Sunday, August 31, 2008

RELIGION- Mork calling Orson Scott Card

I’ve been a fan of Orson Scott Card since 1980. That year he was the keynote speaker at a dinner hosted by the company I was working for at the time. I’ve probably given out a dozen copies of his most famous work, ENDER’S GAME, to friends who hadn’t read it and I own probably two dozen of his works- including a cherished 20 year old cassette tape of a speech he did called the Secular Humanist Revival Meeting, railing against the religious right intruding into government.

Which is why I’m even more surprised that the gay marriage issue has caused him to decide to be the latest poster child for the idea that no one is so smart that they don’t have some stupid ideas.

His latest article in The Mormon Times makes it look like he’s been saving up his stupid over the last few decades in order to have a giant stupidgasm. Right out of the shoot he says something dumb even though I’m certain he knows better.

“The first and greatest threat from court decisions in California and Massachusetts, giving legal recognition to "gay marriage," is that it marks the end of democracy in America.

“These judges are making new law without any democratic process; in fact, their decisions are striking down laws enacted by majority vote.”

Now I’m sure that Mr. Card realizes that (a) equality for all people is guaranteed in the constitution of both these states and also our country and (b) democratic process has nothing to do with it. This idea is exactly what was used to justify slavery for so many years- most people think it’s fine. And, just as it’s ironic that blacks are overwhelmingly against equal rights for homosexuals, it’s even more ironic that a Mormon would think that marriage mores should be decided by referendum. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Mormon church’s own history of bucking the majority’s concept of marriage. It would be easy to be snarky and say that it was pretty convenient that when Utah wanted statehood God changed his mind about the whole plural marriage thing, but truthfully I think it was sort of a black spot in the history of the US that the Mormons were run out of the country for it in the first place. In a country founded on both personal and religious freedom, that this was a condition for statehood is ridiculous. The government simply has no place in decisions of marriage. Period. For a state to say who you are allowed to marry based on sex (or color as many states did) is an affront to the very principles on which the nation was founded.

“it is absurd to claim that these constitutions require marriage to be defined in ways that were unthinkable through all of human history until the past 15 years… It is such an obvious overreach by judges…”

No it’s not and no, it’s not. The role of a judge is to provide a check on legislation that is unconstitutional. And the historical argument is bollocks. You could use the same point to defend any practice which is historical and yet abhorrent. Again, slavery and plural marriage are the immediate precedents that come to mind. To say that freedoms can’t be expanded because they were prohibited before is to say that no progress should ever be made in human society. Democracy was a radical idea with scant historical backing in 1776.

“At first, it was only early abortions; within a few years, though, any abortion up to the killing of a viable baby in mid-birth was made legal.”

This is just wrong and I think Mr. Card knows it. But wait, it gets better.

Already in several states, there are textbooks for children in the earliest grades that show "gay marriages" as normal. How long do you think it will be before such textbooks become mandatory -- and parents have no way to opt out of having their children taught from them?”

Hopefully sooner than it took for schools to stop reinforcing racial stereotypes in textbooks.

A term that has mental-health implications (homophobe) is now routinely applied to anyone who deviates from the politically correct line. How long before opposing gay marriage, or refusing to recognize it, gets you officially classified as "mentally ill"?”

I would think that Mr. Card would be more worried that the term misogyny would become a diagnosis, considering his church’s teachings about women. People in glass temples shouldn’t throw stones.

“When gay rights were being enforced by the courts back in the '70s and '80s, we were repeatedly told by all the proponents of gay rights that they would never attempt to legalize gay marriage.

“It took about 15 minutes for that promise to be broken.”

Those uppity gays, give ‘em an inch and they’ll start demanding to be treated like everybody else.

“Here's the irony: There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue.

“The laws concerning marriage did not create marriage, they merely attempted to solve problems in such areas as inheritance, property, paternity, divorce, adoption and so on.”

Here’s the irony: that’s all the gay marriage thing is trying to do. Being gay is older than government too, BTW. its history is also universal. And oddly for those who think it’s a societal thing, it seems to be spread pretty evenly in all cultures. As to the idea that it’s more prevalent in more permissive societies, I have some Muslim and Christian friends who would disagree. Repression of human behavior seems to inspire more hypocrisy than it does conformity. (Insert the name of the loudmouthed preacher of your choice caught, literally, with his pants down in the last few years.)

If a court declared that from now on, "blind" and "sighted" would be synonyms, would that mean that it would be safe for blind people to drive cars?

“No matter how sexually attracted a man might be toward other men, or a woman toward other women, and no matter how close the bonds of affection and friendship might be within same-sex couples, there is no act of court or Congress that can make these relationships the same as the coupling between a man and a woman.

