Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fisking Old Jenny and Her Clownish Comments.

In a previous life I knew Jenny Roback, now known as Jennifer Roback Morse, or as she likes to call herself, Dr. J. Here is a video she made of herself. Too bad, if someone else had done it she could have sued them for libel. Watch the video and then read the comments below.

The Jenny Roback I knew was a nice woman, a secularist and one who held fairly radical views about marriage. She and her hubby, Robb, held a ceremony denouncing the right of either church or state to declare themselves married. Jenny was a lapsed Catholic who was at war with her church—the altar-boy fondling sect won out. Jenny and Robb even participated in a gay pride march in Chicago.

But this is what she became when she went off the deep end into religious fanaticism. And I do mean fanaticism. She sits in adoration of hunks of plaster formed to look like what someone imagines the "Virgin" Mary to look like. She has said that she would do that for hours on end, just staring at the statue and adoring it. Even b.y normal religious standards that is pretty loony.

My first thought at looking at a still of the video is that Jenny is getting exactly what she deserves. She desperately needs a "queer eye" for the straight woman, but has so alienated the gay community that no one will tell her that her makeup belongs in a circus, not before a video camera. Adding to the clownish appearance is a multicolored scarf tied around her chins; this is part of her campaign to reclaim the rainbow for "God's people." She really does believe God created the rainbow for straight Christians—an absurdity on several levels.

We all age, I know that, but there is something really ridiculous when old women think they can cover up age with lots more makeup. It doesn't work. The cheeks don't look young and vibrant but bruised.

Let us go immediately to this bullshit about "Hi, I'm Dr. J." Jenny is allowing people to believe something that is, at best, deceptive. She got a doctorate in economics but was never really very good in the field. She was pretty much a second rate economist and not very productive. She wrote very little of substance and never made a contribution to that field worth mentioning. This was back when she was a libertarian and not a member of the Monster Raving Loony Party.

Then she accepted the Virgin Mary as her personal Lord and Savior, started adoring plaster, and hanging around with priests because she likes their sexual ethics. So she wrote a book attacking libertarianism called Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work. At this point she abandoned her commitment to human freedom and adopted the authoritarian Catholicism that now permeates her politics. Given that it was her first real book I read it and found it one of the most sadly argued books around, filled with the sort of logic that she would have pounced on only a few years earlier. But since she was blinded by the light she couldn't do that anymore. She has literally turned into an extreme caricature of the type of person she once found amusing. Now, the old Jennifer spends her time denouncing the young, wanton Jenny of University of Chicago days.

Calling herself Dr. J may fool the silly old women who flock around her anti-gay organization into thinking she has some sort of medical credentials. But the reality is that she studied economics, didn't exactly shine in that profession, and has since gone on to become a full time gay basher, which I suspect is far more lucrative than being a mediocre economist.

Now consider some of the gut-rot logic she uses and the implications of what she is saying.

"Previous generations of social experimenters have cause unimaginable misery for millions of people. Particular people advocated the policies that led to today’s 50% divorce rate and 40% out of wedlock childbearing rate. None of these people has (sic) ever been held accountable."

Ask yourself what the policies were that led to
her phony 50% divorce rate statistic, a statistic so bad that it shows why she was never a particularly good economist. After years of making divorce difficult laws changed and the pent up demand for divorce was satiated. At the peak, in 1979, there was one divorce finalized for each two marriages performed. But that is not a 50% divorce rate. The divorce rate is the total number of divorces over the lifetime of marriages That claim ignores all the marriages that were already in existence that year. In addition, with the baby boom generation in decline demographically, the number of young people marrying would be lower than in previous years. But the numbers of people who were married already, and thus open to the possibility of divorce (you must be married before you can be divorced) was at a high. In particular years the numbers divorcing would be high compared to the total number of new marriages. But the total number of divorces, compared to the total number of marriages, has never reached 50%.

