Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Polygamy

The closet is now empty. Newsweek runs a story on polygamy, "Polymagists Unite!"
In the wake of the gay-marriage movement, polygamy is making its move. "’Polygamy rights is the next civil-rights battle,’ says Mark Henkel, who, as founder of the Christian evangelical polygamy organization TruthBearer.org, is at the forefront of the movement. His argument: if Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy." Charles Krauthammer has a few unsatisfying thoughts on this, once called, polygamy diversion, by so-called gay rights advocates. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold...you know the rest. This is all pretty serious, isn’t it? I wonder what will happen when someone starts making an argument that that other pillar of barbarism should be allowed. But, isn’t it OK if we all vote for it? And what if someone can make a pretty good argument that the essence of slavery is love. What then? What will be the argument against slavery?

Discussions - 53 Comments

No, the closet isn’t empty, I’m afraid. You are forgetting incestuous and underage relationships. A little Googling will show they have their advocacy groups as well, and civil libertarian lawyers to litigate for them. And why not? If reason has no role in whom government may license to marry, you cannot forbid kids from doing it, along with brothers and sisters, parents and children, etc.

I’m not really sure how I feel about polygamy, but are you guys serious when you say that there’s no difference between polygamy and slavery/pedophilia? Because I see a big one: Consent. Few people are going to consent to being slaves, and the law states that children are not able to consent to having sex (hence, "age of consent"). But if the parties involved in a polygamous marriage all consent to it, it’s hard to see how the government has the right to tell them they can’t.

Phil, please define consent. Give me a handful of lawyers conversant in critical legal theory and I’ll blow up any traditional definitions of consent in about five minutes. Sorry, that won’t get you far. Pandora’s box is open, and there won’t be any shutting it.

Multiple wives? hmmmmmm. Not the brightest idea. Just think, no March Maddness ever!

"Few people are going to consent to being slaves" - this is to go question begging. Few people are willing to allow themselves to be eaten by a pervert German cannibal. Yet it happens and the libertarians have no clue how to deal with it.

Completely predictable responses from the conservatives here. I’m not a lawyer, David, so you’ve got me there. But you’re being deliberately obtuse if you’re saying you don’t see any difference between polygamy and slavery.

Then we have Right Wing’s Bud Light commercial philosophy, "hur hur, those controlling nags won’t let us watch basketball anymore!"

Finally, we have Tom bringing up ONE sensational news story about a man who consented to being eaten. Right, that’s a sexual practice that’s sweeping the world.

I think you guys are freaking out over nothing. I just don’t see how this is a Pandora’s Box.

Actually, the polygamy thing is already in play in Canada and Norway. There is a movement in both countries to do away with traditional marriage and create "other" unions.

This is just another assault on morality by the extreme left. Marriage has rules (frequently violated) which the left doesn’t want to honor.

So, Phil, I disagree with you. This isn’t "nothing."

Phil
I prefer Guiness over Bud Light.

Coming up next ... pedophilia!!!!

"They can’t help it they are born that way."
"Children should be helped along in their sexual awakening."
"Sexual activity at a young, even pre-pubescent age, has been shown not to adversely effect child if they felt it was consensual.”


Coming soon to University and Court Room near you.
If don’t support it you are a intolerant bigot.

If I had known about this madness when I was in D.C. talking to my legislaters last week I would have added some strong words against this "polyamory’ nonsense. Peter I think your absolutely correct here. Krauthamer might be an "agnostic’ but I am not. On this I am an atheist because I reject it completely. Having 5 wives or 5 husbands isn’t a "lifestyle choice’ its just SICK. The Mormons have’nt done enough to stop this epedemic in its tracks and it only helps me to slowly come to the conclusion that Mormons are not Christian. Krauthamer’s conclusions are wrong but he’s smart to point out that us conservatives have’nt done enough to prevent the destruction of marriage such as the "deliberate creation of fatherless families’. People laughed at Dan Quayle when he scolded Murphy Brown but he was right on target my friends. God help us!

Societies and communities get what they deserve. It is a cruel, almost Darwinian fact of history. At the root of cultural dissolution is denial, inaction and defeatism (what can we do?).

What actual evidence do any of you have that allowing polygamy would lead to all of the other stuff you say it would? Couldn’t we apply common sense? I just don’t see how you make the pessimistic leap from polygamy to marrying children. That charming organization known as NAMBLA has been using the very argument (quite unsuccesfully) that Anon mentions for years.

Slippery slope...I told you so. The logic is extremely simple...once you make marriage a matter of individual happiness (rather than a social contract for the benefit of society), then you have no grounds to deny any number of marital "arrangements." And society (and ultimately people) suffer from moral relativity, domestic anarchy, and increasedly problematic socialization. When you play with marriage you are playing with the glue that holds society together.

Interesting discussion. At the risk of being savaged ... aren’t there examples of successful polygamous societies ... anyone?


I’m not a fan myself, but it strikes me as very much a personal decision.


Also, there are plenty of cases of abusive monogamous arrangments. I’m not certain that the occasional inability of some individuals to stand up for themselves in consensual relationships is grounds for prohibiting them.

What actual evidence do any of you have that allowing polygamy would lead to all of the other stuff you say it would?

It’s actually quite striking that not too long ago, when my fellow NLT’ers suggested that sanctioning gay marriage would lead to demands for the sanctioning of polygamy, they were ridiculed. Surely nothing so ridiculous could ever happen!

Dumm,dumm,dumm, dumm, dumm!
Actually, HBO has a new series this season that depicts polygamists in Utah. Have not caught an episode but I also don’t watch Will and Grace.Big Love

Good ’ol wikipedia can always be relied upon to have something on everything :


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy#Patterns_of_occurrence

...once you make marriage a matter of individual happiness (rather than a social contract for the benefit of society),


Why not bring back dowries and arranged marriages? Heck, kids these days have NO IDEA whats best for them.

You know, there are some that say animals give consent, thusly justifying beastiality.

Sadly, I was one of those saying that the argument for gay-marriage, civil of course, wouldn’t lead to polygamy and the like.

Well, I was wrong. I don’t this movement wouldn’t have felt it had enough traction to do this without the gay marriage argument.

Generally, I see polygamy as a negative thing, but primarily from a certain feminist perspective. I tend to think that frequently the women who share a husband are getting a raw deal, in a variety of ways. I’m curious how often polyandry occurs; probably not nearly as often as polygyny. But none of these things are so exclusive to polygamy. The Promise Keepers group, citing the Bible (also), has been big in promoting the subservience of the wife (ooh, how manly!). Other good reasons to oppose it might be that it could create, over time, if it became popular enough, bureaucratic and legal nightmares (wills, estates, taxes, child custody, debt, divorce issues, etc.), as well as create demographic instabilities; a new class-division could erupt between a married class and the non-marrieds.

The fact is that today marriage in the modern world is, for the vast majority of people who partake in it, a "matter of individual happiness." People don’t decide to get married for the sake of society, to help glue society together. It’s not an exercise in social engineering. They do it because they think it will make them happy, usually because of this semi-tangible Love thing. Maybe that’s not why government is involved in marriage, giving out licenses in the same way they do for hunting, fishing, driving, etc., but that’s why people get hitched. So maybe there’s a chasm between the purpose behind governmental involvement with people’s long-term romantic/sexual relationships and the purpose people themselves see in marriage. But now, everyone who thinks they are experiencing a profound love worthy of a formal status is getting on board the love bandwagon. I’m starting to think that perhaps that government should stay out of the business of marriage altogether.

But I agree with Phil, I think consent is an important distinction to make. Yes, of course, it’s an arbitrary distinction, but one we sould be collectively capable of. Adults capable of consent should be able to enter into these relationships, and they do. The success rate of traditional, heterosexual marriage is not a very high standard. Be it a traditional, monogamous or polygamous relationship, there is always the chance that someone is placing themselves in a self-destructive situation. It’s sad, but people should be free enough to mess up their lives (although I’m not endorsing a society devoid of safety nets) once they are "of age."

