Monday, November 17, 2008

Family Values = Hate

I am extremely depressed. Watching the news, I find myself inundated with angry looking people waving signs trying to equate the defense of traditional family values with hatred.

Websites I visited today were selling stickers trying to equate family values with hatred as well. I've read several self-righteous blog posts claiming that the people voting against proposition 8 in California are open minded, while the people who voted for it are motivated by hate, and are using their hatred to divide the country.


It seems to me that the act of accusing one's opponents of hatred for simply holding different views is itself an act of hatred. Of course, I can't see into the minds of the angry people waving protest signs and tell if they are motivated by hate or if there is a more solid foundation of reason behind their political tactics.

I watched images of Drew Barrymore and other starlets say passionate things in favor of declaring same sex marriage to be the logical and moral equivalent of heterosexual marriage. If a man and women are allowed to form a union, have children and raise family; then a man and a man or a woman and a woman should be able to couple together, produce children and, um, raise a family.

It is only fair.

Drew Barrymore is clearly one of the prime intellectual forces of the left, and I am inches away from accepting the righteousness of the cause.

Unfortunately, having had too many bad experiences with progressive thought, I've developed a nagging sympathy for the rightwing reactionary side of things.

A central argument of progressives is that the people against their cause are motivated by hate. I don't have the magical ability to see other people's motivations. It seems more likely to me that the people wishing to retain the traditional definition of marriage are not motivated by hate, but simply have an authentic desire to defend a long rational tradition that stretches through antiquity.

One might even say that the tradition reaches through the fossil record to the dawn of cellular life when strands of DNA gained an evolutionary edge over other strands of DNA through the process of sexual reproduction.

My observation is that humans, like most other plants and animals on this planet perpetuate through sexual reproduction. This form of reproduction involves a male and female. We aren't just talking about the nature of man, we are talking about the nature of terrestrial life!

Different species have different takes on reproduction. In many cases the offspring are dependent on their instincts and are left to fend for themselves from the moment of birth. Others care for their child. A paradox is that predators often care for their offspring longer than herbivores.

Humans have a relatively long time to maturation and require a great deal of care and nurturing. As with other species, the two humans best positioned to this nurturing are the parents of the children.

The institution of marriage is not about the happiness of the couple being wed. The institution of marriage evolved around the benefits that ensue when couples are deliberative in the reproductive process and make a commitment to raising their offspring.

Marriage isn't about the happiness of the married couple. Marriage involves moral issues such as abstinence until a couple is in a financial position to raise children. The institution of marriage is not about the couple but about the family.

Just like the harvest festivals around the world celebrate the natural process of bringing in the harvest, marriage celebrates the natural process of a man and woman forming a bond to raise the child that they produce.

Equating family values to hate makes as much sense as saying that the harvest festival is about hating Spring. My eating turkey on Thanksgiving says nothing about my feelings toward Spring.

The institution of marriage is based on a long rational tradition grounded in solid reasoning based on the nature of man.

The position for proposition 8 makes more sense to me than the one against it. While trying to understand the opposition, I realized something about the poor state of rationality in our society.

Imaging v Reasoning

Apparently, the vast majority of the Hollywood celebrities are fore treating same sex marriage the logical and moral equivalent of heterosexual marriage. The Hollywood group seems to be the origin of the belief that anyone who opposes the dictates of the left is motivated by hate. Actors, after all, spend their day contemplating the motives of their characters.

The vote shows that Hollywood stands in opposition to the majority of Californians who voted against the proposition 8. Even Republican celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger support declaring same sex marriage the logical and moral equivalent to heterosexual marriage.

The striking gap between celebrity point of view and the point of view of the people made me stop and take notice.

Celebrities live in a world where image is king.

As such, celebrities reflect a new think which is driven entirely by manufactured images, metaphors and movie themes. In such a world one's reasoning is a matter of placing images through popular themes.

A common storybook theme is that people find happiness in marriage. Hence, this rational tradition of marriage as a foundation for raising kids gets processed into an image of people being denied happiness.

One of the most prominent movie themes involves a hero standing up for the disenfranchised. Being the hero who stands up for the disenfranchised people denied happy is the greatest role to which an actor can aspire.

Standing up for declaring gay marriage the logical and moral equivalent to heterosexual marriage is a dream role. Conversely, taking the other side is a career killer.

Perhaps the anger over proposition 8 is really not about the issue itself but about a clash between rationality and new think.

