Thursday, May 14, 2009

Same Sex Marriage II

The essay at Asymmetrical Information that James linked to in the comments section of the previous post is simply outstanding. It makes some of the traditionalist marriage points far better than I did - and this from a woman who is uncertain how far she agrees with them! As an added bonus, there is a good-sized GK Chesterton quote about who should be allowed to reform institutions and who should not.

I should find some representative quote as a teaser, to get you to follow the link, but there are so many. Hmm...
However, I am bothered by this specific argument, which I have heard over and over from the people I know who favor gay marriage laws. I mean, literally over and over; when they get into arguments, they just repeat it, again and again. "I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people; I cannot imagine anyone up and deciding not to get married because gay people are getting married; therefore, the whole idea is ridiculous and bigoted."

They may well be right. Nonetheless, libertarians should know better. The limits of your imagination are not the limits of reality. Every government programme that libertarians have argued against has been defended at its inception with exactly this argument.

Let me take three major legal innovations, one of them general, two specific to marriage.

The first, the general one, is well known to most hard-core libertarians, but let me reprise it anyway. When the income tax was initially being debated, there was a suggestion to put in a mandatory cap; I believe the level was 10 percent.

Don't be ridiculous, the Senator's colleagues told him. Americans would never allow an income tax rate as high as ten percent. They would revolt! It is an outrage to even suggest it!
Her point is to look first at the marginal cases, not the general ones.

Update: I had not realised until today that Jane Galt is Megan McArdle of The Atlantic

1 comment:

TomG said...

but marginality can be swept away in a sudden jolt of tectonic proportions too - as in the latest topic here: