Keep the light of freedom burning

“The Sikh Coalition, in collaboration with local Sikh leaders and partner Sikh organizations, will hold interfaith vigils across the country on the evening of Wednesday, August 8, in an effort to coordinate a multi-faith nationwide remembrance for the victims and their families of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara massacre.”

“Sikhs are just wonderful people, and a person’s heart is shredded at the idea of this horrible atrocity committed against them.”

“Wiccans, Pagans, Jews, Atheists, Muslims are all victims of persecution and oppression in America and yet any right or protection for any of these groups are often used by Christians to claim persecution of themselves.” (via)

It’s never about bigotry. It’s always about freedom. And chicken.

“What the Catholic bishops call a violation of ‘religious freedom’ is really a policy difference with the Obama administration that will surely be negotiated over time. What the Sikhs and Muslims are experiencing are threats to their lives and right to worship in this country.”

Wheaton College, a Christian university, decided to grandstand about how much they opposed contraception insurance coverage, only to find that they won’t be getting the religious institution extension on non-coverage because their insurance plan was already covering contraception.”

The school had to quickly change its policy, so it could pretend to be outraged that Obama is forcing Wheaton to do what it was largely already doing voluntarily.”

“The college’s stated intention to ‘err on the side of moral caution’ doesn’t really square with this apparent history of inadvertently paying directly for services it now claims it can’t in good conscience allow someone else to pay for instead.”

That the majority is claiming to be persecuted is simply absurd.”

“‘You put a thing in the media and say you’ve apologized?‘ Wilson asked. ‘That is an insult.’”

“What do you say to someone like that when they tell you about their deeply held moral values?

The cognitive dissonance here is appalling.”

“The last sentence proves to me beyond the shadow of any doubt that the Catholic Church is under attack from within.”

“We thank God for the thousands of Georgians and Americans who have supported us as our customers and friends. … You have helped to keep the light of freedom burning with your prayers, patronage and support.”

“The more things change, the more they stay the same, especially in the South.”

“He repeatedly states that if the Bibles instructions on slavery can be ignored, then there isn’t ground to stand on in the modern battles over homosexuality and abortion.”

“The link between religious fundamentalism, anti-evolutionary rhetoric and support for segregation was more sociological than logical.”

“If you need to hide the reality of it from yourself, that tells me you already know it’s wrong.”

  • Isabel C.

    …oh, Lord, I didn’t know about that one. Ew. 

    And yeah. And ew. 

    There are no words, but it’s probably a good thing I don’t have deific powers.

  • AnonymousSam

    I posted it on the last Graham thread since a Graham does fit into it, but it’s Lindsey Graham, not the other two.

    http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/30/13037718-sen-graham-contractors-should-issue-layoff-notices-before-election

  • Lori

    Michelle Bachmann would argue (as she has), “Gay people can too get
    married! To straight people of the proper gender! So it’s not a gender
    thingy like what you said.”   

    I suspect that she would know. (I have no direct knowledge, but her husband pings the gaydar something fierce.)

  • DavidCheatham

    Firstly, 
    Nikolai Grushevski v Hooters of Corpus Christi TX  was  settled out of court, so I have no idea what you mean ‘defended in court’. Secondly, _Hooter’s_ was the one that paid the settlement, which means, in theory, their defense that they could discriminate based on gender _didn’t work_.

    But perhaps more importantly of all, there’s a rather large difference between some private company discriminating, and the government discriminating.  The government has a much higher bar to meet, they have to have some legitimate government interest before they can even _make_ laws that care about gender in any way, shape, or form.

    Whereas private entities can get away with ‘separate but equal’ for stuff, if it actually is equal. As long as no one can demonstrate some actual _harm_, they’re good. (But ladies’ nights are probably on the way out, unless matched with gentlemen’s nights.)

    Incidentally, Hooter’s defense was somewhat reasonable, because there actually is an exception in the law for _entertainment_.  A television show, or a strip club, can indeed, discriminate based on gender for a specific role.

