The Fragility of “Normal”

This week’s print edition of Maclean’s features an article by Mark Steyn blaming gay rights advocates for the “imminent threat” of legalized polygamy in Canada. Once you make one amendment to what is normal, Steyn claims, you won’t be able–or even justified–to prevent further changes.

The article is interesting for two reasons. First, naturally, there is no mention of what relevant differences there are between the two forms of marriage. Steyn ignores a vast body of literature on the subject, which is more than a slight oversight for a journalist. Second, Steyn’s underlying attitude appears to be that we should fear any departure from normal, where the definition of normal he uses is typified by the pretty, white suburbs of 60 years ago.

I recommend reading it, and perhaps writing a letter.

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5 thoughts on “The Fragility of “Normal”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Jackie!
    I wish there was a link to the article, but I can’t find it anywhere :(

  2. As even the most vacuous law student knows, once you start to make even the slightest changes to the wording of legislation you can suddenly be on a very slippery slope. Standard legal reasoning in the courts follows such changes.

    Did you alter the legislation to eliminate the gender reference from the marriage definition of one man and one woman? OK, then you have same sex marriage. If you can alter the gender, than why not the number? OK, so now you have polygamy. If you can alter the gender and number, why not the species? OK, so now we have bestiality, etc., etc.

    A “vast body of literature” on a subject or a lack of fear from any “departure from normal” are not legal concepts Jackie. Both Canada and the U.S. are nations of Law.

  3. Bay50,

    The insulting end to your comment has been deleted, just as a sign that (a) we won’t put up with that sort of crap on our blog–disagree, but be civil, and (b) you have something worth saying apart from your inability to avoid the slur that is intimated even in the first few words.

  4. “Spirit” sez:
    “childish and insulting” “we won’t put up with that sort of crap” “inability to avoid the slur”

    End of relevant blog post:
    “Steyn’s underlying attitude appears to be that we should fear any departure from normal, where the definition of normal he uses is typified by the pretty, white suburbs of 60 years ago.”

    Yeah, you mean commenters! No childish slurs! Like, grow up or whatever!

  5. Bay50, I can understand how you would have misinterpreted my post as being relevant to your criticism, however you are clearly unfamiliar with the rulings, which were based on the interpretation of equality rights granted in the Canadian charter. The equality rights are stated as follows:

    15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

    Given that, someone considering subsection (2) would make use of just that “vast body of literature” to determine whether or not a law outlawing, say, polygamy was justified.

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