Thursday, August 09, 2007

Live and let live?

Blog Quebecois links to a post by Werner Patels referencing the Bountiful polygamy conundrum.

While Patels urges that the related issues of statutory rape and pedophilia be prosecuted, he questions the ability of Canadian law and modern society to prevent arrangements of multiple partners who quietly choose to cohabitate.

This is a question that I continue to ask (not that I necessarily support the idea) - how can we say that some people should be allowed to live their lives without state interference and not others?

It's interesting to see a Progressive admitting that the slippery slope argument may in fact have some validity after all:

The case of the community of Bountiful, British Columbia, and its predilection for polygamy, is to be referred to the courts to determine the constitutionality of polygamy with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

When same-sex marriage was first raised as a possibility, social conservatives quickly condemned it and said that if it were green-lighted, it would soon lead to polygamy as well -- and turn Canada into Sodom and Gomorrah.

Now that this issue has raised its head, one cannot deny that they were right in a way. But would it really be so bad if polygamy were allowed?



Some of his arguments that appear to be in favour of decriminalizing polygamy and polyamory in general are reminiscent of the same-sex marriage rhetoric:

So many people in modern society today have multiple spouses -- they're divorced from all of them, but they often have children together, while support payments serve as sort of a bond. Frankly, it would not be such a giant leap to a system where they all lived happily under one roof.

- i.e. Perhaps it would be better for the children, because they wouldn't feel 'different' and would be more likely to be accepted by the mainstream.

Just as was true of same-sex marriage, it is highly doubtful that allowing polygamy would have any effect on the rest of us.

-Yup. As long as it doesn't affect me. I've heard that one before.


And from an Opinionated Lesbian's blog:

If you support the right of gay people to live their lives as they wish, you must support the same right for others. Like polygamists.



We can't turn back the clock. It is what it is.

But let's just stop kidding ourselves.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be too quick to blame ssm for this. Polygamy has been alive and kicking for years in Canada, this is nothing new.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Agreed. They've both been around for centuries.

Societal acceptance however, has not.

Anonymous said...

Societal acceptance however, has not.

And, for polygamy, it is not now either.

Your sounding the alarm in an attempt to show some perceived flaws in ssm, which do not exist. Perhaps you are going for some sort of "told ya so" moment, but are failing miserably.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Homosexuality has been around for centuries, that is.

And I'm not saying that we can or should go back in time here.

Let's just be honest and accept the possibility that it's difficult to allow one group a right to live together in a sexual manner and not another.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I am not sounding an alarm. I am pointing out that a Progressive blogger has made the same connection.

Anonymous said...

Let's just be honest and accept the possibility that it's difficult to allow one group a right to live together in a sexual manner and not another.

No, the two are not connected. When you include the chances of abuse - both physical and psychological - and underage sex that is frequent in pologamy, it is wrong. The law is not being broken in a same-sex relationship. No one is being harmed.

Anonymous said...

I am pointing out that a Progressive blogger has made the same connection.

For the record, Werner Patels is no progressive. In fact, I have no idea what he is because he has no idea what he is...

He was a Tory blogger. They he switched to the Liberals when the leadership race was on. Then he left the Liberals because he was angry that Ignatieff was selected as deputy leader. Ignatieff, to him, was too right wing, so he joined the right wing Conservatives. He then said that Harper was abandoning Alberta and joined an Albertan seperatist party, then briefly flirted with the NDP with his "Calgary Dipper" blog then made a hard right turn and declared himself a social conservative, bragging to Suzanne at Big Blue Wave that he was hell-bent on doing everything he could to insult the politically correct crowd.

So...if you can make sense of that, high-five to you.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

No, the two are not connected. When you include the chances of abuse - both physical and psychological - and underage sex that is frequent in pologamy, it is wrong. The law is not being broken in a same-sex relationship. No one is being harmed.

O.K. Let's put polygamy aside and just talk plural unions. Do you have a problem with polyamory?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon, I have to run, but I promise to pick this up again soon.

Meanwhile, I'm sure Red Tory will be doing a post on my "intellectual dishonesty" any minute, so you can join in the mudslinging there.

When I come back, please tell me if you think it is either legal and/or morally acceptable for three people, either straight, homosexual, bisexual or whatever to be living together in a conjugal manner. Assume no kids are involved.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I have to run, but I promise to pick this up again soon.

No problem. Catch you later :)

Anonymous said...

Most of us are all for the 'live and let live' attitude as long as no one is being coerced.

However, legal marriage comes with certain entitlements but little responsibility in this country. Until that is fixed, the definition really should be between a man and a woman.

For example: the only requirement to prove one is 'married' in some cultures is basically a bill of sale, notions of romantic love are not entertained, the marriage is arranged like a business deal.

That's fine for men and women who chose to live that way - but it could easily mean that any Canadian could trot around the planet getting paid to 'spouse' someone in order to get them into Canada.

If polygamy or polyamory are legal - then it's only a matter of how fast 'marriage' certificates can be printed, any Canadian could bring in hundreds or even thousands of spouses.

