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The calm answer to the question, 'If gay people can get married, what about polygamy?'

Looking for a reasonable response to people who freak out about gay people getting married? Here's one.

The calm answer to the question, 'If gay people can get married, what about polygamy?'

I don't know if you heard, but gay people can now get legally married across the entire United States.

As of this moment, weeks after the ruling, with gay people getting married all over the country, I have noticed no change in my straight marriage. My wife has not divorced me because other people are now allowed to copy our totally original idea of legally becoming one entity for tax purposes and celebrating our perfect* love with the world.

(*She would argue that maybe it's not perfect.)

Most people were pretty happy when they learned about it. Some people weren't. Some responded with, "Polygamy is gonna become law now," which seems to me to be a bit of an exaggeration. Who made that argument?


Apparently, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts thought that could happen.

He had this to say in his strongly worded dissent of the ruling.

I was going to show you some really panicky freaked-out mildly insulting tweets here, but then Justice Roberts, in his dissent on the marriage ruling, made the calm, reasonable version of those in his argument.

So how do you respond when someone says, "If gay marriage, why not polygamy?"

John Corvino, chair of the department of philosophy at Wayne State University, is here to address the arguments of those who aren't happy.

They are totally different things to argue about.

People who like to ride down slippery-slope arguments tend to say stuff like: "What about incest? What about bestiality? What about polygamy?"

Let's get the insane ones out of the way first. Incest and bestiality.

GIFs via John Corvino.

Incest and bestiality are forms of abuse. They are perpetrated by people who are straight and gay. Sexual orientation has no relevance to abuse.

And I'm pretty sure you can't get consent from a kitchen appliance.

Which leaves just polygamy.

I didn't know that much about polygamy. So I looked it up. There are actually multiple sub-forms of polygamy.

Polygamy has its own set of issues to deal with and lends itself to abusive practices. It's rarely truly consensual. Polygamy isn't an equal-opportunity thing in the cultures where it's practiced, for the most part. It tends to be something where multiple women are subjugated and married to one man.

As Jon states, polygyny is one man, multiple wives. The vast majority of cultures that allow polygamy act in this way. Women tend to be subjugated, and poor men tend to become unmarriageable. Meanwhile, rich men tend to collect wives as trophies, and this tends to make things worse for society.

When you have one wife and multiple husbands, it's called polyandry. This is exceedingly rare and generally happens in cultures where brothers both marry the same woman because there's a high risk of male death and they want their lineage to continue.

Lastly, there is also group marriage between multiple men and multiple women. This one is the least problematic regarding the persecution of women, but also the least common. They'll have to speak for themselves.

Ergo, polygamy has nothing to do with two consenting adults committing to each other for life.

The next time someone asks you about the slippery slope, you'll know what to respond with.


You're welcome.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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