don’t want them “out of the political discourse” – that is against the whole plurality thing you spoke for. But I want our laws and government to continue to protect individual rights and block majority opinions when they want to stop plurality. Kind of ironic.

    I know this was a post you barely had time for, but:

    This post would have been perfect material for my Poll Challenge! Poll your readers to see what they feel.

  4. Jojo the hun

     /  May 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Grabbing people and shouting at them is not civil discourse.

    You don’t like the way that large numbers of people think, so you tell them to shut up. You give lip service to pluralism, but advocate the exclusion from public discussion of people who think differently than you do.

    This is unenlightened, and displays a childish arrogance.

  5. Oh, good grief. This is what I get for banging out a blog post in a short break from working on slides for a research talk. Let me address this “you’re being intolerant of intolerance” style argument that seems to be cropping up…

    If you come to a basketball game and start swinging a tennis racket around, the basketball players are going to ask you to get off the court. It’s not that they have something against people playing tennis per se, it’s just that they’re there to play basketball and you’re getting in the way of that. Similarly, if you show up for a serious policy debate and start waving around your favorite book and insisting that everyone do whatever that book happens to command, you’re just getting in the way. You can go do that on your own time. But don’t stop all of us from attempting some real intellectual discourse.

    I don’t have a problem with people coming to a policy debate and advocating policies I disagree with. I would in fact be curious to understand why they are arguing the way they are, and I would (I know from much experience) change my mind if their arguments were compelling. This is why I can confidently say that I am in favor of pluralism. Through dialog, we can reach the correct outcome together. The fact that I am annoyed by totally unproductive word-saying masquerading as intelligent debate does not make me a hypocrite in this regard.

    And Jojo. Seriously? I feel like grabbing people and shouting at them because they are being so breathtakingly stupid. I am not actually doing that. Instead, I chose to write an essay and post it on the internet where only the people who want to will read it.

  6. Jojo the hun

     /  May 13, 2012 at 1:24 am

    Oh poor me, someone took what I wrote seriously.

    I notice a lot more open talk of silencing others’ voices over the past few years. It is unenlightened, and short-sighted, to join in on that meme.

    How you express things makes a difference. Being annoyed, and saying so, is your right. Demanding people shut up and remove themselves from public discourse because of their views is not your right, and of course it is hypocritical to do so as you simultaneously claim to be for pluralism.

  7. More like, someone took what I wrote and twisted it into something I obviously didn’t mean, because I didn’t take an hour to write several paragraphs preempting this misunderstanding.

    You know what happens in dialog, Jojo? If the idea is for many ideas to get aired and then the group to come to the best conclusion, at some point people are going to have to say, “You’re wrong, for such-and-such reasons.” That’s not “silencing.” That’s just dialog. I’m saying, “‘My favorite book said so’ is a hopelessly bad argument, and if that’s the best you can do you’re not making any contributions here.” That’s part of the public discourse.

    I’m not for pluralism for its own sake. I recognize that the US government is for pluralism because no one’s in a position to decree which opinions are right or wrong. We don’t want to live in a society in which some people are imprisoned for having the wrong political opinions. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be any wrong opinions. And it doesn’t mean that people ought to have wrong opinions, just for the sake of diversity. I believe the best way to get rid of wrong opinions isn’t force, or prison … it’s telling people that they’re wrong and why. That’s what I’m doing here.

  8. @NFQ:
    I get what you are saying, of course. When people use governments as tools to universalize their preferences, bad things can happen. Secular and Religious folks do this. This strategy is a big part of the human mind of all of us.

    Fortunately, the US constitution guards from this — but only weakly.

  9. Jojo the hun

     /  May 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Nice to see you move back to something reasonable, NFQ. I don’t think what you’re defending now is what you originally said. I’ve already made my points about that, and I don’t think I twisted anything. You might consider, when stressed, waiting until you have time to more carefully compose your thoughts. While I disagree with much of what you say in other posts, it is usually still worth reading.

  10. Carl de Malmanche

     /  May 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    My religion says it’s ok to be gay and to marry any other human (or alien of similar intellectual and psychic (ie emotion/needs, not “woofu” psychic) make up)

    It also says that that’s totally irrelevant because the United States is a Constitutional *Secular* body, and my religion says it’s inappropriate to expect secular organisations to follow religious principles.

    disestablishmentarialanism. Is a key component as it says the base law of an area should relate to the most bare-essential base needs of those inhabiting it. Without which the inhabitants will be condemned to constant fighting and stress with their neighbours

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