Oh no, Sean Penn Wished Shame on Me!

February 22, 2009

Because I am a voter for Proposition 8 (the California ballot measure to restrict marriage to heterosexual monogamous relationships), Sean Penn apparently wishes shame on me and the majority of other California voters, as he said in his best actor Oscar acceptance speech for his role as a gay activist in the movie Milk (I don’t have a video of that speech, but here he is wishing shame on blacks and Mormons for their role in Proposition 8).  However, like every other anti-Proposition 8 activist, he didn’t give me a coherent reason to feel shame. 

It’s one thing to throw around a word like “shame”, or similar pejoratives like “hate”, “homophobic”, “discriminatory”, or “intolerant”, but it’s another to back those words up with an argument, including a reasonable, respectful acknowledgement of an opponent’s most intelligent reasons for disagreement.  I’d love to see the anti-Prop 8 crowd attempt a defense for their beliefs in the disputational method of Thomas Aquinas (which involves posing a question, then giving the opponents’ answers in the best possible light, and then answering those most powerful objections). 

I would especially like to see someone, instead of arguing against the Proposition 8 movement, argue in favor of homosexual marriage in the abstract.  How is recognition of homosexual marriage good for society?  How does it benefit the society is such a sufficient manner that it’s worth privileging that relationship on a governmental level?

This is not to say that Sean Penn had the time to set forth such an argument in his Oscar speech; I’d just like to see these arguments, and a recognition of the strength of the opponent’s arguments, addressed somewhere in the popular media, without using words more fitting for a soundbite than for an intelligent discussion.  Of course, given the nature of his comments at the Oscars, I doubt Penn is up to such a challenge. 

[Personal note: Slumdog Millionaire was outstanding, and very deserving of its many awards.]


7 Responses to “Oh no, Sean Penn Wished Shame on Me!”

  1. kip Says:

    My daughter has a very serious asthma problem. She’s been rushed to the hospital six separate times. She’s a lesbian, and has lived with her girlfriend for four years. The last time my daughter got sick, her girlfriend was the one who had to call 911. It took nearly two hours for my daughter’s condition to become stable. My daughter’s girlfriend was not permitted to know my daughter’s status or visit her because she was not family. That was torture. That was wrong.

  2. thenaturallawyer Says:

    I first want to express compassion toward your daughter for her condition. That is an unfortunate and scary situation.

    However, it would be just as much “torture” for a live-in boyfriend or other close friend who had to likewise wait for a couple of hours to find out the medical condition of a dearly loved friend/partner. To avoid this particular situation, perhaps your daughter could have granted power of attorney to her partner, if that is the chief objection.

    Please also note that your daughter’s individual situation does not present an argument for the societal benefits of homosexual marriage. If it is in the interest of society that loved ones be updated on the medical status of their suffering loved ones, we can do that legislatively without regard to homosexuals or marriage in particular. What is it about homosexual marriage that benefits society at large?

    After all, there is nothing that prevents any two homosexuals from having a “marriage” ceremony and calling themselves “married” (“husband” and “husband”, etc.). The only question is legal recognition for the relationship. And legal recognition will encourage that relationship; but what does society get in return?

  3. kip Says:

    Peace. That’s what society will get in return after all the vitriol dies down.

  4. thenaturallawyer Says:

    Several points on this. First, I am highly skeptical of any promise of “peace” in exchange for ceding to someone’s demands. Exactly what will keep that person from demanding more? If we concede homosexual marriage, will there really be peace? Or perhaps there will be a need to teach homosexuality as normative in public schools, or perhaps eventually, a need to silence those who believe homosexual acts are morally wrong. The phrase “after all the vitriol dies down” strikes me as a way of saying “after you guys finally accept that we’re right.” Perhaps the vitriol could equally die down by the electorate expressing their will in a constitutional election, and everyone honoring the will of the people? Well, that didn’t work (at least not in California). It seems that the homosexual agenda will never allow the “vitriol” to die down until it has achieved total victory, notwithstanding the express will of the people. And I highly doubt the vitriol will suddenly “die down” after society hands the homosexual lobby one of the many things that it wants.

