The question was:
Which of the following is NOT an accurate representation of Joie's political opinion(s)?
She's centrist on most issues.
(Three people (23.1%) chose this answer.)
She's a first amendment absolutist, especially when it comes to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
(Five people (38.5%) chose this answer.)
Though she sees the need for a rare exception, in general she supports the consistent life ethic.
(Three people (23.1%) chose this answer.)
She believes the government should define marriage as between a man and a woman.
(Two people (15.4%) chose this answer. )
This question was very tricky, I know. First of all, I used that dreadfully confusing format that most teachers love and most students hate: the "which is NOT" format. In other words, this was sort of like the One Lie Meme that was going around on LJ last year. Three of the four statements were true, and only one was not. That was the one I wanted to see if my friends could identify. Well, because I chose this confusing format, it's not clear to me whether only two people knew which of those four things I don't believe, or whether lots of people misunderstood the question. :(
Anyway, the correct answer was the fourth one: I do NOT believe the government should define marriage as between a man and a woman. In fact, I don't believe the government should get to define marriage at all, but since it does and has for a long time, I think it ought to define it in a way that is fair and equitable to the diverse population of the United States. Or, even better, let local and state governments define it according to what is appropriate for their populations. I believe that ideally marriage should have remained a religious institution, to be freely defined by religious groups as they see fit. I certainly don't object to the government allowing certain benefits to couples who commit to each other for life, but I wouldn't have called it "marriage." I suppose that's really splitting hairs, though. The fact of the matter is that "marriage" is what it is called today, and "marriage" it will remain. Now, the most cogent arguments I've heard against allowing gays to marry go roughly like this:
1) Marriage is not a right, but a privilege, or more accurately, a system of gaining access to certain privileges from the government.
2) The privileges are contingent upon the institution of marriage providing some benefit to society.
3) The purpose for marriage (the reason it merits privileges) is to provide a stable environment for bearing and raising children.
4) Gay marriages, in general, don't fulfill this purpose.
5) Therefore, gay marriages do not deserve the privileges.
It sounds pretty sensible, until you consider that marriage is about more than child rearing. I consider the purposes of "marriage" as recognized by the U.S. government to be the following: 1) to encourage wise sexual behavior (life-long monogamy), and 2) to encourage societal stability (i.e. to provide a support network commonly called a "family" for people to depend on as they age and perhaps lose their family of origin, and to provide a stable environment for child-rearing). Marriage benefits society if it fulfills these two purposes, and gay marriage certainly can fulfill these purposes, at least in part. Therefore, it deserves the privileges associated with marriage as recognized by the government.
This has very little to do with my own personal beliefs about the morality of homosexual relationships, or the issue of homosexuality within the Christian religion. I consider those issues to be separate matters from the issue of whether or not it is appropriate for the U.S. government to recognize legal gay marriages.
Now, on to the three true statements.
Yes, I’m centrist on most issues. Privatization or state-run programs? I think either one can be well done and beneficial to society, or poorly done and harmful to society. I like the ideals of free market capitalism, but I’m not sure I really trust my fellow human beings (especially if they happen to be CEOs of mega-corporations) to consistently do what’s best for society when it comes right down to it. On the other hand, I’m not sure I trust the government to do so either. This is just an example to give you an idea of my way of thinking. In general, I tend to be able to see both sides of an issue, and I prefer some sort of compromise. There are a few issues that I take a strong stance on, though, and they are pretty much exclusively issues that involve the sanctity of human life, or the protection of essential civil liberties. As such…
I am, indeed, a First Amendment absolutist. I believe absolute freedom of speech is a necessity to a truly democratic society. I also believe freedom of religion—or, to be even more inclusive, freedom of conscience—is a fundamental human right. In general, I agree with such hard-core civil libertarians as Nat Hentoff (I <33333 his latest column, which is what inspired me to make this post today), and the head honchos at F. I. R. E. (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).
Last, but not least, though I see the need for a few rare exceptions, in general I support the consistent life ethic. For instance, I do think there is such a thing as a just war, but most of the time, it isn’t. An abortion performed for legitimate medical concerns might be excusable, but for the most part, abortion is horrible and should both be discouraged by society and condemned by the law. The death penalty might be appropriate in certain rare situations--in cases, perhaps, where the criminal has not only committed heinous crimes for which he shows no remorse, but also remains dangerous even in prison because of his influence over others. If they ever catch Osama, he should probably be put to death. But most of the people on death row are not Bin Ladens or McVeighs. And there comes a time in life when it just might be time to let go and embrace death—but the lengths to which some have dragged this “right to die,” and the abuses of it a la Terri Schiavo and disabled Dutch infants would be ridiculous if they weren’t so sad. In general, I believe the only reason to take human life is to save human life.
So, there is the answer to the question, with a bit of a personal political manifesto thrown into the deal.
Grace and Peace,