Friday, May 26, 2006

America under the Taleban

One of the big changes in New Zealand society over the last few decades has been the decline of marriage. Back in the 70's, people generally got married at a (far too) young age, popped out a few sprogs, and proceeded to live together in matrimonial bliss (something proved by the sudden spike in divorces when the law was liberalised in the early 80's). Now, we don't. Oh, we still get together, maybe have kids, and live together happily ever after (or not, as the case may be) - but fewer and fewer people are bothering to fill out the paperwork. And apart from a few regressive dinosaurs and religious fanatics, we're generally fine with that. It makes no difference whether people are married or not; what matters is whether people are happy.

In America, it's a different story. Oh, they have the same rise in de facto couples that we do - but they're unhappy about it. So unhappy, that some regressives are even attempting to ban de facto couples with children from their towns in an effort to "protect values". Sometimes it really does seem as if they're ruled by the Taleban over there...


Sometimes it seems that only idiots run blogs - nice sweeping generalisation eh. Ha ha

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2006 12:25:00 PM


Closer to home. Consider that the leader of this party is a minister in the current New Zealand government.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2006 01:02:00 PM

i/s: you can dish it out, but can you take it? NZ has ended/banned *de jure* marriage, there's still de jure "calling things 'marriages'", but no union you can enter (whether marriage or civil union) after the PRA 2001 and the RSRA 2005 legally excludes lots of other legally equivalent relationships. If substantal legal exclusiveness is what makes you happy (or even having that option) than you are *out of luck* in NZ. That's a travesty - the sort of thing that would not fly in the US or anywhere outside NZ as far as I know - and it's i/s among others who helped bring this about. Go here for the 5 page version of the argument or email me for the 100-page version.

And, jesus, if "it's what matters is whether people are happy" then let the siblings marry if they'll be happy, and so on...

I'm sorry i/s, you *are* a menace, to the true left as well as to everyone else. There are for example, all sorts of good reasons to allow same-sex marriage etc.

But those good reasons do *not* include

(i) because it'll increase happiness
(ii) because "They're Here...get used to it"
(iii) because love doesn't discriminate...

Those are all stupid pseudo-arguments until you do a *lot* of work of them including, necessarily, applying a normative filter at some point.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2006 02:12:00 PM

I know that there was controversy in Gore not too long ago about the reference to them being called "Gay old Gore" by a TV personality. I believe he was banned by the mayor from entering the town unless he apologised.

Sometimes it really does seem as if they're all ruled by the homophobes there... closed minded NZers.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2006 02:29:00 PM

Stephen: I'm quite happy with the PRA and RSRA; people who want to stick their relationships on a pedastal and sneer at others can still do so - they just can't use the government or the law to do it for them.

As I said repeatedly during the debate over civil unions, I support a state which is neutral on questions of social arrangements, does not stack the legal deck to promote some options over others, and leaves those questions where they belong: in the hands of individuals. And now we have one (or at least, we are far closer to one than we used to be). As for those who are unhappy with it, all I can say is "we won, you lost; eat it".

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/26/2006 02:38:00 PM

i/s, you *need* to think things through. I support same-sex marriage, and I support recognition of de facto relationships where neither is already married/civil unioned and where they wouldn't in principle be prohibited from marrying/civil uniting etc. (they satisfy a prohibited degrees test).

But the PRA and RSRA go much further than that.

"I support a state which is neutral on questions of social arrangements"

The PRA and RSRA *aren't* appropriately neutral (the position I hold described above is) In simplest terms these statutes make everything de facto. Think.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2006 06:04:00 PM

And this is a problem because...?

