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Orson Scott Card is Crazy

July 30, 2008

MAYBE “CRAZY” ISN’T THE WORD, but I don’t quite “get” Orson Scott Card’s line of argument here: State job is not to redefine marriage. (Via: The Poor Man Institute)

Montag: As someone leaning towards the ‘no, the state shouldn’t go on’ end of the ‘what should we do about empire?’ spectrum, I don’t know why I would get so worked up over something like state recognized marriage, especially Orson Scott Card’s take on it. Except that

  1. I loved him in Ender’s Game and want to respect OSC, and
  2. aside from acknowledging marriage is “the primary unit of patriarchal currency” there are particular (human rights) benefits to state recognized marriage that, as long as we’re stuck with this “state,” amount to something in my view: That Ms. Montag will be in charge if I go into a coma or something — and that if I die, Ms. Montag and the kids get everything (and vice-versa if the unthinkable should happen with our situations reversed.) State recognized marriage guarantees the first and all but guarantees the second of these things, and why shouldn’t gays have an equally easy way to obtain the same consideration?

Fehlleistungen: Usually I can follow OSC‘s arguments pretty well, but I think he’s writing for a “home” audience here, which seemingly alleviates the need to make any sense whatsoever. I alternately agree with and disagree with him throughout the article — logically, he’s very inconsistent. For example:

Here’s the irony: There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue.

He has no perspective from which to utter proclamations on the universality of a definition of marriage, or the relative age of marriage/government. It’s just rhetoric. On the other hand, he’s right — in a sense, the government doesn’t have the authority to redefine marriage for any given individual or even community of believers — though that doesn’t mean it won’t assume that authority.

Montag: So far the government hasn’t. Churches don’t have to recognize or perform just any heterosexual marriage as it is now. Score one for separation of church and state.

Fehlleistungen: So, on the one hand, Card points up the separation of church and state and argues against government authority (which I applaud) but then on the other hand he’s panicking because he’s accepting government mandated definitions of marriage as establishing his reality. It’s a lose-lose situation for him. Boo hoo.

Montag: That’s exactly why i don’t get Card’s argument. Though as they say, politics make strange bedfellows. (Oops. See what i did there? Gross!) If I’m truly going to be for the dissolution of American empire, then perhaps I should look past the shaky part of Card’s argument and embrace his willingness “…to destroy that government and bring it down,” though I’d then have to find a way to stop him before he got around to the “…so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support [OSC‘s definition of] marriage,” part.

Fehlleistungen: This is what makes his argument hypocritical and uninventive — he actually embraces government control, so long as it’s in line with his own moral code.

Montag: Little authoritarian for my taste. Dude takes his Daddy State serious.

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