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March 16, 2004

Intellectual Diversity on SSM

Finally, a professor has stepped forward in the letters section of the URI student paper to treat both sides as if there is an actual argument to be had. Unfortunately, Biomedical Sciences Professor Alvin Swonger declares his view as aligned with that of John Kerry, and when he addresses the letter from our on-campus-hero Marcus Ross, some problematic thinking appears that, at the very least, makes it a bit presumptuous to call the argument that he would deflate "false":

False argument # 1 (Ross's principle argument): Heterosexual couples provide better parenting skills because women and men have had different life experiences, which can then be brought to bear in addressing the various needs of sons and daughters. This argument falls apart for two reasons. The issue of marriage is not the same as the issue of parenting. Gay marriages could exist without the right of adoption of children. Second, if having both a male and a female parenting is necessary for childbearing, then society would also need to ban single parent families. Two parents of the same sex would at least provide a wider variety of resources to children than one parent.

Firstly, Marcus and those who agree with him believe that gay marriage is detrimental in part because it implies that there is no link between marriage and parenting. Same-sex marriages cannot exist sans adoption rights without diluting the cultural idea of marriage (which is something that Swonger subsequently suggests that he understands). Secondly, single-parent families do not represent a necessarily permanent state; the damage done to the child's well-being through the lack of one parent would only be exacerbated by tearing him or her away from the other one; and in most cases, children of single-parent families do have a second parent, he or she just lives elsewhere. (That's detrimental in itself, but it is relevant to certain arguments in this line.)

At least Swonger's critical thinking skill's are sufficiently developed to weigh opposing arguments. This is in stark contrast to the inane sarcasm of Chris Ferdinandi, whose letter would have been absolutely unthinkable to publish in a college paper if it handled a different group than conservatives (or Christians) so callously:

WANTED: A few good Conservatives! Are you pissed off that "the Gays" are threatening your sacred institution of marriage, jeopardizing the status quo? Do you despise reform, awareness and activism, as they take away power and privileged from the few and redistribute it to the many? If so, you may be interested in conservatism! ...

If you're a Nazi who loves to wear patriot clothing, then a rewarding career as a conservative might be perfect for you.

Posted by Justin Katz at March 16, 2004 7:36 AM
Marriage & Family