Skip

A Really Long Post About Gay Marriage
August 11, 2010 5:03 PM   Subscribe

A Really Long Post About Gay Marriage. Or, the Libertarian Argument Against It. I do think she makes a conclusion, despite claiming not to. I am pro SSM, and not a libertarian, and despite that, found this interesting.

This is my first link at MeFi. If this has been posted before, please disregard.
posted by Leta (105 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Sorry this is pretty old, doesn't really cover new ground and people kind of hate it -- mathowie



 
Actually, the article isn't that long. It's the comments that go on forever.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:10 PM on August 11, 2010


When I was in law school, one of the very first rhetorical arguments we learned about was "the parade of horribles." It is merely a form of hyperbole. As soon as Jane Galt trotted it out, and it was in fact the first rhetorical device on display, I have to say I stopped feeling very engaged. Even less persuasive was that the terrible thing at the end of the parade is apparently government programs!

Also -- Jane Galt? How old are people whose pseudonyms are straight from Ayn Rand?
posted by bearwife at 5:13 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow, that's like a MetaFilter-doesn't-do-this-well bingo, all rolled up in one essay.
posted by lekvar at 5:15 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


There's a factual error in the second paragraph: "For some reason, marriage always and everywhere, in every culture we know about, is between a man and a woman; this seems to be an important feature of the institution."

In fact, polygamous marriage has been the accepted practice in many cultures throughout human history, and remains widespread today. Polyandry is also not unheard of, though it is not nearly so common.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:15 PM on August 11, 2010 [17 favorites]


Unless I'm mistaken this is an old blog post of Megan Mcardle's.
posted by ghharr at 5:20 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a factual error in the second paragraph

There's about a million factual or logical errors in the second paragraph.

Also, I like how the post was set up as a disagreement between a smart and rational "social conservative of a more moderate stripe" and a very stupid "other side".
posted by muddgirl at 5:22 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


this specific argument, which I have heard over and over from the people I know who favor gay marriage laws. [..] "I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people[..]"

WHAT? Do any straight people actually consider forgoing marriage if gays get civil rights? I've never heard this angle voiced, not once.

Any Libertarian who doesn't favor marriage rights as a civil right and/or getting the church out of the government is kidding himself, or herself, but probably himself.
posted by applemeat at 5:22 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep typing things and deleting them because... well. So, in the interest of sharing, I'm going to share something a friend of mine posted to Facebook today:
CAP AND TRADE MARRIAGE! Every time one heterosexual couple get's divorced, a gay couple is allowed to marry. That way all heterosexual couples that oppose gay marriage STAY married AND uphold the "sanctity of marriage"! (BTW If this were the case Rush Limbaugh would have, to date, allowed 4 gay couples to marry).
posted by lekvar at 5:23 PM on August 11, 2010 [51 favorites]


Thank you for the reminder of why I spend as little time as possible reading essays by Libertarians and social conservatives.

I understand what the author was trying to do, but dispassionately discussing topics like marriage equality, the fate of unwed mothers, the housing problems of the desperately poor and the ability to remove oneself from a miserable marriage isn't actually helpful. To be honest, the lack of empathy creeped me the hell out.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:25 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Social conservatives of a more moderate stripe are essentially saying that marriage is an ancient institution, which has been carefully selected for throughout human history. It is a bedrock of our society; if it is destroyed, we will all be much worse off. (See what happened to the inner cities between 1960 and 1990 if you do not believe this.)

It wouldn't be a Libertarian posting on the internet without the thinly-veiled racism!
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2010 [27 favorites]


This is my first link at MeFi.


Don't take this the wrong way but I think you should have done that other post you had kickin' around in your head. You know, the one about the ancient art of noodles.

My first post was about Noam Chomsky, so I don't have room to talk.
posted by nola at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2010


Does he ever actually reference anything resembling libertarianism? Or is it just a bunch of bullshit socially conservative wind baggery about all the terrible law changes that allowed divorcee welfare moms are coming to steal his hard earned money and a bunch of head shaking about how "you just don't know"?

Not that actual libertarians are actually much better, mind.
posted by Artw at 5:28 PM on August 11, 2010


I think Megan is known for being kind of polarizing and sometimes inaccurate.
posted by ghharr at 5:28 PM on August 11, 2010


Or she, as the case may be.
posted by Artw at 5:29 PM on August 11, 2010


WHAT? Do any straight people actually consider forgoing marriage if gays get civil rights? I've never heard this angle voiced, not once.

Neither have I, but it's not that crazy*. I know several people on the other side of the argument who have vowed not to get married until gay people can. Why shouldn't the opposite be true?

*From a certain point of view.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2010


To be honest, the lack of empathy creeped me the hell out.

