May 20, 2008

A "Dear Manmeat" Letter from Don: John McCain is His Knight in Shining Armor

I finally got my anticipated "Dear Manmeat" letter from the American Family Association about the horrors (horror! shock! terror!) of gay marriage in California. It took Don Wildmon and his band of not-so-merry men a full five days to draft this thing. I'm not sure why; it's rather short and particularly limited in scope. It's not particularly well-written and the logic of it escapes me entirely. Still, the important thing is that Don still has hopes for me, even after I broke his heart three months ago.

Even compared to other AFA "Dear Manmeat" emails I get from Wildmon, though, this one is bizarre. And here it is:

Sen. McCain is the one person who should lead the battle to protect traditional marriage!

Sen. McCain needs to lead the way in promoting a federal marriage amendment

May 19, 2008

Dear Manmeat,

As you know, the California Supreme Court has legalized homosexual marriage. This happened despite the fact that voters in California passed Proposition 22 with 61.4 percent of the vote. Proposition 22 defined marriage as only between one man and one woman.

The recent 4-3 ruling, if allowed to stand, would destroy marriage as it has been known for thousands of years. It would lead to the logical conclusion of the following:
  • Legalization of polygamous and other aberrant unions as "marriages"
  • Legalization of marriage between an adult parent and adult child
  • Legalization of group marriage
  • Overturn all the marriage laws in the other 49 state
Take Action!
  • Send a message to Sen. John McCain asking him to strongly support a federal marriage amendment making marriage legal only between one man and one woman. Sen. McCain has said in the past he supports marriage only between one man and one woman. But he voted against the federal amendment when it was voted on in the Senate. Such an amendment would override the legalization of homosexual marriage by the liberal California Supreme Court. It is time for Sen. McCain to take a stand for marriage!

  • Please forward this to everyone on your list. Senator McCain needs to hear from every American who supports traditional marriage.
Ironically enough, this particular epistle from Wildmon seems rather divorced from reality in any number of ways.

First, what the California Supreme Court ruled was that the Prop 22 was unconstitutional. It doesn't matter that it was passed by some particular percentage by a popular vote. The will of majorities is not absolute in American government; the law of the land is the constitution, whether at the federal or state level, and the proper role of the judicial branch of government is the interpretation of constitutional law. If a proposition is contrary to a state constitution, it is the duty of the courts to say so and thus to rule against that proposition.

For all of their protestations about being persecuted, I wonder if the American sharia advocates would be so in favor of mob rule were they not possessed of the notion that they made up most of the mob. I don't wonder for long, though, because the answer to that is self-apparent.

That marriage has been defined in any one way "for thousands of years" is, of course, simply not true. There have been numerous forms of marriage throughout history, including child marriage, same-sex marriage and polygynous marriage. The real statement that Wildmon is trying to make is that marriage has been defined as "one man and one woman" by his favorite group which, of course, includes himself. That's not really true, either, but it sounds good to people who have no knowledge of the history of such things. In fact, the group to which Wildmon and the AFA belong hasn't existed for thousands of years at all; they bear very little resemblance even to early Christianity. Strictly speaking, literalist and fundamentalist Christianity didn't get it's start until 300 years ago or less except among some very small, self-isolating ascetic sects in the Old World, and even those sects denied worldly things entirely and so didn't involve themselves in political aims.

The next part of the letter is particularly mind-boggling, though. It makes the claim that the bullet items are the "logical conclusion" of allowing members of the same gender to marry, but it makes no statements as to why this should be so. There's nothing logical about it; it's nothing more than a series of assertions. How allowing same-sex marriage leads to allowing incestuous marriage certainly isn't clear. What the California court has stated is that there's no compelling interest for the state to prevent same-sex marriage, not that there will be no more rules about who can marry whom. It introduces no new exceptions to existing law, but only extends existing laws to cover all people in the state equally. It does nothing to change marriage law itself.

Nor does anyone appear to be making waves that there should be such changes. Here in Massachusetts, same-gender marriage has been legal for four years. If there are advocates of incest or state-recognized group marriage using that fact here as a basis for their arguments, they must be either very few in number or operating under some sort of deep cover. I suspect the former case. Despite four years of same-sex marriage in this state, the marriage laws of not one single other state have been overturned, nor even altered. Even neighboring states still have the same marriage laws they've has since long before 2004.

Based on precedent, on history, and on the rule of law, then, we can draw but a single conclusion from the American Family Association's latest diatribe. That is, they have no compunction against lying to their followers and then dressing those lies up as logic. What this letter represents is nothing like logic and nothing like inference based upon evidence. It represents nothing but a most cynical manipulation and an attempt to inspire fear for the end of gathering up a frightened peasant mob based upon the premise that a commitment made between two consenting adults of legal age in one state can have some effect upon those in other states who, in truth, have no personal stake whatsoever in that commitment. How the sowing of such discord escapes definition as evil by those who believe themselves to be concerned with morality is beyond me, but it certainly speaks to how twisted the whole concept of morality has become in early 21st century America.

