Same-Sex Marriage Part III: All Men are Created Equal

Jefferson and such

If cliché phrases can be tools for the writers, let this be another instance of the rhetoric device:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”   -Thomas Jefferson

If you’re an American, you have been indoctrinated with these words and always keep them in the back of your mind.  These words, above all others in any of the founder’s literature, express America and American spirit, her hopes, her dreams, and her beliefs.  The meaning of these words seems to me to be as self-evident as the truths of which Thomas Jefferson is referring to.  All people, no matter the creed, belief, non-violent action, or speech act have the right to live a life in pursuit of happiness and life’s ventures.  However, there are some that would twist these words and their meaning to lessen the rights that they enjoy, simply because others are different.

These are some of the arguments for marriage equality:

In response to an argument against gay marriage, I mentioned an argument for the ‘naturalness’ of what we would call ‘gay sex acts.’  I seem to have upset some people, as they felt it was a weak argument.  However, it is a sound argument and I will present it again, in a way to define it more for those that may not have understood.

Homo sapiens have the luxury of the evolution adaptation of a rational mind.  A rational mind is a mind in which processes of the brain can help humans utilize logical speech acts to express a point or make a decision (whether it be to brush your teeth or stop at a stop-sign).

As far as human beings can understand, we are the only species on Earth that has the mental capacity to make these decisions.  No other animal has ever given scientists any indication of holding the capability to reason as humans do.

There can be no disputing the fact that occasionally, human beings act without utilizing the rational-part of the brain.  Whether that is positive or negative can be understood by the consequences of the action (if you are an ethical consequentialist).

An action can be considered ‘natural’ if a non-rationally capable animal commits the action because it does not take a rationally-evolved mind to complete the process and decide (for lack of a better word) to perform said action.

Therefore, because gay-sex acts are observed in non-human great apes and sea-dwelling mammals, and are somewhat commonplace in the animal kingdom, the act of gay-sex cannot be considered the ‘choice’ of a deviant lifestyle, as some religious folk may argue, but instead, a natural action performed by an animal (yes, human beings are animals).

I understand that it may sicken some of you to know that human beings are not anointed to be of a higher dominion than other animals. However, we are simply more-well adapted to our environment than many other animals, and coupled with the diet that our ancestors had that increased brain capacity over hundreds of thousands of generations, we are at a point in history in which our minds are the way we observe them to be, not out of a magic-man’s hands, but a natural process.  Homosexual acts are a natural action.  This argument alone is not enough to put to bed the argument that gays are somehow lesser beings than non-gays, but it is enough to put to be the pseudo-logical idea that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’.

Alive as well is the argument that homosexuals lead harmful lifestyles.  While ‘harmful’ can be subjective, the thought is that the transmission of AIDS is good enough to outlaw homosexual acts.  However, we now know that AIDS is not a disease that effects only gays, but everyone.  The transmission of AIDS is possible with any sexual contact.  The harmful lifestyle that is being referred to is now, no longer had exclusive to oppressed gays that are disallowed civil rights that all others have, but now with those non-gays that would choose to lead a promiscuous sexual lifestyles.

This argument is yet another piece of political propaganda used to put gays into a status of sub-human existence.  There is no evidence existing of a larger population per capita of gays leading a promiscuous lifestyle than there are of non-gays.  However, the number may also significantly drop if marriage equality is obtained.

Floating around in the comments from my last piece, as well as in the lungs in middle-America is the idea that marriage is purely a Judeo-Christian institution.  This is simply and easily laid to rest as there are many parts of the world in which love flourishes and Christianity has not tainted the air with its oppressive tyranny.  Civil union cannot be hijacked by American Christians and become something that is exclusive to a system of belief that holds no leverage in Politics.

If you are religious and wish to make exclusive the rights of your church, mosque, or synagogue to those that profess to feel exactly the same way that you do, you may do that.  However, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and many of the other founders warned future Americans that there would come a time in which religious oppression would attempt to take the rights away from citizens, and safeguarded the Constitution from special-interest groups with that aim.

Denying the rights of civil unions to people is a form of minority discrimination.  Those of us that are fortunate to have been born as white, male, or middle/upper class in a time of American history that is much kinder to minorities do not understand the pain, mental and physical that women, blacks, Hispanics, middle-easterners, and any person that we see as different than ‘us’ have endured.  This is the land of the free and is open to any that wish to hold the same rights that we find to be ‘self-evident’ among all people.

