Friday, July 07, 2006

A Lesson in Debating Skills

In a recent effort to come to some kind of conclusion regarding the treatment of Margaret Somerville at the Ryerson debacle, I threw out some questions about whether or not we are in danger of losing our freedom of speech when someone like Professor Somerville can be accused of being a "homophobe" for simply expressing her concerns about same-sex marriage.

As I anticipated, a high-spirited and lengthy debate ensued. Towards the end of the discussion, it became apparent that even the hypothetical question of expressing any views related to homosexuality or gay marriage can be seen as homophobic and bigoted, according to one of the more emotionally engaged participants in the discussion.

Also, it is apparently taboo to refer to homosexuality as a "lifestyle", thereby implying that it is a choice rather than having a "biological foundation". This too will earn you the moniker of "bigot". And that should effectively end the discussion as far as that debater is concerned.

I find this rather frightening, because if we are not even allowed to discuss this anymore without being labeled a bigot, then just who is doing the discriminating? And who is losing their rights?

Of course anything meant to vilify or put down any segment of the population is not to be tolerated, but if we can't even have a discussion about where freedom of speech ends and hate speech begins, aren't we in real trouble?

However, the ultimate lesson I've learned from all this is that some people have their own peculiar code of tolerance for ending a debate - If all else fails, call your opponent names.

* * * *

Update: There must be an awful lot of "bigots" in the States!

59 comments:

liberal supporter said...

Can't wait to see the comments from anyone who followed the "update" link. The whole left side of the page is "those" ads...

PGP said...

Well I'll short circuit the process.
Knowing full well that my POV and intention is to question and to criticize the self righteous posturing of these losers I will take the initiative and label myself.
PHOBE - IST - OT - ANT - INARY
Label Away!!

OMMAG
"The Phobistotantinary"

Joanne (True Blue) said...

lol! Good for you, PGP! If they're going to label us, we may as well live up to their expectations.

Mac said...

I read through RT’s thread and I came away with this thought... the “blame game” never ends. There is no logical process to this- it’s just childish, emotional thrashing around, candied up with big words.

One of the respondents on RT’s thread made an interesting point. He was so close to the truth but missed it completely. If you ignore the preface and the second sentence, his remark almost makes sense. Almost.

Unfortunately I get tired of the circular "the bigots are the ones who dont accept our bigotted opinions nonsense and generally keep my mouth shut. Homophobes are an embarassment to our otherwise tolerant society.

Restated: the bigots are the ones who won’t tolerate any other opinion and demand others keep their mouths shut. Apply this however and wherever you feel appropriate.

FWIW, I agree homophobes are an embarrassment to our otherwise tolerant society. Likewise, those who shamelessly use reverse-discrimination to advance themselves are an embarrassment to our society.

Red Tory said...

Oh, no... Sweater guy called me a loser. LOL.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mac, I concur with your restated comment. If only one side of a debate is allowed to be heard in any issue, then we really don't have a democracy.

Red Tory said...

Oooo... Look, Mac has whipped up a completely illogical confection for your amusement; but it looks pretty and tastes nice, doesn't it?

Nicol DuMoulin said...

Excellent post. One of the things I have learned most in the past few years is that those crying tolerance and diversity are the least tolerant and the least diverse.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Nicol. I see that you just posted something on political correctness, which is certainly related to this topic.

Dave T. said...

Joanne writes:
If only one side of a debate is allowed to be heard in any issue, then we really don't have a democracy.

Maybe I'm missing something, but how does calling someone a bigot constitute only allowing "one side of a debate to be heard?" It seems to me like it's the correct response to speech one disagrees with: more speech.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Dave, when someone plays the "bigot card", it is an attempt to silence debate.

Dave T. said...

If "playing the bigot card" is an attempt to silence the debate, it doesn't seem to work very well. It doesn't seem like anyone on this thread or the other threads has been silenced.

Besides, it's not like "you're a bigot" is the only card that gets played. How about playing the "it's for the children" card? If calling someone a bigot is an attempt to silence the debate, isn't implying that someone doesn't care about children just as much an attempt to silence the debate?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Margaret Somerville's concern for what is best for children in no way prevents you or anyone else from voicing your opinion in that regard.

PGP said...

CAN O' WORMS !