Well if those people would just try harder, they wouldn't have those problems. Duh.
posted by inigo2 at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It wouldn't be a Libertarian posting on the internet without the thinly-veiled racism!

Ugh. I'd almost forgotten about that. Also the weirdo mysogyny.
To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as "Widows and orphans pensions", which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers.
Dang, I guess everything was great until the black folks and women fucked it all up!

:|
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:32 PM on August 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Dang, I guess everything was great until the black folks and women fucked it all up!

Now THAT is a succinct summary of the GOP platform.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:33 PM on August 11, 2010 [26 favorites]


(ugh, "misogyny," sorry.....)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:34 PM on August 11, 2010


Next up, the libertarian argument for keeping pot illegal pot because "it's always been like that".
posted by Artw at 5:35 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm just fascinated she had the chutzpah to quote G. K. Chesterton to buttress her argument, when Chesterton, being a Distributist, would have been a mortal enemy of libertarianism, had it existed during his lifetime.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Does he ever actually reference anything resembling libertarianism?

Despite how horrible everything was, this was the first thing that jumped out at me, too: if you're a libertarian, and you're arguing in favor of government sanction and control of an activity, how does your head not explode from cognitive dissonance?

Then, I realized that it's because there's simply nothing in there to overheat.
posted by mordax at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


In fact, polygamous marriage has been the accepted practice in many cultures throughout human history, and remains widespread today.

It's even more interesting when you consider that polygamy was considered the norm in the lands and epochs where our culture's Holy Books were written. Solomon had 700 wives and the Bible only mentions that Yahweh was mad at him because his wives were foreign and followed different gods.
posted by Azazel Fel at 5:38 PM on August 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Another authoritarian libertarian, evidently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:38 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


I wonder if the author's view has changed in the 5+ years since this blog post was originally published. A lot has changed in 5 years (like half a dozen countries making marriage freedom legal with no ill effects).
posted by mathowie at 5:38 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be honest, the lack of empathy creeped me the hell out.

Welcome to Libertarianism. Thats practically the defining trait.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:39 PM on August 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


post hoc ergo proper hoc, ad nauseum
posted by hoople at 5:40 PM on August 11, 2010


Man, what a shitty article.
posted by kmz at 5:40 PM on August 11, 2010


that ought to be post hoc ergo propter hoc, ad nausem. I blame the spell checker.
posted by hoople at 5:41 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the argument against gay marriage is "If we remove governmental restrictions and allow equal rights to all, the outcome might negatively affect society as a whole"? And this is supposed to be libertarian?
posted by No-sword at 5:41 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am pro SSM, and not a libertarian, and despite that, found this interesting.

Is "interesting" a code word for something that's completely the opposite?

Because I don't find it interesting at all to hear the same arguments about why, if I fall in love with a woman, I should not be allowed to marry her. I find it tiresome, offensive, and dull. I'm over so-called "reasoned" arguments against gay marriage.

Realize when you post things like this here, you are talking to people who are affected by these issues personally, who don't like "interesting" websites about how they shouldn't have the same rights as others.

I find the idea of trying to reason against equality offensive in the first place. Even if her arguments were new and persuasive, which they certainly aren't, they have no place in a just world.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:42 PM on August 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


I am not a lawyer, but...

Under the law, marriage is a legal contract between two parties possessing the capacity to enter into contract.

According to the US Constitution, all natural persons are entitled equal protection under the law, including the ability (assuming capacity) to enter into contract as they choose.

True libertarians (as I understand them) hold these principles very dear. So how could a true libertarian oppose gay marriage?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:43 PM on August 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


To be honest, the lack of empathy creeped me the hell out.

Welcome to Libertarianism. Thats practically the defining trait.


So true. I had a short romance with Ayn Rand and libertarianism my freshman year of college. Fell right out of the infatuation in the middle of Atlas Shrugged when I realized she was just killing off tons of people in the book because they weren't special enough.

Not much empathy when you revel in the imagined death of folks, for the crime of being "mediocre."
posted by bearwife at 5:43 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm still trying to figure out how vague references to welfare relate to two consenting adults entering into a private contract that doesn't affect anyone else. I guess you can't have welfare queens without queens.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:43 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


This was the message I got from this:

"Now, I understand that things change, but lets not change things. Not that I'm saying anything, but you know, blacks, the poor, gays. You know..."
posted by ob at 5:47 PM on August 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


Does he ever actually reference anything resembling libertarianism? Or is it just a bunch of bullshit socially conservative wind baggery about all the terrible law changes that allowed divorcee welfare moms are coming to steal his hard earned money and a bunch of head shaking about how "you just don't know"?