    The problem is that Hooters has always claimed that the name ‘Hooters’ refers to owls, like their logo, and in no way refers to their staff or the tight shirts they wear, and how dare anyone suggest otherwise…which bit them in the ass when they attempted to assert they were hiring waitresses for ‘entertainment’. Either they _are_ providing attractive women for entertainment, (in which case they’d often fall under ‘live girl entertainment’, aka ‘strip club’, zoning, which is why they vigorously deny that) or they _aren’t_ and have to hire wait staff in a gender neutral manner.

    So even if Hooters won, all that would mean is private businesses can discriminate based on gender for entertainment. Which we already knew, and doesn’t really have anything to do with the government.

  • AnonymousSam

    I got nothin’ then!

    (Incidentally, the site I’d looked up had Grushevski as the one losing the lawsuit and Wikipedia doesn’t say who won. Huh. Then again, the citation for Wikipedia’s article is Fox News, so that explains a lot.)

  • DavidCheatham

    Technically, no one won. Hooters just paid the guy to go away. They probably could have won, if they blew their cover of ‘We’re just a normal restaurant with a name about owls and we have no idea why you’re talking about our uniforms and breasts.’ But they did not want to do that, for _other_ legal reasons.

    Entertainment has a built in ‘bona-fide occupational qualification’ on parts that allows discrimination. (Of any sort, including being basically the one industry that can discriminate based on race.) Athletes have it for gender, but not race.

    But outside of those fields, very very very few of those exist. A wet nurse, for example, would have one for gender, assuming anyone still hired wet nurses. And gender discrimination in hiring  _dressers_ (As in people who dress other people, not the piece of furniture) has been allowed.

    The only place that ‘bona-fide occupational qualification’ tends to be important is WRT people with disabilities. There are a lot of jobs that people in wheelchairs actually cannot do (running wiring in a building, for example), and it is entirely legal to discriminate against them for such jobs, while still illegal to do that for jobs they can’t.

    Likewise, there are jobs where it a ‘bona-fide occupational qualification’ to be able to deadlift 75 pounds, which has the _result_ of gender discrimination, but is legal. (But it’s legal only if there’s a real qualification. Sometimes it’s not, it’s a pretend one to try to get away with discrimination based on gender, and the courts can indeed conclude that.)

    However, employment isn’t much related to _government licensing_ anyway.

  • AnonymousSam

     Your understanding of this is superior to mine and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Legalese is a language I’d almost rather not know — I suspect it’d be rather like reading the second act of The King in Yellow.

  • friendly reader

    Wow, I was hoping to come on this thread and find things about the temple shooting or maybe the  mosque burning in Joplin, but no, we’re debating same-sex marriage because that is always productive… *sigh*

    I’m a little burned out from reading through some of the mass of horrible things left at Matthew Paul Turner’s blog the other day.

    But to talk about the Sikhi, it’s kind of sad looking at Patheos’ front page at all the responses to the temple shooting, but no perspectives from Sikhi themselves. I know there are at most about 500,000 Sikhi in America, but that’s at least as many as there are pagans in North America, and you guys get your own channel. Some of it’s language barrier due to new-immigrant status, but I have to believe there are a few Sikh bloggers they could recruit here. It’s the fifth largest religion in the world, it needs a voice.

    In regards to the mosque burning, that this happened at the same time that 81% of Missourians either knowingly or unknowingly made Christian privilege a part of their constitution is just sad. But on a positive note, a number of churches joined together to host an iftar (Ramadan fast-breaking dinner) for the members of the mosque. Particularly touching to me in this story is that one of the participating churches was Peace Lutheran, who I remembered immediately (being Lutheran myself) as the church that was destroyed in the Joplin tornado. Everyone came together for them, I’m glad they’re joining to come together for the Joplin Islamic Society, especially since they may find themselves with far fewer allies.

    Meanwhile construction is under way in my parents’ town for the new Lutheran campus ministry house, right next door to the Islamic Center, who have been just about the best neighbors ever in terms of letting us use their parking lot. My dad has real hope that we can be a model of working together in an often less-than-tolerant state (Kansas). I wish them luck.

