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Author Topic: Superman and the Higher Morality of Marriage?  (Read 2287 times)
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Aldous
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« on: June 27, 2004, 11:44:45 PM »

We have a left-wing, avowedly secular government in New Zealand which has been making some fairly radical changes in the political (and legal) landscape here.

We are at the first anniversary now of the legalising of prostitution (a year ago). And a new law in Parliament, the Civil Union bill, has just passed its first vote, and will most likely be law in the near future.

The fact that prostitution is legal in NZ (provided the person offering sex is aged 18 or over) is not difficult to understand. Whether or not this has been good for the country is still being hotly debated a year on.

The Civil Union law may need a little explaining. This is basically an alternative to marriage, and essentially means any two people can be officially joined together as a couple. For all intents and purposes it is marriage by another name, but with any religious concept removed, and it is available for homosexual couples or heterosexual couples. Gays and lesbians, in particular, are over the moon, and there is a mood of real excitement among certain sections of the population.

Our Prime Minister, who is married, has said in more than one interview that she has always regretted getting married, and wished there had been "Civil Unions" when she was younger. She said, if she had the choice over again, she would have entered into a "Civil Union".

If this is confusing (one wonders how her husband feels about it), remember that the "Civil Union" is legally identical to marriage, but with all religious connotations removed, and thrown open to same sex couples.

It hasn't been stated openly by the government, but there is a general understanding that the government will try to eventually either phase out marriage altogether (in favour of the New Zealand Civil Union), or pass a law that throws open marriage to lesbians and gays. The latter is more likely. At the present time, the only concession that has been made to the institution of marriage is that marriage is still reserved (in law) for heterosexual couples. But once the Civil Union law is passed, that lone concession to marriage can theoretically be removed, and this is worrying for a lot of people.

The Civil Union bill has passed its first major hurdle in parliament. Our politicians are split on this, with a small majority favouring the new law.

There is a raging debate in New Zealand over the perception that our government is making us "morally bankrupt," that is, we are irreversibly abandoning all the traditional moral standards that have helped regulate behaviour and relationships in our small society. My post is really about a question: where do (or where did) those traditional moral standards come from? Did they evolve through centuries of human experimentation and progress, or were they handed down to us from the Highest Authority? If the former, is NZ not on the right track? If the latter, are we heading down a slippery slope to disaster?

Superman is No. 1 because we know, regardless of man-made laws, or political shenanigans, or even his own personal whims, he will always do the right thing, according to a higher moral code. But where did this code come from? Someone suggested on this forum it may be that Superman brought the moral standards of his native culture to Earth. That's quite a good idea, but then you have to ask, where did the Kryptonians get their higher moral standards? Is there Something above us (bigger than collective humanity) that is laying down the law -- a law we can take or leave at our peril? And when talking of morals, as opposed to man-made laws and human whims, why do we keep on introducing the word "higher", as in "a higher morality"?

I think a big part of the reason the Silver Age comics are so enduring (and are still so enjoyable) is that there is a real sense of higher morality running through them, that Superman is a force for good without anyone needing to have "good" explained to them. I think something in the reader responds to and enjoys the implied subjugation to a higher morality.
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Ra El
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2004, 05:13:28 AM »

The vision statement of the Super Family has been known to us for a long time:  " There is a RIGHT and a WRONG in the Universe; and it is USUALLY not hard to tell the difference "

The poet Kalil Gibran mused " the North Wind hath made our clothing."  Nudity tabus are NOT universal, either.  If we say these things, we admit that  our mutual perceptions of morality has its ultimate root in Nature - both our human nautre and our natural experiences.  

Or alternately, we say that God, or some "Higher Force" speaks the same relatively clear message to all of us - a fact which is easily demonstrated by the many religions of Earth as obviously false.  Although I personally choose to believe in a Supreme Being - in much the same sense of argument that Albert Einstein used - I believe because it comforts me, and because it is not completly illogical - not because it *is* logical.  It is not.   And, for those to whom we all know it will soon matter, I am not bi nor gay; I am divorced, and I am, in fact, a flaming heterosexual.     Cool


We have to first pause first to note that gay marriages have a fine and long tradition in the cultures of human history, (as does nudity, weather permitting,) there being specificly gay marriage blessing rituals in the Roman Catholic cannon, and legalized gay unions recognized between warriors of the Roman Legions.  I could go on, but this point has been hacked to death, and I expect this audience is the better educated one.

We next observe that homosexual behaviour manifests in ALL creatures of the Animal Kingdom.  Each species has a robust, charactaristic statistic for this kind of behaviour in the most benevolent and peaceful natural environments.  Any farmer can tell you this and more.