The AFA tells another whopper when it characterizes the California Supreme Court as "liberal." While I'm not among those who consider that to be a dirty word, the fact of the matter is that six of the seven justices of that court were appointed by Republicans, including Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson and George Dukemejian. While they might not have been as draconian as Don Wildmon would prefer, none of them were liberals and neither are these justices. This is yet another cynical manipulation by people like those in the AFA leadership of their members who, unless they are long-time followers of California politics, could not be reasonably expected to know anything about the composition of California's courts anymore than it could be reasonably expected that I would have detailed knowledge of the courts in Iowa or Arkansas. The difference is that, as a skeptic, I wouldn't be prone to simply accepting as truth something told me by some self-appointed spiritual leader. The people under the AFA's fiefdom are looking precisely for someone to tell them what to do, a guru-for-Jesus to get them marching in lockstep. Such people will always find themselves at the wrong end of the manipulations of organizations like the AFA which are only too happy to collect the rubes' donations as they goose-step those minions off to the latest poll or petition to advance an agenda that holds no benefit at all for those poor, misled saps.

But why is John McCain the "one person who should lead the battle to protect traditional marriage"? McCain, while not inclined to support gay marriage, has already voted against a Constitutional amendment banning it and has stated that he's just fine with the idea of civil unions — no different from Obama or Clinton in this regard. Why target him and, more importantly, why pin all hope on him?

As much as the religious social radicals like to mouth support for a decentralized government and state self-rule, in truth they care nothing for such things. The reason they are targeting Senator John McCain is that he is the only Republican who stands a chance of becoming president, and the AFA is quite willing to abandon state self-determination in favor of the concentration of power at the federal level if that advances its agenda which is, in fact, nothing less than religious law in America. They would not hesitate to make homosexuality a federal crime if they could. They have protested loudly every time a state has repealed so-called sodomy laws. These are people who are not satisfied with Americans having their own ideas about how to conduct their lives; they've recently launched a campaign to ban adult movies from hotel rooms, for instance. Has anyone ever been forced to watch an adult movie, or to do so specifically to do so at a hotel?

What the AFA wants is, in fact, a puppet in the White House who will dictate proper behavior to Americans, a group that Wildmon's Inquisition holds in the utmost contempt insofar as they believe that Americans are incapable of exercising individual liberty in appropriate ways. This isn't a question of gay marriage and it isn't even ultimately a question of religion. The first has no impact upon those not themselves involved with it and the second of which managed to survive corruption and decadence far greater than anything ever conceived of in the modern world precisely because it is an individual choice, not a state-sanctioned and legally mandated mode of thought. In the end, this is a question of personal freedom. By sowing fear and irrational hatred, the AFA has as its goal the overturning of every single freedom that was reserved not only to the states but to individual citizens. What other purpose for things such as this being thrust in the face of visitors to the AFA's website:

They? Homosexuals, of course, is "they." What happens when they come to a town? A few good things, and nothing demonstrably bad. That's precisely what happens when gay marriage becomes a possibility, too, but the AFA needs that fear in order to subvert both free society and representative government. They don't want presidents and senators and states, they want a religious emperor. The AFA wants a pope to sit in Washington, DC, and they don't have a candidate now so they hope to force the creation of one in the person of John McCain. They want their glory days back, before the religious radicals lost their grip on federal power and before evangelicals and fundamentalists began to split. In the Evangelical Manifesto, there appears the following statement:
The other error, made by both the religious left and the religious right in recent decades, is to politicize faith, using faith to express essentially political points that have lost touch with biblical truth. That way faith loses its independence, the church becomes “the regime at prayer,” Christians become “useful idiots” for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology in its purest form. Christian beliefs are used as weapons for political interests.

— page 15

Don Wildmon misses those "useful idiots" that he has lost and will continue to lose as the religious right fragments, as there is an awakening in America to the depredations upon liberty advocated by its flagging leadership, and as religious thought returns to its proper role of an inward searching rather than an outward grab for the power to force adherence with ancient laws that are no more properly applied to this country than would be the laws of some other nation. To counter this, the AFA seeks to create an environment of fear and to conflate the theological with the secular and the posit any outcome other than the one they desire as some sort of disaster.

Those who fall for such hype are still with us, but in the end they will for the most part pass into obscurity. Sooner or later, the people who read Wildmon's ridiculous epistles to the True-Believers will find something that, to them, points out the ongoing manipulation. Sooner or later, there's going to be a larger awakening, and that will be the rousing of freedom against religious tyranny that cloaks itself as an attempt to tell people what is best for them. Nobody likes to be lied to, and those deceived eventually notice the deceit. All that needs happen is for enough people to ask a simple question, and the AFA will pass away. What does the AFA actually do that strengthens families instead of targeting and so seeking to weaken some of them?

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