Marriage Means Nothing

Glancing at Drudge this morning I saw an article at Breitbart titled, North Dakota Allows Man In Same Sex Marriage To Also Marry Woman.

Huh?

Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well that made the short list of news articles to read:

While many wildly speculated that the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy, they probably never thought it would be like this. Presented with a legal hypothetical, Attorney General Stenehjem answered three questions: whether someone in a same-sex marriage in another state can also receive a marriage license to someone of the opposite sex in North Dakota, whether they can file legal documents as “Single” when they possess a same-sex marriage license in another state, and whether this would open the individual up for prosecution under another state’s bigamy laws.

The answer to all these questions, essentially, is that a person can legally possess two marriage licenses in North Dakota, because a same-sex marriage license is not recognized. 

I felt like I was reading some sort of Harlan Ellison dystopian short story from the 1970’s.  But here I am, in a dystopian future.  I imagine what it would be like to go back in time to the 70’s and show this headline off, “Yep, this is your future folks!”  Quick, get me a DeLorean!

So our current legal environment is such that if you are in a gay marriage, you can move to another State where gay marriage isn’t recognized, and get married again, since, hey, the State doesn’t recognize your first marriage as legal.  But as soon as it does (and they all will eventually), bam!  You are a bigamist charged with a felony.  So if you are gay or, as the case with this guy, very confused, you better hope your State doesn’t recognize gay marriage, because as soon as it does, you’re in big trouble.  And as we’ve seen in other States, if your State doesn’t recognize gay marriage, you can’t get a gay divorce.  You can only get a gay divorce when the legal environment makes it too late to do you any good as far as avoiding bigamy charges.

So what’s our poor, multiple married guy going to do?  First, hope he has both an understanding wife and an understanding husband, but secondly, here come the courts to the rescue again.

A federal judge in Utah has struck down part of that state’s law banning polygamy, after a lawsuit was brought by the stars of the television reality series “Sister Wives.”

The ruling late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups threw out the law’s section prohibiting “cohabitation,” saying it violates constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.

I did in fact watch the first season of Sister Wives.  Unfortunately, I lost interest because the wives just were not hot enough to make the show interesting. But this goes back to the age old question, which is better, four just so so wives or one hot one?  Philosophers  debate… but as a show I lost interest. But the lesson of both Sister Wives and Brown v Buhman is maybe you don’t have to stick with just one spouse, regardless of sex.  Marriage must be an infinitely flexible institution.

So for all of the critics who thought gay marriage would lead to polygamy, congratulations, you were correct.  You still lost the argument.  Gay marriage, as an institution that will eventually cover all 50 States, is inevitable.

Of course, whatever you call it, whether it’s gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, or whatever new moniker is attached to it, it still won’t actually be marriage.

Marriage as an institution has existed for thousands of years, and probably precedes what we think of as recorded human history.  In that time it’s stretched and bended to accommodate a great deal of different cultures and various economic and social circumstances, including various forms of polygamy, but in all that time it’s never been stretched to include 2 people of the same sex getting together and calling it marriage.  Oh homosexuality has been around as long, if not longer, than the institution of marriage, but they’ve never really had anything to do with one another.

Or at least they didn’t until 2001, when The Netherlands became the first country to legalize gay marriage.  Since then, quicker than you can say Winston Smith, the definition of marriage has been changing in dictionaries all over.  Oceania would have loved the internet.  It makes re-editing language so much easier.  My old print dictionary says nothing about same sex marriages, however if you pull up an online dictionary you’ll see the definition of a man and wife receding in importance to other gender free terms, such as the mutual relation of married persons, or the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage.

Changing language doesn’t change the reality of the situation however.  Words mean something. A thing is a thing, regardless of what you call it.  Taking the name of a something, and changing its meaning, does not change the thing itself.  Two dudes or two chicks playing house may be a lot of things, but it isn’t a marriage.  Even with a legal, hot off the courthouse steps, marriage certificate.  It may be legal, but it’s not a marriage.

