Thursday, December 11, 2008

Huckabee on The Daily Show

This post is mostly an echo of and agreement with this one.

As well as Stewart makes his points, his first question gives Huckabee way too much credit for not having a bigoted view.

You write that marriage is the bedrock of our society. Why would you not want more couples to buy into the stability of marriage? Why would you want that precluded for an entire group of of people.

Huckabee doesn't believe that commitment is the bedrock. He believes that same sex commitment contributes nothing. Stewart's first challenge—and it's a popular one—gets thrown aside easily by the view that society is bourn on the backs of men who take women. His biblical view is that a man who joins with a man is not a man, and a woman who joins with a woman has no man to give her the power to contribute. According to this view single mothers are only capable if they can offer the strength that men are more naturally equipped to impart. Boys must learn to be adult men in the mold of our cherished heroes. These are the traditions of necessary gender roles that give shape to this disrespect.

Huckabee doesn't develop his argument about the only way to create the next generation. He knows heterosexual marriage is not the only way to create the next generation. Heterosexual marriage is simply one type of home and one path to birth. There's no reason for it to be the only one except by arbitrary preference. Then he goes with the majority argument. 30 states can't be wrong? Why do you think they voted that way? Because so far the voting majority hasn't valued entire groups' rights. He doesn't think those groups need to be valued just yet? Will his view change as soon as the majority changes?

Perhaps not. His mention of California voters, "that nobody would suggest are social conservatives" entrenches him in his view by sharing it and imposing it on a perennially liberal voting block. He's digging his heels into a foundation he believes will shift more slowly.

Then he tries to differentiate between banning rights and affirming the denial of those rights. Stewart challenges him on this claim regarding what happened in California, but he could have challenged him on the very distinction. How is one not the other?

The slippery slope argument comes in:

If we change the definition then we really do have to change it to accommodate all lifestyles.

Not true. If marriage is between two consenting adults then there's no slope. There's nowhere else to go. Two: that number won't change. Consenting: that's already required (and this one also takes care of the ridiculous bestiality argument). Adults: we know what these are. The definitions are not in flux.

And we know he's afraid of semantic change. Except that the semantics of marriage have already changed and he simply wants to freeze them as he finds them right now. Again without argument or support.

When he admits "Frankly we're probably not going to come to terms" then he dismisses the issue of some resolution with "Jon I respect that you and I disagree with that" he is asking to be left alone with his disrespect and indifference. So let's talk about what instead? Perhaps Mr Huckabee can tell us just how to make him feel secure and justified in his parochial prejudice. He's afraid of being thought a homophobe. And the truth is that he is a homophobe. He is afraid of what will happen if homosexuality does not remain marginalized by his favoured institutions. He can ask that we trust he's a good guy, but his are not the values I trust. He is not willing to act in opposition to homophobia except at its most obvious and aggressive extremes. His homophobia is passive and uncaring. It is nonchalant and unconcerned. He asks to be left with his apathy.

His final passionate plea. "But words do matter. Definitions matter." How does that lead us to his conclusion? It is because these words matter that they must change.

How does he dare to defend bigotry by appealing to its history? Whether we want to see this as an extension of race rights or women's rights there is a history of devaluing groups' demands for equal rights. Some will argue that people in this country first have to change their minds. But an unjust law has to be exposed for what it is a soon as it's seen. And disenfranchisement is the ward of the state. No matter if a majority isn't yet on board. There are things we need not wait to demand. Why wait for a foggy cultural readiness that can probably best be defined as the point at which the government and the constitution are not necessary for the protection of any rights.

It's a lovely idea, that rights will be respected and the constitution can simply reflect the respect accurately. But we are selling the document short by defining its wisdom with the same limitations as ours. Why fear the fist of the masses rather than trust in the protection offered by a constitution that doesn't distinguish between heterosexual and homosexual citizens? The rights and protections granted to marriage are not merely offered to an institution. They are offered to the individuals who turn to that institution with honest respect. And the request must be made repeatedly. Turning to a demand. Never forgetting that the defense of human rights is most necessary when the voices that would deny them are most fiercely straining to survive.


Eric said...

