Monday, December 01, 2008

"Gay" "marriage": a parable

One day a man woke up and decided he'd had enough. Things would have to change.

He was bone-weary of discrimination and shame and reproach. The way he could feel people looking at him, mocking him — sometimes subtly, sometimes not. The way people talked about him, about people like him. The sneering, caricatured representations in movies. Everywhere, the pressure, the rejection — singling him out as a second-class citizen, as substandard, as (at best) silly and ridiculous, or (at worst) weak and deficient. Not good enough.

But it was all ignorance and lies. He was born this way. God made him the way he was. He could never recall a time when he was any different. And no one had a right to say it was wrong.

He'd tried to change, and his efforts had always failed. So, early in life, he'd accepted the way he was. He'd told his parents and friends that he was what he was, and they must accept him as such. Stop pressing him to change. The way he lived was natural to him, and he wasn't going to spend his life in misery and guilt trying to change something he not only was powerless to change, but had no real reason to change.

So, now fed up, he found ways to take legal action, and political action. He formed PACs and organizations. It took years, and money, and a lot of hard work. But finally he had success.

Victory came the year that his state's legislature passed, and the Supreme Court upheld, the "Bariatric Freedom Act." It was now there, set in law: anyone weighing under four thousand pounds must be called "thin," and must be protected from all forms of discrimination.

The ramifications were instantaneous, and widespread.

Medical research was funded for the purpose of proving that all weight-ranges were equally healthy. What were formerly viewed as health-risk factors were attributed to negative societal pressure and stereotyping. Medical groups redefined their weight charts and standards to accommodate and approve all weight-ranges equally.

Clothing stores were required by law to carry shirts in sizes up to 10X, pants in sizes up to 125 waist, 27 inseam, and dresses up to size 75. It became illegal for WalMart, Kmart, or any other store, to charge more for "extra" sizes, since that category was rendered illegal. Any clothiers with terms like "big" and "large" in their titles found themselves athwart the law, with all people now legally "thin." Thousands of small clothing stores went out of business in the first year, and department stores took to selling only one pattern, since the size-range took up their entire department. (Then the government took over the clothing industry.)

Businesses who used visual ads were required by law to prove that they employed models of every weight-range equally. Alternately, they were permitted to hire "blind," using a number system, contracting models sight-unseen. Gyms were required to install equipment equally accommodating every weight; their instructors were required to tell every customer that he was at his perfect weight, and shouldn't change. (The government took over that industry after three months.) Body-building competitions were required completely to rewrite their criteria, and closed down after one month.

Surgeons who performed liposuction and other plastic surgeries were required to document recommending lipo-insertion surgery to patients who weighed under 4000 pounds.

Airlines were required to install an equal amount of roomy, extra-size seats. This cut the amount of tickets they could sell per flight by 50%. They were also prohibited from raising prices to compensate. When every airline declared bankruptcy the following week, the government took over the airlines. Inter-state travel ground to a halt.

Movie studios became vulnerable to lawsuits if their products contained language or materials discriminatory to "alternative bodystyles." Movies and TV shows went into production portraying the "ample" lifestyle as healthy, happy, normal and desirable.

Gymnastic and other sports events were required to issue "weight-suits" to the competitors, bringing their body-weight up to the national average. Ratings plummeted, and eventually the events were taken over and hosted exclusively by foreign nations. Athletes emigrated en masse.

The automotive industry was required to manufacture cars that accommodated any size driver. (After a month, the government took over that industry as well.) Restaurants had to retool all chair-to-table ratios, to make sure all diners could fit comfortably. Charging extra for "super-sized" meals was prohibited.

Anyone telling a "fat-joke," or in any way making an "alternatively bodied" individual feel bad about his profile, could be found guilty of a hate-crime. Social workers were authorized to do a family profile, to mandate sensitivity re-education, and even to take custody of children, if any child was found taunting other children because of their weight.

Girls (or men) who declined invitations to dates could be sued and forced to prove that weight played no factor in their decision.

