“Yuck” a Duck

firstgaymarriageslesbiannewyorkcityny_thumb ~by RTod

On Wednesday Erik posted a picture of two (presumably) married costumed lesbians, kissing while holding a sign saying Liberty, a sign saying Justice, and a child that is either from the Village of the Damned or Damien. It was one of those posts that I liken to the embedding of new movie trailers – kind of a short “that’s cool” moment where we take a quick, happy breath before diving back into figuring out who the real Americans are. As I write this, however, we are already over 160 comments thanks to a wee web-by firestorm. The cause of this firestorm? A post from ArtDeco, which I don’t even have to go back and reread to make sure I don’t misquote:

“Yuck.”

I started off being irritated by this “yuck,” and posted a comment or two that in retrospect I wish I could take back. (Sorry, Deco. I was a jerk. Consider this my public apology.)  I was with most everyone else, agreeing that the “yuck” was just not appropriate.  As the threads grow and more people chime in, however, I think I am coming to a different conclusion about the “yuck.” I am starting to wonder if I don’t in a way have great respect the “yuck,” and find it more productive then the rational arguments that Erik is hoping for.

When trying to explain his reasons for saying “yuck,” Deco states: “Homosexual affiliations are user-defined associations constructed around people’s sexual disorders.” To Deco, presumably, homosexuality is similar to, say, bestiality or scatophilia – things that make me say “yuck.” I could not disagree with Deco’s conclusions more – and I hasten to point out that 99% of the professional mental health community would agree with me – but it is an honest argument, and one that allows us to quickly get to the nut:

If you think the homos are a bunch of sexual deviants that prey on society, or if you simply find them “yucky” at some base level, you are probably against SSM. If you think that gays and lesbians are essentially like everyone else – save for the sex/gender* they are attracted to – and just as capable of being either positive community members or total bastards as straights, than you are probably for SSM.

When put like this SSM seems like an issue we can quickly decide about as a society.

Instead, SSM seems like one of those issues where the more that we ask for logical arguments, the more we get entrenched in (from my vantage point) insincere philosophical public policy discussions that feel like they’re designed to create inertia.

Off the top of my head, here are the most often used arguments against SSM, along with (to my mind) the obvious rejoinder that sets us off in circular go-nowhere arguments:

Anti-SSM Argument: Marriage has been defined one way for thousands of years.

Rejoinder: Actually, no. Marriage 1,000 years ago was nothing like marriage today. In fact, you only have to go back a hundred or two years ago to get to a time that it was mainly a property issue. When I was growing up the very definition of marriage excluded me marrying an African American, so obviously we can and do change the definition to meet our society’s changing needs.

 

Anti-SSM Argument: The state should only be concerned about marriages that will or might have children. Therefore, we just can’t have SSM.

Rejoinder: But then why is it OK for post-menopausal women to get married? Also, I’m assuming from this argument that you are OK with SSM if the couple agrees to adopt and raise a child, right?

 

Anti-SSM Argument: I would have no problem with it, but the Bible says you can’t.

Rejoinder: But the Bible also insists that we (insert your favorite archaic stoning law here) and we all agree not to do that.

 

Anti-SSM Argument: It’s just that I think it should be a State’s rights issue.

Rejoinder: Awesome! Then I’d like you to sign this petition to make SSM legal here in your home state, so that we can all… hello? Hello?

 

Anti-SSM Argument: Allowing SSM would destroy the sanctity of my own marriage.

Rejoinder: But if you… wait, what? How? OK, now you’re just making shit up.

I’m sure there are some who arrive at these points by pure Socratic reasoning, but for the majority I strongly suspect that deep down each of these anti-SSM arguments are simply a “yuck” dressed up pretty. These rational, logical arguments allow us to say “yuck” without the unseemliness of actually saying “yuck.” And they are getting us nowhere, or at best are forcing us to move to a public policy consensus at glacier-like speeds.

So if Deco thinks “yuck,” then I say more power to him for saying so. Those that agree with him should say “yuck,” those of us that don’t should argue that gays are just like everyone else, and we can let the undecideds look at that ever-increasing out-of-the-closet mainstream gays and lesbians and decide which of us is correct.

If we go that route, I’m confident I’ll like the outcome.

 

*Can we please not go there?

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96 thoughts on ““Yuck” a Duck

  1. Anti-SSM Argument: It’s just that I think it should be a State’s rights issue.

    Rejoinder: Awesome! Then I’d like you to sign this petition to make SSM legal here in your home state, so that we can all… hello? Hello?

    What’s the problem with this?

    Not caring about whether something is legal in Delaware, of all places, while opposing it in your own state is 100% in line with the concept of leaving it up to the states.