Among the few animals, like Humans, who tend to mate for life, we also observe homosexual matings for life.  I direct you to the exposition of Dr. Conrad Lorez " On Agression " for reference to this.  His chapters on life-long gay relations between geese is particularly amusing, at points.  You can almost imagine the silly quackers smoking a ciggarette together, after some of their not-for-the-children fortes.  :shock:  

So we see on reflection that gay marriages clearly have moral standing in both human history, and in the Laws of Mother Nature.  If we turn to a "higher source" than Her, then we are stuck asking why God hates so much the rules of the very Nature He ever so parthenogeneticly gave birth to!   What kind of Father Figure is this?   Could this God perhaps use some counseling for the issues He has with His Creation?  I wonder if Dr. Wirtham can take Him as a client?    :wink:

I think we *ALL* will agree that when *MOST* people appeal to a "Higher Source" for morality, they are simply saying "My values are Higher than your values ... to me!"  But most of us don't know how to analyze or argue our morality, prefering yelling and screaming, war, politics and soundbytes instead, in hopes of getting our way.  Most of us wouldn't know how to adopt a real scientific FACT about these issues if it sound-bit us on the leg.

Of course, this only affects (depending on your sources) around two percent of the World Population.  It's just not as big an institution as Heterosexual marriage is, and simplicity seems to suggest it's best handled in a state of parity, where the Scales of Justice remain blind to the difference.  Homosexual partners adopt or breed and raise children.  For all practical purposes there IS no difference between the two institutes - except the difference of gender, itself!

Arguing to legally recognize Homosexual marriages may not be an important step forward, depending on your values - but at least it recognizes the Elephant that's been standing in our mutal living room for the last 2,000 years of discrimiation and xenophobia.

Arguing to ban Homosexual marriages, on the other hand, strikes me as making about as much sense as the US State of Indiana, which, just over a generation ago, now, came within a few votes of legislating that the value of Pi, normally found by experience to be 3.141 ... etc, should be, inside the state's boundaries, equal to the integer value of three  - which was given to them by no less of a higher source than the Bible, itself!  

So, should we make a law to enshrine the fact that we are ignoring the elephant in our living room by legislating a decision that it STILL does not exist?   ... let's continue the talk about the elephant until we can decide where he intends to sit, shall we?

You just have to ask yourself:  " WWRD " -- What would Rao Do?  

Hee, hee!

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May the Gods preserve The Craft,
And may The Craft preserve the Gods!
  -- A Witch's Book of Shadows
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" Ontology recapitulates Philology. "
Streaky2
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2004, 04:28:47 PM »

Maggin's assertion concerning the transperancy of right and wrong has stuck with me since I was first exposed to it, as I imagine it has with most readers.  However, I've come to believe that its attractiveness is not due to its being an expression of truth, but is rather drawn from a characteristic common to all traditions of thought, whether it relates to morality, spirituality, or *gasp!* science.  

Characteristic of all structures of beliefs is an influence that is strongest when invisible to those employing it.  That is, an idea is most powerful when those utilizing it are unaware that it is merely an idea.  As an example, I spent most of my life believing science was "higher" than other instuitions because it was built on "facts."  To me, science's ideas were "objectively" tested and immediately discarded when falsified.  This made its ideas the only ones worth accepting.  Never once, until recently, did I realize that my perspective was just that, a perspective.  For me, it was the truth, and the only truth that I'd accept.  

But, from my experience in labratories and subsequent studies of the history of science, I realized that theories are adhered to in spite of falsification.   And what's worse, from my perspective then, is that our cherished "facts" are interpreted by, and intimately connected to,  theories.  To paraphrase Einstein (whose theory of relativity had empirical falsifications when it was introduced), it is not the facts that determine the theories but the theories that determine the facts.  This relization freed me from a tradition of thought that I had not even realized I was employing.

Science in most minds is very different from morality.  But, my example is generalizable to morality for two primary reasons:  both are social instituitions with committees that influence its status within society (university boards and grant-giving institutes for science, local and federal governments for morality) and both are ultimately realized within an individual's mind as a structure that influences behavior and the development of further beliefs.  

With a more-willing-to-question perspective,  it seems that morality is built upon a series of assumptions that produces its most staunch defenders via ignorance of its non-essential nature.  Maggin's assertion seems to encourage this ignorance by suggesting that we do not have to question, good and bad is readily apparent.  However, the exsistence of a readily apparent good and bad is entirely dependent on how one's beliefs were structured and wether or not one is willing to question them.  A moral man, to my mind, is willing to 'try-on' different perspectives to determine not only which perspective fits best with his reality but also what criteria should be used to select the appropriate perspective.
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