Divorce rates really increased in the late 60s hitting a peak around 1979. Since then they have been dropping. In 2008 10.8% of the population said they were divorced, 50.2% said they were married, 2.2% said they were separated and 30.8% said they were single. But those married includes some people who said they were divorced before. In 2001 it was estimated that 21% of men and 23% of women, over the age of 15, had been divorced at some point in their life.

Even assuming Jenny got it right what would she rather do, make divorce a crime? The "policies" she is attacking are laws that allow men and women to terminate the marriage contract. Is Jenny saying that there should be no freedom in contracts as well? Would she prefer that women be forced to stay in bad relationships?

My mother never divorced my father. She should have. He was abusive to her and to us. Had my mother left him she would have had fewer bruises, and so would I. The policies that Jenny is attacking because of her religious views are policies that allow women to flee abusive relationships and take the children with them. Jenny is horrified at that. Being an adult who suffered the abuse of a bad marriage I can only damn her for her cruelty and stupidity. I and my siblings would have been better off if the divorce rate was slightly higher because our mother got the courage to leave a violent, drunken husband. As bad as her anti-gay bigotry is, Jenny's desire to make divorce harder is even worse. It literally damns women and children to remain in abusive situations longer by making divorce more difficult.

Notice also she said she laments that the people who advocated legalized divorce were never "held accountable." What does that mean? Prison? Fines? Shunning? She doesn't even attack people who passed laws allowing divorce but is attacking everyone who "advocated" such things and wants them held accountable, in some unspecified way. Jenny doesn't just want state oppression of gay people. In her defense of marriage she wants the heavy hand of the state to prevent divorces for straight people as well. She wants everyone subjected to her twisted theology and is demanding that her religious views be made the law of the land.

Jenny then issues a warning that she will hold to account advocates of marriage equality, "for the predictable harms you will cause by redefining marriage." I suspect that didn't scare anyone, except those who suffer from coulrophobia.

Jenny defines marriage in a uniquely Catholic way, a way that other Christians didn't used to accept, though fundamentalists are now adopting that "papist" view because they hate gay people more than they hate Catholics. Jenny says: "Marriage attaches mothers and fathers to their children, and to one another." And what of marriages that contain men and women who are not mothers or fathers? The anti-equality crusaders have to ignore marriage as a relationship between loving spouses because they can't immediately exclude the group they despise: gay people. The Christian thinker, John Milton, took that argument on back in the 1600s when he advocate legalized divorce.

Milton, using Christian theology, noted that the first marriage was that of Adam and Eve and that the first purpose of the marriage was companionship. The mandate to reproduce and have children came later. Milton said marriage was "to comfort and refresh... against the evils of solitary life."

What Jenny is doing is defining marriage in a way that smuggles in her conclusion. She starts with her conclusion as her premise. Next, she ridicules any marriage that isn't focused on reproduction by calling them "inessential" and and focused on "frivolous private purposes."

Jenny's view is essentially that marriage exists only for procreation, that other issues, such a actual love and commitment are inessential and frivolous. She also claims marriage is a "public" institution and not a private one. Certainly marriage predates any concept of "public" institutions. Government did not create marriage for some public policy agenda. To paraphrase the great classical liberal, Frederic Bastiat: "Marriage does not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that marriage existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." The "public" aspect of marriage flows from the pre-existing, private nature of marriage, not the other way around.

Since marriage predates the state and formal laws it is absurd to speak of marriage as having an essentially public purpose. Also note that Roback's (she only added the Morse after her religious conversion and I'm still inclined to call her as I knew her) assumption is that one's marriage exists for the sake of the community, not for the sake of the partners involved. It is a collectivist perspective and the very reason she found it necessary to attack the "laissez-faire" family. This principle alone is enough to say she has repudiated libertarian thinking entirely and gone to the dark side. She is a collectivist of a very authoritarian, communitarian bent.

Also, she is speaking about issues unrelated to her purpose—which is to deny equality of rights to gay people. She says "marriage attaches children to their biological parents." Of course, that is not inherently true, nor is it true that children are not attached to their parents even if the couple have forgone formal marriage—as Jenny and Robb did for numerous years before her mental decline into fanaticism. But, if she is referring to natural children then gay couples wouldn't have natural children. Remember she is speaking from a Catholic perspective so all other forms of having children are seen as unnatural.

