banner photo:

"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


Banner photo
Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Justin Trudeau, boy wonder


The National Post's gossip columnist Shinan Govani reports today that a Maclean's reporter had a look at the bookshelf in rookie Liberal MP Justin Trudeau's Parliament Hill office. What works were found there? How about books by Neal Stephenson, David Foster Wallace, Al Franken, Douglas Coupland, Sun Tzu, Thomas Friedman, Bill Maher, Norman Mailer, Michael Ondaatje, Al Gore and The Onion.

So the Heir Apparent gets his political inspiration from the likes of Al Franken, Bill Maher and The Onion. Al Gore? Thomas Friedman? Good grief. What, no Jon Stewart? No Stephen Colbert? What a sophomoric list of titles. All he needs is a Phish poster on the wall and a bong to complete the first-year poli-sci major's dorm room decorating scheme. This confirms my previously-held opinion that Le Trudeau is an intellectual flyweight who's in way over his head, and that's saying a lot in Ottawa. If this guy ever gets into any future Liberal government's cabinet, dear Lord let it be some ridiculous portfolio like Minister of State for Sport that will match his gifts.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Time to retire this Hollywood cliche

James Hudnall has an interesting essay at Big Hollywood : 10 Cliches That Must Die. He discusses film cliches and stereotypes that are "the products of hack writers, lazy minds, and innate bigotry". My favourite - The Gay Friend:
Gays are the perfect friend for single women. They give her all the tips she needs to get ahead with her man and act like a Greek chorus, cheering her on to victory. They also make funny stylists or interior decorators. Sometimes they’re the hilarious neighbor next door. You know, the guy with the pink sweater tied around his neck and swishy boy friend who always says something sassy. Gosh, aren’t they witty? They’re hilarious. All gays are funny, except, when they’re Republican - then they’re evil. Because that’s what all Republicans are: evil and secretly gay. Yes, all Nazis are gay too, but they’re not witty, either.

Note to Hollywood: This is the current incarnation of the token minority friend. Just like the black friend who pops up and says: “That was whack, yo!” The gay friend always has some snappy comment. They often mimic clichéd black girl mannerisms because it’s “funny.” Except, not all gays are funny. Not all gays are swishy and fey. Many gays act and dress like boring straight people. Or even macho straight people. And they’re not all sassy or current with the latest styling tips.

And no, all Republicans aren’t evil and secretly gay. Neither were the Nazis. Comparing Nazis to anything is a tired cliché. But if you think Republicans and Nazis are evil, why accuse them of being gay? Do you think being gay is evil, too? If so, what does that say about your much vaunted tolerance? And why can’t you write gay characters that don’t fit into a narrow caricature? Is it that, oh, I dunno…you think of gays in a stereotypical way? But aren’t there are lot of gays in Hollywood? So, why would you–Ah, I get it, this is how you get back at them. You really don’t like them. Ahhhh, I see now.

My sentiments exactly. For an industry that is supposedly "gay-friendly", the gay characters it churns out don't do us any favours. With rare exceptions, gay characters in Hollywood films are prancing, lisping drama queens with exquisite apartments and great taste in clothes. I think that's why Brokeback Mountain caused such a stir when it was released in 2005 - gay cowboys? Really? In Wyoming? No one would have batted an eye if the film was about two interior decorators in Manhattan. Compare that to the rapturous reception that La Cage aux Folles got when it was released. It harvested prestigious award nominations all over the world (including three Oscars) without any criticism whatsoever that I can remember. Hollywood likes its homosexuals flamboyant & feminine - all the better to dismiss them as irrelevant cartoon characters.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gay = liberal?

Andrew Sullivan responds to Forbes Magazine on the occasion of his being included on a list of "the 25 most influential liberals in the US media":
Not many liberals, I wager to say, endorsed Ron Paul for president for the GOP in the primaries. Not many liberals, I dare to say, have written books on conservatism which rest on a reading of key conservative thinkers such as Burke and Oakeshott and Montaigne and Hobbes. And the conservatism I adhere to, as any reader can tell, has remained very constant for twenty years.

