[percy-l] gay marriage

Parlin, Steven PARLINS at culver.org
Tue Aug 12 18:16:17 EDT 2003

Jim, I think you misunderstand my point. No matter what one chooses to call
a committed homosexual relationship, it's NOT the same kind of nuptial bond
that the word "marriage" refers to, not from a historical, traditional,
cultural, biological, religious or any other frame of reference. It's not.
Yes, words change over time, and as Mike pointed out, the phonetics and
semantics can shift dramatically... but reality doesn't change. In this
case, the reality is that these are two very different kinds of
relationships and as such cannot be referred to with the same word. No more
so than calling the moon, the sun, or night, day. 
Using the word 'marriage' to refer to these different bonds in the same way
is an out and out attempt to manipulate (dare I say, engineer) public
tolerance through semantic abuse. Orwell's Freedom is slavery; War is Peace
kind of manipulation. (BTW. If the state does eventually recognize
"homosexual marriages", what are we to make of two brothers, two sisters or
two friends living together? Why not give such co-habitators the same kinds
of benefits, which is what this is fundamentally about, after all).
Now...I must comment on your "supreme arbiter of politically correct
semantics".  Be careful, here. I wonder just WHO it is that are you
referring to? Isn't the supremre arbiter in this case those who are
INSISTING that we call homosexual relationships marriage, even to the point
of making it into law? Who is policing whom? Check out what's going on in
Ireland right now. Anyone who speaks out against homosexual marriage is in
jeopardy of going to jail for "hate rhetoric". (And, moreover, its worth
noting that the Catholic Church has long been out of any kind of position to
"police" anyone). 
The point is not that our understanding of reality is changing (although i
think this is, if anything, a very clear indicator of having less of an
understanding of reality), but that words cannot be made to mean whatever we
want them to mean. Words can and do change, but this is a not merely change
but misuse. Perhaps, because of the times we are living, the sacrament of
matrimony will have to move on to new semantic territory, will have to find
a new word for itself. Silly, as Mike mentioned, took quite a fall after

Finally, I could be wrong for I didn't know him personally, but based on his
work, homosexuality was clearly not "natural" in Percy's view, and he would
have referred to this absurdity as yet one more indicator that we are "Lost
in the Cosmos". 

-----Original Message-----
From: James Piat [mailto:piat1 at bellsouth.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 3:09 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] gay marriage

Dear Steve, Folks-
I don't think the meaning of words is fixed or assigned to them by some sort
of word police, the Church or any other single or supreme arbiter of
politically correct semantics. I think the meaning of words evolves based
upon common use reflecting societies' ever changing understanding of
reality.  I think Percy's essay on Metaphor as Mistake suggests at least
some sympathy for this view  -- or at least some sympathy for the view that
there is some play or freedom between a symbol and its referent.  But as to
the matter of homosexual marriages  -- I'm all for 'em myself and would like
to believe that Percy would have practiced his customary charity and
humility in judging the behavior of others,  though how he would have come
down on the morality of the issue I've no guess.  
Jim Piat

I'm merely defending the word, which apparently hasn't any serious public
champions. The lexicon already has too many casualties....they have been
hijacked and/or run through. 
Steve Parlin 

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