You get how the lefties can never tolerate their cherished ideals being challenged?

Good weekend Jo' !

OMMAG

Mac said...

So here's a couple of questions:

If you say some who steal something "a thief"... is that name calling?

If you describe someone who deliberately misleads others "a liar"... is that name calling?

If you use the word "corrupt" in talking about a group who betrayed the public's trust, is that name calling?

Mac said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
liberal supporter said...

The NY court decision simply stated that the writers of its domestic law should be given the benefit of the doubt, by assuming that they are not violating the state constitution.

It ruled that it is possible that not allowing same sex marriage was not an act of bigotry but based on a belief in the legislators minds about the benefits of marriage.

They were very clear that they are not ruling as to whether same sex marriage should be allowed or not.

Of course you don't see that in the article unless you follow the link to the decision. Mostly the article quotes the lawyers on the anti-ssm side, the "Alliance Defence Fund" and the "Liberty Counsel", claiming that this decision shows "how radical the activist judges are in the infamous Massachusetts decision". You can see those quotes right beside the ad for "those T-shirts" - pretty girls wearing "conservative" T-shirts, such as my favourite "The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store". Fun stuff!

But to be balanced, it then gets quotes from gay associations (but not it appears from the lawyers arguing that side). There is a quote from one of the plaintiffs on the losing side, you can find it right beside the ad for Ann Coulter's new book, whatever it is.


In the court decision, they speculated on the intentions of the Legislature. They start with the 1909 Domestic Relations law, which says things like the clerk shall obtain information from "the groom" and "the bride", that "the parties must solemnly declare ... that they take each other as husband and wife". They also note that the law prohibits various incestuous combinations, but not any same-sex combinations. But they decide that the law clearly limits marriage to opposite sex couples.

They then turn to the question of whether that law is consistant with the constitution. The state constitution does prohibit denying equal protection under any law, and requires due process. However, if the limitation can be shown to be rational, then it is valid despite the equal protection provision of the constitution.


Here's an interesting part:

The court held that one rational reason for a legislature to give the benefits of marriage to heterosexuals, but not to homosexuals, is due to the differing stability of the relationships where children are involved. The legislature could have wanted to ensure more stability and permanence in relationships most likely to cause children to be born. Homosexual couples can become parents by adoption, or artificial insemination, but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse. "The Legislature could find that unstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same sex couples, and thus that promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships will help children more."

So they may have restricted marriage to opposite sex couples because the same sex couples do not need the stabilty being provided to those wanton unruly straights...

=========
In 1865, the United States outlawed slavery. But in the 1870s, many states passed the "Jim Crow" segregation laws, which were finally repealed in 1964, 99 years after the abolition of slavery.

In 1962, Illinois decriminalized homosexual acts. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 1982, Wisconsin was the first state to outlaw discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation.

Sitting here in 2006, I don't think too many here can really grasp how deeply people believed the rightness of slavery and segregation. I suspect it will be 99 years, i.e. 2061 when it seems as crazy to discriminate against gays as it seems to discriminate against people with different colours today.

liberal supporter said...

(back to the topic)
Ryerson did not do their homework. They could have quite rightly not chosen Margaret Somerville for an honourary degree had they bothered to research her "repugnant" views. But once it was all in place, they should have just taken their medicine and accorded her the courtesy demanded of the ceremony of conferring an honourary degree.


For some reason this reminds me of the Phillipe Rushton fiasco a few years ago. A tenured professor who claimed the yellow people are the smartest, followed by the whites, followed by the blacks. There were calls for his removal, but academic freedom was defended.

Funniest part when they asked David Suzuki to debate him. David declined, saying "If I win the debate, doesn't that just prove Rushton is correct?"

Joanne (True Blue) said...

PGP - Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment, that's for sure. Have a great weekend yourself!

Red Tory said...

Nice exposition Liberal Supporter... Should be interesting to see what response you get from that.

Red Tory said...

Mac -- Do you only argue on "home turf"?

Red Tory said...

Look, Sweater Guy has nothing to offer so he just blasts "those lefties" and their "cherished ideals"... No argument. No reason. No nothing whatsoever, in fact. Brilliant.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Liberal Supporter - Very eloquent and well thought out analysis.