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    • The political theory part is sound.

      It’s just that I don’t believe that when most people say “leave it up to the states” they are OK with a state saying “OK.” Sort of like how when a majority party talks about the injustice of the filibuster you know their beef isn’t really with the filibuster, it’s just a convenient argument to get X passed. Once they become minority the filibuster is a sacred right. Similarly, once your State OKs SSM I think you ask the Fed judges or congress to step in and reverse it.

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      • once your State OKs SSM I think you ask the Fed judges or congress to step in and reverse it.

        Or conversely, once your State disallows SSM (ala Californication) you just ask the (gay) Fed judges to step in and reverse it.

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          • Just underscoring the point that the minority in any scenario will feel victimized. Whether Walker’s “legal” opinion is actually “valid” will remain to be seen. There has been plenty of discussion on the point especially the extra-judicial reasoning. Should his honor have recused himself given that he has a tremendous personal stake in the outcome? This isn’t like holding a handful of shares in some stock, Walker had a “lifelong male partner” with whom he was for all intents and purposes already married. Therefore there are those who feel that the “impartiality” of this judge was non-existent. An intelligent person would have to agree. Too bad, because the case did not get decided on the merits. There is a verdict, but it will forever have an asterisk beside it.

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            • > Therefore there are those who feel that
              > the “impartiality” of this judge was
              > non-existent. An intelligent person
              > would have to agree.

              Hrm; it’s certainly the case that the judge has a conflict of interest. This isn’t terribly uncommon, Ward. It also doesn’t immediately follow that a conflict of interest (I agree, an intelligent person would have to agree on that) translates immediately to an inability to exercise impartiality.

              > Too bad, because the case did not get decided
              > on the merits.

              That sort of remains to be seen, don’t it?

              If the decision is upheld by a higher court, that removes the asterisk, don’t it?

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            • But if you believe those who argue that gay marriage threatens straight marriage, doesn’t a straight judge have just as much a vested interest in deciding against it, thus calling his impartiality into question? Now, I don’t believe that argument, but many people put it forth, as noted in the OP, while making claims similarly to yours.

              You realize the perversity of this logic, which is essentially to strip any marginalized group (women, people of color, LGBTQ, religious minorities, etc.) of the ability to serve as a member of a governing body that deals with issues that involve the marginalized group. Will we apply this universally? Will wealthy judges and congressmen be forbade from deciding on matters related to the taxing of capital gains?

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              • Exactly. You could almost claim a conflict of interest on any person’s part when it might have an effect on them. Abortion ruling? Not by a woman-conflict of interest. Immigration ruling? No Hispanics or Canadians need apply. God forbid, establishment clause ruling? No religious folk or atheists eligible for that one. Couldn’t possibly be impartial.

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              • et al. In point of fact, wealthy judges HAVE been called to account because of their stock holdings, which is why I used the example. By your own ‘perverse logic’, a judge holding a million shares of Microsoft should be perfectly suited to decide on the monopoly case (for example). However, the law on conflict of interest is quite clear. Should a party stand to PERSONALLY BENEFIT they need to recuse themselves. Therefore your argument about a straight judge doesn’t necessarily follow unless personal benefit can be shown. Ware in rejecting the appeal on impartiality grounds could only claim that because Walker had not PUBLICLY declared his intention to marry his 10 year partner there was no conflict. That was a very weak argument as any first year law student could tell you. Walker knew he was guilty which is why he immediately retired. Once he was out of office the legal mechanisms that could have been taken against him personally were all off the table. Of course he knew that.

                Point of clarification here. I am personal friends with several judges and a prosecutor. We have discussed both the case and the outcome. Because I’m friends with the prosecutor, I am automatically disqualified from jury duty. Were I to have to go to trial, none of my judge friends would preside. Oh, and my own brother is gay and we’ve discussed the merits of gay marriage for decades, long before it became the issue du jour, let alone de jure. I’m not really speaking here about a matter of preference except the preference that our judicial system at least hold to the ILLUSION of impartiality, something that failed miserably in this case (as it has failed miserably many times before – unfortunately).

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                • But wouldn’t you have to prove that the gay judge intended to get married? Otherwise, there is no benefit. And, straights argue they are harmed by gar marriage. Ergo, denying gay marriage benefits them, through the prevention of the supposed harm.

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                • “In point of fact, wealthy judges HAVE been called to account because of their stock holdings, which is why I used the example. ”

                  IIRC, the major dividing line was actions vs status.
                  A judge’s demographic status is rarely a reason for recusal, for reasons which would be obvious to anybody, and which have already been listed above.

                  BTW, this line has been used before, under infamous circumstances (e.g., no female judge could preside over gender discrimination cases, no black judge could preside over civil rights cases).