But comparing this to slavery (the very antithesis of consent), bestiality (sorry, no one speaks dog-language, not really!), or cannibalism is just ridiculous.

"And what if someone can make a pretty good argument that the essence of slavery is love."

Then it looks like someone from the Bush White House press office or the Pentagon psy-ops division has found a new job.

I also expressed support for gay civil unions, and I can’t say that I’ve changed my mind now. What I’ve always said is that they should come about through democratic action, rather than judicial fiat. And frankly I don’t see that happening anytime soon. As for polygamy, that’s even farther off. If it ever becomes accepted, it will be because of the growing imbalance between college-educated males and females. In most colleges and universities today women outnumber men by a two-to-one margin. Given that women seldom marry men with less education than they have, this could potentially provide an opening for polygamy.

I’m not sure "acceptance" is what the traditional marriage bashers are after. It’s fun tearing things down. The longer-lasting the institution, the more fun it is. Also, there always the money angle; the tax benefits, free labor (why hire a house keeper when you can marry a few?), and the nice payoffs at divorce time. :)

Let me clarify one thing. The distinction between consensual and non-consensual activities (having multiple romantic partners vs. being an actual slave) is not really arbitrary. What is arbitary is the line that needs to be drawn for age of consent, and that has already been done, at least in the U.S., as far as I know. Note it’s arbitrariness in the variations of what qualifies as "age of consent" in different states; it’s also interesting to look at how this age was markedly lower in the days of our Founding Fathers.

Pubius, what are you talking about? They want to participate in marriage. How does that constitute a desire to tear down the institution of marriage? So, if I wanted to destroy the Catholic church, would I participate in the catechism and confirmation processes, take communion and make confessions in order to do so? Strange tactic.

Listen, Big Love is a great show. In fact, the best two hours in the history of television are HBO 9 t0 11 Sunday night. We’re shown the two forms of patriarchy left in our less-than-manly country: the Mafia (Sopranos) and Dissident, Polgamous Mormons (well, regular Mormons are patriarchial too, but they’re wimps by comparison). In neither case is the picture flattering. Tony Soprano, everyone (but especially his therapist) knows, is not such a happy guy. And postmodern polygamy, if it catches on,
will cause an explosion in the already burgeoning Viagra industry. I think the not so sub- subtext of the show that it’s just too hard to be polygamous patriarch in our stressful world. The situation for the women turns out to be more ambiguous; childcare is no longer a problem, and it’s easier to be a stay-at-home mom when there’s other moms around. Watch the shows!

Hmmm . . .



I’ve been thinking about Andrew Sullivan’s argument as portrayed in Krauthammer’s article and Krauthammer’s response to it.



It would seem that Sullivan makes an excellent point. For those of us who believe that homosexuality is something inherent, polygamy doesn’t really seem to fall into the same categority. Sullivan, in a response to Krauthammer, writes on his blog:



I believe that someone’s sexual orientation is a deeper issue than the number of people they want to express that orientation with. Polygamy is a choice, in other words; homosexuality isn’t.



Go read the rest of the article. It’s very good and I think it addresses the serious differences between homosexuality and polygamy well.

Phil: You are off the base with claiming that consent is the principle that makes everything okay. Clearly society can justly deny individual adults from consenting to certain things. We don’t allow people to consent to human sacrifice, slavery, prostitution etc. If you accept these certain limits, then you admit that society does have certain powers to limit consent.

While our government is based on liberty and consent, it is individuals that consent to the whole. Consenting to the whole is what grants them the protections of the whole. Once in a union--America’s Constitutional Republic--the whole holds ultimate authority, and by being American you consent to that. Being largely democratic we rely on majorities to determine the laws of the whole. While many things are protected in the Constitution, a super majority can pass any amendment to the Constitution and enforce it. Considering 92% of America is against polygomy, polygamy has no chance. Society is perfectly free to limit consent in this way through Constitutional laws or by changing the Constitution if necessary (unless you think that we can consent to murder, slavery and everything else).

