Gay Marriage Strawman 2 – Man on Dog

Second part of a four-part series. Thanks to everyone wishing my cousin well. She has changed her Facebook status, implying that they got married in DC today.

In the first post of this series I mentioned that one of the arguments marshaled by opponents of marriage equality is that it will lead to open practicing of pedophilia. Another frequent slippery slope case made famous by none other than erstwhile presidential candidate Rick Santorum. In the famous interview he said:

In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —

It was this equating homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality which prompted Dan Savage to redefine ‘santorum’ in a way that muddied his name forever. But he isn’t even the only presidential candidate to make the connection. Here is Michele Bachmann and Glen Beck making the direct comparison.

This is not to say that there are not proponents and advocates of bestiality. Here is a British documentary on zoophiles. As you might imagine, it’s rough stuff. But they are hardly mainstream and usually much reviled, ridiculed, or pitied. In addition to the general rubric of ‘unnatural acts’ (the same broad blanket which covers homosexuality and non-reproductive heterosexual acts), bestiality invokes the ire of animal rights activists, proving that opposition to the practice is not the sole providence of one end of the political spectrum.

But by equating bestiality with homosexuality, anti-gay rights advocates are literally dehumanizing gays and lesbians. It defines all homosexuality as a perversion of the highest order. This is thankfully now a minority view.

The mere engaging in homosexual acts has been protected since at least Lawrence vs. Texas. The primary reason gay rights advocates want gay marriage for the legal protection it entails. It is the legal benefits of the 1138 legal rights and responsibilities which marriage confers. They include:

Property inheritance without probate
Military and veteran benefits
Medical visitation and decision rights
Legal status in adoption and step-parenthood

If it were only about sex, there would never be an issue. Nobody can prevent you from teaching your dog to lick peanut butter off your genitals, but that is no reason to need to get married. Marriage is about forming legal and permanent and loving bonds. And that is something you can’t do with a dog, cat, horse, sheep, chicken, or gerbil. You can will a pet your entire fortune but you cannot give it a medical power of attorney.

Marriage creates a relationship that cannot be easily duplicated by other means. When one creates a life-bond with a partner it should supersede other previous relationships. The cases where estranged parents make life or death decisions for their gay adult children just because the person’s life partner has no legal standing are heartbreaking. To deny these rights to any couple just because of the gender of who they choose to love just doesn’t make sense.

15 Responses

  1. Another straw man from yello.

    I encourage everyone to watch the video, because neither Beck nor Bachman make a “direct comparison,” or in fact any comparison at all. That claim is quite simply untrue. Neither of them even mention homosexuality at any point whatsoever.

    Nor did Santorum compare bestiality with homosexuality. He simply pointed out that neither of them have ever been historically included under the definition of marriage.

    Several of us had a very serious and interesting discussion today about the issue of homosexual marriage, and for that I suppose we should thank yello for prompting it. It’s too bad, however, that he can’t bring himself to join it.

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  2. The set up question was: “A 93 – 7 U.S. Senate vote to approve a defense authorization bill that quote includes a provision that not only repeals the military ban on sodomy but also repeals the military ban on sex with animals or bestiality.”

    Bachman says that children need a period of innocence and your own government legalizes *it*? Later in the tape, if *that’s* not wrong, what’s wrong?

    I suppose there’s enough pronouns in that exchange to shake a stick at. The most reasonable interpretation is that Bachmann is talking about sodomy. However, let’s go for more direct linking of gay marriage to bestiality. And a one. And a two. And a three…

    ——–

    HOST: Meanwhile, the New Hampshire legislature has also voted in favor of gay marriage, but Pat, the governor there still isn’t sure if he will approve that bill.

    PAT ROBERTSON: Lee, we haven’t taken this to its ultimate conclusion. You got polygamy out there. How can we rule that polygamy is illegal when you say that homosexual marriage is legal. What is it about polygamy that’s different? Well, polygamy was outlawed because it was considered immoral according to biblical standards. But if we take biblical standards away in homosexuality, what about the other? And what about bestiality and ultimately what about child molestation and pedophilia? How can we criminalize these things and at the same time have constitutional amendments allowing same-sex marriage among homosexuals. You mark my words, this is just the beginning in a long downward slide in relation to all the things that we consider to be abhorrent.