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              • “You realize the perversity of this logic, which is essentially to strip any marginalized group (women, people of color, LGBTQ, religious minorities, etc.) of the ability to serve as a member of a governing body that deals with issues that involve the marginalized group.”

                Please Google “Kagan recusal” before you continue posting about this subject.

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  2. Great posts.

    However, I’d love to see someone say, “Yuck, but, they should still have the right.” I find some things deplorable about polygamous marriage, but am increasingly coming to the conclusion that it should be legal. It is easy to promote that which you find appealing and resist that which you find yucky. What is hard is promoting that which you might find yucky but know is right or resisting that which you find appealing but know is wrong (like all the “free candy” 7-11 doesn’t realize I enjoy when no one is looking).

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    • “However, I’d love to see someone say, “Yuck, but, they should still have the right.” ”

      A big +1. I do hear this every now and then, and it gives me more faith in people and democracy than those that agree with me.

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    • “Yuck, but, they should still have the right.”

      That is EXACTLY how I feel about it. I don’t understand it, I don’t particularly like to watch it, but I 100% respect their right to do it anyway.

      On the flip side, I also 100% respect anyone’s (including my own) right to say, “Yuck” about it.

      I kind of feel like any public action is an expression of opinion. If I have a sticker on my car that says, “I like to kill ducks,” that is an expression of my opinion in a public forum. I believe someone else has a right to tell me that they think I’m a barbarian. I signed up for that when I put the sticker on the window. PDA (or posing for symbolic photos meant for internet distribution) is also a public act and public responses, both positive and negative should be expected.

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      • Yes. If I was gay (I’m not) and you think my kissing of my partner is yucky, you have every right to say that, even to my face. And I have every right to tell you I think you are obnoxious or hateful or however I choose to respond.

        For a long time, the initial response (the Yuck!) was argued against (the supposed PC revolution). Now, it often seems the second response (the you’re-a-jerk” is argued against (I have free speech!). Really, everyone can say whatever the hell they feel. It may be uncouth. They may be ostracized for it. But they have a right to say it. The issue becomes when people think their right to feel something or say something should direct policy.

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          • I wasn’t clear on what I think the implications of “yuck” are in this case, so I’ll repost something I just put in the other thread:

            Except that no one is suggesting that this particular “yuck” is going to lead to violence, and I can’t imagine how anyone’s shooting for sympathy. The point Jason made, and that I tried to reiterate, is that as a position on homosexuality, or this picture in particular, “yuck” is irrational. If it makes you go “yuck,” that’s fine. If that’s your only response, which it seems to have been in Art’s case (hence his entire comment being “yuck”), then what you’ve got is objectively pretty shitty.

            I don’t think stoning is an implication of ArtDeco’s “yuck” in particular (though how would I know?), but it is an implication of “yuck” as a general position. Since “yuck” doesn’t lead to anything like an argument, but it does (not in every case, but as a general position) lead to objectively bad outcomes, “yuck’ is a pretty shitty position to take.

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    • This to me gets to the heart of the issue of tolerance.

      You’re not tolerant of something if it doesn’t bother you – I don’t tolerate gay people because I don’t have any kind of moral or visceral problem with gay people, the above photo provokes no yuck response in me at all.

      Real tolerance is finding something disgusting or offensive (and those two concepts are closely related in our brains) but putting up with it anyway. I tolerate people raising their children in a religious tradition – I don’t like it, but I’m not going to try and stop it either.

      Tolerance is a very important part of a modern society, I think too many people break things “up into things I like” and “there aughta be a law”. The middle ground between those states is very important for the proper functioning of a diverse society, as well as being very important to libertarianism.

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  3. There’s something fairly hilarious in/around/throughout this area of exploration, visceral and inarticulate like a contest to see who’s more ticklish. I’m reminded of two scenes:

    A classic show-closer scene from the episode of “Roseanne” in which Mariel Hemingway makes a pass at Roseanne at a gay bar. At bedtime that night Roseanne relates to Dan that Mariel Hemingway kissed her, Dan becomes aroused, Roseanne sees his arousal and mischievously describes seeing two men at the bar kissing, Dan gets a funny deadpan look on his face then turns his attention elsewhere, Roseanne smirks, show closes.

    A friend told me of a slumber party when she was about 18. They’d gotten a male gay porno as a laugh for the party, and as it was playing she said to one of her friends, “this is disgusting.” Her friend laughed and said, “if this is disgusting, why are my panties wet.”

    So, to what extent should our laws be based on the “yuck” factor?

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  4. The “yuck” heard round the world.

    Though honestly, I’m not sure if the controversy was mainly about the yuck itself, or about my chastising the yuckster.