If marriage attaches to children to parents and gay people don't have children, then no child is "hurt" by their marrying. A gay couple being married doesn't "detach" the natural children of heterosexuals from their parents. There is no risk to those children.

But if she is speaking about the children that are present in some gay relationships, the argument doesn't apply either. Those children also need the attachment to their parents that marriage helps give. Are the children of gay parents somehow superior to those of straight parents and thus not as reliant upon that sense of attachment? Of course not.

Roback then creates the claim that same-sex marriage doesn't attach "children to their biological parents" but is a "vehicle that separates children from a parent." Hey, God separated me from my father, eventually—which wasn't a bad thing as I noted earlier. Lots of kids are "separated" from a parent. Apparently Roback would want to prevent such separation by law. And I would take it that she also would want to use state power to prevent gay couples from adopting. An orphan has no parents and a gay couple adopting such a child is not "separating" the child from a parent. They are giving the child parents when Roback's God has denied them such. I can assure you, that in the grand scheme of things, "God" has denied more children their parents than gay couples could ever do. Roback doesn't find that a reason to go after her church which, of course, is known to have a rather strong interest in children, though not of a kind Roback would want to find acceptable.

Roback says that by allowing same-sex marriage legislators are "redefining parenthood." No. That is just silly. She seems to be ignorant of the fact that gay people could adopt long before they could marry. And many gay people, who were previously in heterosexual marriages, have custody of their own biological children. If anything marriage is following already widely accepted norms in parenting, it is not leading the change at all.

Roback talks about the presumption of paternity and how the "social practice of sexual exclusivity" meant that children were attached to their parents. But the social practice of exclusivity was widely ignored throughout history. Oddly, scientists have found women are more fertile is they are cheating than if they are with their husbands. Sexual evolution favors a diversity of genetic material which doesn't always go with Roback's Catholic view of the world.

Roback attacks gay couples who have children because the child in question doesn't have the genes of both parents. Yet she has a child who has none of her genes or her husband's. The law has granted her a presumption of parentage, the very thing she says "transforms parenthood."

How do gay couples become parents? First, some have their own children from previous relationships. That they are now in a gay relationship is not what separated the child from their other parent. Some are separated because the other parent died, or lost custody because of their own problems. Gay marriage didn't cause that to happen. Second, gay couples adopt a child who has no parent or who has parents who lost all custodial rights due to abuse or other issues. In these cases the married gay couple did NOT separate the child from anyone, but attached the child to care-givers who were absent in the child's life. Third, they may use a surrogate to conceive the child using or, for lesbians, conceive through in vitro fertilization.

In this case a child is created who otherwise would not have existed. The child did not lose a parent because the donor father or surrogate mother NEVER intended to be the child's parent. This child was created with two gay parents there, ready and willing to care for him. Nothing was taken because the child didn't have the other parent to begin with. And, without this couple, the child would have had nothing at all, including their own life.

Roback then leaves her bad logic for dishonest argumentation. I say dishonest because she is taking material about one situation and falsely applying to something very different. She uses a bait and switch tactic. In Iowa a court said that "the traditional notion that children need a mother and a father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else."

If you read the actual decision you will see that they are speaking about a situation where a child is raised by two same-sex parents as compared to a child raised by two opposite-sex parents. This decision explicitly says they are looking at "children raised by same-sex couples, and same sex couples can raise children as well as opposite-sex couples." They noted that all the major studies done regarding these two sets of children showed no differences. But note that they are explicitly talking about children raised by a set of parents. There are two same-sex parents in one set, and two-opposite sex parents in the other set. And the results are the same.

Then Roback goes into blatant dishonesty. She then says theres are "mountains of data" that show "children do need their mothers and their fathers." Actually the mountains of data are not comparing children raise by two same-sex parents to children raised by two-opposite sex parents. The studies compared children of single mothers to children of married couples. It compared the results of having one parent to having two parents. It didn't compare gay to straight at all.

But conservatives have regularly mixed these studies up. They do this because studies comparing the children of gay couples and of straight couples showed no differences. When the Iowa Supreme Court was referring to mothers and fathers it was specifically referring to the genders of two parents. The studies Roback uses are not about the gender of parents but the number of parents involved.

Roback asks: "Are you ready for contract parenting, in which adults parcel out parental responsibilities amongst themselves?" Interesting, what is she suggesting? Straight parents routinely parcel out parental responsibilities. Some mothers take on some functions while others do not. Some fathers take on different functions than other fathers. Is Roback suggesting that government should mandate which parent is responsible for which function? If the parents do not parcel "out parental responsibilities amongst themselves" then who does?

She again implies her broader agenda, which is state control of marriage and divorce on a scale that she dare not make public. She tells the legislature:
The next generation of children of divorce may be shuttling between 3 or 4 households, with their backpacks and their sleeping bags. Whether you're ready not, I hold you accountable.
She acknowledges gays are not responsible for that but says they will be responsible for the next generation of children. Not really true, but what's truth when religion is involved? But what is she suggesting? Again it appears she wants to use the law to force people to stay in marital relationships that they wish to leave. Roback's main attack isn't on the small percentage of same-sex married couples. Her real target is every single married couple in America. She wants to strip everyone of the right to end a bad marriage. She wants what my mother apparently wanted: to make kids stay in a relationship even when a drunken father is beating his kids in alcohol-fueled rages. Thanks, Jenny, I'm sure the kids of abusive relationships will want to build a statue in your honor.

Roback says:
"And don't try to tell me 'nothing so terrible has happened in Massachusetts.' Redefining marriage redefines the way in which generations relate to one another. It is ludicrous to believe that we would feel the full impact of such a change in a few years. It will take at least a generation, a full thirty years or more, before the full effects of redefining marriage work themselves out throughout the social system."
Make your projection far enough ahead and you are always safe predicting dire consequences. If, in 30 years, she is wrong she won't be here (from my lips to God's ears) to take the brunt of it. And, of course, if she succeeds in denying equality of rights to gay couples she could never be proven wrong. Except for one problem—all those studies that look at individuals who are adults now and who were raised by gay couples and who are just as well-adjusted as everyone else.

There are hundreds of thousands of kids who were raised by gay parents and who can testify that Dr. J is full of crap. There are countless studies of these kids which shows they are no different. And legal gay marriage has existed for a full decade without any indication that any of Roback's imagined evils will take place.

Roback fails to provide any reasonable argument as to why such a "redefining" of marriage will lead to massive divorce. Exactly how does a gay couple marrying cause straight couples, who most likely don't even know them, to divorce? And apparently gay couples wouldn't just cause random straight couples to divorce, but to do so multiple times thus forcing children into "shuttling between 3 or 4 households." No study supports this and she doesn't even try to offer a reasonable explanation as to why this would happen. She simply asserts it.

Roback tells proponents of marriage equality: "The only argument you have is so-called equality." Well, if that were the case, it would still put us up by one. But Jenny is being dishonest again. She only has to remember back to her days when she believed in individual rights to think of other arguments. This is also a matter of individual rights and freedom of contract, for instance. It also is about something more than an undefined "equality" but is about equality of rights before the law, one of the most important principles of the tradition that Roback once held to. Roback knows this, which is why she attacked the "laissez-faire" family. In addition there are children in gay families already. Is she saying that they, unlike other children, are better off if their parents don't marry? The very arguments she makes, about the benefits of marriage to children, would apply to these children as well.

Roback tries to cloak her desire to intrude in the marriages of other people in small government rhetoric. She says that marriage equality doesn't limit "the state" but is "a tool for the hostile takeover of civil society by the state." To do support this she lies about the facts once again. She claims churches are "under attack for daring to dissent from the new state-imposed Orthodoxy that marriage is whatever the government says it is."