Whenever I hear social conservatives talk about their "libertarian views," I'm reminded of a 65 year old priest talking about how following the teachings of Jesus is the real American Idol. Dressing up your traditional, reactionary bullshit by slapping a new label on it ain't fooling anyone.
"What it is, homies! Women should stay in the kitchen, where they belong! *Wheelie*"
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 5:48 PM on August 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


I know several people on the other side of the argument who have vowed not to get married until gay people can. Why shouldn't the opposite be true?

Because liberals and progressives already have decades of familiarity with non-marital cohabitation and alternatives to marriage and do not, in general, assign the same fervor to traditional marriage that evangelicals and conservatives do?
posted by applemeat at 5:48 PM on August 11, 2010


There's a mention of "privatizing marriage" (?) ... all I can think of is the occasional moments of wedding planning where it would have been a great peace of mind to have had public funding for the reception.

(or even an Interstate Highway System 90/10 deal)
posted by kurumi at 5:49 PM on August 11, 2010


To summarize the argument as best I understand it:

If you assist unwed mothers, you'll get more unwed mothers. Easier X leads to more X.

If you allow easier divorces, you'll get more divorces. Easier X leads to more X.

But if you allow same-same marriage, you'll likely get THE END OF MARRIAGE!!!!. Easier X leads to complete collapse of X.

What.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:49 PM on August 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


'm going to share something a friend of mine posted to Facebook today:

CAP AND TRADE MARRIAGE! Every time one heterosexual couple get's divorced, a gay couple is allowed to marry. That way all heterosexual couples that oppose gay marriage STAY married AND uphold the "sanctity of marriage"! (BTW If this were the case Rush Limbaugh would have, to date, allowed 4 gay couples to marry).


You're friends with The Onion? Cool!
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:52 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess you can't have welfare queens without queens.

Too funny. I am literally wiping tears away.
posted by bearwife at 5:52 PM on August 11, 2010


The mind of the republican "independent voter."
posted by Max Power at 5:52 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


True libertarians don't care about gay marriage any more than true atheists care one way or another about god(s).

True libertarians actually tend to be anti-marriage. Or, at least, anti-"two person" marriage. True libertarians embrace the full range of personal/social arrangements that are afforded to businesses. That's to say, if you're going to have marriage, you should allow any kind of marriage between consenting adults, including polygamy, heterosexual/homosexual unions, co-parenting, etc.

I'm so fucking tired of people claiming to be X, when really they're Y. Labels don't work. Stop using them.
posted by Eideteker at 5:52 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, there's these two heteros who said they'd get married after "everybody" could too, but I guess they might reconsider.

And as for the article:
To which social conservatives reply that institutions have a number of complex ways in which they fulfill their roles, and one of the very important ways in which the institution of marriage perpetuates itself is by creating a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one's masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex; stepping into an explicitly gendered role.

...which doesn't work for a number of people, for reasons which should be obvious. It gets more ridiculous from there. Next!
posted by sldownard at 5:55 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


In regards to polygamous marriages, she does address that at the bottom.

I think it's kinda funny that all her examples, if you think about them without her judgements, are actually good things. Young women in need can get welfare! So can black women! And it doesn't matter if they're married! That's a wonderful thing. And divorce - now a woman who's only sort-of beaten can get a divorce! Now women aren't shamed into moving overseas! Wonderful stuff.

Hell, if that counts as a parade of horribles, I can't wait for whatever horrible things gay marriage brings.
posted by twirlypen at 5:55 PM on August 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


True libertarians don't care about gay marriage any more than true atheists care one way or another about god(s).

I dunno. I've seen a lot of self-professed "libertarians" here on MeFi with ridiculously un-libertarian views on just about everything. I suspect that for many people, "libertarian" is just a way of saying "Republican, but with a cooler haircut" or something.
posted by Azazel Fel at 5:58 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I would like to thank the author for helping debunk the notion that libertarians are really anything other than conservatives who dress their prejudices up in quasi-rationalistic arguments.
posted by edheil at 5:59 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


True libertarians (as I understand them) hold these principles very dear. So how could a true libertarian oppose gay marriage?

Perhaps there are no true Scotsmen---I mean, libertarians.

No, really. Perhaps a lot of libertarians are essentially conservative sorts, who balk at joining the fold on certain matters. (Gambling, or indentured servitude, for instance.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:02 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I have performed a marriage in DC for a heterosexual couple who didn't want to get married until their gay friends could.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:03 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're friends with The Onion? Cool! ...Who have a friend.
posted by applemeat at 6:05 PM on August 11, 2010


You're friends with The Onion? Cool!

Not just friends; special, destroying-the-underpinnings-of-society-in-some-non-specified-way friends, if you know what I mean.
posted by lekvar at 6:05 PM on August 11, 2010


"In regards to polygamous marriages, she does address that at the bottom."