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  5. Good post Rtod. I personally don’t mind the “yuck” too much. I find it an effective symbol of why the Anti-ssm position has been crumbling at a historic rate across the country. Gut feelings of yuckyness aren’t sound things to base law upon. Strong gut level anti-ssm advocates are generally only a nephew, sibling, friend, child or acquaintance away from flipping to neutral or even support for ssm. If the forces against ssm have been driven to make camp on the muddy plains of ‘yuck’-dom then the end can’t be very far away because all and sundry can see the tide coming in the indifference of the next generation.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to donate a small sum to the campaign to stop the Minnesota anti SSM ammendment.

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  6. Anti-SSM Argument: Allowing SSM would destroy the sanctity of my own marriage.

    I wouldn’t frame the argument this way. It isn’t an argument that individual marriages will themselves lose their sanctity, but that the institution itself, as a social entity (I would say construct) with a specific meaning, will be weakened because the State no longer upholds it with special recognition and promotion.

    If I say marriage is A and only A, and the State has defined and promoted marriage as A, but then pressure is put on the State to change the meaning of marriage to A and B, and it does so, then the State would clearly cease to promote marriage as only A. Marriage as only A would lose its previous social standing, and that may have consequences worth considering (some SSM opponents outline exactly what those will be, but I think this is a mistake and may hurt their case when and if SSM turns out not to have the alleged consequences).

    Of course, this argument is premised on the position that the State should promote marriage as only A, which is precisely the position being debated. The argument is sound, but obviously insufficient on its own.

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      • I should say that my hunch is they are simply parroting talking points and, if questioned and pushed to answer honestly, would talk more about the institution than their individual marriage. But I have absolutely heard individuals say, “If they let gays marry, my marriage won’t be the same/won’t mean the same thing.”

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        • Okay, but I wouldn’t call this the best version of the argument. There’s something true about the statement you quote, though, as the inclusion of SSM into society’s official meaning means that society no longer preferences heterosexual marriage and marriages. I hope the people you’ve encountered don’t fear that SSM will jeopardize the lifelong commitment they’ve made.

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    • Kyle – This is probably true, and I suspect that BSK is correct that those I hear say this are just fishing up a talking point they have heard. And the way you put it makes it a much more sound argument than the way I have heard it.

      And yet…

      That being said, even with the revised, better position, I can’t shake the feeling that it is just another “yuck” dressed up pretty.

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      • can’t shake the feeling that it is just another “yuck” dressed up pretty.

        Yes and no. If I think that the value and meaning of my marriage in particular and not just the institution of marriage in general is at least partly founded on the fact of its public recognition as special, this make marriage in some ways one of the social bases of self respect. (i.e. we respect ourselves when we think that there is something worthy of respect in us and the failure of others to respect what we think is respect worthy undermines our self respect by calling in to question whether the things we respect are genuinely respect worthy.)

        Therefore, when public recognition is given to yucky things as special in the same way that my marriage is special, it draws some sort of equivalency between my wonderful special thing and that yucky thing. This is injurious to my marriage.

        Disclaimer: I’m neither married nor anti-ssm. I’m just playing devils advocate. As a matter of fact, I dont think self respect is one of the primary goods and Rawls and other liberals are wrong to put so much emphasis on self respect. I’ve think I’ve done a fairly good job in showing that Rawls doesnt need to talk about self respect.

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  7. I could not disagree with Deco’s conclusions more – and I hasten to point out that 99% of the professional mental health community would agree with me

    And would not have agreed with you in 1955. See Thomas Szasz on this point: the professional mental health community created homosexuality as a medical pathology and then deconstructed it. (Charles Krauthammer described the process thus: “from criminality to immorality to illness to ‘lifestyle'”). The mental health trade have their normative views and their vocational interests and their rivalries. So do cops. So do clergymen.

    Actually, no. Marriage 1,000 years ago was nothing like marriage today. In fact, you only have to go back a hundred or two years ago to get to a time that it was mainly a property issue.

    People who have been through divorce proceedings might be quite surprised to learn that marriage is not a property issue. The family is always an economy.

    Over time, the range of acquaintanceships people have has expanded; domestic life has remained a locus of consumption but seldom of production; and nuclear and extended families have lost some of their function as loci of protection and supports. Societies once composed of orders are now composed of social classes. All of which is to say that the balance of functions performed within family life and within marriage has changed (with, however, the basic functions remaining to some degree). There is some variation over time in the antecedents to marriage as regards the formality of preparations and contracting and the degree of involvement of family authorities. It does not follow that marriage is ‘totally different’.

