Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The defining issue of our generation
Rebecca Haglin, one of the regular Town Hall contributors, informs us that same sex marriage is the defining issue of our generation:
Although not the final vote on marriage by any means, the vote your senator casts this week gives a clear signal on how much he trusts you and your fellow citizens to determine the defining issue of our generation. A vote against the amendment means your senator is willing to allow activist judges to make the decision for you.

It must be true because she even has a link to the Heritage Foundation to prove it. In fact, her article is mostly a summary of a Heritage report by Matthew Spalding, PhD (though she leaves out the important part played by Alaska in this sit com). However, I am confused about one thing. I’m not sure she knows that there is more than one generation in the US. For instance, I always thought the defining issue of my generation was the Viet Nam War, or the civil rights movement, or, at least, Watergate. Some bloggers younger that I am appear to think the defining issue of their generation was a plot point on “Saved by the Bell.” And I’m sure that there must be a few people out there who think terrorism is fairly a important issue for their generation. I might be wrong on that last one.

Both Haglin and Spalding trot out the usual bad anthropology and bad history to support their argument: “Marriage has meant one man and one woman in every successful nation on Earth since the beginning of mankind,” (Haglin) and “The basic building block of society is the family, which is the primary institution through which children are raised, nurtured, and educated, and develop into adults. Marriage is the cornerstone of the family…” (Spalding). According to them, the family is a unit composed of one man and one woman for the purpose of producing and raising children. This unit is the basis of all civilization and has been since the beginning of time (or six thousand years, whichever is longer).

That’s a nice foundational myth, but it’s wrong. A more accurate definition of the family and its purpose throughout human time and space is: the family is usually a union of a man and one or more younger women who engage in reproductive sex with the man, one or more older women (the man’s mother and aunts) who do not have sex with him, and a limited group of related men (usually brothers of the man or reproductive women) who have no sexual privileges within the group. The purpose of the family is to manage labor and the transfer of wealth and to raise children. There are many local variations on this template; most involve livestock in a purely economic role. Box turtles are rarely involved in any role whatsoever.

I suppose now that the Republican Party, with a lock on all branches of government, has failed to protect Ms. Haglin’s version of the family, she will want us to throw the scoundrels out. So, vote Democratic. Do it for Rebecca.

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