Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How Not to Defend Marriage: McCain and DeGeneres in 2008

Even among conservatives, there is a penchant to view difficult, controversial issues through a prism of self. This individualist take has turned critical matters into a debate of preferences. No one can win if assent or group agreement is the final standard for resolving any conflict.

One example of individual preference replacing truth and principle occurred when Presidential contender John McCain explained to Ellen DeGeneres his opposition to homosexual marriage. Aside from his grimaces and eye-rolling, clearly the Senator felt uncomfortable addressing the contentious issue, which DeGeneres wittily called "The Elephant in the Room".

DeGeneres stated:

"I can legally get married, as everyone should."

Loud applause followed. Already we can see who was going to be the winner and the loser in the discussion about gay marriage in America. Well, at least we would see based on the audience's approval and clamor who would seem more favored.

For the record, should "everyone" be able to get legally married? Does that including siblings? Adults and children? More than two people?

The lesbian comic justified her stance with frequent references to her own thoughts and feelings. From that standpoint, the Arizona US Senator could have rebuffed a  number of talking points with the truth.

McCain gave a desiccated response:

"I think that people should be able to enter into legal agreements.  And I think that is something that we should encourage, particularly in the cases of insurance and other areas. Decisions that have to be made."

"Decision". . ."Decide" these terms require actions in response to facts, not personal feelings, not inferences, not even opinions. Here, McCain -- all conservatives and culture fighters for liberty and truth -- need to uphold the existence, relevance, and necessity of absolutes.

McCain did not do that.

"I just believe in the unique status of marriage between man and  woman."

When McCain said "I believe", he was diminishing the argument to one of personal preference and feeling, just like DeGeneres. Arguing on the same terms as one's opponent, who has set the issues according to his or her own dictates, guarantees failure. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher understood this principle in politics and policy-making.

Too bad Republicans like McCain have not learned from her example on this core cultural issues.

"And I know that we have a respectful disagreement on that issue."

McCain and DeGeneres in 2008 (

There can be no discussion of "respectful disagreement" when the hostess defiantly announced that her "marriage" to a woman was certified illegally. The same year of this interview, 2008, California voters defined marriage as one man and one woman in the state constitution by initiative.

DeGeneres did have a respectful tone when responding to the Senator, yet she reverted back to personal preference and individual assent as the final determinant for the argument:

"I think that it is looked at, and some people are saying the same, that blacks and women didn't have the right to vote. I mean, women just got the right to vote in 1920. Blacks didn't have the right to vote until 1870"

Women "just" got the right to vote? They have been able to vote per the 19th Amendment for nearly a century. In fact, in a number of states and territories, they had been voting since the late 1800s. Wyoming was technically the first state engaged women in the right to vote, and even as far back as the early 1800s, women were voting in New Jersey, before suffrage was taken from them.

Furthermore, comparing the voter privilege to marriage is fraught with problems, and not analogous on many levels.

"It feels that there's this old way of thinking. . .'not all the same'. We are all the same people. All of us. You're no different than I am. Our love is the same."

Wild applause broke out, affirming DeGeneres' talking points. McCain squirmed.

"To me what it feels like, I will speak for myself. It feels when someone says 'You can have a contract, you can have insurance, you can get all that', it sounds like 'You can sit there, you just can't sit there.'"

Wow. The hostess wants to redefine marriage, an institution long in place before senators, hosts, television, the United States, or any government whatsoever. And she is comparing her "struggle" to be married to another woman with the invidious discrimination imposed upon minorities in the Deep South, individuals forced to sit in the back of the bus or congregate in separate places because of the color of their skin.

So many logical, moral, and historical fallacies to decimate. Yet McCain refused to take her down on those fallacies.

"That's what it feels like. It doesn't feel inclusive."

Feel. Feel. Feel. Does anyone feel like screaming, yelling, or throwing up?

McCain obviously did not feel like confronting this discussion head-on:

"Well, I've heard you articulate that position in a very eloquent fashion."

No she didn't. No she did not. Her rationale was all feelings, poor judgment, false comparisons. Nothing eloquent about "I just" and "I feel" either.

McCain could have rebuked her sloppy logic and weak grasp of history. Instead, he tried to reduce the distinction to "differences of opinion":

"We just have a disagreement. I along with many, many others wish you every happiness."

As long as you feel good, Ellen, it really doesn't matter. No wonder this man failed to win the Presidency. More importantly, no wonder conservatives in politics are losing the argument.

Marriage is not about feelings. It's not about our opinions or preferences. The truth and error of any matter cannot be settled with "we just disagree". Either 2 + 2 = 4, or it does not.

Either marriage is one man and one woman, or it is not. In the discussion above, and in debates and controversies on the matter since, the appeals to individual opinion and preference, to tradition and custom in support or marriage continues to fail.

Why? Because the argument for marriage "equality" proceeds from that flawed, and ultimately false foundation. The proper discussion about marriage must upend the litany of false premises, from homosexuality as a genetic as opposed to acquired condition, to the true origins of the institution.

Appeals to sentiment, feelings, and personal preference will inevitably turn over another win to the "gay marriage" proponents.

It's time for conservatives, for freedom advocates, for defenders of truth and faith to summon the courage to state the reality of absolute truth, of recognized institutions, and the error of reducing major issues and matters to a non-essential standard of "I believe that. . ."

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