6.22.2008

Warning: Fraudulent "Marriage Defender"

David Benkof of GaysDefendMarriage joins the list of fraudulent "marriage defenders" such as Maggie Gallagher, Jennifer Roback Morse, Family Scholars, Opine Editorials, who have dominated the traditional marriage debate on the blogosphere and provided insipid and embarrassing straw man arguments for the same-sex marriage proponents to argue against.

The thing they all have in common that makes them utterly fraudulent and dangerous is that they all believe that same-sex conception should be legal. In each case, I have been rejected and insulted and censored on their sites for raising the issue of same-sex conception and suggesting they add opposition to unethical conception technology to their arguments. They have surprised me by siding with radical gay activists in insisting that same-sex conception is a right and should not be banned. They do not see that it harms marriage to say that a couple that is allowed to conceive a baby together should not be allowed to marry first. How can they be so inconsistent? The only answer is that they are frauds.

There are also bioethicists who seem to be performing the same function in the bioethics realm (Wesley Smith, the Center for Bioethics and Culture, the Center for Genetics and Society, even perhaps the President's Council on Bioethics), offering up weak, useless arguments against cloning and genetic engineering and refusing to clearly call for a law against creating genetically modified people. When I press them to call for a law, they fall silent. Their livelihood comes from writing about how bad the Brave New World is, not from stopping the Brave New World.

Not surprisingly, all of these marriage defenders and bioethicists blogroll each other and praise each other as the top-notch thinkers offering the best arguments imaginable against same-sex marriage and genetic engineering. Assuming they are all actual different people, they have become a remarkably effective conspiracy to block simple legislation and cover up the issues of same-sex conception and germline modification, as if these weren't even ethical issues.

I challenge all the groups and people name-checked here to clarify their position on creating children using modified or artificial gametes, or any method besides joining the sperm of a man and the egg of a woman. I am still hopeful they will prove me wrong about this conspiracy, by just one of them breaking ranks and supporting a law against same-sex conception and the use of modified gametes.

6 comments:

Jennifer Roback Morse said...

John
I have posted a response on my blog. http://jennifer-roback-morse.blogspot.com/
JRM

John Howard said...

Thanks Dr J. I'll respond in both places:

But surely you can see that you have not "addressed every significant point raised by Howard's post" because you completely ignored the main objection: "The thing they all have in common that makes them utterly fraudulent and dangerous is that they all believe that same-sex conception should be legal."

Are we to infer from your non-denial that indeed, you believe same-sex conception should be legal?

Another non-addressed point was, how you can not see that it harms marriage to say that a couple should be allowed to conceive together but not allowed to marry. That message is what leads to teenagers in Gloucester thinking that you don't need to be married to have babies.

Why not just say that Congress should make a law prohibiting cloning and genetic engineering? Your explanation about tactics just doesn't make much sense: It's one thing to disagree about what arguments to stress right now, but you do more than that, you disagree about the end goal, apparently. You are unwilling to say that same-sex conception should be illegal, ever.

You say: "If we lose on marriage, we will certainly lose on the assisted reproductive technology issue. The opposite is not necessarily the case: that is, if we lose ground on ART, we may still be able to make progress on man-woman marriage."

We are losing on marriage in some places and winning in others, so I'm not sure when that game will ever be over. And I sense lots of confidence on the LGBT side of the debate that they will push SSM through everywhere eventually, no matter what. I think we need a better argument, and I have tested my argument on the street with real people: they think SSP is "crazy", "too far", "too much".

Meanwhile, as the marriage debate drags on, what if same-sex conception produces a smiling baby? As you note, "the rights of the children to a relationship with both parents is much more appealing. People can understand and relate to it." Are you just gambling that same-sex conception won't work? You must be more of an expert than you let on, because other experts are pretty certain that it will work, and we'll see babies from same-sex parents in just a few years. Why let them waste so much money on the research and why let them try it on humans, why not just say they should not be allowed to even try it?

You don't have to change your whole approach or your tone, but I don't get why you can't also agree with me in saying that same-sex conception is unethical and should not be allowed. I mean, it is true, right?

Matteson said...

"...what if same-sex conception produces a smiling baby? "

Yeah, what if it does? The last thing that the world needs is a "smiling baby!" Wouldn't it be terrible if that baby were born to parents who love it and it grows up healthy and happy? Yeah. That'd be terrible.

"...but I don't get why you can't also agree with me in saying that same-sex conception is unethical and should not be allowed. I mean, it is true, right?"

You've not given an argument here, John. Is your objective to brow-beat anyone who disagrees with your assertion that this is some great wrong? You're arguing from an authority that you don't have. Produce an argument and then perhaps folk will respond to you in a positive way.

John Howard said...

The thing that Dr. Morse should think is wrong with the smiling baby is that it would make same-sex marriage a shoe-in. Except apparently Dr. Morse would still be trying to hold the line on marriage, saying that same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry even if they plan on creating their own smiling baby.

I totally disagree with her on this point, I think that if we allow people to attempt same-sex conception (which we do, there's no law against it) we should certainly allow (if not require) same-sex marriage first, before they try to create children together.

The reason I think a smiling baby would be bad, apart from the unacceptable risk the researchers took to create it, is that it would face a lifetime of tests, and tests on its children, to make sure the process was safe. It (saying "he or she" just seems to make so little sense in this world) would also have no father or no mother, not to mention two fathers or two mothers (or rather one mother who carried it and one mother who served as a father, supplying modified genes), and that would be a major pschological issue not faced by children merely being raised by alternative family forms. Actually being created from genetically modified sperm, so that there was no dad, not even to wonder about, is cruel to the child. It would also be a huge stress on the parents to have their roles replicated and to have such a novel experimental child, so they would probably split up, if statistics mean anything, leaving their experiment wondering why they bothered putting it at such grave risk of genetic problems.

It is also totally unnecessary to put a child through this and spend so much money on the research, when there are kids that need adoption, as well as perfectly fertile potential partners looking to make a baby naturally with someone who loves them. Allowing people to attempt it negates the idea that Love Makes a Family, and insults adoptive children and parents, suggesting that they are not as tight and loving a family because they are not related.

Also, allowing it to produce a smiling baby would throw open the door to attempting all forms of genetic modifications, which would be significantly less risky than attempting same-sex conception. But allowing genetic modifiactions would lead to big government agencies overseeing all reproduction, and huge entitlement programs to allow all people access to genetic enhancement, and just be a huge waste of money and resources at a time when we cannot fund basic health care. It's be a huge waste of energy too, with a huge carbon footprint.

All the above ignores the huge risk of birth defects that human babies would be subjected to, and how unlikely it is that the baby would be smiling. Because the argument is not based on risk, since all births have risks, but on what sort of society we want to have.

I want to preserve sex, I think it is a good thing that we are all either a man or a woman, and require someone of the other sex to reproduce. I don't think a postgendered society is a good thing.

John Howard said...

Dr. Morse hasn't posted my response on her blog yet, so I'll try again with a response more tied in to her post:

Let me respond to those three points:

1. NO ONE has a right to a child

Everyone has a right to marry, and every marriage has a right to have children. But that only means that a person can't be prohibited from marrying, and that a marriage cannot be prohibited from conceiving. It doesn't mean that the state must guarantee that everyone be successful in either marrying or in the marriage having children, obviously.

2. conception rights reside in the couple, not the individual

Any couple? Not in siblings, not in a mother and her son, right? Ah, but they cannot marry. Hmm, it seems conception rights resides not in a couple, but in a marriage, right? My point is, same-sex couples should be in the same boat as mother-son couples and sibling couples.

3. the right to procreate is a natural right for every married couple that flows organically from their marriage.

Right, or as I say, marriage IS conception rights. But when people suggest that we can have same-sex marriage and still someday perhaps prohibit same-sex conception, then that is no longer true. Such a situation would change marriage, every marriage, so that none of them had a natural right to conceive anymore.

Let me be blunt: There is no right to a child, because a child is not an object to which other people have rights...

With whom are you arguing? Do you think I am implying there is a right to a child which parents then own? What point of mine does that address?

Every individual is sterile. No one can have a baby by himself. Each human infant has two parents, one male and one female.

Except now there is a mouse with two female parents, and people working on ways to produce "female sperm" or "male eggs". You know this is my point, right? A person reading your response would never know that same-sex conception was possible, or that addressing it was the whole point of my challenge.

Therefore, any right to have a child should be held by a couple, not by an individual who wishes to be a parent.

Right, a married couple. But we shouldn't allow same-sex couples to marry, because we shouldn't allow same-sex conception.

This right of procreation a married couple holds is, quite literally, a natural right.

I agree.

No one has to help the couple produce the child: They can do that all by themselves. In fact, one of the great problems every society has to solve is discouraging reproduction in certain circumstances, precisely because producing babies is all too easy and natural to do.

Indeed, though we cannot discourage a marriage by prohibiting it from procreating. They continue to have the right to procreate for as long as they are married, under any circumstance.

Every known society has developed some social institution for defining the appropriate types of reproductive couplings. Whatever the specific rules, formal and informal, all societies limit the appropriate context for both sexual activity and childbearing.

Absolutely right, those are called the marriage laws which limit who one can marry, and also including fornication and adultery laws.

As long as a couple meets a society’s criteria, as the natural parents of the child they obtain the rights to exercise the full complement of parental rights it grants.

Not necessarily. As long as they are married, they are allowed to conceive children, but the state decides if they are allowed to parent them based on the best interest of the child. The mother and her husband are merely given the responsibility and pretty much forced to parent their children or arrange for someone else to, they have no right to "own" their children, as you were saying above. Parenting children is a responsibility, not a right.

This universal social institution is, of course, marriage. Nobody grants a married couple the right to make babies; it is inherent in their marriage.

Right-o. The marriage itself grants the right to make babies.

It does not follow that the natural right of a married couple to have babies extends to random couplings of individuals.

Right-o again! In fact, unmarried couples do NOT have a right to make babies, nor does a married couple have a right to use donor gametes. That's adultery.

Nor does the entitlement of married couples to procreate naturally generate a right for anyone to be artificially inseminated.

Well, marital and medical privacy mean that people have a right to medical assistance in achieving what they ought to be able to do if they were healthy. That means, using their own sperm and eggs, but seeking medical assistance getting them together.

No one, married or otherwise, is entitled to the assistance of others in becoming a parent.

Entitled? No, but I don't think the state can prohibit people from medical assistance either. Are you calling for a law against assisting people in becoming a parent? No, and neither am I. But I am calling for a law against using modified gametes, and eventually a law against using donor gametes.

The virtue of recognizing the natural right of a married couple to procreate is that this arrangement best protects the rights of the most vulnerable, namely, the child. What is owed to the child? The child’s most basic entitlement is the right to be born into a home with both a mother and a father who love him and each other.

I'd say it's most basic right is for it to be conceived into ethical circumstances, to parents that love each other and are committed to each other and approved by the state to have children together.

This gives the child at least the possibility of a relationship with both parents.

Yes, it sets up the best expectation for that. But that isn't set in stone, obviously. The father might be sent off to war and die before the baby is born, for example.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I vanish for a spell and come back to discover quite a homophobic tirade here. FYI Mr. Howard gay marriage WILL BE A REALITY whether or not SSP happens or not. Of course SSP will be a reality as well and YES, you and I will live to see it become a happy reality Johnny baby! LOL! Evolution must scare the ol' righteous hell out if you doesn't Mr. Howard. I'm thinking that maybe there's some much much more productive way that you can spend your time Howie. have a nice day. MH.