Have You Ever Seen "Bound"?

I figured that I’d throw my 2 cents into the ring concerning the fight over whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to get married or not. First, I think what this whole to do about nothing is, at its core (and pittifully so) a semantic argument. We’re not even arguing over the issue. We’re arguing over a word. A world that, so far as I know, isn’t copyrighted by any group so anyone is free to use it or any other word (I guess except for “threepeat”) any way they see fit. As we define marriage, marriage is rooted in the notion of a monogamous, legally binding, relationship between two people, traditionally between a man and a womam. Of course, traditionally, according to some had entitled them to more than one spouse, be it more than one wife or more than one husband. Here, of course, that practice has been traditionally regarded as bigamy. Lets also not fail to mention that, before the advent of all this marrying for love business, most marriages were arranged, and that the bride is usually younger (sometimes quite significantly so) than her husband. In fact, this type of traditional marriage is still practice around the world. But, in all of this, marriage not only had a biblical or spiritual element, but also a legal one as well. Marriages are binding in that they cannot be dissolved by one or both parties merely deciding that they’re marriage sucks and they’d rather not see each other ever again. (and if they did, it would be too soon). There’s always some kind of authority that has say over whether you are married or not. In our case, marriages are subject to licensing — like fishing, your firearms, or your pitbull. The fact that you both have to get a license to marry and/or pack heat is something to think about. That said, however, this is an important thing to consider — whether it is morally (or legally) ok to treat a group of people differently, or deprive them of something that I, as a breeder, can do freely myself. That is important. When Prop. 8 was passed here in California, there was some to-do over exactly which Californians voted for the proposition. There was plenty of talk about how a high number of black voters voted in favor of keeping anything but straight marriage illegal. They said it’s because many black folks are tied to churches, and although Liberal leaning, their moral compass is still firmly rooted in Christian ethics. I recall listening to a few talk radio shows where te hosts seem to be headed down the ‘blame the darkies’ path. Which is funny, because so many of those shows were on Conservative radio stations, which one would assume would also support Proposition 8. There were a few callers who told the hosts that, despite the fact that the local news outlets weren’t saying so, there was a bit of hostility in the gay “community” at the betrayal at the hands of black voters. If I may digress for a moment here, I ‘d like to say, that, despite (or maybe in spite) of my minorityness, I voted against Prop. 8. But I also have a problem with people who assume that the fact that I am a minority, that I must side with every other “oppressed” people’s causes. Sometimes, I do not. Although I will say that the argument is at its heart a semantic issue (especially in light of the fact that many people who oppose gay marriage say that they support civil unions, which are, qualitatively speaking, the same as marriage.), I understand that there is a serious legal issue at stake. I think that it is wrong, ethically and legally to disallow anyone the opportunity to marry whomsoever they choose. Alright. I’ve already started to fiddle with the language. Instead of using the word “right”, I wrote opportunity. I did this knowing that there are many who claim that gays and lesbians are assuming they have a right where no right exists. Unfortunately, this claim may have some merit. The United States Supreme Court has established that we have a right to reproduce and a right to not reproduce (as decided by Roe v. Wade). We have a right, if we decide to marry, to marry others of any other race than our own. But, we may not have an expressed right to marry. I assume that, on grounds of risking opening up a can of worms that no one wants to dael with, that very few people would want to challenge marriage as a fundamental right. Especially those who object to gay marriage on moral grounds. Saying there’s no right to marry can complicate hetersexual unions as well. Secondly, I’m aware that there’s the slippery slope argument that pops up whenever someone claims that we have a right to marry whoever we like. The immediate objection sometimes goes something like, ‘what if I wanted to marry my goat?’. This is exactly what Rick Santorum tried to pull of some time ago. This argument is specious on the grounds that, even if the right to marry a goat was an option, most reasonable people would not marry farm animals. I mean, I have a dog, he’s really cute and he’s always glad to see me. But he’s a dog. A not-so-minor qualification for marriage is that my spouse to be is a t least the same species! The same goes for those who claim that allowing homosexual marriage will lead to child molestation. First, let’s get the stats out of the way. If you are molested, it’s most apt to be at the hands of a relative. Second, most molesters tend to be self described as “straight”. I think that there are a few states (and in some spots in Europe) where gays are allowed to marry. I don’t think there was a rush on marriage licenses filed by 47 year old men wanting to marry 10 year olds. Likewise, I don’t think that, people being rational, that instances of necrophillia will skyrocket if the unstraight are allowed to join in holy matrimony. Most people, I assume, object to gay marriage on some sort of moral grounds. Even those who say that they support gay rights generally (meaning that they think that gays should be allowed to join the military or that a person shouldn’t be fired from their job because they’re gay, etc.),they still assert that they believe in gay rights on “everything but marriage”. I’ve heard this one alot. They say that marriage is something special. “Something special” traces back to God snatching