It has been almost three generations since the John Dewey and cohorts ripped logic from the curriculum. The appreciation of rationality is now a minority position.

People weaned on new think of images and themes appear to be unable to see the wonderful western rational tradition and recognize the solid rational foundation of institutions such as marriage, the free enterprise system and (dare I say) even the value of the scientific method.

Unable to see the rational tradition, the protestors simply seem to be projecting divisiveness and hatred onto their opponents.

Reactionary Thinking

Unfortunately, I can't really say the right is doing well in their argument for the defense of marriage. I fear that many of the people on the right are driven by the same visual mentality.

I have not seen conservatives presenting arguments the rational foundations of marriage. Instead they seem to wanting to play the role of O'Reilly style culture warrior.

The LDS Church in particular seems to have a problem. The Christian tradition had marriage ending in death. (The end of marriage is one of the big advantages of death). Joseph Smith created an image of a Celestial Kingdom where one's terrestrial family is not only preserved, but is key to one's position in the afterlife.

If you aren't married; you aren't making it into heaven.

Some polygamist sects seem to be holding to the image that having multiple wives is the key to entrance into heaven.

The Best Way to Defend Marriage

I prefer coming up with answers to complaining about problems; So, I thought that I would type out what I consider key to defending marriage.

The first step is to emphasize the rational foundations of marriage. The institution of marriage is a demand that couples put off having children until they have the resources to care for the children. It is hard life that demands sacrifice such as abstinence before marriage and a very strong commitment. Marriage is about a commitment to raise children.

The second key to defending marriage is to accept that marriage is not for everyone, and that there should be a place in society for people who've chosen not to get married.

We live in an overpopulated world. The rapid rate of reproduction is to our detriment.

The unmarried are often the most productive in society.

Traditional Christian society made these people priests, nuns and often soldiers. Essentially, the system made the unmarried the leaders of the culture as the priests and nuns were the scholars and educators.

People don't like the image of these roles. Churches and social institutions wishing to defend marriage would actually do well to create a place for the unmarried in their fold.

In my opinion the worst example of religious thinking comes from the polygamist sects in Southern Utah that simply tosses out a large number of its young men as old men compete for young wives.

A rational religious tradition needs to find ways to assure that it nurtures its youth while assigning a valuable role for all of the members of the society. This is both the right thing to do. The way things are rigged, if religious groups fail to find positive roles for singles, it is a crucial matter for the preservation of the rational tradition of marriage.


Jason The said...

I think the reason your posts are so devoid of insight is that you can't seem to express yourself without lumping things into all too convenient packages like "the left" and "family values" and "the right." See these are campaign talking points that at some point you internalized, applying to them a meaning that they don't really have, and condemning yourself to a forced black and white view of the world which bars you from truly understanding what you are attempting to talk about.

Case in point: Drew Barrymore is hardly the face of "the left." In fact, until you mentioned her, I hadn't thought of her since the last Charlie's Angels. To say so implies you have no idea what you are talking about, and are out of touch in a world more complex than labels and convenient oversimplifications.

y-intercept said...

I am glad you noticed the transition in the excessively long post.

The post was in direct response to someone who was moved by Drew Barrymore's passionate plea for widespread protests in response to the passing of proposition 8. The person made a little sticker that equated family values to hate.

I commented on the post. It vanished.

BTW, The fact that you hadn't thought of Drew since Charlie's Angels does not mean that other's aren't moved by well publicized appearances in favor of gay marriage.

The post was a demonstration of the inane nature of this non debate. Your comment shows that you figured that part out.

I actually wrote the short recapping of some of the traditional thoughts around marriage after the demonstration of the inanity of the current protests. It was originally at the bottom. I decided to put it at the top because the post was too long.

BTW, I am quite certain that the people protesting _after_ passage of proposition 8 were doing so specificially to widen the division between left and right.

Back when I was wanting to be a San Francisco style progressive I went to meetings people sat in little progressive circles and plotted out ways to frame the debate specifically to make gay marriage a divisive issue. The key of course is to project divisiveness and hate on one's opponents.

Having been in a crowd of avant garde intellectuals that specifically wanted to develop gay marriage and illegal immigration as wedge issues makes me think that they are wedge issues designed specifically to widen left right style gaps in our society.

Michael said...

"end of marriage is one of the big advantages of death" . . .

that line alone is worth all the prose. Well-thought, my friend.