  • Sqrat

     Some (at least one) of the participants in this discussion are defining
    “civil right” as “a privilege granted by civil law.”  Others (at least
    two or three) are defining it as “a fundamental human right that ought
    to be protected by law.”  Given that this central term in the debate
    does not have the same definition for all parties, nothing useful is
    going to happen.  Straighten it out, for heaven’s sake.

    The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy offers the following definition of “civil rights”:

    A broad range of privileges and rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and subsequent amendments and laws that guarantee fundamental freedoms to all individuals. These freedoms include the rights of free expression and action ( civil liberties); the right to enter into contracts, own property, and initiate lawsuits; the rights of due process and equal protection of the laws; opportunities in education and work; the freedom to live, travel, and use public facilities wherever one chooses; and the right to participate in the democratic political system.

    Given this definition, to ask whether marriage is a “civil right” in the United States is therefore to ask a question about the meaning of the Constitution.  The short answer to the question is that, at the present time, some forms of marriage are recognized by the federal courts as a civil right, while other forms are not.

    Does that help straighten it out?

  • Sqrat

     Or do you really think “because they can’t get marriage licenses In
    Texas” is a meaningful answer to the question of why same-sex couples
    can’t get married?

    I think that “Because the federal courts have not held that same-sex  marriage is a civil right” is a meaningful answer to the question of why same-sex couples can’t get marriage licenses in Texas.

    Whether the courts would have good reason to do so if and when the question comes before them is certainly an interesting one.  Whether it is the question that was originally put on the table is still unclear.

  • Sqrat

     Sqrat, you are acting like a troll playing deliberately obtuse and
    attempting (and failing) to be clever.  If you aren’t actually a troll,
    please stop.  In this community we expect people to engage in good faith
    rather than playing semantic games.

    Po-ta-to, po-tah-to.  You call it “playing semantic games.”  I call it “using the English language correctly.”

  • Lori

     

    Whether it is the question that was originally put on the table is still unclear.  

    No, it’s really not. When everyone gets it but you, you should at least consider the possibility that the question was clear and the issue is with you.

  • Lori

    And I call it deliberately acting like a jerk in an (entirely unsuccessful) attempt to make yourself look clever.

  • Sqrat

     When everyone gets it but you, you should at least consider the
    possibility that the question was clear and the issue is with you.

    Your question was clear, and I answered it according to its clear meaning.

    What is still unclear is whether the question you asked was the question you thought you asked.  You asked a question about constitutional law.  Did you think you were asking another kind of question entirely?  If that is the case, then please say so.

  • Sqrat

    And I call it deliberately acting like a jerk in an (entirely unsuccessful) attempt to make yourself look clever.

    In another thread on this blog, someone made a comment which is apropos here:
     

    That reminds me of my retail job after college.  I found that a lot of
    customers would rather be seen as angry and confrontational than seen as
    ill-informed or stupid.  For example, if the customer asks for
    something and they get the name of the product wrong, correcting the
    customer tends to produce an angry response.  They will often dig in
    their heels and insist that you are wrong, or if you demonstrate by
    actually fetching the product in question, they will just resort to
    ad-hominems.

  • Lunch Meat

    For example, if the customer asks for something and they get the name of the product wrong, correcting the customer tends to produce an angry response.  They will often dig in their heels and insist that you are wrong, or if you demonstrate by actually fetching the product in question, they will just resort to ad-hominems.

    Languages change over time, and there can be more than one accepted definition of a word. If you worked in a retail store and someone asked for Kleenex, would you refuse to sell them non-name brand tissues? Because that would make you a jerk attempting to look clever.

    In the same way, it’s entirely appropriate to discuss civil rights in the sense of what they should be instead of what governments consider them to be. That’s how the legal civil rights get changed! If you can selectively quote from dictionaries that agree with you, so can I: World English Dictionary says “the personal rights of the individual citizen, in most countries upheld by law”. And if that’s how people are discussing it or asking about it, then yes, you are a jerk if you continue to misunderstand and offer irrelevant facts.It was clear to me from context (Lori, please correct if I’m wrong) that Lori’s question was not addressed to the constitution, but to people who have no moral problem with marriage of same-sex partners, but do not consider it a civil right. She was asking how they justify it, and if they would find it acceptable if the freedom of other minorities to marry was also restricted. In other words: how do you protect/defend/argue for the freedom to marry if it is not a civil right guaranteed to everyone? What is the consistent argument that allows one to make that distinction?

