The Korner

Here’s the text of an email I sent to Katherine Kersten of the Startribune, in response to today’s piece explaining that gay marriage leads to polygamy:

Ms Kersten,

In your recent column on gay marriage I believe you overlooked three points, and I look forward to hearing your opinions in a future column.

1. You neglected to explain exactly why polygamy is bad. I’m not convinced that it is bad, or at least that it is inevitably bad, but I think it’s poor journalistic form to warn us of an impending danger without telling us why it is a danger.

2. You also didn’t explain why your ‘thin end of the wedge’ represents a realistic outcome. The federal government is currently working on legislation that will reduce the unwarranted search protections of the Fourth Amendment. By your logic that means that they are working to overthrow the Bill of Rights, because one bad thing always leads to the next bad thing. I’m interested to hear exactly why gay marriage leads to polygamy, and for that matter why marriage isn’t the thin end of the wedge that leads to gay marriage.

3. Finally, and for me most significantly, you haven’t explained why the marriage amendment does not contain the additional words ‘for
life’ in defining a marriage. If the evidence shows that one man and one woman is the optimum for raising children, then surely the
existing prevelance of divorce is a much greater danger of polygamy? If we’re redefining marriage as a positive step, rather than as a
reaction to the idea that gays might be considered in some way normal, shouldn’t we concentrate on the larger threat of divorce first?

I look forward to any analysis you care to give of these issues.

A word of clarification: I don’t support polygamy, mainly because I don’t think it’s how humans are ‘wired’ to experience relationships, and hence leads too often to damaged participants. But it’s also a difficult practice to argue against because it can suit some people very well, and there isn’t (for me) a clear argument against it such as the informed consent argument that can be used against most relationships western society considers deviant. That’s reflected in the fact that it is so historically and geographically prevalent; I don’t know the stats, but I’d guess it’s the most common form of ‘marriage’ outside of the classical heterosexual monogamous ideal.

Update: Minnesota Politics has more.

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The House of Representatives has voted against a proposal to spend $1.25 billion on various aspects of port security and other security issues, as detailed by ThinkProgress. Much, though not all, of the money would go towards expanding programs that already exist, and presumably are therefore in some way necessary, so while I’m sure there’s some devil in the details the proposal must have some merit. But the Republicans-controlled House decided that we shouldn’t do it.

Now I could, kinda, sorta, understand this based on the argument of competing priorities, only so much can be achieved, etc. I’m not saying I’d agree with that, but it’s a fair argument. But the President’s recent budget proposal includes $1.7 billion (as in more than 1.25) for missile defense, a program that hasn’t yet even demonstrated in principle that it can work, let alone had a test that combined the ever-elusive pairing of success and realism.

As in so many other areas of government, and with the current political leadership in particular, it is important to judge people by what they do as well as what they say. There is not a shadow of an inkling of a hint of an iota of a scintilla of a doubt that the $1.25 billion would make us safer than the $1.7 billion. But we’re going with the missiles.

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So slow

I use gmail for most of my personal mail. One of its nifty features is an RSS feed that sits across the top of the screen showing links to interesting content based, in part, on what emails you receive. In the spam folder, rather cutely, it shows recipes involving spam. I had wondered why that was all it showed until this morning, when I realized that the sort of suggestions it might throw up based on the contents of an average spam folder might make you, well, throw up.


One of my two aunts died around this time last year. I’m not good with dates generally, so I don’t recall exactly when, but I realized today that I will always have a reminder. She was staggeringly active in the community; the vicar read out a list of things she was involved with that had people in the congregation laughing because it was so long. She was, amongst that list, part of a group of ladies that provided flower arrangements for the church. This reflected both the role of the church in her life, but on a practical level showed her love for gardening. She was buried on the first Thursday of Lent, when adornments such as flowers would not be acceptable in the church. I believe the verger raised this issue, only to be told very firmly by the remainder of the ‘flower ladies’ that there would indeed be flowers in the church that day, of a scale and grace rarely seen in the village.

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