Monday, February 24, 2014

Passionately Missing the Point

Adam Baldwin is not stupid. He fully understood what he was doing when he recently ignited a firestorm, by linking to an article quoting Republican Matt Bevin on same-sex marriage. Mr. Bevin suggested that by changing the definition of marriage to allow for same-sex marriage, that they weakened its meaning. He went on to state that without a clear intent, that they were opening it up to the eventual possibility that a father could marry his son for tax purposes. In the surrounding discussion, Mr. Baldwin was called homophobic and accused of equating gay marriage with incest. This was exactly what he wanted.

Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Bevin were talking about tax and inheritance benefits. They choose an inflammatory example to control the argument, and to allow their opponents and supporters to make the association between same-sex marriage and incest for themselves. It also allowed them to make their underlying point against same-sex marriage without anyone challenging it.

The argument against their argument is quite simple:

Society has always chosen to recognize couples as a special form of relationship. Same-sex marriage is extending the benefits, which were previously only extended to a relationship between a man and a woman, to all couples.

To extend the benefit beyond couples would be a much more significant change, which nobody is proposing at this time. Should somebody propose it, it would no longer be an issue of equality, and would need to be debated on its own merit.

But nobody was making this argument. They weren't pointing out that he had used a purposely inflammatory example. Instead, his opponents were all attacking him for his perceived homophobia, and his supporters were rightfully able to point out he had never made any direct connection between same-sex marriage and incest; that his opponents had made that connection for him.

His supporters also pointed out that nobody was challenging his actual argument. Opponents had resorted to attacking him without addressing any of the reason in his underlying argument. They stated that liberals were so intent on attacking Baldwin that they missed his point entirely.  They were right.

Adam Baldwin isn’t stupid. He spoke directly to his supporters, made points that went unchallenged, and made his opponents look foolish in the eyes of his supporters. In short, his opponents were so busy calling him a homophobe, they didn’t even notice that he won.