Thursday, November 30, 2006

The S-P War Plan

Bill O'Reilly, the gleamy-eyed conservative pundit, has declared war on what he calls the S-P's, or the secular-progressives. He knows what these frightening people want for America, and one thing they (or we?) want is lots of children born out of wedlock:

From the November 27 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: A couple of wins in the culture war, but there's also a couple of losses too. A couple of things happened that are very disturbing, including out-of-wedlock birth in the USA at record highs, which the S-Ps want. You gotta understand the thinking here. We're gonna get into that as well.

Someone forgot to send me the details on exactly why we secular-progressives would want all children to be born outside marriage. But then I'm not very high up in the hierarchy of this frightening fifth column.

All joking aside, I detest it when O'Reilly defines my movement goals for me. He is not even in the movement. And his argument is very similar to someone complaining about the anti-slavery movement of the nineteenth century by saying that their goal is to destroy the agricultural industry of the South, NOT in any sense of comparing marriage to slavery (though some extreme forms of marriage are not that different from slavery in some parts of this world) but in the sense of turning the goals of a movement upside down and picking one possible side-effect of it as the pretended goal.

I'm not that convinced that the number of children born outside marriage has much to do with any liberal or progressive policies in the first place, but if it does it is to do with the movements which tried to make marriages more equal and bad marriages easier to leave. - The reason why I remain unconvinced of this is that the rise in unmarried births is largely among the women in their twenties, and many of these women are not actually single but living together with the father of the child. It is perhaps the definition of marriage itself that is changing. In particular, living together is becoming something very much like marriage, and it is treated like that by others, too, though perhaps not by Bill O'Reilly.

O'Reilly's war is for the patriarchal type of marriage, one in which the husband is the head of the household. This is why all other types of partnership, including same-sex marriages, are seen as an assault on marriage, and this is why living together without a formal marriage ceremony is not acceptable. It's good to be clear on this, don't you think? If O'Reilly can define the goals of the S-P movement I can define his goals.

What is fascinating about the wingnut reverence of marriage is that it takes something which is an organization and puts its welfare (which is impossible to define in reality) ahead of the welfare of the individuals belonging to it. So we talk about the "family" as suffering, never asking whether each member of that family is suffering, and we talk about the "family" as thriving, usually ignoring whether the mother thrives at all. But then the conservatives regard firms as individuals with rights, too.