Sunday, November 9, 2008

More on Mormons

The idiocy doesn't stop.

Proposition 8 passed, as I talked about before, here and here. Now more and more information about the Mormon connection to it is coming out.

For one, they sent this letter to all their churches in California.

Then there's the fallout...

The passage of Proposition 8 sparked a lot of demonstrations, and a lot targeted specifically against the Mormons, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as they so prefer to be called. There's been a lot of backlash against the demonstrators, summed up shortly by this guy. Read that next to last sentence:

Do the Left not understand that the majority of Californians want to keep the definition of marriage as it has been since the beginning of time?

Ahh...The burns.

Let's think for a minute. There are a few possibilities here. This guy might actually acknowledge that the world is older than humans, and thus, "since the beginning of time" has no real meaning here. Hadrons and leptons do not get married. As far as I know, galaxies don't as well. I have never been invited to a marriage between any Archaea, Bacteria, Fungi, Plants, or the overwhelming majority of animals. Now, I do feel a little snubbed, I'll admit - I imagine paramecia marriages are friggen awesome. So...if we take that line (you know, the line of evidence), he's made a huge non-starter.

Let's be kinder and say, "Okay, well, he really just means since the beginnings of humans." Well...that's interesting. "Marriage" has had a huge number of definitions over human history. Hell, as this guy is "Conservatively Minded," let's just take the Bible as an example. There isn't a helluva lot of discussion about marriage laws in there...and what is there is vaguely uncomfortable to most people here. At what age can people be married? At what age can a man have sex with a woman (or girl, as the case may be)? How many wives can a man have? Can a man divorce his wife? Can a wife divorce her husband? Can either of them get re-married? Are there any restrictions on how closely related two individuals can be and still be married? Why is okay for the King to have an entire harem?

There's a reason the Jews developed the Mishnah and the Talmud. A lot of these questions are not dealt with directly in the text, and it was up to the social order and community to decide how they wanted to live.

Now, it's certainly possible that this guy isn't religious (although, I'm highly doubtful of it. "Since the beginning of time" is really a pretty telling statement). If he is not religious...well, then, I don't really see what argument he has to fall back on, given the varied nature and socially-constructed reality of marriage through history. I'm forced to conclude that this guy has an ideal image of marriage, apparently that between a single man and a single woman, and that there is some religious basis for that.

Enter the Mormons.

Now...historically...since this guy wants to bring it up...The Mormons have had a bit of a problem with what they like to call "traditional marriage." We all know this, and it's something that their community still struggles with today. There are still schism groups that operate under laws of polygamy. But, of course, instead of telling their own church-goers what to do and how to be married, they want to enforce their views on everyone else, and basically bankrolled the entire Proposition 8 initiative.

People are rightly a little upset over this.

And the Mormons are upset that people are upset at them. For instance.

"I am appalled at the level of Mormon-bashing that went on during the Proposition 8 campaign and continues to this day," he said. "If this activity were directed against any other church, if someone put up a website that targeted Jews or Catholics in a similar fashion for the mere act of participating in a political campaign, it would be widely and rightfully condemned."

No sir. You do not get to play the victim card. Not yours.

When you have a huge organized movement, with a sizable population, that can bankroll an initiative in one of the largest states in the country, and you can field a presidential candidate who did quite well...No, sir. No, you do not get the victim card.

This comes dangerously close to an ad hominem attack, I know, so let me address this. I am not saying that the Mormons are stupid, evil people who can't fix their own Church and so want to impose their will on everyone else. I'm not saying their history of polygamy is damning to them now. What I am saying is that this is clearly an initiative entirely based on religious grounds to take away rights from a minority group, that used outright lies and discrimination to achieve its means, and is completely guilty of using weasel-words and slimey rhetoric to persuade voters that those in the homosexual community are not quite human, are in danger of "taking over," and that if gays can be married, then some ideo-typical "marriage," which has never existed, will cease to exist.

It's disgusting. And then, to claim the victim card, and to say that if these campaigns were against Jews or Catholics, everyone would find them, that goes too far. It's not even fatwah-envy. I don't think I have words for how despicable this really is.

Let me put it this way. You, Mormons, can be nice people. You claim a religious and historical basis for your argument about how marriage should be. Religiously...well, that shouldn't be a matter for the law. Historically, you've had your own problems, and continue to have them. Historically, marriage has changed in definition. Historically, we have moved towards giving all human beings basic rights. Historically, "between a man and a woman" is too vague to define what most people think it means, and too specific to not be discrimination against a single minority group. Your arguments are baseless, but you want to play the morality card. And you want to bankroll the morality card. When that comes out, and people are rightly upset at having their rights taken away (and let us not forget the power of precedent), you then want to claim religious freedom and discrimination against yourselves. No. Incorrect. You fail. It's perhaps the most intense act of projection that I've seen in a while.

Here's a kooky idea. How about when people want a voice in government, they are required to pay some sort of membership fee. You know, those things we call taxes. Yes, I know, it's "spreading the wealth," and yes, taxes can be abused. But at their heart, taxes are a membership fee that entitles you to government protection and services. As a citizen, you are expected to pay taxes, and in return, you get the benefit of government programs and a voice in government policies. When you don't pay taxes, you are revealing your non-commitment to the group. When you don't pay taxes and force your opinion into government...well, that's a hostile take-over. If the Mormons, or any other religious group, wants a say in government, let them pay taxes. No more tax-exemption for churches. If they aren't happy with the way our government is running things, let them have a voice as concerned citizens within the system instead of bankrolling propositions from tax-exempt money and playing the holier-than-thou-morality card and out-right-lies card. It's just sickening at this point.

So, to summarize, let me get this straight - you want to "protect marriage" by taking away the right of people to get married. And instead of enforcing your rules within your congregations, you want to enforce your opinions on everyone else in this country...and you expect people to not be upset at you, why, exactly?

For a bit of sanity, I'd recommend Sadly, No! For long-term sanity...I recommend getting involved in politics when and where you can.

Also, major tip o' the hat to Canadian Cynic's post for picking up the issue, and Pharyngula, you know, just in general.

Quick edit update: Here's the commercial that everyone's so upset about:

Now, granted, literally taking away the rings and destroying the marriage licenses of already married couples is over the line. But married gay couples in California are in legal limbo at the moment. This is the fear, and in a lot of ways, I could see how it could become a valid one, if any issue regarding an already-married couple appears, it wouldn't be hard to revoke their license.

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