Saturday, September 1, 2007

Craig's Picture Should Be Next to the Definition of "Hypocrite."

In the last couple of days, I’ve read arguments by otherwise seemingly reasonable people that Larry Craig is not guilty of hypocrisy, and that we should somehow feel sorry for him. The argument goes like this: Larry Craig opposed gay marriage because he thought it was bad for society, despite the fact that he himself liked to partake in a little gayness from time to time (he just couldn’t resist the temptation). Instead of vilifying Craig for his hypocrisy, we should be celebrating him as a hero—he fought against his own nasty urges and his own self-interests to protect society from the evil that is one homo being faithful to another. We can only decry Craig as a hypocrite if he were to vote against gay marriage, then immediately go somewhere and gay-marry. We can’t attack his hypocrisy on gays in the military unless he joins the Army, then tells someone he is gay afterwards. In fact, we should feel sorry for Craig, since his career as a gay-rights opponent has been ruined by his nearly inadverdent gay activity.

Here are the first two definitions of hypocrite, from

1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

Please explain to me how Craig doesn’t meet both of these definitions.

No one has ever made a cogent argument based on anything other than religious belief as to why gays should be denied the right to marry. In fact, I have yet to read any fact-based argument, anywhere, which explains why homosexuality is harmful to society. Politicians pretending that denying gays the right to marry somehow “protects” marriage are disingenuous at best, and flat-out pandering at worst.

As Americans, every one of us should be interested in protecting the rights of every other American. Denial of rights of any American based on religious belief is an extremely dangerous precedent.


Keifus said...

Whenever this sort of argument pops up, I always think of one of my favorite gags from teh Simpsons. Homer needs to understand money matters, so they give a montage. The scene cuts to him reading "advanced accounting," cuts a second later to Homer reading "basic accounting" with the same serious expression. Final cut has him looking up "accounting" in the dictionary. Here these guys are starting with "advanced hypocrisy".

The most cogent argument I've found is that all state unions are civil. If you want some holy solemnization, then by all means have at it, and withold those pies in the sky from whom you wish (but don't be surprised if they don't buy your story). Of course then you're fighting over semantics, distinctions with precious little difference.

Archaeopteryx said...

Keifus, I don't think it's a fight just about semantics. For instance, there are those who claim that "civil unions" are the same thing as marriage by a different name--they're not. But even if they were the same thing, the fact that you call them something different is plainly meant to draw a line in the sand between "them" and "us"--in other words, to deny homosexuals true equality, even if just in name.

Keifus said...

Hey Arch, what I was getting at is that maybe the state has little business conferring marriage benefits at all. If it really must, then the economic argument makes sense per household, because people tend to consume (in a lot of respects) per household. If you're enjoying those holiest of nuptuals, then let the church of your choice declare them then.

But I don't really buy that argument, for the reasons you say. A marriage in all but name? Why go through all the effort if you don't want to separate us from them?


(My devil's B argument is that it'd fuck up the tax system, but I buy that even less, for the reasons I mentioned above. Maybe they should have roommate exemptions on the 1040, as if those easygoing pricks don't have life by the strings anyway.)

Keifus said...

er, for the reasons you mentioned above. If I'm incoherent, it's the fifth mojito talking...

Sona said...

If the man is engaging in homosexual encounters, then yes he is a hypocrite. Only time will tell - or an ex lover will tell.

The whole 'sanctity of marriage' concept is beyond pathetic. It is elitism couched in a false idea of 'public good'.

Since when is discouraging monogomy a 'public good'? Hell, if you know that homosexuals are going to continue to have sex, you should be encouraging monogomy, not discouraging it.

I hope that, in my lifetime, this discrimination is legislated out of existence. I don't expect public opinion to turn to it quickly, but at least before I die I hope that equal rights will be mandated.

Archaeopteryx said...

Sona, legislating discrimination out of existance worked in the South (or is working now, slowly). You're right--it'll work in this case, too.

Keifus--Mmmmmm, mojitos...

Kevin Clark said...