My point is simply that it is my wish to express my views as well without being villified. Nothing more.

Red Tory said...

No, you want to do more than that Joanne. Be honest. You have your own “agenda” too and that is to do battle with what you perceive as an assault on your Christian, “faith based” moral construct. This is at the heart of what I’ve being trying to say for a while now and that is, let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we? It’s amusing to me that you take umbrage at being called a bigot when that’s precisely what you are. If you take that word in a pejorative sense, well then so be it. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

Mac said...

Sorry for the duplicate posts, Joanne. I'm not sure how that happened??!?

RT, I don't have a "home blog" but I post on several (including once on yours) but I prefer debate to argument. What's your point? Would you prefer to have me in your blog so your friends can call me names too?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Mac, it was probably me. The comment moderation thing can be flakey. I just deleted one. No worries anyway. :)

I've come to realize that there's nothing to be gained here by debating with these folks, Mac. There are certain issues that are just so volatile that even the mere mention of the topic causes reason and common sense to fly out the window. I really do appreciate your support though, especially knowing that your personal viewpoint on all this differs somewhat with my own.

Best to stick to the boring topics. Yes, I'm a slow learner, but I'm finally starting to see the light...

Red Tory said...

Would you prefer to have me in your blog so your friends can call me names too?

I'd be lying if I said no, but it does seem to me that you like to play in very safe territory where you can get generously stroked for your opinions.

That said, I have to give Joanne credit. She's opened up here quite a bit and allowed a more free-wheeling debate (argument, discussion or whatever you want to call it).

Dave T. said...

Joanne writes:
Margaret Somerville's concern for what is best for children in no way prevents you or anyone else from voicing your opinion in that regard.

It seems that we are in agreement, then.

Someone else calling you a bigot in now way prevents you or anyone else from voicing your opinion. Someone calling you a bigot does not silence you. Someone calling you a bigot does not prevent you from exercising your right to free speech. Someone calling you a bigot does not silence debate.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

That said, I have to give Joanne credit. Oh, I've been burned before. I'm not taking that as a compliment. Oh no. It is a trap.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Someone calling you a bigot does not silence debate. Well, it effectively ends it. Why bother continuing when things degenerate into a name-calling spree?

Another_Sean said...

Very interesting post. On a couple of different levels.
Koolaid-drinking and name-calling at RedTory's. Intelligent discussion and exchange of ideas (except when RedTory drops by to spread his name calling around) at Joanne's.
For the record, I'm far from religious, however I find the whole homosexual thing to be - difficult. Where I work, there are several gay men, and I have been out for drinks after work, and to several social functions with them and other co-workers. No problem. Nice people.
Where I have a problem is with outrageous behaviors such as the architypical prancing poof in buttless chaps that you see on the six o'clock news every time there is a "Pride" parade (by the way, if they are so full of "Pride" why are they always wearing masks?).
Look, in this day and age, I suspect that most people REALLY could not give a damn about other people's sexual orientation unless that orientation becomes the seed of behavior that is simply beyond good manners. And that is not just homosexuality. I would suggest that there is a whole range of other behaviors fall in that category as well. They may be enjoyed by consenting partners, but the rest of us DON'T CARE and DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT. So just quit rubbing our noses in it, and get on with your lives. We'll get on with ours.
Oddly enough, my wife finds homosexuality to be repugnant to her at an instinctive level. I don't know why that is...
My kids make fun of it. Must be something they picked up at school. Ah, the joys of a public education.

Mac said...

I've come to realize that there's nothing to be gained here by debating with these folks, Mac.

A friend of mine who makes me leftwing (seriously!!) reassures me liberals don't argue- they emote. They will endlessly debate the meanings of words (define 'is') and spelling (who cares!) but their kind of "logic" involves name calling.

I'd be lying if I said no, but it does seem to me that you like to play in very safe territory where you can get generously stroked for your opinions.

Don't you feel kinda petty engaging in these kind of tactics, RT?

Red Tory said...

Joanne -- Oh, I've been burned before. I'm not taking that as a compliment. Oh no. It is a trap.

Well, it seems that your “flaky” moderation is acting up again because my original post does not appear although, somewhat curiously, you have a little out-take from it. Tsk. Tsk. Very poor form.

And no, it wasn’t a trap. I meant what I said quite sincerely.