  • Lori

    Let me make sure I have this straight.

    The fact that you’re the only person who (supposedly) didn’t understand what the issue was indicates a problem with me, not with you.

    The fact that you chose to keep a totally unfruitful line of discussion going by repeating information not in dispute (that it is not currently legal in most of the US for same sex couples to marry & the SCOTUS hasn’t ruled marriage equality to be a civil right) indicates a problem with the people who called you on it, not with you.

    The fact that I consider your “it’s not my fault” attitude to be a sign that you’re a jerk means that I’m avoiding admitting that I was wrong, the fact that everyone else understood what I was asking notwithstanding.

    Sure. That all makes perfect sense.

    It’s so lovely to have you as a new commenter here at slativist. I don’t know what made you decide to grace us with your wisdom and charm, but I’m ever so grateful for it, whatever it was. [eyeroll]

  • Lori

     

    Lori’s question was not addressed to the constitution, but to
    people who have no moral problem with marriage of same-sex partners, but
    do not consider it a civil right. She was asking how they justify it,
    and if they would find it acceptable if the freedom of other minorities
    to marry was also restricted. In other words: how do you
    protect/defend/argue for the freedom to marry if it is not a civil right
    guaranteed to everyone? What is the consistent argument that allows one
    to make that distinction? 

    See this, Sqrat? Lunch Meat got it. Many other people obviously did too. My “wrongness” did not make it impossible to understand what I was asking. Your insistence on taking my question in a useless way has not added anything to the discussion. In fact, it’s been nothing be a derail. We’ve now had 3 pages of comments on this thread, many of them dealing with your ish, and yet I still haven’t gotten a response to the question that I actually asked. Thanks so very much for your contribution.

  • Sqrat

    In the same way, it’s entirely appropriate to discuss civil rights in the sense of what they should be instead of what governments consider them to be. That’s how the legal civil rights get changed!

    Agreed.  In that case, a common rhetorical path is to say something like, “X is a human right, so we need to make it a civil right in our jurisdiction by changing the law.”

    It was clear to me from context (Lori, please correct if I’m wrong) that Lori’s question was not
    addressed to the constitution, but to people who have no moral problem
    with marriage of same-sex partners, but do not consider it a civil
    right.  She was asking how they justify it, and if they would find it acceptable
    if the freedom of other minorities to marry was also restricted.

    Notice how easily you slid into “do not consider it a civil right” from what, I think, you actually meant, which is “do not think it ought to be made into a civil right.”  That may or may not have been the intent of Lori’s question.  Only she can say, and it certainly was not clear from the way she asked it.

    Note also that the answer to the question can depend not only on what the question actually is, but also on who is being asked.

    If you ask a judge in a court hearing a same-sex marriage case and empowered to rule on constitutional questions, there would be nothing inconsistent between, on the one hand, the judge’s private belief that same-sex couples ought to have the legal right to marry, and his/her public judgment as to whether the relevant constitution already gives them that right.  Nothing at all.

    If you ask a state legislator who privately believes that same-sex couples ought to have the legal right to marry but publicly voted against legislation that could grant such a right, to justify that vote, he/she might, not entirely unreasonably, respond privately to you that (a) the bill didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing anyway, and (b) polls said that 75% of the voters in my district are against same-same sex marriage, so in this case I’m going to vote the will of  the majority of my constituents and not my own personal beliefs.

    You may not like the fact that the legislator in this example has abandoned the moral high ground in favor of political expediency, but that’s the way things work in a representative democracy as often as not.  And if you press him/her again “if they would find it acceptable
    if the freedom of other minorities to marry was also restricted,” he or she might shoot back, “You’re asking me to vote for same-sex marriage this year.  Next year will you be asking me to vote for polygamous marriages?  Incestuous marriages?”