Publishers were required to recall and edit dictionaries so as to redefine "fat" and related terms, to accommodate the new, legally-enforced mindset. Schools were required to include instruction highlighting the positive contributions of plus-size Americans. "Orson Wells Day" became a school holiday.

Nor were churches left unaffected. Government standards were created for pew-to-pew and row ratios, so that any congregant could fit comfortably in the seat of his or her choice. Any sermon touching on subjects such as self-control or moderation could be sent in for legal review, to be sure they weren't perceived to contain hate-speech against alternative bodystyles.

All this came to pass because one man asked, "What gives them the right to call me 'fat'?"

After a year under the new state of legislation, that man was enjoying a government-run buffet with a friend. His friend lamented that he wasn't having as much luck with girls as his formerly-"fat" friend.

The large man shrugged as he reached for his seventh dessert. "Maybe it's because you're bald."

"'Bald'?" the man frowned, putting down his fork.


DJP said...

Author's Interpretive Note: this is a parable, not an allegory. Like most Biblical parables, this parable has only one point.

I'm blessed with such sharp readers, I don't doubt that regulars will pick it up right away.

MarieP said...

Excellent! Great work! Spot on! Not odd at all! Unless we redefine the word odd...

Fred Butler said...

Orson Wells Day,

that's awesome. How I would give nearly anything to have been verbally chewed out by that guy.

By the way, my "word verification" characters: FLAB

I kid you not...

Daryl said...

Sharp and to the point. You've still got it.

DJP said...

Oh Fred, that's too funny.

DJP said...

BTW: if it were an allegory, the man would only lobby that any weight less than 10 pounds over his own maximum would be called "thin."

Mesa Mike said...

Won't it be grand when that day arrives that we can all live in a truly "tolerant" society?

Things will be so lovely, what with Lions laying down with Lambs and all, that we won't even have any need of the First Amendment any more.

DJP said...

No no no, MMike. All we have to do is call them both "lambs," or call them both "lions," and everything will be fine!

VcdeChagn said...

Fantastic allegory. As someone who has struggled with weight all my life (though struggled might be a bit of an understatement) it hits home. to form a PAC I guess :D


DOH...looks like they started without me.

Mesa Mike said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot.
Can't have any distinction between Lions and Lambs.

Had Prop. 8 been defeated, I was wondering when someone would've challenged the use of "Party A" and Party B" on marriage licenses. After all, it's not too tolerant, is it, to give someone 'B' status in a supposedly equal partnership is it?

VcdeChagn said...

I meant parable, not allegory. That's what you get when you write something, leave for a bit, then come back.

Sorry bout that

Everyday Mommy said...

Dang! I almost choked on my cinnamon roll while reading this...better wash it down with my grande mocha breve. I'm watching my weight, you know.

Jay said...

Nice parable. Though I'd assume that there would be several fat people who, unlike the main character, were honest and saw his efforts to get society's stamp of approval as rightly ridiculous.

Based on my own personal experience (which, granted, is not an objective fact), for every shrill voice shouting about some imagined "tolerant" society, there are at least three others who are honest and content with living outside of the cultural norm, and recognize that this is an individualistic society based on respect, not agreement. Tammy Bruce, the conservative radio talk-show host (who happens to be a lesbian), comes to mind. Unfortunately, such voices are rarely heard over the cries of the needy few who want government to be their Mommies and Daddies.

Rachael Starke said...

I was in a store last week that I frequent specifically because their jeans have been a reliable choice for my particular molecular structure, which means I can be in and out in half an hour.

I was disturbed to discover that, even though both my scale and mirror say otherwise, I have lost two whole dress sizes! I immediately bought the jeans, then went home and recalibrated my scale and made plans to replace my defectiive mirror. And I had an extra piece of pie at Thanksgiving.

I feel so free, and light!

~Mark said...

Very nice.

Rita Martinez said...

For some reason this parable made me think of the word abortion...

Fred Butler
my first word verification was BIGGSX lol

Stan McCullars said...