We are not different.  Whether you ‘believe’ that gays are leading a deviant lifestyle, or you think that those around you are going to a terrible place for not believing in the same God as you (and being rude to you in the line at Subway), or you just think that brown people are dumb, your opinion has no bearing in government and you cannot shatter the hopes and dreams of a nation and its people of holding rights that should be held.

We are not different.  I may not like the fact that I live in a country in which a belief structure that I find to be highly-harmful to liberty has flourished, but I support your right to follow it.  I hope only in time that rhetoric and logic may help those in shackles that would like to be released.  My distaste for such religious institutions is not grounds for legislation to prohibit those from peacefully worshiping the sky.

We are not different. I live with the presupposition that people in love with members of the same sex as them are not actors simply pretending to piss you and your God off.  My position is based on our Constitution and scientific evidence as precedent for the way I live my life, which is one to support all people and their private actions.

The final part of the Same-Sex marriage piece will be posted later this week.  As always, leave comments and discuss among yourselves the arguments and formulate your opinions justly.

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon

Same-Sex Marriage Part II: God’s Country and the Future of Our Children

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In Part II of this series, I outline the religious and non-religious arguments against marriage equality and expose problems in the argumentation.

Though it may be rightfully considered a religious issue, there are arguments used from both religious and non-religious sides.  Although, the reasoning of the non-religious arguments generally holds root in American Religious tradition.  It is known, albeit sometimes ignored, that our Constitutional provisions disallow any law being created for or because of religious doctrine or belief.  Even so, there are those among us that would seek to find some logical argument, even while exercising fallacies, to create a country in which their rights are sound and the rights of others are expendable.  This is the platform of those against marriage equality.

We will save the fun, religious arguments for later.  First, let us address the “non-religious” platforms for the inequality our country pronounces.  Of the three most used statements of non-religious origins, two of heavily involve the future of our children. First, ‘Allowing gays to marry would weaken traditional family values that are essential to our society.’  Second, ‘Gays marrying will confuse children about gender roles.’  Finally, ‘If I can marry a man, why can’t I marry a horse?’ The last one is my favorite.

‘Allowing gays to marry would weaken traditional family values that are essential to our society.’  This may be the most common argument used against same-sex marriage.  This is argument is one that is a surrogate for the religious arguments because it is not sound in constitutional law, instead, a much more defensive ideal that instills fear into the masses.  It solidly professes the idea that “they” will take away what “I” hold dearly to my heart.   The argument is not strong, however, because of the defensive, fear inducing motivation, and the illusion of “traditional family values.”   Traditional family values date back to the late 1940s/early 1950s.   We have all heard the term ‘Nuclear Family.’  A man and women, father works a middle-class day job and the mother is the homemaker.  They also have a couple kids that go to suburban public schools.  With the rise of fear of godless communism in the 1950s, the suburban family needed something to cling to.  Thus, the traditional family values that have since become obsolete.   Now, this tradition, being less than five generations old and already outdated with the rise of one-parent households, ambiguous gender roles, and the semi-acceptance of unmarried gay couples adopting children is irrelevant in the discussion.

Much more simply denied is the belief that gay parents would confuse children about gender roles.   In the early 1990s, unmarried gay couples adopting children started to become much more common.  Though the fear that it would destroy the future of the children was not realized, there are still groups that would perpetuate the opposite.  Since World War II, gender roles in the household have become more and more ambiguous and now, an equal number of men and women hold professional positions and do equal work in the house.  Like the previous argument, this one is irrelevant.

The final non-religious argument is my favorite.  While stating it facetiously, I enjoy using a southern accent.  “If I can marry a man, why can’t I marry a horse?”  Really, any barnyard animal can be substituted.   This is a perfect argument for the uneducated because it is a perfect example of the slippery slope logical fallacy.   Telling the layperson that the argument is a slippery slope fallacy will not convince them, so we will delve more deeply.  This is a comparison between a gay man or woman and a horse.  This argument exposes the true feelings of those against equality of any kind.  They believe that the others are lower beings, like animals.  There should be no fear that same sex marriage would give way to man-marrying-animal because an animal cannot consent and are not cognitively aware as Homo sapiens are.  If you worry about polygamy, then you’re not reading your bible very well- multiple instances in which the bible endorses it.  Additionally, Mohammed is famous for taking on many wives, and endorsing such acts if the household-head can support them all.