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    • AD-

      Generally speaking, more information and time spent exploring and digesting that information leads to sounder conclusions. As such, arguing that we should not take the opinions of mental health professionals into account because mental health professionals from 55 years ago (of which I would guess there is very little overlap between the two groups) felt differently is akin to arguing that we shouldn’t take astronomers seriously now because astronomers from a thousand years ago didn’t all think that the earth revolved around the sun. While I would welcome a reasoned counter to the general consensus among mental health professionals, simply saying, “They thought differently 50 years ago,” is a pretty weak defense. Is it your contention that homosexuality is a mental and/or sexual disorder? If so, what evidence do you have to support that stance?

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      • “Generally speaking, more information and time spent exploring and digesting that information leads to sounder conclusions.” I don’t think this is true. In fact Art Decco has shown, in his analysis, where the opposite is true. The problem here is that the question is framed in contemporary terms (politically correct terms) where our contemporaries have long derailed into a condition, much like the ideologists of the past century, in refusing to engage Aristotle’s etiological argument, where man does not exist out of himself but out of the divine ground of all reality. Which is to say, no matter how warm and sticky youns ‘feel’ your argument(s) are the derailed silliness of a perverse generation.

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      • The reasoned counter comes from Max Weber: social science does not justify a value.

        That aside, you are asking me to regard the psychotherapeutic trade as akin to engineering. There may be a slow cumulation of understanding of patterns of human behavior. I am not sure the degree to which this occurs in psychiatry and clinical psychology, as opposed to serial intellectual fads. (Paul McHugh has said that very little was learned by psychiatrists during the entire period running from 1935 to 1975). That aside, it does not tell you how people should live or for what they should strive. It does not matter that mental health tradesman give you their own opinions tarted up with medical metaphors (such and such is ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’).

        You are also assuming I think they operate in good faith and think seriously about what they do all day. Some of them do and some of them do not. There is not a lot of transparency there for the ‘client’ to make a judgment.

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        • Excellent stuff Art Decco, though I have a ‘feelin’ that you’re intentionally avoiding any differentiation of the question of the essential nature of man, not to mention the metaleptic reality. This dialogue stands on your analysis for those who are interested in such things though you’ve not penetrated beyond the world-immanent construct when the crux of the problem is clearly a question of a egophanic revolt.
          Interestingly, we see this phenomenon in Jason’s comment re: the word ‘yuck’ resulting in homosexuals being stoned has an ancient origination. Here Jason has reduced order to his own personal experiences or his imagination that, in turn, perhaps produced a ‘feeling’ of alienation where death is an escape from life. The implication is that people in this condition have existentially lost any sense of order and sadly withdrawn into a state of alienation and confusion.

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    • Dude, a thousand years ago marriages happened to seal deals; alliances and exchanges of property, absolutely nothing like today. The woman exchanged was just another form of surety like a walking talking entertaining signature on the contract. The focus of marriage was the stuff.

      Later marriages happened to bind families and clans together. The women exchanged mingled blood lines and thus knit the two groups together. The focus of marriage was the politics.

      Even later marriage was done to assure men progeny from acceptable blood lines. The women exchanged were brood mares. The focus of marriage was the kids.

      More recently marriage has changed a lot. Women are equal partners, not exchanged tokens. Feelings suddenly came into the equation and the decision making was done on the personal level instead of being done by parents, cheifs or lords. Marriage is about the love.

      Marriage has been morphing like crazy over the years.

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      • Have you ever read The Charterhouse of Parma? In it, one of the main characters, a countess (I think, if I remember correctly), one of the most beautiful women in Italy, marries an Duke (thus becoming a Duchess). Why? Well, the Duke married her because it meant he would get an “Order,” and thus it promoted his family name and his personal pride. As soon as he married her, he left town, never to return, which was the arrangement he had with his bride. Why did she marry him, only to send him off forever? Because she got married in order to become the mistress of another man! He (the other man) was still married, his wife refused him a divorce, and so hanging out with a widow would have been bad for his prospects at court. This story is not really all that relevant, I suppose, but it’s one of my favorite reason for marrying ever: so you can fish another dude.

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        • Unless I’m misremembering Bob wasn’t Medeival poetry the stuff the bards sang to stirr the hearts and imaginations of the blushing maidens before the girls trudged off into the arranged marriages their sire’s selected for them?

          Yeah brood mares, well marriage discussions can get racey.

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        • Well since the only stuff that was particularily well documented was the stuff at the apex of things and the stuff that involved official sanction (aka the legal equivalent in that era of what we’re discussing now). I don’t see how that changes anything.

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      • “Dude, a thousand years ago marriages happened to seal deals; alliances and exchanges of property, absolutely nothing like today. “

        I think that depends on the geographical location and the social class of the people you are talking about. Yes, even among the lower class there might have been an exhange of property, dowery, etc but the basis for the marriage was love-a-dub-dub. Arrainged marriages as a means of transfering wealth, property and title were historically more common to the upper classes/nobility.

