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Thursday, May 20, 2004

James Dobson is a Moron

I'm not sure why, but I was actually watching Fox on Tuesday. On Hannity and Colmes, they had Dr. James Dobson, a pediatric specialist and licensed psychiatrist. They were talking, obviously enough, about the affirmation of gay marriage in Massachusetts. It's taken me this long to un-implode my head from the comments made on the show (and overcome the realization that a majority of the country actually feels this way), so I dug up a transcript of what I saw, so I can comment. Unless otherwise noted, the comments are by Dobson.

[Gay marriage] will spread across the country, and it has major implications for this wonderful 5,000-year- old institution that's been the bedrock of culture in every civilization in the history of the world.

Ah, yes. I remember well the institution of marriage as it existed in 2nd century Mongolia, when communal property contracts were the bedrock of their civilization. Having equal standing so that both parents could participate in the raising of children was definitely what marriage was about over these 5,000 years. It clearly wasn't a binding contract which treated women essentially as property, to care for the home and raise children. Marriage for all time has been exactly how it is now.

Hannity: ...[t]he definition of marriage, the legal union of a man and a woman as a husband and a wife. Are we talking about people that literally want to alter the definition of what it is? And, you know, why should society have to change their views to accommodate people's agendas?

because "people's agendas" just happen to be considered a fundamental right, if not under the federal constitution, then under the Massachusetts constitution. It's an arbitrary exclusion from a contract based on gender, which is not okay. In the fifties, Arkansas was forced to "change their views to accomidate people's agendas" when desegregation happened, or later in the century when the civil rights acts were passed. What do you want to bet that Hannity would have been right there at the passage of the 13th amendment saying, "The definition of a citizen, a white male. Are we talking about people that literally want to alter the definition of what that is?"

Social scientists are absolutely consistent on this, that children who are raised by one mother and one father, committed to each other, are less likely to get into drugs, less likely to commit suicide or to be in poverty, or for the girls to get married in their teens.

Yes, but he left out some key words. Key words like "than if they are raised by a single parent." There is no study on earth which says that same-sex couples who are also committed to each other are worse parents than different-sex couples. Moreover, becuase the standards for adoption are significantly more stringent than the standards for procreation, same-sex couples are almost certainly better parents than the average couple. What the good doctor almost certainly knows, as well, is that any parent is better than an orphanage, or growing up without any guidance whatsoever. If you want to look at the statistics on that, it's terrifying.

Hannity: Well, one of the issues that's come up is the constitutional amendment that the president is now supporting here. And one of the reasons that the president had to do this is because the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling had to be respected by every other state, because of the federal constitutional full faith and credit clause that's there.


Dobson: ...[s]ome members of Congress who are trying to wimp out on this subject say, let's leave it to the states to decide.

Well, that's impossible, because you can't have 50 different definitions of marriage. You can't be married in Texas and not married in Connecticut. I mean, it will create absolute chaos.

I think it's amazing that his premise manages to be false, and his conclusion, though it proceeds from the correct implicit premise (not the stated one), is also false. It's amazing to me that an educated man manages to live without the cognitive dissonance forcing his eyeballs to explode. First, you DO have fifty different definitions of marriage now. What the marriage contract entails varies from state to state (and in some cases, municipality to municipality), as well as the preconditions for receipt of such a contract. Why do you think people go to Vegas to get married? But more than this, the "chaos" to which he refers is mitigated by something Hannity just said: the full faith and credit clause actually gets rid of the "married in Texas and not in Conneticut" problem. It'd be nice if he picked a problem and stuck with it, rather than throwing out contradictory ones.

...and also, the courts will override what the states do anyway. And, you know, what happened in Massachusetts is not the will of the people. It's the will of three or four judges

The fear of the tyranny of the majority is seriously lacking in the world today. This idea of democratic absolutism is something engendered, I think, by shows like American Idol and the on-demand culture. The fact is that the reason we have constitutions and amendments and silly things like "guaranteed rights" is because "the will of the people" in Massachusetts is to deprive people of these guarantees. But God forbid we deny the "will of some people" to inflict their bigoted views on others. (as a tangental and personal aside, I wish I had the transcript from the Hannity/Colmes show following the 2000 election where I bet a million dollars, they were talking about how "the will of the people" be damned, the constitution says...)

Colmes: ...[i]f marriage promotes monogamy and stability for straight couples, why wouldn't it do the same thing for those of the same gender?

Dobson: Well, it just doesn't. That is the scientific information. That is what I was trying to tell you. In Norway, there are places where 80 percent of the children are born out of wedlock. That's the result of it, and that's what will happen.

This, as a historical note, is where I stopped watching during the actual show. This is when I absolutely knew that the United States is doomed, that the Midwest was going to rise up and consume all of us like some gluttonous python, before first choking the sense out of the world. In Norway, there are places where eighty percent of the children are born out of wedlock. Of course, in the United States there are "places" where eighty percent are born out of wedlock, but the actual numbers for the country are over fifty percent. Fine. Lots of kids are born out without their parents being legally bound together. According to the earlier premise, this should result in higher suicide rates, teenage marriage, and drug use. Here's the catch - illicit drug use (other than marijuana) in tenth graders is seventeen percent higher in the US. In fact, in the ESPAD survey, it was found that the country in Europe with the highest rate of drug use was... the UK.

What he's trying to say is that legalizing gay marriage is going to destroy our way of life - so let's look at Norway in specific and Scandinavia in general. As it stands, textbook expenditure in Norway is over four times that of the US, their dropout rate is a third of the US, and - believe it or not - according to the UN Human Development Index, Norway is literally the best place in the world to live. Sweden and the Netherlands are third and fifth, respectively. If that's the result of gay marriage, then I don't see why we're not jumping the damn bandwagon.

He also makes the causation/correlation fallacy about every seven seconds. Other things they have in Norway include glaciers (oh, and good healthcare) - I suppose it's possible that the ice makes people less likely to marry because they'd have to go outside in one of those dresses. He never draws any link whatsoever between his asinine premises and his unjustifiable conclusions. The reason Norway has fewer children born to marriages, as an aside, is because they are a more liberal society who tends to recognize that marriage is not necessarily something they want to enter in to, and don't always need the state to stand there like an approving parent over every life decision they make. Nobody says, "I'd get married.... but you know, gay people can do it, too."

A major problem with his argument is, of course, that the deleterious consequences he's talking about are largely a result of ignorant morons like him fabricating the social stigma against kids with homosexual parents, or with single parents. Sans this silly scarlet (pink?) letter branded upon homosexual practice by moralizing bigots like Dobson, this harm wouldn't exist. It's like someone throwing a Christian to the lions, and then saying that being a Christian makes you more prone to an early death. It rings a little hollow.

cranked out at 10:59 AM | |

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