I used to like George Will, before he went crazy. Then again, I used to be a Republican before they went crazy. People change. But I still got annoyed when I read George Will’s absurd commentary this week in opposition to same-sex marriage.
Will, who is on his second marriage, made two “scientific” points as to why gay marriage is a bad thing.
1. Will argued that the fact that he has no social science to back up his distate for letting gay people have as many ruined marriages as he’s had, is actually proof that gays shouldn’t be permitted to marry; and
2. That if there is any social science showing that gay marriage won’t be the ruin of hetero marriages anyway, the court should ignore it because social science was co-opted by the gays years ago.
Honestly, I read the piece, and the arguments were so absurd, I thought I was reading something written by a religious right ghost writer, it was so nonsensical, even for George Will.
Let’s walk through Will’s arguments, one by one.
1. “I have no evidence, that means I win.”
Will argues that the very lack of social science showing gay marriage to be a bad thing is proof that it just might be a bad thing.
When a federal judge asked the lawyer defending California’s ban what harm same-sex marriage would do to the state’s interests in “the procreation purpose” of heterosexual marriage, the lawyer said, “I don’t know.” This was mistakenly portrayed as a damaging admission. Both sides should acknowledge that, so far, no one can know.
George Will is asking us to prove a negative. It’s a cute logical fallacy that people who have no argument like to make when they’re desperate. For example, “I have no proof that you’re a pedophile, but can you prove that you never in your entire life raped a child?” See how it works? My lack of proof ends up being proof of the very thing I assert with no proof! Presto, instant bigotry!
Will is admitting that there’s no proof of gay marriage causing any harm to either kids or heterosexual marriages, but he’s arguing that the onus is on us to show overwhelming proof that we won’t cause a harm that he can neither document nor explain. If we’re going to discriminate, shouldn’t the onus be on bigots to prove that there’s a need?
Let’s face it, the anti-gay bigot argument against same-sex marriage is more than a bit odd. If gay people marry somehow that will make George Will leave wife #2 and shack up with wife #3, or worse, lose interest in women all together and start chasing after Dick Cheney.
If George Will and religious right bigots are going to make the case that gay marriage will in essence turn George Will into a big homo, then he should at least be required to explain the mechanism by which straight people will magically turn gay, since on its face the charge is absurd.
2. Will’s second argument in his commentary is a setup to preclude the possibility of the appearance of any studies he missed that actually show gay marriage not to be a problem. Will argues that social science has become so corrupted by “liberals” that you just can’t trust their studies any more.
Since Moynihan wrote the above in 1979, the politicization of the social sciences has become even more pronounced, particularly in matters of “lifestyle liberalism.” Hence the need for judicial wariness about social science that purports to prove propositions — e.g., that same-sex marriage is, or is not, harmful to children or society — for which therecannot yet be decisive evidence.
Bra-vo. First Will says that the fact that he doesn’t have any studies supporting his bigotry, is proof that we don’t have any evidence to disprove what he can’t prove in the first place. Then he says that there never can be enough evidence, because all the nonexistent evidence is, and forever shall be, tainted.
What’s really going on here is that religious bigots have been somewhat freaked, since the Prop 8 trial back in California exposed their glaring lack of any science backing up their bizarre “gay marriage will make George Will and Newt Gingrich leave their wives” argument. So the best they can do, when they don’t have any evidence backing up their bigotry, is try to make that utter”lack of evidence” evidence in and of itself.
Good luck with that in court.