Monday, October 30, 2006
Occasionally, We're Ridiculous
Lileks has a hilarious, lighthearted column in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the first 100 days of the new Democratic congressional majority:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) gave an interview in which she set forth the broad new agenda, just in case martial law is not declared:This is Pelosi at her pure, muddle-headed best. I have no idea what that last highlighted line means. Also, I don't think children will do a better job of government, although Pelosi's remark must surely be an unintentional gift to the conservatives who have been arguing that our mush-headed liberals do, indeed, bear a strong resemblance to children who refuse to grow up. The column juist gets better as it goes on.
"The gavel of the speaker of the House is in the hands of special interests, and now it will be in the hands of America's children." (Make them wash off the jam first.) She went on: "I don't mean to imply my male colleagues will have any less integrity... . But I don't know that a man can say that as easily as a woman can."
Cathy Young, who I generally feel is a big cut above Pelosidom, writes approvingly about the NJ same-sex marriage court decision (the legislature must grant at least civil unions exactly equivalent to marriages within six months):
The decision of New Jersey's high court is a reminder that there are practical inequalities involved. While New Jersey recognizes domestic partnerships, marriage offers many additional privileges -- from survivor benefits for a deceased spouse to the presumption that a biological parent's spouse is the other legal parent of the child.Whoa!!! Whoa!!!! See, that last kind of points up one of the reasons why those who feel somewhat equivocal about court-opposed same-sex marriage are not just raving bigots. Granted, same-sex couples are probably boffing. However, one must stop and ponder the question of whether the law ought to presume that Mary fathered Margaret's child even if they are married, because scientifically speaking, we know that someone other than Mary had an, er, hand in it.
Historically speaking, this presumption exists in marital law because of the great possibility that the children of a male/female couple were their children, and the certainty that even if they aren't the father's, a pregnancy could have resulted from marital boffing, and thus the lucky father should be prepared to deal with such an eventuality. The advent of DNA testing is now causing some changes in various state laws with regard to this issue.
I am not sure this presumption should apply to same-sex couples. A bunch of special laws have been worked out for surrogacy arrangements and sperm bank inseminations, but the fact is that either Mary or Margaret might chose to go the old-fashioned route, which has the benefit of being much cheaper. And if so, there is surely someone else in the picture, who might or might not have consented to the whole deal. And what if Mary wasn't in on Margaret's decision to bear a child? Does Mary then have the parental responsibility for Margaret's individual decision? Morally speaking, ought Mary be liable for that child's upbringing? I'm just wondering. It seems to me that law should treat births to a Mary-Margaret married couple differently than to a John-Margaret married couple for very good reasons that have nothing to do with religion or bigotry.
Slice this and dice this as we may, the fact remains that there are important differences in same-sex vs opposite-sex couples, and one difference is that a married man and woman do tend to produce children as the natural result of sex. In our culture (and in most) marriage as an institution basically exists for the benefit of the children of marriages, rather than the benefit of the married couple. I doubt you can convince the unmarrieds that they should pay all this money to fund the marrieds otherwise.
Shrinkwrapped's post on the NJ ruling drew very interesting comments which run the gamut of the usual stances, including the "marriage is inappropriate":
I, too, feel that marriage should be a personal and not a legal matter, and any discrimination or benefit in the law respecting marriage, vis a vis single people, should be abolished. The fact is overwhelmingly documented, if not experienced by each of us, that humans are not a monogamous species. Polyamory does exist both overtly and covertly, both sequentially and concurrently, even monogamously. Marriage as we know it (deeply rooted in religious dogma and property law) still implies domination and ownership by one party or the other in one way or another (rights are given up no matter how you cut it). It's not at all clear that gay marriage will do anything to "fix" a flawed system (old myths die hard); but there's no reason to prevent them from making the same mistakes (nearly) everyone else has made. The legal imbalance between marrieds and singles is the real issue in the movement for gay marriage. Absent that, I doubt there would be the push for legalization. We straights should take a page from the gay and lesbian handbook and realize that WE are in the closet. Marriage as it currently stands (unenlightened and antiquated, is hardly a step toward liberation.To which one can only say, "No s--t, Sherlock!" Marriage is an institution for assigning responsibility, not an institution for liberating yourself. There is a reason why people talk about the "old ball and chain", ya know? I mean, if humans were a monogamous species, we'd never have had to work out an institution like marriage, would we? We'd just naturally all pair up like geese and there'd be no problem, if we were a monogamous species.
The other reason for marriage is the reality that we are a sexed-up species, prone to going forth and multiplying diseases as well as ourselves, and it turns out that all non-isolated promiscuous human societies are superb at generating sick children and sicker adults. This, as people have figured out, causes a lot of pain. Marriage is a risk-mitigation measure rather than a personal liberation measure. That much, darn it, is obvious.
If deciding these issues in the courts is going to lead to the sort of inconsequential analysis cited above, I think we'd better leave it to the legislatures, which are much better at working out this sort of thing.
As for Pelosi, she has a 'death wish' of a sort. Her record on integrity and ethics in the House is abysmal.
That truth won't stay buried forever.
I have heard people argue precisely that. Sorry, but you shrinks have more work to do.
By "America's Children (TM)", does she mean the ones we didn't abort?
Or does she mean herself and her cronies? (i.e. a Generation of Michael Jacksons, squealing in anticipation of the sleepover at Neverland...)
I've had to deal with arrested-development cases. It's not pretty.
The Headless Unicorn Guy
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