My asthma, hiatal hernia, high cholesterol and low energy level are all a thing of the past! I can throw away my meds and forget about exercising!

Todd Bentley has nothing on you.

This is the best day of my life!

Libbie said...

That forehead looks like it could do with one of those natty flat caps I see on-trend apologists wearing these days.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I should think that DJP's parable applies to this presentation by a Presbyterian minister and seminary professor of Christian Ethics. Here are some nuggets:

o The prevailing Christian code --celibacy for singles, sex only in marriage--is no longer adequate, if it ever was, for at least three reasons. First, this code is fear-based, punitive, disrespectful of human personhood, and aimed at control rather than empowerment of persons. Second, the Christian marriage ethic is not sufficiently discerning of the varieties of responsible sexuality, including among singles and samegender loving people. Third, it is not sufficiently discriminating in naming ethical violations even within marriage and has been way too silent about sexual coercion and domestic abuse.

o In my judgment, the renewal of Christian sexual ethics depends on de-centering both heterosexuality and marriage and re-centering the ethical focus on justice-love as the central expectation for all sexual and social relating.

o Considerable evidence suggests that the majority heterosexual culture is coming to resemble gay culture with its gender flexibility, experimentation with family forms, and celebration of the pleasures of nonprocreative sex. "Contrary to popular belief, and even some gay rights rhetoric," Michael Bronski writes, "gay people have not been patterning their lives on the structures of heterosexuality; rather, the opposite has occurred. Heterosexuals who have increasingly been rejecting traditional structures of sexuality and gender have been reorganizing in ways pioneered by gay men and lesbians."

o One way to break the marriage debate "logjam" would be for heterosexual couples to begin living and acting more like their LBGT counterparts.

o In the midst of this cultural crisis, the Right has cruelly played the race card and the sex/gender card, again and again, to scapegoat vulnerable groups and divert attention from the real source of our cultural woes, runaway capitalism and the collapse of democracy.

o Turning queer is also a spiritual pathway for remaining loyal to God, who, as these things go, is also rather odd: passionate about justice, no respecter of social rank or status, and forever graciously at work "making all things new." Let us give thanks, then, for this conflict about marriage equality and relational justice and instead of running the other way, let's throw caution to the wind and enjoy taking the plunge together toward more and more justice-love.

Carl said...

And Jeff Foxworthy is sentenced to a life in a Federal penitentiary for making discriminatory "redneck" jokes. ;-)

Gilbert said...

So how far will this go, and how soon? The odd IS the norm. Odd in the sense that what should be odd...isn't. We're just breaching through moral boundaries that our previous generation (well, OK, the one before that) never dreamed of. At least not openly.

Jesus is the answer, but everyone's avoiding the question like a bad "Jeopardy!" category.

Susan said...

"Orson Welles Day"? How about "Luciano Pavarotti Day"?

CR said...

DJP: Girls (or men) who declined invitations to dates could be sued and forced to prove that weight played no factor in their decision.

And in this world, Dan could get in trouble for saying girls (contrasted with men) instead of saying women or ladies. Did Valerie not proofread this post, Dan? :=)

eastendjim said...

We recently had a supreme court ruling in Canada regarding obesity and airline seats.

"What remains unresolved is when exactly obesity constitutes a disability."

Perhaps they can hire Dan as a consultant.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

A pro-family activist is questioning why there is no outrage over the murder of a college student by a homosexual.

On November 21, William Smithson, 43, of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to life in prison for the September 2006 strangulation murder of 23-year-old Jason Shephard. Smithson, a homosexual, murdered Shephard after slipping him GHB, a date rape drug, then hid the body in the basement of his home.

Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, says it is ironic that homosexuals used the murder ten years ago of Matthew Shepherd to push for hate crimes laws -- yet remain largely silent about the murder of Jason Shephard.

"[It's] a true double standard, because Jason Shephard's murder has been under the radar screen -- and basically, unless you're in Pennsylvania monitoring this kind of stuff, you don't hear about it," says Gramley. "But Matthew Shepherd? Everyone in the country knows who Matthew Shepherd is."

