Sunday, December 7, 2008

Arguing On The Internet: One More Entry Involving The LDS Church and Proposition 8

I came across this article in a Mormon person's blog - I was reading someone else's blog and this blog was linked to their blog. I think arguing on the internet is silly, which is why I did not leave a comment on the blog, but I do believe that ignorance is a terrible, terrible thing, which is why I chose to include it in my blog, with my own comments. The author, appears to have thought about the issue a great deal and I commend him for that. He also appears to have completely misunderstood what the issue was.

A crisp, cold vitriol is in the airwaves; must be an election year---and with it the caustic smell of heated brain cells. Good arguments have shaped this great Country; ideas that oppose in the extreme move actions that benefit the majority to somewhere in the middle.

[The word "country" is capitalised in every instance in this article. At first I thought it must be poor use of grammar, but on second thought, I realise that it must be some strange way of expressing beliefs, rather like when feminists use the word "womyn".]

And right now, we are in the extreme season waiting for more common sense on Prop 8 to blossom so we can all be friends again. The problem is not so much with media, but with the way we read media (or don’t). We tend to react to sound bites with fear, disgust, or self-righteous cheers (and jeers). It’s difficult not to react and vote emotionally. Scientists tell us that the Hypothalamus
[more poor grammar], the part of the brain that controls emotions has much more influence than the part of the brain responsible for logic and reason. That’s why men buy SUVs and women fall in love with men who do---logic might dictate that an SUV in Southern California is a waste of money, fuel, and environmentally stupid; and marrying a man that insecure and self-absorbed might leave the spouse of such longing to be cuddled.

[Actually, not quite. I'm not even going to bring up the argument that a lot of women buy SUVs, because while the author is oversimplyfying, I take his meaning to be "expensive, flashy cars". The reason why women are attracted to men with expensive, flashy cars is because they display perceived resources, the idea that he will be able to provide for offspring, much in the same way a peacock has a big flashy tail: a liability and waste of resources, but because of this, proof of the peacock's supposed infallibility. Things like being environmentally conscious don't really enter to the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness, so therefore can't really be counted as a reason why women should have better sense - they have perfectly good sense, evolutionarily speaking, as they are reading the cues provided to them with the tools that they have]

And yet those emotional decisions are made every day. Campaign managers know basic psychology-- a mediocre, emotionally charged campaign, beats a well-thought out, logical and reasonable campaign.

[Several months ago, I would have agreed. And then Senator McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate and Senator Obama won the election.]

Witness the Prop 8 campaign asking voters to say yes to legally defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Seems simple and logical enough: Men and women are biologically created to fit anatomically together to become “joined” as marriage defines. Now, that’s not to suggest that any other two or three or five people of any gender combination could never live happily and emotionally fulfilled together. It also doesn’t mean that a biological match makes an emotional one---that’s the mystery of love, and love and marriage do not always go together. But that’s not the point. We are talking about the meaning of words, and therein lies the bigger problem. The meaning of a word, one word can stall an entire judiciary system for years. A word can have so many meanings that it no longer means anything and needs an attorney to decide based on a client’s emotions.

Unfortunately, emotion leads many people away from civilities and mutual respect into using their personal beliefs to change laws that would better accommodate them whenever they feel threatened.

[I agree with his idea that "...emotion leads people away from civilities and mutual respect into using their personal belief to change laws..." but if the author truly understood the issue at hand, he might change his mind. Proposition 8 is exactly this, an emotional outcry that lead people away from civilities and mutual respect towards a change in California's constitution.]

At a little-league game we define those people as sore losers who “let their emotions get away from them.” Seems to be a lot of soccer-parents on both sides of the Prop 8 issue. And both are wielding the “Right to believe” stick; or “make it-fair-for-everybody” rule. Some are even absurdly comparing the issue to Women’s Suffrage and Equal Rights; an emotional sucker-punch if you ask me. Homosexuals may be discriminated against by individuals, maybe even communities (and for a time, the military
[I would argue are still discriminated in the military - how many straight members of the military are forced to live double lives?]), but there has never been a law on the books that prevented them from voting or sitting where they like on a city bus. No extermination order was ever issued against them [except Hitler's and Stalin's], as it was the Mormons.

[The addition of this last sentence seemed more self-serving than anything else - what have the Mormons, specifically, got to do with this?]

Hate crimes now merit a more egregious sentence and justice to all minorities is more attainable than ever before in America.

[So why stop now?]

Homosexuality even enjoys chic status among Hollywoodites, intellectuals

[What does he mean by intellectuals? People who read books? Is he referring to the words of Boyd K. Packer?]


[Well, they're just so emotional]

and on college campuses

[Seriously? Is he referring to LUGs?]

It’s hard to argue homosexuals being treated as second-class citizens when being out of the closet is so in. That gives the emotional victimization campaign about as much credence as “God will kill us all if we let gays marry” argument.

[This implies that homosexuals are homosexual because it's a fun fashion accessory. And while to Hollywoodites, intellectuals , artists and on college campuses , homosexuality might be accepted as just part of who someone is, that does not mean that the people in say, Provo, Utah, will do the same thing. The reason why one might think it's "in" to be gay, is because we live in a world where it is becoming increasingly more accepted and less of a big deal. So more people are coming out - people who would, in earlier times, have been forced to live double lives.]

A little common sense: Let’s have a look at the bigger and better things to worry about: Government. I know, it’s a nasty word right now given the missteps of our elected officials this past decade and again, that’s the point: They sent us to war, they failed to fight the war with enough resources, they failed to react to the worst natural disaster in our history; policies and pressure from both sides of the aisle plunged us into the worst economic depression since the great depression (few remember it, but many remember the scenes from Cinderella Man and don’t want to go there). It’s been a tough decade. Our government has failed us in many ways. And now we entrust them with a new definition and all the legal entanglements that will come with it?

