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Journey onward!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Miss Cali Thinks Gay Marriage Is Not Right, But Does That Make It Wrong?

Miss California made a fatal gaffe at the venerable Miss USA pageant, or did she? Basically she stood up and gave her honest opinion on gay marriage, saying she was brought up to believe that marriage "should be between a man and a woman." Respectable an opinion as that is, her response became red meat for partisans on both sides of the issue.

See for yourself.

The general public's response to this is as you would expect, namely praised by some as ideologically pure and derided by others as ignorant bigotry. These are, of course, dead end talking points, so I feel motivated to offer an alternative angle on this touchy gaffe.

There may be no wrong answer to the question of gay marriage, but I believe there is in fact a right answer.

The way I see it, Miss California should have said 'I don't believe gay marriage is right, but that doesn't mean gay marriage is wrong.' Such an answer would have been at once politically correct and in line with her stated morals.

Had she said that, I bet she would have gotten every single one of those judges' votes for her encompassing vision; she would have gotten mine. Instead, she basically said 'I believe straight marriage is right, which means gay marriage is wrong but oh, it's ok if you do it; it's a free country."

In my view, there is nothing wrong with her principles per se, but that is simply the wrong answer.


Other than the fact that I am an admirer of painfully hot women, I am not interested in these pretty contests. What does interest me about this particular gaffe is that it showcases the woefully black-and-white vision of the world many Americans are comfortable with.

The notion that either you're right or you're wrong--you're with us or against us--simply repulses me. Life is never as simple as a rulebook. When a partisan blasts the viewpoint of an opposing partisan, usually he is just as guilty of myopic vision as his counterpart. This is a classic case of existential hypocrisy that I hope to explore here at a later date.

Consider the case of Miss California. Had she given the answer I suggested above, she would have in fact demonstrated a POST-partisan understanding of gay marriage. By suggesting that gay marriage is not right but not wrong either, she could have genuinely vindicated gay marriage without sacrificing her own moral integrity and sense of honesty.

If you listen closely, that is basically what she was trying to say. In her full statement, she began by stating that "it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other . . . [that] we live in a land [where] we can choose same or opposite sex marriage." However she failed miserably at reconciling this open-minded statement with her subsequent and proud declaration of heterosexual supremacy.

(I recently read this great quote by G.K. Chesterton: "when the modern man see two truths that seem to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them." Apparently this afflicts modern women as well.)

Fortunately I am here to connect the dots for dear Miss California. By having cheered the freedom to choose, she basically suggested that there possibly exists an overriding ethos of responsibility and pragmatism which trumps the rigidity of ideological belief, namely her own.

(Yet I am not convinced she really knew she was actually suggesting this, which doesn't exactly surprise me considering how modern and hot she is 0_0)

This is, as I have asserted elsewhere, my definition of a true post-partisan stance. The post-partisan may take partisan positions, but he also recognizes that there may be greater truths to which he must submit.

In other words, you can support gay marriage without being a supporter of gay marriage.

Americans, however, are generally not bred to think this way. We are raised to cherish the sanctity of individual opinion. That is all fine and good, but unfortunately life is not as simple as a rulebook, and as such certain social issues intrinsically lie beyond the purview of partisan opinion. Such it may be for gay marriage, that is if you believe gay people are precisely that: people.

In a democratic society, the tenet of self-governance demands that we look beyond rigid partisan beliefs with the understanding that not one party has the right answers. The fact that Americans are generally satisfied with knee-jerk partisan outbursts tells me that perhaps self-governance is getting to be a burden too heavy to bear (see my post on AIG).

Incidentally, I happen to agree with Miss California in that gay marriages are not right. However I also recognize that just because I think it is not right, that does not make it wrong. This effectively puts me in the pro-gay marriage camp, although I am not pro-gay marriage per se.

This is what a healthy democracy should be all about. I fancy Obama might agree that I have been a good post-partisan on this issue. Taxing my RYO tobacco habit, however, would be an entirely different story..