From: Silence 'deafening' over murder by homosexual

James said...

This whole post is one giant logical fallacy...

Argument from false analogy.

I wish Christians didn't exhibit so much zealous hatred

Mesa Mike said...

How is the analogy false?

Perhaps you could support your assertions with at least a modicum of simple argumentation?

DJP said...


James, Blogger must have somehow deleted all the reason, logic, facts and substance from your comment, and left only the bluster and posturing.

Please try again.

Carl said...

James wrote:

"This whole post is one giant logical fallacy..."

Yet James failed to support his claim with any logical argumentation and/or documentation thereby making his accusation merely an opinion and also a logical falacy in of itself.

Care to elaborate, James? You claim is is "Argument from false analogy" yet you provide no specific example or examples to support this contention.

Furthermore, you conclude with an ad hominem based upon an erroneous presupposition: "I wish Christians didn't exhibit so much zealous hatred"

Since no hatred was exhibited in the post nor in the responses (other than this ad hominem of yours which implies, at the very least, a strong dislike of Christians that fit your personal stereotypical preconceptions) your whole response is rendered quite meaningless and moot.

Jay said...

TUAD: I'm a teacher. It's my career choice, you could say, and thus it's also a group of people I belong to; a community of sorts. I'm not going to be "outraged" if a teacher on the other side of the country rapes and kills a nurse he knows, because then he's not a teacher but a rapist who happens to be a teacher. The crime is unrelated to his profession.

Now, if for some reason a teacher killed a nurse because she was a nurse, then I would express outrage because I would not want the idea to spread that teachers hate nurses.

But there is no evidence in that article that says Justin Shephard was killed because he was straight. He was the target of a rapist and murderer who happened to be homosexual. I mean, let's say William Smithson was a heterosexual man who raped and murdered a woman. Would you feel the need to express "outrage" because he was heterosexual?

I don't think anyone is saying he's not a criminal. Unfortunately, crimes happen so often and it would be ridiculous if you were expected to express "outrage" every time someone in your demographic committed a crime that was unrelated to demographics. I mean, do we expect the NAACP to express outrage if a black man kills a Hispanic man in a gang fight? Their race has nothing to do with the crimes involved.

DJP said...

I think I made a mistake. Much as I try to make precise rules, precision in enforcement is less easy than it may look from the outside.

TUAD's first off-site allusion was iffily relevant to the post. The second really wasn't, and I should have deleted it. Now Jay's response is on-topic for TUAD's off-topic, off-site allusion.

So I'm saying: sorry, I shouldn't have allowed TUAD's second. I'll allow it and Jay's response, and say, "No more, please. Back to the post."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Go ahead and delete the 2nd post. It was in response to James' comment about the zealous hatred by Christians.

And go ahead and delete the first post as well. If it's "iffily" relevant, then that's no good. I thought it was quite relevant, but if you think it was a dubious comment, by all means, please delete it and this one as well.


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Ooops! Not in response to James' comment. My bad.

But delete it anyways.

Mesa Mike said...

James' comment was the one that probably should've been disallowed.

Back to the topic at hand:
The point of the parable (it's not an allegory!) seems to be that if you feel bad about who you are, and try to remedy it by Orwellian re-definition of terms, you've actually changed nothing about your state of being; just the words to describe it.

We can still see that the Emperor has no clothes, even if we are bullied into not saying anything about it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Seems like satire, mockery, and ridicule, whether expressed in a parable or a musical, is what passes for persuasion in these modern times.

Here's a short musical that spoofs in the other direction of obesity and airline regulations.

P.S. If off-topic, please delete.

Mesa Mike said...

Oh, and another thing.

When they realize the futility of denying the obvious -- that, no matter what words we use, the masses will still be able to discern a difference between same-sex "marriage" and heterosexual marriage -- then perhaps the next step will be to try to disabuse us of the notion that people even come in different sexes.

SolaMommy said...