Deus Ex Machina

"This is the generation of the great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we own under the immortal God, our peace and defense." -Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan

As the Child of a Single Parent, I object to the Arguments of Jaxe Pan’s Online Note to Yaacob Ibrahim

For Jaxe Pan’s original note, see here.

My Own Background

I belong to a single family, my parents were divorced when I was a teenager, and I fully support our Minister’s judgement that public institutions exists in harmony and support of the familial institution as the norm in comparison to other imperfect situations. My own mother who has cared for us does not herself wish for any special help, recognition or “affirmation” for being a single parent, knowing full well that civic affirmation of such imperfect arrangement would be subversive of the normative familial order by incentivising others towards such less perfect arrangement. I object to the presumption of Jaxe Pan to take it upon herself to represent or speak for all of us who live in such imperfect situations. Who elected or appointed her our speaker? Let her speak for herself, and not pretend to claim a monopoly upon the whole.

Individual Subjective Background of Participants Irrelevant to the Merits of Public Policy

However, the invocation of personal credentials and background is merely a rhetorical move. The merits of a public policy should be judged upon its objective consequences and effects, especially upon its contribution to the sustainability and maintenance of key civic institutions and arrangements necessary to the flourishing of the commonwealth, not upon the individual subjective postures.

Invocation of individual contribution to the nation is irrelevant to the merits or demerits of a public policy, otherwise that would lead to the absurd consequence that the proposals of those who pay more taxes or has greater talents and contribution to the nation have greater merits than the proposals of those who pay lesser taxes and of lesser talents. The fact that someone contributes to a nation does not entail that his arguments or proposals miraculously acquire merit nor does it change the objective effects or consequence of his proposed public policy.

Not all Familial Arrangements are Equal

The conflation of blended families, adopted children with single and homosexual “parents” is disingenuous as nobody is objecting to all of them at one shot nor is our evaluation of all them exactly identical. Ceteris paribus, we would certainly prefer that children be raised by their own biological parents rather than an adoptive one or a blended family. Situations of adoption precisely arise from tragedies and imperfect situations, e.g. the death of one or both parents, and is acknowledged precisely as a tragedy, not merely an equally valid arrangement amongst others.

Consider for a moment if biological pedigree have absolutely nothing to do with the parental ability and responsibility, that is, if being a child was purely a matter of social convention, and that society can arbitrarily decide whose parents one’s child is and who is to be responsible for it and that all caretaker-child arrangements are all equally valid. Why is there a presumption that the biological fathers have a duty towards the maintenance of children of which they have begotten, especially those out of wedlock and therefore those outside of the social definition? If being a child was purely a matter of social definition entirely disconnected from the biological pedigree, then it would be perfectly irrational to expect and to force biological fathers who have undertaken no social responsibility to care for the mother and her offspring, to pay for the maintenance of the child which they begot since biological pedigree has absolutely nothing to do with the care or responsibility of the child.

tumblr_lsuaenwlKk1qio969o1_500But when one sees movies such as Up which contains the scene where the protagonist Carl who marries his childhood friend Ellie later discovers that she is unable to conceive as Ellie sits crying while the doctor explains with gestures her condition, we know that something important has been lost. If the love and care which one has for adopted children was qualitatively indistinguishable from the love and care for one’s own begotten children, then the grief of Ellie would be incomprehensible, if not utterly irrational, for she can simply substitute with infinite ease begetting her own children with adoption. But this grief is one of the most powerful evidence for the fact that biological pedigree does make a qualitative difference in the relationship between parent and child, which no amount of egalitarian rhetoric can pretend does not exist. (I have developed this argument in greater depth and rigor here.)

Civic Order and Human Civilisation itself is Artificial and Maintained by Actively Enforced Norms

The argument that the enforcement of familial norms is artificial is a trivial truth. All human norms and mores which maintains any form of social order or civilisation are artificial, an artifice of man which can only be maintained by active enforcement by man. Language would cease to exist if proper spelling and grammar were not actively enforced. Proper functioning of civic institutions would fail without social sanctions, custom and manners, as well as the law and police enforcement. Humanity emerged from the “state of nature” unto civilisation through precisely the creation and maintenance of human artefacts of language, law, codes and rules, without which we would simply descend back into the state of nature, red tooth and claw.

Books Not Banned and Still Accessible

With regards to the books in question, they are not banned, they are merely removed from the public library. Anyone is still free to purchase at their own leisure if they so wish. The pertinent question in this scenario is the justification of drawing from the common purse to purchase such books, which is something not really addressed.

Children of Imperfect Family Arrangements Affirmed in their Individual Worth

The idea that by recognising a single family model one’s child would be regarded as alien is simply absurd and a mere exaggeration. I have myself experienced no such regard as being “alien” just for being the child of a single parent. We can accept each individual precisely as individuals without endorsing or affirming at the same time the imperfect family backgrounds from which they find themselves in. It is true that the sins of the fathers should not be visited unto the sons, but that does not make the sins of the fathers any less a sin. The imperfections of a child’s background is certainly no fault of the child, but that does not make his imperfect familial background any less imperfect.

The Abuse of the Term “Bigot”

The word “bigot” simply refers to an obstinate state of mind and refusal to change one’s opinions or be amendable to the opinions of others. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:

having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others.

For example, the great Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, who once made some rather racist remarks, used the term “bigot” to describe his opponent who criticised his own racist opinions obstinately and was not amendable to his racist opinions. Today of course it would be considered by many to be a rather ironic twist in the use of the term. (For more on the evolution of the word, see here.) Therefore, one hopes that Jaxe Pan will be as amendable to change her mind in the face of the facts and arguments and not stick to her position out of sheer bigotry or obstinacy of mind.

On the Humbug of the Invocation of Intolerance

The fact is that there are limits to everyone’s tolerance of children materials. Imagine if you will a children’s book praising the virtues and pleasures of pederasty. Should we give such materials to young children and ask them to weight the merits of getting into a sexual relationship with an adult for themselves?

If you need help exercising your imagination, look at the following pages of a book:

eeek

Then imagine the book portraying the book with a pleased and gleeful expression, and the book ending with the Uncle and child having a wonderful time and relationship with absolutely nothing detrimental or perverse. Would you still be willing to have such a book openly displayed in libraries?

