Video: Maggie's mechanical marriage advocacy
One of the things that seriously astounds me about Maggie Gallagher, the far-right's foremost public thinker on marriage, is both her willingness and ability to repeat the same thing over and over again and make it sound as if it just came to her. And I don't mean just certain phrases or verbal tics—all people take on certain character effects that pepper their speeches. I'm talking instead about whole chunks of text that Maggie will repeat, virtually verbatim, in an oddly specific, oddly programmed fashion.
Take this Daily Beat video, where Maggie talks about the inevitability argument:
Sounds like she's just having a natural conversation, right? Well in truth, I've heard Maggie make these same claims, with almost no flux in cadence or wording, multiple times over. For instance, there was this from December of 2009:
4. Progressives are often wrong about the future.
Here's my personal litany: Progressives told me abortion would be a dead issue by today, because young people in 1975 were so pro-choice. They told me there would be no more homemakers at all by the year 2000, because of the attitudes and values of young women in 1975. Some even told me the Soviet Union was the wave of the future. I mean, really, fool me once shame on you. Fool me over and over again . . . I must be a Republican!
Now, on the argument itself, let me repeat what I said to Maggie in response:
Were there individuals who said all of these things to Maggie at various times? Maybe. Probably, even. Just as there are people who told this writer that I would never get married (I am), that America had too strong of a defense system to have our own planes used as weapons against us (we didn't), and that George W. Bush would lead this country in the right direction (he didn't). People say things.
With every claim that Maggie says graced her ears, we could find people of that particular era who made the exact opposite arguments. Just as now you can find both progressives and conservatives (or at least moderates) on both sides of the marriage tea leaves. What matters is not what Ann Coulter or Frank Rich might individually say on a particular day —what matters is the conclusion provided by a complex, reasoned, objective analysis of all of the factors. And on marriage equality, anyone who is honest with his or her self is going to have a hard time seeing "Adam and Even not Adam and Steve" as a long-lasting win.
If I consider what has happened in the three years since both Maggie and I wrote the above takes, I can further expand on my thoughts. Since late 2009, a number of states have moved forward with marriage equality (yay NY!), a number of cultural factors have increased awareness (yay "Modern Family"!), and a number of polls have showed the general tide going in our favor, not Maggie's. So besides even Maggie's misapplication of personal anecdote to the past, as if her own experience defined the zeitgeist, there are also those strong public motivators that she conveniently chooses to overlook.
Plus unlike some of the things that Maggie mentions, there is little reason to believe that all that many people are going to stop and reconsider their positions. Human acceptance doesn't usually work that way. Human acceptance transcends politics.
But back to the point I led with: What's with the rote recitation of stock ideas, Maggie? Those of us who speak publicly in favor of equality can casually run off any number of points that organically fuel our beliefs, because, for us, this is not some carefully workshopped strategy session. For us, this is life. It may be a life that some, circa 2012, tell us deserves second-class regard and legal status. I'm confident, however, that the contrived cultural arguments that are pushing for regression—which become more detectible every time Maggie Gallagher hauls out another one of her inorganic talking points—will not only continue to be a turn off to incoming generations, but will actually lead greater numbers in all demographics to see through, and ultimately reject, the ruse that is "marriage protection."
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