Saturday, July 23, 2005

DEPRESSING ARTIFACT OF THE DAY: An argument against gay marriage by a gay guy at Opinion Journal. It is long, dissertation long, and has close reasoning, references to Maimonedes and Hayek and Karl Popper and Easter Island and the Shakers etc., and passages like this delivered in an audibly high tone:
The visceral code is like the DNA of the community: It tells us what behavior must be passed on through the social emotions of shame, honor and pride. It demands that we behave; it molds us and makes us, just as our parents do, for their doing is always its doing... We cannot ask whether the visceral code is useful to the community when it is in fact constitutive of the community: It is the foundation on which the community is built. It is a necessary precondition of achieving community at all, and hence it is improper to evaluate it in terms of its mere utility.
But when it comes time to actually measure the gay marriage case against these exacting standards, what do we get? The usual denigration of self-esteem -- not even self-esteem in extremis, but self-esteem per se ("But our insistence on creating self-esteem in an 8-year-old boy comes with a high price tag -- by refusing to encourage the boy's dissatisfaction with himself as he is.." -- we prevent him from hating himself for failing to come up later, fool; look at the sadly belligerent cases on any city's police blotter, with their Thug Life or Born to Lose tattoos, and ask yourself, are these people really suffering from too much self-esteem?). A comparison of gay marriage to a stranger asking to take "your 8-year-old daughter" for a ride -- the nearest thing to just drawing a picture of the Devil in our modern discourse. And a wide-angle projection of disgust for gay marriage even onto its advocates ("This is why for most people, including many gay men and women, the immediate response to the idea of gay marriage came at the gut level--it somehow felt funny and wrong..."), without a citation or even, so far as I can tell, the possibility of citation outside the author's own self-loathing community.

It's not so depressing that arguments against gay marriage exist -- well, okay, it is. It's not even so depressing that they are so lousy -- actually, that's kind of funny. What's really depressing is that they apparently come gussied up as intellectual arguments, with ten-dollar words and references to ancient philosophers. We have grown used to the alternative realities proposed by conservatives when reality contradicts them, but it is a bit jarring to see some of them in hound's-tooth and mortarboards, sucking briar pipes, playing at professor while talking (in sentences of whatever length, and with howsoever many footnotes) absolute gibberish.

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