Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Birds are Flown...

The Birds are Flown... by paynehollow
The Birds are Flown..., a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

As any visitors may have noticed, I've been quite busy of late, tending to my parents and taking on other projects, which has left me a bit understaffed emotionally to worry too much in writing about political debate. But, just briefly, I've noticed that the opponents of marriage (ie, those who nominally support marriage and recognize its benefits, but only if it's between two straight folk, not two gay folk) are appearing to slowly recognize the reality that public opinion has shifted and they are now on the losing side of history.

You might be inclined to think this loss would be accompanied by some humble self-reflection, but you would be mistaken. From what I am seeing on the interblogs, the recognition that they've lost is there, but otherwise, reality seems to elude them.

I'm speaking primarily about the lack of understanding on their part as to the reason they lost the argument against marriage equity. As with most arguments/debates, one side "wins" and the other "loses" when one side makes the case in a way that appeals to those listening as the most rational and/or moral argument.

For many out there, the reasons they lost are clear (in their mind) and include...

1. The devil always wins out in the short term
2. Pro-marriage-equity types have "controlled the language"
3. Pro-marriage-equity types have taken over the media
4. Pro-marriage-equity types have subverted our public schools
5. Our side is willing to do anything to win, including lie, cheat and twist facts

and, the ever popular...

6. The public is too dam dumb!

I've tried pointing out that it seems clear that they are losing/have lost the debate about marriage because their "side" appears to more and more people to be less moral and less rational and that the way the go about "debating" the topic mostly involves calling people stupid and/or evil for not agreeing with them and being disrespectful in their approach to disagreement.

I've pointed out to some conservatives that perhaps the main point they've lost on is their failure to reasonably address the "Where is the harm?" question. That is, it is quite obvious to most people that two rational adults, committing to love, honor and respect one another, to be there in sickness and in health... that THIS is not going to "destroy marriage" and that there simply is no obvious harm/no serious downside to such arrangements. That such love and devotion to another person/your family is an objectively, self-evidently Good and Rational idea. How is it NOT?

Not only do they not address the question. Ever. But what they do/have done instead is berate and demonize the Others for failing to recognize the brilliance of their position, even if they can't answer this obvious question.

Instead of answering, "I know it SEEMS like two adults committing to a loving, healthy marriage relationship is an obviously good thing, but the problem is - the harm that comes from this is..." and giving some specific real world answers (something other than "the harm comes from this is... that God disagrees with that behavior. I know because God told me..."), instead of doing that, they consistently drop back to repeating and repeating meaningless hunches and, when that fails, personal attacks.

Yes, we KNOW it is your opinion that God disagrees with that behavior. We disagree. Now what?

No, we are NOT trying to "destroy marriage." No, we are NOT simply trying to be blandly agreeable. No, we are NOT just WANTING to embrace evil. No, it is NOT the case that gay people are incapable of being faithful and moral. No, no, no, to all these attacks. We live in the real world and can see obvious evidence contradicting these attacks, and that makes THEM seem to be the immoral ones, for repeating lie after lie, twisted truth after twisted truth, false witness after false witness.

But rather than admit that they simply did not do a good enough job of convincing people that their position is both moral and rational, they go on the attack against all the stupid people who are too stupid and evil to agree with their hunches.

I hope that, as time goes on, they can begin to let the bitterness and vitriol go. That, for their sake, they can recognize that - even if they still ultimately disagree with us - they simply failed to make their case in a convincing enough manner.

Look, as an anabaptist peacemaker, I know what it's like to hold minority positions. We peacemakers did not want the US to invade Iraq for no good moral reason. We thought it was an abundantly obvious mistake. But, in the end, we could not convince our fellow citizens in sufficient numbers to agree with us.

Does that mean that I think the public at large is evil or stupid, for disagreeing with our collective pacifisty wisdom? Does it mean I think they "control the language?" No, we simply failed to convince enough people at the time in sufficient numbers and with sufficient momentum so as to stop the invasion.

Live and learn. What can we do next time (God forbid) to better make our case?

We did this (before my time) with the Viet Nam War. The protestors then who were righteously opposed to an immoral war took many actions that were quite obviously (at least in hindsight) a poor approach to making their case. Demonizing your fellow citizens as "baby killers," for instance, is not a good way to make a rational argument.

Live and learn. Give up blaming, learn to recognize your mistakes and reflect on how you can better present your view on a debate the next time around.

Live and learn, friends, live and learn.