Monday, November 03, 2008

Proposition 8: The Raising of Children

A good person has an aversion to doing harm to others. He may still do harm, if good reason can be provided to show that it is necessary. However, the fact that he is being asked to do harm means that he will not readily accept those reasons. He will not trust the evidence behind those reasons, and will have to be compelled to accept it only as “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Because, as long as there is reason to doubt, the good person will do no harm to others.

The evil person has such an affection for doing harm that he grasps whatever reason might be offered to him that will cloak the harm in an illusion of legitimacy. The harm has such value to him that you can see him celebrating any piece of news that suggests that the harm might actually serve a purpose, and he looks at options that make the harm unnecessary with sadness and regret.

The claim that legalized gay marriage might have some adverse effect on the raising of children allows us to determine which people fit in the first category and which fit into the second.

There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim.

Therefore, the good person will dismiss it unless and until compelling evidence is brought to him that it must be the case, and that there is no way to secure the well-being of children without other than to inflict (regrettable but necessary) harm on others.

Where the evil person will embrace this claim, even though there is nothing to back it up, because it gives them a veneer of legitimacy for actions that are harmful to others. They want it to be true and because, to them, it would be such a great world if it were true, they accept it. They embrace it. “Now, we may go ahead with that which is harmful to others. What a relief!”

“The well-being of children” was brought up to give prohibitions on interracial marriage an illusion of legitimacy. Those poor little half-breed children, not knowing if they were fully white or fully black, finding no acceptance in either community, they are left alone and abused. It is best not to have poor little half-breed children by simply prohibiting interracial relationships.

At that time, too, there were good people with an aversion to doing harm to others who would be reluctant to accept this claim. They had an aversion to the state interfering in person decisions on who to marry. That aversion drove them to distrust these types of claims unless and until compelling evidence were brought in to support it, and that evidence blocked all other alternatives except that which compelled harm.

Then there were the bigots. Those people had such an aversion to interracial marriage that they sought for and clung to any excuse that would give their desire to prohibit such unions an illusion of legitimacy. “Now we may go ahead with that which is harmful to others. What a relief!”

These words may sound harsh. However, I want to remind the reader of what I wrote a short while ago about how bigotry infects the mind, causing otherwise decent people to do harm to others without any regret – even, to celebrate the harms that they inflict on others.

A lot of people who embraced the idea that there was something wrong with interracial marriage were otherwise good people. They were, in other areas of their lives, heroic people – role models – the type of person that a kid could look up to. Unfortunately, they grew up in a culture that gave them a moral blind spot. In this one area they were taught to be bigots, to value that which was harmful to others, to hunt for anything that makes that harm appear legitimate, and to find relief and joy in arguments that allowed them to say, “Alas, the harm we do may continue.”

We do have the option of morally forgiving these people – of saying that their culture put these ideas in their head and, thus, they are not responsible.

However, the idea of moral responsibility is intimately tied to that which people generally have reason to promote through praise and reward, and have reason to inhibit through condemnation and punishment.

Clearly, one of the things we have reason to inhibit through condemnation is this act of embracing and celebrating weak excuses whose only value is to give actions harmful to others an illusion of legitimacy. So, we have reason to inhibit through condemnation and punishment those who embrace an argument that the welfare of children will be at risk – when there is absolutely nothing to support such a claim – for no reason other than that it gives the illusion of legitimacy to valued actions harmful to others.

I continue to argue for the right to freedom of speech (among other things). The words that people utter that say that behavior harmful to homosexuals is justified because of concern for how children are raised may only be met with words and private actions. However, words of condemnation are a perfectly legitimate response to these types of excuses and rationalizations.

Words of moral condemnation are justified.

Because our society is made when we are surrounded by neighbors who have an aversion to doing harm and who demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And our society is made worse off when we are surrounded by people who so value things harmful to others that they grasp onto any excuse that gives the harm a veneer of legitimacy no matter how poorly supported.

Indeed, how would you like to go to trial under a set of principles that say, “I want you to value the harm that the defendant will suffer so greatly that you will accept any and all evidence that he is guilty, no matter how flimsy, and no matter how poorly supported?”

For many sitting in judgment of homosexual marriage, this is what they are doing. This accusation, though harsh, is adequately proved by the fact that they so eagerly embrace and celebrate any suggestion that allowing homosexual marriage might adversely affect how others raise their children in ways detrimental to those children.

Finally, we must not forget, while we are sitting here in our concern for the welfare of children, that many of those children will be gay. So, we cannot make any sense at all about how our actions affect the welfare and future of children without including a chapter on how our actions would affect the welfare and the future of gay children.

Of course, a segment of the population who has learned to cherish that which is harmful to their interests will be morally blind to this fact. They will be inclinded to think that all children are straight - that there are no gay children with a welfare and a future to consider. Again, this is one more sign of how a culture can teach a group of otherwise good people to ignore the interests of others - even to cherish the thwarting of those intersts.

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