Friday, December 15, 2006

Would you like a condom with that cupcake?
Usually when I talk about Bill O'Reilly, it is to point out that he is a pompous bully and a self-reightous boob with whom I strongly disagree on almost everything. I think he's a bigot, a hypocrite, more than a bit paranoid, and a jerk, but I didn't think he was actually stupid--till now.
On the December 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly dismissed scientific research on same-sex parenting to assert that "[n]ature dictates that a dad and a mom is the optimum" form of child-rearing. O'Reilly asked "why," if children suffer no psychosocial deficit from being raised by same-sex parents, "wouldn't nature then make it that anybody could get pregnant by eating a cupcake?"

Bill O'Reilly has a known problem with food products and sex (Google falafel and O'Reilly for the story so far).

So as not be accused of taking his words out of context, lets look at the full exchange from his show (in which his sense of persecution and self-importance are on full display).
O'REILLY: So what you're saying to me is that a lesbian couple and a gay-guy couple are just as equipped to raise a child as heterosexual parents? That's what you're saying?

[Jennifer] CHRISLER: Absolutely. Yeah, without a doubt --

O'REILLY: No difference.

CHRISLER: -- because love --

O'REILLY: No difference.

CHRISLER: -- stability, commitment, kindness, caring, values, morals, discipline, guidance, that's what really makes good parents, and if we want to be worried about what we're going to talk about here, we should talk about what are the qualities of a parent that really make a difference for a child, and that's what it is.

O'REILLY: All right, well, I disagree with you. I'm going with nature. I'm going with -- Miss Vincent, I'm going with -- I'm throwing in with Mother Nature here and I'm going best-case scenario, dad and a mom. Am I a bigot?

O'reilly has brought this guest on to represent an opinion with which he disagrees, but as soon as she does disagree with him, he starts demanding to know if they are insulting him. Sure, part of the nature of talking head shows is to highlight differences and try to generate interest by fanning the flames controversy, but there is something very pathological about this barroom brawler tactic of turning every disagreement into a personal insult.
[Norah] VINCENT: No, you're not a bigot for saying that, but nature is procreation, and we're talking about something cultural called parenting.

O'REILLY: No, I'm talking about raising kids.

Which is the complete opposite of parenting.
O'REILLY: I'm talking about -- I know there are bad parents --

VINCENT: Well, there's nothing inherent in biology --

O'REILLY: -- and I know there are good gay parents. Absolutely, all right?


O'REILLY: But I'm talking optimum, best for the kid, having a mom and a dad. Are you going to call me a bigot for that?

VINCENT: Not at all, no. It's a legitimate preference.

O'REILLY: Are you going to, Miss Chrisler, call me a bigot for that?

CHRISLER: Nope, I'm just going to call you wrong --

O'REILLY: Wrong.

CHRISLER: -- which you are. So --

O'REILLY: You know, why wouldn't -- why wouldn't nature then make it that anybody could get pregnant by eating a cupcake? You know? You know, you just throw --

CHRISLER: Well, we'd have --

O'REILLY: You take Mother Nature.

CHRISLER: We'd have a lot of people, wouldn't we?

O'REILLY: You know the old commercial -- don't fool around with Mother Nature? What you're doing is you're taking Mother Nature and you're throwing it right out the window, and I just think it's crazy. I really do. And that's not based on religion or morals or -- Annie [sic], you're a good person, Norah's a good person. All right? But it's just that you say, "Hell with nature -- the hell with it. We're going to do what we want. It's just as good. And you guys are crazy." And that's what you're saying.

O'Reilly's logic, if we can call it that, seems to be that because male and female parts are necessary for procreation, then male and female parts must be necessary for good parenting (or raising kids)--not preferred, necessary. Because, in O'Reilly's mind, that proposition is true, the reverse must also be true. If male and female parts were not required for good parenting, then they would not be required for procreation. This is already completely unlogical, but he goes on into the realm of the completely silly. If anything can raise a child (a point no one is arguing), then anything can make a child. Since cupcakes can't make children, then lesbians can't raise children. To O'reilly's mind, some sort of valid point has been made.

This is the sort of argument ad absurdum that a somewhat clever thirteen-year old might attempt. It is not the sort of argument that an experienced public debator and supposed adult should make. Why does anyone still listen to this silly man?

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