Conclusion: More Objective Analysis, Less Exaggerations

The whole language of “book burning” is simply over the top. The books are merely removed from the library. It is not banned like The Satanic Verses even less are they burned by anyone.

Certainly Singapore must be inclusive, but we are precisely including people into a predefined community and civic order with its own structure and integrity. We cannot include anyone into the circle without at the same time drawing a boundary between those inside and those outside. If you eliminate the circle altogether, there would be nothing left for you to include anyone in.

(For anyone who wishes a much more detail and rigorous argument justifying the familial arrangement, see here.)

[Edit:

Several commentators have been pointing out that I am taking the book displayed above out of context, etc. So I gave the following reply to a commentor

…I am well aware of what the book is actually about. And I did not take the book of out context because I never meant to discuss the book itself in the first place.

All I did was to use the book as a springboard to construct an alternative imaginary scenario with a different content. That’s why I explicitly said, “Then imagine…” followed by my construction of a different scenario.

So to reiterate, I never meant to discuss the actual contents of the book, I was merely using it as a springboard to discuss the principle of free expression and free speech, that it has its proper limits and that not all literature are equally tolerable.

]

 

 

 

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42 comments on “As the Child of a Single Parent, I object to the Arguments of Jaxe Pan’s Online Note to Yaacob Ibrahim

  1. firefrog42
    July 13, 2014

    who the fuck are you to say that ” we would certainly prefer that children be raised by their own biological parents rather than an adoptive one or a blended family. ” . Who exactly is the “we” you are referring to? care to explain why ? Are single parents and homosexual parents not capable of loving and nuturing a child ? dumb fucks like you need to realize that straight parents themselves are not perfect.. look at the divorce rates and increasing number of broken marriages. When it comes to man + woman you fucktards immediately assume every thing is going to work out when in reality there are many other ways a family unit can defined and still function perfectly. By saying that they are less desirable, are you implying that they are of lesser value ???

    ALso what the fuck do you mean that ” Situations of adoption precisely arise from tragedies and imperfect situations “. ? are you saying that single parenting and homosexuals should be frowned upon ? erase that fucking stigma, because guess what, these “tragedies” are mostly a result of straight relationships – straight couples who cant hold down their marriage.So i guess staight marraiges should not be desirable too because afterall they can result in these tragedies

    Also how fucking stupid of you to claim that ” it would be perfectly irrational to expect and to force biological fathers who have undertaken no social responsibility to care for the mother and her offspring, to pay for the maintenance of the child which they begot since biological pedigree has absolutely nothing to do with the care or responsibility of the child.” . fucking slipery slope argument. Do you honestly think that the recognition of a single parents and homosexual sexual parents who adopt children will erode a father’s love and obligation to care for child ? So if the government accepts these parents as legitimate family units, do you honestly think we will see a rise in number of orphans ?? how fucking dumb can you be ?? same thing applies for your bull shit about the enforcement of marriage – ask yourself if you would file for a divorce with your husband if single parents and homosexual couples were acknowledged by the government ( im speaking from a hypothetical, a dumb cunt like you cant possibly be married right ? ) HOW does their pursuit of a family and happiness affect you in any way????

    The use of UP as an example is fucking pathetic. its a movie for god sake. i dont see how it proves that a biological parents love for a child is more powerful than one of parents who have adopted children. once again, you seem to be assuming that straight couples are like the best parents in the world. WAKE THE FUCK UP. straight parents can be shitty parents too. Love is love, who the fuck are you to say that a one parents love for their child is disingenuous and less than that of another ???

    your last paragraph just spells homophobia, because you seem to be comparing homosexuality with perverse acts and morally corrupted activities. There was nothing wrong in the penguin both, it was simply the act of 2 parents raising their children. So I dont see how allowing such books in the library will escalate into books about pedophilia being shown to children.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 14, 2014

      who the fuck are you to say that ” we would certainly prefer that children be raised by their own biological parents rather than an adoptive one or a blended family. ” . Who exactly is the “we” you are referring to? care to explain why ?

      If the word “we” bothers you so much, simply change it to “it is preferable…” to remove all relative reference to groups or subjects and to an objective state.

      are single parents and homosexual parents not capable of loving and nuturing a child ?

      There are different qualities and degrees of love and nurture. An orphanage is capable of loving and nurturing a child too, but it is clear that this would be a less perfect situation than if they were cared for by their own parents. It isn’t a straight forward binary thing.

      dumb fucks like you need to realize that straight parents themselves are not perfect.. look at the divorce rates and increasing number of broken marriages. When it comes to man + woman you fucktards immediately assume every thing is going to work out when in reality there are many other ways a family unit can defined and still function perfectly.

      I don’t know why you feel compelled to tell me this when I have already said that I belong precisely to such an imperfect divorced straight family situation. Obviously I know this very well and I never assume that everything is going to work out or still function perfectly.

      By saying that they are less desirable, are you implying that they are of lesser value ???

      I am precisely saying that they are not as good as it could and should be and that it is incomprehensible why would the state or anyone for the matter intentionally and willfully promote the less perfect situation.

      ALso what the fuck do you mean that ” Situations of adoption precisely arise from tragedies and imperfect situations “. ? are you saying that single parenting and homosexuals should be frowned upon ?

      Yes.

      erase that fucking stigma,

      Stigma are necessary forms of social policing which are irreplaceable. Attempts by the law to act as a substitute to stigma as a form of social ordering has lead to absurdly complex and onerous laws. See this article for more details.

      because guess what, these “tragedies” are mostly a result of straight relationships – straight couples who cant hold down their marriage.So i guess staight marraiges should not be desirable too because afterall they can result in these tragedies

      To say that the tragedies of straight relationships are the result of straight relationships is a trivial truth. It’s like saying that marriage is the cause of divorce and life is the cause of death and suffering. Why not abolish all marriages then or prevent anymore new births to eliminate death and suffering?

      The sheer existence of criminals or those who do not obey the law does not mean that we abolish the law altogether, the existence of musical pieces badly performed does not mean that we alter the score. Likewise the existence of people who fail to live up to their marital vows and parental responsibility does not imply that we abolish or alter the nature of those vows or responsibilities.

      Also how fucking stupid of you to claim that ” it would be perfectly irrational to expect and to force biological fathers who have undertaken no social responsibility to care for the mother and her offspring, to pay for the maintenance of the child which they begot since biological pedigree has absolutely nothing to do with the care or responsibility of the child.” . fucking slipery slope argument.

      A slippery slope argument is an argument saying that event X will causally lead to event Y despise the lack of any causal connection. I never made a slippery argument because I never claimed any causal connection. I merely discussing the question of principle and the consistent and rational application of it. That is all.

      Do you honestly think that the recognition of a single parents and homosexual sexual parents who adopt children will erode a father’s love and obligation to care for child ? So if the government accepts these parents as legitimate family units, do you honestly think we will see a rise in number of orphans ?? how fucking dumb can you be ??

      I am saying that the love of single parents and homosexual parents are qualitatively different and inferior to that of both parents who begot the child. Again, I made no causal connection argument.

      same thing applies for your bull shit about the enforcement of marriage – ask yourself if you would file for a divorce with your husband if single parents and homosexual couples were acknowledged by the government ( im speaking from a hypothetical, a dumb cunt like you cant possibly be married right ? ) HOW does their pursuit of a family and happiness affect you in any way????

      The explanation here is actually quite simple. Gay marriages have no definition of adultery or consummation. As such, if marriage is truly equalised, it would be impossible to enforce sexual monogamy in marriage, effectively rendering all marriages to be effectively non-monogamous. For the non-monogamous nature of homosexual marriages, see here.

      How does this lead to divorces? Once you eliminate objective tests for “faults” in a marriage as the sole grounds for divorce, e.g. adultery, physical abuse, abandonment, etc, then what we have is a no fault divorce situation as it is practiced in most Western nations. A no fault divorce is a divorce which is enacted at will or as and when either party “feels like it” without the need for any proper reason or grounds. Thus, this makes it impossible for the courts to enforce the marital contract and to prevent divorces.

      In contract law, a promise or contract which contains the condition or clause which goes, “provided I feel like it”, is not a real contract, a contract which cannot be effectively enforced in any court of law. The legal term for this is illusory contract. Thus, for example, a promise which goes “I promise to provide such and such goods and services to you, provided I feel like it” is not a promise at all, because it is a promise which doesn’t contain any objective obligations, but which performance is rendered optional to the choice of its participants, and therefore an illusory promise.

      Thus, a “no-fault” divorce, for all intents and purposes, turns a marital promise into an illusory promise. It is a promise to be married “provided I feel like it”, which is no promise at all. Even in countries and nations which does not technically have “no-fault” divorces have such loose criteria for divorces (such as a year or two of separation, etc) that it is effectively “no-fault” for all intents and purposes, because as long as one can get a divorce without any objective fault or wrong-doing on the part of either parties and simply because one wants to, then it is effectively “no-fault” and falls under the category of “I promise to be married provided I want to or am happy.” For more on this argument, see here.

      The use of UP as an example is fucking pathetic. its a movie for god sake. i dont see how it proves that a biological parents love for a child is more powerful than one of parents who have adopted children. once again, you seem to be assuming that straight couples are like the best parents in the world.

      I am fully aware that it is a movie. I am merely using the movie as an illustration or intuition pump to point to a fundamental and universal phenomenon or principle, the grief of woman who are unable to conceive, clearly a phenomenon which exist outside of the movie. I have even given the link after that passage which develops the principle in more rigorous detail.

      WAKE THE FUCK UP. straight parents can be shitty parents too. Love is love, who the fuck are you to say that a one parents love for their child is disingenuous and less than that of another ???

      Again, I know that straight parents can be shitty parents, I have one such imperfect parents myself. Love, as I have already pointed out, come in qualitative degrees. And furthermore, I never said that one parents love for their child is disingenuous only that the arguments are.

      your last paragraph just spells homophobia, because you seem to be comparing homosexuality with perverse acts and morally corrupted activities. There was nothing wrong in the penguin both, it was simply the act of 2 parents raising their children. So I dont see how allowing such books in the library will escalate into books about pedophilia being shown to children.

      I am not sure why it spells homophobia since I never compared it to perverse acts or morally corrupting activities. My use of the book is to discuss the limits of the principle of free expression, not to talk about the contents per se.

      Like

      • firefrog42
        July 14, 2014

        I still disagree with your arguments but i would like to thank you for the reply and i appreciate the time taken to acknowledge my arguments. I apologize for the vulgarities used ( was kinda having a bad day ) .
        ” If the word “we” bothers you so much, simply change it to “it is preferable…” to remove all relative reference to groups or subjects and to an objective state. ”
        You’re not answering my question. WHO says that it is better for children to be raised by their biological parents then adoptive ones, AND WHY should we their opinions be given weight ? Dont tell me to ” remove all relative reference to groups or subjects and to an objective state”. opinions exists and originate from somewhere/someone and from various interest groups. We don’t just take them as absolute truths.
        “There are different qualities and degrees of love and nurture. An orphanage is capable of loving and nurturing a child too, but it is clear that this would be a less perfect situation than if they were cared for by their own parents. It isn’t a straight forward binary thing.”
        Once again you are being a fucking prick. Who are you to judge the love between a parent and a child. Do you understand the relationship their relationship ? Do you know them in person ? IF you claim that heterosexual parents love their children more than single parents or homosexual parents, how do you explain child abuse ? I know they are isolated examples, but they are proof that every relationship is different. being striaght doesnt make your love any better in terms of quality. Why cant gay parents love their children as much as heterosexual couples ?
        ” The sheer existence of criminals or those who do not obey the law does not mean that we abolish the law altogether, the existence of musical pieces badly performed does not mean that we alter the score. Likewise the existence of people who fail to live up to their marital vows and parental responsibility does not imply that we abolish or alter the nature of those vows or responsibilities. ”
        You seem to be missing the point. You may think im generalizing. But aren’t you guilty of the same thing ? Who are you to judge how single parents and gay parents will raise their children ? how many examples do you have ( bet they’re all hypothetical ). IN any case those examples mean nothing. Just because a single parent/homosexual parents may have challenges in raising their child, it doesnt mean all single parents and homosexual parents are the same.
        ” There are different qualities and degrees of love and nurture. An orphanage is capable of loving and nurturing a child too, but it is clear that this would be a less perfect situation than if they were cared for by their own parents. It isn’t a straight forward binary thing.”
        Im not reffering to orphanages. im talking about single parents and homosexual parents
        WHY are they not as good ?How can you discredit a parents love for a child simply because they are not related by blood ? Have you seen any single parents or homosexual couples yourself ? Do they not feed their children, bathe their children, make sacrifices for their children ?? how is this not love and who are you to say that it is disingenuous ? you are not them so don’t judge.
        also by saying that that single/homosexual parenting is less than perfect, you seem to be implying that that heterosexual parenting is perfect? pretty sure you already know that it isnt. and that heterosexuality is not a determinant of how successful a relationship will be.
        “The explanation here is actually quite simple. Gay marriages have no definition of adultery or consummation. As such, if marriage is truly equalised, it would be impossible to enforce sexual monogamy in marriage, effectively rendering all marriages to be effectively non-monogamous. For the non-monogamous nature of homosexual marriages, see here.”
        WO WO WO . No the explanation here is stupid and ignorant . Gay marriages have no definition of adultery or consummation ? REALLY ??? im sorry but youre being extremely narrow minded here. Are you assuming all gay people are into polygamy and that they’re promiscuous ? DO you not think that gay couples also desire monogamy ? Yea sure , there may be some individuals who are sexually promiscuous and cheat on their partners, but that doesnt mean alll gay people are the same . If you can tell me that examples of divorce and adultery do not represent the heterosexual community then the same thing applies to the homosexual community. A few sluts do not represent the whole community.
        “As such, if marriage is truly equalised, it would be impossible to enforce sexual monogamy in marriage, effectively rendering all marriages to be effectively non-monogamous”
        The argument here is already fallacious because i assumes that a gay marriage is one that condones adultery and is polygamous. Who said so ? IN anycase you make it seem as if sexual monogamy is enforced purely by law or something and that if these laws do not exist people will immediately file for divorces . IM sorry but i choose to think that sexual monogamy is enforced by trust and the love individuals have for each other.If your love is only bounded by a legal document then it is unfortunately not love at all. In any case how will somebody elses relationship affect your decision to commit to your partner? if you could answer this directly, i would really appreciate it.
        ” I am fully aware that it is a movie. I am merely using the movie as an illustration or intuition pump to point to a fundamental and universal phenomenon or principle, the grief of woman who are unable to conceive, clearly a phenomenon which exist outside of the movie. I have even given the link after that passage which develops the principle in more rigorous detail.”
        yea but that says nothing about the love single parents and homosexual parents have for their children. A fucking old lady crying doesnt say anything about the love between a single parent and homosexual parent have for their child.
        ” I am not sure why it spells homophobia since I never compared it to perverse acts or morally corrupting activities. My use of the book is to discuss the limits of the principle of free expression, not to talk about the contents per se. ”
        OK fine. i accept this part of your argument
        pardon my grammatical errors and spelling mistakes here and there. really busy at the moment so i dont have the time to check

        Like

      • Dominic
        July 14, 2014

        You’re not answering my question. WHO says that it is better for children to be raised by their biological parents then adoptive ones, AND WHY should we their opinions be given weight ? Dont tell me to ” remove all relative reference to groups or subjects and to an objective state”. opinions exists and originate from somewhere/someone and from various interest groups. We don’t just take them as absolute truths.

        You’re right, I am not answering your question because I firmly maintain that the truth is the truth regardless of who says it. The truth does not “originate from somewhere/someone and from various interest groups” but in reality objectively and independently of the subjects and their interest groups which merely recognise them after the fact. To determine the validity of an opinion on the basis of its origin is known as the “Genetic Fallacy“.

        Once again you are being a fucking prick. Who are you to judge the love between a parent and a child. Do you understand the relationship their relationship ? Do you know them in person ?

        It doesn’t matter who I am as long as I am right, my “right” to judge comes from the fact that I am making a valid argument and accurate in my descriptions, if I am wrong then naturally I would not have the right to judge, just as it doesn’t matter to me who you are as long as you make a valid point. I don’t pretend to know every single individual person on the face of this earth, but we are capable of describing a general phenomenon which has common resembling characteristics and we can reasonably discuss it between ourselves intelligibilty. If indeed we can know absolutely nothing about the relationship between parent and child then we can’t discuss it all and we should just end the conversation here and now since, according to this argument, I would have no idea what we are discussing anyway.

        IF you claim that heterosexual parents love their children more than single parents or homosexual parents, how do you explain child abuse ? I know they are isolated examples, but they are proof that every relationship is different. being striaght doesnt make your love any better in terms of quality. Why cant gay parents love their children as much as heterosexual couples ?

        I never claimed that every single heterosexual parents love their children more than single parents or homosexual parents, my argument pertains to the characteristic of the love of parents of their biological pedigree that it is qualitatively different based upon its intrinsic characteristics (please do read the link I placed for you to read what these intrinsic qualities are). Nor do I claim that this qualitatively different character is realised in every case. We can say as a reasonable generalisation that going to school does make a person more educated or at least gives people the opportunity to be more educated without saying that everyone who goes to school is in fact educated or realises their potential. Secondly, your argument is confused as I never claimed that it is “being straight” which makes the love qualitatively superior. My claim is that the love of a parent for his own children begotten in union with his spouse is qualitatively superior regardless of his sexual orientation. This is an argument pertaining to biological begottenness rather than sexual orientation. To bring in being straight or gay is besides the point. Let’s say we have a situation where a gay man marries a woman and they conceive a child, the love which the gay man would have for his child, ceteris paribus of course, would be qualitatively superior than if the child would receive from anyone else. Thus, sexual orientation is irrelevant in this case, it is a question of begotteness.

        You seem to be missing the point. You may think im generalizing. But aren’t you guilty of the same thing ? Who are you to judge how single parents and gay parents will raise their children ? how many examples do you have ( bet they’re all hypothetical ). IN any case those examples mean nothing. Just because a single parent/homosexual parents may have challenges in raising their child, it doesnt mean all single parents and homosexual parents are the same.

        I never said that I think you are generalising. My argument is merely that the failure for a standard to be met or an obligation to be fulfilled doesn’t mean that therefore we change the standard or alter the nature of the obligations.

        Im not reffering to orphanages. im talking about single parents and homosexual parents
        WHY are they not as good ?How can you discredit a parents love for a child simply because they are not related by blood ? Have you seen any single parents or homosexual couples yourself ? Do they not feed their children, bathe their children, make sacrifices for their children ?? how is this not love and who are you to say that it is disingenuous ? you are not them so don’t judge.

        True, but I bring in the example of orphanages to bring out the point that we do believe that love does come in degrees and varying qualities and is not a binary affair nor are all loves equal. You’re reasoning in a simplistic binary manner. I am merely saying that the love which a parents has for an adopted child necessary lacks certain qualities which only his own biological parents can have for him, this is not to “discredit” the love completely but to measure it relative to the ideal situation. Have I seen any single parents? How many times do I have to repeat? I have been raised by a single parent myself! If experiencing someone for oneself subjectively does miraculously somehow validate one’s arguments (and I do not grant that it does, but let’s assume according to your own argument), then I am supremely and eminently qualified to pass judgement being a child of a single parent myself.

        also by saying that that single/homosexual parenting is less than perfect, you seem to be implying that that heterosexual parenting is perfect? pretty sure you already know that it isnt. and that heterosexuality is not a determinant of how successful a relationship will be.

        I never said that all heterosexual parenting is perfect. My claim is merely that the love of a parent for his or her own begotten child is qualitatively different from that of others, regardless of that parent’s sexual orientation. They could be a gay man married to a lesbian woman and their love for their begotten child would still be qualitatively different. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it.

        WO WO WO . No the explanation here is stupid and ignorant . Gay marriages have no definition of adultery or consummation ? REALLY ??? im sorry but youre being extremely narrow minded here.

        It’s not a matter of being narrow-minded, it is a simple empirical fact, gay marriages really have no legal definition of adultery or consummation. To cite an article:

        …Civil servants, confronted with the embarrassing task of working out what defined the consummation of a homosexual relationship, faltered. Since homosexual acts have no existential purpose and no procreative result, consummation is a meaningless concept. From this it followed that the Government could come up with no definition of adultery in a homosexual marriage. A law designed to be equal, is not. Under the Bill, non-consummation will not be grounds for divorce in same-sex marriage. Nor will adultery.

        By accident, then, the Government is introducing, for the first time, a definition of marriage which has no sexual element. Yet it refuses to face the logical consequence of this surprising innovation.

        Maybe with your “broad mind” you would like to go and recommend the British government a legal definition for adultery and consummation.

        Are you assuming all gay people are into polygamy and that they’re promiscuous ? DO you not think that gay couples also desire monogamy ? Yea sure , there may be some individuals who are sexually promiscuous and cheat on their partners, but that doesnt mean alll gay people are the same . If you can tell me that examples of divorce and adultery do not represent the heterosexual community then the same thing applies to the homosexual community. A few sluts do not represent the whole community.

        The subjective desires of gay couples does not matter in the least as long as the law lacks a legally enforcable definition of adultery and consummation.

        IN anycase you make it seem as if sexual monogamy is enforced purely by law or something and that if these laws do not exist people will immediately file for divorces . IM sorry but i choose to think that sexual monogamy is enforced by trust and the love individuals have for each other.If your love is only bounded by a legal document then it is unfortunately not love at all. In any case how will somebody elses relationship affect your decision to commit to your partner? if you could answer this directly, i would really appreciate it.

        I think here we are going to disagree very fundamentally about the nature of love which would be a rather long and extended discussion in itself. I will cite a part of something I wrote in response to someone else who raised a similar issue:

        it might surprise you that marriage has nothing to do with being in love. The marital contract or promise creates objective duties which obliges the parties who adopt the promises unto certain actions or performance. In short, it is the difference between vowing *to* love and promising to be “in” love. To love is an action, a performance, to be “in love” is an internal subjective experience. Marriage as a legal and social institution is not concerned with your subjective experience of being “in love” or “attraction”, etc. It is concerned with creating a system of obligations and duties based upon the promises so adopted. The marital promises and duties continue to hold regardless of our internal state or experience, it continues to oblige us to fidelity and even, love each other long after the couples have ceased to be *in* love or attracted to each other. Thus, married couples may not sleep with anyone else except each other, even if they are strongly attracted to someone outside of their marriage or has ceased to be attracted to each other.
        In short, marriage has nothing to do with being in love, it has to do with promises, obligations and duties. To love is an action, a duty, to be in love is a subjective experience.

        And no marriage vows or promises can possibly oblige one another to be “in” love because it is not an action. No civil registrar or pastor ever asks whether you are “in” love or requires as a condition of the validity of the marriage that one be in love. What makes a marriage a marriage is the consent and assent to the marital promise and the obligations so entail, that is, a promise *to* love. But there is no vow or promise to be “in” love.

        See the rest here.

        yea but that says nothing about the love single parents and homosexual parents have for their children. A fucking old lady crying doesnt say anything about the love between a single parent and homosexual parent have for their child.

        I would seriously urge you to read the link I sent.

        Like

      • firefrog42
        July 14, 2014

        “I am not answering your question because I firmly maintain that the truth is the truth regardless of who says it. ”

        Your idea of an objective truth is extremely insular, because what you hold to be true may not be true to others. You seem to take homosexuality and single parenting as something that is inherently and universally wrong so I can’t go any further to argue on this one because your opinion stems from your personal belief. I for one do not think there’s anything wrong with homosexuality and single parenting, and im pretty sure many others share the same opinion.

        “f indeed we can know absolutely nothing about the relationship between parent and child then we can’t discuss it all and we should just end the conversation here and now since, according to this argument, I would have no idea what we are discussing anyway.”

