Monday, October 27, 2008

Proposition 8: Closing arguments

The day is drawing near and I will, frankly, be elated when this election which has gone on far too long, even for my liking, finally comes to an end. As it stands, McCain has an impossible hole to climb out of. I am intrigued for what comes next with President Obama and his no doubt dynamic cabinet. But since he has no bearing on the all important Proposition 8 (yet), I move on.
Kevin requested a Constitutional citation for my loose claim that "the rights of individuals and minorities end where they begin to infringe upon the rights of the majority." Schenk vs. United States was the original inspiration for that comment, as I recalled from my Political Science courses. Note: the overall premise of this case has largely been discredited. I bring up a specific comment from the case only as a contextual reference, not to substantiate my claim. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the opinion for the case, making this hallmark claim:
"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
Since the Prop 8 debate revolves largely around weighty issues pertaining to the first amendment that is where I will turn to substantiate my claim:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Now, here is where the two relate. Holmes' statement, while no longer the basis for sound restriction of first amendment freedoms, highlights a common misinterpretation about our most controversial bill of right. And that is that it does not in fact grant anything, but rather prohibits Congress from encroaching on liberties that already fundamentally exist. Ultimately and inevitably, our so called inalienable rights come into conflict with one another in ways that neither the Constitution nor hundreds of Supreme Court cases can viably or consistently answer. When this happens, as in the current clash over Prop 8, it is not the government's job to guarantee rights to any group, as opponents of Prop 8 erroneously assert. It is the job of government to prevent infringement upon rights as little as possible.
As there is no tangible difference in the State Constitution of California between a civil union and a homosexual marriage, the defining of marriage between only man and woman would do nothing to take rights away from homosexuals; however, it does everything to protect churches and parents from having their rights infringed upon…If Prop 8 does not pass, the rights of churches and individuals to maintain a moral stance against homosexuality is threatened. So, I hate to be the bad guy here and assert that the Constitution just can't provide rights to everyone, but I'm sorry. That is not its job. In this case, where two groups conflict with one another, the Constitutional test of encroaching as little as possible should default to the majority because the minority’s rights are not affected. That is what I meant when I said that the rights of minorities and individuals end where the rights of the majority are infringed: since the Constitution cannot grant individuals’ rights, the most imperative role of the first amendment is to encroach on the rights of as few people as possible.
Passing Prop 8 does not encroach on anyone’s rights because the right for homosexuals to marry has never existed in the first place, and they have all the same rights as a married couple in a domestic partnership anyway. If it doesn’t pass, the fact that the ACLU exists all but guarantees that churches and individuals wanting to maintain a moral stance against homosexuality will have their rights challenged by the government. It would take one teeny tiny little massive lawsuit going to the federal Supreme Court to eradicate the so-called religious protection granted by the California Supreme Court. If you don’t believe the ACLU has plans for that very thing, read here for a long list of court cases where such has already occurred around the country-and this is not an LDS sponsored article. It was done by NPR.
It has been suggested that, “ideally, we should grant the equality to same-sex couples now, and then, if circumstances necessitate, similarly fight for groups, religious and otherwise, who have their own rights challenged…” Right. I feel really great about that with the ACLU at the helm. I am about as confident that they will fight against homosexuals to protect religious and parental freedoms as I am that John McCain will be our next president.
The real problem between these two factions is that of criterion. When I was on the debate team in high school, every case I argued began with a criterion value. People don’t understand much less begin to agree, until they at least start from the same basic premise. Even within our own ranks we are arguing from different vantage points and that has been the real stimulus for contention. I guess that some of us are operating from the same value stance of rights, but ultimately it comes back to moral paradigms. And too few of us are operating from the same one: we each think that protecting the rights of our own group is more morally sound or important, which ultimately proves my point that the Constitution simply cannot, nor should it try, to give rights to a group which threatens the rights of another.
I can make plenty of good arguments as to why Prop 8 should pass on legal and logical grounds. Frankly, after I have spent so much time reading and researching those reasons, I actually think the very best one, and most simple, is that 47 out of 50 states agree that homosexual marriage should not be allowed, as do both of our presidential candidates. But that doesn’t help convince any of the 10% of undecided people who will ultimately make this decision. I hope that you fence sitters have done your research. Hopefully you will conclude that giving rights of marriage to homosexuals is not only not the responsibility of the Constitution, but the implications thereof are far too threatening to the rights of parents and churches for the Constitution to feasibly protect.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ewi's twue wove-Part two

I need a break from Prop 8...but I still owe Kevin a response. I am working on it Kevin. We have been busy and gone. But I didn't forget, no no. As a prelude to my upcoming response, I suppose you should refer back to Shannon and Blogdor's comments on your blog.

