Frank Turek’s Irrational Bigotry


Frank Turek often participates in debates over the existence of God and the validity of Christianity. I’ve never seen him in such debates, but I’d be willing to bet that he uses arguments as illogical as the ones he uses in this Townhall column arguing against marriage equality.

The government has only three options in addressing human behavior. It can prohibit a behavior, it can permit a behavior or it can promote a behavior—the three P’s.

Our laws prohibit sexual relationships such as polygamy, incest and pedophilia. They permit homosexual relationships and non-marital heterosexual relationships. And due to the immense benefits the committed union of a man and a woman brings society, our laws promote marriage between a man and woman. (Notice any two people in our society are alreadypermitted to commit themselves to one another until death do them part. Since they don’t need the government to do that, this debate is not about tolerance. Same-sex relationships are already tolerated.)

No, it’s not about tolerance. It’s about equality. Those aren’t the same thing. And yes, society does get immense benefits from straight people getting married. But since allowing gay people to get married doesn’t do anything at all to reduce that benefit to society or the benefits that straight couples get for getting married, why is this claim at all relevant? Government does give enormous benefits to married couple. Does he think that straight couples won’t get married if gay couples get those same benefits? Are they that petty and shallow?

Some will ignore those biological realities and object, “But men and women are the same so there’s no difference between homosexual and heterosexual relationships!”

If that were true, no one would be arguing for same-sex marriage. The very fact people demand same-sex marriage is precisely because they know men and women are drastically different. If men and women were the same, no one would be spending time and energy trying to get same-sex marriage approved. They would simply marry someone of the opposite sex—which according to them is the same as someone of the same sex—and be done with it.

That’s a lovely straw man you’re beating up there, Frank. And he seems to like eating word salad (that second paragraph is so incoherent that it looks like he put a Madlibs game in a food processor). The argument for marriage equality has precisely nothing to do with the idea that “men and women are the same.” And do you really want gay people marrying members of the opposite sex? That’s very unhealthy for everyone involved, especially if they have children. No one should want that to become the norm again.

And this argument that the law does not discriminate because everyone is equally free to marry someone of the opposite sex is absurd. It’s the same argument that was used in Loving v Virginia, that the laws against interracial marriage did not discriminate because everyone was equally prohibited from marrying someone of another race. It was a moronic argument then and it still is.

Comments

  1. matty1 says

    Does he think that straight couples won’t get married if gay couples get those same benefits?

    I can see it now.

    “Darling I love you so much, will you marry me?”
    “Marriage, you know gays can do that now?”
    “Oh well in that case I’m off”

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    (Notice any two people in our society are already permitted to commit themselves to one another until death do them part. Since they don’t need the government to do that, this debate is not about tolerance. Same-sex relationships are already tolerated.)

    One of the benefits that come with being married is the right to visit a sick partner who is in the hospital. That is something which is not routinely permitted to those who “commit themselves to one another until death do them part.,” without the benefit of marriage.

  3. says

    The very fact people demand same-sex marriage is precisely because they know men and women are drastically different

    “The very fact people demand universal suffrage is precisely because they know men and women are drastically different”
     

    matty1, you forgot the cloud of glitter at the end.

  4. says

    Frank’s website has many times posted the argument that ‘gays aren’t discriminated against because they can also marry the opposite sex’. I pointed out to him and his fellow bloggers exactly what you did: that the same argument was used against inter-racial marriage. His response was that the comparison is invalid because race isn’t a matter of choice, whereas being gay is.

    Leaving aside whether that is true or not, it is his own comparison that doesn’t work – one might as well say that being a man isn’t a matter of choice, whereas marrying someone of another race is.

    The valid and honest comparison is either race and gender, or it’s racial choice and gender choice. I pointed this out…. and got no response.

  5. says

    His response was that the comparison is invalid because race isn’t a matter of choice, whereas being gay is.
    I assume, then, that he would be OK with prohibitions on marrying someone of a different religion, as I believe religion is a matter of choice.

