Friday, March 06, 2009

On Emotions and Laws

"I see the same slippery slope, but I'm confident that society, legislators, Chief Executives and Judges can handle it just fine."

The above quote is from Rich Preston, a new participant here at Free Racine. It is regarding our disagreement on gay marriage. I contend that the same argument used to change the definition of marriage (basically that the present definition discriminates) can be used to change the definition further to include polygamy (aren't we then discriminating against those oriented toward multiple spouses?) or other combinations or permutations.

But RP is confident in society, judges etc... that marriage would not change any further. Or perhaps he is confident that it will change further but that that too is good. Perhaps Rich will clarify.

We have tampered with our legal system to such an extent that it will increasingly become nonsensical. Take for example the results of expansive interpretaions of the Commerce clause (regulating interstate commenrce) and the judicialy created right to privacy. So now we have a right to abort a child in a public hospital because of a right to privacy, but we don't have the same right to smoke a joint in our own home, with pot from our own garden (not an admission of guilt here, FYI) because it violates interstate commerce regulations.

Now this is not a screed against abortion or for pot smoking but rather an observation that if an abortion in a public place is protected on privacy grounds, why wouldn't smoking pot in a private place be likewise protected.

Such oddities will continue to happen when we endorse illogical laws based on emotional considerations. And RP is right that the elites in society will handle this type of nonsense. The rest of us will have a more difficult time navigating a leagal system that makes no sense.

23 comments:

Rich Preston said...

"Such oddities will continue to happen when we endorse illogical laws based on emotional considerations."

In fact it is the FEAR involved with slippery slope arguments (in this case) that is emotional.

I have confidence. Not fear.

And justice is not illogical. In fact it is supposed to be blind to bias, perceptions, and predjudice.

Nemo said...

Justice not illogical? Have you ever seen some of the opinions from the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals? In theory, justice should be logical. In reality, the logic is dependent on the rationality of the judge giving the ruling. This is the result of substituting the "Rule of Man" for the "Rule of Law" as we have done for almost a half century.

RP said...

Opinions and laws are not necessarily true justice.

Legislators and judges are human. They make mistakes.

(and please forgive my double negative "justice is not illogical" I should have caught that.)

Anonymous said...

The state should get out of the marriage business.
"Marriage" should be left up to a "church" if one wishes, or a simple (or complex) civil contract.

Urban Pioneer said...

I agree with Anon on this one. All Marriage related taxes, deductions etc. should be eliminated from public policy. And thus should Divorce be removed from the Public forum....Allow People to freely engage and dis-engage at their own pleasure. If a Divorce occurs both persons are entitled to 50% and child care responsibility will split evenly, and all Child Support, and Alimony etc. Should be eliminated from the public Laws. If your "Church" wants to permit you to marry one or several others that's up to the Government of the CHURCH you attend.
Now if we are not going to pull away this responsibility from the Govt. then accept "Marriage" as it is currently defined. All persons have the same "RIGHT" to Marry someone of the OPPOSITE sex.
Independently we can choose our own "relationships", however we want to.

Caledonication said...

C'mon, "Rich Preston"? That's a gay porn name right?

Rich Preston said...

"C'mon, "Rich Preston"? That's a gay porn name right?"

Wow, I have a stalker.

I'm so proud :)

Denis Navratil said...

RP, I don't know if this applies to you or not, but I suspect that most folks who favor gay marriage do so for emotional reasons. This is neither good or bad necessarily. It is good, IMO, that the vast majority of people reject discrimination against gay people. It is good that people want fairness etc... and by the way, I share those emotions.

But if we look at the issue from a logical, legal frame of reference, we see that there is no discrimination against anyone here. A man can marry one woman. This is true for men, women, gays, lesbians etc... the law is equal for all. People can relate with, live with, sleep with anyone that they want. Well, any adult that is.

They just can't marry a person of the same gender because by definition it is impossible.

Now if we change the definition to include those presently being "discriminated" against, and if we are to have laws that are logically consistent, we would need to keep changing the definition to be inclusive of polygamy and other unions. You, RP, are seemingly OK with this logical discrepancy. And the more illogical our legal system becomes, the more it becomes the rule of man rather then the rule of law, as pointed out by Nemo.

I am not sure why anyone would like an illogical legal system, unless their emotions are such that they are clouding the big picture. And the big picture is that we all will benefit by a fair, impartial, just, and logically coherent legal system.

By the way RP, I hope you don't mind me taking you on on this. I enjoy a vigorous debate. Glad to have your input.

Rich said...