The fact is that today marriage in the modern world is, for the vast majority of people who partake in it, a "matter of individual happiness." People don’t decide to get married for the sake of society, to help glue society together. It’s not an exercise in social engineering. They do it because they think it will make them happy, usually because of this semi-tangible Love thing. Maybe that’s not why government is involved in marriage, giving out licenses in the same way they do for hunting, fishing, driving, etc., but that’s why people get hitched. So maybe there’s a chasm between the purpose behind governmental involvement with people’s long-term romantic/sexual relationships and the purpose people themselves see in marriage. But now, everyone who thinks they are experiencing a profound love worthy of a formal status is getting on board the love bandwagon. I’m starting to think that perhaps that government should stay out of the business of marriage altogether.

OK, Chris, but next time there is 1) a custody battle, 2) a divorce with a difference of opinion about property, 3) an estate that goes into probate...LEAVE THE STATE OUT OF IT. Just go buy guns/knives and work it out the old fashion way.

Or...stop all this nonsense about marriage being about individual happiness. It isn’t. It’s a social institution, and society has the right to define it (just as we have the right to tell blind people they can’t fly passenger jets). And the way society decides who can and cannot get married should be correlated with society’s interests. Society has SOME interest in divvying up property, etc., but its primary interest is in the next batch of citizens (i.e., children). Gays are a cul-de-sac in that regard, and polygamy just creates nightmares for custody battles, divorce settlements, and inherentance.

Hey, kids, let’s do the simple thing! Let’s be arbitrary and restrict marriage to a one man/one woman. We can apologize to gays and haremites for not pursuing their private interests with government sanctions.

Assuming that homosexuality is inherent, as big step for me, Matt has a very interesting point.

I’m kind of winging this thought because I would like to push Matt and Sullivan’s idea further. People are born either heterosexual or homosexual. But clearly neither are content with just being one of these things. It is perfectly natural for us to want to express these characteristics by having sex as we choose. Yet this expression, a sexual act (hetero, homo, or polygamous) is always a choice. Some heterosexuals may choose celibacy as may anyone. Expression of sexuality, including the number we express with, is always a choice it would seem.

While society cannot change anyone’s inherent nature, it can control the expression of their choices. So we limit the choices of both heterosexuals and homosexuals to the marriage of (public expression with) one person of the opposite sex. We regulate the natures of neither, but we control the expressions of those natures.

So while homosexuality may not be a choice in the genes, it is a choice to express it, and society may control expressions.

The problem with Sullivan’s argument, though, is that there is nothing, scientific or otherwise, that indicates being gay is pre-determined.

If homosexuality is inherited, how does that happen? Any trait that is so directly linked to sex will affect reproduction...this trait should have been bred out of the population long, long ago.

A second point is this...if it is natural, then why shouldn’t we try to treat it like any other disorder? Instead of elevating something that is so clearly dysfunctional into a "status," why don’t we treat it like we would treat obesity, alcoholism, or ADD? It isn’t insensitivity or inherently discriminatory to recognize that homosexuality is unusual, socially dysfunctional, and biologically illogical. I see no reason to "buy into" the gay lobby’s framing of this issue.

Assuming that homosexuality is inherent


Look I know it is verboten to say this, because we are all supposed to say that homosexuality is “something you’re born with”, but let us be honest a large majority of homosexuals were molested as kids. The correlation between childhood molestation and lesbianism is huge. And to deny it is to ignore the elephant in the room.


But since we aren’t allowed to say homosexuals are pedophiles (i.e. A causes B), we are also not allowed to say homosexuals were often victims of pedophiles (i.e. B causes A).


But a severe trauma like that takes your sexual compass and gives it a good spin, and where it lands is anyone’s guess.


I am willing to buy that a minority of homosexuals are “born that way”, but if we were allowed to do studies on this (which we’re not, because a study might find non-PC answers) I would expect homosexuality to be a symptom of a more severe traumatic and abusive experience.