[Once again, Steve, you've missed the point entirely. You complain about big government here and further on in your article, but what you don't understand is that Proposition 8 was about adding legislation. A vote against it is a vote against changing the California constitution. I can't understand how any self respecting republican couldn't see that.]

William Borah said: “The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.” Well, I think we have been patient enough. Are we really prepared to propose a change in the definition of a word that will allow Judges and Legislators to parse meanings, create ever-burdening laws that clog our courtrooms and drain our tax dollars, our savings, our time---just to engage in the sophistry of “new definitions?” When will it stop? The slicing and dicing and diluting will only leave our passionate citizenry dispassionate, apathetic, cynical. When Bill Clinton was on trial for his moral misjudgments, he asked for a definition of “it”. What a bold obfuscation! Oliver North must’ve been his secret defense attorney---can’t you hear him: “No matter what, don’t make a point, or make one then retract it or retract a point of an unknown origin by definition of its locale in the present.” What a waste of tax dollars that trial was, what an exercise in obfuscation from everyone involved beginning with the crusade by Kenneth Star. Can you imagine the same type of trial being played out in courthouses all over the Country as they battle to apply a new definition of marriage to man and woman, but not with man and woman, and therefore what said parties of and/or are entitled to? What a calamity our judicial system will be if judges and lawyers and clerks are suddenly burdened with the task of redefining marriage, sexuality and all the implications foreseen, assumed, and perceived both publicly and privately.

[The only reason this would happen is because of the people who argue that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry. But I don't see how this is a reasonable argument for Proposition 8 - you don't want to vote against it because if it doesn't pass, other people will complain about it? I'm also confused as to how you equate grassroots movements to change a philosophy long held by this and many other governments to Bill Clinton sticking his cigar where he shouldn't have.]

John Adams wrote: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” The same can be said of government.

[As it was, by John Adams when he said: "“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”]

Our system is already a Jabba The Hutt government---bloated, immovable, on the verge of cardiac arrest. Why feed it? Better to trim it down so it can get back to work for us.

[YES. So don't change the constitution. Exactly.]

Personally, and emotionally, I have enough faith in the American people that they will come to treat homosexuals as they deserve to be treated: with love, respect, dignity---much sooner without involving government intervention.

[By virtue of the fact that you belong to a church that breeds misogyny, misinformation and prejudice, I find it hard to believe that you are not, at least, naive, if not hypocritical.]

Now is the time to accept all human beings as human, to grant them the rights of legal companionship without imposing another redefinition into a governmental and judicial system already long-listed with frivolous lawsuits, absurd constitutional challenges and the clamor of self-interest groups. Now is the time for all of us, gay, straight, Christian, Jew, celibate, Atheist
and undecided [What an odd combination of categories!] to stand up for the bigger issue: we don’t want more laws, more interpretations, more filibusters, more sophistries. Now is the time to remember the words of Bob Wells: “For every action there is an equal and opposite government program.” The future of our democracy depends not on an appointed government, but on self-government. We can throw off the weight of an increasingly Orwellian system of laws and demonstrate our respect for each other without being ordered to. It’s time for homosexuals to stop acting like religious zealots,

[I think that it's time for religious zealots to stop acting like religious zealots. Also, I'm not really sure how homosexuals have been acting like religious zealots, any more than any person who feels that they have been wronged and then uses the democratic system of government to make a change such that the wrong will be fixed, is a religious zealot]

and religious leaders to go back to their core beliefs of love and charity toward others---more important than living and preaching a sinless life is loving all, even the sinner. It’s also time for all of us to be honest, to stop living the selfish lie… “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” (Oscar Wilde).

[Yes. So how is disallowing homosexuals to marry not imposing your way of living on others?]

The government is already in our pocketbooks and our facebooks. Do we really want them in our bedrooms? I’m certain we can come up with a solution that treats homosexuals fairly without spawning a Pandora department in the justice system and setting Gay rights back fifty years because of the resentment and reverberations this redefinition will cost. We talk about tolerance, but there are some things we should never tolerate: a compromise in our integrity, the abuse of power. Let’s also have little tolerance for the tyranny of stifling confrontations that would redirect our energies and our money into the bottomless sea of judiciary pontifications.

Emotionally, I wish prop 8 were only about being with the one you love---I’m all for that. But logically, I can’t see an already overloaded Justice [Again with the odd capitalisation!] system weighed down with the obligation of seeing to every lawsuit and counter lawsuit doing any community or individual any good at all---homosexual, heterosexual or otherwise. Common sense would dictate that before we take down any fences, let us be sure of what’s on the other side of the fence.

As obfuscation would have it, voting yes on prop 8 is a vote against a judicial Sisyphusean circus.

[Again, NO, it's a vote for it. It's a vote to change the constitution. That is more legislation, not less.]

So yes, let’s leave the definition of marriage the way it has always been, the way it is generally accepted in our society today so our judicial system and our public servants can devote their time to issues like Education, Poverty, Environment, and Taxes before there is a movement to redefine those words as well.

[Sure. Let's leave things exactly how they've always been and totally avoid progress in any way, because you don't want to deal with the paperwork. Redefining values, words, beliefs etc. is how people and countries grow move towards the greater good. Change isn't bad!]

--Steve Wunderli

Addendum, January 2009. The offending blog entry has been removed from the blog I found it on, instead replaced with a number of wedding photos. Did you know that Utah is ranked first in the nation for googling such terms as : "pornography," "naked girls," "striptease," "topless," "nude," "strip poker," "lingerie," "blonde" and "brunette"?

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