I do not mind, other than we seem to be going in circles.

No, I did not agree with Mixter for emotional reasons. In fact I did because of my understanding of (aka the logic of) the word Justice.

"..we see that there is no discrimination against anyone here." Actually by your own admission elsewhere on this blog, you've admitted that the definition (and for that matter all definitions) EXCLUDES. I am saying that this exclusion is not just. That in fact it does discriminate. i.e. in this case, exclusion of gays = discrimination.

"...we would need to keep changing the definition to be inclusive of polygamy and other unions." That's a slippery slope arguement. I see and acknowledge your slippery slope, BUT I disagree that we have to fear it. I trust that the powers that be can handle it. I am not sure why anyone would fear the pursuit of justice, unless their emotions are such that they are clouding the big picture.

"...we all will benefit by a fair, impartial, just, and logically coherent legal system." I agree.

Denis Navratil said...

Hey, something we can agree on. Yes, we are going in circles. And yes, all definitions discriminate against those things not included in the definition. When you write "exclusion of gays = discrimination," I think this observation undermines your argument. Does excluding my dog from the definition of "cat" discriminate? Well yes it does. Should a law be passed to end the discrimination against dogs? Most sane people would recognize the asurdity of such a proposition. And yet this is the logic underpinning your argument: definitions discriminate, therefore definitions should be changed to be inclusive.

I don't fear the pursuit of justice. I fear the pursuit of nonsense in the name of justice.

Urban Pioneer said...

Furthermore the term "JUSTICE" has a meaning, we could pervert and bastardize it so badly that it could become the same as "In-Justice".

Slang has taken words like Cool, Hot, Bad and Righteous, not mention Awesome. Washed, Tight, Grill which now have all sorts of alternate meanings.

Bad=very Good, as does Tight, Crib is where you "Stay" rather than live, or keep your Baby...except when that's where your Baby "Stays".

I am personally "Married" to the notion that Marriage is and should remain a legal union of one man and one woman. Any deviation from that point would be an "Justice", or an in-justice.

Am I making my Krytsal Kleer?

Enjoy the "soft" day. (soft= Gentle rain, in Ireland).

Rich said...

“Should a law be passed to end the discrimination against dogs? Most sane people would recognize the absurdity of such a proposition.”

Exactly! Hence my repeated mention of “in this case” to attempt to keep us focused to this case, not dogs and other nonsense.

And yes, I completely agree that most sane people would recognize the absurdity of the slippery slope that you continue to mention.

That absurdity is exactly why there is nothing here to fear. Thank you for making my point.

Anonymous said...

“I am personally "Married" to the notion that Marriage is and should remain a legal union of one man and one woman. Any deviation from that point would be an … in-justice.”

Yes. Very clear. Just as clear as those that were married to keeping your grandmothers and their sisters down with no right to vote. Just as clear as those that wanted to keep “separate but equal”. Just as clear as any other form of discrimination. Yes very clear.

Denis Navratil said...

RP, tell me why you want to end the discrimination against gays but perpetuate it against people oriented towards or desiring of multiple spouses?

kay said...

I cannot believe how often I have seen the words logical and illogical used in this discussion.
Where is the logic in marriage at all? Be it between one man and one woman or two women or two men?
Everything a marriage does now between one man and one woman can be completely covered by a civil union contract. Yet, millions of white lace/tuxedoed/flower studded/over priced ritualistic marriages still occur and most do not have pre-nuptials(which would be logical). That's because it's a union between people based on emotion and physical attraction, not logic. At least for an extremely high percentage of marriages.
How do you end up getting married? You get into a relationship with someone based on emotion and attraction and at some point one or both parties think the next *logical* step is marriage. Some because they want to reproduce, some because they want to please their families, some because they feel it's the only socially accepted way to share living quarters and have children.
There are so many reasons, but extremely few begin or end with logic.
My argument for allowing any two adults to marry is that it is their business and not that of the government to decide if they are in love and are committed to each other. It is a human right to go to a church and get married if it is in your heart to marry that other person. Love is a very strong emotion and to deny what some people see as the ultimate commitment and expression of that love denies them one of the greatest pursuits of happiness in their life. An unalienable right according the Declaration of Independence so many people seem so fond of(BTW, I was born on the Fourth of July). I love the Declaration of Independence and the line about unalienable rights is probably one of the most famous and popular lines in all of written English. So, why are you people so opposed to it?


If anyone is basing the man/woman only marriage on biology then what about couple who choose not to bear children? Should you be forced to have kids to validate your marriage? Seems to me that even biology (other than the chemical cocktail love and attraction cause in your brain) has nothing to do with love and marriage.