Hope your cough gets better.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Another_sean - Thanks for your comments and compliment. My feelings about gay people are exactly the same as yours. I have contact with some on a regular basis, and there are those who are wonderful people, and others who just seem to have a chip on their shoulder and want to rub your face in their sexuality. And as you say, there are heterosexuals that act in entirely inappropriate ways in public too, and that is also offensive to me.

The ironic thing is the flagrant displays such as the gay pride parade do more to hurt the cause of mainstream homosexuals than help it (IMHO).

Joanne (True Blue) said...

liberals don't argue- they emote. They will endlessly debate the meanings of words (define 'is') and spelling (who cares!) but their kind of "logic" involves name calling.

Very astute observation. The ironic thing is that I have been accused by those I have banned from this blog as doing those very things. They say that my logic is "faulty"; that I am an "intellectual fraud"; that I'm "not brave enough to face and respond to" my critics; that they are watching for "every single time you say a dumb, false, ignorant, bigoted statement"; that "hypocrisy has always been one of your more endearing traits"; that "I'm glad to see that others think your policy is total bullshit too..It's the beginning of the end of this blog, I'm afraid. People don't keep going to websites where they get babysat by the PC police".

Well that's a small sampling that I have been saving, but you get the picture. And I'm apparently the 'immature' one.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Red, I have been ignoring most of your comments but I will respond to the last one. Thanks for the good wishes. I hope we can move on from here.

Roland said...

Good post, Joanne.
Notice how well it riled Red Tory?
He can't stay away. :)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Roland. I seem to rile up a lot of people. ;)

Annie said...

Joanne, I admire the way you conduct yourself when under fire and being insulted in your own blog. I fail to understand why discussion of any topic amongst adults needs to spiral downward into insults and name calling. It appears that to many, to intellectually 'disagree' is tantamount to treason and tyranny and provokes insults rather than civilized debate.

For what it's worth, whether or not I agree with everything you say, I support your right to say it. I think you are one classy lady!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thank you, Annie. Encouragement like that does help to neutralize the sting from the other stuff.

Just working on a post right now that should bring some kind of resolution to all this.

Fantod said...

another_sean said...
So just quit rubbing our noses in it, and get on with your lives.


Oh! I had no idea it was that easy! Thank you, AS! Now my partner and I will go quietly and get married so we can enjoy the benefits that equal protection under the law provides.

Wait a minute.... we can't!

Oh AS, you really had me going there, you kidder! Well, I guess it's back to rubbing your nose in the injustice of it!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Wait a minute.... we can't!

Why not? What's stopping you?

Are you planning to adopt children too?

Fantod said...

What's stopping you?

Should have specified: I live in a part of the US (i.e. not Massachusetts) where gays do not enjoy equal protection under the law like they do in Canada.

Adopt? Not at this time, but ironically it would be easier for me to adopt as a single gay parent than to marry.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Not at this time, but ironically it would be easier for me to adopt as a single gay parent than to marry

That is ironic!

So why don't you and your partner just come to Canada to get married or wouldn't it be recognized in your State? Also do you not have equal rights as a common-law couple? (Survivor benefits, etc.)

Fantod said...

wouldn't it be recognized in your State?

That is correct. Illinois has a DOMA.

Also do you not have equal rights as a common-law couple? (Survivor benefits, etc.)

Can't speak directly to the common-law question. There may be certain local protections. For example, Cook County, Illinois does have a domestic partnership registry which carries no weight outside of the county. But common-law and domestic partnerships are not marriage.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

But common-law and domestic partnerships are not marriage.

So, it's not so much about the financial rights and benefits, which you apparently already have, but more about the word "marriage"?

And you would not consider moving where it is available?

Fantod said...

So, it's not so much about the financial rights and benefits, which you apparently already have, but more about the word "marriage"?

Um,no. Domestic partnerships do NOT confer the same financial rights and benefits as marriage (I did explain that the Cook County registry has no effect outside the county, right?). You can call it whatever you want, but as a legal concept, "marriage" is not applied in a manner consistent with the Constitution of the US. Why else would there be all the emotional and political investment made by the bigots to pass a marriage amendment?

And you would not consider moving where it is available?