...

Why do I earn the prize of "most annoying liberal" out of countless others whose liberalism is avowed and long and uncomplicated, and none of whom supported Reagan and Thatcher and Bush in '88 and Dole and Bush in 2000? I mean: I'm more liberal than Michael Moore?

The answer, I think, is two-fold. The first is that I am openly and proudly gay - another fact that spans the last twenty years. Forbes writes the following:

His advocacy for gay marriage rights and his tendency to view virtually everything through a "gay" prism puts him at odds with many on the right.

I can see that my advocacy for marriage equality puts me at odds with Republican religious doctrine, even though, for example, I edited an anthology on the subject that took great pains to include many right-wing voices against marriage equality from Bill Bennett to Stanley Kurtz. I can see that being gay allows me a perspective sometimes not available to others. But how is my view of the Iraq war or torture or the environment or Obama or the debt or drug legalization viewed through a gay prism? Any reader of this blog or my Sunday column will instantly realize that this is absurd - "virtually everything" I write is put through a gay prism?

The real truth is that many on the Republican right just read everything I write through an anti-gay prism, because their homophobia - benign or not-so-benign, conscious or unconscious - is so overwhelming it occludes any genuine assessment of a person's thoughts outside this fact. See how Forbes cannot even keep the word gay out of quote marks. Just imagine the same sentence with the word "Jewish" replacing the word gay. It tells you everything you need to know about the moral core of conservatism today. It's sad and will one day be seen as embarrassing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Michelle Obama's dress: don't squeeze the Charmin

I haven't written anything about the Obama inauguration, mainly because I'm thoroughly sick of the whole thing with its crowds weeping for joy and its North Korean "Cult of the Dear Leader" vibe, but I do have to comment on one thing: Michelle Obama's ball gown. I know almost nothing about haute couture and commenting on fashion is way out of my league, but I've got to say this: her dress looks like it was made of toilet paper.

A few years ago I went to a party to celebrate the wedding of some friends, and the women attending took part in a bizarre ritual in which they took the bride and dressed her in a wedding gown made entirely of toilet paper. I gather this is sometimes done at wedding showers, but I thought it was pretty weird at the time. When I saw the First Lady's designer dress on TV at one of the inauguration balls, I remembered that party & decided to do a little on-line research.

Toilet paper dresses are not that unusual, apparently. The Cashmere Toilet Paper company has a contest every year in Toronto where fashion design students are challenged to create a garment made of the sponsor's product. Here's one of the entries:




















A website called Cheap Chic Weddings has a similar contest every year to create toilet paper wedding gowns. Here's a sample:




















Now check out designer Jason Wu's creation for Mrs. Obama:




















This could be the most famous toilet paper gown in history - definitely worthy of inclusion in the Smithsonian's collection.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Israeli war crimes

Richard Falk,the UN's expert on the Palestinian territories and an "independent UN rights expert", whatever that means, believes that Israel should be investigated for war crimes committed during its Gaza invasion:
There needs to be an investigation carried out under independent auspices as to whether these grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions ... should be treated as war crimes," Falk said. "I believe that there is the prima facie case for reaching that conclusion."

Alan Dershowitz responds in this post - The phony war crimes accusation against Israel :
Any discussion of war crimes must be comparative and contextual. If Russia did not commit war crimes when its soldiers massacred tens of thousands of Chechnyans (not even in a defensive war) then on what basis could Israel be accused of accidentally killing a far fewer number of human shields in an effort to protect its civilians? What are the standards? Why are they not being applied equally or selectively? Can human rights endure in the face of such unequal and selective application? These are the questions the international community should be debating, not whether Israel, and Israel alone, violated the norms of that vaguest of notions called "international law" or the 'law of war."