There are some men who already make a good living off the taxpayer through multiple wives and mother's allowance - it is very nice of Canadians to forego a higher standard of living so that immigrants don't have to work, but at some point we'll either have a backlash or go broke.

Red Tory said...

No, I couldn't be bothered. But I am glad that someone pointed out that the feckless Mr. Pickles is no "progressive" by any stretch of the imagination.

SouthernOntarioan said...

Anon, once we formally accepted ssm as a practice there is no reason that we cannot accept polygamy.

As for abuse, one could argue that as long as all the partners are 'mature, consenting adults' that there is nothing 'wrong'.

Its a 'lifestyle'. *shrugs* Legally opponents of polygamy don't have much of a leg to stand on anymore. It wouldn't surprise me if some judge ruled that polygamy laws violate Charter rights and that the government has no business in the bedrooms of 'mature, consenting adults'.

So maybe it won't be officially accepted as 'marriage' yet, but I can sure see it be legalized very soon.

Patrick Ross said...

If I may interject:

Social acceptability is in the eyes of the beholder. What is acceptable to one segment of society is not guaranteed to be acceptable to others.

For example, consider the use of violence to settle personal disputes in situations where other tactics prove ineffective.

Many people find this to be entirely unacceptable, and an example of brutishness. However, there are places (such as where I come from) where it is viewed as entirely acceptable, at least when it is necessary. It is recognized that some people embrace society's promised protection from violence as an excuse to behave in the most outrageous ways imaginable, knowing that if they refuse to allow their actions to be tempered by logic, or responded to in a logical fashion, they can't be touched.

No one will ever manage to convince either group of people that they are wrong. Resultingly, while the attitudes held by one group of people are not socially acceptable to the other, they are still socially acceptable to their peers.

Polygamy will always be regarded as socially acceptable by polygamists. That's why they're polygamists.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

So...if you can make sense of that, high-five to you.

Sounds to me like Mr. Patels has a serious identity issue.

toujoursdan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
toujoursdan said...

Anon, once we formally accepted ssm as a practice there is no reason that we cannot accept polygamy.

Actually there are a few reasons why we can't. They were addressed in a report the Liberal government commissioned a few years ago.

Polygamy in Canada: Legal and Social Implications for Women and Children – A Collection of Policy Research Reports

SSM is based on an innate sexual orientation and polygamy is a voluntary social arragement.

The report I linked to above says this:

Polygamous relationships appear significantly more likely than monogamous relationships to be characterized by physical and emotional abuse of women. Many women in polygamous unions experience a diminished sense of self-worth and suffer from competition with the other wives. Children are significantly more likely to have a distant relationship with their father, and to experience academic difficulties...

...Polygamy also places an economic burden on modern states like Canada, as the very large families that often result almost inevitably look to the government for support. It is well documented in the United States that since Fundamentalist Mormon men marry only one wife legally, the other "celestial wives" often claim public assistance from the state as single mothers. Some of the largest polygamist families in Colorado City, Utah, reportedly collect over a million dollars in public assistance each year (Rower 2004). Rower reports that 33 percent of Colorado City residents receive food stamps, while the Arizona state average is only 4.7 percent....

[R]ecognizing polygamous marriages would have significant potential ramifications in terms of additional costs to the state, as well as potential costs to employers for pension and insurance plans that provide benefits to the [additional] "spouses" of employees.


...none of which are issues in SSM.

The debates about same-sex marriage and polygamy are clearly distinguishable. Same-sex marriage does not affect the concept of monogamy. The acceptance of polygamy as a legitimate form of marriage, in contrast, would do away with the concept of monogamy. Since marriage is already structured to involve only two people, the recognition of same-sex marriages will have no economic costs. In contrast, recognizing polygamous marriages would have significant potential ramifications in terms of additional costs to the state, as well as potential costs to employers for pension and insurance plans that provide benefits to the "spouses" of employees.

More significant than the economic issues are the concerns about the social and psychological costs of polygamy for women and children. There is no evidence that same-sex marriage harms children, and much evidence that it benefits those same-sex partners who choose to marry. By way of contrast, as discussed in Section 2, there is a significant body of research from a number of countries about the negative effects of polygamy on children in terms of their emotional development and educational achievement. Polygamy also has significant psychological and emotional costs for women.


Even if you reversed the genders you'd have the same issues. They are apples and oranges. SSM doesn't have the tax, financial and economic implications polygamy would and unlike polygamy, which is a voluntary social arrangement is innate (if you believe what almost all gay people and social scientists and psychologists have to say.)

Cool Blue said...

"Polygamous relationships appear significantly more likely than monogamous relationships to be characterized by physical and emotional abuse of women."

Statistically, lesbian relationships have higher rates of abuse than those of heteros or gay males; does that mean we should outlaw lesbian marriages?

And once again, I'm waiting for the anti-polygamy people to explain how 3 gay men relationship is abusive towards women and children.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Statistically, lesbian relationships have higher rates of abuse than those of heteros or gay males; does that mean we should outlaw lesbian marriages?

Really? Would you happen to have links to that?

And once again, I'm waiting for the anti-polygamy people to explain how 3 gay men relationship is abusive towards women and children.

Yup. Me too.