Friday, September 19, 2008

Anthropological Arrogance

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Far more years ago than I care to say, Dear Gentle Reader(s), an anthropological professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, discussed a certain arrogance which he observed as one society commented on the perceived weaknesses of other societies.  The professor's point was that if a society thrives, it works.  When societies don't thrive, they disappear. 

Here in California a Proposition 8 has been placed on the November 4 ballot.  It "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry."

In today's Los Angeles Times, readers are treated to an essay which argues that the proposition ought to be passed in order to protect children.

Here are some quotes from David Blankenhorn's piece for your musings:

1.  [Marriage] is primarily a license to have children.

2.  Family structure clearly matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. (Statement from a 2002 study)

Now, DGR(s), #1 above is an unusual declaration.  Given the throw-away kids littering the streets of our major cities, one would hope there would be a "license" needed in order to procreate human beings.  Alas, it doesn't seem to be the case.

Very few people would even attempt to argue against #2 above.  Of course that would be optimum.  The question is how realistic is the optimum? 

Blankenhorn admits (reluctantly? but necessarily as a self-proclaimed "liberal Democrat"--we do have a tendency to bare our souls to all of our faults) "Legalized same-sex marriage almost certainly benefits those same-sex couples who choose to marry, as well as the children being raised in those homes."  So, the children in same-sex marriage families will "benefit?"  What's the problem, then?

The problem is with the language, with the word "marriage," which Blankenhorn feels will be re-defined, and the re-definition will undermine "the birthright" of each child to know his/her biological "maker."

That doesn't seem like a logical problem, given our society.  Perhaps the arrogance of the late 20th century's moralists needs to come under scrutiny.  Blankenhorn's is not necessarily better than what's being offered by the opponents of Proposition 8. 

And besides, Blankenhorn doesn't even live in California.  (OK, that's a little petty.) (Another Democratic conscience driven admission)

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