The law should treat all couples in long-term relationships equally. And that's what it is now doing. If some old married people feel diminished by this, then they need to get over themselves. Equality, by its very nature, is not intended to be an exclusive club so people can feel snobby.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/26/2006 07:18:00 PM

i/s you still don't understand (and boy your remarks are *so* revealing about the coarse-grain of your thought!). If you don't let same-sex couples marry or women vote or whatever it is then marriage or voting is being made into an exclusive club, membership in which is denied to some but not to others. This is the sort of violation of equality that the Left used to care about (Perhaps you think that that's what the PRA and RSRA do but that just means you don't understand the core moments of those Acts!). But any system of registration (whether to marry or to vote or...) prioritizes the registered over the unregistered (albeit in different ways in the different cases). One achieves equality by allowing all to register (universal suffrage and all that) and to avail themselves of the various legal exclusions that consitute civil marriage or voting or....and in some cases by making some provision for the unregistered too. The thing you absolutely must not do (and which the PRA and RSRA do) is let any provision you make for the unregistered cases undermine registration itself and the legal exclusions it supports (which if the Left does its job are available to all). The left that has done exactly that in NZ for civil marriage - call it the Taliban Left - should hang it's head in shame. It's made a fundamental error - confusing two sorts of exclusion/exclusiveness, one of which is inimical to equality before the law and one of which isn't and is instead an expression of what it is to construct and inhabit an articulated legal reality.

All disagreements here can be pursued to higher and higher levels- you, for example, can try to embrace an anti-legal philosophy of law I call "de facto-ism" and the normative skepticism on which it depends. But I don't think you want to go there (and I *know* you don't and can't hold such positions consistently). In my view, your only serious option is to concede you're just wrong and that you've screwed up with the PRA and RSRA.

Read my short paper on this linked above and email me for the long version with all the details.

But here's a *small* part of the longer argt to amplifying the above just a little:

"Marriage is a basic social possibility for couples in our society, and barring some very good story about harms probably caused, given our society's commitment to treating its members evenhandedly or equally, it should be available to any couple. Put slightly differently, an institution open to some sorts of couples but not to other sorts is going to have to tell a very good story to defend those restrictions (one that has yet to be told with respect to same sex couples, in my view, almost certainly because it can't be). Can requiring participation in the system of public registration that constitutes marriage as a legally exclusive instrument be a further, possibly indefensible restriction that must be lifted before true equality before the law is known? No. There's no more unlawful discrimination involved in maintaining that kind of arrangement than there is in maintaining any of the other instruments – voting, and titled property among them – that characterize a functional civic order and that essentially involve registration-driven legal exclusion and integrity to be what they are and not something less. Thus, for example, New Zealand's Bill of Rights Act 1990 (hereafter "BORA") includes a right to vote under conditions of equal suffrage and secret ballot in regular elections for members of the House of Representatives. Such a right requires the New Zealand Government to establish institutions and procedures sufficient to distinguish reliably between those who've registered to vote and those who have not. Were a New Zealand Government to decide – perhaps in the name of some more refined form of democracy – to allow true de facto voter registration, it would undermine all that. A Government that did this would have deeply failed the people at whose pleasure it serves. Its days should and presumably would be numbered.
While the voting case is arguably more central than either marriage or property rights – witness the non-enumeration of either a right to marry or a right to hold titled property in the BORA – the issues raised by the operation of systems of public registration and identification (i.e., sufficient to establish legal exclusiveness and integrity of various kinds) are the same in all these cases. If any one of them involves unlawful discrimination or infringement of human rights, they all do. But the latter's impossible, so none of them do."

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2006 09:08:00 PM

"Sometimes it really does seem as if they're ruled by the Taleban over there..."

You're right - when I first heard this story I didn't realise that the Town of Black Jack was going to kill those who had children outside of marriage...

(I'm probably not advocating this but) why have the law treat those in long term relationships differently from those in short term relationships or those not in relationships at all? Is this discrimination justifiable?

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 5/26/2006 09:43:00 PM

Only an anti-American bigot could compare a local proposal that is not law with the brutal oppression of the Taleban, which was measured in the blood of dissenters. I stumbled across this blog - time to stumble away - you're a sad case, Idiot/Savant, if this is a comparison you feel happy with. Talk about distorting facts...

Posted by Anonymous : 5/26/2006 11:38:00 PM