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Friday, August 13, 2010

Don't Want Multiple Spouses? Don't Marry Them

Jake in Toronto listened to this debate on polygamy (an issue Canadian courts are considering) and was enlightened.

It didn’t make me personally want to go out and be someone’s fourth husband, but it did make me wonder what exactly we were gaining by limiting people’s freedoms with the use of such a vague and ultimately unenforceable law.

Some people enjoy trying to hurt the love lives of others. Other than that, nobody is gaining anything.

Marcus was helped in a lot of ways by the incompetence of his debating partner, some anthropologist with big ideas about how if polygamy were legal, everyone would want to do it, and this would create a new class of desperately single young men.

Not very convincing, is it?

It was particularly disconcerting to hear the anthropologist turn his macrostatistical eye to the entirety of the population, with all the candor and fear of a social conservative spouting off about how gay marriage will lead to plummeting birth numbers. As if, just because it’s legal, everyone will start to do it. He mentioned the insult to feminism posed by men having multiple wives, but never considered the alternative, equally likely, situation of women having multiple husbands. Or groups of polyamorous citizens creating sexualized cohabitations of their choosing.

Why not allow everyone to choose for themselves? The opposition to polygamy comes down to the same things as the opposition to same-sex marriage, consanguineous marriage, interracial marriage, etc.: bigotry, fear, and persecution. If someone doesn’t want to participate in polygamy, they don’t have to. Jake understands that. Let’s get more people to understand that.
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