If Israel, and Israel alone among democracies fighting defensive wars, were ever to be charged with "war crimes," that would mark the end of international human rights law as a neutral arbitrator of conduct. Any international tribunal that were to charge Israel, having not charged the many nations that have done far worse, will lose any remaining legitimacy among fair-minded people of good will,

If the laws of war in particular, and international human rights in general, are to endure, they must be applied to nations in order of the seriousness of the violations, not in order of the political unpopularity of the nations. If the law of war were applied in this manner, Israel would be among the last, and certainly not the first, charged.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you President Bush

A Jerusalem Post editorial makes the claim that President George W. Bush's Middle East policies have fundamentally changed the region for the better:
Here is a politically incorrect assessment: Today President George W. Bush will hand over to his successor a Middle Eastern foreign policy outlook far brighter than the one he inherited from Bill Clinton. The 44th US president will have in the Gulf area and beyond what No. 43 so desperately missed: freedom of action to react to upcoming crises.

To anybody who looks at a map of the greater Middle East and who remembers what it looked like eight years ago, it is obvious. When President Bush took over the Oval Office, he found Washington's Middle Eastern policy locked in an unsustainable position.

...

EIGHT YEARS on, the US position in the Gulf looks much more manageable: Strenuous double containment of Iraq and Iran has given way to difficult but doable containment of Iran. Today, Iraq looks like the most promising country in the entire region. In Baghdad, the Arab world's only democratic government has gained authority throughout the country. Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds have looked into the abyss of civil war and wisely shrank back from the edge.

...

The credit for the West's wholly transformed strategic position in that region must go to President George W. Bush. Thank you, Mr. President.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This changes things ...

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once lamented that "Moses dragged us for 40 years through the desert to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil." However, in a potentially game-changing development, Israel has discovered huge natural gas reserves off the coast of Haifa. According to the Jerusalem Post:
Speaking on Army Radio Sunday morning, an exhilarated Yitzhak Tshuva, owner of the Delek Group Ltd, one of the owners of the well, called the discovery "one of the biggest in the world," promising that the find would present a historic land mark in the economic independence of Israel.

"I have no doubt that this is a holiday for the State of Israel. We will no longer be dependent [on foreign sources] for our gas, and will even export. We are dealing with inconceivably huge quantities; Israel now has a solution for the future generations," Tshuva added.

An ecstatic Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said before the weekly cabinet meeting that the discovery was a "historic" one and could "change the face of Israeli industry."

What's wrong with the Republican Party?

The economy is in a death spiral, Democrats are set to recklessly spend trillions of dollars of taxpayer's money in blatant anti-free-market bailouts and to massively increase the intrusion of the state into the lives of its citizens, and what are the good Republicans of the state of Maine going to fight tooth and nail? Gay marriage.
A Republican political action committee said it's organizing a grassroots effort to defeat a gay marriage bill that was introduced last week.

The Maine Republican Project is opposing a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dennis Damon of Trenton bill seeks to allow two persons to marry.

Dean Scontras of the Maine Republican Project said his group's members were concerned about the timing of the Damon's bill. "This will simply absorb valuable legislative cycles that should be dedicated toward repairing the economic situation of so many Mainers," Scontras said.

Republicans earned a few years in the political wilderness because of stunts like this. Conservatives of Canada take note: placating your social conservative base is a sure ticket to permanent seats on the opposition benches.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A "dumb gay American's" conversion

Charles Winecoff, a gay writer & journalist writes at Big Hollywood about coming out as a conservative in a powerful article, The Awakening of a Dumb (Gay) American. An excerpt:
Bottom line: I have had to work very, very hard my whole life to accept myself as a gay man, and to be able to introduce myself freely as such and be proud of my relationship. No one did that for me. But a big plus was living in this crazy, over-the-top country that has changed so much just in my lifetime – and done such an incredible about-face after eight years of an unpopular President. What other country on earth is that flexible? What other country is that trusting?