Saying that it is a marriage is an argument that wouldn’t have been taken seriously decades ago, because there was a cultural consensus, backed up by the entirety of human history on what a marriage is.  When the British took India, they found a lot of odd (to them) customs, but they also found marriage.  Captain Cook found little he recognized culturally in the South Pacific, but he found marriage. Where ever there have been humans, there has been marriage.

Now of course, that historical consensus has broken apart.  But it’s not the fault of gays or the political chase for gay marriage.  Marriage became a joke long before it became a political football to win the gay vote.  Gay Marriage is a symptom, not the cause, of a weakened concept of matrimony.  Why that is may be the proper subject of multiple posts, but I’m sure this won’t be the last time real concepts will be rebranded and renamed in order to meet the politically correct agenda of the day.

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Policing the Racists

The political blogosphere was both atwitter and Twitter over the firing of John Derbyshire from National Review this weekend.  Not for nothing though.  Derbyshire posted a column last Thursday on the Taki’s Magazine website called, “The Talk: Nonblack version.”  Due to the Trayvon Martin shooting hysteria, much has been made of The Talk in the national media.  The Talk, as defined by the New York Times (where I go to find out what being black in America is like) is, “the one that has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with what it means to be a black teenager in a country with a history of regarding young black men as a threat. The talk about standing up straight, dressing the part, keeping your hands in sight at all times and never, ever letting your anger get the best of you.

That’s not bad advice for anyone, particularly when dealing with law enforcement, but that sort of talking to is totally unlike Derbyshire’s version; which consists of “guidance” to his children.  A sample of such advice consists of:

(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

If you want to read the whole thing, you can go to the website, but I think you get the idea, but the one that particularly bothered me was this:

Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black.

By the most standard definitions of racism, that’s racist.

On the face of it, Derbyshire was probably conflating IQ with intelligence, a mistake that is its own whole area of social commentary.  Although the IQ/Intelligence topic is worth reviewing, it’s not necessary to read Derbyshire’s mean spiritedness in this piece.  This wasn’t meant as a joke or parody, Derbyshire was being serious.  In probably the only bit of actual reporting ever done by the website Think Progress, they actually contacted Derbyshire to check if he meant it as some kind of parody.  Rather than taking the opportunity to back off of his harsh column, he double downed on it, “I’d call it social commentary.”  More to the point, Derbyshire wasn’t hiding from the accusation of being a racist, he admitted it.

Given that, I would say National Review had no choice.  NR editor Rich Lowery posted a comment disavowing Derbyshire’s piece Friday night and by Saturday posted another comment letting him go from the magazine staff.  Lowery gave a pretty clear eyed reason:

“His latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways.”

This wasn’t about political correctness, but about letting one writer’s racism contaminate the reputation of the National Review, and by extension, the conservative movement.  I think National Review did the right thing in letting Derbyshire go. One of the ways that William F. Buckley, founder of the magazine and probably the godfather of modern American conservatism, helped make conservatism a legitimate force in American politics again was by pushing out the conspiracy nuts and other cranks that contributed nothing to the movement but bad press.

Without Buckley and his cleaning up of conservatism, there would have been no Reagan, and Obama’s current (public) views would now be considered center right.

The left had a field day with Derbyshire’s appearance at CPAC. How much more of that crap does the right need to allow? It’s not as though the right controls the message, the left does since they control the media.   That’s why the left not only doesn’t need, but just doesn’t’ police their own.  They are immune from the kookiness of their fringe nuts.  It’s why the media will drumbeat their coverage of Republican birthers, even though birtherism originated with the pro-Hillary Democrats.  Meanwhile, during the Bush administration more than half of Democrats believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 attacks, but since they also control the media, it never taints them.

Unfair or not, it’s the way it is so it falls on the right to be diligent in making sure that we police our racists and conspiracy theorists.  So Derbyshire can continue to write what he wants, where he wants, but just not under the banner of the National Review.

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