I would and have considered moving for that reason. But why should I be forced to move when I should be able to get a marriage licence anywhere in the US?

To put it another way, on RT's blog you say that in Cananda, Christians are maligned and insulted without consequence. Shouldn't these Christians consider moving somewhere safe from insults without consequence?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Shouldn't these Christians consider moving somewhere safe from insults without consequence?

Which is nowhere, but I see your point.

Mac said...

fantod, it is truly regrettable your state chooses to discriminate against SSM and, by extension, against you and your partner.

When the SSM debate first arose here in Canada, my inner red-neck reacted poorly as is typical of the inner red-neck. Luckily, I'm a reasonably rational person so the red-neck's concerns were quickly dismissed. Of course, being friends with a couple of same-sex couples helped.

As far as for moving (or refusing to move) I guess that depends on your priorities and your intentions. If your desire to marry is the priority, you will find a way to make it happen. If your intention is more about political correctness, SSM is only a talking point.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Nicely stated, Mac.

Fantod said...

If your intention is more about political correctness, SSM is only a talking point.

While that has all the earmarks of a cute little zinger, this phrase is a total non sequitur to any point I've made here.

If your desire to marry is the priority, you will find a way to make it happen.

Well, yeah. That's what it means to fight for equal protection under the law wherever I might be living.

Red Tory said...

Mac is very fond of arguments that sound on their face to be reasonable, but in fact carry a freight train of nonsensical baggage in tow.

Zac said...

If your desire to marry is the priority, you will find a way to make it happen.

Not around here you won't.

Which is nowhere, but I see your point

Ahh, the smallest violin is raised for Joanne's solo....

Try being jewish.

Mac said...

Mac is very fond of arguments that sound on their face to be reasonable, but in fact carry a freight train of nonsensical baggage in tow.

I love you too, RT.

Fantod, my point re: political correctness was not related to anything you said. It was more related on something I said on another thread where we discussed similar themes.

Zac, I don't understand your first point and I don't necessarily agree with your second point. By the way, my wife is Jewish and, as far as I've seen, it hasn't proved to be a barrier to her endeavours. Can you please articulate what you mean?

Zac said...

White. Middle Class. Christian.

Don't seem that bad to me Mac. Don't understand what all of the fuss is about.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Well, yeah. That's what it means to fight for equal protection under the law wherever I might be living.

Fantod, the situation here is that we now have same-sex marriage, of course, and there will be a vote in the fall to see if the issue should be reopened. The only other alternative that has ever been proposed is something like a civil union, with all the legal rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage, but just without the name.

Could you live with that?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Fantod, just one more thing. In Ontario, government funding for helping autistic children is cut off at age six. The province of Alberta, on the other hand, provides funding until age 18, so a lot of people move there in order to be able to help their children connect with the world.

Parents of these kids feel that they are discriminated against in Ontario, and that they have to move to Alberta to get the rights they feel they deserve. They don't think it's fair, but they move in order to help their kids.

Some are staying back in Ontario and are planning to challenge the Supreme Court. I guess that is the type of thing you are doing in your fight.

Fantod said...

...a civil union, with all the legal rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage, but just without the name.

"Separate but equal," eh? That's worked so well in the past...

To quote myself, "You can call it whatever you want, but as a legal concept, 'marriage' is not applied in a manner consistent with the Constitution of the US." It's not a matter of inventing something new — simply apply existing law equally.

Parents of these kids feel that they are discriminated against in Ontario, and that they have to move to Alberta to get the rights they feel they deserve.

Here's the main flaw in your autism analogy. That debate is over government funding of intensive behaviour intervention (IBI, sometimes called ABA) over the age of six. It is not about denying children over the age of six access to treatment altogether.

But, for the sake of discussion, let's say that Ontario children are being treated unequally under the law so that families are forced to move to Alberta in order to derive the benefits of treatment.

This is still not a good analogy because the benefit derived from getting treatment in Alberta is applicable no matter what other province the autistic person may visit or live in after treatment — even if that person moves back to Ontario. This is not the case with marriage in the US. As far as I know, there is not currently another state which recognizes a Massachusetts same-sex marriage licence.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Fantod, thanks. So you want the whole ball of wax; name and all; not just the inherent rights. That's fine. Just wondering.

Your argument against the autistic analogy is excellent.