I caught this Jon Stewart segment on TV this morning, about California’s Prop 8. (Sorry, can’t figure out how to embed it — don’t think wordpress allows it :( )
November 3, 2008: I Now Denounce You Chuck & Larry
Pretty funny, though I wish Jon Stewart hadn’t ended it the way he did (using the stereotype of homosexuals as predatory), but…
Two things, though. First, this Sonja Eddings Brown statement that
We do know that since the dawn of time, and through current studies, children do best when they come from a low conflict home with a mother and a father
— yikes, that is one of the most pernicious myths out there. Or one of the most perniciously mis-used ideas out there. I have looked at a few of these studies (when I was working at the YVCC writing center, tutoring students who were writing arguments about gay marriage), and none of these studies came to any other conclusion but that emotional and economic stability were the key to the welfare of children. Not the genitals, or even gender, of the parents. And so the reason “a low conflict home with a mother and a father” works well for children is because 1) it’s low conflict (by which I assume Brown means “emotionally stable”), and 2) there’s a father, and because men tend to be more economically stable, a father in the household tends to create more economic stability, and 3) having two parents means more economic and emotional stability (two wager earners and/or two nurturers and supporters). In other words, if these researchers surveyed a statistically significant sampling of all make-ups of couples, they would find that it is the economic and emotional stability of the family which nurtures children, and nothing else. Or, to put it yet another way, these researchers might then conclude that father-father families tend to be the ones most advantageous to children — because there’s emotional stability (two parents) and because there’s economic stability (two male parents, two male incomes = much higher chance of economic stability). But then we’d have to ban mother-father marriages and mother-mother marriages. But if that’s the logic…
Also, even IF the “mother and father” hypothesis were true (i.e., if it were somehow proven that mother-father parents tend to do better than father-father parents or mother-mother parents)… even then, the reasoning there is still basically, “We should only allow people to marry who have the best chance of nurturing children.” Then a whole hec of a lot of people should be banned. We’d have to start restricting marriage licenses to those who don’t make enough money, who are not emotionally stable enough. Hmmm, gets pretty messy! But we wouldn’t do that. We’d realize we had no right to do that. But why are a majority of California voters doing it now? Because in this case, it’s a scapegoating mechanism. It’s “society is having trouble with our families. Hmmm, must be SOME body’s fault. Let’s blame the homosexuals.” In other words, when it’s one class of people, another class of people can somehow delude themselves into thinking taking-away-rights is okay. But when it’s not a class of people, we have harder time doing it (fortunately), and we’re more likely to wake up and realize we don’t have the right to restrict others’ rights.
So, it’s just sad. It’s sad that more people don’t realize that our work ought to be toward creating emotional and economic stability for our children, not scapegoating a certain class of people (a class which includes me) for our failure to create that stability.
Okay! So anyway, the other thing is that I think the end of Jon Stewart’s segment is a great segue into this next video. The last two speakers, two black men, who want to keep homosexuals from having rights… But maybe a video like this one MIGHT help them wake up a bit. Maybe?
I am so interested in this whole rhetorical move of “reverse rhetoric.” That’s the loose term I using to describe it — i.e., any way in which an proposition is cast from a new perspective — either from an opposite side’s view or from another time period’s view (like this one) — in order to help hearers / readers to realize their own previous blindness.
Okay, finally, don’t get me on this whole “Prop 8 = free speech” thing. That is one of the clearest examples I know of people using one argument to whitewash their real argument. In other words, it’s really, “I don’t like gay people. I’m afraid of them. But I know I can’t say that outright. So I’ll just put the focus on my free speech and not on what I’m actually saying.”