Propaganda War Hides Truth

One of the interesting things about America, or maybe society in general, is that pop culture can often spark meaningful debate about serious issues. Sometimes it’s a folk-rock star singing about the disillusionment of endless wars and at other times it’s Miss California USA saying, “…you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage,” but “in her country” it should just be opposite marriage.

Of course, we all know what happened afterward: Miss California USA aka Carrie Prejean, came in second and Perez Hilton, the judge who asked the question about gay marriage, went on a long tirade about the dumbness of Prejean. That was not the interesting part. The interesting part is how conservatives have now taken this up as their rallying cry in their re-exploration of the topic of gay marriage.

After successes for gay marriage in Iowa and Vermont, Republicans and conservatives remained pretty mute on the subject. I don’t blame them; what could they say? However, this recent spectacle of a gay person, Hilton, chastising Prejean has irked their ire. What’s great about it is that they are using the same tired arguments as before, except with a few vocabulary changes.

Enter stage right, Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly, the conservative commentator on Fox News, has recently brought up the Miss California USA issue to say that gay people aren’t for free speech. He claimed that since no gay people came to Ms. Prejean’s defense for speaking her mind that they were in fact being hypocritical, since gay rights activists live in the freedom of speech area. While that may be true, gay rights activists more appropriately live in the “14th Amendment” equal protection clause.

O’Reilly then brought out the scare tactics like many conservatives before him, including the slippery slope argument. Don’t you just hate the slippery slope argument? It’s the argument of last resort and it never really seems to come true, but the person making the argument always tries to sound self-righteous, or in this case, bigoted. That is not to say O’Reilly is a gay-hating guy; for that see Michael Savage. But O’Reilly seems to care more about his ratings than the water he spits out. His recent argument to scare people away from gay marriage is, and get ready for this, “Triad Marriage.”

What is triad marriage? It sounds like music chords getting married, but actually it’s just another name for polygamy. Yes, polygamy. Polygamy has a whopping 7 to 8 percent approval rating depending on what poll you use. Now most thinking and not-thinking people realize that marriage laws say marriage is between two people. So if gay people get the right to marry, the number two now becomes three or more in the world of conservative paranoia. Obviously that is logical because two is equal to three or more. So now when people tell you two plus two is four, you can correct them and say, “Actually, according to conservative thought, two plus two is equal to six or more, so take that math nerds.”

And that’s not all with the slippery slope. According to Pat Robertson, the conservative Christian preacher, gay marriage leads to the legalization of bestiality, child molestation and last but not least, pedophilia. Wow, you get all the great indulgences of society if you legalize gay marriage. I mean, after hearing that gay people can get married, who wouldn’t want to automatically marry their dog or “turtle”? I use turtle in quotes because O’Reilly actually compared gay marriage to marrying a turtle!

As anyone can tell, these arguments are ridiculous. Pedophilia is done without the consent of the child. And I’m pretty sure bestiality is also done without the consent of the dog.

Most marriage laws stipulate that it is between two people, a man and a woman. Polygamists would have to get the law changed to three or more if they want polygamy to be instated. It is not the same as gay marriage because gay rights advocates are working on laws that already exist yet are inherently discriminatory under equal protection and due process.

The only thing legalization of gay marriage would do in the realm of polygamy is that, if polygamy laws were instated somehow, they could not discriminate by saying it could only be between one man and several women. It would thus have to be open to all orientations.

It is important to highlight these arguments not because they are laughable, but because people actually believe them. During the Proposition 8 ballot initiative, there was much misinformation going around that caused people to believe that if gay marriage was accepted it would then “infiltrate” society all the way down to the classrooms. While it may be useful to teach gay tolerance, in actuality gay marriage was not going to be taught to kindergarteners. Yet that didn’t stop such propaganda from scaring people.

As the saying goes, “Truth is the first casualty of war.” In this war about people’s rights and equality, for a change we can afford to let ignorance be the first casualty.

Jaye Estrada is a third-year biology and political science double-major. He can be reached at estradaj@uci.edu.