This post, however, is dedicated solely to Hailey and Eli. I hope we get to use all of these cute pictures in a wedding video or something someday, even though I think that wedding videos are mostly stupid.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thank you Prop 8 supporters

I just wanted to reiterate my support for Proposition 8 and thank the people and powerful organizations who have donated time, money and reputation to the messy cause. I also wanted to restate my main reason for supporting the Constitutional amendment: Parental rights.

While I may believe in the sacredness of marriage, traditional values, the superiority of two different gendered parent households and everything associated with the moral and religious argument, I am thoroughly convinced that if we want to make a convincing argument to people who are not sure about what they believe, then we have to articulate our argument from a starting point on which both sides fundamentally agree: rights. Not just morality. Both sides do not agree, obviously, that homosexuality is morally wrong. So we need to go farther than just reasserting over and over again that it is God's will that traditional marriage remain between man and woman; we cannot convince people who do not necessarily believe so that gay marriage would be bad for society- precisely in a tense and tight fight where undecided people are the votes we need to pass this amendment.

The NO side has figured out this tactic of starting from a premise with which the YES side already fundamentally agrees. They have adopted a "family values" argument, attempting to appeal to people like us who care about family and children with this commercial. So, unfortunately, in like manner, our side has got to start convincing people who operate from the criterion value of "personal rights" and "Constitutional authority" rather than strictly "morality" and "traditional values." We have got to start operating more efficiently because this argument is far deeper, and far more complex than a strictly moral argument can handle.

Pepperdine University recently put out a commercial in support of Proposition 8. They have had a wave of hate mail for doing so. I was encouraged by a fellow ward member to send them a thank you to help diffuse the hatred. I am making it public here:

Dear friends of Prop 8,

I am certain that you have been more than inundated with hate mail which accuses you of the grossest prejudicial atrocities; the thank yous may be few and far between for work on the commercial you supported. Whether people are religiously opposed to gay marriage, or just understand the implications of its legalization for the rights of parents and churches, we need more help from powerful organizations, like yours, who are willing to put their reputations on the line for a very difficult and complicated fight. And in the midst of the backlash, I presume that even you yourselves may question your endorsement of the commercial for Proposition 8 in which Richard Peterson appeared.

So I just want to iterate mine and my husband's gratitude for that decision. We have been actively involved in the campaign for Proposition 8, knocking on doors, blogging and making phone calls to help people understand what the issue is really about: Parental rights. Not gay rights. The rights of homosexuals are such a non issue in this campaign, as the recognition of a homosexual "marriage" awards no other right that a domestic partnership does not . What it does do, however, is force churches and parents to equate homosexual companionships with hetero ones, or face the loss of tax subsidies and parental control over what children are taught in public schools about homosexuality.

So thank you for your support, especially being part of the legal community; there are not enough members therein who have not been tainted by the gay community's hijacking of the civil rights argument. Thank you, thank you. I recognize that it may have and continue to cost you dearly.

Ashely, Adam and Eli Burr

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Dear ants who have been invading my house:
Please stop. Take your colony elsewhere. I have literally put everything sweet from my pantry into my fridge. There is nothing left for you here. Move on. And to somewhere else besides my garage, please. Duane's food is also off limits. I am now holding you personally responsible for the theft of my Ipod.

Dear Thief:
Bring it back please. It was the fault of the aforementioned ants that the garage was left open all night; because of their intrusion into Duane's food, we had moved the fifty pound bag outside so that we could attack the colony without poisoning the dog's food. Unfortunately, we neglected to bring it back in and close the garage. And I realize that it was fairly stupid for us to leave the windows to our car rolled down, with the Ipod inside. But come on. Just give it back.

I suppose I should thank you for not stealing our car, since the keys were in the ignition. And for not taking the motorcycle. Also, for not coming into my house through the unlocked garage door and stealing mine or my husband's wallet which was sitting right inside the kitchen. All right, fine. Keep the Ipod. Just don't ever come into my garage again since we are apparently incapable of securing our belongings. And just so you know, Mr. or Mrs. Ipod thief, Adam sleeps with a machete under his pillow and we have a fierce wiener dog who does not take too kindly to strangers. Just in case you were thinking of returning.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Camping and the not so very much of a break-a week late of course

We spent a busy what was supposed to be Sept. break week painting, Eli proofing (again) the house and doing mundane things like laundry; Eli helps me by getting in the basket and throwing the clothes out in between throwing the tennis ball to Duane. Adam mostly had to do a lot of boring orientation stuff and I mostly had to work everyday. So it wasn't very breaky. But we did go camping on the beach, which meant surfing a little bit. So that was good. Eli and Hailey had a blast. Ashley Spencer actually let her kid get dirty; and once Hailey had the go ahead from her mother, Eli taught her some of his tricks like piling dirt on the chairs, running recklessly into the street and ocean, and climbing on things that say "Keep Off."

Ashley Spencer says that she does not like to camp; I have evidence to the contrary:

I know I need to blog about the debate. I don't have much to say other than that I really can't listen to any of them, any four of them, without cringing at some point in the discourse. I'll deal with this later.