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Saturday, September 01, 2012

The War of Words

The news is telling me that a key topic in the Republican party today is "gay marriage" or, to be more accurate, "traditional marriage". They're fer it. That "gay marriage" stuff? They're agin' it. At least, according to a CBS Sunday Morning news report.

Here's what I find baffling. This last May when North Carolina voted to amend the state constitution to affirm the longstanding, traditional definition of marriage, it was classified as "anti-gay". Headlines read "North Carolina passes same-sex marriage ban". That CBS news item agrees. Affirming traditional marriage is, at its heart, a ban of same-sex marriage. And when Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A made statements in support of "traditional family" and "biblical marriage", it was homophobic, anti-gay, bigoted. The simple fact that the Republican party, North Carolina (or any of the other majority of states), nor Dan Cathy opposed "gay marriage" appears to be missing.

Look, here's how it goes. Let me use something less controversial to illustrate. Take the concept of "right to life". "Right to life" simply says that human beings have a right to live. Is that an attack on abortion? Well, it can be applied there, but if that's all you see, you missed the point. It stands for life. Thus it is opposed to abortion -- taking the life of the unborn child -- as well as murder. The proposition that humans have the right to life simply excludes by its definition other possibilities that oppose life. All propositions include their proposition and, by their nature, oppose that which is in opposition to their proposition.

It works the same in the case of the advocates of redefining marriage. They are opposed to retaining the longstanding, traditional definition of marriage and wish to change it. That would mean by definition that anyone who favors retaining the traditional definition is a target of this proposition. And yet you never hear the media saying, "The gay rights agenda is proposing a ban on traditional marriage." They do plan to do away with it and substitute their own definition, but no one seems to be saying it.

Is a law that defines marriage in the traditional "one man, one woman" manner a ban on gay marriage? Only if you choose to see it as such. It would equally and rightly be a ban on polygamy, polyamory, and anyone trying to marry their cat or the Eiffel Tower. No one appears to be calling this stuff "a ban of polygamous marriage". Why not? Well, the goal isn't the truth. The aim isn't to actually examine the issues. The intent is to sway the public in favor of the underdog by carefully and methodically avoiding history, tradition, or the truth. Unfortunately the common predilection to make decisions based on how we feel rather than think is likely to make this a winning strategy.

5 comments:

David said...

While I agree with the general thrust of this post, I think your fourth paragraph is a bit...off. To say that those for gay marriage are trying to ban traditional marriage is simply wrong. Men will still be free to marry women, they just want to add to it. Though, by their own definition, they would have to call themselves as anti-polygamy/polyandry...at least to be consistent, though consistency isn't one of their strong suits. When they start trying to deny heterosexual marriage, then I'll agree with your fourth paragraph.

Stan said...

No, it doesn't quite work that way, David. In order to include "same-sex" in the concept of "marriage", it is necessary to redefine "marriage". In so doing, the original definition -- traditional marriage -- no longer applies and the new one reigns. In this case, traditional marriage is banned and a new concept takes its place. Heterosexuals would be free to engage in this new concept, but the original, traditional one is no more.

Marshall Art said...

And therein we find a tactic that we might consider using more often. Let us rant about the left's intention to ban traditional marriage, since as you rightly explain, will be no more if the new concept is codified by law.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

In a war of words, we also need to be careful of the words we use. We need to get rid of the term "traditional" marriage, because traditions can be changed - that's the argument.

No, instead we should speak of "true marriage" or "real marriage" as opposed to fake marriage.

Stan said...

I had this conversation with my son the other day. He was wondering why the "tightrope" of words. And, you're right. We need to be accurate. But we also need to communicate.

I choose "traditional marriage" not because traditions don't change, but because it is the term that all American society understands. It is the word that the courts in California used when they struck it down.

In truth, "true marriage" or "real marriage" would be accurate, but not likely understood. Now that's too bad.