I'm not advocating for historical polygamy (usu. polygyny). I'm actually advocating for the full range of business partnerships and arrangements to be made. If you can merge two businesses, or have a limited term joint venture, you should be able to do that with two marriages. It need not be a kinky sexual thing. Maybe one parent has been unemployed for 18 months, and has become the defacto childcare provider for both sets of kids. Why shouldn't the parents be able to assign certain legal rights to the "co-parent"? It's their kid; it should be their decision. And oh, yeah, people are like, "What about the children!" Except, that's gotta be provided for in the charter, as it should be for marriages (yes, I'm saying all marriages should provide for what happens to property AND progeny in the event of divorce, up front). It's not that hard. We have a ton of law, precedent, and history in place for business arrangements. When you have: partnerships, LLPs, LLCs, JVs, C-Corps, S-Corps, PCs, sole props, and so on for businesses, why do we only have plain vanilla 1-to-1 marriages?

For me, that's the ONLY argument against gay marriage, and not a strong one— that it further codifies marriage as a 1-to-1 proposition, when that's the opposite direction to the one we should be moving in.
posted by Eideteker at 6:06 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Jesus, I love it here. I'm just going to email this thread to the person who sent me the "Really Long" link.

Kutswamushi, I think I was a little unclear in my OP, so let me clarify. I found this interesting because it is an actual attempt to rationalize prejudice in the guise of intellectual rigor. It's a look into the heart of darkness, if you will.

It's like a pre Tea Party manifesto, in a way. Call self libertarian? Check. Thinly (and not so thinly) veiled racist rhetoric? Check. Assume anyone smart enough to read a few paragraphs is well educated and upper middle class? Check.

I guess, in a way, I see this as a positive thing. If this is the best they got, well, the same sex marriage fight is won. It's all over but the shouting.
posted by Leta at 6:06 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


True libertarians don't care about gay marriage any more than true atheists care one way or another about god(s).

They do, however, wear underwear beneath their kilts.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:07 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


How ridiculous. She essentially claimed if only we'd made a law that certain things couldn't be changed, then we never would have made those changes, and things would still be the way they were 100 years ago. So we should make a law now to confirm we can't change something.

Well, sorry, but times change. It's not the same world it was 100 years ago, and a 5% tax just makes no sense in a modern economy. It isn't because we forgot to pass a law saying the income tax couldn't go over 10%. It's because we are far less self-sufficient, and require a lot more basic infrastructure that is publicly subsidized in order to go about our business.
posted by mdn at 6:09 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the author's view has changed in the 5+ years since this blog post was originally published. A lot has changed in 5 years (like half a dozen countries making marriage freedom legal with no ill effects).

Or right here in our country, where a limited form of same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for 6 years, with no effect on heterosexual marriage rates (or, I believe, divorce rates).

Maybe it's the federal marriage benefits that will destroy life as we know it...
posted by muddgirl at 6:10 PM on August 11, 2010


This was worth it just for the link back to the Mieville post in "related". That was killah!
posted by Mister_A at 6:10 PM on August 11, 2010


You weren't just unclear in the OP. The OP is pretty much exactly the opposite of what you're now saying.
posted by kmz at 6:11 PM on August 11, 2010


So the argument against gay marriage is "If we remove governmental restrictions and allow equal rights to all, the outcome might negatively affect society as a whole"? And this is supposed to be libertarian?

The argument is to perpetuate a special status of the haves as somehow more worthy, and tell the have nots to fuck off. It's quintessentially libertarian.
posted by kafziel at 6:14 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


please please please write the truth so that it can outweigh sheer nonsense
posted by flyinghamster at 6:15 PM on August 11, 2010


Discriminate in the availability of a civil right against selected classes of persons, for reasons of anticipated social engineering outcomes???? This is way beyond "not libertarian". This is actually diametrically opposed to libertarianism in every possible sense. We're way beyond cognitive dissonance here, it's sheer crackbrained lunacy to use the word libertarian in the same breath as any of this.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:16 PM on August 11, 2010


"I dunno. I've seen a lot of self-professed "libertarians" here on MeFi with ridiculously un-libertarian views on just about everything. I suspect that for many people, "libertarian" is just a way of saying "Republican, but with a cooler haircut" or something."

Sounds about right.

"Perhaps there are no true Scotsmen---I mean, libertarians."

Sounds about right.

I've never been one to run from a fight, so I don't have a problem wrestling with intractable problems. The thing about what "libertarian" means is this: It's about liberties (hence the name). It means the government should make no law prohibiting any action which hurts no one but yourself. There are no consensual crimes. But it also means that the function of the government is to protect the liberties of its citizens, and I'm going to stand behind this no matter how many randroids you send up against me (do they have a pre-set killjoy limit?). It doesn't mean anarchy. It doesn't mean abolishing taxes. It means the government protects us from foreign nations. It means the government protects us from corporations who would take out liberties. It means protecting the least of our citizens from the greatest. It means guaranteeing the fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for the maximum number of our citizens, and happiness does not include oppressing fellow citizens, no matter how much you enjoy that. But as much as Republicans hide behind their ignorance, and Democrats hide behind their outrage, "Libertarians" hide behind their money and priveledge. If any of them read what I wrote here, and thought about it—I mean really took it to heart—it would blow their goddamn minds up.

