Friday, November 21, 2008

Chuck Norris should shampoo my crotch

I've seen this letter from Chuck Norris circulating around the intertewbz, including the blogs of two good friends of mine.  So I figure I need to say something about it.

The first seven paragraphs are the Association Fallacy, trying to insinuate that a few isolated incidences are indicative or approved of by the whole of those supporting equal rights. 

No, almost all of us condemn violence.  If this logic works, then all Christians pray their children to death, hate science, and are members of the Ku Klux Klan.  If that sounds absurd to you, then Chuck is not off to a very good start.  Chuck's whole letter depends on asserting that something is the case when it's not the case.  The instances of violence are rare and are an exception to the rule - yet Chuck, for his spiel to work, has to invert reality and convince us that most protesters are shoving old ladies.  This is dishonest and wrong.  Rather, throughout the protesting we are seeing stuff like this:

"Throughout the entire event demonstrators were thanking the police," said Long Beach Police Sgt. David Marander. "It wasn't an adversarial event, except for the few who were there to cause trouble."

"Other than a smashed police car window, there were no reports of property damage nor injuries."

Or this:

"A similar protest took place in San Diego, where around 11,000 people demonstrated peacefully despite an attempt by anti-gay marriage activists to disrupt the march, police said. One man was arrested for attempting to incite violence before being released."

Afterward, he admonishes us to accept the will of the majority.  This is a means of circumventing the discussion about whether or not what the majority wants is moral.  Consider the following paragraph:

"The truth is that the great majority of those opposed to blacks marrying whites are not bigots or hatemongers. They are American citizens who are following 5,000 years of human history and the belief of every major people and religion: Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman of the same ethnicity. Their opposition to Loving vs. Virginia wasn't intended to deprive any group of its rights; they were safeguarding their honest convictions regarding the boundaries of marriage."

Sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it?  "We weren't trying to be bigoted, we just think you should have to abide by our tradition when choosing who you should marry."  That would be downright hilarious if people weren't serious when they used that argument leading up to 1967, when people of different races were finally allowed to marry.

First, it doesn't matter if it's your tradition - if your tradition is exclusionary, if it insists that others abide by your tradition while forsaking their own, it's bigoted and hate-mongering. 

Second, Chuck doesn't seem to know much about the history of marriage, even within his own faith.  It has not always been between one man and one woman.  Hell, if the tradition had never changed, marriage in the Christian faith would not even be about love. 

Third, Christian marriage is not the only marriage.  Many religions recognized by our government will, and always have, married people of the same gender.  To insist that people abide only by your ideal of marriage is, wait for it, ignoring and suppressing the traditions of other religions.  All the same, why does years of tradition matter?  I just fasted for 20 minutes and had a revelation that Zothar the Lizard King is the one true god (tm), and I am now forming a religion and starting my own traditions which include marrying people of the same gender and forbidding marriage to somebody of the opposite gender.  If my faith gets the nod governmentally, I'm not being a hatemonger - I'm just adhering to my own tradition.

Wait, my tradition is needlessly discriminatory?  Shit...

Or, try this paragraph:

"Nevertheless, bitter African-American activists simply cannot accept the outcome as being truly reflective of the general public. So they have placed the brainwashing blame upon the crusading and misleading zealotry of those white-skinned and religious villains: the Catholics, evangelical Protestants, and especially Mormons, who allegedly are robbing the rights of American citizens by merely executing their right to vote and standing upon their moral convictions and traditional views on slavery."

The fact that slavery was once the overwhelming will of the American public, endorsed by their moral and traditional views, never made it moral.  The majority was wrong then, and you can bet they used arguments like this to circumvent the argument of whether or not what they wanted was right or fair, even as they asserted that they were being moral, just like Chuck is doing.

Other people who have been unable to accept the majority's traditional views on morality have been Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Martin Luther King.  Yes, the majority had spoken, but as Dr. King once said (from a jail cell, no less), "It is the duty of every decent man to disobey unjust laws."

On protesting black churches, it's hard to protest a race.  A race is not a belief-set.  Even if 70% of voters with brown eyes had supported prop 8, protesting people with brown eyes would just be silly.  However, those people who attend churches (and voted for it by a clip of 86%) which donated tens of millions of dollars to the campaign to get prop 8 passed, they are clearly culpable and should be protested.  That being said, gay rights people should be protesting "black" churches - but because they are churches that contributed, not because they are "black."

The rest is more conflating those upset about losing their rights with "violent thugs," including Chuck's quote of Colson.  Yes, we are begging Americans, particularly those on the religious right, for tolerance.  You can't really be surprised when we don't buy your insistence that those of us being intolerant of the discrimination you voted for are themselves the intolerant ones.  Tolerance of intolerance is not tolerance.

The rest of it is Chuck pissing and moaning about violent protesters that make up a few isolated incidences and have been condemned by virtually every gay rights organization both in CA and nation-wide.  If you buy this, you are neither reading nor watching the news.

So, here's a brief recap of Chuck's arguments:

1.  Majority rules.

Yes, it does, and now we are bound by the law.  That doesn't make it right, and to invoke this is to avoid the argument about whether or not it was right.

2.  All/most of the protesters are violent.

Anybody who glances at the news in the morning will know this is bullshit.  Yet, people believe it when Chuck says it without doing any fact-checking.  These people vote.  Ug.

3.  We're not bigots, our faith is just different than yours and so you have to abide by ours.


The most overt Chuck Norris joke seems to be Chuck Norris himself.

On the notion of tolerating intolerance, as Chuck is asking us to do, Mark Morford once said it better than I ever could.

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