Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Fuck Redux (Refux?)

"Freedom of expression isn't a minority value just because the majority disagrees with the minority's choice." - Joshua Lyman

This is deeply, deeply disappointing.

I had hoped the No campaign would have more success in Maine than their comrades did in California last year, but not only have the Maine electorate made the same mistake, but by roughly the same proportion. Once again, organised religion got in on the act (though this time it was a Catholic Archdiocese rather than the Mormons), and in a minimally sane world those people who pressed the faithful to hand over money to pay for stealing people's rights (rather than, y'know, helping the poor or the sick) would banish themselves to a remote island to avoid any rational person from ever having to look them in the eyes.

To be honest, though, it's hard to blame this defeat on the financial contributions of this or any other church, so much as just people in general. For all I complain about the American electorate (and make no mistake, I see no compelling reason to view our own in any higher regard), I can cut people a little slack for not getting the healthcare debate. Hell, I've been immersed in it since it kicked off, and there's still a bunch of stuff I haven't grasped yet. I can generally tell the difference between a fact, a plausible argument, an implausible one and an out-and-out lie, which gets you pretty far in any political fight, but it's not like I've read more than a small fraction of the bill itself (and what I have read may have been changed at this point).

So I get it when people make choices that they might well not have if they had access to more information (or the time to find it). This isn't that, though. This is a group of people saying "Our love is just as real as your love, and we should be able to express it in the same way". That's genuinely all there is to it. No-one needs to be a laywer to know that when Bill O'Reilly claims legalising gay marriage is the first step on a slippery slope to grown men wedding ducks, he's deliberately divorcing himself from reality, employing the ultimate extension of the "let gays wed and next it'll be polygamy and paedos marrying children" argument as an alternative to explaining why he believes two people in love shouldn't be allowed to marry. No-one needs any particularly impressive analytical skills to know that gay marriage threatens the family in exactly the same way that knitting threatens football, that more knitting shops does not mean less football grounds, and some people might actually like going to both. And certainly no-one with any critical faculties whatsoever needs to have it explained to them that there is a difference between believing they themselves shouldn't do something and believing the law should prevent anyone from doing it.

More than 52% of those that cast a vote in Maine yesterday chose to ignore all of that. Someone once said (and I apologise to them, because I'm paraphrasing heavily) that whilst history will remark that the Republicans attempted to gain political advancement by appealing to people's worst instincts, history will also recall that people allowed their worst instincts to show through. Various members of the Catholic hierarchy and the National Organization for Marriage spent money to get the message to people that they should deny others the right to express their adult, mutually consenting love, but the fact that those tactics worked is on us as a species.

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