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        • Mike, in terms of formal documented state or official sanctioned marriages the purpose of the institution was property and power. Conservatives who make the assertions of marriages unchanging nature are typically pointing at the institution of marriage.

          Now, I am far from an expert but I’ve not read much that suggests that even among the masses the basis of marriage was commonly love-a-dub-dub though I’d certainly like to think it was so. Still, even among the peasants you got in deep crap if you ran off with the neighbors daughter without working something out with her Dad first.

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          • Yeah, but that was also something that happened.

            Song of Solomon, for example, talks a lot about Christ’s Relationship To The Church, If You Know What I Mean And I Think You Do.

            The Book of Ruth is another story that talks about what happens when stuff happens (Ruth/Boaz) because young people are, indeed, young people.

            And have always been, bless them.

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    • If marriage is about property rights (and to a large extent, it is), then that’s all the more reason that it should be offered to same-sex couples on the same terms as it is offered to mixed-sex couples.

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          • If Szasz is a respectable authority to you — as opposed to merely a convenient one — then why exactly do you discount his views about homosexuality (and, if I recall correctly, about recreational drug use too)?

            And if you’re going to say that the mental health community is not an authority (because it’s gotten things wrong in the past! Just look at Szasz!) — it’s mighty disingenuous of you to ignore the content of the things Szasz says they got wrong.

            Consider this analogy:

            A: Aristotle shows that Plato was wrong!

            B: You mean about the doctrine of the Forms?

            A: No.

            B: You mean about politics?

            A: No.

            B: Then what?

            A: About something! Also, I agree with Plato.

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          • You claimed that homosexuality was a mental illness on the other thread when you defined homosexuality as a “sexual disorder.” If you don’t like where that road leads, which is inevitably to mental health experts, then you shouldn’t start down it in the first place.

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    • “People who have been through divorce proceedings might be quite surprised to learn that marriage is not a property issue. The family is always an economy.”

      ‘Involves property’ is different from ‘primarily a matter of property’.

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  8. Probably accurate in general, but not always. I’ve gone from “morally opposed to homosexuality and uncomfortable with same-sex marriage” to supporting same-sex marriage on the basis that my moral views shouldn’t determine other people’s legal rights.

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  9. My own “yuck” moment.
    In the other OP, someone opined that Art would not dare say “yuck” in a gay bar, or something like that IIRC. I’d meant to post there but couldn’t find the original post and decided to bring it here.

    Some years ago my sister and her husband and I went to the infamous “gay bar” in town. It turned out that the night we were there was cabaret night or some such and there were a number of performers in drag. We had a table near the stage and when one of the singers, a 7 foot tall 300+ pound “lady” (think Shaquille O’Neil in drag) sashayed up to the stage, I blurted out, “Oh you’ve got to be kidding me!”

    Well the big dude got in my face and yelled, “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM MAN?” At that, I stood up (I’m not small by any means) and so did my brother-in-law who is also about 6’5″ and everyone in the bar got very quiet expecting a brawl. I then looked down and pointed at his high heels and said, “You’re wearing THOSE with that dress?”

    He took one of the shoes off and said, “YOU try buying pumps in 16 EE sometime!” The entire place erupted with laughter and I didn’t have to buy a drink the whole night. My gay brother was quite jealous when he heard about the whole thing.

    In truth the blurt out wasn’t a fashion commentary, that was just my quick thinking. I was, like a lot of our society, well outside my comfort zone and hadn’t intended my statement to be heard beyond the table. On the other hand, besides all the free drinks the night was a rousing success, the big dude was a very gifted singer and until my hangover the next day one of the most fun evenings I’d had in a long time.

    So Art, I’d recommend cabaret night at the local watering hole sometime, just to broaden your horizons. As I’ve said many times, “If it weren’t for that whole sex thing I’d consider being gay myself”.

    And let’s not forget, back in the days of Alexander the Great, being “gay” not only wasn’t a problem, it was encouraged. Even the Romans had a kind of man-boy thing going on in their military. Societies do indeed set the mold we live in, whether we like it or not. I’m old enough that I remember “gay” as the finishing word for the poem of children born on the sabbath day, not what it has become in our current vernacular.

    Monday’s child is fair of face,
    Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
    Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
    Thursday’s child has far to go,
    Friday’s child is loving and giving,
    Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
    But the child born on the Sabbath day
    Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

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  10. From the moral psychology standpoint proposed by Jonathan Haidt, I think “yuck” is an expression of the “purity” value. I see why it won’t be changed by logic or reason–it doesn’t originate from that part of the brain. Still, I still can’t help trying to loosen it a little.

    There are some individuals who are born chimeras, composed of both XX and XY chromosomes. Other are born with one set of sex chromosomes that are clearly at variance with their external genitalia. Still others, apparent hermaphrodites, are born with both male and female genitals. Which is the “opposite sex” of these babies?

    Estimates are that 1% of human births possess ambiguous sexual traits, some of which may not be visible to the attending physician. Can any of you male readers be certain you don’t have a hidden uterus or any females that you don’t have hidden testes? Any of us may have variances of sex chromosomes some organs or regions of the body. Some women have nearly lost their biological children as a result of DNA test variances, until it was learned they were chimeras and DNA sample from other organs proved their maternity.

    The section of the United States Code which was modified by DOMA defines marriage as between “one man and one woman” and makes direct reference to a “person of the opposite sex” also defines “person” and “human being”. But nowhere does USC define “man” or “woman”, and this is a very serious flaw which will create a problem sooner or later. I fear that attempting to resolve it from a false belief in absolute sexual duality will create even greater injustices.

    One of the most obvious problems with the old anti-miscegenation laws was that they legislated who whites or blacks could marry while ignoring the existence of interracial people (who consequently lacked all legal standing to marry). That was a clear violation of the equal protection clause. Defining “man” and “woman” would inevitably exclude or unjustly mis-categorize some intersex individuals and create a similar problem.

    The vast majority of us experience sex as duality, and I don’t expect that to change. I do hope in the long term that a rational understanding that sex isn’t binary will help resolve the injustice that this mistaken belief creates.

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      • Can’t see why a single genetic anomaly out of billions should entirely obviate the concept of gender. Despite Mr. Lewinski’s fascinating facts, sex is indeed overwhelmingly binary as the biological norm. Indeed the overwhelming majority of human hermaphrodites are not true hermaphrodites, as in being fertile to both genders [often or usually neither], or even in the case of that Indian fellow with the uterus, equipped with a way to get something in or out of his uterus.

        Neither do we know if his ovaries were fully functional. Still, I never thought I’d type the words “his ovaries” or “his uterus” together.

        Fascinating stuff.

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        • It’s not so much the obviation of sex/gender that we need to worry about as it is the creation of a workable definition of it. If we say that being a man means having an XY sex chromosome and testes, what do we do with someone who has both XX and XY, legally speaking? In other cases you can have XYY or XXY or one of many other variations.

          What do we do with someone who has XY but never developed any male features at all due to Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome? Some people have the SRY gene that is normally on the Y chromosome, transposed to the X, so that you have XX biological males. Their bodies make the right amounts of testosterone and other hormones to produce all the expected male organs. Everyone believes that they are male, typically, because fundamentally they are (at least until you set up a genetic test that presumes XY).

          Reducing the tests to a matter of external genitalia isn’t much of a solution either. At a certain point doctors have to make a judgement call in the delivery room about whether they are looking at a large clitoris or a small penis. Often their response is to ask the parents “Do you want a boy or girl?” and then go for the scalpel. I think that is a fundamental violation of a person’s human rights, and it doesn’t matter if it is one in a billion, it is still wrong (except in cases where surgery is necessary to save the life, such as a malformed or missing urethra, etc.) If the child’s preference and identity could be known at birth, surgery then would make a lot of sense for developmental reasons. Maybe someday we’ll get to that level of sophistication in understanding how the brain creates that identity.

          The International Olympics Committee has struggled with this too in terms of “what makes a woman”? It went from being the presence of the Y chromosome, to being the SRY gene, to being a certain level of testosterone. There’s certainly no way to be fair to intersex people in an Olympics that is divided into male/female classifications, nor are there likely enough intersex to form a viable third class (to say nothing of the stigma that is attached in our culture to public identification). I don’t know what all the answers are, but I know that the current situation of “opposite sex” is broken, legally. My current leaning is that the we should remove definitions of sex from our laws to the greatest degree possible. Most practically we have to worry about matters of paternity/maternity, and those are relatively easy to solve without resorting to any definition of sexual identity.

          I know that completely parity isn’t easily attainable. Yet, India and Pakistan legally recognize a third gender on government ID, and I see no reason we cannot do the same as a step on the right path. They may be a tiny minority among us, but they are no less deserving of the same basic rights of marriage, inheritance etc. that the rest of us enjoy.

          Or rather, if these are part of the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then we have no right to deprive anyone of them without due process.

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          • There is a workable definition of sex and gender, Mr. Lewinski. It makes babies. We either work back from there with kindness and wisdom or we try to invent new norms based on exceptions and anomalies such as you cite here.

            I understand your argument and am familiar with your materials [exc for that dude in india with the ovaries]; I do not accept your method of reasoning to a conclusion.

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            • > We either work back from there with
              > kindness and wisdom

              That works great for the social aspect of interpersonal relations, but…

              > or we try to invent new norms based
              > on exceptions and anomalies such as
              > you cite here.

              This is the part that kinda comes part and parcel with codifying something in The Law, which is the root problem, after all.

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    • One of the most obvious problems with the old anti-miscegenation laws was that they legislated who whites or blacks could marry while ignoring the existence of interracial people (who consequently lacked all legal standing to marry).

      Do you know for a fact that biracial people were legally barred from marrying anyone, or are you just assuming that because you think it makes sense? I was under the impression that people with visibly discernable black ancestry were considered to be black.

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      • Yes, there’s a famous [then] 1850s “tragedy” called
        The Octoroon that brought such issues to the front.

        “When the play was performed in England it was given a happy ending, in which the mixed-race couple are united. The tragic ending was used for American audiences, to avoid portraying a mixed marriage.”

        As for anti-miscegenation laws, they were not powerful enough to prevent such folks from making babies anyway.

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      • Thanks for challenging that. As I’ve looked for my source, I’ve come to see that claim is overstated. The only evidence I find is here:

        Monks’s lawyers pointed out that the anti-miscegenation law effectively prohibited Monks as a mixed-race person from marrying anyone: “As such, she is prohibited from marrying a negro or any descendant of a negro, a Mongolian or an Indian, a Malay or a Hindu, or any descendants of any of them. Likewise … as a descendant of a negro she is prohibited from marrying a Caucasian or a descendant of a Caucasian….” The Arizona anti-miscegenation statute thus prohibited Monks from contracting a valid marriage in Arizona, and was therefore an unconstitutional constraint on her liberty. The court, however, dismissed this argument as inapplicable, because the case presented involved not two mixed-race spouses but a mixed-race and a white spouse: “Under the facts presented the appellant does not have the benefit of assailing the validity of the statute.”

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        • By the early twentieth century when the legal regime of Jim Crow had fully developed, the “one drop” rule prevailed — anyone who was shown to have even one drop of African blood in them was black for purposes of segregation and marriage.

          In earlier times things weren’t always so severe, but even then as a general rule mixed-race people were classified as black, legally and socially, and they were treated exactly as blacks were. Badly, of course.

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  11. Yuck.

    Here’s the thing: there’s nothing to ANY moral objection to any activity beyond “yuck.” Don’t like killing or torture? That’s just because you have a “yuck” reaction.

    Ultimately, every single thing that the law does is because people feel “yuck” at some activity or state of affairs.

    (“But killing is wrong because it hurts somebody!” Answer: “So what? Nature is full of animals hurting other animals. Why should certain instances be wrong? Because it makes you go ‘yuck,’ that’s all.”)

    So people feeling “yuck” at homosexuality is as good a reason for not granting it official approval as anything could possibly be.

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  12. The reason most people simply don’t say “Yuck” anymore, is that they realize its insufficiency as a rational basis for policymaking and that it is likely to result in an immediate social backlash. Therefore, reasons are offered instead; even though such reasons are fairly objectively classified as or based upon bad logic, bad history, and arbitrary religious pronouncements.

    I know a fellow writer, an Englishman, who finds the idea of gay sex repulsive. Initially, he was rabidly homophobic, as a result of his yuck factor. Until he met and worked with some gay people. Now he strongly favors equality under the law for gay people and their relationships. Thinking about gay sex still makes him literally sick to his stomach, though.

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  13. I think you may have drawn the wrong conclusion to the “yuck!” reaction of opponents of SSM. I think rather than saying, “well, I definitely respond in a moral way to yucky things, so I should intvestigate further whether this response of ‘yuck’ is justified,” we should realize that the yuck response doesn’t really have a moral dimension at all- it’s a contentless, value-neutral idiosyncratic reaction. That both beastiality and homosexuality evoke varying degrees of “yuck!” from many people does not place them on the same moral plane. There may be (and are) consideratinos that make one of those morally repugnant, but that has nothing to do with the yuck reaction.

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    • I actually agree with you here.

      I was not defending “yuck” as a reaction to homosexuality as a great position to have.

      My point was that I think most people know that “yuck” isn’t a reason to treat a segment of society as second class citizens; but the arguments we have instead – which I think are intellectually dishonest ways of saying “yuck” (for most anyway) – allow people talk themselves into believing they are doing so for rational, non “yuck” reasons.

      I’m not pro “yuck” because I like the “yuck.” I’m pro “yuck” because I think being honest about it will get SSM established more quickly.

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