It's easier to hide in ignorance, behind labels, than it is to face cognitive dissonance.
posted by Eideteker at 6:16 PM on August 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


BtW, if I ever get off my ass and do some grassroots organizing, I'm totally starting a "True Libertarian" party with an ambiguously kilted Scotsman as our logo. That will be a real headscratcher. ;)
posted by Eideteker at 6:19 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


This was worth it just for the link back to the Mieville post in "related". That was killah!

An update on the grand plans featured there.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:20 PM on August 11, 2010


Eideteker, right on. But as a liberty lover, I'd add that government also needs to promote social justice and exhibit our societal compassion, which strictly speaking means more than merely protecting the liberties enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. It means taking care of citizens who can't care for themselves, too.

So, love liberty, can't say I'm a true libertarian. Though I concur with you that "libertarians" have hijacked the true original meaning of what it means to be "liberal."
posted by bearwife at 6:23 PM on August 11, 2010


"Discriminate in the availability of a civil right against selected classes of persons, for reasons of anticipated social engineering outcomes???? This is way beyond "not libertarian". This is actually diametrically opposed to libertarianism in every possible sense. We're way beyond cognitive dissonance here, it's sheer crackbrained lunacy to use the word libertarian in the same breath as any of this."

As Kazfiel points out, it's only lunacy if you labour under the misconception that libertarianism is genuinely what it says it is. In the real world, it's pretty much always just a way to try to justify "Fuck you, I got mine".

But I'm guessing you got that, and you're expressing shock that the self-deception can be so naked without the libertarian noticing. Yeah. Depressing. :-/
posted by -harlequin- at 6:26 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


ob said what I wanted to say so succinctly...

I love how she examines Cultural Institution X, talks about changing some facet of it, and then says "Oops". And does that over and over and over...

This isn't libertarianism. It's classic conservatism, pure and simple. "Things were better as they used to be. Look at all the things they did thinking they'd make the situation better, but then there were unintended consequences. We'd best not change anything, because all of the Oops moments in the past point toward change being bad and scary and creating things in our society that we find loathsome."

Her insistence on saying "oh, I'm not actually making an argument against this, I'm just pointing out what happened..." When really what she's doing is drawing narrative (without any actual supporting evidence) to back up her preconceived notions.

Hateful person, all around.
posted by hippybear at 6:27 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


kmz, trust me, however anyone took it, the original post was NOT the opposite of what I am now saying. Again, sorry if I was unclear. I do find it interesting to hear the opposing point of view, especially in a non-cable news forum.

I ran across this link via an echo chamber disguised as debate over the "possible cons" of state sanctioned gay marriage. Everyone at that board (HiveMind, if you must know) thought that this was just the best essay, like, ever! as far as intelligently explaining their position- which was very anti-SSM. And while I took all the points raised in this essay, I thought it was a retread of the same old horseshit- traditional marriage is the way it is, forever and ever amen, coupled with some Monday morning quarterbacking over Stuff Conservatives Don't Like.

I tend to fit in with most MeFites, politically. The folks here seem pretty literate. I thought they'd take this essay to pieces, which they have. I wanted to see what an equally thoughtful, less conservative community would do with it.

I can remember a time when there were equally robust thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum. As a believer in the two party system, I wonder what's going to happen to us since "the best" conservative arguments are pretty easily dismantled.
posted by Leta at 6:27 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I found this interesting because it is an actual attempt to rationalize prejudice in the guise of intellectual rigor.

Mm. But most instances of irrational prejudices are elaborately rationalized; there's nothing very surprising about that. And, really, a five year old elaborate rationalization by a woman who's made a career out of trying to rationalize every irrational prejudice she encounters? Old news. I mean, if you just like fat, juicy rationalizations, then try Ross Douthat's. It's twice as silly and nearly fresh!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:30 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Conservatives when extreme, like to viewed as Libertarians; many on the left, prefer to be seen as anarchists (libertarians without bow ties). A great anarchist writer, Paul Goodman, said that he never married but lived with a woman because he did not believe it was the business of the state to say who was and was not married. For me, same thing for all the varieties of coupling (or tripling)...not my business.
posted by Postroad at 6:34 PM on August 11, 2010


It's worth noting that this is from 2005 and it's on Megan McArdle's former blog, which she wrote under the pseudonym Jane Galt. She said this in her final post, which links to her current, non-pseudonymous blog.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:37 PM on August 11, 2010


I'm all for same-sex marriage, and though I'm not lesbian myself, it's probably the only marriage I'd consider. I and many of my friends are economically disadvantaged and have no interest in hetero marriage might as well get the financial benefits of marriage. Will there be some stipulation that I must prove myself homosexual, though?
posted by eegphalanges at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2010


anarchists (libertarians without bow ties).