What churches are under attack? What does she mean by attack? And, who is supposedly doing the attacking? She doesn't say—for good reason. Churches may be criticized, but the state is not doing that, private people are. Is she implying that churches should be immune from criticism and that we should also regulate freedom of speech to protect her religious fantasies? As for marriage being whatever government says it is, isn't that precisely what she is fighting for? She doesn't want the "laissez-faire" family, or private contractual families. She is against that. She wants government to define marriage according to Catholic doctrine, in order to protect the kids. (Yep, that worked so well for all those altar boys, didn't it Jenny?)

Roback isn't defending freedom of contract from state intrusion. She is demanding the government restrict access to the contract to people who are of different sexes only! She wants the state to have the power to exclude millions of people from marriage.

Roback says parents are losing "the right to direct the education of their children." True, that is the result of state control of education, not the result of gay marriage. She says: "Foster parents in the UK must submit to the state's views about marriage." But foster parents are paid by the state to care for children. And the UK case wasn't about marriage at all. It was about foster parents using state funds to teach children to hate gay people as evil sinners. Not the same thing. No right was violated.

Roback lies totally by claiming, "Reputable adoption agencies have been put out of business." False. The agency that voluntarily closed was a Catholic adoption agency in Massachusetts. It was not "put out of busienss" but denied government subsidies and it choose to close down. The issue wasn't marriage at all, but the agency wanted government to pick the pockets of gay people to fund it, but said it would fire anyone found out to be gay.

The state said that if the agency wanted government funds then it couldn't discriminate but that it was free to operate and to discriminate if it didn't take tax money. The Catholic agency preferred government subisides. A Mormon agency that also wouldn't hire gays, but which didn't take subsidies, is still operating. The Mormons could run their agency without state funds because, so far at least, they aren't paying out hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate children who were sexually abused. Catholic churches are declaring bankruptcy because of the cases. Perhaps they could afford to keep their adoption agency afloat if Catholic priests didn't prey on children so much.

Roback calls gays petty because "Christian bed and breakfast owners have been sued for not allowing unmarried couples to stay in double rooms." Actually she lies again. The "owners" did allow unmarried couples to stay in double rooms, they just wouldn't allow gay couples to stay in rooms, married or not. And she mixes anti-discrimination laws with marriage laws, which are not at all related. And she ignores that the same laws are being used to investigate hotels that cater to gay clientele as well. That is a case against anti-discrimination laws, not proof that discriminating in the law is a good thing.

Roback's closing remarks are real gems. She tries to invoke the black community, saying they "are deeply offended by the highjacking of the moral authority of their civil rights movement." Excuse me! Since when did civil rights become the exclusive property of black people? They fought for civil rights because they were being treated unequally by conservatives like Roback. Gays are doing the same thing. Equality of rights before the law is not the exclusive property of anyone.

She also invokes "children's rights" with absurd and quite honestly ugly logic.
"When we come to our senses 30 years from now and realize that we have perpetrated a grotesque injustice, not a single child born fatherless or motherless within a same sex marriage will get his missing parent back. Only prevention will protect children's rights."
When my father died, who violated my right to not be fatherless? A right is a moral claim against another person. If a child has a right to be "not fatherless" or "not motherless" than that right is against someone else. When friends of mine adopted an orphaned girl were they denying her the right to parents or giving her parents? When Roback adopted her child was she committing a crime against the child, or was she given the child parents? And after giving their child two parents, were my friends then somehow taking that way from her because they are a same-sex couple? Roback doesn't make sense. There is no violation of the rights of a child unless you completely distort the concept of rights, and you must do it precisely in a manner that is contrary to view of rights that Roback once held.

We have mature adults who are the children of gay parents. They are publicly defending their families and their parents. They don't feel like they were the victims of "grotesque injustice" and they don't feel as if their rights were violated. They feel loved and happy with the families they had. A friend of mine, in his 30s, is one such person. He was raised by a lesbian couple long before anyone thought gay marriage an option. These children of gay parents would vehemently disagree with Roback's vicious portrayal of their families. They would do what I happily do, call her a liar and a hate-monger. The one advantage they have is that don't have the unfortunate legacy of once calling her a friend.

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