I resonate with your post, but I have a few reservations with using words like "bigotry." Right now (2:30am) I'm incapable of putting together a logical argument, so I'll give you something less:

By labeling the likes of Huckabee as bigots, you're further polarizing and charging the discussion in counterproductive ways. At the end of the day, I suppose I don't use the word because I would be demonizing about half my friends/family.

Well, the above is mostly an emotional appeal. I still believe in protesting, and not being quiet in calling Huckabeeish reasoning for what is: hogwash.

Excellent post.

The Ridger, FCD said...

But when someone's reasoning is hogwash, what do call the someone? I understand that you don't want to call your family bigots, so what do you call them? Just "mistaken"?

fenhopper said...

i know exactly what you're saying eric. and that's why i really paused on the word. i took it out and tried others. then put it back in.

i know what its effect can be and believe me -- i don't want to put that charge out there without giving it calm and careful attention.

one thing i try to do is refer to views and argument and institutions as bigoted. but not the people as bigots. (let me check to see that i didn't do that)

Casey said...

A delicate question:

Do you believe the percentage of people born gay has roughly stayed the same for the past 2,500 years? I understand that to be the enlightened view these days--am I right?

For the sake of argument, imagine (then) a hypothetical scenario in which homosexuality (and let's continue assuming it's "from birth") increased dramatically between now and 2050. Let's say there were twice as many self-described homosexuals then as there are now.

Would that indicate that some kind of unobserved social pressure (or lubricant?) was responsible?

(Refresher course:

See I sometimes think homosexuality might not be entirely genetic--tho' I feel confident admitting that because I like gay people. I actually suspect that in a perfectly "balanced" and enlightened culture, fully half of the citizens would be gay.

So when you say "He is afraid of what will happen if homosexuality does not remain marginalized by his favoured institutions," I agree... but I'm more forgiving. You recognize in that sentence that sexuality is a political issue. And where there are political issues, I sympathize with both sides.

fenhopper said...

you'll remember that in a recent post i made the quick point that we all have fears and we all have different ideas about what forms of protection are necessary/acceptable.

when i insist that he's homophobic i use the word as a description without judgment. i'm saying that it's simply a fact that he is afraid. of homosexuality. and maybe even of homosexuals. he has to be honest about that. because he's trying to excuse his stance with i'm not afraid -- i just don't believe they have the same rights -- but i'm not attacking.

attacking is not the issue. i know he's not going to advocate violence and aggression. but his fear is leading to the apathy that i mentioned. he then remains apathetic more easily if he remains distant.

and my initial concern is not that he get over his fear -- but that he not use his fear in league with his power to impede equal protection of rights.

the issue of genetics is of course an important one because of the premises of certain arguments. but i do believe that homosexuality has a vital innate component. the old joke works for me -- if i don't think i chose heterosexuality then why should i believe anyone chose homosexuality.

and of course there are individuals whose sexual behaviour has been shaped by learned and adopted roles within a culture and its counter.

but the existence of an individual who chooses to flout cultural boundaries does not preclude that another individual has realized an orientation without intention.

it is a common argument that because trends in sexual behaviour -- promiscuity/commitment -- monogamy/polygamy -- appear to be influenced by culture, any deviant sexuality is a choice. but this is not relevant to the issue of homosexuality unless we accept a priori that homosexuality is a faulty deviation.

i believe that the homosexual demographic is absolutely affected by culture. but the demographic is not the same as the trait. the tally can be off you know.

Eric said...

Re: "one thing i try to do is refer to views and argument and institutions as bigoted."

I recently had a fairly intimate conversation with a family member who could not reconcile certain biblical texts with the idea that homosexuality is morally acceptable. Had I described this family member's views as bigoted that would have forever ended the conversation.

I suppose the ideal response to such family members regarding the political or civil rights of homosexuals would include words such as: constitutional rights, equality, and separation of church and state. The inclusion of the word “bigotry” and all that it connotes would be almost as much a conversation stopper as Nazi/Hitler comparisons are.

Still, I realize blogging is not the same as having an intimate chat with a family member about homosexuality. As a critic, perhaps simply speaking the truth as you see it is your only obligation.

I really don’t know the answer to this one. Personally, on my blog or in conversation, I avoid the word. I’ll call Huckabee’s views “bigoted” when we’ve reached the point where words like “f-g” are just as taboo as “ni--er.”