    Now I realize that there are some folks who have no problem with same-sex marriages would have no problem with polygamous marriages or incestuous marriages either.  Other folks, however,  might have a problem with it.   So as a matter of practical politics it might not be a good idea, if you support same-sex marriage, to acknowledge that, yes, in your opinion, there really is a slippery slope from same-sex marriage to polygamous marriage and incestuous marriage.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    In that case, a common rhetorical path is to say something like, “X is a human right, so we need to make it a civil right in our jurisdiction by changing the law.”

    Sure.

    Another common rhetorical path (though not nearly as common as I’d prefer) is, when someone says “X is a civil right!” in a context that makes it clear that they are aware that the law criminalizes X in the relevant jurisdiction, to interpret them as expressing the belief that X is a human right and on that basis ought to be a civil right in this jurisdiction as well.

    Of course, that’s only a viable path if engaging with someone’s beliefs about rights, or about X, is a more valuable use of my time than engaging with their use of the phrase “civil rights.”

    I consider it so. Your mileage (and that of the other folks engaging on this lexical issue) may, of course, vary.

  • Lunch Meat

    Notice how easily you slid into “do not consider it a civil right” from
    what, I think, you actually meant, which is “do not think it ought to be
    made into a civil right.”

    No, you condescending jerk, I’m using the definition that I cited earlier, which is not dependent on what governments say.

    That may or may not have been the intent of
    Lori’s question.  Only she can say, and it certainly was not clear from
    the way she asked it.

    Which is why I said correct me if I’m wrong, and she just said that I was right.

    Note also that the answer to the question can depend not only on what the question actually is, but also on who is being asked.

    Here is the immediate context of Lori’s question: “We have at least one person who posts here regularly who thinks this is a
    perfectly reasonable position to take. He may not agree with it
    exactly, but he takes it at face value when a person says that s/he
    supports SSM but does not consider it a civil right.” That’s the type of person she’s talking about. Not a judge or a legislator who might have to accept it because their loyalty is to constituents/political reality/the constitution, but a person who actually believes this. She wasn’t asking for a political justification of why this is the way it is, but a moral, logical justification of why it should be this way. Again I quote: “The question I’m asking is not if anyone has ever done this in the past, it’s whether or not it should be allowed now.”

    Now if, for instance, the legislator’s argument is your argument, then claim it, for crying out loud, and we can discuss it.

  • Isabel C.

    Oh, God. Pedant Guy is one of the less attractive manifestations of That Guy.

    Maybe if we wait around for a while, he’ll explain all of the continuity errors in Star Trek, too. 

  • Sqrat

     Here is the immediate context of Lori’s question: “We have at least one person who posts here regularly who thinks this is a perfectly reasonable position to take. He may not agree with it exactly, but he takes it at face value when a person says that s/he supports SSM but does not consider it a civil right.”

    The phrase “does not consider it a civil right” simply muddied the waters.  It eventually developed that it was probably actually intended to mean something like “does not support its legalization.”  OK, fair enough.  But Lori then went on to muddy the waters still further by asking three specific questions, “Right now, in 2012, if marriage is not a civil right what is it? Can the
    majority deny legal marriage to anyone it sees fit? If the majority can
    deny marriage to some groups, but not to others, how exactly does that
    work?   Those are all plainly legal/constitutional questions.  Disposing of them one at a time:

    “Right now, in 2012, if marriage is not a civil right what is it?”  Some types of marriage are a civil right.  Other types are not.

    “Can a majority deny legal marriage to anyone it sees fit?”  Given the current state of constitutional law, a mere majority of 50% +1 can’t.  It can’t, for example, deny legal marriage to heterosexual couples of different races.  Someone, quite properly, cited Loving v Virginia in this context.   I could have done without being called a “dipshit” in the process, but so be it.  It must be noted, however, that Loving v Virginia was an interracial marriage case, not a same-sex marriage case.  It did not assert that no state could ban, and all states must allow, same-sex marriage.   And so “right now, in 2012″ (to quote Lori’s language) for the most part a majority, speaking through their state legislators, can indeed deny the legal right of same-sex couples to marry because the federal courts have not said they can’t (in some states a state court may have said that the majority can’t do this because of the state’s own constitution).  And since the U.S. Constitution is the self-described “supreme law of the land,” a super-majority could absolutely deny legal marriage to anyone it sees fit, through the amendment process.  Some are seeking to have it do precisely that.  Bizarrely, one person here seemed to suggest that the courts would never allow such a thing to stand because they would simply declare part of the Constitution to be unconstitutional.  The mind boggles, but that anyone could actually believe such a thing suggests that a discussion of how the law actually works in the U.S. is not quite the waste of time that some have suggested.

