I was wondering the other day why I had mixed feelings about the question in the survey about people of the same sex getting married. I just couldn’t get it. Then it came to me.
I’m not normally a semantic pedant but the use of the word sex in the question and indeed in the debate is what’s wrong with much of the discourse.
I’ve got an old (1967) version of the Concise Oxford Dictionary and it is to this tome that I refer when arguing a point with a semantic or a pedant or people who are both at the same time.
I also use it as my preferred reference in Scrabble games in which I indulge every pancake Tuesday.
Well, this dictionary describes sex as: “n. being male or female or hermaphrodite.” It also applies the term as an adjunct to another word giving the new word a meaning of six something, from the Latin for six.
But after a lot of six related meanings the dictionary talks about the word sexual. “a. of sex or the sexes and when used with other words conjures mind pictures of genitalia, copulation, mutual attraction, and intercourse.”
The term sex in popular use also applies to the act of union in the bedrooms of Oz.
I reckon that in this debate, the word sex is intended to represent the concept of sexuality in the bedroom meaning of the word. It is intended to create mind pictures of two people of the same gender going at it in bedroom Olympics.
Note that I have used the word gender. Oxford describes this word as “n. grammatical classification (or one of the two, or three classes) of objects roughly corresponding to the two sexes and sexlessness (masculine, feminine or neuter)…”
This word is used frequently to describe a person’s sexual classification but does not whip up mind pictures at all, let alone those of sexual intercourse.
There would have been no harm in using the term gender in the survey question and in the debate. But to do this, the removal of the horror factor would have been required and that just won’t do, would it?
I have written before on the political theory of keeping the populace in a state of fear in order to control the masses. This theory requires the presence of monsters which can be slain by the [insert name here] who will look after us. Trump is doing it over North Korea and Thatcher did it over the Falklands. Bush, Blair and Howard id it over the mythical weapons of mass destruction which were used as justification for invading the Middle East.
The churches have been doing it for centuries. The Devil is the ultimate expression of that monster and the [insert name here] church is the only source of salvation against that hideous monster.
When the churches describe the Devil, they have to give some examples of why this dude is evil (another construct without proof of existence like an all-powerful and all-loving God). This being is responsible for nasty happenings, like dishonesty, killings, theft, adultery to name just a few.
But often the Devil is responsible for us not conforming to a set of standards, mores, ethics which have been constructed by the ruling elite, the church hierarchy. Moses had these fantastic tablets showing the right way to live one’s lives. Happens though, that other wise guys in antiquity have also laid down similar laws, like don’t go around killing people; be nice to your parents, don’t nick stuff just because you like it, don’t chat up someone else’s missus. Abrahamic heroes don’t have mortgage on these tenets.
Immersed in these tenets is the notion that only men and women can be married. Well, these are the same tenets which rendered any other coming together of the heart illegal and punishable by death. Fortunately, we live in more enlightened times now.
So the forces of power, needing us to bend to their concepts of what is right and what is not have to resort to the state of fear theory and project mind pictures of unnatural unions of a sexual nature between people who may be of the same gender! How dishonest is this?
They say that the union of a man and a woman is so that kids can be delivered. What if one or more partners don’t want kids? What about the case of a man is in his second marriage after having had a vasectomy in the first? What is the status of a person who changes gender but doesn’t get divorced?
Another assumption which gets me riled is that marriage automatically comes with bedroom notions of our particular construction. Heaven (wherever that is) help us all. I don’t know or care what anyone else does in their bedroom. It is not my place to say to folks, Hey! Tell you what! I’ve got this great idea how you can have a great time in the sack! But that is exactly what the NO case is trying to do.
What they don’t get is that same-gender folks are living together already, they have kids sometimes, they do all the same things that the rest of do. It’s happening already, guys! How are you going to stop it? Make same gender co-habitation illegal? Have Gender Police?
Back to being semantic for a moment.
If the use of words was to facilitate considered and respectful debate, the use of emotive and hysterical wording and mind pictures would not be used. It is only when a result must be engineered rather than successfully argued, are such emotive words used in debates.
I have filled in my survey form, marked the YES box and am sitting back now listening to hysteria and hyperbole, emotive language and downright lies all being employed to engineer a result.
The survey is a farce, the motives of those who pushed it are suspect, and it is not going to be a true reflection of how most people feel about this subject. The whole thing has warts on it.