  6. Randomfactor says

    His “argument” isn’t even symmetrical.

    If they can Permit, Prohibit, and Promote, they can also Discourage. Maybe he just couldn’t think up a p-word for it.

    ============

    If men and women were the same, no one would be spending time and energy trying to get same-sex marriage approved.

    Because all marriage would BE same-sex marriage.

  7. says

    One argument I’d be tempted to make, along similar lines with andrewryan above: They’re cheapening marriage by adding on pointless hurdles that have nothing to do with people wanting to spend their lives together and share their burdens. If they can add on a pointless hurdle for sex/gender/orientation, what’s to stop them from bringing back the hurdle for race? If you’re arguing that it’s a choice that a person falls in love with someone of the same sex, how is it any less of a choice to fall in love with someone of a different race? It’s like the argument is specifically designed to trivialize love or deny that marriage is a choice. To me, it’s like they’re trying to undermine the foundation of modern consent-based marriage in favor of barbarian chattel-based marriage or some reproductive duty-based sham marriage.

  8. Randomfactor says

    It’s also a choice to fall in love with someone of a different sex. Maybe the government should get a look at ALL peoples’ choices?

    “HIM, and her? You must be joking. She can do SO much better. Next!”

  9. matty1 says

    @8 I think you’re onto something. In wingnut utopia the feudal lords will assign fertile wives to their male serfs the same way they will hand out the years allocation of farmland. This is known as traditional morality.

  10. Taz says

    our laws promote marriage between a man and woman

    Why do they do that? Because there’s benefits to society, of course.
    And those benefits are also realized from same sex marriage.

  11. says

    This is the same guy who ducked a debate with me that a group was trying to set up…not because I’ve beaten his shitty arguments into their component atoms constantly, but because I “used too many distractions.”

    Oh, Frank Turek…

  12. lofgren says

    As is all too often the case, his entire argument falls apart when you ask “Why.” Why doe we want to promote hetero marriage? Personally, I don’t really believe marriage needs promoting. People have a habit of pair-bonding naturally. Not all people, some are poly, but I think most people intuitively seek the structure and stability that comes from pair bonding. Having one person to watch your back through life provides security, at the risk of some of your own. Adding more people is, very generally speaking, less stable because the likelihood that the arrangement will change more often is increased. I think if the government got out of the marriage business entirely, most people would still choose an adult family and most likely it would consist of one pair bond at a time.

    Providing benefits to married couples isn’t so much about promoting marriage as it is about recognizing a very common human behavior and how that behavior changes a person’s options through life. The government could promote marriage by making the benefits so disproportional to the risks that you would be crazy not to get married, even if it was a sham marriage. But in my opinion the benefits are not that drastic, and I think the fact that most people do not marry for the government’s benefits supports that.

    Instead, most of the “benefits” that are protected for married couples are nothing more than a recognition of another adult’s status as a member of your family, without having been born into it. For example, visiting a loved one in a hospital. Granting this right is not an attempt to (nor do I believe it is successful at) “promoting” hetero marriage. It’s just recognizing that the patient has the right to choose his or her own family.

    So why do we want to promote hetero marriage? There isn’t a single advantage to it. Our behavior changes when we get married because pair bonding often comes with a raft of other desired changes. People don’t settle down, buy a house, have a kid, and join a community because they have gotten married. The list of people who married and did none of these things is as long as the list of people who did all of them while unmarried. These behaviors are correlated with marriage only because they all represent that structure and stability that most people desire.

    If you promote marriage to the point that people start marrying for government benefits, I guarantee you will see the correlation steadily erode as citizens begin rethinking what marriage means. It becomes just another government program in which we choose to participate, rather than a commitment to family. You’ll still see people settling down with a spouse with whom they want to spend a considerable amount of time and consider to be part of their family, but it will their fourth or fifth spouse, as they have been marrying anybody who was willing since their 18th birthday in order to get that sweet government cheese.

