Friday, April 5, 2013

Let the adults do the blogging

I have never seen a good argument against gay marriage. This is my word of caution to you: if you ever see an argument against gay marriage, be very skeptical.

Here's an illustration: Erick Erickson's recent post "Why Not Incest?" defending Jeremy Irons' recent comments on gay marriage. The argument is that if gay marriage is acceptable, then so must be homosexual incest:
If life comes down to who you love and who loves you back, if a father and son love each other so much they want to get married, there is little moral difference between two people of the same sex getting married who are not related and want to be and two people of the same sex who already are related becoming closer.
Notice that Erickson is attributing to those of us who support gay marriage something like the following argument:
  1. If two people love each other, then they should be allowed to marry. 
  2. Many persons in homosexual relationships love their partners. 
  3. Therefore, homosexuals should be allowed to marry. 
The problem is that supporters of gay marriage do not endorse this argument. To deny the right to marry to persons who love each other is wrong, but certain other conditions must obviously be met if they are to be allowed to marry, and those conditions are met by many homosexuals in committed relationships. One condition is that both partners freely consent to the marriage. So gay marriage supporters would reject (1).

Erickson is doing what many who oppose gay marriage have done for years: attribute straw men to the opposition. Either Erickson knows that his argument is fallacious, or he lacks to intelligence to see that it is fallacious. So, for his edification, and the edification of all those who are manipulated by Erickson's argument, allow William Saletan to explain how someone could support gay marriage but oppose same-sex incestuous marriage.

According to Saletan, "[Six] years ago, Ohio's Supreme Court upheld the incest conviction of Paul Lowe, a former sheriff's deputy, for what the court called 'consensual sex with his 22-year-old stepdaughter.'" The conviction was upheld because "'a sexual relationship between a parent and child or a stepparent and stepchild is especially destructive to the family unit.' This destructive effect, the court reasoned, occurs even if the sex is adult and consensual, since 'parents do not cease being parents … when their minor child reaches the age of majority.'" This puts same-sex incest and gay marriage on a different moral plane. As Saletan explains:
Morally, the family-structure argument captures our central intuition about incest: It confuses relationships. Constitutionally, this argument provides a rational basis for laws against incest. But it doesn't provide a rational basis for laws against homosexuality. In fact, it supports the case for same-sex marriage. 
When a young man falls in love with another man, no family is destroyed. Homosexuality is largely immutable, as the chronic failure of "ex-gay" ministries attests. So if you forbid sex between these two men, neither of them is likely to form a happy, faithful heterosexual family. The best way to help them form a stable family is to encourage them to marry each other. 
Incest spectacularly flunks this test. By definition, it occurs within an already existing family. So it offers no benefit in terms of family formation. On the contrary, it injects a notoriously incendiary dynamic—sexual tension—into the mix. Think of all the opposite-sex friendships you and your friends have cumulatively destroyed by "crossing the line." Now imagine doing that to your family. That's what incest does. 
So how can the supporter of gay marriage oppose same-sex incest? By appealing to this or that utilitarian moral principle. Gay marriage maximizes happiness, and same-sex incestuous unions do not. Gay marriage is therefore permissible, and same-sex incestuous unions are not.

Let's suppose that Erickson, for some reason, does not understand this important difference between gay marriage and same-sex incest. Perhaps he simply lacks the intelligence to grasp it. Or perhaps, due to the influence of religious indoctrination, he refuses to attempt to grasp it. Or maybe he's simply phoning it in. In any event, he should consider a career change. And let's suppose that Erickson does understand this difference but writes posts like "Why Not Incest?" anyway. Again, I say, he should consider a career change, because he is manipulating his readers with bullshit. He's clearly not someone to be trusted.

Erickson closes by saying, "The truth is, many, many, many of the same people who are now in support of gay marriage, but would oppose this or polygamy will, once the next step is advanced, support these things too." No, they won't, asshole, as I have just explained.

Erick, why don't you go away and let the adults do the blogging, all right?

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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson