3.01.2012

Against Marriage Equality? Try This Thought Experiment

I have a thought experiment for those of you who oppose same-sex marriage. (For the sake of this experiment, and based on the data, I will assume you are heterosexual.)

Suppose for a moment that you wake up and the slate is clean. If you are married, you are now single. If you have children, you are now childless. Everything is different, and you are unaware of the life you lived before.

Like most people, you have a drive to be employed, to find love, to start a family, to raise children, but you are starting anew.

I mentioned above that everything is different. Including your sexuality. Remember the first time you felt attracted to a member of the opposite sex -- that first crush? Imagine that attraction to the opposite sex is completely foreign to you. You do not feel any attraction to the opposite sex, just as you felt no attraction to the same sex when you began to develop crushes on the opposite sex in your school days.

Now, before we move forward, it's important to dismiss the obvious objection to such a thought experiment: our sexuality is defined by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. (When did you make the decision to be straight?)

So, here you are: a clean slate, a desire to move forward in your new life, find love, and start a family. However, despite your completely natural (and almost always unchangeable) attraction to the same sex, you realize that you will never be able to marry, form a family, and enjoy all the benefits afforded to married couples and families.

You see that your legislators are hoping to pass legislation that specifically discriminates against you. Organizations are raising millions of dollars to ensure that you, a taxpaying citizen, do not have the same rights as other taxpaying citizens whose sexual orientations, while different from yours, are determined by the same genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.

Imagine that you are religious, and you attend church on Sundays. Imagine that your pastor and your congregation do not accept you because of who you are. They denounce you as a sinner, a sexual deviant, and an abomination to God.

Imagine that millions of people honestly believe that your pursuit of the same thing that they have (a spouse and a family) is going to destroy a social institution.  They claim that you are harming children (many even claim you are likely to be a pedophile) and that you are a threat to society.

Imagine that you are hospitalized, and the most important person in your life is not able to visit you. Imagine that the person who knows you the best, your soul mate, is not legally allowed to make important medical or financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

How does this life feel to you? How is your outlook on life? How do you plan to navigate the rest of your life in a place that will not accept you, a place where you are a 2nd-class citizen, a place where any sort of family you attempt to build will not accepted, a place which has made it clear that you are not welcome?

If you don't feel the least bit of sadness, frustration, or injustice at this point, you're either not being honest with yourself, or you're incapable of empathy.







2.29.2012

Vote No On One: Powerful Anti-Amendment One Video From NC State GSSWA

On Tuesday, NC State University's Graduate Student Social Work Association (GSSWA) held an event on campus to discuss the proposed NC constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President of the NC NAACP, was also in attendance to speak to about codifying discrimination.

MSW student Lis Tyroler created a powerful video for the event, featuring a wide variety of North Carolinians who will be affected by the amendment, including gay and lesbian couples, and straight allies like yours truly.

The video deserves a much wider audience, and adds to the growing collection of powerful protests against this harmful amendment.

Watch:


Vote NO on ONE (NCSU GSSWA) from Lis Tyroler on Vimeo.




2.27.2012

What Santorum Really Means By Indoctrination

Rick Santorum has said some silly things about higher education over the past week.

Not only did he say that Barack Obama was a 'snob' for wanting all Americans to go to college (funny, since Rick Santorum has a BA, an MBA, and a JD), but he also stated that “62 percent of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it.”

Where to start, right?

Oh yeah, he also called universities "indoctrination mills."

There's a few things going on here. First, we have Santorum's notion that to want kids to be educated and to succeed is snobbery -- all coming from a guy with several degrees. Isn't that kind of like the priest telling his congregation that they're a bunch of sanctimonious pricks for wanting their children to attend church?

Since when have we become a society that values an under-educated society? I have a feeling it has been ever since Barack Obama took office. This is also about the same time that we became a society that looks down on being healthy, boos the golden rule, and cheers for executions.

And where did Rick Santorum get this statistic that 62 percent of kids who enter college with a faith commitment leave without it? The claim is totally bogus.

Via Talking Points Memo:
A slight problem: multiple studies have found that the opposite is true — including the one that Santorum has reportedly been referring to.

A study published 2007 in the journal Social Forces — which PBS reports that Santorum’s claim is based on, although his spokesman didn’t respond to TPM’s request for confirmation — finds that Americans who don’t go to college experience a steeper decline in their religiosity than those who do.

“Contrary to our own and others’ expectations, however, young adults who never enrolled in college are presently the least religious young Americans,” the journal concluded, noting that “64 percent of those currently enrolled in a traditional four-year institution have curbed their attendance habits. Yet, 76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.”
Perhaps Santorum got his studies mixed up. A 2006 Harvard study found that 62 percent of college Republicans think “religion is losing its influence on American life.” Well, that's an entirely different thing, Rick. Republicans think a lot of things -- but that doesn't make them true.

The interesting thing about the Harvard study, if this is indeed where Santorum pulled his bogus figure, is that it found the opposite of Santorum's 'loss of faith' claim to be true. It found that “a quarter of students (25%) say they have become more spiritual since entering college, as opposed to only seven percent (7%) who say they have become less spiritual.”

Rick Santorum is scared of secular America. (He's not alone.) He knows that once children leave the nest, where they must think for themselves, they might actually embrace or formulate philosophies and life stances that are not in synch with their parents, or with their parents' faith.

He says he was ridiculed for his beliefs in college (quite frankly, he should've be ridiculed for some of them, such as his denial of evolution):

“I’ve gone through it,” Mr. Santorum said. “I went through it at Penn State. You talk to most kids who go to college who are conservatives, and you are singled out, you are ridiculed.”

“I can tell you personally,” he added, “I went through a process where I was docked for my conservative views.”
If Rick Santorum had his way, children would be home-schooled from kindergarten through graduate school, and would live under the same roof as their parents, and forced to attend church each and every Sunday.  We wouldn't want them to have to learn to defend their ideas about the world, would we?

Now, about those "indoctrination mills." I would ask Rick Santorum this: Is baptizing your child not a form of indoctrination? Is sending your child to vacation bible school not a form of indoctrination? If we are going to be honest with ourselves, we need to agree that there are many forms of indoctrination, and, sure, college might classify as indoctrination in some regards.

However, when we look at what indoctrination actually means, we find that indoctrination "is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned." We also see that "instruction in the scientific method, in particular, cannot properly be called indoctrination, in the sense that the fundamental principles of science call for critical self-evaluation and skeptical scrutiny of one's own ideas, a stance outside any doctrine."

What Santorum means by "indoctrination" is "critical thinking" and "skeptical scrutiny" and "critical self-evaluation" -- things that might lead a young person to question things they have been told.

What Santorum means by "indoctrination" is "discovering that the indoctrination received at home might not stand up to the skeptical scrutiny that is encouraged in a higher learning environment."

Santorum's rhetoric reeks of a man who knows his ideas don't stand up under scrutiny. His stance on evolution reveals quite a bit.
I think there are a lot of problems with the theory of evolution, and do believe that it is used to promote to a worldview that is anti-theist, that is atheist.

This is a man whose biggest problem with evolution isn't that he doesn't have enough data to formulate an opinion -- it's that acceptance of evolution might lead to questioning faith.

Rick, we are indoctrinated at every turn in our lives. Before we can even think for ourselves, we are told which sports teams to root for, which religion we believe in, which political party we align with. When we attend church as young children, we are told that, without a doubt, this particular religion will be our salvation.

If the biggest fear of higher education is that our children might stray from these beliefs once they leave the cocoon, then perhaps we should question the very beliefs we fear will be so easily unraveled.