Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

As all rational people could reasonably foresee, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has upheld the sections of the Criminal Code of Canada that outlaw polygamy. The pith and substance of the ruling is that even though laws against polygamy infringe on the religious freedom of Mormon fundamentalists, it is a justified restriction based on a Section 1 tes

A cartoon with four panels. In each panel there is a bald, incensed-looking man standing at the bottom of the slope (always lower left of the panel). In the top left (titled Loving v. Virginia, 1967) there is a biracial couple standing at the top. The man says "Just you watch! Now that Black can marry White, people marrying housepets is just around the corner." Top right:: (titled Roe v. Wade, 1973) A woman stands at the top. The man says "Now that abortion is legal, we're certain to make it legal to commit infanticide! Any year now!" Bottom left: (Titled Goodridge, 2003)  A lesbian couple is standing at the top. The man says "If gays can marry, legal incest and bigamy will come nest! It's inevitable!" Bottom right: Same people as bottom right. The lesbian couple says "Dude, I don't think this slope is nearly as slippery (emphasized) as you think it is." The angy man at the bottom is turning away and says "Oh shut up."

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Such a decision is the correct one. If polygamy were to be legalized now, almost certainly the only ones who would take advantage of the legalization would be Mormon or Muslim fundamentalists. Considering that severe negative consequences arise from the existence if these relationships, (such as how Mormon fundamentalists rape women, abuse girls, and expel “surplus boys”) it is perfectly justifiable to keep polygamy illegal.

Considering that many bigots and opponents of marriage equality explicitly argued (the fallacy of the slippery slope) that same–sex marriage would lead to polygamy, this decision proves them wrong. In other words, so much for the slippery slope.

Hopefully, this case will set a precedent regarding the harmful effects of religion on others. Frankly, women’s rights (and others) ought to take precedence over freedom of religion. Amongst the people this ought to apply to are fundamentalist Muslims, Mormon fundamentalists, the Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement, and ultra–Orthodox Jews. First of all, religion is a choice, while gender isn’t. Even if adults voluntarily chose to enter these religions, their children didn’t, and unlike them I don’t think children should suffer just because they had the misfortune of being born to nutcase parents. Furthermore, no one is preventing these people from converting to denominations that are not so blatantly misogynistic. No one is ever forced to be a gynophobic misogynist. Freedom of religion shouldn’t be the “freedom” to oppress women, especially those who aren’t part of it.

Cartoon attribution/legal stuff: Barry Deutsch / CC BY 3.0

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Comments on: "So much for the slippery slope" (26)

  1. Wow. Now you’re using the same fallacies to argue against polygamy that homophobes do to argue against gay marriage.

    I can win this debate with two words:

    CONSENTING ADULTS!

    There. Polygamy successfully defended.

  2. So because you don’t want muslims and mormons to practice parts of their religion you don’t like, that means that the decision to keep polygamy outlawed was correct? Who made you king of other people’s religions?

  3. You never responded to my point about the children in these sorts of situations. They can’t consent to being in them. Kids shouldn’t suffer because their parents want to oppress them and deny them the ability to leave.

    Consider the two following scenarios:

    “You are a woman who might escape from a Mormon polygamist society. If you escape, your entire family and everyone you have ever known will shun you. You have been raised from birth to be a plural wife. You have been brainwashed to totally fear the outside world and know nothing of it, and that leaving your family is worse than killing someone. You have been provided with no means to support yourself if you run away. You have been raised to only be dependent on Mormon fundamentalist men, and groomed to automatically follow the decrees of the prophet. You are thirteen years old and will soon be forced to marry a man who is thirty, and have been raised to believe that it is your religious duty and mandate to do so.”

    Your right to leave this environment still exists on paper, but do you really have a realistic chance of taking advantage of it?

    “You wish to buy a gun. In order to do you, you must fill out a twenty-page form. You must then mail it on your own pay to some government department. Then, once you get a response, you must fill out additional forms and undergo a background check by the local police. You must then register your gun by filling out another form, and wait two weeks for the mandatory waiting period to expire so you can actually buy your gun. While that is going on you must take mandatory gun safety courses and other stuff, paid for with your own money. You must also pay a $50,000 (pricier than most cars) registration fee, and wait for proof of payment. Once you go to the gun store to buy your gun, you must also provide proof of having done all of the above before you can get your gun.”