    Second, it makes no sense to tailor public policy to pacify a few who threaten civil unrest if their demands are not met. That’s a form of heckler’s veto, where free speech is abridged by the government to prevent the violence threatened by a minority group if the speech in question is permitted. In fact, the heckler’s veto has already been attempted against Christians in the public square.

    I don’t think society will benefit one bit by bending to the will of a minority under threat of civil unrest. Peace will never be achieved in such ways.

  5. Lance Says:

    “I would especially like to see someone, instead of arguing against the Proposition 8 movement, argue in favor of homosexual marriage in the abstract. How is recognition of homosexual marriage good for society? How does it benefit the society is such a sufficient manner that it’s worth privileging that relationship on a governmental level?”

    If this is truly your sentiment, then you might find the opinion of Andrew Sullivan to hold some merit. He recently briefly laid out one of the cases for marriage while writing about Ted Haggard.


  6. thenaturallawyer Says:


    Thanks for passing on the link. Unfortunately, Mr. Sullivan’s opinion is precisely not what I was looking for because he offers no benefits to society as a reason for marriage, but rather only alleged benefits for the homosexuals (“That is why I am so insistent on marriage. It alone heals this deep wound and brings gay men and women into the human family…”). Furthermore, he assumes without supporting evidence or argument that homosexuality is what makes a person “who he is.”

    But his article raises an interesting point that I might discuss in a future post: what is an identity? It’s a pretty deep question, obviously. Consider Mr. Sullivan’s provocative statement: “the suppression of these core emotions and the denial of their resolution in love always always leads to personal distortion and compulsion and loss of perspective” (emphasis in original). What is a “core” emotion? I understand homosexuality to be the sexual desire (not necessarily action) toward persons of one’s same sex. “Incestuousness”, for lack of a better form of that word, could be considered the sexual desire for a close family member. Pedophilia is obviously the sexual desire (not necessarily action) for children. And I’m sure psychologists have come up with a better term than “cyberphilia”, but you get where I’m going with that one. Other plainly heterosexual married people have sexual attractions toward other people besides their mate, and some even “marry” multiple people at once.

    At any rate, are all sexual desires “core emotions”? If not, how does one distinguish between the appropriate sexual desires and inappropriate to determine which can be deemed “core emotions”? And if “the suppression of these core emotions and the denial of their resolution in love always always leads to personal distortion and compulsion and loss of perspective”, does that mean that none of the people with the above-listed sexual desires should be restrained? If some can and/or should be restrained, can you please explain to me how we know which ones are to be restrained and which are to be indulged?

    Further, the article you cite states that God “does love [Haggard] for being gay”. In the first place, God doesn’t love anyone “for” being gay or straight; He loves them regardless of their sexual proclivities, not because of them. But moreover, the article implies that God loves homosexuality, beyond loving homosexuals. Scripture plainly tells us that God loves homosexuals and hates sin, which clearly includes homosexual acts, according to scripture. Sin is bad for us, and God loves us, so God hates sin. His love for us is one of the reasons that He hates the things we do, like a mother is grieved when checking her teenage son into a rehab clinic because of his incessant drug use. (That comparison is not only for homosexuals; it’s for all of us sinners. We are all addicted to sin, and God wants to help us kick the habit.)

    Finally, I don’t think sexual desire can be considered an “identity” in the quintessential sense. I had an identity before I had sexual desires. I did not suddenly become “someone else” when I hit puberty, even though my life experience did change. And if one day I suddenly lost sexual appetite, that would not make me lose my identity either. If I am prone to a habitual sin (of any particular type), it is no excuse to proclaim, “well that’s who I am!” God loves me just as I am, but He loves me too much to leave me where I am; He wants to change me, to make me better. And I am thankful for that, because God has shown me I need a lot of changing.

  7. Jeff Says:

    Hopefully I can convince Sarah to write about her recent experiences regarding homosexual issues. Particularly interesting were the arguments that posited personal fulfillment cannot be achieved through sexual union.

    This assertion flies in the face of sexual rights activists and others in mainstream media. Some of the most psychologically healthy individuals in society are celibate; indeed, celibacy was once considered a noble aspiration…

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