I guess I ought to answer this since it is obviously directed at me. First off, I suppose I have to say that almost everyone is a hypocrite to some extent, in that they do things they know are wrong. The only sure-fire way to avoid being a hypocrite is to say that nothing is wrong, or that nothing is wrong for you. So I suppose that anyone who believes in a Nietszchean (sp?) will to power can't be a hypocrite. I suppose that anyone who says people don't have free will can't be a hypocrite. Other than that, we're all hypocrites to some extent.

Everyone tries to keep up appearances in public. Everyone wants others to have a good opinion of them. It is usually understood that the reputations of most people would suffer if the world knew everything that they did. In Catholic moral teaching, it is considered wrong not only to speak untruths about someone (slander), it is also considered wrong to harm someone's reputation by unnecessarily divulging true derogatory information about them (detraction).

You are making a political argument here as well that any unequal treatment of homosexuals or homosexuality is based upon bad motives. You are implying that it is impossible to imagine a situation where homosexuals or homosexuality is reasonably treated differently from heterosexuals or heterosexuality. Therefore, you seem to maintain that any political vote against gay marriage or gays in the military is motivated only by intolerance or religion. How about this scenario? Larry Craig seems to have more of a familiarity with gay sex than either of us. Suppose that he believed that someone like him should not be in the military because having sex with other soldiers in the bathroom could lead to problems with unit cohesion. Why would that be a hypocritical position?

"No one has ever made a cogent argument based on anything other than religious belief as to why gays should be denied the right to marry." That is a very interesting sentence. You don't even say that you've never heard a cogent argument. You flatly say that no one has ever made one. That at least implies that it is impossible that a cogent argument could ever be made. But I think that you don't really mean that. When you say "No one has ever made a cogent argument..." you mean "No one has convinced me..." It is theoretically possible to have a cogent argument that you don't find convincing. The fact that it doesn't convince you does not mean it is not cogent.

So, I will make a perfectly cogent argument against gay marriage without referring to religious beliefs at all:

Heterosexuals are going to have sex with each other. From this union, the only union which by its nature leads to children, heterosexuals will have children. Most societies have instituted marriage to supply a structure in which child-producing sexuality can be a benefit to society rather than a drag upon society. Marriage was instituted both to require men to take responsibility for their children, and to allow a structure through which parents can pass on societal values to the next generation. Homosexual unions do not produce children. There is no reason therefore for the state to set up a structure in which homosexual sex can be productive for the future society, since homosexual sex does not produce any benefit to society. Given that, there is no reason for society to recognize homosexual marriage. But couldn't society just recognize it anyway even though homosexual sex is not societally beneficial? I guess so, but why would society decide to set up a program to do one thing and then change it to something entirely different, with no good reason? You might as well call a union between homosexuals a corporation as call it a marriage. True, if we called a homosexual union a corporation, then we'd have to completely change our understanding of what a corporation is--exactly the same situation as calling a homosexual union a marriage.

Objection 1: But some homosexual couples are raising children. Answer: Yes, but this is not because of the nature of their relationship. They may have children from another relationship, or may have in vitro fertilization, etc.. But the sexual relationship between the two does not lead by its nature to children. And if we are going to say that any two people raising children should be able to marry, then we would have to extend marriage to brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, housekeepers and employers, or just friends, raising children together. Is this where marriage is headed?

Objection 2: Marriage is merely for the private happiness of individuals. Even if homosexual sex is not societally beneficial, it doesn't matter. Answer: If that is true, then why does the state regulate marriage at all? If marriage is purely private, the state should get out of it. The state doesn't regulate best friends or blood brothers or other purely private relationships. The answer in this case isn't to allow homosexual marriage, but to stop recognizing marriages at all. Plus, if marriage is merely for personal happiness, how can you have any laws about it? The second you start making laws, such as you can't marry your brother or sister, you've harmed the happiness of someone.

Objection 3: It's just not fair to treat homosexuality differently from heterosexuality. Answer 1: Heterosexuality is the way that we populate the future. It's a pretty important thing, and unless we intend to use some other technological means, it's pretty much going to stay that way. Why is it reasonable then to treat two totally dissimilar things as equal? Society needs heterosexual sex and does not need homosexual sex. Treating the necessary and the unnecessary equally isn't an exercise of reason. Answer 2: It is in the interest of society to keep parents together so that they can raise their children together. If Bob and Laura have children together, then it makes a difference to society whether Bob leaves Laura and takes up with Jill. Society should try to keep Bob and Laura together. On the other hand, there's no reason for society to try to keep Bob and Larry together and make sure that Larry doesn't take up with Jack.