    Your right to keep and bear arms is in no way infringed by this process; no gun is illegal, and therefore on paper you are still able to keep and bear arms. But do you really have a realistic chance of being able to exercise your right?

    Nominally, the situations above do not infringe on anyone’s rights. No one is preventing the you from running away, and no one is preventing you from paying the fees and filling out the forms to buy a gun. But I’m pretty sure you’d be against the situation concerning guns. The likely reasoning would be something like: “Yes, the right to keep and bear arms still exists, but in practical terms, it’s been made impossible to utilize.” The exact same reasoning can be used concerning the woman escaping the Mormon fundamentalists. Her right to leave the situation has been made impossible to utilize. Basically, if your right to do X has been made impossible to utilize, in practical terms it is no different from not having the right to do X.

    The natural sex ratio at birth is about 105 males/100 females. Since mortality is higher in males, by the time adulthood (or if you prefer, reproductive maturity) comes around, the sex ratio is about equal. If polygyny (multiple wives) is allowed, then the average the number of wives in a marriage would be higher than the average number of husbands. If every man tries to have multiple wives, then some men will have to either (enter into homosexual sexual relationships) or (go unmarried). This results in what could be termed “surplus men”. The usual means of avoiding surplus men is for the society to be predominantly monogamous, with polygamy restricted to a small elite. (It is also possible for polyandry [multiple husbands] to exist, which would create an analogous problem involving “surplus women” if polygyny is not also practiced, but cross-culturally polyandry is rare and mostly restricted to societies with significant population pressure [mostly the arctic or Pacific islands], and generally results in monogamy with only the occasional plural husband.) However, in Mormon fundamentalism, men have a religious mandate to have plural wives. In other words, the problem of surplus men is an inevitability in that religion. There is no avoiding it. Hence, the lost boys of polygamy.

    Analogous reasoning regarding the practical impossibility of utilizing a right can be conducted concerning Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, QF/P, and Islamic Fundamentalism (eg honour killings).

    And I will concede that the above indicates that the problem is not polygamy per se, but rather who practices it and how it is done. If Mormon and Muslim fundamentalists didn’t exist most clear objections to plural marriage would likely disappear. Since Mormon and Muslim fundamentalists would likely take form the vast majority of those who would take advantage of the legalization of polygamy, if outlawing polygamy is necessary to prevent the oppression (or worse) of women then I’m all for it.

  4. Here’s the only relevant thing you said, “And I will concede that the above indicates that the problem is not polygamy per se….”
    Then, don’t outlaw polygamy. Problem solved.

    Oh, and I like how you implied that passing laws to practically violate the constitution without technically violating the constitution is equivalent to not passing laws at all. That is a gross fallacy.

  5. Oh, and the What About The Children fallacy? I don’t respond to that. That’s the last straw people grasp at before they concede defeat.

  6. Raping children is already against the law. It has nothing to do with polygamy. That is why I didn’t address it. Now on to your scenarios.

    1.) Stopping polygamy will not stop religious organizations from sequestering its members from the outside world.

    2.) I’m with you, placing limits on a freedom destroys that freedom. Freedom must be unrestricted or it doesn’t exist.

    3.) The problem of “surplus males” can be solved by adultery. No laws are necessary.

  7. @Ankh:

    “So because you don’t want muslims and mormons to practice parts of their religion you don’t like, that means that the decision to keep polygamy outlawed was correct? Who made you king of other people’s religions?”

    Consider this:

    “So because you don’t want muslims and mormons to practice parts of their religion you don’t like, that means that the decision to keep the killing of gays outlawed was correct? Who made you king of other people’s religions?”

    The slight change makes it clear why Ankh’s argument is total rubbish. In other words, (edited by commenter) Ankh needs a new argument.

  8. Rob:

    Straws. You’re grasping at them.

  9. Oh, so now you want to outlaw all of their practices. I see. This isn’t about you disagreeing with polygamy. This is about you hating islam and mormonism.

  10. Well, I like the troll route you took here, Ankh. Let me jump on board that. While we’re at it, let’s outlaw the printing of the Book of Mormon and Qu’ran, the singing of songs, knocking on people’s doors during dinner, wearing turbans on our heads, and not publicly depicting the prophet Mohammad. After all, these are all things that are done primarily by followers of Islam and Mormonism, and other people rarely do.

  11. @Ceej:

    Don’t commit contextomy. Please.

