Friday, December 31, 2004

Two more additions

The blogroll has just gotten a bit larger, and a bit smarter, which I promise says more about the new additions than it does about the veterans.

Laurent Moss at Le Blog de Polyscopique - I've been reading him periodically since before I started Jerry Aldini. Mr. Tarantino has recently pointed to two excellent entries, and Laurent's opinions are valuable and very well-supported.

Chris Selley at Tart Cider - introduction courtesy of an intelligent debate with Colby Cosh about the relevance of legalizing gay marriage as it pertains to polygamy. Just scrolling down the page, there's hardly a single post that doesn't qualify as both intelligent and interesting (and correct - almost).

Cosh has actually been countered very effectively on a couple of his legal arguments, both by Selley and by correspondent David McCarthy. But here comes the However.

However, Selley's argument is still relatively dependent on this premise: "...public opinion is far more forcefully against polygamy than it is against gay marriage, and that whereas homosexuals always numbered in the millions, the tiny number of Canadian polygamists means that public opinion is far less likely to shift."

I don't think this premise is correct. I certainly concede that on December 31, 2004, the question "Do you agree that gay marriage should be legalized in Canada?" will garner considerably more affirmative responses than "Do you agree that polygamy should be legalized in Canada?" But it's too much of a stretch to characterize that as public opinion being forcefully against polygamy, and furthermore that this opinion is unlikely to shift.

Selley's corresponding interesting argument, which I would like to address concurrently, is this:
For better or for worse, rights are not normally granted to a group until it can produce respectable representatives to lobby on its behalf. There is no Incest Proponents of America, no Cannibals Conspicuous. NAMBLA remains, shall we say, severely marginalized. I see no reason to believe that Canadian polygamists have their Martin Luther King secreted away somewhere, working on The Big Speech. That has always been my most basic argument for "no" on question 1: there's just no one to demand that polygamy be legalized. M. al-Saud n'existe pas.

This is a valid argument if you accept that public opinion on gay marriage has shifted because of its representatives lobbying on its behalf; I think you could argue that the shift has happened despite these dedicated folks.

It only takes one court case. No one supports polygamy right now, because no one has said they want it. But it only takes one - of course there is one Mr. Al-Saud out there. The issue is interesting and controversial, so pundits hither and yon of every political stripe throw in their two cents. How many minds have been changed, to support gay marriage, by a trusted columnist or media outlet (or a friend or relative), compared to the number changed by direct appeals by lobby groups? I'll guess at least a dozen times more, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was 100x. And most of these columnists came out in favour not because they have a deep commitment to equal rights (which was somewhat shallower 5 years ago), but because the issue was in front of them, and they had to have an opinion.

Public opinion on polygamy is irrelevant today - it will be relevant the day someone (anyone) asks for it. And thus the key questions are,
  • when that day comes
  • the pros and cons are tossed around in the media for a few months
  • and gay marriage has been fully legalized
1) Who will protest polygamy, but supported gay marriage? And,
2) Who will OK polygamy, but opposed gay marriage?

I hope you'll all forgive my non-use of "evidence", seeing how this will happen in the future, but I am certain that Selley overestimates the number of people in Camp #1, and even moreso, underestimates the number of people in Camp #2.

All that said, this debate can only go so far. I could write 3000 words about who's going to win the Super Bowl, but really - they're going to play the game in a month, and I'd either be right or wrong. The only difference here is that I don't know what day to sit down on the couch and order a pizza.


At 1:53 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Incest Proponents of America? Really?
Has he seen this website?Granted, it's to legalize first cousin marriages only, but still. And certainly there ARE pro-polygamous peoples and groups both in Canada and in the USA. It's rather ridiculous to say that there's no chance of Muslim immigrants searching for a test case.

At 7:29 a.m., Blogger Laurent said...

Thanks for the compliments, Jerry! I've added you on my blogroll.


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