Um, no. Libertarian capitalists and libertarian socialists have only their disdain for the government in common.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:41 PM on August 11, 2010


It wouldn't be a Libertarian posting on the internet without the thinly-veiled racism!
How is that racism? Seems to be blaming problems on a lack of marriage, not on anyone's race.
posted by planet at 6:45 PM on August 11, 2010


I truly don't think that this is an argument against same-sex marriage. It's just shedding light on what a thoughtful opponent of it might mean when he says the institution is threatened. It gives some mental traction to anyone who would like to calmly and clearly address that idea of a threat, and allows them to perhaps formulate a response that goes beyond name-calling.
posted by amtho at 6:48 PM on August 11, 2010


What the heck is all this crap about there being consequences to not forcing people into marriages or not forcing people to stay in marriages? I thought that libertarians were all about sticking to freedomesque principles regardless of consequences, like getting as many people as possible to own guns even if thousands of people a year die of gun violence as a result.

And the G. K. Chesterton argument is ridiculous. Like, abolitionists shouldn't have been allowed to reform slavery? Only slave owners could be trusted to do that responsibly?
posted by XMLicious at 6:50 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the heck is all this crap about there being consequences to not forcing people into marriages or not forcing people to stay in marriages? I thought that libertarians were all about sticking to freedomesque principles regardless of consequences, like getting as many people as possible to own guns even if thousands of people a year die of gun violence as a result.

Consider Ron Paul, who is a hardcore Libertarian as long as it doesn't interfere with being a fundamentalist Christian.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:53 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's just shedding light on what a thoughtful opponent of it might mean when he says the institution is threatened.

But then why does she have to act as though reformers in support of not forcing women into marriage, or in support of allowing divorces to occur, could not have possibly conceived of or accepted that the result would be fewer marriages overall? That's some pretty dim light with which to be illuminating the topic.
posted by XMLicious at 6:56 PM on August 11, 2010


Wow. Thanks to StriketheViol's post above I now know that there are committed libertarians who are pro-slavery (OK, voluntary slavery). Head Asploding.
posted by gamera at 6:56 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's classic conservatism, pure and simple. "Things were better as they used to be. Look at all the things they did thinking they'd make the situation better, but then there were unintended consequences. We'd best not change anything, because all of the Oops moments in the past point toward change being bad and scary and creating things in our society that we find loathsome."

...And what you're describing isn't even classic conservatism, but the pseudo-conservatism first noted and remarked upon by historians and political scientists in the mid-1950's, and that has since come to dominate the mainstream American "conservative movement" (which term should itself give the game up right away, being an oxymoron, since in the original sense of the term political conservatism is antithetical to reform movements on principle) because classic conservatism historically referred to a political position that didn't glorify the past and see the current state of affairs as degraded, but instead saw the present as the ideal to be preserved, and strove to maintain the current state of affairs, or at a minimum, to move forward with changes to the status quo only very cautiously and through the exercise of carefully considered, reasonable steps.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:01 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is not what I expected to read. What I expected was what my "libertarian" friends have posted on my Facebook page and in comments to blog postings: the government shouldn't be in the marriage business at all and therefore they're against court decisions upholding marriage equality because it entrenches the "system" of governmental marriage.

I refer to this as the "Magical Libertarian Marriage" argument, because the idea that the debate about SSM would be mooted by government getting out of marriage just so happens to keep gays down until their supposed advocacy is enacted. My response is to offer to support a "civil unions only" approach-which they tend to like, reserving marriage as a religious term with no legal distinction- providing they support SSM until Magical Libertarian Marriage laws are enacted. I find it telling that these acquaintances of mine have not chosen to take me up on my offer.

By the way, self link disclosure, the last thread inspired me to go looking for arguments against gay marriage myself (since no one seems fit to provide an actual argument to me, here or anywhere else). It's so irritating to have to look for an argument in what is supposed to be a huge societal debate, but the opponents to SSM just won't actually argue in good faith, so here we are. I'd put this article in my "Leave It To Beaver" category, arguing for an imaginary past that, I have no doubt, never really existed. I expect these vaunted statistical trends about divorce and illegitimacy don't hold water if one, you know, actually looked at the statistics.
posted by norm at 7:01 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Will there be some stipulation that I must prove myself homosexual, though?