    Former U.S. Rep. J. D. Hayworth:

    “You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage,” Hayworth said. “Now get this, it defined marriage as simply, quote, ‘the establishment of intimacy.’ Now how dangerous is that?” Hayworth continued, “I mean, I don’t mean to be absurd about it. But I guess I can make the point of absurdity with an absurd point. I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse.”

    Hillary White from Lifesitenews:

    Four legislators in Massachusetts are quickly following up on their success at legalizing homosexual unions by pushing for softening laws against other forms of sexual deviance. They have introduced a bill that proposes to reduce the penalties associated with the state’s criminal prohibition on sex acts with animals.

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  3. FB:

    The set up question was:

    It is generally customary to follow such a statement with, well, an actual question. Alas, I suppose I can understand why you didn’t since the actual set up question doesn’t really support your subsequent conclusion. The actual set up question, which immediately followed what you provided was:

    Does the commander-in-chief approve or disapprove of bestiality?

    Jake Tapper then went on to ask the befuddled press spokesman, to the sound of stifled laughter, if he was sure he didn’t want another question about, er, bestiality. At which point Beck stopped the clip and upbraided both Tapper for joking about, er, bestiality,and the press spokesman for not answering the question. Which, in case you’ve forgotten, was about, er, bestiality. There proceeds then a whole long discussion about “it”, in which Beck questions the government’s motives for approving of, er, bestiality, culminating with Bachman questioning if that’s not wrong, what is. At no point other than in the very first sentence of the clip is sodomy mentioned, and homosexuality is never mentioned. It is clear from this that the most reasonable, indeed the only reasonable, conclusion is that Bachman was talking about bestiality. (BTW….take a look at the title of clip itself.)

    The only thing that might give the impression that she was talking about sodomy/homosexuality is yello’s false introduction to the clip. To be honest, I had to listen to the clip twice to really get what they were talking about because, as a result of yello’s intro, I was predisposed to assume that they were talking about homosexuality. I didn’t pay too much attention to the reporter’s set up question, because I was told that Bachman and Beck themselves would be making a direct comparison between bestiality and homosexuality. When it became apparent after the first listen that that wasn’t true, I went back to listen again to see what kind of indirect comparison might have been made. It was at that point it became apparent that they weren’t at any point even talking about homosexuality, and that the singular mention of sodomy by the reporter had virtually nothing to do with the rest of the discussion.

    This is good example of the power of suggestive thinking, especially if one is willing/desirous to believe the suggestion. We’re told what to expect hear, and suddenly we hear it even though it hasn’t actually been said. I don’t know whether yello was just passing on his own sloppy victimhood of someone else’s (Think Progress’s?) deceptive marketing of the clip or if he came up with it himself, but it is clear that it doesn’t show what he (and now you) claim it shows.

    As for your examples of this direct linkage between bestiality and homosexuality, the JD Hayworth quote doesn’t do any such thing. He’s objecting to a ridiculously broad definition of marriage, and even admits that he’s taking it to an absurd extreme in order to make the point. This is no more a comparison, direct or otherwise, between bestiality and homosexuality than it is a comparison between bestiality and heterosexuality.

    Nor is the Hillary White piece, which strikes me as fairly straight forward reporting of facts. Although I will say that, if it is true that bestiality laws are indeed being softened by the same people actively promoting SSM, it’s not exactly helping the case yello is trying to make.

    You do seem to have found one example with Robertson, the go-to guy for liberals looking for a religious person saying buffoonish things. I’ll give that one to you, but that’s not giving you much.

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  4. FB,
    Thank you for bringing up other examples of this strawman. The questioner in the Bachmann clip was making an indirect allusion to the military Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy by implicitly comparing it to bestiality. Here is Stephen Colbert making fun of the same clip:

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/404343/december-14-2011/stephen-colbert-s-big-gay-roundup—military-bestiality—homosexual-penguins

    To not see the analogy being made is to be deliberately obtuse. As I said in the post, equating homosexuality to bestiality is deliberately dehumanizing to gay and lesbian people, particularly the ones who now proudly and openly serve in our military.

    As for the Hillary White item, which as been much repeated in conservative blogs, one blog has what appears to be a rebuttal from her lawyer:

    Unfortunately, this information came from a recent article in Weekly Dig, in which the author, Rob McMorrow, did absolutely no research before publishing his opinions. The bill in question does not repeal the crime of bestiality. In fact it expands the law and makes it easier for prosecutors to bring charges against such people.