one of Adam’s ribs and making the worst mistake that God ever made, the wife. Womam was given to Adam by God, and they were bound to each other by divine decree. Anything else is ungodly. Ok, first, I’m not going to argue that that belief is just plain stupid (prima facie stupid), because I believe that people are entitled to believe whatever claptrap that they wnat about whatever deity that they wish to receive their orders from. If a head of cabbage wants you to dance the hokey pokey every morning for fifteen minutes, and you believe that your salvation depends on it, believe away. Maybe you’ll drop a few pounds. But, where I draw the line is where people attempt to place their God’s instructions on everyone else. This, of course, is notthing new. I’m simply saying that I don’t appreciate someone trying to legislate morality. I also submit that there is some of this that is done. After all, I can freely walk up to any lunch counter and demand to be served. The fact that people had moral objections to racial discrimination led to the end of racially discriminatory behavior on the part of the law and private businesses. But, I realize that Americans, more so than being moral, are also pragmatic. (it’s no wonder that the only school of philosophy contributed by America is pragmatism). Racial segregation, in the long run, isn’t very useful. It’s bad for business to keep people out on the basis of race. Sure, you can say that God hates racists (as well as you can make arguments that God loves those who keep to their own), but it’s just as useful to say that being a racist is plain counterproductive. It causes more problems than it solves. Likewise, keeping marriage a heterosexuals-only institution is counterproductive. If you listen to the governator, the our state of California stands to benefit from revenue to be had by gays and lesbians flocking to the state to make their fornication legal. One could say that, to keep marriage restricted would be to deprive the state of much needed funds, and that is not exactly the moral thing to do, either. We can, and do, go around in circles till Jesus himself descends from a cloud and tells up what’s up. The problem with making the moral argument is that someone can come back at you with their version of what morality should be. If I for instance, say that God does not condone the ordination of women clergy, I’m bound to be confronted by some Unitarian who emphatically objects to my assertion. we’ll each claim that our God does or does not condone some activity. I can think of a half dozen sins, such as adultery or bearing false witness, that can be used as some grounds to deny people all sorts of rights — if we use God as a grounds for doing so. If someone who is divorced wants to remarry, do we have the right to deny him on the grounds that his second marriage is adulterous? No, we do not. So let’s get rid of the religious argument now, shall we? Besides, once someone admits that we have been rendering laws by way of the Bible, we’re off to First Amendment challenge land. As a philosopher (excuse me, “philosopher”), I should say a word or two how keeping gays from getting married is unphilosophic, that is that a prohibition violates the philosophic principles upon which American ideas of freedom is based. At the heart of much of the American way of life is the idea that we are free individuals who have an inalienable right to choose. (Says so in the Declaration of Independence). The idea of choice, including the right to choose what makes us happy, is found in the works of Mill, Locke, and Kant. Man’s freedom is based, in part, in determining the life path of his own choosing. He is not a truly free individual is he is thwarted in his attempt to live his life according to his plan. Now, I’ve used the word “happy”. One may define “happiness” as a felt emotional state, as in the notion that strawberry milkshakes make me happy. (They do). But, “happiness” as defined philosophically, is more than what we feel. Happiness, for the philosopher, connects to what is Good (another ambiguous term). The good life is a life in which the rational individual flourishes (to borrow an idea from Aristotle). A part of flourishing is the cultivation of beneficial, meaningful relationships. I would not doubt that a stable, committed romantic relationship would contribute to one’s flourishing. The philosopher John Rawls’s “veil of ignorance” demonstrates how prohibiting gay marriage is philosophically damaging. According to Rawls, if we are to consider which laws we should adopt for our society, we should first cast ourselves in the veil of ignorance. Rawls asks, if we were born unaware of what we were to be, which rules would we adopt for our society? That is, if we did not know our race, gender, physical condition, sexual orientation, etc, would we cast laws that would discriminate against a group of whom we may be a part? The answer is no. If I did not know that I would be born a (fill in the blank here), would I make laws that would restrict the freedom or opportunities of that group? The answer is hell no. We would, and should, make laws that allow for the most freedom of everyone. That’s the idea behind having the freedom to choose. The idea that a person cannot choose to do (or pursue) what makes him happy is inherently un-American. But that’s just what some philosopher thinks, it’s his opinion. And we all know about opinions.I can argue philosophy and waste daylight the same as one can take up religious arguments that take all day and solve nothing. The point is, is that our nation is a nation of laws — and that’s the only argument worth looking at — the only one that’s got even a snowball’s chance of working. The bigger matter to be confronted is the plain fact that banning gay marriage is legally wrong. So lets look at the law, shall we? The 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause abides by the principle that all men are created equal under the law. Physical or biological differences, such as race, disability, or gender are insignificant according to the law. The courts have already determined that in the arena of employment that a person’s sexual orientation is beyond the reach of the law. The