        That is exactly my point. you have no idea what you are saying because you don’t know how much a homosexual parent can love their children so who are you to judge the quality of their love ? your opinions are only based on false generalizations.

        note i said homosexual parents not single parents. cos the argument of a biological child does not apply here. Also just out of curiousity, since you happen to be a child of a single parent. Di you at anytime feel that your mother was inadequate or that her love was always less than what it could have been with a father ? Provided your dad did care?

        its so ironic. On one hand you claim that single parenting is not ideal because for god knows what reason ( dont tell me its because he doesnt get the love of both father and mother. the reason why single parents end up as single parents is because one parent obviously didnt give a shit which once which once again shows that the ideal is not always the ideal ) , yet you fail to see how single parenting is a result of what initially a failed attempt dual parenting.

        ” I don’t pretend to know every single individual person on the face of this earth, but we are capable of describing a general phenomenon which has common resembling characteristics and we can reasonably discuss it between ourselves intelligibilty. ”

        You are wrong, all you’re doing is stereotyping. That pretty much the basis for racism. Crime rates are higher in black ghettos = all black people are criminals ( isnt it the same logic ? )

        ” I never claimed that every single heterosexual parents love their children more than single parents or homosexual parents, my argument pertains to the characteristic of the love of parents of their biological pedigree that it is qualitatively different based upon its intrinsic characteristics ”

        you seem to be contradicting yourself . Correct me if im wrong, but i take it that when you say that you say that there are qualitative differences between a heterosexual parent’s love for their children and a homosexual’s and single parent’s love for their children you are asserting the superiority of a heterosexual parents love ? if not, then why shouldn’t we acknowledge their form of love? just because its different doesn’t mean its worth any less.

        Also, what exactly are these “qualitative difference ” ? ( i read the post you linked me (just not the top portion because it was way too long. I will address those other sections when i have the time ) . You merely state that these are not ideals but fail to explain exactly why they arent . once again this boils down to your personal belief. Who are you to say that these are not ideals ?

        –> note : i later realized you do actually think that a biological parents love for their child is indeed superior as compared to the love of adoptive parents, but included the condition of ceteris paribus. I can agree with you on that. But everyone knows that you cant assume ceteris paribus in the real world.A parent’s relationship with a child stretches across decades. So do not judge a parents love for their child solely based on blood relation.

        ” To bring in being straight or gay is besides the point. Let’s say we have a situation where a gay man marries a woman and they conceive a child, the love which the gay man would have for his child, ceteris paribus of course, would be qualitatively superior than if the child would receive from anyone else. Thus, sexual orientation is irrelevant in this case, it is a question of begotteness.”

        Ah once again the key word here is ceteris paribus. Dont you see that your whole argument is built around the assumptions and generalizations that fail to take into account other equally important factors.

        Wo ok i just got to this part of your argument ” I am merely saying that the love which a parents has for an adopted child necessary lacks certain qualities which only his own biological parents can have for him, this is not to “discredit” the love completely but to measure it relative to the ideal situation. Have I seen any single parents? How many times do I have to repeat? I have been raised by a single parent myself! Experiencing someone for oneself subjectively does miraculously somehow validate one’s arguments (and I do not grant that it does, but let’s assume according to your own argument), then I am supremely and eminently qualified to pass judgement being a child of a single parent myself.”

        If you do claim that youre not discrediting the love of single parents and homosexual parents, and that they are merely not the “ideal” , then i honestly dont see why we shouldnt acknowledge them as a legitimate family unit. Just because they are not ideal doesn’t mean they do not function well. IN any case straight marriages are not always ideal. It’s not as if every couple decides to have children of their own, and like you said, not every couple readily loves their children more than a homosexual couple. So whats your whole point of achieving the ” ideal”. So we can populate our planet and ensure the survival or the human race? You do know that marriage is not the only determinant of fertility rate right? IF you feel so passionately about ensuring healthy birth rates ,there are other more important things you should be fighting for like trying to reduce the cost of living and pushing for pro natal policies ? ohoh how about we go back to the time where women were denied educated and the opportunity to work. in that case they can have more children and we wont face the issue of a regressing population right ? Wouldnt that be the ideal ?

        and erm wow i just read your intro ” My own mother who has cared for us does not herself wish for any special help, recognition or “affirmation” for being a single parent, knowing full well that civic affirmation of such imperfect arrangement would be subversive of the normative familial order by incentivising others towards such less perfect arrangement. ”

        WOW. thats fucked up. She should be proud of herself. whats there to be ashamed of and to hide? ” incentivising others towards such less perfect arrangement. ” haha really ? do you honestly think that more women would become single mothers because the government chooses to recognizes single parenting?

        ” Since homosexual acts have no existential purpose and no procreative result, consummation is a meaningless concept. From this it followed that the Government could come up with no definition of adultery in a homosexual marriage. A law designed to be equal, is not. Under the Bill, non-consummation will not be grounds for divorce in same-sex marriage. Nor will adultery.”

        Wo that’s a whole lot of bull crap there. The reason why adultery is not considered grounds for divorce is because it poses new legal challenges and restrictions/regidity ( ie it requires a change in the legal definition of adultery which at the moment only exist between a man and a woman ) . But mind you the concept of gay marriage is still very new in the uk. So don’t expect it to be perfect. Laws can be amended and the concept of gay marriage still time to be integrated into the current legal system. Do you not think that gay couples will not fight to correct this exception in the law ? im pretty sure there are couples out there who hope that the government will recognize adultery as a legitimate basis for divorce. The law is merely lagging behind

        And mind you.. this is only a problem in the uk. what makes you think it applies to the rest of the world ?

        “Maybe with your “broad mind” you would like to go and recommend the British government a legal definition for adultery and consummation.”

        HAha yes, thanks for the compliment, but i think my mind is really very progressive . the legal definition of adultery in the uk is one that only involves the relationship between a MAN and a WOMAN. I can bet with you that a lot of people on this planet can agree with me that such a definition is simply archaic because it doesnt take into account gay couples. the essence of adultery is to cheat on another partner by sleeping with some one out of the marital affair, regardless of gender. The law has simply yet to adjust to modern times.

        AS for non-consummation. it is pretty obvious that is impossible for gay couples to have babies. Any attempt by straight couples to challenge this law will obviously not be taken seriously, because you simply cant cannot expect a gay couple to carry a child. Is it discrimination ? I dont think so, its just simply impossible to put in practice. What effect might this have on society ? probably nothing of significant concern . do elaborate if you think there are any potential repercussions i might be missing out on. fall in birth rates ? ( hahaha you already know where this is going to go )

        Like

      • Dominic
        July 14, 2014

        and erm wow i just read your intro

        You… just read my post?!

