Gay marriage, Japanese Internment, and Interracial Marriage

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear arguments on California’s Proposition 8 — banning gay marriage, we should probably reflect on why it matters to any of us. The reason it matters is obvious if you’re gay or lesbian — this directly affects your life.

For the rest of us, the question is a little different. The reality is that this does absolutely NO HARM to anyone else nor anyone else’s marriage. To say that it’s legal for consenting adults to get married, regardless of the plumbing that they and their partner have is fundamentally irrelevant to the health and well-being of anyone else’s marriage.  If you belong to a religion whose literal interpretation of the Bible suggests it’s ‘wrong’ (then I hope you also are consistent and avoid eating shrimp, do not work on the Sabbath, sell your daughters into marriage, etc. because really — we’re talking about the same set of rules from the same chapter), then I’m guessing your church isn’t going to be marrying any gay folks anytime soon. Just the same as the churches who walk in the vision of religion that Christ actually talked about (e.g., loving everyone, tolerance,  judging not lest you be judged yourself… that kind of thing) who have been marrying lesbian and gay couples for quite a while are going to continue the practice.

So, if we forget that most of us know (or <gasp> are friends with GLBT folks) someone who’s lesbian or gay, the question is — why should it matter to us? Ironically enough, at a personal level it shouldn’t — someone’s right to marry another legal and consenting adult has absolutely no impact on anyone else’s marriage.

But at a social matter it really must. To say it doesn’t, is like saying that the physical and cultural genocide of native peoples in the US, internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, slavery, women’s rights, and the civil rights movements haven’t left a mark on Americans — who we are as a people and how we have tried to move forward from some of the ugliest parts of our short history. The annoying thing about Americans is that we pay lip service to being a “great” country and love our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but we still haven’t effectively dealt with our history of violence, racism, and sexism. Hell, there are still a significant portion of Americans — especially in the South — who still think it should be illegal for folks of different races to marry. But despite the crazy views of these jerks, society is moving forward. That’s why we can’t base our laws on vocal haters whose arguments are based in antiquated and frankly ignorant views of other human beings. We have to serve the greater good and our society with greater inclusiveness.

Scott Fujita, of the Cleveland Browns wrote an elegant essay on the importance of supporting marriage equality as the next step in improving the condition of equality in the US specifically talking positioning gay marriage in line with the other changes in American law — making the US more tolerant and more open to difference. It’s great to see more public figures like him coming forward to support equal rights — in fact, a solid majority of Americans support equal rights for our LGBT friends which speaks to our society’s views and values changing with time.

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An open letter to rabid 2nd Amendment defenders…

Dear Rabid American Gun Owners:

I know a lot of people in the US are worked up about any limitation on what they consider to be an absolute right to gun ownership. In particular, Colorado’s new laws on gun ownership have been sending the social media world (since I’m not in the US, I don’t watch hours of US news to see it repeated everywhere else too)  into a rabid hyperbolic frenzy.

Two thoughts for you.

#1 No right is absolute.

Even something as relatively innocuous (compared to guns) as the freedom of speech is trumped by three other values — national security, justice, and safety. That means no one gets to provoke violence with their speech acts (see clear and present danger and “fighting words” doctrines), no one gets to libel or slander another person, obscenity is not allowed, and no one gets to put others at risk because of their speech acts.

It seems to me those three values would also reasonably trump an absolute right to gun ownership — even more so because inciting someone to violence doesn’t actually kill quite as efficiently and quickly as pulling a trigger. So, it seems that legislation like Colorado’s limiting the number of bullets your gun magazine/clip can hold, requiring background checks for EVERYONE trying to purchase a gun (antique and family gifts excluded), making the gun owner pay for the cost of the background check, and banning guns on college campuses are reasonable steps (by the way, most universities already have limitations on guns in dorms and on campus anyhow… this just makes it standardized) to try and manage who gets legal access to weapons…  You know, kind of like the 7-day waiting period was reasonable to limit “in the heat of the moment” gun violence that you all have gotten used to. These do not stop a law abiding citizen from owning a gun, they do try to balance the aforementioned values with the right to own a gun.

However, in watching conversations about these laws, I haven’t yet seen a rational argument opposing the laws (other than the constitutional question addressed below). Instead, I’ve seen threats of violence offered, infantile and hyperbolic Hitler references (nothing like the red herring logical fallacy), ad hominem attacks against advocates of gun legislation, and slippery slope arguments… So we can summarize the response as either language that incites violence OR logical fallacies. Seriously? I would have thought that you all would be able to form an actual logically valid and well-supported argument by now.

#2 — If you think the new laws aren’t constitutional … put your money where your mouth is

What do I mean by this? Well… pony up, join the NRA (if you aren’t already a member), and push the NRA to file suit against these laws on the basis that the new laws aren’t constitutional. That’s how we do things in the US — laws are tested against the document you all like to quote. Right now, you all have about the best possible Supreme Court  (a Conservative stacked Court) that you could have to test what you consider to be the most valid argument against gun control legislation… that it’s a violation of your 2nd Amendment rights. It’s as simple as that — let’s have the folks who are paid to interpret the constitution do their job on what, apparently, you think is the single biggest threat to our country right now.

Oh yeah… and one last thing…

Your country isn’t teetering on the edge of a dictatorship. Just because your guys lost the election twice and you don’t like the guy in office… it doesn’t mean the country coming to an end. So chill the hell out!

Darn that verifiable information….

FactsVFox

Number of illegal immigrants falling

Federal taxes are lower than they’ve been in 60 years

America has never been richer (well, at least rich people are richer 😉 )

The US spends twice as much on health care but gets worse results than other developed nations

Wall Street crashed the economy in 2008

Roger Ailes was the GOP’s top media strategist

Idiocracy, American style

Coming back to our conversation in January about the lack of respect and consideration afforded to academic types — this very thoughtful analysis of a problematic Forbes published blog post demonstrates exactly why we have to change our attitudes about the “knowledge creators” in our society.

Yes, I know that’s a silly sounding play on the popular term “job creators”, but we place so much emphasis on corporations, making money, and supporting anti-intellectual values in the US that in the face of strong evidence people resort to logical fallacies to sway the masses. Unfortunately, logical fallacies are persuasive and compelling to people who don’t know any better. And a double dose of unfortunate circumstances is that the ‘knowledge creators’ (i.e., academics, researchers, and scientists) are viewed suspiciously in modern American society — like we’re trying to pull one over on the people with our wacky liberal agendas and complex analyses.

Welcome to Idiocracy — American style!

Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

CATEGORY: ClimateOn February 13, James M. Taylor of The Heartland Institute published a deceptive and dishonest blog post at Forbes in which he falsely claimed that a new study rejected the overwhelming scientific consensus about the human causes of climate disruption. On February 20, Taylor dedicated a second Forbes blog to the same study, and instead of admitting his factual errors and correcting his original post, he chose to attack both his critics and the study’s authors. However, his second post was filled with yet more false claims that demonstrate yet again Taylor’s habit of deception and dishonesty.

Taylor attacks a straw man

According to Taylor, climate disruption realists (those who accept the reality that human activity is the dominant driver of climate disruption) supposedly feel that “only atmospheric scientists are qualified” to comment on climate disruption and that geoscientists and engineers are not qualified. While having an understanding of atmospheric…

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