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Michael Eric Dyson: Can You Hear Me Now?

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Commonwealth Club of California

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Mark Sullivan Avatar
Mark Sullivan
Posted: 07.25.10, 10:36 PM
I believe all homosexual marriage has been imposed by judges. Those who wish to see it become the law have not been able to convince their fellow citizens. Those who wish to see it become law seem satisfied resorting to undemocratic means to accomplish it. If it has won a majority at the polls anywhere on earth, I am unaware. It may have, but I do not believe so. What is the real issue at hand? What principle is in question? Do the thousands of years of human civilization, its religions and legal traditions and customs, which are really the distilled experiences of millions transmitted through time, mean anything? The fact of the matter is, in regard to marriage, all citizens have the exact same rights. Any single man of sound mind and legal age can marry any single woman of the same qualifications. I have heard many proponents of gay marriage say that they want "the same rights as heterosexual people," then they describe this right as "the ability to marry anyone we wish," just like heterosexual people can. Heterosexual people have no such right. There have been civil laws, moral laws, religious doctrines and taboos against all types of human relationships that have been incorporated into the laws and customs regarding marriage for centuries and continue today. I may not marry my sister. I may not marry more than one person. I may not marry a person under the legal minimum age. If the principle relied on to support gay marriage is that one ought to be able to "marry whomever he wishes or loves or is committed to . . .etc.," then all of these forbidden behaviors must be permitted. as well, as long as those involved wish it. Is the desire to see gay marriage become a law so unprincipled and self indulgent that it is desired in the absence of all principles? Does the word "marriage" have a definition? The Webster's New Unabridged Dictionary says: mar-riage (mar'ij), n. 1. the social institution under which a man and a woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. There are other uses of the word listed, including figurative meanings such as The marriage of words and music in a hit song. . . This issue transcends mere feelings. There are thousands of years of human history, legal traditions, moral traditions, religious traditions and intellectual traditions involved. To water it down to an emotional discussion of feelings does not treat it with the seriousness it deserves. Mr. Dyson is a terrific example of what Dinesh D'Souza calls "An individual educated far beyond his intelligence." His arguements are those of a self righteous college student, certain he knows the truth and can teach us all if we would just put him in charge. The entire "ethnic studies" field is an anti-intellectual fraud. Did he not see the irony in his own description of the Michelle Obama comment regarding her pride in America? What an absurdity! Mr. Dyson knows nothing about the Republican party, other than his own caricatures of it. (I am a Libertarian and have no love for the Republican Party.) The best line of this entire thing was his description of Mike Tyson as an intellectual. I guess it takes one to know one?! Mr. Cosby, whom he criticized makes one simple point - stop blaming other people for your own failures. Don't expect to get a job if you cannot speak properly, or dress appropriately. Don't have children outside of wedlock. Finish school. What is controversial about these ideas? In almost all discussions of race and culture delivered by people like Mr. Dyson, there is almost never a discussion of the behavior of the persons in question. The cause of the poverty is always blamed on externalities. To paraphrase Mr. Cosby, he says, "That there are racists is beyond question. That you will encounter obstacles is certain. Focus on what YOU must do to succeed. Act in spite of them. Be an educated, honrable, law abiding moral person and you can achieve what you wish." These are the same lessons we all learn as children, regardless of race. His take on Katrina - that whitey was the problem, as usual - simply is not supported by the facts. There is plenty of blame to go around, but it would be better to rebuild than marinate, years after, in the same race baiting nonsense.
L. Riki Cheever Avatar
L. Riki Cheever
Posted: 09.04.09, 08:01 AM
I am grateful for Michael Eric Dyson—I had never noticed that I approached this world with vision which might fairly be characterized, as glimpses. I thought I had a much broader perspective (being a professional woman in a man’s world); until, I listened to him and I learned something—my centrist context IS wrong. I asked myself questions I hadn’t thought to ask because I was hazed in the context of ground-zero (Me) and the lifestyle, in what Dyson says is the “American scene”; and then I realized that we are not far enough along for me to sit idle and content with my acceptance and normality of interacting with different races and religions. I believe we do need to continue to argue, standing up to reasons given—because we have not gained enough ground to sit confident with our own behavior—it simply isn’t enough, equality losses ground quickly. [PAUSE] We need to embrace and argue for equal rights and campaign until we all really have them. We have become a divisive society on a myriad of levels and the day will come when we actually sit down and determine if we have truly chosen a way of life or if we were remanded into one—and there is a huge difference in the words “preference of” and “by default and exclusion”. [PAUSE] So, yes…heterosexuality is most certainly well rooted in our world communities; I certainly would not dispute this but move one step further, and embrace this, as fact. It is possible I suppose to have homosexuals feel a strong sense of biasness (why should they be any different)—granted some of us are “fortunate” enough to hold no phenotypic clues as to our sexual orientation. Americans of African descent have no such “luxury” and are therefore judged upon their phenotypic “handicap”; as are some homosexuals of multiple descents. This is why lighter skinned Americans of African descent and homosexuals with “normal” appearances equally find graciousness in the absences of genetic dispositions; in other words, we blend in better—we look white and heterosexual. I too would not disparage the civil union if it were made for people both gay and straight—however, I remain generally optimistic that someone colorful out there will come up with something a little more snappy then “civil union” or “marriage”. Like you, I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state although our American history is froth with the union of both and our doctrines are their byproduct—granted, many of these authors held people as property during this era and constantly persevered in the genocide and ethnocide of Native peoples—but outside of these seriously flawed human traits our principles should reflect that lofty ideal of law and religions’ separation when it comes to the State—because the State should be that ideal Republic. I understand that people are confused as to what homosexual rights will do to their quintessential terra firma. Whites panicked when slaves were set free—as for the slaves…we persevere, that is what we do in America. Americans of African descent established and built, through their unabated faith, unique institutions and churches due to white-America merging bigotry, law, and religion—and even under God, we became divisible—and that became acceptable, we never looked back. The laws were lifted but the fracture still existed; and it exists to this day. We must reinvent our passion towards creating an inclusive society-at-large instead of the membership driven, exclusive society that it has become. We are people of many faiths. We are people of many nations. We are a people of many races and ethnics. We are people from various socio-economic levels. We are people who love valiantly; and love finds its way to where we love inter-faith, inter-nation, inter-racial, inter-ethnically and inter-socially and inter-economically—love is a very powerful message. All I ask is that people listen to the whole message when it comes to love—we have citizens and guests who love equally and just as valiantly, inter-genderly who remain isolated in their rights— but whom have helped build this Republic, for which it stands. We have co-existed for hundreds of years with same-gendered coupled friends, relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances—we co-existed in their oppression—because alternate-gendered people were the majority…we never looked back. Then let us continue to look forward and be that ONE Nation daring to house all—please accept that we are equals under the law—and then divide me no more.
bbb Avatar
Posted: 09.03.09, 01:46 AM
well i do think we should make gay marrige legal .. so that gay people can live a normal life no more hiding .... _______________________________________ Boston Legal
gilesmitchell Avatar
Posted: 09.02.09, 07:44 AM
I think your argument is well explained and I am interested in your opinion. However, I think that heterosexuality is so deeply rooted in society that homosexuals feel that the heterosexual bias of social structures surrounding religion, law, culture etc are excluding them. The act of marriage is not simply religious, it is also bound with a nation's laws, traditions and culture. The first step to soften the glaring inequality has been to offer a gay civil union but the civil union should perhaps be applied to all couples gay or straight in order to uphold true equality. How a couple wishes to augment that lawful union with a religious marriage is up to them, be it christian, muslim or whatever. Basically, I believe the law and religion aspects of marriage should be separated. Even though I am not christian, I also dispute the idea that by allowing gay people to have a traditional ceremony somehow devalues the idea of marriage for straight couples. Any gripe or difficulty some people have with that mentally simply cannot justify the pain caused by denying millions of other loving couples the right to marry, I just think it is insanely selfish. Secondly, a nation's traditions and cultures that appear owned by a single church or denomination have in fact been built on throughout history by a variety of people of various sexual orientation and faiths, so to deny gay citizens a part of their culture on the basis that those traditions somehow belong to one church or sexuality is both inaccurate and unfair. Traditions, cultures, laws and even religions are not static, they change and evolve so just because something is or was, does not make it right, compassion is the key. (This is just my opinion so dont hate on me if you disagree, I like this website because generally people make interesting comments and listen to one another rather than insult each other like on youtube, lets keep it that way!)
L. Riki Cheever Avatar
L. Riki Cheever
Posted: 06.21.09, 03:00 PM
The argument is simple sactownjudge: Whites Only Two simple words until you add a dash of history and a quart of blood. Theaters to restaurants did not wish to preclude ‘blacks’ from the same sales, service, event or meals during segregation; quite the contrary, they simply wanted to serve them and seat them ‘over there’—this, all the while, serving whites under the same circumstances, under “Whites Only”. Your argument: same water, same area, same desired outcome (quenching of thirst)—different term, “white”/ “colored”.
thomasjasen Avatar
Posted: 06.18.09, 02:39 PM
No Michael, my experience has shown that most gays are white, middle and middle upper class. I don't think you will find many black guys in that category and Baldwin does not count because France was the only place where he could be both gay and black. the new gay is like the Irish that entered this country and continued to discriminate against blacks to a new level of hatred. go visit a gay bar or event and see the stereotyped absurd reaction from gays and lesbians who have never seen a black man except on the five o clock news.
Bashful320 Avatar
Posted: 06.10.09, 03:31 PM
The reason people are comparing this issue to the civil rights movement is not because of physical mistreatment and various events that occurred during that movement. It is because you are creating a division between people that are equal. We are all human beings. It may be just a word but in keeping the titles different there is an underlying suggestion that one is less than another whether it is intentional or not. And if you want an example of how the civil rights movement and prop 8 are comparable, look at the separation of drinking fountains and schools between whites and blacks. It wasn't just the physical violence that caused the problems, it was the division between two equals. It was just a sign of words that divided them wasn't it? And isn't this just a word? People should not be defined by who they are in love with because that is out of their control.
dbmcvey Avatar
Posted: 06.09.09, 08:35 PM
Also, funny that you argue no rights were taken away by Prop 8--as Kenneth Starr's argument was that rights were taken away but by the CA Constitution it's okay--the judges in the CA Supreme Court even acknowleged that rights were taken away. But the clearest proof of this is that before Prop 8 passed homosexuals in CA had the right to marry--after they didn't. The pro-prop 8 campaign can talk in soft voices and pretend it wasn't about taking away the rights of a minority, but it is to the shame of all who voted for it that it was designed to do exactly that.
dbmcvey Avatar
Posted: 06.09.09, 08:01 PM
sactownjudge, just because you say an argument falls flat doesn't make it so. Marriage is not simply a contracted union between heterosexuals, it is a priviliged granting of rights based on nothing more that two people who may or may not love each other and may or may not reproduce deciding to get married. And, as even you must know by now, it is not longer just between heterosexuals. Marriage is granted to homosexual couples in several countries and several states now. So your definition has already and will continue to change. Special rights cannot be granted to a group of citizens and not others. Prop 8 was completely about denying rights to a targeted minority--and that's exactly what it did.
heybd Avatar
Posted: 06.08.09, 02:24 PM
If in fact marriage is tied to the possibility of procreation, what about gay and lesbian couples who are raising their own children? What makes their family different from any other family? If gay couples "absolutely should have the same legal protections afforded by marriage" then that IS marriage. What's the difference? You're forcing the state to craft anew an institution that already exists! And for the sake of symbolism? Please tell me there is more to it than that. And if it is about symbolism, you must recognize that limiting gay couples to civil unions is a symbolic gesture that only serves to keep LGBT people classified as an alienated group. That's pretty harsh.