Knight: But What About the Children?

Robert Knight, one of the more important Christian right leaders you’ve probably never heard of, thinks that there is a real thing called “moral capital” that clings to straight marriages. And by pretending that gay couples are human beings and such, they’re “stealing” that “moral capital.”

Knight was particularly annoyed by Justice Kennedy’s comments about marriage conferring “dignity” and “ennoblement” to gay couples. “I was thinking about that,” he told Huntington-based talk radio host Tom Roten, “and I thought, the way you’re doing that is by stealing the moral capital of marriage and conveying it to other relationships that aren’t anything like it. That is not ennobling them, that is transferring moral capital.”

“It’s like taking a losing team, and they feel bad about their losing record,” he explained, “so they say, okay, now they’re going to have the same record as this winning team over here so everybody feels better.”

What a bizarre abstraction that is. In the real world, there are tangible and very important benefits that go along with getting married, like inheritance rights and the right to hospital visitation (and hundreds more). This isn’t about stealing “moral capital” (whatever the fuck that is), it’s about improving the lives of real people. But that’s exactly the problem: Knight simply cannot see gay people as real. Gay people are just abstractions to him, sinners that his god really dislikes.

Knight was also upset that the only children discussed during the Supreme Court arguments were children being raised by gay parents. “What about the vast impact on children across America if gay marriage is legalized?” he asked. “Think of the textbook changes. Think of what schools will be teaching directly against the beliefs of millions of American parents. I mean, we’re putting a counterfeit in the law, we’re going to use the law to impose it on the country.”

I know, right? Just like we teach about racial equality in schools, which is “teaching directly against the beliefs of millions of American parents.” And we teach that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, directly against the beliefs of tens of millions of American parents. The horror — the horror — that kids might learn that gay people are human beings with equal rights. But I’ve got news for you, Robert — the kids are way ahead of you already. They aren’t nearly as bigoted as you and your ilk, and society will be vastly better as a result.

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  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    I hate children. Fuck the children!!!

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Sorry; I just had to channel George Carlin for a second.

  • scienceavenger

    What a bizarre abstraction that is.

    Bizarre, yes, but it really gets at the heart of the matter. They see marriage as an exalted social status and blessing from Gawd, to be proud of obtaining and displaying. Letting those nasty gays obtain it tarnishes the honor. Imagine the Nobel Peace prize going to Bashar Al-Assad. That’s how they feel about calling a gay relationship “marriage”.

    Every other argument they make is just a rationalization of this one, which is why they are all so awful.

  • eric

    the way you’re doing that is by stealing the moral capital of marriage and conveying it to other relationships that aren’t anything like it

    If you let others do what we do, we won’t be special any more! How can we Christians demonstrate our social exceptionalism if we aren’t allowed to show people that our morality is made into laws and theirs isn’t?

  • rationalinks

    What’s the current exchange rate of Moral Capital? I could use a few bucks.

  • roggg

    Ed, you’re not thinking about this correctly. It’s a zero sum game you know (first law of thermodynamics). If I give someone dignity, where do you think that dignity comes from? You have only two choices: from straight couples, or from the man in the sky himself. So you can either acknowledge the existence of God, or actively harm innocent heterosexuals. Checkmate!

  • raven

    Robert Knight, one of the more important Christian right leaders you’ve probably never heard of, thinks that there is a real thing called “moral capital” that clings to straight marriages.

    This is gibberish.

    1. There is no such thing as moral capital. Robert Knight is just Making Stuff Up.

    2. If there was such a thing as moral capital, Robert Knight wouldn’t have any.

    In fact, he would be in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He would owe so much moral capital that it would take centuries to pay it back.

    3. Thanks to the fundie xians, the USA would be running a huge moral capital deficit and a huge moral capital trade imbalance. Our moral captial national debt would be enormous.

    We would still be carrrying the moral capital bill from the slaughter of the American Indians and the theft of their land. Plus the one from slavery.

  • eric

    @5:

    What’s the current exchange rate of Moral Capital? I could use a few bucks

    I would avoid investing in penny stocks.

  • raven

    “What about the vast impact on children across America if gay marriage is legalized?” he asked. “Think of the textbook changes. Think of what schools will be teaching directly against the beliefs of millions of American parents.

    More gibberish.

    1. I don’t remember the schools teaching anything about marriage, one way or the other. IIRC, it was reading, writing, math, and a few other subjects. Our minimal sex ed was all plumbing diagrams with a bit of infectious disease medicine thrown in.

    2. Who gave Robert Knight some more moral capital to waste? It’s not like he has a moral capital credit card any more or the banks would loan him a penny of moral capital.

    PS The schools teach a lot of things that conflict with the beliefs of tens of millions of parents. The round earth, Heliocentrism, evolution, The Germ Theory of Disease etc.

    If your beliefs are contrafactual, that is your problem. It’s not the schools fault, it is the fault of reality itself.

  • raven

    If moral capital actually existed. the xian fundieland would be a poverty stricken Third World slum.

    xianity isn’t a source of morality. The rest of us would be sending them our moral capital as part of a foreign aid developing nation project and occasional shipments as emergency aid.

  • Donnie

    “It’s like taking a losing team, and they feel bad about their losing record,” he explained, “so they say, okay, now they’re going to have the same record as this winning team over here so everybody feels better.”

    No. The losing team gets the first round draft choice on the assumption that it will make them a better team in order to compete with the winning team. In this case, its giving LGBT couples the opportunity to have the same right as heterosexual couples in order to provide legal protections for all family members.

    Much like a lot of Deep Rifts(TM) there is an assumption that giving someone else the same right as you means that the other person is stealing from you – a zero sum game. Would that be a symptom of a authoritarian, a conservative, or just an asshole mindset without an ideology?

  • abb3w

    “Moral capital” sounds like a meme chimera from the cross of Christian Fundamentalism with Free Market Capitalism; not too surprising from a Christian Reconstructionist. Cue my usual digression on phatic communication.

    Contrariwise, poking Google Scholar turns up The Politics of Moral Capital by John Kane (ISBN 978-0521663571), which — based from a superficial skim and judging compared to typical political theory baseline — seems a solidly written book. (I did some rapid glancing at the pages available via Google Preview, and decided it at least worth my checking it out of the local U’s E-library). The phrase may not have originated with Reconstructionists, but its strong emotional resonance leaves it seeming likely to be adopted — and then the meaning shifted.

    My fast peek at Kane’s work suggests he uses the idea as a variant on the more widely accepted notion of social capital. Excerpt from the first chapter:

    Political agents and institutions must be seen to serve and to stand for something>/i> apart from themselves, to achieve something beyond merely private ends. They must, in other words, establish a moral grounding. This they do by avowing their service to some set of fundamental values, principles, and goals that find a resonant response in significant numbers of people. When such people judge the agent or institution to be both faithful and effective in serving those values and goals, they are likely to bestow some quantum of respect and approval that is of great political benefit to the receiver. This quantum is the agent’s moral capital.

    So, Knight essentially recognizes that even aside from the legal benefits of being married, there is an underlying (heightened) status that western society associates to those in married couples — which is part of why the privileges of “tangible and very important benefits” legally accrue. This seems clearly true. He also appears to be (implicitly?) asserting that opposite-sex couples deserve that status, in contrast to same-sex couples who are staking an undeserved claim to the status and its benefits, and (due to being undeserving) eroding the credential value of the status for opposite-sex couples. That seems bullshit.

    The problem I suspect Knight is actually up against is that the bulk of the counterfeiting has been done by the religious — and they may not be able to pass off their superficial fakes for much longer.

  • Emptyell

    You peons obviously don’t get it.

    Moralness is good (by definition) and capital is the root of all goodness. So moral capital is the most goodie goodness of all goodnesses. The only trouble is there’s only so much moral capital to go around. Just ’cause it’s imaginary doesn’t mean it’s limitless. In fact we can imagine it being as limited as we want. So clearly it is limited to properly married, white, cis, hetero couples. If we’re going to give it to anyone else it has to come from somewhere.

    It’s just all logicky and stuff.

  • yoav

    “It’s like taking a losing team, and they feel bad about their losing record,” he explained, “so they say, okay, now they’re going to have the same record as be allowed to play without wearing leaded shoes like this winning team over here so everybody feels better have the same rights.”

    FIFY.