Court’s decision in Lawerence v. Texas declared that consentual, private sexual activity is protected by the 14th Amendment. The Court stated, ” moral disapproval does not constitute a legitimate governmental interest under the equal protection clause”. Simply put, the Court stated that whatever people choose to do in their own homes is their business, and should not be used to deny constitutionally protected rights. So, if one has an biblical objection to a married gay couple doing what comes naturally (in the privacy of their own bedroom), their objection has no legal merit and should not be used to interfere with a right to engage in a constitutionally protected activity (which is why it it important to determine if there is a constitutional right to marry). This isn’t a matter of one group demanding “special” rights, but, like minorities and women before them, it’s a matter of a group demanding that their rights be recognized. Sometimes, a legal decision establishing a right to a particular activity can be used to establish a right to another. Allow me to explain: In light of some dastardly (an highly morally objectionable) unconsentual sterilizations of poor, white Southerners during the early part of the last century, it was established that no citizen can be denied the right to bear have children. Citizens of the U.S. have a constitutionally protected right to reproduce. That was fine and dandy. But, it was soon discovered that some people, although they can have children, don’t want to have children. So the question arose, ‘can one be compelled to have childern even if one does not want them?’. Some assumed that a right to reproduce had a correlate: the right to reproduce implies a right to not reproduce. The question was finally answered with the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which established that the government had no power to compel individuals to have children. Some find a correlate to gay marriage in the debate over interracial marriage. The Supreme Court’s 1967 decision Loving v. Virginia, struck down the last of the nation’s anti-miscegenation laws. (I mention the year that the decision was reched by the court in interest in showing that it was a full century after the end of the Civil War before it was legal to marry a person of a different race in all 50 states). The Court recognized the fact that individuals are entitled to marry whoever they choose to marry, and that the state cannot prohibit individuals form marrying based on mere biological differences such as race. The Court ruled that the previous system of racial segregation based on the principle of seperate but equal violated an individual’s freedom of choice. Mixed-race couples were treated significantly different than other, same-race couples in that they weren’t allowed to marry based on mere biological differences. The Court found that to do so is unconstitutional and ended the legal practice of anti-miscegenation. Interracial couples won the right to marry based on the idea that two individuals who love and respect each other should not be denied the right to marry. Likewise, the fact that one’s gender is a mere biological characteristic should not be a factor in determining whether homosexuals can marry. Modern science has proven that our sexual preference (s) may be one of dozens of traits that are biologically rooted and are as much a part of genetic make-up as our eye color, height, body type, or race. We cannot help being gay or straight any more than we can help being short, prone to baldness, or to high blood pressure (not to say that being gay is a malady akin to being bald or hypertensive). We would not support barring two individuals with different eye color from marrying based on the fact that the thought of a blue-eyed person marrying a brown-eyed person offends us personally. If we say that homosexuality is a personal choice and not a matter of biology (as many claim), the argument for allowing gays to marry is even stronger. If being gay is a choice, then being gay is no different from a person choosing to be a Republican or an anarchist, or choosing to be a vegan or a Catholic. If the thought of two vegan Catholic Repubilcans marrying offends me morally, and it does, I can’t restrict their right to marry on the grounds that I merely disagree with how they choose to vote or what they choose to eat. To say that my moral sensibility trumps their right to marry in this case would be absurd. Likewise, to say that the fact that a gay person’s behavior offends me should be a reason why they should not get married is equally outrageous. Lastly, we often hear that allowing gay people to marry is somehow akin to detonating a society-destroying atomic bomb. Allowing homosexual marriage will end civilization as we know it. But, here’s the fact: there are places on this hellhole that we call earth where same-sex oriented people already possess the right to marry. That’s right, no one can make any sort of argument without bringing in the European — especially the Canadians and Scandanavians. Oh, wait — did I just write that Canadians are Europeans? I think that I just proved somebody’s point about Americans, eh? Anyway. In Denmark, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 1989, statistics show that rates of suicide, sexually transmitted disease, sexual promiscuity, and infidelity among homosexuals has decreased. In a declaration that certainly would not be music to many American ministers’ ears, Denmark’s clergy has declared that same-sex marriages have not destroyed marriage, but strengthened them. In other countries where same-sex unions have been legalized, such as the Netherlands, Canada, and Belgium are not societies on collapse, but in fact, thes countries often enjoy a higher standard of living than in the United States. Ultimately we cannot decide if allowing gays and lesbians to marry is harmful to society until we actually make same-sex marriage legal. To sum it up, I think that I agree with actress and Christian, Kristin Chenoweth, who told host Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air, “people are born a certain way, and God doesn’t make mistakes”. I think she’s right. Besides, George Takei seems happy.

