Crispin Sartwell on Modern Bigotry

The current political attacks on gay people and immigrants are about nothing but sheer bigotry, and they deploy that combined strategy that you find almost anywhere you find people: to insult or spit on you is simultaneously to improve my self-esteem. Your inferiority and my superiority are, of course, the very same fact.

"Crime," "activist judges," "national security," and so on: these are of course the merest distractions from the heart of the matter: we hate wetbacks and fags, and we don't regard them as fully human, as deserving the same sort of respect that we demand for ourselves.

The idea that the basic problem with illegal immigrants is a matter of national security and border protection is deeply dishonest. The last military or terrorist threat we faced from Mexico was at the Alamo.

And yet here we are, affirming legislatively, for example, that English is our "national language." It is, in precisely the same sense that WASP is our national ethnicity and torture our national interrogation technique.

Let this go a little longer and we will have - even more than we do already - a national system of internment and deportation camps for people whose status is basically detectible by their skin-tone and language.

Gay marriage is as clearly and directly an issue of civil rights as anything could possibly be. All it demands is the extension of equal rights to a group of previously excluded persons.

Furthermore, such an extension does absolutely no damage to anyone in the dominant group. It doesn't require busing, increased taxation, or even a cure for homophobia.

What it does, merely, is damage "the institution of marriage," which means, as far as I can tell, that it throws into slight doubt the God-given superiority of heterosexuals. In other words, it throws into doubt the bigotry of God.

Mary Cheney has famously said that if the Republicans oppose gay marriage, they will find themselves on the wrong side of history. ...

At the moment of a particular prejudice's ascendency, there are a thousand seemingly plausible causes or justifications for the hatred in one's heart, and a thousand ways to convince yourself that your hatred is righteousness, truth, or even love.

That is, segregation, exclusion, exploitation, and denunciation never appear as evil at the moment of their lurid bloom as they do in retrospect. When our grandchildren look back at this era, they will be shocked by our explicit violation of our professed values. They will see our hypocrisy with perfect clarity, as we see clearly the injustice of racial apartheid or laws prohibiting women from voting.

But even as they do, they will be busily rationalizing their hatred of the Norwegians or men who cook or people who speak Pig Latin. It's the only way they'll be able to live with themselves.

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"Furthermore, such an

"Furthermore, such an extension does absolutely no damage to anyone in the dominant group. It doesn't require busing, increased taxation, or even a cure for homophobia."

Try explaining "does absolutely no damage" to the photographer who refused to take pictures of a gay partnership and got sued.

I'm all for getting the state out (of marriage, business, etc.), as long as the state can't be used to beat 'homophobics' into submission.

Anon, I don't see the

Anon,

I don't see the connection. Why should all peaceful gay couples who wish to marry suffer simply because some people abuse the club of government?

One thing has nothing to do with the other. The state should get out of the marriage business ideally, but as a second-best solution it certainly shouldn't deny gay couples the freedom to enter into the same contracts as straight couples. And in addition to that, the state shouldn't be used to violate the rights of bigots, no matter how ugly their motivations might be. But one is not a prerequisite for the other.

Background

To fill in the background:

Elaine Huguenin was ordered to pay $6,637 in legal fees for refusing to take pictures of a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony while offering her photography services to the public, thus violating the New Mexico Human Rights Act, which specifies that it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in such circumstances. Huguenin felt her religious beliefs prevented her from showing a ceremony that she disagreed with in a positive light.[71] While Huguenin cited her religious beliefs, rather than her desire to discriminate, as the prime motivation for her refusal to provide the services she had advertised, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission cited repeated judgements by the U.S. Supreme Court that "the right to free exercise [of religion] does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a 'vallid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).'"

The state should get out of

The state should get out of the marriage business ideally, but as a second-best solution it certainly shouldn't deny gay couples the freedom to enter into the same contracts as straight couples.

Sure but legal marriage isn't even a contract in a meaningful sense. What are the terms?

In case of divorce, shared

In case of divorce, shared titles to property are divided in such-and-such a way, child care and custody will be handled like so, medical decisions will be made by, inheritance will be bequeathed to. Changes to the default rules are handled through prenuptial agreements.

Actually child care and

Actually child care and custody division can't be specified in a prenup, as it has to be done "in the child best interest". Judges generally frown on prenups and many are broken.

I stand corrected.

I stand corrected.

No Micha, as a matter of

No Micha, as a matter of fact you'll find that the supposed "terms" are decided at the time of divorce and you really have no idea what those terms are going to be when you marry. All of these "terms" are handled differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from year to year. Say you get married. Do you know from which state your spouse is going to sue for divorce in ten years? Do you know what the custody laws will be then?

If you legally married today, what be would your understanding of your contracted terms of property settlement in the case of divorce? The reality is that someone will make it up and let you know when you get there.

Quite apart from the question of whether legal marriage should be expanded, it's an incredibly stupid arrangement for people to involve themselves in.

Quite apart from the

Quite apart from the question of whether legal marriage should be expanded, it's an incredibly stupid arrangement for people to involve themselves in.

I must agree, but a carefully crafted prenup can make it more interesting. There's nothing stupid for a woman to expect financial protection if she decides to bear children, put her career on hold to take care of them, etc.

I really disagree with no

I really disagree with no fault divorce. Depending on the study, I've seen 66-91% given as the percentage of divorces initiated by women. That scares the hell out of me. In a heterosexual couple, the woman will be awarded the children, almost all jurisdictions state that the children's standard of living may not be impacted by the divorce, and whomever gets awarded custody of the children receives that child support (the woman). But by very nature of the divorce, the family is losing their economy of scale and the family's standard of living will go down (paying for two residences, etc.). That means men bear the entire cost of losing that economy of scale a heterosexual marriage provides. It's a huge financial partnership with no penalty for breech of contract. There's no way anyone would ever enter into a business arrangement on the same terms.

There's nothing stupid for a woman to expect financial protection if she decides to bear children, put her career on hold to take care of them, etc.

In regards to that, I've also never heard of any business that has successfully sued for compensation of opportunities it passed on because it entered into a partnership with another business that didn't work out. "Oh, but we would have made X dollars doing Y if we hadn't partnered with Z." That'd never fly.

Divorce laws (and how they're gender-neutrally worded but strictly enforced along gender lines) make marriage a scary, scary deal for men. I need to start boning up on my anarchist cred so I can tell whomever I settle down with that I don't believe in that institution.

Woah. What is scary is lack

Woah. What is scary is lack of no fault divorce. You should always be able to break a contract, otherwise it looks very much like slavery.

No, a business will not sue for "lost opportunities", but it will make a contract stipulating compensation for these. Exclusivity clauses aren't free.

In Muslim law, I know you can specify that the party requesting divorce has to make a lump payment if he exercises the option. They can be specified in any form (currency, commodity, etc). I don't know if a prenup with a similar rule would fly in the US.

You should be able to break

You should be able to break a contract, but if one party is ending the agreement outside of a clause agreed upon in advance, they shouldn't be treated the same as the other party who doesn't want to end the agreement.

There's nothing stupid for a

There's nothing stupid for a woman to expect financial protection if she decides to bear children, put her career on hold to take care of them, etc.

There's nothing stupid about wanting to contract for that but women get screwed by legal marriage too so expecting fair treatment under it's "terms" entails wishful thinking.

Isn't this piece a smear?

If non-bigots hold any of the positions Sartwell decries then isn't his piece a smear?