Posts Tagged As: John Jay Institute
August 19th, 2013
Stop for a moment and note your reaction to this entry’s headline. Specifically:
1. What was your first thought about what it meant — your first interpretation?
2. What your immediate feeling, your gut response, to that interpretation?
3. How do you feel about the person saying it?
Note those things. We’ll come back to them later.
That headline is a quote from a new strategy document for opposing same-sex marriage (short version here). That quote is offered as a good thing for our opponents to say in public. That quote, to me at least, is a good example of why our opponents are doomed to fail.
The John Jay Institute issued this strategy document, and it’s worth reading:
This paper explores findings from a growing body of research from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and narrative theory to inform how to take a more sophisticated approach to communicating in the marriage debate. It offers new opportunities for understanding, developing, and using persuasion informed by cognitive science and narrative theory to advance traditional marriage and counter marriage revisionism.
Basically, it’s built on the growing mounds of evidence that people don’t reason their way to conclusions, especially on complex moral issues. Conclusions come from the gut, and reason is an afterthought, a tool used to support decisions we’ve already made. This is a human tendency, one that cuts across political, economic, and cultural lines.
That makes the John Jay paper a leap in our opponents’ sophistication. Its recommendations are likely to start popping up in their communications. The paper deserves an in-depth analysis, but for now I want to focus on this one horrendous bit of it, because it illustrates just how tone-deaf our opponents are, and how difficult it is for them to put science into practice.
The headline comes from a section on how to use metaphor in the marriage debate. They claim that one of our metaphors is “A HOMOSEXUAL COUPLE IS A HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE.” (All these caps are from the original, sorry.) Or, as our side phrases it (infinitely better): Same love. A same-sex committed relationship deserves the same status as one involving opposite-sexers.
The John Jay paper says the way to undermine our metaphor (I’m not sure they know what a metaphor is) is to focus on “the ability of husbands and wives to contribute to the common good through the creation and perpetuation of family.” In other words, it’s not the same love, because we can’t have kids.
It’s hard for me to let that pass (same-sex couples can’t create and perpetuate families?), but let me leapfrog it to get to what’s even worse. The John Jay folks anticipate we”ll rebut them by pointing out that society allows infertile opposite sex couples to wed — and here’s the John Jay comeback to that:
Use this metaphor to counter revisionist arguments about infertile marriages: AN INFERTILE MARRIAGE IS A PROFITLESS COMPANY.
They go on to give a reasoned explanation of the metaphor, but keep in mind that a reasoned explanation is not the point. The point is to reach people in a quick, gut-level way. So let me share my gut-level responses.
1. The metaphor says that an infertile marriage is a failure, pointless, unlikely to survive and probably not worth saving anyway.
2, My gut-level reaction is astonishment and contempt that someone could be so callous and blind to the value of committed couples who can’t birth children.
3. My feeling about the person saying this thing is that they’re, well, callous and blind. My reaction is that I don’t want to be on their side.
But here’s how John Jay describes the metaphor:
US law incorporates businesses and levies particular taxes tailored to corporate profits. The rationale for this is that as a category of activity, commercial enterprise generates profits. Yet, a commercial enterprise that fails to turn a profit was still incorporated and considered a valid commercial enterprise. A profitless company still endorses the ideal of a profitable company, and an infertile couple still endorses the ideal of conjugal marriage.
Wow. All that mumbo jumbo about “an infertile couple still endorses the ideal” is just wishful thinking. It’s pathetically easy to refute. But did you catch that word in the middle: “fails”? If you’re trying to reach people on an emotional level, this notion that AN INFERTILE MARRIAGE IS A PROFITLESS COMPANY is so heartless and offensive that people won’t even stay around to listen to your oh-so-nuanced explanation of what you really meant. And if even if they do listen to it, then their reasoning — based on the notion that reason is generally used to justify our emotional response — will rush to the cause of rejecting it completely.
This John Jay paper lays the groundwork for what our opponents will be doing next. We should be prepared for that. Luckily we’re in the right, in the most human, empathetic, compassionate way, so it won’t be hard for us to dissect that strategy and develop effective responses.
Let’s take the next week or two and do that. I’ll put up a series of posts, and fair warning: if you get ahead of me in the comments then I will steal your ideas without remorse.
This could be fun.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.