Of course not. That's why the real issue is most precisely called "same-sex marriage," not "gay marriage." The only explicit discrimination is based on gender, not sexual orientation. That's why a bisexual or asexual person is allowed to marry -- as long as the marriage is to someone of the opposite sex. Many gay people have been legally married before there was same-sex marriage in the US. They may have been unhappy and living a lie, but they were able to get married. The government doesn't know about people's sexual orientations (with the shameful exception of the military).
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:02 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


he never married but lived with a woman because he did not believe it was the business of the state to say who was and was not married.

Lots of you here know that we've been married three times (we're both women). Well, married-in-the-legal-sense three times, and commitment-ceremonied once. Two of those marriages were here in California; the other (chronologically, the second) was in Canada.

Anyway. The first time, in 2004, the gay marriages at San Francisco City Hall were just kicking off when we left town for the weekend. We spent the weekend freezing our asses off looking at raptors in the Klamath Basin, and on the drive home, we heard on the radio that the weddings were still happening. We had assumed they'd be stopped on that Monday.

We talked about it. We both I think already sort of knew what they other person thought, but we filled in the details: neither of us believe that it's any business of the government to put the "you're legit, you're not" stamp on the personal relationships of consenting adults. Yeah. Married three times and don't believe in marriage.

But this is the world we live in: the one where the government gets to say who's legit and who's not, and the legit ones get shit that the rest of us don't.

And? Our mayor - the guy we hadn't even voted for, the guy who uses so much hair gel I hope he owns stock in his brand's company - our mayor was asking us to come commit civil disobedience! Could we say no? We could not!

So we went and stood in line at city hall. A straight couple pulled their car up by the sidewalk and hopped out and started offering people homemade cookies. Random strangers brought coffee. The guys in front of us, who had traveled up from San Diego with their pastor, asked us to be their witnesses.

We stood in the rotunda, surrounded by dozens of other couples and their families and friends, everyone murmuring vows and cheering and crying and clapping. It was...I don't know what it was. I can't describe the feeling in that huge bureaucratic building. It was something magical.
posted by rtha at 7:04 PM on August 11, 2010 [25 favorites]


In 2010, Libertarianism is the word Tea Baggers use to describe themselves so they feel like their point of view is steeped in a rich history of irrelevance.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:08 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Weird, I just read what rtha wrote and now I think I've got something in my eye...
posted by Mister_A at 7:11 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Consider Ron Paul, who is a hardcore Libertarian as long as it doesn't interfere with being a fundamentalist Christian."

I'll keep saying this, because it's awesome: Ron Paul is a states'-rights fascist. There's nothing libertarian about the guy. I think mullacc said it first, but I can't find the quote.
posted by Eideteker at 7:13 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The very earliest marriage certificate that we have was found in a bundle of Aramaic papyri, some 2,500 years old. It was found in the ruins of a Jewish Garrison, that had been stationed at Elephantine in Egypt. It's more of a "contract" than a "marriage certificate", as it documents that the groom landed himself a healthy 14 year-old girl bride in exchange for six cows.

Since the very first marriages often included child brides, does that mean the traditional institution of marriage has held marriage to be a relationship between a man and a woman or a man and a child?

How does that square with the author's rebuttal of the polygamy criticism to her gloss over the real historical roots of the marriage contract?

In her response to critics on this point, she writes:
Also, a lot of readers are saying that I'm wrong about marriage always being between a man and a woman, citing polygamy. I have been told this is a "basic factual error."

No, it's not. Polygamous societies do not (at least in any society I have ever heard about) have group marriages. Men with more than one wife have multiple marriages with multiple women, not a single marriage with several wives. In fact, they generally take pains to separate the women, preferably in different houses. Whether or not you allow men to contract for more than one marriage (and for all sorts of reasons, this seems to me to be a bad idea unless you're in an era of permanent war), each marriage remains the union of a man and a woman.
It's also interesting to not here how, though her basic argument has been that traditionally marriage has been viewed as X, therefore it may be dangerous to tamper with the formula. However, in this last updated response to critics, suddenly reasoning makes a brief appearance to rebut those particular aspects of traditional marriage that conflict with her preferred view of it--suddenly, it's not the traditional forms marriages have taken throughout history that matter, but the fact that "for all sorts of reasons, this seems to me to be a bad idea..."
posted by saulgoodman at 7:16 PM on August 11, 2010


"Consider Ron Paul, who is a hardcore Libertarian as long as it doesn't interfere with being a fundamentalist Christian."

Or consider his son, Rand Paul (a doctor), who is a hardcore Libertarian as long as it doesn't interfere with his Medicare payments. Actually, he wants to increase Medicare payments to doctors, because "Physicians should be allowed to make a comfortable living".

I mean, that's 180 degrees from anything approaching libertarian, but, there you have it.
posted by Azazel Fel at 7:19 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


(note)
posted by saulgoodman at 7:19 PM on August 11, 2010


Huh, I would always think libertarians would be against marriage. What with it being a state institution.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:36 PM on August 11, 2010


It's "interesting" to apply the "don't tamper with things because their effects are too complex to predict" caveat to climate change. Where are the "libertarians" arguing that we need to conserve (like a conservative) nature?
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:46 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hadn't heard of Megan McArdle before now, but I just googled her and she seems to be in the Hannah Rosin/Caitlin Flanagan sort of a vein.

With all these jokers around, why can't I get paid for writing?

I've repeatedly made the argument that marriage should be a social (or, if it floats your boat, religious) institution, rather than a government one. I think marriage should be replaced with some sort of legally binding kinship agreement, that has to be reciprocal (I can only be "kinshipped" to you, and you to me, only two people can be involved) that essentially names your heir and the person you want making medical decisions on your behalf. No sexual or living arrangement would be implied.

Since I want everyone covered by universal, single payer health care, the insurance issue becomes moot in my fantasy kinship arrangement.

So if you want to have eight husbands and five wives, or marry a man, get divorced, then marry a woman, whatever. It's none of the state's business, so far as I can tell.

So does this make me a "real" libertarian? Because I'm not sure that's a road I can comfortably tread.
posted by Leta at 7:51 PM on August 11, 2010


I don't know what's worse, the terrible article or the endless, fawning praise for it in its comments. ("If this was an essay on economics, it would be the best essay on economics I've read in a year or more. If this was an essay on social structures, it would be the best essay on social structures I've read on a year or more. [much more....]")

The worst is that she doesn't actually present an argument. She gives examples of changes in laws that resulted in changes in society which she believes are bad - and I don't think anyone could quibble with the "easier divorces result in more divorces" argument - and then she just... stops!

There is no indication in the slightest why permitting gay marriage would be specifically be bad except that changes in society might be bad. The fact that justice and ethics might require an honest individual to accept gay marriage regardless of the consequences isn't even considered as an issue - in fact, she doesn't contemplate ethical or rights issues at all.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:57 PM on August 11, 2010


Christ, libertarians can be fucking clinical.
posted by domnit at 7:58 PM on August 11, 2010


There are many ways to disagree with this, and one of the more interesting ways is the observation that gay marriage is the conservative, respect-for-institutions approach to homosexuality. Radical queer theorists starting with Foucault have long argued that sexuality is a social construct and oppose gay marriage on the grounds that it's heteronormative, which is to say it basically preserves the existing institution. Gay marriage only matters if you believe that being gay is genetic, not a social construct or a choice, and that society ought to encourage pair-bonding by promoting the institution of marriage. This is more or less Andrew Sullivan's argument in Virtual Normal. If you are neither a postmodernist nor a fundamentalist, and most people aren't, gay marriage is the only option to deal with homosexuality. The only more conservative option is if you had the justice of the peace say to the gay couple who wants to be married: "Marriage can only be between a man and a woman, so whose name should I put under 'Bride'?"
posted by AlsoMike at 7:59 PM on August 11, 2010


Just unbelievably awful. Sorry, but there it is.
posted by uosuaq at 8:01 PM on August 11, 2010




I doubt it; everyone but me seems to already know all the answers, so why listen to such a hedging, doubting bore?

Why indeed. Why indeed.
posted by blucevalo at 8:04 PM on August 11, 2010




(That is, the ruling on the stay. Thursday morning. Pacific time.)
posted by rtha at 8:09 PM on August 11, 2010


sooooo, essentially this argument is that the dominate ruling class/gender/ethnicity should remain dominate because that is the way the world works and if it ever changed it might be scary.
posted by edgeways at 8:21 PM on August 11, 2010


From The Whelk's link above. "No need for a nanny state! I can test my OWN food for botulism!"
posted by applemeat at 8:27 PM on August 11, 2010


sooooo, essentially this argument is that the dominate ruling class/gender/ethnicity should remain dominate because that is the way the world works and if it ever changed it might be scary.

Which would be an ironic argument for a feminist to make. (McArdle does call herself a feminist.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:32 PM on August 11, 2010


The Netherlands enabled same-sex marriage in 2001. Denmark had same-sex unions in 1989. These two countries seem to be doing just fine. And this blog post, is old.
posted by polymodus at 8:33 PM on August 11, 2010


Wow, doubleplus disingenuous! "I have no opinion on this, but here's a straw man argument anyway..."

"I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people..."

I (heterosexual) am not getting married until marriage is expanded to include gay people. So if the Defense of Marriage folks are so worried about the issue, they need to get on it.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:36 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older My ( )( ), My ( )( )   |   I Call it Catsup. You Call it Ketchup Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post