Though also irrelevant in law, the religious arguments are important to address because American religious institutions seem to not understand that they do not have political power outside of their own sect.  The first thing that American Christians tell you when you say ‘same-sex marriage’ is “I believe it is a sin in the bible.”  We all know what the passage reads basically that a man laying with other men as they do with women is an ‘abomination.’  The term ‘abomination’ is one of the most popular words for a Christian.  However, they seem to forget that in the same breath, the primitive middle-eastern writer also states that eating ham and wearing clothing of multiple fabrics is an ‘abomination.’  There is no way to reconcile this without admitting that the reader can interpret the severity of the sin and make their own assumptions as to what it is supposed to mean.  By trying, you take credibility away from your own argument because an average Christian parishioner is not equipped at all to interpret their own holy book.

Finally, it is common to hear that marriage sanctity is important.  Christians in America truly believe that marriage is the creation of Christians before them, and must be protected.  I will admit that if a church chooses to not marry two people, for whatever reason, the law cannot and should not force them to.  However, religious marriage and legal marriage as observed by the government are not interchangeable.  Obviously, the phrase “sanctity of marriage” is laughable, unless you include polygamy and womanservents.  I say: let the religions hate.  They will lose their members and die out (like the ultra-conservative Republican Party) unless they move with civilization into the 21st century and beyond.

The next part in this series will discuss the arguments for marriage equality.  If you wish to refute my arguments or discuss further, please comment and share this article.

 

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon

1000 Hits: To Continue a Great Dialogue

Friends,

It has been a six days since my last post.  I do not have a set schedule of when to write posts, I had just been writing when I had free time.  Unfortunately, I have not had that luxury in the past week.  I will come back as soon as tomorrow evening with another topic of discussion that I hope will be as lively as my posts about health care, gun control, religion, and conservatism.

I started this ‘blog’ three weeks ago with no aspirations.  Yesterday, I surpassed the mark of 1000 views. I want to express my gratitude to all of you for coming to read and discuss the topics that I find interesting.

I have also been receiving a large number of comments.  I have been trying to answer all of them and will continue to do so, but please forgive me if I do not reply immediately to them.  I value all of your opinions, as I hope you value mine and encourage you to continue discussing these issues with me and among each other.

I hope that our great dialogue can continue to 1000 more site views and beyond.

Thank you,

Dustin McMahon

Gun Control: About Saving Lives, Not Personal Freedom

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It seems like every time I turn on the news, there is at least one more dead from a gunshot.  Every couple of months, we get treated to a mass shooting, or rampage, or spree by someone that is obviously off-their-rockers and attempting to take as many people down as they can before ending their own life.

This is life as an American.  If we are the “lucky” ones not to have already fallen to gun violence, we have become victims of the war of the Constitutionality of weapon ownership.  Much like what is done with the Bible, some try to interpret the 2nd Amendment literally, while others think it has more of a figurative meaning.  Both sides are nonsensical.  Interpretation of the Second Amendment by modern minds is not going to retard the gun murders occurring in almost every American city every day.

We all know the statistics and I will try to refrain polluting this diatribe with any more quantifiable data than necessary. You can use your favorite online search engine to verify any of these numbers, and I recommend you do.  First off, according to the Violence Policy Center, a non-profit organization that aims to curb firearm violence through research and awareness, over 30,000 suicides, homicides, and unintentional shootings result in occur every year in America due to easily-accessed guns.  About 10,000 of those are murders.

These numbers seem high, and are more eye-opening when compared to a few other countries (estimates based on the average of multiple sources):

Mexico: 2600  deaths per year            (pop. 116,901,761) (Gun laws similar to United States)

Germany: 250  deaths per year            (pop. 81,946,000) (Strict gun laws and ban on certain types of guns)

Canada: 150    deaths per year            (pop. 35,000,000) (Handgun and Assault weapons ban)

Japan: 50         deaths per year            (pop. 127,400,000) (Complete private gun ownership ban)

United Kingdom: 14    deaths per year (pop. 63,181,700) (Complete private gun ownership ban)

I chose to show these countries not because they express the point I want to make, but because they are all countries with similar laws, freedoms, and rights as those that Americans have.  However, with the exception of Mexico, all of these countries ban most or all firearm ownership.

The first thing you may notice is that all of these countries have a considerably lower population than the United States (pop. 350,000,000).  This separation could be a reason for less death.  However, if you multiply the population of each country to be the same or near the population of America, you still get considerably lower firearm related deaths each year:

Mexico:  7800 (with 351,000,000 population)

Germany: 1000            (with 328,000,000 population)

Canada:  1500 (with 350,000,000 population)

Japan:  150 (with 380,000,000 population)

United Kingdom:  84 (with 378,000,000 population)

These numbers do not take into consideration the population density increase that would come from increasing the populations by up to ten times (in the case of Canada).  A case could be made that in a more densely populated country, let’s say Japan, gun violence would increase.  However, it would not increase by 200% (which would be required to reach the same amount of firearm deaths annually in Japan as there are in America).  You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would make that claim.

I now draw your attention to the number of deaths in Mexico in a hypothetical instance of a similar population as the United States.  You will notice that it is the only country that is within even ten times the number of gun-related murders per year; it is also the only country listed with similar gun laws as America and no private-ownership ban on weapons.

The second quality to notice about these numbers is that the four countries with firearms bans, Germany, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom still have ten or less the times gun deaths that the United States has.  The closest country, Canada, would hypothetically have about 1500 per year. This number is can be accounted for by the fact that Canada does not ban hunting rifles or shotguns.

Plainly, the common denominator between all of these countries is a comprehensive private gun-ownership ban.

An argument made by gun-enthusiasts can be stated as such:  We do not need more gun control; we need better background checks and more money in the education of mental health issues.  If we can stop the mentally ill from getting firearms, we can cut gun violence.

The mentally ill are accountable for most, if not all of the mass shooting deaths in America.  In 2012, about 88 people died in mass-shooting massacres in the United States.  I will concede that more money spent on mental health education and training with increased background checks would probably prevent most of these occurrences. This, however, keeps alive the issue of the other 9912 people that die each year from petty crime, organized crime, crimes of passion, etc. It would be difficult to claim that even half of the remaining deaths would/could be prevented with mental health screenings and background checks.

Gun advocates also reason that they need weapons to protect themselves from criminals that come across guns illegally.  If you don’t believe that a gun ban would decrease amount of firearms in criminal hands (which would be irrational based on the statistics above), you may think that you need a gun to “protect yourself” or your family.

In a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, over the course of 18 months of study, 626 shootings occurred in or immediately around a residence.

“This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty.”

The conception that you are in danger in your own home is justifiable, but it appears, only if you own a firearm.  You are much more likely to unintentionally harm someone (or commit suicide) with your weapon than you are to actually use the weapon in self-defense.

In an attempt to try to reconcile the dangers of owning a gun, many people have argued that they would keep their guns locked up in a safe until they are needed.

So, the next time a burglar attempts to break into your house, I hope he/she gives you time to recognize the situation, run to the safe, unlock the safe, arm the weapon, aim, and shoot.

The final strong case that the gun advocates can make is that we have the right to own guns.  Our founding fathers wanted us to have the rights to arm ourselves against our own countrymen, or Zeus-forbid, or own government.  And to this, I also concede.

America, you do have Second Amendment rights to own guns, and as interpreted by modern supreme courts, for just about any reason you want.  I ask you, however, is an outdated, overanalyzed, and unnecessary right worth the loss and anguish that it causes?  30,000 citizens die each year.  When will the genocide be halted?  This issue is no longer about personal freedom, it is about saving lives.

Is your fear of your neighbor so great that you must arm yourself, and give those who wish to harm the innocent a means of doing so much more easily by allowing open circulation of weapons of terror?

A comprehensive weapons ban on all private ownership of firearms is the only way to prevent the streets from continuing to run red with the blood of our future as a nation.

I implore you, put the gun down, extend your arms, and come together. Do not let our country become so divided that we have to use these weapons on each other, because the pen has failed.

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon