Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Flawed Arguments

I was recently watching a documentary, How to Die in Oregon, about the physican-assisted suicide debate. It's an interesting one, mostly following folks who, of course, believe that people should have the right to control the circumstances in which they end their lives. One woman, whose husband died of brain cancer, was offended that there were those who would call such a process suicide, because, to her mind, suicide was done by those who were otherwise physically healthy, but who would be clinically depressed and therefore choose to end their lives.

Never mind the link between mental and physical health. I don't understand why it would be acceptable for someone terminally ill to end his life, but not someone whose mental health would lead him to the same conclusion. One who suffers from a mental health disorder might believe, as well, that he wanted the choice to end his life when he so chose.

There was also the argument made, by the same woman who was calling people, and reading from a script, that "your beliefs have to dictate to everybody else who doesn't have the same belief." That's always the issue, isn't it; "black and white issues" are not the same across the board, and if someone has very strong moral beliefs, especially about something like ending a life, trying to convince him that he's wrong for wanting to uphold his moral beliefs from a legal standpoint isn't likely to cut it. Making something legal does not make it moral.

Yet moral beliefs of a segment of a population shouldn't make it illegal. I do not like the idea of physician-assisted suicide; I do not believe it is our choice when to end our lives, but I've also never been in a position where I've been terminally ill and in horrible pain, so I understand why someone might want that option.

However, I see similarly flawed arguments debating gay marriage. I've heard arguments along the lines of "I know a lot of gay people, and they're all sexually immature" and "If we let two gay people get married, then we'll have to let any combination or number of people get married" and "it's forbidden in the Bible!" and "But they can't have children biologically."

Of course, you can't really forbid two people above a certain age from getting married simply because of immaturity, otherwise a lot of straight people would be forbidden from getting married as well. For every example of immaturity in the gay and lesbian community, there's one in the straight community; similarly, there are examples of maturity in both the gay/lesbian and straight communities.
Moving on: The focus of this argument is two adults, not one man and four women, or one woman and three men, or a man and a goat. Legalizing gay marriage at the federal level is not a gateway to deviant behavior (which, to be honest, would continue regardless of legal status for any other group).

At least in Catholicism, homosexuality is labelled as "intrinsically disordered," which sounds like something out of the a previous version of the DSM. In fact, homosexuality is found throughout nature, so the reasons for this not being acceptable behavior among humans is biblically based, and, again, based on a book that was written at a time when cultural and historical practices were different and communities much more insulated.

The last argument is simply unkind. Many people, regardless of sexual orientation, can't have children; forbidding them to marry because they can't have children seems ridiculous (Hello, adoption!), especially for older couples whose first marriage happens in their later years.

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