If you are basing man/woman only marriage on Biblical teaching then you need to refer to the book of Mark where he is explicit in saying divorce and remarrying is the same as adultery (raised Catholic here). Should we outlaw divorce like they had in Ireland until 1995? How do you think that would work out here? Are you just picking and choosing what parts of the Bible you wish to obey?

What about arranged marriages? Should we outlaw those? How would we know when they occur? How would we address them? Those are logical based on the families' beliefs.

Polygamy is a great Red Herring in this debate. If you want to debate that you should start a whole new post because it's going to be long and drawn out with the back and forth (only don't count me in on that one because it's so "cut and paste" stuff.)I will say that monogamy was started by the early Greeks and Romans and wasn't the first choice of the first Christian Church. You can do your own history research on that.

And, that is total crap about marrying your pet. A laughable argument. Funny, though, because it appears to be completely legal to have an animal be an heir in your will.

If they ever would impose any guideline laws about marriage I would consider good it's some sort of common sense test. Of course that would make most men perennially single. (that's a joke, boys).

Denis Navratil said...

Kay, you have asked many questions and left many comments but you haven't addressed the one I am interested in. If you have been reading my comments, you can see that I am concerned about the logic, or lack thereof, of our entire legal system. So, if we change the definition of marriage and/or allow gays to marry because we want to end the discrimination against them, why do we (you?) want to continue the discrimination against those who want to marry several spouses? If you need this to be a separate thread, let me know.

kay said...

The legal system is based on stopping people from doing things that are perceived as harmful to others or remove the tenants of equality. Specifics would change over time due to changes in everything from science to attitudes. IMHO specific laws need a certain fluidity while the foundation should remain the same. That has been our history all along.
Denis, if you are really, truly interested in the logic or, lack thereof, in our legal system may I direct you to the blog of one http://illusorytenant.blogspot.com/
who is an attorney and discusses law in great depth.
BTW, where did you get the idea that I thought polygamy should be illegal? I personally don't believe in marriage as it is today in statutes. I think if you want to get married in a church that is your right and it is private business. If you want to be recognized under the law as a legal civil partnership then you need to have a contract drawn up with all the details of what that partnership will mean. No need to have whole law books on the matter. Make each *marriage* an individual contract since every marriage is unique to begin with. I also do not believe in no fault divorce.
That is my own personal opinion.

kay said...

Oh, and my only question was why you keep bringing logic to an illogical subject like marriage.

Denis Navratil said...

Kay I wasn't sure what your position on polygamy was, but now that I know, I can at least give you credit for being consistent. You want government out of the marriage business altogether it sounds like. This makes more sense to me frankly than allowing marriage between folks of the same gender but not polygamy or group marriages or whatever, as RP advocates. I really haven't thought through the implications of changing the law, requiring married folks to apply for civil union licenses etc...but it isn't something that should be done on a whim. Presently there is no momentum of any kind for the government to change the laws in that manner, so I don't want to take the idea seriously at this time.

My bringing up logic was not to suggets that individual marriages are based on logic. I certainly think that would make marriage kind of a drag. When I was referring to logic, I was referring to the legal system. And yes, it should be logical IMHO.

GN said...

A rose and a daisy are both beautiful flowers, both chosing to call them by the same name ignores their obvious differences.

Preachrboy said...

It's interesting, while we're discussing definitions, that the term "monogamy" literally means, "one wife".

So it is impossible for a union of two men to be "monogamous", unless we change this definition too.

Rich said...

"RP, tell me why you want to end the discrimination against gays but perpetuate it against people oriented towards or desiring of multiple spouses?"

Presently there is no significant momentum for the government to change the laws for multiple spouses, so I don't want to take the idea seriously at this time.

Also, bringing up multiple spouses seems to be a red herring and slippery slope attempt to avoid the issue at hand.

You seem to advocate avoiding new marriage precedents in order to protect the current logic of the legal system; and I get that. However, that stance seems like the politics of fear and it should be avoided in this case since there is nothing to fear.

Denis Navratil said...

I have to hand it to you RP, you are clever. But what you fail to consider is that there are potential slippery slopes for laws being considered (gay marriage) while there are no slippery slopes for laws not being considered (government ending association with marriage).

If a law change is under consideration, we should consider the potential consequences. If we change the laws concerning marriage (allowing gay marriage) the consequences will be future changes to the definition of marriage (allowing polygamy etc...) or a legal system that discriminates against those desiring multiple spouses. Either outcome would be bad in my view.