"assault on morality by the extreme left..."

Last time I checked the LDS church was rather socially conservative.... in fact at BYU students can be expelled for drinking, excessive cussing and other activities demeaning of the faith.

I might also add that Islam while also allowing polygamy, is a socially conservative religion.

I could also point out numerous biblical examples of polygamy. Most notably the man to whom God granted the most wisedom...(of all men ever?) the author of Proverbs...but of course even the wisest, richest man of all could not keep up with all those wives...so it was his downfall... But my point is that Polygamy is essentially or traditionally an arrangement defended on religious grounds and not part of a "assault on morality by the extreme left."

John, the polygamists aren’t using religious tradition to justify institutionalizing polygamy. They are using the same logic as the gay rights activitists. It IS an assault by the cultural Left...you don’t see the LDS arguing for the restoration of polygny.

Off topic? Maybe... But it helps us understand the underlying "slippery slope" argument.

Let us first understand something very important: there is no such thing as a homosexual. Now, let’s be clear - there are no heterosexuals either.

I know this is shocking, but follow along. Homosexuals and heterosexuals didn’t exist before the late 19th century. Certainly, there were men who liked to bugger other men, but it was seen only as an action; there was no "homosexual" per se.

Now this is where it gets interesting: "homosexuality" was created in order to kill it, or at least marginalize it. 19th century physicians thought if they could classify the practice of same-sex relations as a mental deficiency, they could then institutionalize those who performed homosexual acts. Unfortunately, for those physicians (and the Republican party today), the practice of homosexual acts evolved into an homosexual identity, one that is very clearly alive and politically active.

The point of all of this is that until 125-150 years ago, homosexual acts were simply acts. As one of the earlier posters suggested, we’re not entirely heterosexual or homosexual. Certainly there are some people who prefer to be only with the opposite sex; there are some who are attracted to their own sex. However, how many men here have recognized another man as handsome? Does that make you "gay"? It’s quite unclear what defines "gay". Is it feelings? Is it physical acts? If so, does hugging count? Or is it when you kiss? On the mouth? Or is it more? I digress. What is important is that homosexuality, even if the desire to participate in homosexual relationships is innate, can still only be defined by practice, by what feels most comfortable.

Which brings us back to the post. If homosexuality does not exist apart from a political identity adopted by a segment of the population (as any group that defined itself as defending "heterosexual" rights would be), then we’re arguing for marriage rights to be granted on the basis of practice. If practice (forget happiness for a second) is all that is required to allow marriage, then why shouldn’t those who choose (or, to avoid the argument, are preternaturally disposed to multiple spouses) a polygamous lifestyle be sanctioned by the state with a marriage license?

Marriage is a social contract designed to promote the well-being children. It has very little to do with happiness and never has (just check out those arranged marriages). Don’t believe me? Just ask someone who’s married...

Thanks for your time.

Perhaps...but I am just as inclined if not more favorably so...to the practice of polygamy, as to that of gay marriage. I grant that the argument follows logically from the premise. But is it really possible for a christian evangelical organization to be classified as Cultural Left?

In the end I don’t think anyone has to vote on this. I would be willing to bet that a lot of women are abused and coerced into polygamous relationships. Polygamy is probably bad for a lot of reasons. But among consenting adults these negatives of polygamy can be weighted with the bennefits.(albeit lots of time without clear thinking or foresight...hindsight is always 20/20) It may rarely be prudent to engage in polygamy, but I can’t say that it would never be prudent, or good, or even best. So the choice should be left open to consenting adults. If a child can have one mother and one father, why can’t he have two mothers and one father?

Voting for or against polygamy wouldn’t make it right...I suppose it could make it legal. But we have no right to vote on the issue of polygamy anymore than we have the right to vote on gay marriage or the right to vote on whether or not a man can be made the property of another man. Consenting adults should be able to make legal contracts between themselves. What they do out in Utah isn’t my business, and even if it was my neighbor it wouldn’t be my business.

