That’s icky, your argument is invalid

Deep Christian thinker Mike Huckabee on teh gay (from a New Yorker Interview via Crooks and Liars):

One afternoon in Jerusalem, while Huckabee was eating a chocolate croissant in the lounge of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, I asked him to explain his rationale for opposing gay rights. “I do believe that God created male and female and intended for marriage to be the relationship of the two opposite sexes,” he said. “Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn’t work the same.”

I asked him if he had any arguments that didn’t have to do with God or ickiness. “There are some pretty startling studies that show if you want to end poverty it’s not education and race, it’s monogamous marriage,” he said. “Many studies show that children who grow up in a healthy environment where they have both a mother and a father figure have both a healthier outlook and a different perspective from kids who don’t have the presence of both.”

In fact, a twenty-five-year study recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that children brought up by lesbians were better adjusted than their peers. And, of course, nobody has been able to study how kids fare with married gay parents. “You know why?” Huckabee said. “Because no culture in the history of mankind has ever tried to redefine marriage.”

But in the Old Testament polygamy was commonplace. The early Christians considered marriage an arrangement for those without the self-discipline to live in chastity, as Christ did. Marriage was not deemed a sacrament by the Church until the twelfth century. And, before 1967, marriage was defined in much of the United States as a relationship between a man and a woman of the same race.

Regardless of the past, wouldn’t Huckabee be curious to know whether allowing gay people to marry had a positive or negative effect on children and society?

“No, not really. Why would I be?” he said, and laughed.

Because saying that something ought to be a certain way simply because that’s the way it supposedly has always been is an awful lot like saying “because we said so.” And Huckabee is supposed to be the guy who questions everything.

I think it's reasonably fair to say that Huckabee is full of crap.  The "ick facktor" is not an argument–unless you're talking about putting parmesan cheese on seafood, in which case it is, and your argument is invalid. 

But really seriously. 

Here is an allegedly intelligent guy who claims evidence for his view that isn't evidence for his view.  The idea that monogamy decreases poverty doesn't exclude gay monogamy.  But worse than that, everyone ought to know from anthro 101 that marriage has been "defined" (I really wish we could stop using this sneaky Platonism) in myriad ways in different cultures (and even in the very Bible Huckabee allegedly believes in).  Finally, Huckabee ought at least to be open to the idea that the evidence does not support his prejudices–but no.  That would be asking too much. 

Now in case you think Huckabee has been misquoted or treated unfairly here by the New Yorker (a claim I expect to be forthcoming), consider the following:

As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee successfully championed laws that prevented gay people from becoming foster parents and banned gay adoptions. “Children are not puppies—this is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out how does this work,” Huckabee told a student journalist at the College of New Jersey in April. “You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal. That would be like saying, ‘Well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them.’ ” These comments proved unpopular. On his Web site, Huckabee accused his interviewer of trying to “grossly distort” and “sensationalize my well known and hardly unusual views” about homosexuality. The student publication then posted the audiotape of the interview online. Huckabee had not been misquoted.

Now one thing I'm certain the Bible says is "thou shall not bear false witness."

14 thoughts on “That’s icky, your argument is invalid”

  1. Ah, the joys of trying to converse with the dogmatic and logic immune.

    "We shouldn't allow X because it implies not Y!."
    "Research suggests that X actually does imply Y.  Wouldn't you be interested in this research?"
    “No, not really. Why would I be?” he said, and laughed.

  2. I'm curious if he holds the same contempt for single mothers as gays, since studies have shown that single parenting isn't as good an environment to raise children.  I have more respect for people who wear their hate on their sleeve.  I think being able to self-contradict is quickly becoming a mandatory skill of parish leaders.  Don't worry though Huckabee, I'm sure most gay men would encounter a huge 'ick' factor too if they thought about you having sex.

  3. John, you're right. The icky argument is no argument at all.

    But neither is this: "In fact, a twenty-five-year study recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that children brought up by lesbians were better adjusted than their peers" (http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/07/lesbian.children.adjustment/index.html?iref=allsearch) Dr. Nanette Gartrell, (one of the Ten Most Powerful Lesbian Doctors – "Curve") "recruited subjects through announcements in bookstores, lesbian events and newspapers throughout metro Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California, and Washington." If I get to pick 78 couples, I can prove anything I want to.

    Then comes this "creative" question: "I asked him if he had any arguments that didn’t have to do with God or ickiness"

    Carl Henry said this: "Because theological and ethical statements cannot be verified by empirical methods does not mean, as the positivists erroneously and arbitrarily conclude, that they are beyond verification. Such a judgment stems purely from the metaphysical theory that only empirical experience supplies evidence about reality."

    I would just add what CS Lewis had to say about the topic:

    "Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question – how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognize that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christians lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with the rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not."

  4. That's an argument, or part of one.  You question whether those facts are good ones.  That's your job.  But at least they're the right kinds of things for Chrissake.  As for the Henry line: of f—ing course.  But when people make empirical claims, as did Huckabee, they have to back them up with evidence. 

  5. Well, that’s the thing: Huckabee is one of the folks who haven’t gotten the memo that gay-hate is a losing proposition when you’ve already lost that cultural battle. The gay couple is here, queer, fabulously dressed, and refusing the closet.

  6. @BN yes. Hate is definitely what we’re talking about. You have to hate someone to argue so strenuously in pursuit of their unhappiness. The ick-factor is and has always been a part of selling homophobia.

  7. I would also add that admitting the best you have is a certain aesthetic dislike for someone else's self-regarding life choices shows a fundamental lack of moral regard for them.   

  8. There is no doubt that a large group of the people that oppose gay marriage are people that hate homosexuals. Sadly, some of them consider themselves Christians too.
    However, I don't think that all the people that oppose gay marriage are gay-haters or homophobes.

  9. That's fine BN.  And there's a limit to the usefulness of accusations of hatred.  Some may really think it's out of good old-fashioned Christian love that they would deprive other people certain secular political rights and privileges.  The question for me is whether they have an adequate justification for taking a political stand of that type.  I think not.  And I think since we're denying rights, the burden is on them.

  10. John, I think I understand your point. I'm not sure I agree entirely.
    Shouldn't the burden of proof be on whoever wants to change the existing laws in general? Declaring that the existing law (marriage in this case) denies human rights, is definitely an argument.
    Now, Huckabee can't bring up empirical data that supports his view and then state that he doesn't care about empirical data in general. That is wrong.
    As far as an "adequate justification for taking a political stand", that's a fair question. I'm just not sure how does one defines "adequate". Was Elena Kagan's justification to not pass the partial-birth abortion adequate? Was WMD justification for invading Iraq adequate?

  11. Good question about burden of argument.  It is clearly not always the case that the burden rests with the one who asserts–exploiting that provision has people denying the Holocaust, etc.  In the case I think it's fairly clearly you have the regulation of private, consensual, contractual behavior between adults.  That it is allowed in some cases but not in others deserves more ample justification than tradition.

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