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Author Topic: A Touchy Subject: Gay Rights, Tradition, and the NDP
Babbler # 888

posted 06 June 2004 06:26 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
In various threads we continue to thrash out the matters of Monia Mazigh, Father McGrath, and Bev Dejarlais, but I think we still continue avoid the main issue: that of the place of religion/"traditional values" in the NDP, given the NDP's focus on rights.

Matters of rights tend to be infused with an absolutist discourse; after all, who in Canadian politics would dare to say that women should be denied the vote or that blacks should be sent to the back of the bus? So for many (if not most) babblers, it's hard to see how anyone could propose that SSM is a bad idea or not vote wholeheartedly in favour of it in the House of Commons. But I think that there are some differences between these issues.

1. Time. SSM is a new issue compared to universal suffrage or anti-racism. Racism is still not a "resolved" issue, really, but at least publicly the consensus is already so entrenched that not even right-wingers can utter even veiled racist comments and avoid committing political suicide. This is clearly not the case so far for SSM. So it is to be expected that there are at least some people on all parts of the political spectrum (not necessarily uniformly distributed) who would still oppose SSM. It is also to be expected that the NDP would get at least a few of these, and probably at least enough candidates to be representative of the segment of the social-democratic-but-morally-conservative population that does exist.

2. Motivation. Race, gender, and sexual orientation are each different issues and they have to be approached in a different way. And the axis on which they are different is that of Tradition (usually informed to some extent by religion). Simply (and to some, most charitably) put, some people have a very ingrained belief that there ought to be a regular and reasonably strict Plan for human behaviour, relationships, family structures, and so on, and that recognizing "deviations" from the Plan, particularly in law, is a threat to this Plan and thus cannot be accepted.

Race was a transient issue in this framework and ultimately had little to with maintaining the Plan. Gender is far more related to this Plan, but Plan supporters were ultimately willing/forced to accept gender equality and hope that the Plan would still survive it. Now sexual orientation threatens to bring about the ultimate demise of the Plan. When confronted with the argument that the demise of the Plan doesn't affect their ability to follow it, they retort, probably correctly, that the behaviour of others in fact does affect their ability to, for instance, bring up their children in a Planned environment.

Because this Plan touches on the deepest personal feelings of kinship and often religion, I do think that it has to be dealt with by the NDP in a somewhat more sensitive way than some of the SSM-absolutists (regardless of their correctness) on babble would have the NDP deal with the issue. It may be fun to pillory the religious for hypocrisy or whatever, but this is not going away any time soon.

3. Other diversities. It is in my experience true that often some ethnic communities are more social conservative in their views than the average social democrat. And there are social democrats in these ethnic communities. Here is a case where cultural diversity clashes with sexual diversity--since, as I said in 2, there is the matter of an ingrained Plan at stake here that is often an integral part of people's cultural and religious identity.

As well, Canada is geographically diverse. There are parts of the country where it is possible to elect a social democrat who is also socially conservative---Bev Dejarlais is an example of this. On babble it is assumed that social democracy also goes hand-in-hand with social liberalism, but this is not true in the real world, and the NDP is not babble; it will have to accomodate that.

As I said above, because of the widespread assocation between the economic left and the social left (and the opposite on the other end of the spectrum), the participation of social democrats who are also social conservatives is a more than a little awkward. I don't think it can be dealt with in an absolutist way, even if it is a matter ultimately of rights in a secular state. Because so much else is now entangled with it and has been for a long time.

From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 621

posted 06 June 2004 07:22 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks, Mandos, for this thoughtful and serious post. I hope to respond with an equally serious post. In the meantime, here's to hoping this post doesn't turn into yet another all-heat-no-light brain-dead flame war.If it does, let's continue it elsewhere.
From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 350

posted 06 June 2004 07:43 PM      Profile for vickyinottawa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
thanks, Mandos
From: lost in the supermarket | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
Babbler # 4600

posted 06 June 2004 07:55 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post
Of course, this debate also takes place on the other end of the spectrum. For my part, it's difficult to understand how the US Republicans and the CPC can - or would want to - find a way to ally libertarians with social conservatives.
From: . | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 5061

posted 06 June 2004 08:07 PM      Profile for Fester        Edit/Delete Post
Gay Rights, Tradition, and the Liberals:

Two veteran Liberal MPs say there is no difference between their party and the Conservatives on abortion, contradicting Paul Martin's claim that there is a "gulf" between the two parties on hot-button moral issues.