Now, however, I often feel as if I’ve been shoved right back into the closet by the very people who go around espousing diversity and equal rights and compassion – fellow gay people and “sophisticated” urban friends who in fact can’t tolerate an idea that’s not out of the playbook. When a Muslim leader in Nigeria – or even scarier, in Canada – declares that gay people should be killed and their heads cut off, I’m sorry, but that offends me. And it also worries me because we have all seen these believers act on their hate.

Meanwhile, the affluent gay community in LA never makes a peep about hate speech if it comes from non-caucasians with funny Arabic names. The buff, mostly-white queers just continue doing what they do best: identify as victims and pretend it’s 1977 – protesting the harmless Mormon church, which never fights back, and boycotting campy Mexican restaurants to put other tax-paying minorities (including some gays) out of work. Meanwhile, a threat much bigger than Prop. 8 is growing fast.

My point is: I don’t think American gays fully comprehend that in many countries, such as Iran, gay people really don’t have any rights – not even to live. Just last September, a brave, 27-year-old student and gay rights activist, who helped organize safe houses for gay men in Baghdad and coordinated the Iraqi LGBT group, was gunned down at point blank range by Islamic militants – not by Christians or US soldiers. But by literal neo-Nazis.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Militant geese bring down US airliner

Andy Levy, writing at Big Hollywood - If I wrote for the Huffington Post:
After an event such as this one, it’s important to look at the root causes: Why did the Geese attack us? Well, the truth is, for years we have been oppressing the Geese, using them for the fuel they provide for our bodies.

Boneless Goose Breast, Brandied Roast Goose, Roast Goose with Cumberland Sauce and Apricot Stuffing. And of course, the Christmas Goose. In the name of religion, we have been engaged in what can only be called a Crusade against the Geese. Is it any wonder that a few brave suicide Geese would seek revenge?

Under the neocon/neofascist Cheney-Bush administration, Goose consumption is up 1541%. Geese have been systematically deprived of their rights at a level never seen before. (Look around your workplace: do you see any Geese? Wouldn’t you be nervous if you did?) Reports of shameful anti-Goose activity are at an all-time high, mainly in the South and Midwest, of course.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Che: "bad movie about a bad guy"

Joe Lima, whose father fled Cuba in 1960, writes at Big Hollywood about Steve Soderbergh's current movie biography "Che", starring Benicio del Toro as Che Guevara:
I have just one more thing I’d like to say about Mr. Soderbergh and Mr. Del Toro. I don’t mean this maliciously, as I think that the experience would be very good for the emotional, intellectual and artistic growth of these two men. I wish that Mr. Soderbergh and Mr. Del Toro could live in Cuba, not as the pampered VIPs that they are when they visit today, but as Cubans do, with no United States Constitutional rights, with ration cards entitling them to tiny portions of provisions that the stores don’t even stock anyway, with chivatos surveilling them constantly. How long would it be before Mr. Soderbergh started sizing up inner tubes, speculating on the durability and buoyancy of them, asking himself, could I make the crossing on that? How long before Mr. Del Toro started gazing soulfully at divorced or widowed tourist women, hoping to seduce and marry one of them and get out? Only then could they see why this insipid, frivolous and pretentious movie they have made is nothing less than an insult to millions of people, who really do live like that, and who’ve lived like that their entire lives. Maybe then, they could put their considerable talents into making a Cuba movie worth watching.

The world so needs to take off those dumb Che t-shirts, and grow up. We face serious problems, and totalitarianism isn’t a solution to any of them, even when it’s dressed up in a beret and given a wispy beard, flowing locks and a surly stare, and looks really, really cool.

Outlawing polygamy

Steve Janke at Angry in the Great White North has a post about the prosecution of the Bountiful BC polygamists: Polygamy: Outlawed for a reason (which few people will want to hear).

He starts by stating the historical reasons why marriage exists in society:
Traditional marriage and polygamy are both solutions to the problem of paternity of children, which is a concern independent of religious sensibilities.

