03 July 2015
It's interesting that there has been so much acrimony in the ummah (the Muslim world) about the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US. After all, they have long had plural marriage and we have long forbidden it. But isn't that the next logical step? And who would be more comfortable in plural marriage than bisexuals? Not that I am necessarily advocating anything, I am simply pointing out logical contradictions rooted in culture and posing questions. As I see it, marriage is a religious sacrament, a declaration of union in love before the Almighty. Logically, therefore, where the state holds itself to be separate from any establishment of religion, the state must give full faith and credit to any marriage performed by any ordained religious authority.
Will Utah lead the charge? I see that a trio in Montana has already applied for a second marriage license. On further consideration, it makes sense that a mountain state other than Utah might be the first to budge on plural marriage. Those Mormons who practice plural marriage have been used to doing so on the sly for more than a century. Due to the history of persecution that came before that, I wonder how keen the LDS Church is to change its official position on the issue. In general, religious institutions tend to be conservative and slow to change. The LDS Church has gone to great pains to shape its image as a mainstream religion, to the point that Mitt Romney's faith was far less of a political issue than was John Kennedy's. On the other hand, Warren Jeffs wouldn't get many votes outside of his own family... with good reason. With respect to plural marriage, the path back to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young might be longer than the journey from New York to Utah.
It should also be considered that the Muslim population of the United States is increasing. Their political problem is that 200 million ignorant bubbas equate their religion with terrorism, so how anxious are they going to be to push plural marriage as a political agenda?
I have known a threesome in Palo Alto and another in Sausalito. Both were polyandrous (one woman, two men), as opposed to polygynous. The members of both groups were white, secular, upscale, and tech-savvy. Intelligent, well-educated, and witty, they were busily about making good lives for themselves, not about making their domestic arrangements a political issue. One suspects that de facto plural marriage is more commonly practiced in the US than is generally understood.
Both of the aforementioned groups were childless, but suppose a group marriage produced children? In a polyandrous marriage, paternity would have been in doubt in an age before DNA testing; this would appear to be less of a concern nowadays, unless brothers married the same woman. In any case, right or wrong, one of them would be named as the father on the birth certificate.
What are the state’s compelling interests in regulating marriage? The time was when many states maintained that they had an interest in prohibiting the intermarriage of religions and/or races; this is no longer the case. Also a thing of the past is the state promotion of high birth rates. A longstanding state interest has been in controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, thus premarital blood testing; however, three people can be tested as well as two, so the argument of compelling state interest gets no traction on this issue.
For the most part, family law concerns the disposition of property and the assignment of child custody and visitation rights in the event of the dissolution of a marriage. One can foresee that that plural marriage might make divorces even messier than they already tend to be. As a law student, it’s difficult for me not to come out in favor of this; I’m going to need to find work after graduation. But seriously, I don’t see that there is a state interest in limiting the messiness of divorces that outweighs an individual’s right to love, cohabit, and intermingle property as one chooses. What is the state’s compelling interest in abridging certain pursuits of happiness out of concern that they may have a lower probability of stability or may lead to misery? This is a private matter that is best left to individual judgment. The pursuit of happiness, being an inalienable right, includes pursuits that may fail; indeed, the pursuit of misery is arguably an inalienable right.
It is now possible to treat mitochondrial diseases by destroying the defective mitochondrion of one woman’s egg and replacing it with the healthy mitochondrion of a second woman. Thus the child inherits the nuclear DNA of the father and the first woman as well as the mitochondrial DNA of the second woman. Genetically, the child has two mothers, and may pass on to the next generation the genes of all three parents. Suppose the three parents wanted to be married? Is there a compelling state interest in discriminating against one of the child’s mothers? Such a case might be the best legal test, as there would be a strong bioethical argument in favor of plural marriage. But, if such a legal case were successful, the state could not then limit plural marriage to mitochondrial therapy cases, for doing so would elevate the rights of childbearing unions over childless unions, and thereby violate “equal protection of the laws.”
Thomas Gangale's Lies and Politics
One of the silliest things humans squabble about is this or that pattern of color, whether on cloth or on monitors.
Recently I “rainbow-ed” my Facebook icon after reading a BBC article about Russian and Arab anger over the Facebook application, otherwise I would not have known about the app. Express your anger, spread the word, encourage more people to support what you're angry about. Then you can be even angrier.
BBC also reported that a Syrian tweeted: "Damn you and your marriage. You have distorted our innocent childhood [symbol], we used to like the rainbow." Actually, the rainbow as a political symbol goes back at least as far as Jessie Jackson's Rainbow Coalition of the 1980s. It had nothing to do with being gay, or for that matter, with being black. It is a symbol of inclusiveness, of respecting every "race, color, creed, or national origin." But now, every time it rains while the sun is shining, this Syrian will damn Allah’s rainbow.