    The current law only forbids sexual acts on “beasts” which is legally limited to hooved animals such as cows, sheep and pigs. By re-writing the law to use the word “animal”, the statute will now–for the first time–prohibit sex acts with dogs, cats, fowl and any other animal. In addition, the penalty has not been decreased in any way. The maximum penalty is still 20 years in prison. The effect of 2 1/2 year house of correction penalty is to allow the District Attorney to charge some cases in District Court rather than always having to obtain a grand jury indictment and proceed to Superior Court. The new fine also follows modern criminal statute drafting practices by giving the prosecutor and courts a range of potential sentencing options.

    For these reasons, the proposed bill was endorsed by the Humane Society and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

    Finally, it should be noted that Weekly Dig is a newspaper that is meant to be humorous. To the extent that Mr. McMorrow holds himself out as a legitimate journalist, he is a very poor one.

    Thank you for your attention to this important piece of legislation.
    Sean J. Kealy
    Legal Counsel
    Senator Cynthia S. Creem

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  5. He simply pointed out that neither of them have ever been historically included under the definition of marriage.

    And that’s not comparing them? It’s definitely not contrasting them.

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    • yello:

      And that’s not comparing them?

      No, at least not in the way you are insinuating. If I point out that neither squares nor circles have traditionally been considered triangles, I am in no way suggesting that squares and circles are comparable in any way other than as non-triangles.

      The questioner in the Bachmann clip was making an indirect allusion to the military Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy by implicitly comparing it to bestiality.

      So we have now gone from Beck and Bachman drawing a “direct comparison” to some anonymous questioner ” making an “indirect allusion”. I guess this is another example of your humpty dumpty principle.

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  6. With this second post, it is becoming clearer that yello is indeed misuing the term “straw man.” A straw-man argument is one that mischaracterizes one’s opponent’s argument. Yello apparently is trying to say that arguments against SSM are straw men, but there is no demonstration here that the argument he is attacking–the alleged equating of homosexuality and bestiality–is a mischaracterization of a pro-SSM argument. In fact, these posts are remarkably light on any affirmative arguments for SSM or homosexuality in general. Mainly, they consist of ipse dixit.

    The use of the video clip is plain dishonest. It’s just another example of the new liberal phenomenon of claiming that a video catches some conservative saying something he or she didn’t say at all. As Scott notes, it is the power of suggestion at work. And behind it, at best, is the power of self-suggestion. At best, that is, they are a product of blind ideology–blind as in the mind perceiving only what ideology tells it to see.

    If it were only about sex, there would never be an issue. Nobody can prevent you from teaching your dog to lick peanut butter off your genitals, but that is no reason to need to get married. Marriage is about forming legal and permanent and loving bonds.

    This is one of those commentaries that looks something like an argument but isn’t one. It is just a squishy little packet of sentiments. The first sentence is a now-routine rhetorical move–sloppy language that reflects sloppy thinking. Saying that “it” is “about” this or isn’t “about” that isn’t an argument. It doesn’t really mean anything. The question, supposedly, is whether we should change the definition of marriage to include SSM. This whole passage by yello does nothing more than assert that marriage is “about” something that homosexuals “want.” Even if you assume that the “about” is accurate, the claim that people want it is only the prelude to an argument for why they should have it, not an argument in itself. As Scott has noted, yello has not yet deigned to engage any actual arguments on the question.

    The leftwing effort to legalize SSM is borne of presumption that they have some superior moral authority and rational power to redefine what marriage really is and isn’t “about.” They presume to strip it of its gender component and its inherent tie to children and instead reduce it to an abstraction about “love” and “commitment” sufficiently vague to encompass SSM. But they never can proffer any argument for their position about what marriage “is” that isn’t itself arbitrary by their own terms. That is what most of the “slippery slope” and similar counterarguments are intended to show. Go ahead and offer definitive definition of marriage, support it with arguments and proof, and let’s see how it stands up to the same kind of logical scrutiny that SSM proponents say traditional marriage fails. Let’s see whether the case for SSM is fully consistent and sufficient to explain everything.

