Warning: the following is a giant rant about Christians in a community college philosophy class in central Texas. If you are not in the mood to be mired in a massive pile of negativity, you may want to click your browser's back button.
I just got back from Ethics class, where the question of the day was, "Should same-sex marriage be allowed?" I wrote a blog post
about this subject a few months ago; basically, I wholeheartedly support gay marriage because I have never heard any argument against it that holds any weight. To me, the default position is to allow an action, and a serious case must be proven to justify preventing the action.
Among my classmates, support for gay marriage was tenuous at best. Several people advocated gays being allowed to have civil unions, but recoiled from the usage of the word "marriage" based upon religious grounds. However, this support for civil unions was itself derogatory; the disdain for homosexuality hung so thickly in the air that I could have cut it with a knife. People asserted that gay parents are far inferior to straight parents, with one student even claiming that he would prefer for a state orphanage or foster care program to raise the child instead of gay parents. Of course, there was plenty of disgust intoned throughout all of the snide commentary.
Are you done rolling your eyes yet? Let's continue.
It was my turn to formulate a reply to the original question as to whether same-sex marriage should be allowed. I answered, "I think that same-sex marriage should be allowed because I have never heard any compelling argument against it." Now, as I am opposing prohibition and therefore arguing a double negative, I am necessarily rather immobilized in my position unless I have something to respond to. There is no specific reason to allow same-sex marriage; more accurately, there is no reason to prohibit it.
So I had what I consider to be the five most common arguments against same-sex marriage outlined in my notebook with a proper refutation for each:
- Religious/Theological argument: What about all the other prohibitions in the Bible? (shellfish consumption, working on the Sabbath, disabled people profaning the temple, etc.)
- Disgust: People find Brussels sprouts disgusting. Should we outlaw consumption of this odoriferous vegetable?
- Majority Opinion: Isn't this a case of a tyranny of the majority and a violation of a minority's civil rights?
- Parental Obligation: If voluntary parenthood by gays threatens the birth parents' obligation to their offspring, then shouldn't we outlaw all forms of adoption?
- Marriage for Purpose of Procreation (St. Thomas of Aquinas): What about disabled or infertile people? Do we need to inspect the reproductive systems of all applicants for marriage licenses? What about couples where the wife reaches menopause without producing children?
After stating my position that no arguments against same-sex marriage hold any weight, my plan was to quickly run through bases of the five most common arguments, and then quickly state the basis of each refutation. Now, every person that had gone before me had rambled on for about five minutes. I figured that I could easily blow through my list in that time period. However, my mistake was that I counted on not being interrupted. In hindsight, I never should have opened with the refutation of the religious argument. However, as I felt that it was weakest argument of the five, I thought that the religious objection to same-sex marriage would be the fastest to dismiss.
Oh my, if only I could properly describe the shitstorm that erupted when I starting spitting out Bible verses. Not verbatim, mind you, because I did not have my copy of the Bible with me and I refuse to memorize nonsense. Basically, I said that any argument against same-sex marriage that is rooted in Judeo-Christian theology is the result of cherry-picking from the Bible. I then elaborated by saying that if we are going to condemn homosexuality based upon passages from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, then we had also better stop eating shellfish, stop wearing blended fabrics, kill anyone who works on Sundays, and bar disabled people from entering any temple or church. My basic point: if we are going to disallow an action based upon a Biblical edict, then we must necessarily follow all Biblical prohibitions.
I know that this is a point which everyone on here understands. I mean, how is it not self-evident? Anyways, I said those three or four sentences and was ready to move onto my next point. I figured I had about four minutes left, so I would be able to fit everything in.
As my professor rolled his eyes while I finished up my list of unheeded Biblical prohibitions--for which I really cannot blame him, since the point is moronically simplistic--I was interrupted by someone claiming that I obviously hadn't read the Bible. I looked at them quizzically, and said, "All of this is in the Bible. How does what I have said show that I have not read it?" He then offered the example of Sodom and Gomorrah; I guess he wanted to show me that I had omitted one of the condemnations against homosexuality. I tried to explain that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was just another example of an edict against homosexuality, and that it did not negate any of the other prohibitions that I had discussed. Unfortunately, I never really made my point as I found myself besieged on all sides by Biblical literalism.
I won't get into the gory details, but let's just say that I spent the next ten minutes refuting creationism, young-earth theory, and all other sorts of nonsensical Biblical literalism. My head wanted to explode. I was unspeakably frustrated that I was unable to progress to what I considered the real arguments about same-sex marriage, namely the issues of tyranny of the majority and marriage as exclusively procreative.
Finally, the professor calls an end to the debate that had erupted, and the original interrupter is allowed make one final statement. "We have to leave out the Bible arguments because you
," he said as he pointed across the room at one of the students touting creationism, "are cherry-picking verses against same-sex marriage, and you
," he continued, pointing at me, "are cherry-picking verses that are for it."
Wait, what? I'm cherry-picking verses from the Bible that support gay marriage? Really? Because the only passages that I directly referenced had nothing to do with same-sex marriage.
Naturally, I could see that this student obviously had no idea what cherry-picking meant as an overall concept. So, of course, I immediately protested, "But I am not cherry-picking, that's not--"
But the professor culled the debate and I was not allowed to reply before he launched into his lecture on the subject. I was infuriated. First, I was irritated that I had not been allowed the standard five minutes to explain my points when the students before me had all freely rambled on with their opinions. But even more infuriating was the blatant misrepresentation of me as a cherry-picker which was allowed to stand.
This happens every class. People ramble on with their opinions, saying all sorts of things that I consider illogical, offensive, and generally devoid of any serious consideration of the subject matter. But I never interrupt anyone because it is a philosophy class, and an inherent part of philosophy is listening to other people's opinions. I write down all my arguments in concise, outlined notes so that when it is my turn to speak, I express my points clearly and strongly. Yet I am never allowed to go more than one sentence without being interrupted and sidetracked by some criticism so moronic that I am often stunned as to how to respond. Like the reference to Sodom and Gomorrah; his reference of a specific edict in the Bible condemning sodomy only proved my point further, yet I had to backtrack so far to then prove that point. It is unspeakably frustrating as I end up constantly stumbling for words because I am literally stunned by the complete lack of logic, coherence, and facts in others' objections. (Yeah, I had to argue against the assertion that the Bible had invented marriage. When I tried to explain that the Egyptians and Sumerians both practiced marriage and had predated the Bible, I was told, "Yeah? What Bible are you reading? Cause mine says, 'In the beginning.'" Wow. Just wow.)
Anyways, I apologize for this monument to bitching and moaning. But the process was cathartic, and I think that I may survive another day in central Texas because of it. On the plus side, I was able to draw upon the rage generated by being silenced in class and finally capture the necessary violence for the end of the Rachmaninoff prelude
that I have been working on.
In the end, I suppose that being a godless liberal Yankee at a central Texas community college will only help to build my character, right? "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" sounds find to me; I'm willing to sustain myself with idioms.