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July 08, 2004

Comments

I'm sure Hatch condemns polygamy himself. The cheap shot against Mormons is a little uncalled-for, if it's a cheap shot.

If, of course, you're actually saying that Mormons of all people should know that societies can and sometimes should change their understandings of marriage, then that's more the sort of sensitive and decent point I've come to expect from Obsidian Wings. ;-)

Cheap shot?

The point is that "traditional marriage" (if by that Hatch means one man, one woman) has not been "the norm" for 5000 years all over the world: it is a claim that shows ludicrous ignorance, and it's especially funny as Orrin Hatch is a member of a community where "the norm" was different as recently as the 19th century.

I agree with Jes. It's not a cheap shot. "every community" is simply not true, and a Mormon senator from Utah is the last person who should be making such a claim.

I'm sure Hatch condemns polygamy himself. The cheap shot against Mormons is a little uncalled-for, if it's a cheap shot.

The42ndGuy,

the post is a direct quote, but I wouldn't have quoted it had I thought it was an attack against Mormons (which I really don't believe it is).

The point is that as a Mormon, Hatch is an ironic choice to be defending traditional marriage within the context of the last 5000 years, implying as that does that it hasn't had other "norms" within that timeframe. His religion is just one example, but a good one, of where "tradition" has altered. He looks like he doesn't know his own religion's history in that statement, hence the humor of it.

There are also still polygamists in and around Utah, as Hatch knows full well; as in his mildly notorious quote, "I know people in Hildale who are polygamists who are very fine people." (satirized, sort of, by Scrappleface here.)

To be fair to Hatch, the context makes clear that he is not endorsing polygamy but saying that polygamists may not be child abusers, in response to anti-polygamy activists who accuse polygamists of marrying off 13- and 14-year-olds.

OTOH, this is pricelesser: "Hatch said he could not take unsubstantiated claims and enforce law, and he would not 'sit here and judge anybody just because they live differently than me. There will be laws on the books, but these are very complicated issues.'"

I'm a bit confused. Hatch said "norm" and "political" community. That doesn't mean there weren't other traditions within those communities. And besides, the Mormon Church, is a church, not a political community.

I won't doubt that there were societies where traditional marriage wasn't the norm, and if so, it's fair to call attention to and educate on that point. But the Mormon-angle of critisism doesn't seem to hold up.

I won't doubt that there were societies where traditional marriage wasn't the norm, and if so, it's fair to call attention to and educate on that point.

Let's try South-East Asia and the Middle East for starters. West Africa and Central Asia would probably also do, but I'm less familiar with those cases.

[My recollection is that polygamy in those societies strongly correlates with socioeconomic status -- witness the plethora of children fathered by King Mongkut of Thailand, as I did just recently -- but regardless, Hatch is talking out of his ass.]

As to the "norm" in "political communities" re Mormons, I dunno: what were the rates of polygamy in the "political community" of the state of Utah in the mid-to-late 19th century? I'd wager that, although traditional marriages were probably in a majority, there were enough polygamous relations to count as "mainstream" if not necessarily the "norm".

"I won't doubt that there were societies where traditional marriage wasn't the norm, and if so, it's fair to call attention to and educate on that point."

Were? In fact much of the world today believes in various forms of multiple marriage. Take a look at large chunks of Africa, and the Pacific Islands; we're talking about millions of people today, let alone those over the past "five thousand years."

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