“We celebrate the wars we won
The blood of history’s ancient sons
We followed Judah Maccabee
We fought against inequity
We saved ourselves with help from One
Who loves His children everyone
– Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, “Jersualem“
The stupidest arguments for the legal recognition for gay marriage comes from those who support it.
Some say, this secures benefits. But how is expanding the welfare state a nobel goal? They say this as if its a benefit of legally recognizing gay marriage, but it is surely draw back.
Some say, this makes hospital visitation easier. But if someone does not understand the law enough to know what a durable power of attorney is, or how one might be constructed, or complemented, a good argument can be made that such a person is not competent to form a marriage contract.
Rather, the strongest argument for the legal recognition of marriage contract between two gays (male homosexuals or female homosexuals) is the same as free commerce in spirits, or marijuana, or prostitution: the right to contract. Since ancient days society has recognized “marriage” as a type of contract. If individuals are not harming others in their contract, it is morally wrong to deprive them of that contract.
The greatest argument against legal recognition of gay marriage (putting aside the ghastly feature of expanding the welfare state) is unintended consequences. The second and third order impact of legal recognition are unknown, and this is not a trivial concern.
Our Constitution allows our nation to handle this through federalism. Different States enact different laws, and the consequences of these different laws can be observed. Some of these laws, like prohibition, do not work out. Others, such as welfare reform, eventually become a model for the nation.
Legal non-recognition of gay marriage has the flaw of taking away the free contract rights of the individual concerns. It has the benefit of not expanding the welfare state. It has the potential benefit of avoiding unintended consequences.
As such, the present political conditions — “gay marriage” is recognized in some places, “civil union” is recognized in others, neither is recognized in yet others — are reasonable. Our political system is working as it should.
Three Cheers for Genetic Discrimination!
On facebook, Niles Bliss made some comments about genetics and human behavior that are worth describing. He phrased the same belief in a number of different ways, but this one line sums up a good deal of Niles’ philosophy
It is wrong to treat one group differently due to genetic factors.
Of course, this comment is absurd on two different levels.
Whenever people discuss genetics on facebook, it’s a good bet that they’re discussing race, sex, vaccination, or homosexuality. Another comment by Niles makes it clear this is once again the case [emphasis mine]:
Denying someone the ability to take part in an institution, i.e. marriage, because of a
genetic factor, i.e. enjoying sodomy (or the females only equivalent), is morally wrong. The POA vs. Marriage is not the issue. You can keep it. The issue is being treated as a full-fledged member of the species instead of some sort of aberrant embarrassment. Neither polygamy nor Mormonism/Islamism is determined genetically, so there is not the same moral consideration. I do not believe in cultural relativism, and if your religion must have multiple wives, go to a government that is cool with it.
To break this down, Niles is asserting two common, but mistaken, ideas
1. Some widespread variant human behaviors are “determined genetically”
2. It is ethically wrong to discriminate against genetically-driven traits.
“Determined Genetically” Means That You Can’t Avoid The Expression of the Trait Without Killing, Dismembering, or Lobotomizing the Subject
When people say “determined genetically,” they mean that 100% of variation of a trait within a population is caused exclusively by genes. There are some diseases that operate like this, but not many. Certainly I am not aware of any complex societal traits that are “determined genetically.”
Given the influence that nutrition has in early development, I am not even sure that something as “simple” as earlobe-shape is “determined genetically.”
Non-genetic factors in our development include social environment, nutrition, epigenetic load, and pathogenic load.
Discriminating Against People For Genetically-Shaped Traits Is Both Fun, Easy, and Morally Virtuous
Here are a list of some traits with large “genetic components,” that is, given similar environments, most of the variation in these traits by age 30 or so will be the result of variation in DNA
1. Political Orientation
2. Religious Ferver
3. General Intelligence
5. Future Time Orientation
6. Openness to New Experience
11. Some forms of Schizophrenia / Psychopathology
12. Skin Hue
14. Build of musculature
15. Fatty tissue distribution
The only way you are having any fun in your life if you are not discriminating on any of these traits is if you consider the lack of control you now have over your life as “fun.”
(I am exclude homosexuality here because I am unaware of a study showing that > 50% of variation in expression of that trait by age 30 is predictable based on knowledge of blood relatives. I did not, however, research this before writing this post, as my whole point is that not discriminating based on genetic tendencies is ridiculous)
Discrimination Is Right? Wrong? Something Else?
“Discrimination” means treating different things different, and different people differently, based on features that are meaningful.
Many traits with large “genetic components” are meaningful in our lives. Tendency to crime, beauty, personality, political orientation, skin hue, fervor, etc., all matter to us in meaningful ways. Traits without the same obvious genetic component — which political party you belong to, which Church you worship at, perhaps even your sexual orientation — also matter.
Human beings are not disembodied ghosts. Nor are we soulless corpses. We have bodies. We are made of flesh and blood and spirit, clay and the breathe of life.