[percy-l] gay marriage

James Piat piat1 at bellsouth.net
Tue Aug 12 22:33:22 EDT 2003

  Jim, I think you misunderstand my point. 

  >> Problably!

  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.

  >>  what about my 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. 

  >>To the extent some words have a legally stipulated definition changing that definition does have  "real" consequence.  

  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).

  >> Good question.

  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). 

  >> I agree with the cautions you raise above   -- personally I'm inclined to think the state should get out of the marriage business altogether. 

  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),

  >>  I didn't realize you felt this way.  I'm curious  --during what period of history or pre history do you think man's understanding of reality peaked?

   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 all. 

  >>  Ah,  suddenly, I think I understand better your objections.  For those who view marriage as a sacrament the term marriage is more like a proper name than a common noun.  For folks who view the term "marriage" as the name of something sacred the idea that other folks can appropriate the word for whatever willy nilly Alice in Wonderland use they might choose is understandably a bit of an outrage to them.   Yes,  I had not really thought of in this light.  Hmmmm  -- I'm even less confident of my position than before.  

  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". 

  >>Whatever position he might have taken I'm inclined to agree with Robert Pauley that he would given both sides something worthwhile to chew on  -- and he would have done it with humor and  uncommon insight into the crux of the issue. 

  Thanks for your detailed comments Steve  -- once again I've benefitted from them. 

  Jim Piat

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