Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Op-Ed Smackdown

Well, here I am again, trying to smack down an argument on the same old thing.  Some numb-nut Assemblyman from Virginia wrote in to the Baltimore Sun this morning with an anti-gay marriage diatribe.  Same thing happened here in March, when Maryland was considering a law permitting it, and someone wrote in a bunch of bigoted bullshit masquerading as religious mumbo-jumbo.  I wrote into the paper and they ran my letter online.  It didn’t make the print version, but I was OK with that.  I got a good post out of it.

I tried it again this evening and I’m pretty sure this one won’t make the paper either, mostly because it’s longer than the average Letter to the Editor.  But again, I at least get a post out of it.  You can see the original op/ed piece here. 

If I was writing it solely for the blog, I’d have went into more detail and used more of his quotes.  But since I was trying to be compact and not give his views any more exposure than they already got, (other than to make fun of them), I only hit the major points. 

My letter is below:

Regarding the commentary by Bob Marshall (On Marriage, O’Malley Should Heed O’Brien), the author should be commended for providing a veritable litany of logical fallacies, errors and oversights that would serve as a real-time example of “How Not To,” for any high school debate team.

Right out of the gate, he starts out, “As a Catholic, a 20-year member of the VA General Assembly…” When talking politics, religion is irrelevant as a basis for argument.  State law must apply to everyone in the state, not just those adherents of any particular brand.  In America, being Catholic gives one no more standing than being Jewish, Muslim or the Buddha himself.

Next he claims that by O’Malley telling O’Brien to stick to administering to his flock, he is infringing on the Archbishop’s First Amendment rights.  The Governor was questioning whether he should be speaking on the topic, not whether he was allowed to.  This is a common dodge because it appears to help bolster a weak argument by vociferously claiming the right to make it, which of course, was never in question. 

While I acknowledge he has a right to express his opinion, perhaps Assemblyman Marshall should stick to misdirecting those in his own state.

He goes on to compare sexual orientation with the usual scare-issues: pedophilia, polygamy, necrophilia, bestiality and so forth.  He claims that there is no logical reason to draw the line between these things and same-sex marriage, because they’re all behaviors.

Of course, they are not all behaviors.  Scientific studies have overwhelmingly shown that homosexuality is an inborn trait.  (At least, the studies that weren’t bought and paid for by religious conservative think tanks, where the conclusion is written before the testing is done.)  The rest of these scare-tactic actions are not inborn and there is no one campaigning to legitimize them.  In fact, the most common place you hear about such things is in arguments from people wanting to prevent gay marriage.

Marshall even drags poor Thomas Jefferson into it, of all people… the Poster Boy for Separation of Church and State!  Perhaps he should look up what Jefferson had to say about limiting the power and influence of priests.

The last big swing and miss comes when Marshall explains how permitting gay marriage will “impact the rest of us.”  He raises a lot of preposterous predictions about how religious schools will lose their tax-exempt status and will be forced to “promote (not just tolerate) homosexuality.”

Even a cursory reading of the law that passed in New York (in addition to the one that was proposed in Maryland this year) will show the protections for religious institutions that were baked in.  Once again, we have a lot of horrible-sounding scare tactics about possible actions that aren’t really in play.

And isn’t that exactly how you push an argument when you can’t win on facts?  You play on fears and misdirect attention.

Gay marriage has zero affect on traditional marriage.  Zero.  There is roughly a 50% divorce in this country right now and there will no doubt continue to be one if gays are allowed to marry.  If people would work on their own households rather than worry about what’s going on next door, perhaps that percentage might improve a little.

When you strip away the fear mongering and scary language, this is really all about withholding civil rights from people because of the way they were born.  And that’s wrong.  It was wrong in 1776, it was wrong in 1964 and it’s wrong right now.

I really wish I could shelve this topic for a while but the shit just keeps coming back.  As long as a bunch of holier-than-thou hypocrites are making it their mission to keep good people from being happy, I’m going to have to keep holding feet to the fire and calling ‘bullshit.’

Bluz… OUT!

21 comments:

  1. ok, that cartoon is priceless. Love it.

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  2. Great letter, too bad they aren't going to run it in the print version. I think more people need to read it.

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  3. O.k., well I WAS going to write a post about how America is turning into the next Gomorrah and might just get burned to a crisp with fire and brimstone, but then I thought better of it because the narrow-minded, bible-toting, bible (mis)quoting control-freaks in ultra-conservative land just might think I was talking about "Sodom and Gomorrah" and think that I was slamming homosexuality on top of idol worship and greed. But I really wanted to only write about Gomorrah, because that's where all the rich, greedy people lived. Those people tried to keep anyone else from coming into their special city and living the "good life." Sort of like America today--the rich, greedy people don't want us to have the American dream because they want to keep it all for themselves. The conservative freaks don't want homosexuals to have regular homes, families, civil rights. etc. because they think that those priviledges only belong to straight people who think the way they do. They are ignorant and mean-spirited and selfish. Those last two things are not characteristics that Jesus would have condoned. Well, he probably wouldn't have condoned ignorance either, now that I think about it.

    I know that there are a lot of these ultra-conservative freaks in America today, but there are also just as many gays and lesbians, and straight people who support gays and lesbians, and their right to live a good life like the rest of us. I know I certainly support them!! Anyway, I think that there are more people like us, Bluz, than there are the other kind.

    Your letter to the editor is wonderful, and I am proud of you for speaking your mind. I am glad that you chose to share your letter with your adoring fans.

    Your Hot Arizona Auntie

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  4. Dazee,
    Glad you enjoyed the last-second toss-in.

    Rev,
    Yeah, to get it in the paper, I'd have to cut that by about a third to a half, which would have barely scratched the surface of what I needed to say. It should be online though... We'll see.