        And all the time which I have wasted replying to your rants about how would I know what it would have been like to be in a single family could have been saved if you had just READ THE ARTICLE FIRST BEFORE COMMENTING.

        This is it. As I’ve told the last commenter, I don’t have the time and energy to keep giving thorough replies to everyone. And now that I’ve discovered that you couldn’t even be bothered to READ THE POST FIRST before shooting your mouth off, I shall not waste any more time arguing with you since I’ve no doubt somewhere in my post is already my answer to you which you simply couldn’t be bothered to read. You have so much time to write long ranting replies, why not use some of that time and energy to READ MY POST first instead of just randomly shooting your mouth off?

        In university we are taught that a good discussion or exchange involves presenting your opponent’s points in its strongest terms possible before criticising it. You can’t even be bothered to understand your opponent’s position, never mind be able to present it in its strongest terms possible.

        I will leave you a link, and I shall have nothing more to say to you.

        Like

      • firefrog42
        July 14, 2014

        Im still a student tho so pardon the less than perfect English and vulgarities . i dont have time to proof read and stuff, because i have work to do , so i may be have missed out on a couple of words here and there. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read and dissect my points and stuff , really appreciate it

        Like

      • firefrog42
        July 14, 2014

        haha sorry for my careless phrasing. What i meant to say was that i did not read it in detail ( but that was only for the intro ). I read your core arguments thoroughly and very carefully ,i’ve also read them over again several times ( otherwise i would not have been able to rant at length ) . I really hope you can reply me someday ( i understand that its very tiring and frustrating. but you give new insights every time you reply ) Take your time , i can wait

        Like

      • Dominic
        July 14, 2014

        i read the post you linked me (just not the top portion because it was way too long. I will address those other sections when i have the time

        The ENTIRE post before you reply to me. My that post has three additional posts which further develops the explanation and answers objections, read ALL of them too from top to bottom before you reply me. If you have any doubts, scan through this page containing more links, READ the posts within from top to bottom which title seem like it could address your doubts, read it from top to bottom, the entire piece, before you comment on this post again. I will not repeat myself.

        Like

      • firefrog42
        July 14, 2014

        ok. i sure will. I do hope you could at least promise a reply because it would take some time and effort to pen my thoughts down. I promise there will be no personal attacks this time

        Like

      • Dominic
        July 14, 2014

        I make no such promises, I have already wasted quite a bit of time here and as it should be obvious, even to you, it is very tedious to reply to you. Read my posts if you think they are interesting, or don’t read them, that is up to you. If you want to further discuss this, you can email me instead.

        Although on a more personal note, I have been thinking about this issue for a very long time and at a far greater depth than you. I dare say that there are honestly very few objections which I cannot answer or have not encountered, and there are very few other systems out there which has engaged the facts with as much depth and detail as I have. I sincerely believe that most of all your objections have been met somewhere in one of my posts and the reasoning for my stance and beliefs have been thoroughly articulated across the board.

        A lot of my replies to you are merely tedious picking out confusions in understanding what my argument is and what my explanations are really saying, not really engaging with any fundamental disagreements. I don’t doubt that there would be fundamental disagreements, those cannot be argued further but merely stated. As it is, I think that if you read through most of my posts, you will be satisfied as to my explanations, whether or not you agree with them, they will at least provide you with a coherent perspective accounting for most of the facts and addressing most of the common objections. Furthermore, if you take some time to think about it through yourself, you wil see the logic of my arguments which at first may not appear evident.

        As such, I don’t foresee that you will need my replies if you truly read through my posts.

        Like

  2. Val Goh
    July 13, 2014

    You taken that book out of context. This isn’t promoting homosexuality. If you DID read the book, the boy realizes he is not gay and confronts his uncle about it.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 14, 2014

      Mr Goh,

      I never said that the book promoted homosexuality, I am well aware of what the book is actually about. And I did not take the book of out context because I never meant to discuss the book itself in the first place.

      All I did was to use the book as a springboard to construct an alternative imaginary scenario with a different content. That’s why I explicitly said, “Then imagine…” followed by my construction of a different scenario.

      So to reiterate, I never meant to discuss the actual contents of the book, I was merely using it as a springboard to discuss the principle of free expression and free speech, that it has its proper limits and that not all literature are equally tolerable.

      Like

  3. Nicole Ong
    July 13, 2014

    There was a lot of controversial content in this blog but let me just state two points that really stood out for me.
    It’s inconvenient to quote a dictionary definition of ‘bigotry’ and then just drop key parts of the definition when you “simply” state its meaning. Please. Read the definition again.
    Also, it’s pretty underhanded to cite an example of a book (which for the life of me I cannot understand why was ever published) of child sexual abuse as a reason why the NLB should have the right to remove books from its shelves. If you’re going for shock value, I think you achieved it but you have misrepresented the content of the books that were actually removed from the libraries. Finally, I do not expect my comment to be published on your blog. It’s far easier to remove opposing views than to ‘tolerate’ their existence.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 13, 2014

      I have not only quoted the dictionary definition, I have also given an example of how it is properly used, not as a critique of people who hold certain ideas but as an attitude of mind regardless of the ideas held.

      My use of the example of the book was not meant to be a representation of the books removed from the library, I never said it was. My use of an imaginary extrapolation of the book is meant to make the point that the principle of tolerance is not unbounded in its applications and has proper limits.

      Like

      • Nicole Ong
        July 14, 2014

        Re: “My use of the example of the book was not meant to be a representation of the books removed from the library, I never said it was.”

        Although I’d read your blog quite carefully, I had been misdirected to assume that your description was in fact the ending of the book (sure, upon scrutiny now I see you used the word “imagine”). Regardless of your skillful jibber jabber, it still strikes me that your conniving use of those two (shockingly vile) pages were quite the masterful use of content, out of context, to convince and might I say, potentially deceive, the unwitting reader.

