Carol Platt Liebau: A Weird World

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Weird World

Had a ball guest hosting on KABC. Even so, the program reinforced the fact that there are a number of people out there with ideas that are, to put it kindly, pernicious.

We started with Jesse Diaz -- organizer of today's march in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants -- a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California-Riverside, and a "Minority Fellow in Criminology and Race & Class Inequality" (funded by the American Sociological Association). Diaz asserted that illegals have a right to "demand" US citizenship on the grounds that American oppression is responsible for Mexico's economic exigencies. Perhaps it's not surprising that he likewise believes that California actually belongs to Mexico . . . On the air, he used the "n" word and a four letter word (s--t), both caught, thankfully, by an alert producer. Even so, tells you a little bit about the quality of discourse favored in academia and by the American Sociological Association.

Next was supposed to be Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers -- it would have been interesting to hear her explain why union bosses are in favor of amnesty for illegals, given that illegal immigrant labor lowers wages for unionized workers. Would she have admitted, as Say Anything points out, that unions want to "negotiate legal status for illegal immigrants" so that "they can set about organizing thm for the collection of the dues that keep organizations like the AFL-CIO flush with cash"? We'll never know, because Huerta was as hard to find as . . . as a union boss at a Republican campaign rally. Hmmm.

Finally, Janet Lessin, President of the World Polyamory Association came on to discuss "alternative" forms of marriage in the wake of the arrest of polygamist Warren Jeffs last week. It's a hard topic to handle without being too theoretical on the one hand, or too salacious, on the other. Ultimately, Lessin had no real answer for the objection that polyamory may be fine for the adults who "choose" it -- but for children, it's significantly less beneficial than the traditional nuclear family. Lessin also declined in theory to "judge" me if I decided to marry both my brothers and my dog; ultimately, she argued that legally-recognized adult relationships should be based exclusively on "love" and admitted that there was no principled distinction between the arguments for gay marriage and for the legal recognition of the polyamorous relationships that she seeks. Hey, didn't Rick Santorum get in trouble for saying basically the same thing?

4 Comments:

Blogger LAG said...

Lessin also declined in theory to "judge" me if I decided to marry both my brothers and my dog; ultimately, she argued that legally-recognized adult relationships should be based exclusively on "love" and admitted that there was no principled distinction between the arguments for gay marriage and for the legal recognition of the polyamorous relationships that she seeks.

I was disappointed in Ms. Lessin's response to your incest question (which I thought was a perfectly valid question to ask). Incest is a breach of trust. Polyamory doesn't work without mutual trust and respect. What's so hard about that?

While I like the idea of being able to legally marry more than one person simultaneously in theory, legally it's a can of worms-- especially if said marriage ends up in divorce court. You think getting divorced from one person is expensive and complicated... the mind boogie woogies. I'd like to see the legal problems addressed as well as the legal benefits (I'm hoping someone reading this posts a link to same).

It's occurred to me that one of the things fuelling the whole gay/alternatve marriage debate is that we use the word "marriage" for both the civil union (the one concerned with property rights and such) and for the religious union. I can't see a problem with same sex couples wanting to be able to enter into the same civil contract that opposite sex couples can. Nowhere does that imply that any religious institution has to recognize and/or bless that union.

I can't speak personally to the question of how children fare in a polyamorous household, not having any (and not actually having a polyamorous household- just two of us here). But friends of mine liken it to raising children in an extended family (I was raised in one of those, and feel I'm better off for it). The key issue appears to be one of stability- kids need a stable, safe home. More than that I'm not qualified to speculate on.

3:38 AM  
Blogger eLarson said...

American oppression is responsible for Mexico's economic exigencies

Did Sr. Diaz explain the nature and means of said oppression? I'm guessing--I don't get KABC on the other coast, naturally--that he just put it out there as a given that "everyone knows".

7:30 AM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

LAG,

If you're speaking of adults only, where would there be a breach of trust in an incestuous marriage? Leaving kids out of the equation, there is no arrangement I can think of for which the arguments for gay marriage won't apply. So the question is always, which arrangement ISN'T worthy of license and which is? If we allow for one, mustn't we allow for all?
I think the ramifications aren't even imagined yet. Let the Netherlands risk it all first. We can observe.

I, too, have engaged in fantasy regarding multiple wives. But like yourself, the reality is a different story. Hey, just one naggin' me is tough. I couldn't handle any more. And I love this one. But again, have we even thought of all the possible legal issues involved with such arrangements. Not yet I think. Also, if we were to extend our current feelings about marriage to more than one wife/spouse, there would seem to be a greater need for one supreme leader or head of the household with more and more spouses involved. Despotism in the home would seem likely.

I think the gay community would not want to dispense with the term "marriage" as it is what they are really after---to be regarded the same as heteros. To use different terminology would defeat that goal. But, I also feel, and we see signs of it now, that indeed religious institutions would be pressured, if not outright required, to at some point ignore their beliefs on behalf of the gay agenda.

Though it's true that it would be hard to predict how children would fare in a polyamorous household, I think it's terribly bad form to even gamble on such things. We constantly hear that "studies show" that kids fare best in traditional Mom/Dad households, but I think common sense should be sufficient to understand that point. Now, it seems to me that there are those that are trying to convince themselves otherwise in order to further their own desires for marriage rights.

11:03 PM  
Blogger LAG said...

Marshall,

If you're speaking of adults only, where would there be a breach of trust in an incestuous marriage?

I think the question in this case is, is the incest taboo only about inbreeding, or is it also about threats to the family structure? The breach of trust is not necessarily between the two people involved (and as you point out, there may well be none between those two individuals; certainly far stranger things have happened), but can be between the two and the rest of the family. None of our relationships happen in a social vacuum. I think that's why this topic is such a hot potato- it's a question of just where the line is that signals a break in the family structure.

Also, if we were to extend our current feelings about marriage to more than one wife/spouse, there would seem to be a greater need for one supreme leader or head of the household with more and more spouses involved.

Not necessarily. I have three friends who've been a stable triad for about 20 years now. Their answer to the leadership issue is to swap off the role depending on the situation. Noone's always the leader, and noone's never the leader.

I think the gay community would not want to dispense with the term "marriage" as it is what they are really after...

I never said they should. I just wanted to point out that civil and religious marriage are two separate things. Whether I can include my SO on my auto and health insurance policies has nothing to do with who performed the ceremony and everything to do with us having registered ourselves as a family unit with the local government.

But, I also feel, and we see signs of it now, that indeed religious institutions would be pressured, if not outright required, to at some point ignore their beliefs on behalf of the gay agenda.

People are also free to form their own church if they disagree with their current one. Plus, we do have separation of church and state in this country. If I ever saw a government body attempt to legislate a requirement like that, I'd be standing right next to you screaming in protest.

We constantly hear that "studies show" that kids fare best in traditional Mom/Dad households, but I think common sense should be sufficient to understand that point.

Yeah, you need Mom and Dad, but it also helps to have Grandma, and Uncle George, and... More seriously, it does help to have more adult family members than just their biological parents involved in kids' lives. Also, I think those studies are mostly comparing traditional Mom/Dad households to broken homes, families with absentee fathers and so on. (no, I don't follow the studies very closely, either. I'm a sysadmin, not a sociologist ;)

12:55 AM  

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