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Thursday, December 22, 2011

More on Faith

I, personally, have seen no evidence of any omnipotent being other than an occasional alignment of improbable events in either a favorable or unfavorable way. This, however, does not mean that such a being does not exist. I can accept this and I can live with the realization that I can NEVER know if such a being exists. I am amazed, though, by the people who have an inability to comprehend this notion. Some of them have faith and feel sad for those of us whom have no faith. Others, however, feel a need to push their faith onto us in an effort to make us believe. Those whom have a solid faith of their own are people whom I respect and, honestly, envy. If their faith brings them some form of peace and provides them with a resolution that this world matters and/or brings them a form of happiness I am more happy for them than they could possibly know. The problem with seeing no evidence for such a being means that it is impossible to have raw faith in such a being. It is impossible to have faith that there is meaning in the world and it is impossible to have faith that there is something beyond this world. My lack of faith means I see the world as a raw accumulation of data and evidence. It is this that I believe in; not things which I cannot measure. Recently I have been having conversations with friends on this topic. Each and every person that I consider a friend whom I know their religious stance on falls into two categories. The first is a category of people like myself who lack and serious and solid faith in a supernatural entity. The second are those of faith who NEVER push their faith onto others. I find this extremely interesting as I choose my friends carefully and I choose people whom I consider good people to be my friends. Conversely I choose to avoid people whom I consider to be bad people. Many of the people whom I know and deliberately avoid are people of faith. They are people who push their faith on others and whom choose to use their faith as a shield to be judgmental against those who are different from themselves. The people whom I choose to avoid seem to be people who would push their religion onto others and cry that they are being oppressed when anyone tries to present a different idea to them. They are, in short, hypocrites as their religions all preach tolerance and acceptance. The people who I avoid because I find them intolerable are being whom abuse their fellow man. I have heard it said MANY times that people who lack faith MUST be bad people and have NOTHING to guide their moral compass. My questioning response to that alleged axiom is simple: How is it that I know so many people who have such little faith whom are good people and generous and kind and yet I have met so many people who preach their religion to others who are the opposite of that? If people who lack faith are inherently evil how is it that they are tolerant of people of faith and yet do good for the sole purpose of doing good? If people are doing good for the raw purpose of improving the world how are they WORSE people than those who do good ONLY because their religion tells them they must to be good people? If I can choose between right and wrong without a religion telling me which is which why is that a bad thing?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What is a Person?

I have wondered, for quite some time, what a "person" is. Traditionally speaking a "person" is a human being. But legally speaking a corporation is also a person and children sometimes are and other times they are not (for example they are not allowed to enter into legal contracts). This brings about many questions on limitations to personhood. I have been thinking on this for awhile and I cannot come up with a universal definition of "person" that works in all legal circumstances. I have, however, developed the following definition of a "person" that I feel should be applied in the context of contract law: Person: noun. A singular entity which issued aware and capable of reason with the ability to comprehend the outcomes of their decisions and communicate their wishes. Each and every contract should be something that any "person" can engage in. If the contract requires agreement between two or more entities then any "person" should be able to make the agreement for themselves. This definition of "person" is not racist, nor sexist, nor sexual-preference-ist, nor even speciesist: it is entirely about whether the participant in the contract is able to reason out the ramifications of their choice and communicate their choice to enter the contract to others. I welcome suggestions on a better definition of "person" that can be used across all areas of the law.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rights and Intolerance

I have encountered, on many occasions, a very heated debate on the topic of "gay marriage."

It saddens me greatly when I encounter this topic because, to date, everyone I have encountered who is opposed to "gay marriage" is completely and totally missing the point of the argument.

Those (again, all whom I have encountered) oppose the issue based solely on their intolerance of the idea of two people of the same gender getting "married" because, to them, the term "marriage" MUST mean one man and one woman; most of them also include joined together in the eyes of God in their definition.

Each and every person who had brought the argument against "gay marriage" to me, or whom I have brought the opposing argument to, has failed, utterly and completely to comprehend that this is NOT about marriage. This is NOT about sexual orientation. This issue is NOT about the religious morality that they feel.

This issue is completely and totally about equality. There should be no such thing as "gay marriage" there should only be marriage (at this point I am using this word completely and totally from the legal point of view without any inclusion of the religious aspects of the word). Marriage brings certain legal ramifications to it. One of those ramifications is to, essentially, allow an individual to alter the default heir in the event of their death from their blood relatives to the individual of their choosing. Another is the secure the right to visit an unconscious patient in the hospital to a singular individual who is not related to you by blood AND promote that person's wishes above all others. Marriage also grants a single individual the right to make decisions about your treatment in the event that you are unable to communicate your wishes to the medical staff. Marriage, essentially, lets you appoint the person whom you trust the most to be the guardian of your wishes and care in the event that you cannot guard those things for yourself AND it lets you leave behind everything you work for to the person of your choosing in an, essentially, incontestable fashion. There is no other legal structure that generates all of these default rights. Marriage it the fastest and most recognized path and it is recognized worldwide as a valid legal contract between two, non-blood-related adults.