    “If the majority can
    deny marriage to some groups, but not to others, how exactly does that
    work?”  Well, for example, a majority in some state legislature could say that, in our state, a man can marry a man, and a woman can marry a woman, but a man can’t marry two men, a woman can’t marry two women, a man can’t marry his mother, and a woman can’t marry her sister.  It’s quite straightforward, really.

  • Lunch Meat

    So now, after the original meaning of the question has been fully explained, you’re still focusing on what you think it should have meant, and posting a wall of text answering that question?

    “I don’t think your question was clear” is a useful thing to say. “I don’t think your question was clear, and here’s why, and here’s what I thought it meant” is a useful thing to say, although it continues to derail the conversation. We ought to be able to move on to “I don’t think your question was clear, but now that I understand, here’s my response” or “I don’t think your question was clear, but now that I understand, I don’t agree with the premise you’re asking about so my answer would be irrelevant and I’m bowing out of this conversation.”

    But “I don’t think your question was clear, and here’s what I thought it meant, and here’s my ridiculously complex answer to that question, as if anyone cares about it” is just stupid.

    You’re useless.

  • Sqrat

    So now, after the original meaning of the question has been fully explained, you’re still focusing on what you think it should have meant, and posting a wall of text answering that question?

    I was focusing on what those questions meant, not on “what I think they should have meant.”

    There’s glory for you!

    ‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a
    nice knock-down argument for you!”‘


    But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose
    it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    You’re useless.

    You’re Humpty Dumpty.  Have a happy Frabjous Day.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Now I realize that there are some folks who have no problem with
    same-sex marriages would have no problem with polygamous marriages or
    incestuous marriages either.  Other folks, however,  might have a
    problem with it.   So as a matter of practical politics it might not be a
    good idea, if you support same-sex marriage, to acknowledge that, yes,
    in your opinion, there really is a slippery slope from same-sex marriage
    to polygamous marriage and incestuous marriage.

    Except for the problem that there really really isn’t.

    I have never found a satisfactory reason to forbid incestuous marriage, provided nobody’s coercing anybody or using family dynamics against anybody and provided there’s a real careful genetic screening before procreation. (Incestuous marriages that I would permit: pretty much only ‘never met before adulthood’ siblings.) I do however note that incest is a massive squick shared by a massive number of people, which, while not itself a reason to prohibit incestuous marriage, is definitely a reason why it ain’t happening yet, maybe not ever.

    Polyamorous marriage, on the other hand. I would love to permit that. Problem being, if Anne and Bob get married, it automatically comes with Anne inheriting at least a third of Bob’s crap if he dies and vice versa, and Anne being the final word on medical decisions for Bob if he becomes incapacitated and vice versa, and any kids Anne has while married are legally Bob’s. Making it so Anne can marry Beth instead changes none of that, or should. Making it so Anne can marry both Bob and Beth…well, are Bob and Beth also married to each other? If not, what’s their legal relation to one another? If Anne dies, how much of her property goes to whom? If Anne becomes incapacitated and Bob and Beth disagree on medical decisions, what happens? Assuming a max of two legal parents per child (which is stupid anyway because gay couple and surrogate mom or lesbian couple and male sperm-donating friend or stepparents), who’s the other legal parent of any child Anne has while married to both Bob and Beth? Wait, no, that has a glib answer; who’s the other legal parent of any child Anne has while married to both Bob and David? Should it matter who the other biological parent is?

    Making polyamorous marriage legal really does require redefining marriage. I want that to happen, but I’m not trying to make that happen anytime soon. Permitting same-sex marriage just means taking the gender labels off the marriage paperwork.