The Monster Is Your Personality Type!

I’ve been seeing way too much of these Twilight people. Especially that dude that they keep trying to tell me is hot. He’s all over TMZ. They show him with his shirt off, they show him with that chick from the movie that he may or may not be dating… I’m just waiting for the point when this dude pops out of my sock drawer. I see the guy. I don’t get it. Anyway, it’s not that I have a problem with the type of movie this dude is in — I like vampire movies. I’m just a little disappointed in myself for suddenly getting all purist over how a bloodsucker movie is supposed to be. That’s strange, because I’m no fan of Anne Rice, either; which is supposed to be what those Twilight movies are — they’re the new Anne Rice or whatever. Whatever. Personally, I’m a fan of the old Hammer flicks. Nobody does the Count quite like Christopher Lee. Which brings me to an old question that gets bounced around from time to time during sometimes sprited conversations between genre fans. The question being, which movie monster would you want to be? The choices are usually limited to the three primary movie monsters — the wolfman, Dracula (or a vampire generally construed), or Frankenstein’s monster (I say Frankenstein’s monster as opposed to “Frankenstein” because as the purists will tell you, “Frankenstein” is the name of the doctor, not the monster). I guess with the growing populariy of the undead flick, that we’ll soon be adding zombies to the mix. Although I suspect that I’m the only person that I know that would pick the zombie as the movie monster that I’d most like to be. My sister says that she dislikes zombies, not for the fact that they eat the flesh of the living ( although that has something to do with why she does), but for the fact that, according to her, zombies are jsut plain rude. They pounce on you and tear you to pieces without even asking! At least some vampires get you to cooperate by seducing you to give up your blood. But not the zombie. The hoarde sees you, and then they strike. And, what makes things worse is that, thanks to Zach Snyder, zombies aren’t the shambling, you can outwalk them types, oh no. They run. Fast. So, the name of the game is pick a monster. It seems pretty easy. People usually go for the vamp, not because he drinks blood, but because he’s suave, he’s usually pretty well-off, and her gets all the chicks. And if the vampire in question looks anything like Asia Argento looked in Love Bites, you can see why. Werewolves, although it’s admittedly cool to go around snarling and howling at the moon, are kind of hit and miss. If you’re stuck being the Lon Cheney, jr. sort of wolfman, you’ll look like some dude who went to the dog groomers and glued a bunch of shavings to his face. That look may have scared the pants off of people back in the day, but now it just screams “LAME”. If you’re lucky enough to look like David Naughton in An American Werewolf In London (probably still the best werewolf flick ever made), or the Lycans of Underworld (although the vampires looked cooler), then you’re better off. I thought that it was pretty amazing that the same guy who played Lucien in Underworld is the same guy who played David Frost in Nixon/Frost. But I guess that’s why they call it “acting”. Unfortunately for Frankenstein’s monster, aside from the occasional “ugh!” or “ummm!”, he isn’t that exciting. Nobody ever picks him. Even if you say that the monster (as played by Peter Boyle) in Young Frankenstein is an option. Wait. I think that I read once that Marilyn Manson said in an interview that if he had to choose, that he’d choose Frankenstein’s monster. He said that everyone picks Dracula because he’s a badass who gets the chicks. But the monster, Manson said, is a deeper character. He’s a monster, for goodness sakes! He’s already an outcast. He’s got a heart, and feelings, and a (abby normal) mind, just like the rest of us, but people run from him. They reject him at first sight because he’s an abomination. They try to destroy him. Even his own creator rejects him. Manson said that Frankenstein’s monster was a character that is closer to who he was and how society was treating him. (this was when Marilyn Manson was the musical “boogeyman” being blamed for every malcontented white teenager’s shooting spree. Remember back then?) But that’s the idea. Manson saw what the monster symbolized and applied it to who he saw himself as a person. The monster represented a being, who through no fault of his own, (he was after all, only what his maker had made him), was rejected and shunned by society. He was a monster who embodied all that was unnatural and sinful within man’s soul and desires. Desire is what the choice is supposed to reveal about ourselves when we pick which movie monster we’d like to be. The vampire