Friday, May 01, 2015
In the video above, Jon Stewart looks at the arguments presented to the US Supreme Court in opposition to marriage equality and concludes, “you got nothin’”. He’s right, of course.
Stewart took particular aim at Chief Justice Roberts’ bizarre talk about polygamy by pointing out that gay people shouldn’t have to account for what others may demand in the future, just as when women were campaigning for the right to vote, no one made them declare how government would later avoid giving dogs the right to vote. Sometimes it takes comedic examples to drive home the point.
Even so, there are plenty of reasons why that whole argument is stupid, as I pointed out nearly three years ago during New Zealand’s debate on marriage equality. In fact, I made essentially the same argument that Stewart would later make, though I wasn’t funny.
The thing that I think our side misses is that our opponents really do believe the stuff they say. Sure, almost all of it is based on purely religious views, and the few attempts at non-religious arguments are usually so utterly daft that it’s hard to take them seriously. But our opponents believe them all the same, and have even managed to convince themselves that irrational and silly arguments are good ones. Even their hatred of gay people and homosexuality is genuine.
So when our side takes on their silly arguments, we need to talk past the people making them—they’ll never listen, anyway, as Stewart’s bit also mockingly points out. Instead, we need to talk to the people who may still be a little uncomfortable with marriage equality, but who aren’t ardent opponents. We must explain, no matter how tired we are of doing so, how things like polygamy and bearing children have nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not LGBT citizens should have the same right to marry the person they love as all other citizens can.
Sometimes humour can help make the point precisely because it’s not dour or overly serious. But however we do it, the need to explain hasn’t stopped yet, and it won’t stop no matter how the Supreme Court rules.
And that’s no joke.