The Way of the Word

18. January 2011

Legally Entitled

Filed under: Commentary,general,politics,review,Uncategorized — jensaltmann @ 10:31
Tags: , , , ,

Misanthropy week continues. I mentioned yesterday that the fact that we need laws is testament to our failure as a species.

You probably at least know of the seven Cardinal Sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth.

I’d call those the baseline attributes of humanity.

So, of course there is some regulation required for human behavior. We can’t manage it by ourselves. And I admit (knowing from personal experience) that sometimes, laws are the only thing that stand between us and being screwed over by the rich and powerful. Not always: it’s exactly the rich and powerful who make those laws, so they are naturally skewed in their favor; nobody does anything that goes against their personal interests.

Still, once a certain baseline is established, laws become redundant and oppressive. Do we really need (as we have in the EU) laws that regulate just how much a cucumber may be curved? I don’t think so, Tim. If you don’t like the curve of a cucumber or banana, just don’t buy the damn thing. There’s no law needed for that.

So, what about laws that interfere with our personal lives in ways that don’t affect anyone but ourselves? You can’t pretend there aren’t any such. There are plenty, initiated and powered through by people and groups who believe that their values, morals, prejudices and phobias are so utterly Right that they need to be imposed on everybody.

I’ll use marriage as an example, because that is screwed up on so many levels. For one thing, marriage is absolutely unnecessary. You love someone, you move in together, you live together, you fall out of love and split up. If you feel the need to, you can have your relationship blessed by a priest. Other than that? It affects only you two and your eventual offspring. Of course, since those separations usually end in both sides trying to destroy one another, it makes sense to set up regulations for how to do such a separation; it might even save lives. In that regard, it makes sense to treat marriage like a business contract.

But beyond that? Your marriage is none of my business, so it requires no further regulation. And yet, there are interest groups who believe that they not only need to but have the right to codify their morals, ideas, prejudices and phobias to make your and my life more difficult. By insisting on laws, rules regulations for something that does not affect their lives in the slightest.

Take this guy, for example: Lee Jin-gyu, a man in Korea who married his pillow. Or the Japanese man who married a video game character. I’ll leave your value judgment to you and withhold my own. Because at the end of the day, there is only one factor:

Is it any of our business?

Does it affect your life or mine (beyond the two minutes required to read each of the articles I just linked to)? No. It absolutely doesn’t. The fact is, it only affects the lives of those two men. (And perhaps their parents, if they hadn’t already abandoned all hope of ever being grandparents.) It makes them happy, and it doesn’t cause anyone any harm. So should there be laws against it?

“Above all, do no harm.”

I say thee nay.

The same thing, to pick a more hot-button example, goes for gay marriage. While I did say above that the very idea of codifying marriage is mostly superfluous, that codification is fact, so… In the case of gay marriage, we have exactly the scenario that I describe above: interest groups (be they politically conservative, religious or simply arrogant busybodies) that try to impose their values and phobias on others, by way of creating laws that are not required to oppress people who just want to live like everyone else: legally with the person they love. Now, if a gay couple gets married, that doesn’t affect your life or my life in the slightest. It has no influence on my life, it has no influence on my marriage, it has no influence on my sexual identity. Or yours.

In summary, it’s none of my business. Like those two otaku who marry pillows or video game characters, if it makes them happy, why shouldn’t they do it? Now, I’m half of a biracial couple. There were times when that was illegal. I’ve read (but didn’t bother to confirm) that there are places where it still is. It shouldn’t be, though, because so long as my wife and I entered the marriage of our own free wills, it’s nobody’s business who we married.


1 Comment »

  1. Marriage is a way of wrestling with the fact that men and women attracted to the opposite sex can just make a baby with no intention or forethought under the grip of a pretty powerful passion to boot One drink too many and 9 months later boom there s a baby. Let me put it this way there may be a need for special laws regulating parenting around reproductive technology but they will be distinct from and need have little to do with the function that marriage is performing. but that doesn t mean we no longer care whether children are born to married couples.

    Comment by banking offshore — 9. February 2011 @ 08:02

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