Nearly simultaneous with the Facebook rainbow app flap on the heels of the US Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is the flap over the Confederate battle flag on the heels of a mass shooting at an African-American church in South Carolina. It is reported that the shooter also considered a university campus as his target, so it is not at all clear that this was a crime perpetrated by someone who harbored hatred of any particular class of people, whether African-American or Christian; his target might just as easily have been college students: secular, white, whatever. Nevertheless, many people are exploiting the shooting to further their pet political agendas, and the grief of loved ones gets shoveled under.
If this symbol offends you, what does that say about you?
Meanwhile, there are T-shirts that proclaim, “If this flag offends you, you need a history lesson.” I respectfully disagree. If this flag offends you, you need to come to Jesus, because if you hate this symbol, that’s just another form of hate.
“And if thine right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” –Matthew 5:29
I thought the symbolism was painfully obvious: a swastika dripping blood superimposed on the Russian flag. You see, Russians are quick to call their enemies fascists. It makes them feel good about whatever they want to do. The Maidan revolution in Kiev that brought down Vladimir Putin’s pet Ukrainian president was a conspiracy of fascists, not a blow for liberty, so invasion, occupation, annexation, infiltration, insurrection… anything goes. My icon was intended to make the point that the Putin government is the real conspiracy of fascists. Almost everyone outside of Russia who has any inkling of world affairs understands this. Nevertheless, I was accused of being a Nazi, and about a hundred people “unfriended” me.
“If thine right eye offend thee….”
Now, some people may know that the swastika is even today considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. That’s several hundred million people, maybe around a billion people. Are they wrong? It is even found on a Roman mosaic in Sicily, which precedes Benito Mussolini by more than a few years. So, just as Shakespeare’s Juliet posed the question, what’s in a name, which is after all no more than a verbal symbol, what’s in a visual symbol?
And if one doesn’t understand the context, one doesn’t understand the intent behind the symbol. That’s how I lost a hundred Facebook friends.
“If thine right eye offend thee….”
As a US Air Force officer during the Cold War, I hated this symbol:
I got over it. In fact, a quarter century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I must admit to some nostalgia. Maybe that says something about how professional military officers view each other, that even men who bear arms against each other might be brothers in arms, or maybe it’s just easy to put aside the hatred because we avoided a shooting war. Also, in continuing my education and becoming a political scientist, I actually read some of the wicked works of those devils Marx and Lenin. I suspect that in the long run Marx is right; capitalism will play out and be replaced by something else, but probably not any time soon. Where Lenin and the others who followed him went wrong was in attempting to force the process into a quicker timeline, but if their methods were unsound, so were those of Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, J. Edgar Hoover, and many others on “our side.” In any case, there were far more ordinary men than either good men or evil men who served under that red banner, and meanwhile the hammer and sickle inevitably becomes less odious as the last generation of cold warriors goes gentle or not ‘into that good night.”
So how is it that the Confederate battle flag, a relic of a war fought by our great-great-grandfathers, still stirs up so much emotion? The last veteran of that war is long dead. The last freedman is dead. The South isn’t trying to secede. Why should anyone still care about this silly bit of cloth?
That, and like a Rorschach inkblot, it’s mostly about what’s behind your eyes rather than what’s in front of them.
To some, the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of racism, oppression, and terrorism, not only because of its use during a war fought to preserve the institution of slavery, but mostly because of its use by white supremacists and criminals ever since.
They are right.
To some, the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of patriotism, valor, and sacrifice, of resistance against Northern aggression and despotic military rule, of defiance of a national government that destroyed the regional economy and did little to rebuild it until a century later.
They are also right.
So neither side is absolutely right.
What happens when both sides believe with every fiber of their being that they are absolutely right and the other side is absolutely wrong, and one side backs the other into a corner? The Civil War… and really, all wars. People get killed, maimed, displaced, impoverished, and it never makes much sense. It makes absolutely no sense to turn a quarrel over some colored cloth into a Manichean conflict of good versus evil. The only way the quarrel can avoid the spilling of blood is by each side beginning to understand that they are not absolutely right and that the other side is not absolutely wrong.
The struggle over the Confederate battle flag, on either side, will feed no hungry person, will clothe no cold person, will house no homeless person, will do no good work of any kind. There are substantive issues in our nation that cry out for our attention. This is not one of them, so you should look in his right eye the person who is trying to convince you otherwise and ask why your right eye should offend you.