Friday, July 07, 2006

Righteous anger

Things that make me mad (in no particular order):

*people who don't know what they're talking about
*people who twist the facts to suit their own purposes
*people who are scared of other people just because they're "different"

That being said, did you know that there are bunches of wackos out there? People who distort facts to fit them into their skewed version of reality? People who flaunt their ignorance and intolerance in public? in front of people?

So, the NEA (National Education Association, for all you non-teachers), at their annual meeting, approved a resolution to the effect that race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, ethnicity, immigration status, occupation, and religion ''should not affect the legal rights and obligations of the partners in a legally recognized domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage in regard to matters involving the other partner.'' How very open minded and tolerant of them, to acknowledge the fact that different people lead different lives with different lifestyles. How munificent of them, to refrain from passing judgment on these people just for leading said different lifestyles.*

In what is surely a logical response to this resolution, the AFA (American Family Association) sent out a panicked mass email to, well, everyone they could think of, apparently. In this email, the AFA claims that the NEA is "endorsing" gay marriage.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but there's a pretty big difference between *tolerating* something and *endorsing* it. For example: bratwurst. I will tolerate bratwurst if others around me are eating it. I don't particularly like it for myself, but I have no problem with you eating it. *You* can eat all the bratwurst you want. *I* will probably not partake, thanks. So, I tolerate the bratwurst. I do not deny you the pleasure of eating it. That would be silly and impractical. Neither, however, will I slather it with mustard and cram it in your face for you. That you have to do for yourself.

So, then, the AFA's claim that the NEA is "endorsing" gay marriage is a logical fallacy. Onward. They further twist the intent of the NEA's resolution by positing that the "new NEA proposal essentially says schools should support and actively promote homosexual marriage and other forms of marriage (two men and one woman, three women, two women and three men, etc.) in their local schools."

Actively promote? Actively promote homosexual marriage? And other types of marriage? To actively promote something in the school system, you need to provide information on it to the students. You need to instruct them to think a certain way about something. The AFA is trying to make us believe that gay marriage is going to be a part of the curriculum in public schools. Sure. Right after we teach them to read and do long division, we're going to marry them off. To partners of the same sex! *Heterosexual* marriage isn't even in the curriculum! Know why? Because marriage is a personal matter, one that is unique in every situation. You just can't get that in a textbook.

Again, the AFA is putting words into the NEA's mouth, twisting their intent to scare those who are afraid of The Gays.

According to them, this new resolution in favor of respecting the rights of all our citizens, not just the straight, WASPy ones, "means the NEA will promote homosexual marriage in every avenue they have available, including textbooks, to all children at all age levels and without the permission or knowledge of parents. Their plans will include every public school in America." Again with the promoting. That's just like endorsing, right? I just can't figure out what makes these people think that we are going to go out and buy textbooks exclusively promoting gay marriage. I can't even get enough money for textbooks in my subject area (which is non-matrimonial). How are we possibly going to revamp every textbook in every classroom in America so as to thoroughly indoctrinate our students on the benefits to be derived from gay marriage?** That's just ridiculous. And? By enrolling your child in a public school, you are giving that school permission to teach its curriculum to your child. Also? If you want knowledge of what your kid is learning in school, ask!


Here's my big problem - I think that marriage is a private matter, not something that should be decided by the government. If the authorities governing a particular religion want to forbid the right of gay marriage to their members, that's perfectly within their rights as a private organization. They can preach whatever they want to their members. If, for example, the Catholic Church wants to forbid their members to get abortions, more power to them. That's their right as a private institution. But for the state to deny a fundamental right to a percentage of their citizens on purely moral grounds? That can't, in good conscience, be done. Because we live in a country that claims to believe in the separation of the Church and the State. That means that the State cannot impose moral values on its citizens. And the only objections I've ever heard to gay marriage have been moral objections, based on traditional Judeo-Christian moral (religious) principles. Teaching moral (religious) values to the next generation is the job of the child's parents, not the schools. Who are we to say that everyone in America has to subscribe to traditional Judeo-Christian morals, when not everyone follows that belief system? There we go, cramming the bratwurst down people's throats, without even bothering to check if they like it first. If I wanted to live in a theocracy, I would move to Iran.

This is kind of disjointed, as most of my ranting tends to be, but my point is this - I don't think that the government should be allowed to dictate who can or can't get married. That's a matter for religious organizations to decide on an individual basis. Beyond that, I don't think that the government should legislate morals. I think that our schools should teach understanding and acceptance of others, regardless of the differences between us. If the parents want to teach a different school of thought (one that adheres to a specific religion's viewpoint, for example), then they should teach that to their own children in their own home. But I don't want the values of any one particular religion mandated in any school funded by *my* tax dollars or attended by my children. And I sure as hell wouldn't work for such a school. But that's just me.

On a related note - more wackos!

*No, these guys are not the wackos I was referring to.
**Which I'm assuming are the same as the benefits to be derived from heterosexual marriage - health insurance, joint decision-making power, and someone to put your cold feet on in the winter.


Anonymous said...

The State "imposes" lots of morals: murder is wrong, public drunkness is wrong, stealing wrong, prostitution wrong, slavery worng, child abuse wrong, and endangering others through reckless actions (eg drunk driving, speeding, etc)- also wrong. The fact that the State has selectively singled out unborn children as unworthy of human rights protections based on a case that was largely decided on racism and 'unfairness' is actually unusual (In Roe v. Wade, Jane Roe's attorneys claimed she had been gang raped by black men. In fact, she had been promiscuous, but not raped at all and there were apparently no black men involved).
Also, truthfully, the fact is that when babies can survive at earlier and earlier gestations (like nearing the beginning of the third trimester), it really highlights that abortion is more a case of convenience than necessity. The reality that the Catholic Church (and some others) can and do say, "this is immoral" is less a case of religiousity gone wild and more a case of "water is wet" common sense.
No one can ever say having sex will not produce children. Abortion has made this an acceptable risk. How different it is when (equally immoral law) women are faced with their own death if they choose promiscuity or are simply accused of it (eg in sharia countries). Rightfully there is an outcry, though largely for the wrong reason (like the freedom of sexual expression). If only we placed a higher value on life itself, rather than on the quality of our own experience and convenience.
You should know I say this as a woman who has had an abortion and not as a mere commenter.

Jane said...

True: the State does tell us what kind of behavior is right and wrong. The difference here is that in the instances you cite, the behavior in question is wrong because it has a negative impact on *another person* (slavery, murder, etc.). These are crimes that victimize another person. So, in point of fact, the State is attempting to ensure the welfare of its citizens by making their murder illegal. Murder, drunk driving, child abuse, etc. deprive certain citizens (the victims) of their right to life.

However, to the best of my knowledge, gay marriage (which, by the way, was the *topic* of this post, not abortion) does not hurt or endanger anyone. (Unless, of course, they are in an abusive relationship, which is much more common among heterosexual marriages than gay marriages.) Who is the victim when two people who love each other get married? Nobody, it would seem. So, in this case, the State is not attempting to ensure the welfare of its citizens, since nobody is at risk from the behavior in question. What they *are* trying to do is deprive certain members of the population of their inalienable rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that's not okay with me.

As to the "moral" question of abortion - I said plainly that "if the Catholic Church wants to forbid its members to get abortions, MORE POWER TO THEM. That is within their rights as a private organization." However, when the State gets involved in making these decisions, that's unfairly biased. Not everyone holds with the theory that life begins at conception, or that an unborn child's life is equally as valuable as the mother's life. Those who feel that way should be free to act according to their own personal value system. If you don't agree with abortion - don't get one. (If you don't like the taste of bratwurst, Don't Eat It!) But don't tell someone else she can't, just because it violates your own personal moral code.

I wasn't really intending to delve into the abortion issue here at all. I merely mentioned it as one example of what a religious organization may freely tell its members not to do (along with gay marriage, birth control, polygamy, etc.). Membership in religious groups is voluntary and subject to choice - you can choose, if you want, the religion that fits you best, and follow its dictates as closely or loosely as you like. But, last time I checked, I couldn't just "choose" to become a citizen of whatever country happens to share my moral values, and I don't have much choice about which laws I want to follow or not (unless I want to suffer the consequences.)