I could go on, but this is already quite long. Sorry for the typos.

Archaeopteryx said...

This tirade wasn't directed specifically at you (note the link to Time Magazine), but you did make me think about this quite a bit. However there seems to be an odd (in my view) outpouring of sympathy for Craig, from the oddest quarters (I would expect sympathy from you, just because you seem to be a more forgiving person to begin with).

And that's what you're doing with Craig--he's certainly being hypocritical, and I suppose you could make the case that perhaps he truly believes that society should be protected from people like Larry Craig. In that case, if he was unable to control his impulses, he should have resigned his Senate seat and spent all his time seeking treatment. Unfortunately, he spent his time lambasting the likes of Bill Clinton (there was a pretty humorous clip on the Bill Maher show this weekend where Craig called Clinton a "nasty boy") and Barney Frank. In other words, he would never have extended the forgiveness that you're willing to extend to him. Again, it's base hypocrisy on his part.

My understanding of the word cogent is that it means "persuasive, compelling, or convincing." So in that sense, you're right--I remain unconvinced. Your arguments make some assumptions that I don't agree with--for instance, the idea that marriage was instituted to supply a structure so that bearing children was not a drain on society. Marriage was instituted so allow for transfer of property--arranged marriages set up alliances between families such that money stayed in the family, and were paid for with dowries. But "that's the way it used to be" isn't an argument for the way things should be now, anyway.

If marriages are only for procreational purposes, then people like my wife and myself, who will not be having children, shouldn't be allowed to marry. Is that what you're advocating? What about old people, past the age of reproduction?

Of course, marriage carries with it many priviliges, such as inheritance of property, power of attorney if one partner is incapacitated, protection from incriminating testimony by a spouse--none of these things have anything to do with whether the couple have children or not. Simple fairness would dictate that if I can have these privileges with my wife--without any intent of producing children--than gay couples should have them, too.

It's interesting that you refer to gay sex as "not societally beneficial." I'd argue that straight sex is also not societally beneficial. In fact, you could say that gay sex is better for society, since there's no chance that it's going to produce unwanted children.

Your argument seems to presuppose that there is some shortage of children somewhere, or that there is some danger of that happening in the future. That just isn't the case. The days when the government needs to encourage production of children were over sometime in the last century. I'm not someone who thinks that people shouldn't have children, but I am someone who thinks that we shouldn't arrange society to pressure people to have kids. Children should be born into families where they're wanted, with parents ready and willing to take care of them. We should encourage those types of folks to have kids, and everybody else should get a puppy and a vasectomy.

I think it's interesting that you assume that homosexual couples are fundamentally different from heterosexual couples (apart from the obvious plumbing differences), and I can only assume that it means that you're not close to any gay couples. I know folks who are gay, and it turns out that they are loving couples just like heteros. Some of them are well-matched couples that will last for ever, and some are poorly matched couples who need to separate for their own good--in other words, they're just like everyone else.

You say that if we extend marriage rights to gay couples we'll have to extend them to any pairs of people who want to married. So what? It's perfectly possible now for two people to get married who don't plan to produce children, who don't plan to have sex, who have absolutely nothing in common--they're just people of opposite sexes. Perhaps they're doing it for insurance, or so one or the other of them can get a green card, or so they can buy a house together. Why should people of opposite sexes have those rights when people of the same sex don't?

So, why not eliminate marriage altogether? People keep suggesting this, but I don't think anyone really wants to do it. However, fair is fair. It seems a little like sour grapes: "If you're going to let queers get married, than I don't want any part of it."

So, your arguments are not cogent (to me) in the sense that they're not convincing (to me). The fact is that marriage is a civil contract, and fairness dictates that we make it available to anyone who wants it.

By the way, don't worry about going on too long. Your comments are always welcome on my blog--I always appreciate your tone, and it never hurts to have someone around to provide some balance to my flaming liberalism.

Archaeopteryx said...

Look at this thread. Gregor does a much better job of enunciating and defending my position than I do.

Catnapping said...

Princess Brianna has him designated as a "Famous Tap Dancer."