Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Whole New Frontier in Pants-Shitting Hysteria

The Boston Globe does a story on polyamory.

Shockingly, a conservative site takes issue with the concept.

PSH ensues in the comments.

To whit:

For those of you who don't believe in Christian morality...

Polygamy increases the odds of terrorism. If 20% of men take 4 wives each, this leaves 80% of men to fight for 20% of the women. This gets competitive, creating a culture where violence is acceptable.

This is also why most terrorists are Arab/Muslim, since they are the only ones who (currently) practice it.

Lawdy-lawdy... Subsequent commenters hit on the obvious problems with this insanity: it's not like supposedly monogamous* cultures are necessarily less competitive, there's no shortage of violence outside the Muslim world, there are far more persuasive reasons for the prevalence of Muslim terrorism, and--most importantly--modern polyamory ain't historical polygyny: a woman can have multiple husbands as easily as a man can have multiple wives. My own experience backs that last bit up, incidentally, as I've _known_ as many FMM triads as MFF triads; and as rare as stable quads are, there doesn't seem to be any specific shortage of quads with multiply husbands _and_ multiple wives.

But past all the silliness about "family values" (which usually seems to actually mean "families like mine") and the scaaaawy "redefinition" of marriage, the Spectator's point is entirely valid: as the gay rights train steadily progresses (provided they don't derail themselves taking the turns too fast), you will start to see poly families starting to demand equal protection under the law. Hell, the earliest rumblings are already starting in Canada.

All social movements past the "stop turning dogs and firehoses on us" stage have to use incrementalism to achieve their goals. I don't care whether your goal is gay rights, poly rights, gun rights, or banning guns, for that matter; if you demand everything up front, you lose. And the big players who actually drive policy know this. I think gay rights groups are making three critical errors overall: insisting that gaiety is genetic, and thus homophobic policies are racist (hanging their movement on an unproven and falsifiable assumption); demanding too much too fast (pushing marriage and pro-gay school curricula when most states still give no legal protection whatsoever); and answering "next it'll be plural marriages" with "nyuh-uh!"

Don't knock the slippery slope: it works.

A mature movement knows how to pace its demands, but there will always be less politically savvy folks who demand gay marriage, plural marriage, or paperless machine gun sales at the hardware store right now. The mature movement needs to figure out a practical way to deal with those committed-but-misguided people, even if it amounts to ignoring them. Ultimately, insisting that they don't exist can only ever show the public that you're a liar.

[* - We're all clear on the fact that most cultures are far less monogamous than they think they are, right?]


  1. Frankly I don't know how you do it! Sometimes one wife is far too much for me : ]

    I know several polyamorous people and couplings (or whatever the appropriate terms are) and they're no less normal than any other people I know.

    I don't see what the big fucking deal is!

    Hell back when the Mrs. and I were living in separate states for work I had a close female friend who I joked about marrying just so I could get a better deal with health-care, and we'd do it with a pre-nup so we could disband the moment things stopped being convenient.

    Liz Taylor was married how many times? Britney Spears got married for a day once. You can get married by a guy dressed as Elvis in a drive-through chapel in Vegas.

    I've known people who don't remember their wedding because they were blackout drunk!

    There are all sorts of the standard kind of marriage that's being done TOTALLY WRONG, how can we as a society cast judgments on people who are consenting adults and legitimately care about each-other, just because they don't fit our arbitrary cultural norms.

    (Hell I remember when you pointed out that our Judeo-Christian based culture is essentially based on the teachings of a bunch of Polygamists)

  2. The standard joke is that, to understand polyamory, just think of all the drama in the average relationship and double it.

    Honestly, though, that's not really true. Relationship between three people _is_ more complex than a duo--it's also standard to point out that a triad actually involves seven distinct interpersonal relationships--but you _also_ get to split the job of taking care of a sick partner, if you take my meaning. Chores are easier with six hands than with four. Bills are lighter split three ways. Even in Jersey, we can get away with having less than a car per person. Frankly, the way the economy's going, I dunno how you folks can afford _not_ to be polyamorous. ;)

    And you're obviously right: it's the stability of the family that matters, not the number or the plumbing. We can talk about the erosion of the family in the US; I do believe that's happening, at _least_ in the cities. But that's a matter of commitment and responsibility, not of how many of what kinds of genetalia are involved.

    (Hell I remember when you pointed out that our Judeo-Christian based culture is essentially based on the teachings of a bunch of Polygamists)

    I'm sayin'. It's not _my_ fault all these godless lib'rul monogamists have redefined marriage from its Biblical model to justify their deviant one-wife relationships.

  3. You damn near owed me a new laptop with that... and I'll have to remember that the same Old Testament that some of the anti-gay bigots use to vilify has polygamy in it as well

  4. I offer no keyboard warranties. ;)

    And y'know, I usually avoid the whole "but the Bible _says_" thing, just because ordinary religious folks tend to pragmatically ignore the crazy stuff. But I'm completely down with it when the dude on the other end leads by arguing that I should be forced to follow his religion's rituals.

    You wanna tell me I can't marry a dude because Paul wouldn't have liked it? Fine. Get yourself another wife already.