Friday, November 21, 2003

What did Mitt mean? We've got answers! On Thursday, Media Log asked what Governor Mitt Romney means when he says that same-sex marriage contradicts "3000 years of recorded history." What paradigm-shattering event took place around 1000 BC?

The Media Log challenge attracted an avalanche of e-mails. (Okay, five.) And I believe we have the answer. But I'm saving that for the end.

First, we hear from J.B., who writes: "It was the last time the Cubs and Red Sox were in the World Series?" J.B., show some confidence. Lose the question mark! Indeed, I thought maybe he was on to something. But it turns out that World Series archeological records only go back to 500 BC, so scientists can't say for sure. Still, this remains a real possibility.

On a more serious note, J.R. sends this along:

What don't you understand? The human species started writing things down on parchment or stone approximately 3000 years ago. Those are the earliest writings we have. We have no way of knowing what happened before that. Why are you assuming something happened in 1000 BC to change our thoughts on marriage? What the hell does that have to do with starting to write things down? Your question is ludicrous! What are you ... 12?

To paraphrase Our Only President, we will reveal our age at a time and place of our choosing. As for the substance of J.R.'s e-mail, he is only off by a few thousand years -- recorded history goes back to 3000-4000 BC. For more, check this out, from something called the Evolution Encyclopedia.

It's safe to say that if J.B. suffers from a self-confidence deficit, J.R. has a surplus. Perhaps they should get together and trade.

Next up is M.P., who, judging from his e-mail address, is a Harvard boy. Well, even Harvard types can get it right occasionally, and it looks like he may have hit the nail on the head. He writes:

is this a serious question you're asking? because the answer seems obvious to me: the reference is to the bible. what else in ancient history (and certainly 3000 years ago, before classical greece and rome) are people such as romney even aware of? the '3000' is merely his rough estimate as to when the text was written or when it purports to have occurred. of course, anyone familiar with the ancient near east, for instance (this is my field) would know that we have abundant records for marriages which stretch back much earlier. [Media Log aside: Read it and weep, J.R.!]

of course, it's also true that for the same '3000 years of recorded history' (at least in the bible and subsequent judeo-christian tradition) homosexuality has been considered a sin -- so romney's position on 'the necessary civil rights and certain appropriate benefits' is itself a 'contradiction' of that history. so much for THAT tortured logic.

In a similar vein, A.W. sends this along:

My guess is that Gov. Romney is referring to Biblical assertions regarding the age of the earth, although I believe they usually declare the world is 6,000 years old, rather than three thousand.

Whenever I read or hear remarks from people who oppose gay marriage on how it will destroy our society, I'm always reminded of the movie "Ghostbusters".  The Mayor of New York asks the Ghostbusters what they mean by a disaster of Biblical proportions, and they begin reeling off the various disasters -- fire and brimstone, forty years of darkness, the dead rising from the grave. At which point Bill Murray declares in his most sarcastic Bill Murray voice, "Dogs and cats, living together!"

Finally, K.S. offers this:

I actually heard another anti-same-sex-marriage commentator on CNN Tuesday say that the ruling flew in the face of 5,000 years of marriage. It seems arbitrary figures are being thrown around in an attempt to say, "It's always been this way" in a more concrete fashion, and other people are being far too lazy by just repeating the assertions. The bad journalism of our times.

Bad journalism, but maybe bad political rhetoric, too. In other words, maybe Romney talks about "3000 years of recorded history" because it sounds good, and because he and everyone is too lazy to think it through.

Thanksgiving hiatus. Media Log will be on a holiday schedule until Monday, December 1. I might post a couple of things, I might not. In any case, see you then.

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