If the minting of these new forms of marriage is a sign of our culture’s contemporary radical individualism, then so be it. Lets ride it out. On the other hand instead of radical compassionate conservatism, what we need is the libertarian perscription: less government safety net. Only with much less of a safety net, can we ever really approach "radical individualism" appart from this we simply have liscense, because we all know that screwing things up isn’t very dangerous. People are like banks, Banks must take some risks when issueing loans, but assume that the government steps in and insures the banks against defaults on loans. It now becomes beneficial for the Banks to loan money to those who are highest risk. Why? because they can extract from these the highest rates of return while being insulated from the costs. The welfare state insulates people from ever having to worry about the full costs of options...A radical reduction in the safety net is the only way to contain experimental living of all sorts and types.

Pubius, what are you talking about? They want to participate in marriage. How does that constitute a desire to tear down the institution of marriage? So, if I wanted to destroy the Catholic church, would I participate in the catechism and confirmation processes, take communion and make confessions in order to do so? Strange tactic.


Well, you could drop bombs on the church and reduce it to rubble.


Or you could invade it from within, rendering it’s time-tested traditional principles utterly meaningless.


Not so strange at all.

To clarify, I do not think that homosexuals are inherently so; I assumed it to follow an argument.

I must say I agree with most of post 36, except the conclusion. If we go back 150 years and only recognize sex as a practice (not identity), there is nothing to stop government from regulating the practice. I’m sure at that time in their wiser understanding sodomy, fornication, polygamy and many sexual perversions were illegal in most of America.

Consenting adults should be able to make legal contracts between themselves.

This is nice to say, but clearly there must be limits. Otherwise what if I wanted to contract my body for millions of dollars (to go to my family) for a religious sacrifice, or so some rich person could buy a new heart, I could. No society could allow such a contract because this type of consent would undermine the society itself. The things that people may consent to may be controlled by society when society deems that consenting to certain injustices is bad for the whole (and what undermines the whole undermines the individual because he/she relies on the whole for protection).

As for voting and law, at some point vast majorities do make the "right." I put right in quotes because this may not be the abstract ideal of right, but it is the right thing for the moment. I think of Thomas Aquinas who supported prostitutes as an outlet for lust because otherwise the desire would ruin society. When wide majorities want something to be legal or illegal, in that moment it is best to allow it as right, otherwise society will be thrown into disarray. The minority can only hope to reeducate over time the wants of the majority so that the practice can either be eliminated or allowed without a revolution/war/chaos.

Our Constitution safeguards against this fact by requiring 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the states to amend the Constitution, and trusts in factions to prevent this from happening. However, we admit that if 80% of the people want something bad enough, they cannot be denied.

John, you always astound me. We don’t have the "right" to vote on what does and does not constitute marriage? Where do you get this drivel? You might as well say that we don’t have the right to vote on traffic laws or noise ordinances.

To clarify, I do not think that homosexuals are inherently so.


Imagine what would happen were science to identify a "gay" gene. Would homosexual thus soon become an extinct species? How many couples out there would, upon detecting this "gay" gene, not demand the right to choose to abort?

Go ahead and vote on your traffic laws and noise ordinances Dain. My side point is simple...just because something can be voted on, doesn’t make it right. You have the right to vote on an issue only when the voting on the issue actually is the determinant of right. Which it is not, in any of the cases above. Personally I don’t like homosexuality or polygamy. I also tend to think that churches should be the gatekeepers of marriage.

But Consent is the key. Consenting adults should be able to make legal contracts between themselves. No limits.

The only way around it is to argue that some people are incapable of consent. Perhaps, that they were under some sort of extreme duress, or simply not mentally bright enough to know the truth concerning what is really good for them. But when you do this, you are in effect saying that they are to be slaves to your higher intellect, or to the collective will, provided voting is the means. And this of course is done in the name of love, love for society, because it is best for them and everyone not to be able to consent to things they would otherwise consent to.

Can you honestly say that there is no situation in which it would not be rational to sell your body as a religious sacrifice provided your familly received millions? (suppose you want assisted suicide) or so that a rich person could get a new heart. Why not, so long as Both parties bennefit and agree.

Sure it is possible to rip people off even while they consent to it.... but preventing people from consenting is a greater evil..since in point of fact it is a direct attack upon the capability they have to be a free person.

Loaning for interest...good or bad?

Well selling your heart for a few million is a form of consent/contract, so I guess we have agreed to allow it. Any true civilization cannot allow such a thing. Government, we agree, is to protect people’s rights. Before we can protect rights though, we must have people to possess these rights. Therefore, the first aim of society (like the individual in nature) must be to preserve human life. If we allow people to consent to death, society fails to protect human life, a natural right.

Selling themselves into death is not part of anyone’s right as a free person. Locke does not allow suicide or contracts that would lead to death or slavery.

You said that we have a right to vote on something when voting on that issue is determinent of the right. I could say the same thing for consent. You have a right to consent to something when you are consenting to something just.

And this of course is done in the name of love, love for society, because it is best for them and everyone not to be able to consent to things they would otherwise consent to.

Is this serious or was it sarcastic? If you mean this, then why cannot society regulate consent for everyone when they are consenting to things not best for them and society?

Loaning for interest...what’s wrong with that? I know that we can trot out the usury argument, but I’m not trying for a theocracy. We might say that it is okay because people are not consenting their life away even if they are getting ripped off. But our society clearly only allows so much usury as just. Government regulations on credit companies limits the rates and contracts that people and companies can consent to. So at some levels it is fine, and our society has ruled it is bad if pushed too far...maybe we’re just too dumb to know the limits ourselves.

John, you really should join the LP...you’d make a great Libertarian...such worship of the individual.

Well, it’s not like that. Rights aren’t really God-given, they are granted by social convention. If you want me to reduce this into Utilitarian terms, living in society is a contract, and the majority sets the terms. Now it’s true that the majority can decide to exempt certain social acts from the contract (e.g., religion in our society), but this has never been the case with marriage. Indeed, that’s what we are arguing about.

And what do you mean "doesn’t make it right." Are you inferring some kind of natural right? No such right exists outside social determination.

In short, you need to stop worshipping at the altar of radical individualism, John. Real conservatives understand that their is an unresolvable tension between the individual and the collective. Finding the balance is the true art of liberty and governance.

Gee, Dain, it must be awfully tough to maintain a principled stand against abortion if you think that rights are no more than the products of "social convention." And what if 51 percent of the population votes that the other 49 percent, no longer have rights? Is it okay to kill them?

Wayne...what’s all this morality of yours based on? We live in a society where certain rights of minorities are honored, but many societies haven’t. What is "right" is defined by society, although I do believe in a unitary human nature and therefore that certain morals may be universal.

As for abortion, it’s going on, isn’t it? If it’s transcendently wrong, how do we account for its occurrence? Just "evil?"

As for your other example, since 100% belong to the social contract, it’s very unlikely it would be "ok" to kill 49%. I’m sure they would opt out of the social contract as that point, in which case you have a civil war on your hands.

If the GLBT "born that way" claim is a trump card sweeping away every objection and mandating gay marriage, then it also mandates both polygamy and polyamory. How can we ask a "born that way" bisexual to choose between marrying either a man or a woman? Why, it would be like asking him to choose between his arm or his leg! We must allow him to marry both. And if he can, I can. There’s your polygamy. Now suppose he marries a gay man and a bisexual woman. How, in the name of fairness can we demand that she not be allowed to express her very identity by marrying another woman? There’s your polyamory. The logic is impeccable. Perverted, but impeccable.

Murder has been going on also, should that be legalized?

As for abortion, it’s going on, isn’t it? If it’s transcendently wrong, how do we account for its occurrence? Just "evil?"