Steve continues with an argument against polygamous relationships, and I agree with him that there are compelling reasons for the courts to uphold the current anti-polygamy laws:

Polygamy is fundamentally dangerous to a society. On an individual level, men and women suffer because polygamy is not consistent with the biological realities of human communities. Compare this with traditional marriage, which is consistent. On the larger scale, polygamy, if it is practiced, can only be practiced by a small subset of the population, and the state has an interest to ensure that the practice is never widely adopted. But then that creates two classes of citizens, with the stresses that inevitably result from that.

The only logical solution is to outlaw polygamy altogether, and apply the law universally.
However, I disagree with Steve's point that legalizing gay marriage in Canada has set a legal precedent that makes it difficult to prosecute polygamy:
But irrationality abounds, and I expect that people who are viscerally opposed to anyone suggesting that their own lifestyle choices are problematic and selfish will rally around the polygamists, as these same people did with gay marriage.

With gay marriage, the problem was that by redefining marriage to be utterly divorced from the issue of children and paternity, marriage loses its raison d'etre. Marriage becomes merely a contract of convenience for insurance purposes, or a quaint label for people who think traditions are collectibles, like those nasty little ceramic cats, and so portray themselves as "married" without a care to what marriage means or what it's for.

With polygamy, the problem is that the ability of the widespread practice of traditional marriage to stabilize society disappears, and instead we have a model of marriage that is destabilizing, and is more destabilizing the more people engage in it.

I've posted on this issue at length here and here. In a nutshell, I don't think that a society that allows gay marriage is by definition prevented from outlawing plural marriage. I respectfully disagree with Steve's argument that the institution of marriage is solely to provide stable paternity for children. There are three main purposes of marriage: the raising of children, the stabilizing and settling of the young (especially young men) in responsible relationships, and the provision of reliable caregivers in old age. For obvious reasons, gay marriage doesn't meet the first criteria but certainly meets the others - for this reason I find it hard to accept that civil gay marriage should be prohibited based on this principle alone. (Religious marriage, of course, is a different story).

Furthermore, we should try to use the long arm of the state to prohibit activities between consenting adults only when that activity causes harm to someone. I find it hard to see how gay marriage harms anyone - gay or straight - so I don't see a compelling reason to outlaw civil gay marriage. Polygamy is different - there is ample evidence that polygamous marriages cause harm to the women involved, and to the surplus young men who are ostracized by polygamous communities to maintain the supply of women for plural marriages. For this reason the state is fully justified in prohibiting plural marriages while allowing gay monogamous ones. To me, gay marriage is not about redefining a civil institution so much as extending the reach of that institution.

Religious marriage is something different altogether - most religions have scriptural & doctrinal reasons for prohibiting gay marriage and that's fine; one usually isn't forced to be a member of a church, after all. But, marriage is legally a civil institution, not a religious one. All the more reason I guess for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether & create some sort of domestic partnership & leave churches to their own devices.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Homosexuals for Hamas ????

Zombietime has some hilarious and/or disturbing pictures up of an anti-Israel protest in San Francisco on Saturday. These two photos, apparently of local gay supporters of Hamas, caught my eye. Talk about cognitive dissonance: homosexuality is officially illegal in the Palestinian territories and can be punished by lengthy prison sentences or even by death if authorized by the Palestinian president. Hamas spokesman Dr Mahmoud Zahar, speaking critically of the rights Israel grants to gays, said in 2005:


"Are these the laws for which the Palestinian street is waiting? For us to give rights to homosexuals and to lesbians, a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick?"








































Israel is the most tolerant society in the Middle East with respect to homosexuals. Gays & lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the Israeli armed forces. Although gay marriage is not legal in Israel, the state recognizes gay marriages performed outside the country and treats gay common-law relationships as equal to heterosexual ones. It is the only country in the region where homosexuality is neither illegal nor cause for persecution by state authorities.

I know the "gay community" is predominantly leftist in political orientation, but how any western homosexual can protest in support of Hamas, an organization that advocates the death penalty for gays, and against the only country in the Middle East that treats homosexuals as human beings and equal citizens is just beyond parody.

