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.]