That Law Is Discriminatory!

As I have mentioned, the astonishing number of really foolish things I've heard said in the SSM debate sometimes gets to me. One thing I've heard from SSM proponents on a number of occasions is that a law that allows heterosexuals to marry their partners of choice, but does not allow homosexuals the same freedom, "is discriminatory."

Well, of course it is! So are laws that stop brothers from marrying sisters, parents marrying their children, and those already married from marrying again. Laws that put robbers in jail discriminate between robbers and non-robbers. Laws that fine polluters discriminate against those who pollute.

Any law that doesn't state "Everyone is innocent!" or "Everyone is guilty!" discriminates. The question is always whether it discriminates on a just or an unjust basis. Opponents of SSM recognize that a law allows heterosexual but not homosexual marriages discriminates, and think it does so on a sound basis: male-male or female-female unions, they believe, should not be given legal sanction, just as brother-sister and adult-child unions should not.

To defease their claim, one must show why this discrimination (against same-sex marriages) is not justified. It is ridiculous merely to note that any such distinction is discriminatory.


  1. I think the point is it is the claim that it is that must be justified. Good luck with that.

    1. If that is the claim, then that is what someone should say. One should not say something stupid, and let the listener/reader try to turn it into an intelligent remark.

  2. Most people would guffaw at the idea that most laws "discriminate" because that's not what they mean when they use that word. I think you are being too narrow here.

    1. Yes, most people use words in a very sloppy manner.

    2. And most people guffaw to avoid thinking.

    3. Samson, I don't think that Gene is being too narrow here. What he is doing is just thinking clearly - something that an overwhelmingly large part of our population does not do.

      People toss around words, phrases, and meme's without thinking about what they say, or what the words mean that come out of their mouth. But this general obtuseness doesn't mean that they won't happily act as though what they say actually matters! If they didn't take their pithy statements seriously, Gene wouldn't have to point out the obvious. Since they do, he is doing a service.

      To assume that someone means something other than what they have stated, and to disregard what they actually have said, is actually a post modern way of looking at the world (I believe that Gene had a post about this recently). If Gene isn't supposed to take the meaning of what people say at face value - and is instead supposed to intuit what 'they really mean' - then why should he even bother attempting to reply to your comment? He could just sit at his table and say "Well, it seems as though Samson REALLY means X", and then reply to that!

    4. Alex, most laws are not "discriminatory" for more most people who take the word at face value. Dworkin said something to the effect that one cannot say a person's freedom is limited by laws against murder. I'd suggest something similar for "discrimination".

    5. If most Americans felt that up was sometimes down, I would not care. Discrimination is discrimination, and all laws discriminate. What is so hard to see here?

      What you seem to be trying to say is this: most people use the word 'discriminate' in the sense of 'bad discrimination'. But if that is how people are going to use the word, then that is how they should *state* it. Using language in a vague way is a great tactic of Progressives: first, they ridicule anyone who tries to make a distinction about 'good discrimination' compared to 'bad discrimination', because "we all know how BAD discrimination is." By not distinguishing between 'good discrimination' and 'bad discrimination', they now can wield the word like a weapon. "Oh, so you don't think X should have Y? That is DISCRIMINATION!" The minute someone tries to say that yes, this is discrimination - but not bad discrimination - the ideologue's mind has shut down: he just see's the word 'discrimination' and immediately thinks "Yep, he's a bigot." Why has his mind shut down? Because nobody has bothered to point out the obvious to him: that all laws discriminate, and so his claim "that is discrimination" can't be a good argument! Instead of realizing this, however, he will just go along without thinking and happily - and even contentedly - think that he has 'made a good point'. Being sloppy with language is a great way to hide bad arguments and reasoning. In fact, if you read Berkeley, you will find that the sloppy use of language is actually a good way to warp your view of reality itself!

  3. Person calling himself/herself/itself 'Lord': have you read *any* sexual ethics literature? Any at all? Your comment "good luck with that" makes me think you are about as bring as the people that I argue with over Facebook (which is to say, not very bright at all).

    Here is something fun for you to do: make your argument about why it is okay for two men to marry each other. Then, replace 'men' (or 'women' - let us appreciate the feminist dogma of the Progressive religion) with 'sister' or 'brother' or 'mom' or 'dad'. You will find it is virtually impossible to argue for the marriage of two men and not implicitly also argue for the marriage between brothers and sisters. The Good Liberal philosophers that I talk to about this all agree: the same arguments that are being used to justify gay marriage can (and should!) be used to justify the legalization of incestuous marriages, polygamous marriages, marrying tables, chairs, etc. Don't take my word for it - involve yourself in the enlightened sexual ethics literature out there - the literature that says that it is fine and completely wholesome to have sex with animals, your parents, dead people, etc.

    If you can find an argument that says that gay marriage is okay, but that marrying your sister is not, you should totally email me with the details - because you will have discovered something that PhD's who think about this all the time have not.

    Good luck with that.

  4. Yes.

    I have long wondered why the right does not make more rhetorical use of the word discrimination, i.e., discriminatory tax policy (graduated income tax), discriminatory regulations, etc.

    Maybe because they intuitively understand this...?



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