    Judie,
    You're right... this IS Gomorrah. We should put it right on the money... "I got mine, get yours."

    Once again, we have the religious people bending over backwards to explain why it's God's will that certain people are to be shunned for the way they were born.

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  5. So happy to know you are out there fighting the good fight, my friend. It's because of people like you, I resist sticking my head in the oven when I read shit like that.

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  6. When is religious mumbo jumbo NOT bigoted bullshit? Sorry, that's probably unfair, but mostly true. Your letter was excellent, man. I do love to see bullshit pulled apart at the seams:)

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  7. That stuff kills me. It makes me insane that people are so caught up with the lives of others that they can't even enjoy their own lives.

    People need to mind their own business. GLBT people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.

    Great letter Bluz.

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  8. Assemblyman Marshall should also be commended for being a staunch Papal Bully. He seems smugly impressed with his church's power.
    "The Catholic Church did not change its clear teaching on marriage for the King of England. It won't change it for the governor of Maryland, nor should it." (Note K for king and g for governor).
    Remember King Henry VIII then started his own religion. Maybe Governor O'Malley could do so too. The Catholic Church won't change. But we must, lest we become, like the Virginia Assemblyman, carved in cement.

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  9. Six months ago, February 16, my best poet friend, Randy Cadman, died. He and his partner, Andrew Watts, had been together almost 40 years.
    Randy is smiling at your Post and comments, I'm sure. He would probably have lobbed a few wry and witty incendiaries at Mr. Marshall, this pompous ass braying about "when this radical change impacts the rest of us."
    Indeed. Their neighbor asked Randy and Andrew to mentor her grandson who, she thought, might be gay. Radical indeed.

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  10. Jayne,
    Yes, please resist… the oven should be for buns, and by that I don’t mean your tiny little size-4.

    We have to fight, or at least try to be heard. I don’t want to have any regrets if Middle America sweeps another empty-headed good ol’ boy into the White House. I don’t know if we’ll be able to convince any more Democrats to come in next and clean up after him.

    Lemons
    Thanks… I learned from Jayne.

    Beer
    That’s the problem I have with religion… I’ve written about it before, but essentially, when you look at the vast expanse of this world…the multitude of cultures and values in places teeming with life or barren, I just can’t see any single religion being The One True Faith, to the exclusion of all others. It just doesn’t make sense. And people have been killing each other for millennia trying to spread the influence of “their” One True Faith.

    None of it is necessary… I opted out. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to take having faith-based laws enacted to cover country as diverse in thought as ours.

    Oh, and as for the “pulling apart at the seams,” thanks for that. It’s probably the best skill I picked up in college (way back when…): how to pick apart an argument. Granted, this one wasn’t really a challenge…

    Jessica
    Amen, sister.

    Why is it that so many are so concerned with what everyone else is doing, while their own houses crumble around them? It’s not like it’s only the heathens that are enduring or escaping ruinous marriages… This country would be in such better shape if people would mind their own goddamned business and leave their neighbors alone.

    Mary Ann
    The good Assemblyman should be radically impacted with a brick upside the head, just like in the Albert Collins song.

    If the Church insists on inserting itself into public policy decisions, I suggest, as George Carlin did, that we tax them. They want to play, they got to pay like the rest of us. Must be nice to issue such grand proclamations on how everyone in the state should be living, yet recoil at any possibility of contributing monetarily, like the people they seek to lecture.

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  11. Bluz, as usual, well done, man.

    Why is the world filled with so many closed-minded idiots??

    Oh, and "vociferously" - awesome word usage. Love it.

    Your response to a comment above really says it all:

    "Once again, we have the religious people bending over backwards to explain why it's God's will that certain people are to be shunned for the way they were born."

    That whole concept is so contrary to what "Christians" claim to believe in, it baffles me that they continue to push it. Christ was all about acceptance and went OUT OF HIS WAY to accept those that others shunned. How can they claim to be fighting for his cause but be so blind to what the cause is?!

    Great post!

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  12. Cristy,
    That's the hypocrisy that drives me batshit crazy. If these religious types would just follow the message of the Savior they claim to follow, none of these conflicts would see the light of day.

    But apparently it's more fun to divide the country (and world) into right/wrong, good/evil, holy/thou.

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  13. Awesome letter. Amazing, actually. You write things so perfectly and it's so well organized that it doesn't even seem attacking. I'm super impressed. (Plus I could never write that way.)

    It always amazes me how people neb into others' business and think it's OK, preaching God and Country, where not everyone is so religious.

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  14. As King David, the psalmist and "a man after [God's] own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14) knew, marriage is strictly between one man and his eight wives and ten concubines. The Bible says it and that settles it!

    And remember, they call it missionary position for a reason!

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  15. Cassie,
    You do just fine, Cassandre. Remember, I’ve had twice your lifetime to work on it.

    I come at writing these kinds of things like I’m building a wall. I just start laying bricks and stackin’em up, item by item, point by point. It’s the same way you might attack cleaning your house or starting a big art project.

    Carpetbagger,
    Geez, who knew the old Mormons were right?

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  16. And then you have Christine O'Donnell storming off Piers Morgan because he brought up the subjects of abstinence and gay marriage. "He would not stop trying to talk about sex."

    Since when is marriage--in any form--solely about sex? Hell, after a few years, it's hardly about sex at all...

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  17. Sherry,
    She’s probably learned what happens when she goes ‘off script.’ She didn’t want to talk about that so she wasn’t prepared. And you know, I bet she got far more publicity for walking off than she would have had she stayed.

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  18. If the paper doesn't offer you a job after reading that letter, then they're a bunch of morons.

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  19. Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
    They’re morons. They didn’t even run my letter online.

    They did, however, run several that made some of my same points, only more succinctly. Of course, none had my sense of flair…

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