[ 06 June 2004: Message edited by: Fester ]

From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Screaming Lord Byron
Babbler # 4717

posted 06 June 2004 08:16 PM      Profile for Screaming Lord Byron     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm of both the economic left and the social left, although I tend to concentrate on social affairs. However, I see the two as intertwined.

[ 06 June 2004: Message edited by: Screaming Lord Byron ]

From: Calgary | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
Babbler # 4600

posted 06 June 2004 08:34 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post
I'm a liberal, in (as far as I can tell) all senses of the word. Unless it can be convincingly demonstrated that what two consenting, informed adults agree to do - have sex, get married or exchange goods and services - is actually harmful to a third party, then there is no good reason to prevent it.

And by 'harmful', I most emphatically do not mean 'find distasteful'.

From: . | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 888

posted 06 June 2004 11:14 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
OC: I think that the right bridges this gap through concern about "big government"/taxation. In this case, social conservatives are suspicious of the "liberal" orientation of government and its alleged propensity to be used as an instrument of "social engineering," which is defined, for better or for worse, as attempts at accepting/encouraging deviation from the Plan. However, even social conservatives on the right sometimes grumble about this arrangement. Recently, Focus on the Family complained about student debt. The Family Research Council as well complained about the difficulty of young people to get on their financial feet due to government cutbacks. Likewise on health care and so on.

Some social conservatives on the right are sympathetic to social democratic economics---insofar as it is used to strengthen the Plan. But since social conservatism is more important to them, they ally with economics libertarians. Economic libertarians are also willing to use social conservatives to further their ends. (Of course, usually the smaller government schtick is a sham used by other nefarious powers).

Our political spectrum (in Canada at least) is primarily organized on economic lines. So it is possible for social conservatives to ally with both the economic right and left. However, the economic right doesn't tie itself to a "social" dogma---it accepts social liberals and social conservatives, at least in Canada. But the economic left in this country seeks a holistic view of economic and social relations, and to some, rightly or wrongly, social liberalism and social democracy go hand in hand. This puts socially conservative social democrats in a unique dilemma of having to sacrifice one or the other; no one else faces as stark a dilemma as they.

From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 888

posted 07 June 2004 12:31 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
And by 'harmful', I most emphatically do not mean 'find distasteful'.
I think the problem here is what "harm" means, I agree. I think that SSM opponents don't entirely mean "find distasteful," although that may enter into it as well. But I think that discussion of the reasons for believing in a Plan deserves, perhaps, a separate thread. I mainly intended to discuss the subject of what to do with people who believe in a Plan.

To boil down what I said above, the essential conflict is that some people believe that a Plan should govern people's behaviour and regardless of their predilections, they must adjust their behaviour to accomodate the Plan. Having sex is a choice, right? And choices are subject to change, right? People are capable of avoiding Sin, right? So what's wrong in expecting them to? It is a Sacrifice as other Sacrifices, for the betterment and integrity of the Plan.

On the other side of the debate, there are those who say that people have these predilections and these tendencies to fall in love, and it is cruel to ask them to sublimate them and deny them, and thus it is a matter of human rights that their predilections be not only tolerated but accepted. Plans be damned! they exclaim.

The dilemma this leaves the NDP in is that there are people who believe that social democracy is also part of the Plan.

[ 07 June 2004: Message edited by: Mandos ]

From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 4795

posted 07 June 2004 12:39 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post

Thank you VERY much for starting this thread. I shall have to give your points some serious consideration — and more time than I currently have available — and post a reply worthy of you initial comments.

A brief point for now before I go... I am fully supportive of the struggle of the Palestinians against racist, intolerant Israeli policies. However, I find it incredibly frustrating that LGBTs are accepted FAR better by Israel than by Palestinians, and that while some problems for LGBTs still exist within Israel (as elsewhere) the homophobia in Palestinian society is still so rampant that it is still almost impossible to get PA officials to investigate LGBT murders, never mind beatings or discrimination. And THEN the PA tries to excuse this on the grounds of "religious" or "cultural" differences.

Bullshit. It is bigotry and homophobia. It doesn't mean that I will stop supporting the Palestinian cause, but it does make it much, much more difficult for me to find it in my heart to be supportive of a people who view me with such naked hatred.

Anyway, I do not want to go on at too much length right now — I don't have the time — but I needed to express my frustration on that one, particular point.

And once again, Mandos, thanks!!!

From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 888

posted 07 June 2004 01:04 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post

I had a whole post thought up in response to you, but then I realized that I didn't want to turn this thread into yet another Middle East thread. Suffice it then for me to say that the Palestinian society you would prefer to see is far, far less likely to occur under occupation than it is otherwise.

From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged

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