David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy sums it up nicely:
One might think that when the battle is between Israel on the one side, tacitly supported by the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Jordan, and Hamas on the other, supported by Iran and Hezbollah, one would at least hope for an Israeli victory, even if one is dubious about its prospects. But I get the feeling that for many, it's more important that Israel, and the world, learn a lesson about the "limits of military force" than that a violent, fanatical, backwards, illiberal, anti-Semitic terrorist organization be defeated.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Life imitates The Wire

Baltimore Mayor indicted:
Mayor Sheila Dixon was indicted Friday on charges that she accepted illegal gifts during her time as mayor and City Council president, including travel, fur coats and gift cards intended for the poor that she allegedly used instead for a holiday shopping spree.
A grand jury indicted Dixon on 12 counts, including four counts of perjury and two counts of theft over $500. She was also charged with theft under $500, fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and misconduct in office.

The State Prosecutor's Office, which has been investigating corruption at City Hall for nearly three years, said Dixon received holiday gift cards for four years from several people. Prosecutors said the gift cards were to be distributed to needy families, but were instead used by Dixon to buy electronics—including an Xbox, a PlayStation 2 and a camcorder—clothes and other merchandise and also handed out to members of her staff.

This time they've gone too far ...

Terrorists target Amy Winehouse:
According to published reports, singer Amy Winehouse and British music producer Mark Ronson are among the celebrities marked for death on a 'terror target' list.

The list, allegedly made in response to the Israeli invasion of Gaza, is a catalog of Jewish targets. It has been posted on a militant website.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Peak coal

Finite sources of fossil fuels will soon run out, and unless we drastically change our consumption patterns, we are doomed to re-live the Middle Ages. Al Gore in 2009? No - William Stanley Jevons, Professor of Political Economy at University College London, in 1865.The Times of London has the story:
In his work of 1865, The Coal Question, the distinguished economist cautioned that we had become wholly dependent on the finite resource of coal. Indeed, some calculations - based on the increasing rate of extraction and the geological analysis of how much coal remained underground - suggested that Britain could run out by 1900.

At this point, Jevons maintained, the economy would literally run out of steam, reducing Britons to a medieval standard of living. The cost of shipping coal from elsewhere in the world would be prohibitive and, in any case, the leading geologists calculated that other countries would quickly exhaust their stocks as well.

“I draw the conclusion that I think anyone would draw,” wrote Jevons, “that we cannot long maintain our present rate of increase of consumption.” John Stuart Mill agreed, announcing that his “treatment of the subject was almost exhaustive”. William Ewart Gladstone was so impressed that he devoted a large section of his famous Budget Speech of 1866 to the findings of Jevons.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Cuba: celebrating 50 years of failure

from Investors Business Daily:
New Year's Day marks 50 years of communist rule in Cuba. The Castro oligarchy will trumpet its survival and celebrate. But the reality, up close, is that it's the longest-running failure in the New World.

Spare us the fireworks and media-parroted claims of Fidel Castro's dictatorship bringing universal health care and education to Cuba. The real story is that a prosperous Cuba was turned into ruins in just five decades.

Its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is a mere 5% of what it was in 1958, the year before Castro took over, according to Jorge Salazar-Carillo of Florida International University.

"It's a major failure," Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told IBD. "Cuba is unable to increase food production to meet its needs and now imports 84% of its food. Cuba produced 7 million tons of sugar in 1952. This year, it's 1.5 million tons. This is the result of economic policy of collectivization, killing of individual incentive, inefficiency, constant changes of policy."


see also this old post of mine: Canada's love affair with Cuba

A "classical liberal" on gay marriage

Publius & Flavius debate gay marriage & social conservatism at Gods of the Copybook Headings:
Flavius: What about social conversativism?

Publius: As far as that term means government regulating morality, as the Victorians did, I'm obviously against it. A stout defense of the traditional family is needed today, but keep government out. Legalizing gay marriage isn't going to undermine the family, the family is not fundamentally a legal construct. No doubt there are radical elements attempting to use the law to destroy the traditional family, they will fail. They have already twisted the divorce laws to deprive children of their fathers in many cases, and turn those fathers into cash cows for their ex-spouses. Energy used trying to deny gay couples their rights is energy that could be better spent correcting those laws, or introducing a moderately sane law on abortion - bringing Canada into line with every other civilized nation and banning it after some intermediate stage in the fetus' development.

Flavius: But how can you defend gay marriage and the traditional family, these are mutually exclusive options.

Publius: If you hold homosexuality to be morally wrong - something that most Christians happen to believe - then these objectives are mutualy exclusive. Family is a moral construct, you can't have a family based on an immoral concept or behaviour. Here's where the mix premises in religion comes into play. The importance of family can be empirically observed. The immorality of homosexuality can't be, it's inferred from scripture.

Flavius: But homosexuality isn't natural, so it can't be moral. It cannot even potentially lead to children, the ultimate purpose of sexuality.

Publius: Homosexuality is observed in nature, including in animals. Sex and marriage between infertile indviduals should then be equally opposed by those who attack gay marriage. There is no potential in either circumstance for children. Marriages have, historically, been annuled or voided on the basis on infertility, but they have also been allowed if both partners consent. As for sexuality, yes it can lead to children, but that is not its sole purpose.

Flavius: Yet the ultimate agenda here is not gay marriage, it is assigning multiple parents to children, to breakdown the alledged patriarchy of the traditional family. We will see poligamy soon enough.

Publius: Tell me Flavius, how many women want - or will ever want - to have more than one father for their children? Step families have ever been a reality of life, usually due to premature death and more recently from choice. It's not the ideal. The planners have their goals, the facts of life are what they are. If the Soviet and Nazi state could not destroy the family, the hippies entrenched in our law schools have a less of a chance.

Flavius: How to reconcile then, on a purely moral level - disregarding the state - the traditional family with homosexual marriage. You concede that the traditional family is a building block for society, a society where homosexuality is the dominant practice would destroy itself.

Publius: Again, you confuse the exception with the rule. In a free society some people will choose not to work, though they will not have the ability to force others to subsized their behaviour. The beggar adds nothing to society, he lives off the mercies of passing strangers. He is in effect a free rider. Yet he has few immitators. The burdens of work are irksome, the alternatives are worse. Liberalism - as I have put forward here - has "faith" - though it is based on long experience - that people will in the main do the right thing. If they will not, if people are foolish and need to be treated as children, then society would long ago have stagnated at the level of the feudal serf or lower. Most people, in the long-term, will prefer traditional family models, they represent a hard won truth about human nature. Some will make other choices, bear those burdens themselves and leave the rest of us alone, as we leave them.

Flavius: So few people will choose non-traditional marriages - gay, poligamy - that it doesn't really matter?

Publius: Yes.

Flavius: But you said traditional marriage needed to be defended? Why bother if most people will tend toward this in the end?

Publius: Because, to borrow from Keynes, in the long-run we're all dead. The long-run is a very long time. The 1960s were the Great Forgetting or Unlearning, rather than reforming society we simply - like the Jacobins of the French Revolution - destroyed what existed. Most moderns cannot make informed choices. Either one is a slut or a puritan, a cindrella or serial monogamist. Too few remember what marriage once was, warts and all, to know whether they would want it back or want to properly reform it. In the end we'll wind up surprisingly close to where we were before. The end might take a few more decades. If tomorrow morning the welfare state vanished, and with it its enormous tax burden, I would suspect a very large percentage of women with small children would quit the work force, or have more children.

Flavius: Your beginning to sound very conservative there.

Publius: Not really. I'm not saying everyone should be the same, simply that most people will behave in roughly the same manner. Dissent is vital, variety is essential, its how we change and learn. The family is not a fixed thing, it's a living arrangement that evolves but does so organically, like Burke - not like the fanciful interpretations of the Warren Court toward the US Constitution. Prudence is next to godliness.