“This is a permanent fact of nature.”

STRAW MAN alert. No one is trying to make a gay marriage the same as a heterosexual one. They are just trying to deal with those pesky legal issues that were mentioned as the reason for government to be involved in this stuff to start with. And don’t forget that there will always be and always has been homosexuality. It also is a “fact of nature”.

“That a few individuals suffer from tragic genetic mixups does not affect the differences between genetically distinct males and females.”

So why are you so upset? I didn’t quote all the “gays can’t have children because of legislation” nonsense because it’s another straw man and ignores all the hetero marriages which do not result in offspring. News flash Orson, if your wife is past child bearing age (which I assume she is) you are still married.

Oh the "tragic genetic mixups" thing is both a giveaway about the prejudice that is motivating this normally reasonable man, and a slap in the face of his infallible deity which would offend me if I thought He was real.

“We need the same public protection of marriage that we have of property.”

That the man could write this and not realize how medieval it sounds is evidence that he’s not thinking rationally. Still, for the next several paragraphs he goes on to admit that the problems with heterosexual marriage have nothing to do with granting the same rights to homosexuals. And that, in fact, the institution of marriage is already so devalued that many hetero couples don’t even bother anymore. This leads him to wonder why gays would want to bother. I call this the “shitting where you eat so no one will steal your food” defense.

“Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.”

Now we’re getting to it. Be patient.

“Why should married people feel the slightest loyalty to a government or society that are conspiring to encourage reproductive and/or marital dysfunction in their children?”

So government sanction of marriage isn’t encouraging heterosexuals to get married, but it makes people gay. That’s a pretty neat trick. Look Orson, if your children are gay, they’re gay. Whether they can share insurance or not. 100% of gay people are born from heterosexual relationships. It’s genes, not judges causing it.

“How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.”

And there it is. Did you catch that? Card is advocating open rebellion against the government if they allow people he doesn’t know to do something that’s none of his business. Or since we’ve been talking about historical precedent, if you let those people have equal rights then we’re gonna start a war.

This is why many Christians and non-believers alike fear the increasingly militant religious right. You don’t see homosexuals threatening armed rebellion in order to obtain the rights they feel they are entitled to. But for all the inane yapping the right does about how much they love this country, as soon as patriotism and dogma part company, here come the threats. I’ve got news for Orson Card. When a religious theocracy is established in America, it’s going to be right back to all that Carthage, Illinois nastiness for the Mormons. The other fundies don’t think much better of his religion than they do the gays.

(BTW, the reason Joseph Smith was taken from Nauvoo to Carthage for questioning isn’t mentioned in the link. It was because he had led a band to destroy the printing presses of a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor that was printing anti-plural marriage articles. The more things change…)

I know I’ve beat the slavery metaphor to death but those are exactly the terms in which I see the gay rights debate. I’m no more gay than I am black, but I’m able to realize that freedom for anyone must include freedom for everyone. And I can’t help but remember that in the Secular Humanist Revival Meeting speech Mr. Card made the point that, when they are in the minority, religious groups all cry for relief from oppression yet as soon as they garner power they set about to use it to force everyone else to follow their standards. Considering the persecution that the early Mormons suffered you would think that would be something they would remember. But unfortunately, they’ve never been on the vanguard of this equality thing. It wasn’t until 1979 (no not 1879- they were still fighting for their right to marry more than one woman back then) that his church decided to allow black men to hold the priesthood that every adult male in their church is expected to hold. And without it, blacks couldn’t be married in their temples. So, in spite of the irony that they didn’t grant equal marriage rights to blacks until 30 years ago, here they are trying to tell another group that “real” marriage is for them only.

Seems like another good time for one of those convenient revelations from God. Perhaps this time he’ll just say something like “Look, you guys have gotten this wrong twice now. I think you should check the connection.” Well, maybe in another hundred years.

God is far to fond of irony. Orson Scott Card, OTOH, is oblivious to it.


Nick Literski said...

We REALLY need a transcript of that speech by Orson Scott Card that you refer to in this blog entry! It would be tremendously useful to combat his nonsense, and demonstrate that he is being used as a pawn by his church!

memphisto said...

Personally, I wish the cassette was available as a CD or .mp3. Orson’s a spectacular public speaker and has the southern revivalist preacher delivery down pat. But it seems that there are none on Amazon or Ebay and even Orson won’t sell them on his website.

I don’t really think he’s “being used as a pawn”. Card has always been a devout LDS member and has worked for church publications since the beginning of his career. But his politics has changed a lot in the last few years. Still, I wonder how much of his heart is in it. The article mentioned is so full of illogic from such a normally logical man that it makes me curious.