is, according to those who read too many meanings into things, a vision of a rape fantasy. He comes to you (and it is usually a he) in the middle of the night under coat of darkness. He takes your blood without your consent. His teeth, of course, are merely metaphor. They are his sharp penises that penetrate you. You catch his disease by sucking from him (and there is absolutely no need to say what that means). It’s also worth noting that the type of vampire is revelatory as well. Do you want to look like Brad Pitt in Interview With the Vampire? or do you want to look like Max Schrek’s Nosferatu? The elegant, erudite ladies man (wait, Anne Rice’s characters were kind of gay, so I guess you’d be an elegant, erudite man’s man. Which is absolutely ok by me), or do you favor the bestial nightcrawler (who, on an episode of Spongebob Squarepants had a thing for playing with lightswitches)? Says a bit about who you thing you are. Primarily that at some point in your life (sooner rather than later) you’ll end up on a sex offender registry. If you say the wolfman, that’s supposed to be nothing but uncontrolled id. It is man’s inner beasts literally ripping through him and taking control. He turns from man to beast. Into the flesh-ripping wolf. Wolves have totally creepy eyes. Does anyone else think that? The wolfman doesn’t think he’s all instinct. Of course, like the vampire, there’s the enevitable sexual component to the monster. Of course, I could get crude, and suggest that you avoid bending over in front of the wolfman, lest you wnat to be had that-way-style, but since this is supposed to be somewhat academic, I won’t. Werewolf people are underhanded and seriously not to be trusted. How much can you trust someone who literally turns into a dog? Lastly, if you choose doc Vic’s monster. Well, you’re a sorry sack of crap that probably listens to too much of the Cure, and thinks that the world just doesn’t undestand his poetry. You hate people, but what you really want most of all is a girlfriend — which would require you to like people. Until then, you’ll just lock your bedroom door and sulk to Dead Can Dance.

I Used To Think I Should Put On A Laser Light Show

Sometimes, one can benefit from looking around at the people around you. I started this whole blog thing with the intention that this thing would help me to focus my thoughts enough to write a book. I would, I thought, write the book that I wanted to read when I was trudging through my philosophy classes — you know, that book written by some smartass who would say all sorts of stuff like “It’s not that important that you learn what Kant has to say about anything”, or “Philosophy is in the mind of the beholder”… Yeah. I stroked the ‘I’m going to write a book’ fantasy for quite a while. So far, no book. I haven’t even started. This would not be a problem, if not for the fact that I started to feel like I was doing something wrong. I have this blog, and I write about what I wanted to write about — the intersection between popular culture and philosophy — but I felt like I wasn’t doing things right. Like I wasn’t saying something important. Maybe it’s has to do with President Obama and the fact that we’re all supposed to be changing things. I wasn’t feeling like what I was doing was contributing to the change that we’re all supposed to be believing in. Who cares about how we can learn Kant’s metaphysics from an episode of The Brady Bunch? Will that create green jobs? Will knowing Popperian analysis of scientific theory create peace between the Palestinians and Israel? will it fix California’s budget problems? No, it won’t. But, then, I did something. I started to look around at what other people are blogging about. There’s the serious, ‘we’re telling you what’s the news’ folks at The Huffington Post, but mostly, there’s people who ar just like me, who just can’t keep their ideas to themselves. And that gave me comfort… for awhile. I wasn’t so bothered about having my blog anymore so much as I was troubled by the fact that my blog is just so boring! I mean, I think that I can write entertainingly. And occasionally, i can rip of a funny line or two. But the cold, harsh reality is that I write like a person who does philosophy. I mean, yeah, that’s what I’m writing about, but it’s what I sound like that really makes me want to stick my head out of the window while speeding past the mailbox, you know. I’m thinking now that I should have pictures pasted all over my blog. I should have pics of Kant and Hume, and a little area devoted to Wittgenstein, or links to Monty Python sketches. But, there’s something that tells me that it should the content that I should focus on — the flashing lights and go-go dancers are just too postmodernist. Maybe. Then again, would putting pictures of Kant up really make things more exciting?