    Here are a couple of problems you will need to fix. You say marriage is a “permanent” bond, but in fact it isn’t. Divorce is legal and common. So are prenuptial agreements that contemplate divorce. So you lose there. Your definition fails. You say that marriage is about forming “loving bonds.” But many married couples and marriages in fact aren’t loving, and we don’t dissolve those marriages. In fact, there is no legal requirement to love in order to marry. Moreover, if, as you say, the reason for marriage is the legal protections and benefits, love plays no necessary part in any of that. A heterosexual without a desire to marry in the traditional sense might just as well want to form a partnership with a someone of the same sex who is just a close, platonic friend. So there is no reason that “love” is critical to marriage, and again your definition fails.

    prompted Dan Savage to redefine ‘santorum’ in a way that muddied his name forever.

    No, he didn’t. Savage did nothing more than demonstrate that he’s a cretin, much to the delight of other cretins on the left.

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  7. I am in no way suggesting that squares and circles are comparable in any way other than as non-triangles.

    I don’t even have to invoke the Humpty Dumpty Principle on that one. Here is the online definition:

    Definition of COMPARE
    transitive verb
    1: to represent as similar : liken
    2a : to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences

    Nobody would be concerned with bestiality in the armed forced if it weren’t part of a slippery slope argument.

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    • yello:

      Here is the online definition

      Apparently the part of my response that included “other than as” went past you.

      Nobody would be concerned with bestiality in the armed forced if it weren’t part of a slippery slope argument.

      On its face this suggests that you think rules against sex with animals exist only in order to prevent stepping on the slippery slope towards allowing sex with people of the same sex. But I assume that is not what you mean.

      In fact what the anonymous reporter seems to have been articulating was not a concern that eliminating rules against sodomy might lead, via the slippery slope, towards the repeal of rules against bestiality, but rather that the rules against bestiality were actually being repealed.

      BTW, you may be interested to know that PETA also objected to the removal of the anti-bestiality provision in the military code. Perhaps you think they too are cleverly trying to dehumanize homosexuals.

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  8. No, he didn’t.

    Urban Dictionary disagrees.

    Even Rick Santorum recognizes his Google problem.

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  9. qb

    But many married couples and marriages in fact aren’t loving, and we don’t dissolve those marriages. In fact, there is no legal requirement to love in order to marry

    No there isn’t that legal requirement. It begs the question though of how children from a loveless union might fare doesn’t it? Where’s the study?

    Anyway, I have to leave this morning right after the SCOTUS or around the same time of the decision so if I’m not around good luck on your predictions everyone…..I guess. I’m frankly very nervous about the entire thing.

    Should we start a new thread for discussion of the decision? Any volunteers as I have to get myself ready and out the door?

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  10. Urban Dictionary disagrees.

    Even Rick Santorum recognizes his Google problem.

    Good luck with the rest of your series. I don’t expect that will be wasting any more time with it.

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  11. lms,

    No there isn’t that legal requirement. It begs the question though of how children from a loveless union might fare doesn’t it? Where’s the study?

    I wouldn’t need a study to believe that children don’t fare as well in those circumstances. But the question is, what follows from that? At a certain point down that continuum, when it leads to neglect or abuse, the government will remove children. But we don’t go measure “love” in families or couples. And the fact that some children may have parents who don’t meet a standard of “love” for each other does not logically lead to any conclusion that we should therefore legalize SSM.

    I made the point simply to illustrate that liberal redefinitions of marriage can be subjected to precisely the same methods of logical critique they use on the traditional one. If you say “Marriage is X,” it will always be possible for someone to say, “No, it is also X-Y,” or “No, X does not account for Y, which is also marriage.”

    This is why yello is going to end up ensared in his own deconstructionist ; ) project. In fact, he already is. Even while he is attacking what he perceives as “straw men,” he will never be able to define marriage in a way that includes what he wants to include and nothing else. He will never be able to account for everything.

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  12. BTW, you may be interested to know that PETA also objected to the removal of the anti-bestiality provision in the military code.

    Yes. I mentioned in the main article that animal rights groups are not in favor of decriminalizing bestiality. PETA’s observation that cruelty to animals is one of the red light indicators of sociopathic behavior is also well noted.

    I am also unaware of a rash of court-martials over rampant zoophilia in the military, so the concern over it on the part of Beck and Bachmann seems to underly a different issue.

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  13. […] have previously discussed pedophilia and bestiality as slippery slope oppostions to to gay marriage. Another one frequently brought up is polygamy. […]

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