The way out current legal structure is built these rights are specifically withheld from a group of people. These rights are withheld from anyone whose chosen individual is of the same gender that they are. This is ludicrous and backwards. The law should not discriminate against people because they are choosing a person of a specific gender to be their legal "next of kin" anymore than it should discriminate against people who choose to make their hair blue or pierce their ears. The law should allow for ANY two consenting adults to enter into such a legally binding contract of their own free will. The law currently prohibits the creation and execution of this ONE legal contract based solely on the gender of the participants.

This is NOT about marriage; it is about the ability to enter into a legal contract. No other area of the law is allowed to bar individuals from creating and entering into a contract based on their gender. Once upon a time there were such laws and they have been stricken down in each instance as being unconstitutional and in violation of civil liberties.

Simply put: marriage as a legal contract should not discriminate against any individuals.

There is a certain irony to the intolerance of intolerance. Yet, the only thing that people should be intolerant of is intolerance of things which cause no harm to others.

In nearly every instance where I have discussed the "gay marriage" issue with those who oppose it I have encountered the argument that finding the intolerant viewpoint to be abhorrent means I am being intolerant to the views of the opposing party. I, in each case, have admitted that they are correct. I am, in fact, being intolerant of their intolerance. I am being intolerant of their view that creating a second class of citizen is appropriate. I an being intolerant of their view that it is appropriate to subdue a population of people solely based on which gender they prefer.

In each an every instance of this discussion I have then pointed out that if my intolerance of their ideas were to be enacted as law it would not harm anyone. If my intolerance of their ideas were enacted as law it would not end their ability to marry someone of the opposing gender. Enacting my view point on the law would not destroy their ability to get married in a church. Enacting my viewpoint on the law would not increase or decrease the divorce rate among people marrying someone of the opposing gender. Enacting my view on the law would not violate the rights of anyone who can currently acquire a marriage license to designate their choice of individual as the "next of kin" in the eyes of the law. My viewpoint, in short, would not alter their way of life. I then point out that their viewpoint on the situation suppressed the raw ABILITY of a large population of people from being able to apply the legal rights of marriage to their relationship. Their viewpoint continues to harm others. Their relationship continues to prevent others from naming their designated caregiver and default heir. Their viewpoint stifles the happiness and potential happiness of an entire population group. Their viewpoint prevents people from using corporate benefits in many companies. Their viewpoint, if upheld, will continue to DELIBERATELY suppress the rights of an entire group of people.

I have had it thrown at me that it doesn't matter because it is a small group of people that are affected so no one should care - I have responded by pointing out that we have handicapped parking spaces to cater to a small group of people because we all felt it was appropriate to do so. I have had it pointed out that a small portion of the homosexual community actual want to get married - I have pointed out that there is a large portion of the heterosexual community that doesn't care about getting married, either.
I have had it pointed out that homosexual couples cannot generate offspring - I have pointed out that I know a great many heterosexual couples who have NO interest in generating offspring. I then ask if they should be allowed to get married? I have also pointed out that there is a small amount of people whom are incapable of creating offspring whether they want to or not - should they be barred from getting married? I have pointed out that people who are far beyond the age of generating offspring get married, too - should they be barred from getting married? I have even pointed out that there are people who get married and divorced at an alarming rate - should they have been barred from getting married in the first place?
I have had it pointed out that some homosexual couples will, inevitably, part ways and have to get divorced - I have pointed out that more than half of all marriages now, which preclude any homosexual couple, end in divorce.
I have had it pointed out that homosexual couples have a historically higher promiscuity rate than heterosexual couples - I have pointed out that this is prejudicial and does not have the data to back it up AND that there are MANY extremely promiscuous heterosexuals out there who are allowed to marry if they so choose.
I have had people point out that homosexual individuals have the exact same right to marry a person of the opposing gender as any heterosexual individual has - I have pointed out that this flies in the face of the very concept of marriage; a concept of adding a single individual whom you love into your family as the "next of kin" to live out your days together and care for each other.
I have had people point out that marriage is against their religion - I have pointed out that marriage was originally a BUSINESS transaction. Marriage existed before their religion. Their religion also has NO PLACE in my government.

To date I have been given absolutely NO evidence on why there should be ANY reason that the legal construct of marriage should exclude anyone from marrying the individual person of their choosing.

The more attempts people make to convince me otherwise AND FAIL, the more they strengthen my viewpoint.

On a supplemental note - I actually am opposed to the entire notion of marriage as a legal construct. I believe it is the single most accepted intrusion into the personal lives by the government and/or church. I believe that the word "marriage" should be removed from all legal documentation and replaced with a "civil union" which is a five-year binding contract between any two persons who can consent to the contract. It should auto-renew unless EITHER of the participants choose to terminate the renewal. There should be no alimony provision.
I believe that marriage, more often than not, destroys lives (as is evidenced by the greater than 50% divorce rate and the realization that there are many couples who live in misery rather than get divorced). More importantly than that I believe that if heterosexual individuals have the right to royally screw up their lives by getting married that homosexual individuals should have the identical right.

Am I intolerant of anti-"gay marriage" view? Yes. I am intolerant of that intolerance because it is ignorant and lacks all reason. It serves only to hurt people whereas the opposing view hurts no one.

It's not intolerance when it is seeking equality; it's not intolerant to want to remove intolerance from an intolerantly unfair system.