That’s your argument? Since it’s going on, it can’t be "transcendently wrong"? How about because it’s easier than giving birth to and raising a child, because there’s a substantial minority in the United States telling confused young women that it’s perfectly okay, because the Supreme Court has declared it fully legal?

In fact, I’m finding this difficult to square with your opposition to homosexuality as well. You’ve reduced every issue of morality to one of vox populi. And how do you account for this?

What I said in that thread is true...people mostly vote their gut. It’s something we live with.

As for transcendent morality...look, boys, we can say there’s a God and act like it, but it doesn’t make it so. We can say that something is ALWAYS RIGHT or ALWAYS WRONG, but that’s just rhetoric. Ultimately, within the boundaries of our biology, WE decide was is and is not tolerable.

Now, the fact that we are the definers of right and wrong doesn’t mean that we are the final arbiters of optimal efficiency or survivability. There is a real, external reality, and it is the selection agent. My stance against homosexual marriage is rooted in my belief that it is a deeply dysfunctional and ultimately counterproductive proposal. People can decide all sorts of absurd things, but ultimately reality asserts itself.

It may be possible to construct a transcendent set of moral imperatives based on human nature and natural exigencies, but no one’s done it yet. Thus, we are stuck with vox populi. Sorry, it doesn’t suit me either, but it’s the truth.

Of course there is a real external reality Dain...and what you say is largely pragmatically true. But if we are not the arbiters of "optimal efficiency" or "survivability" then who is?

Actually that last rant of yours confuses me..."optimal efficiency" already presupposes a standard, and thus an arbiter, "survivability" pressuposes a clime, a milieu, and something that is doing the surviving. In any case...It isn’t society that defines right and wrong, unless it is also society that made me do it. So if it is anything it is the individual that defines right and wrong, and society is either accepting of the definition, hellbent on reforming it, or somewhere in tepid waters tween’. I will grant you that individuals are rare, and that for the most part we act socially, especially in the defining of our manners and mores. But if we are to trully be responsible for our actions, our very lives, and attending survivability, we must take heed to form notions that are consonent with the reality you make reference to, we must think for ourselves, and if we must think for ourselves to act for ourselves then we must have recourse to a broader parameter of choices, indeed the bondaries granted to our choices should only be limited by our enfringement upon the rights of others.

"It may be possible to construct a transcendent set of moral imperatives based on human nature and natural exigencies, but no one’s done it yet." A desire for transcendent moral imperatives is a desire to be made a slave, for such would say: think this, speak this, do this, and do this no more. But Reason and the discretion necessary to command it knows no moral imperatives but Reason. And if there be but one transcendent moral imperative, it would be: Think. It is not necessary to say think for yourself. Any and all thinking is done on behalf of the thinking self.

The thinking self "optimizes his efficiency" according to his palate, and ensures his "survivability" by thinking alone. And society is an agregate of thinking and non-thinking persons. But the thinking man need not worry himself too much about society, for if it is rainning a lot he will build stilts for his house, and similarily intelligent people will follow the lead, not because he did it first but because they recognized a similar problem and found a remedy in a course of action.

Because Morality derives itself exclusively from Reason, the key to ethics is to leave reason free. Is this an original argument? I don’t think so, I think it is the primary lesson of Lockeian Epistemology and it is enshrined in Mill’s discourse On Liberty, without which Dain is at loss to construct a Utilitarian ethic that is anything more than simple mathmatics.

Every heard of "emergent properties," John? The individual lives in an environment filled with 1) other actors, 2) a physical environment, and 3) intended and unintended byproducts of the combination of 1 & 2. The environment writ large (#3) is the selection agent, and it is this that is the final arbiter of purposive action. Case in point, the Soviets started out to build a classless society, but the combination of human nature (self-interested, social, and clique-ish) and real need (physical need) militated against this...and it failed. The individual and groups of individuals can propose ’rights’ and ’truths’ until the cows come home, but ultimately reality itself decides what survives and what does not.

And John, what is Reason? People use that word a lot, but its meaning seems to morph with the intent of the writer.

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