    Actually, using laws against polygamy can be used against these people. It might be difficult to get someone brainwashed into this system to testify against someone else (like in a prosecution for statutory rape). However, one need not be in a polygamous marriage to testify against someone on trial for polygamy. Hence, although the real goal is to break up the cult and throw the key at child rapists, going after them for polygamy allows the same result to be obtained as if they were prosecuted for (say) child rape, but a lot easier.

    And don’t see how raising issues of what happens to children in these closed societies is in any way grasping at the last straw. And I’m not able to follow you reasoning regarding me implying something.

  12. I had to do it that way because I already mentioned murder being illegal.

  13. Oh wait, I didn’t say anything about murder. It was rape that I said was already illegal. Well, the basic point that redundant laws are pointless should have stood.

    Abusing laws to break up a religion is wrong, Rob. It looks like I was right. You don’t really care about polygamy. You want to use the law as a weapon against people you disagree with.

  14. I never said anything about banning all of a religious’s practices. What I object to is the practices that harm others and that lead to a closed society where it is impossible to have a realistic chance of leaving. I hope you are able to realize that those are in no way the practices of the vast majority of Muslims and Mormons.

  15. I never quoted anything outside this thread, making the veracity of your allegation knowingly and provably false, and implying deliberate dirty tactics. That made me lose a lot of respect for you.

    And you weren’t raising legitimate concerns about children. You were using appeal to emotion, specifically the What About The Children fallacy. A last minute attempt to reclaim a debate already lost. It’s over, Rob. You’ve lost. The only thing you have left to do is concede.

  16. You mentioned breaking up cults completely, which is a way of forcing all of its practices to cease. I didn’t assume it was their practices you didn’t like though. I figure it’s their beliefs. If you want to help people to get out of cults, there are better ways than swinging the law at them. You could start an organization that gives them a safe place to go. Stopping people from marrying who they love is the wrong way to do it.

  17. Yeah, Ankh. I guess I didn’t need two husbands anyway. I guess I can just kill the first one before I marry the– Wait. Rob doesn’t want THAT either! WTF!?

  18. If your cult requires you to commit statutory rape, then I’m all for breaking it up. You should be to.

  19. Statutory rape is already illegal. To pass laws against polygamy doesn’t do anything more and only takes the right to marry from…

    Wait for it…

    CONSENTING ADULTS!!!!

  20. But just because a cult that commits statutory rape exists, that doesn’t mean that polygamy should be outlawed.

  21. Wow. Now you’re using the same fallacies to argue against polygamy that homophobes do to argue against gay marriage.

    If you are going to state that fallacies are being committed, quote them. Otherwise it looks like you are making stuff up.

    I can win this debate with two words: CONSENTING ADULTS! There. Polygamy successfully defended.

    You can win many debates like that, abortion all good – consenting adults, euthanasia – consenting adults etc… When you simplify an argument and take it out of context, pithy answers do just fine.

    Rob said:

    Considering that severe negative consequences arise from the existence if these relationships, (such as how Mormon fundamentalists rape women, abuse girls, and expel “surplus boys”) it is perfectly justifiable to keep polygamy illegal.

    It would be worthwhile to argue against this point, rather than the various religious hobbyhorses being bandied about.

  22. @Abourist

    When someone is a proponent of a law, the burden of proof is on them. They have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, all four of the following:

    1. There is a problem that makes the law necessary.
    2. This problem would be solved by the existence of their proposed law.
    3. No further problems could possibly arise from the passing of their proposed law.
    4. This law would not restrict the rights of people.

    If you fail to prove even one of these four points, the default position is your law is not to be passed, or if it has been passed, it is to be repealed. Rob has failed to prove all four.

    Being an opponent of the law, I don’t have to prove anything. After all, no law is the default position.

  23. And furthermore, I DID name the fallacies. Appeal to Emotion and What About The Children.

  24. I already addressed the point about consequences arising from the existence of polygamous relationships. They don’t. A man having more than one wife does not cause him to rape anyone. Married men can commit rape against people they’re not married to, and they do it all the time. They are even known to rape their singular wives. Furthermore, a man having more than one wife doesn’t necessarily mean that one or more of his wives is/are underage. The argument is a complete non sequitur.

  25. b. Why don’t leftie cartoons strive to be funny?

  26. Eileen Leslie said:

    Don’t kid yourself. As someone who’s very active in the poly community I can promise you the polygamy fight is coming, and perhaps soon. And there’s absolutely no rational argument against it, only prejudice. It will be interesting to see which of these two choices the culture takes.

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