    So why? Why? Why? Why? Why promote something that doesn’t need promoting? Why discourage something that is going to happen anyway? There has never been a satisfactory answer to these questions for me. Anytime they are pressed hard enough, almost all of these marriage opponents retreat to a thinly-veiled version of “homosex is icky.” (Or, if they are particularly misogynistic, sometimes it will turn out that they are afraid all the ladies will turn lesbo on them and start making their own choices without a man to tell them what to think. These two represent the core of modern American homophobia in my opinion.)

  13. says

    Some will ignore those biological realities and object, “But men and women are the same so there’s no difference between homosexual and heterosexual relationships!”
    If that were true, no one would be arguing for same-sex marriage.

    Some will ignore those mental, emotional, and biological realities and object “But all male adults are the same so all of them should be able to get married!”
    If that were true, no one would be opposed to arranged marriages.

    Men and women are the same in that, as adults, they can get married. So it should mean nothing more to anyone else if a man wants to marry another man than if a woman wants to marry one man and not another. And it should be quite a lot if someone like Turek wants to arbitrarily decide that half of them are off limits to the other half for no reason. Turek wants to declare that because some people like half a sandwich and soup, while others like a whole sandwich, the latter group shouldn’t get lunch at all. And then he turns around and accuses us of hypocrisy for not wanting to mandate that nobody gets soup.

  14. scienceavenger says

    The Townhall crew is a fun bunch, I go over there and slap them around in the comments often. You won’t find a more smug, ignorant, nasty presumptuous bunch anywhere. Anyone who disagrees with them is a “liberal”, or worse, a child molester, and you’ll have to look long and hard to find any logic or facts in any of the responses. This is your GOP base.

  15. scienceavenger says

    It’s a common trope on Townhall that those wanting to modernize traditional male and female behavioral norms are denying that there is any difference between the sexes whatsoever. They are also stuck in Santorumland where one’s sexuality is determined by one’s behavior.

  16. dingojack says

    So one of the (many) benefits given to married couples is the right to visit, and make medical decisions for, their partner when in hospital.

    Don’t parents have this right vis-a-vis their natural children?
    Don’t parents have this right vis-a-vis their adopted children?

    Does conferring this right on adopted children lessen a parent’s level of care toward their natural children?

    Dingo

  17. Michael Heath says

    andrewryan writes:

    rank’s website has many times posted the argument that ‘gays aren’t discriminated against because they can also marry the opposite sex’. I pointed out to him and his fellow bloggers exactly what you did: that the same argument was used against inter-racial marriage. His response was that the comparison is invalid because race isn’t a matter of choice, whereas being gay is.

    There’s a deeper defect to this general argument. It’s more clearly revealed when we replace the word ‘discrimination’ for ‘rights’. That argument generally goes as follows:Gays already have a right to marry, a member of the opposite sex. Therefore their right to marry is not infringed upon unequally and the states which prohibit gay marriage are not in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

    Here we have the advocate for this position inferring that government grants us our rights. So as long as they protect the rights they grant equally, the government is acting in a constitutional manner. But this is a fundamental flaw in thinking even many liberals make.

    Instead our rights are inalienable. So a gay person’s right to marry is not given to them, they own that right and therefore have a right to choose another consenting partner of legal age. So the 14th Amendment not only prohibits the states from denying gays their right to marry, but also obligates the federal government and those states whose officials swear an oath of fealty to the U.S. Constitution to deploy government power to protect gays right to exercise their marriage rights.

    This is why we continually see the SCOTUS justices referring to government’s role in protecting rights, not having to protect the exercise of a certain right, or having delegated authority to infringe upon or prohibit the exercise of a right. Understanding this reference point of rights is critical to not sliding down a slippery slope on the very first step, where the source of our rights reside. It’s not government; it’s not a movement regardless of how democratic that movement is, it’s instead each of us individually.

    *The relevant section of the 14th Amendment including the equal protection clause: No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

  18. says

    Science avenger: ” They are also stuck in Santorumland where one’s sexuality is determined by one’s behavior.”

    Yes. I would sometimes ask posters there if they only started being hetero when they lost their virginity.

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