  • AnonymousSam

    Arguing semantics with people uninterested in having their already poignant and legible writing dissected for the amusement of one is an exercise worthwhile only to liberal arts majors who want their degrees to appear more valuable than they are. Why, yes, I would like fries with that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     There are those who believe that one does not make something a right, human or civil; rather, one discovers that the right has always existed, and legislates that it be protected.

  • Sqrat

    There are those who believe that one does not make something a right, human or civil; rather, one discovers that the right has always existed, and legislates that it be protected.

    Certainly there is a longstanding tradition of judicial construction in the U.S. that says that it is not the proper job of the judges to make the law, but rather to “find” the law.  Suppose the courts were to hold that a state can’t ban same sex marriage because it is a civil right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.  According to the aforesaid theory of judicial construction, it is a necessary legal fiction that any failure on the part of the states to uphold the civil right of same sex marriage is not only unconstitutional going forward, but has been unconstitutional ever since the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868.  However, this theory would not go so far as to say that one does not make something a civil right — if the unconstitutionality of bans on same sex marriage is to be found in the Fourteenth Amendment, then it would follow that it was the Fourteenth Amendment that made same sex marriage a civil right.  No Fourteenth Amendment, no civil right of same sex marriage.

    There is a theory of ethics — lets call it a form of  moral relativism — that holds that whether something is right or wrong depends on what “society” happens to believe about it at any given time — that rightness or wrongness are, if you will, “made” by society.  Thus, same sex marriage could literally be morally wrong at one time, morally right at a later time, and morally wrong again at a still later time.  That, in turn, implies that same sex marriage could literally not be a human right yesterday, be a human right today, and not be a human right again tomorrow.  I reject that kind of moral relativism.  It’s not even a proper theory of ethics, but rather a perverted form of sociology that says, “Whatever is, is right — until it isn’t any more.”

  • Dan Audy

    Except almost no one actually believes in moral relativism.  It is primarily an accusation made by conservatives against progressives to undermine the changes they want to make by creating an impression that they have no moral basis and absolve themselves of complicity in the systematic denial of rights and privileges that ‘society’ had undertaken.  It is a strawman argument.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *timidly raises hand* Um, I confess to reading the Nitpicker’s Guides back in the day.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah. I would venture to say that it will take a lot of work to create a legal and social framework in which polyamorous marriages can be reasonably handled without creating mounds of paperwork.

    By contrast the same-sex marriage changes are a complete doddle.

    Finally I hesitate to dip my toe too deeply into areas of common human squicks, but I would not be philosophically opposed to the notion of sibling or cousin marriages. That said, imagining it in my own family instantly raises the D: flags, so yeah, I don’t think allowing it would get too many takers*.

    But there’d have to be some serious protections in place to safeguard against lack of fully informed consent to such a relationship.

    Actually poly marriages would be less of a legal nightmare than the above, I honestly think!

    * contrary to all the alarmists who say legalizing same-sex marriage will pave the way to mass in-family sexual relationships.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The root problem is, Constitutions are just pieces of paper. The real value is in the credence and faith we put into them – that the words on the paper are of such import as to be treated as nearly the force of natural law, rather than (as in the Soviet Union) to be discarded when the regime of the day sees fit, or to be honored selectively (apartheid-era South Africa) based on criteria for favored citizens.

    So to that extent, yes, rights are just privileges generally agreed upon.

  • Lori

     Oh for the love of Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    You are totally right. I was totally wrong. My question was totally ridiculous. Derailing the whole thread to explain in great detail exactly how and why my question  was ridiculous was absolutely the right thing to do. I am grateful that you took the time out of your day to enlighten me, undeserving idiot that I am. Everyone is so much better off for having read your wisdom than they would have been discussing the issue I tried to poorly to raise. Really, everyone who read this thread, and especially those who participated in it, owes you a debt of gratitude. Blessing by upon you, may his noodly appendage touch your life in a special way.

    Are you happy now?

  • PJ Evans

     There’s a fundraising drive for the Joplin mosque. It’s at
    http://www.indiegogo.com/joplinmosqueofficial


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