Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Core Values?

In today's political climate, there's an ongoing debate over the subject of same-sex marriages. Should they or shouldn't they be allowed? As a sane, rational-thinking, and educated person, who has studied public speaking and has listened to all the rhetoric, there's one glaring thing I'd like to point out: The phrase "core values." Every person who has come out against the idea of same-sex marriages has, at one point or another, stated that such a thing goes against their "core values." Of course, no one ever actually defines what those "core values" are, they just use the phrase as a soundbyte to make it sound as if they have only the morality and dignity of the nation and its people at heart.

And it's bullshit.

It's a meaningless phrase because there is no clear definition of what values sit nestled at the core of American life. I mean, really, have you ever heard anyone say "our core values consist of the following rules?" And even if they did, who decided on these rules? I know I didn't, and if they are what they appear to be, they're not at the core of my value system. So what are their arguments?

Well, they say marriage is defined as a union existing between a man an a woman. Fair enough. However, definitions change. They do it all the time. And, for that matter, why is it limited to only between a man and a woman? What, exactly and in clearly defined causal terms with statistical evidence, does two people of the same gender in love hurt? Do two people, regardless of their genital persuasion, directly affect you or your lifestyle? Nope. Do you have the right to tell them that what they believe is wrong, or that the love they feel is depraved, ugly, or even unnatural? Nope. Not any more than they have the right to tell you the same. Again, they say it's against their "core values."

What "core values" are they talking about, then? Well, many of them cite the age-old great red flag of "it's in the Bible." First off, how many of these people do you think have actually read the Bible? For the majority of them, I could stand in front of a microphone and yell that Jesus rode an elephant across the Mojave desert, and if I said it enough times and with enough conviction, they'd believe me. Furthermore, what is the Bible anyway, but a collection of essays written by men, inspired by God, and then TRANSLATED (poorly) throughout the years. Any ideas what you've missed in translation? Unless you can read ancient Greek, Roman, Hebrew, or a host of other dead languages, I'm guessing you don't. But that's an argument for another time. Take a look at what this book supposedly teaches:

Love thy neighbor. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Tolerance.

My translator, which is just as good as any out there, interprets the central message of the Bible to be pretty much the same as most other religions:

Don't be an asshole.

But wait. There's a fundamental flaw in their argument even before we begin discussing religious theory here. Those "core values" of which they're so ambiguously proud are inspired by which book, again? The Bible, you say? And I quote from the United States Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; Guess what that means. Simply translated, it means the government can't make a law stating your religion (or lack thereof) is better than anyone else's, and therefore laws based on said religion are unconstitutional. That means that you should keep your religion out of the government, period. Which means that just because your version of God says that same-gendered couples are going to hell doesn't mean you can make them illegal.

The next point is over this whole silly thing about what marriage actually is. It's supposed to be an expression of love and commitment between two willing and loving people who declare to the general populace that they care enough about each other to want to be together until they die. What it REALLY is, simply put, is a binding legal contract in which two parties agree to care for each other and split whatever they have. That's the quick and dirty version, but you get the idea. By saying that God only recognizes or approves of marriage between a man and a woman, you might as well also be saying that any marriage outside of whatever religion to which you ascribe isn't legal, recognized or binding. So, what? Buddist weddings aren't legal? Pagan hand-fastings? Muslim, Taoist or Shinto unions either? Do you see the problem with that thinking?

But let's get back to "core values," shall we? From what I can gather, these "core values" portend to be love, respect, family, and a few other things that are so ambiguous that they change daily. It's like looking at a job description that reads "other duties as assigned." But look at what those "core values" actually say: "Don't be different." "We define what love is, and you are wrong." "You are second class citizens because you are different." What those "core values" really come across as saying is "bigotry." Think about how many times people way back when said that blacks shouldn't be allowed in white schools because it was better to have them where they belonged. How how often people in the past said that women should know their place and didn't need to vote. We find such things deplorable now, and the people who fought against civil rights and equality to be backwoods redneck racists. So what's so different about now? Same-sex couples are fighting for their right to be happy. They're fighting for their rights to love whomever the damned-well want to. It wasn't that long ago that multi-racial couples were shunned (and in some places, shot on sight). They shouldn't have been able to tell people who they could or couldn't love then, and we shouldn't do it now.

For the record, I'm a 40 year-old heterosexual white male. And while none of the above affects me directly, I still find the subjugation of ANY people, the discrimination against ANY people, abhorrent. And to do it in the name of religion shows how bigoted you really are. Don't hide behind some meaningless phrase like "core values" (cue fanfare). If you really do hate the idea of same-sex marriage, if you're really afraid of what the big-bad-gays will do to our society, then have the testicular fortitude to stand up proud and say why. And when you can't think of a single rational reason or a single argument that isn't full of holes and doesn't expose you for the bigoted ass you are, then you can resort to name-calling and other forms of entertaining ignorance. Meanwhile, the rest of us, the ones who cherish our freedom and who realize that love in any form (so long as it's between two consenting beings of consenting age) is a good thing.

Give it some thought. Post a reply. Hit me with your best shot. I'm not afraid. I've had too many friends discriminated against by ignorance for doing nothing more than being in love. You want to debate the subject with me? Bring it.

SAJ

6 comments:

  1. All I can say is thank you for your words. I've always known you were awesome, and this just proves it.

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  2. I very much enjoyed this, Scott, and I think you make some salient points, particularly when it comes to the "translation" of the Bible and how much of it was likely lost and/or distorted over the years.

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  3. The whole idea of "core values" is awfully dangerous, isn't it? It's such an easy way to take something great, like the Bible or the vague and mostly benevolent American spirit, and turn them into political weapons. In the end, the truest guides, the real core values are so simple they need no explanation and entertain no serious argument, stuff like "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" and your apt adage, "Don't be an asshole". If we stick to those, we'll be all right.

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