        Also, some of the links you provide are just links to the same jibber jabber written by other similarly bigoted minds (by the way, do stay with the times, no one cares how ‘bigotry’ was first used. It’s what it now means that matters). I’m not sure your links add any value to your arguments at all. I could cite a hundred links that argue that families with single parents or adopted children as just as functional and “pro-family”, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is (sadly) a large faction of Singaporeans who seem to think that ‘pro-family must be one husband + one wife + children’.

        I am a single woman in my mid-30s. I may never have a husband or birth a child. But that doesn’t deter me from the optimistic belief that one day I will adopt a child and have a family just as happy and functional as any other. I just wish Singaporeans were more open-minded and a little kinder and accepting of those that are somewhat different from societal norms. Generally these norms form the very stigmas that put marginalized people into deeper depression and destruction. If we want to be a benevolent and inclusive nation, it starts with the very simple acknowledgment (in children’s literature no less) that different family structures EXIST, as argued by Jaxe Pan. Peace out.

        Like

      • Dominic
        July 14, 2014

        If you simply wish to dismiss my arguments as simply “jibber jabber” without engaging the points, and if you think that the facts and truth of an argument cannot be established by the sheer fact that people disagree, then I guess there is nothing more to be said by me. You’re basically disengaging from the discussion and adopting the posture of a one-sided sheer proclamation of your ideas. That merely calls for my acquiescence, which obviously I will not give, not my engagement.

        Like

  4. 26Wattenview
    July 13, 2014

    Excellent and well thought through argument.

    Like

  5. Dominic
    July 14, 2014

    I would direct your attention to Alex Au’s article about ‘Alfie’s Home’, and suggest that you do more thorough fact checks before palming anti-gay material off as lgbt literature. http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/look-whos-corrupting-young-minds/

    Also see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/05/alfies-home-ex-gay-therapist-supreme-court-gay-marriage_n_2624496.html

    Like

  6. Pingback: As nobody in particular, I object to Dominic Foo’s so-called arguments | Rayner's Thought Diary

  7. Pingback: Daily SG: 14 Jul 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  8. mcpeanuts
    July 14, 2014

    I saw this post late last night, and in the interest of dialogue I’ve tried to examine your arguments with an open mind, taking them at their highest. My full response here: http://raynersthoughts.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/as-nobody-in-particular-i-object-to-dominic-foos-so-called-arguments/

    Just a few points here. As others have mentioned, your Alfie’s Home comparison is a red herring. Of course there’s some literature that should not be in the children’s section. And yes, your hypothetical book is one of them. But you have not made clear why And Tango Makes Three or The White Swan Express belong in that category of books. Instead, you’re relying on the outrage generated by your hypothetical pederasty/paedophilia-promoting book to cloud an objective assessment of the books that the NLB actually banned.

    I also find it interesting that you bring up your background (mentioning your parents’ divorce), try to use this point of view to discredit Jaxe Pan, and then after that claim that we shouldn’t be using our personal credentials to make our arguments. She didn’t claim to speak for all single parents, anyway, just as -a- single parent. In any case, that’s exactly why policymakers consult stakeholders–because personal credentials and background are valued, and come with insights. Your point of view is valid, just as Ms Pan’s is.

    Regarding the idea that we should prefer biological parentage over adoptive parentage, I argue that this embodies a flawed comparison. Precisely because children up for adoption are in non-ideal circumstances which are different from the vast majority of children in biological-parent families, ceteris is very much not paribus. Therefore the relevant comparison is not between biological and adopted children, but among the pool of potential adoptees. We should be looking at how well they do after adoption, conditional on the fact that they are up for adoption. So “we would certainly prefer that children be raised by their own biological parents rather than an adoptive one or a blended family” is a meaningless statement.

    Of course in the realm of social science, assessing adoption in the way I’ve described in theory would be an incredibly tricky research design to implement. But studies that track outcomes of adoptive children versus biologically-raised ones are at least helping to put an upper bound on how sub-optimal adoption actually is. And the answer we’ve found across many studies is, the vast majority of adopted children do just as well as those raised by biological parents (cf. Palacios and Brodzinsky 2010). To the extent that your expressed preference is meaningful, it is not supported by the evidence.

    I look forward to seeing a revised argument–I would be happy to be persuaded that I’m wrong.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 14, 2014

      Here is my response to your post.

      Dominic Foo tells us that his parents divorced when he was a teenager. Therefore, as a child of a single-parent family, he asserts that Jaxe Pan does not speak for all children or parents in such situations. (Not that she ever claimed to do so.) Nevertheless, in the very next paragraph, he points out that “the invocation of personal credentials and background is merely a rhetorical move.” First, this is not a criticism: rhetoric can be used to persuade, but the use of rhetoric itself does not disqualify an argument that is otherwise logically sound. Second, if the “invocation of [one’s] personal credentials” weakens an argument, this applies equally to Mr Foo as it does to Ms Pan. In paragraph 1 of Mr Foo’s piece, he did exactly what he calls Ms Pan out on in paragraph 2.

      I fully grant that rhetoric can be used to persuade, and neither did I say that rhetoric by itself disqualifies an argument which is otherwise logically sound. I am fully aware of the “fallacy-fallacy”  and I have never argued that simply because Jaxe Pan uses rhetorical devices therefore her arguments are invalid or her conclusions false. My argument is that it is irrelevant, not that it is false, that is, it does not add from nor subtract to the merits of her arguments.

      Mr Foo tells us that his mother, a single parent, “does not herself wish for any special help, recognition or ‘affirmation’.” This may well be true, but it misses the point. There are children out there who are being brought up by single parents through no fault of their own. Among these children are some who would benefit from positive portrayals, in fiction and the media, of other children in families like theirs. Even children who come from cookie-cutter two-parent families must learn that some of their friends come from families with diverse structures, and insensitivity or misplaced curiosity (however well-meaning) can come across as hurtful. Ms Pan’s note makes clear that her concerns are for her daughter, not herself. Mr Foo’s use of his mother’s perspective to refute Ms Pan is therefore misplaced: the books are for the sake of the children, not the parents.

      In any case, Mr Foo criticised Ms Pan for her presumptuousness in using her experience to (allegedly) claim to speak for all in similar situations. But I read her note as pointing out an unmet need that undoubtedly exists among a segment of the population. It is a point of view that is eminently worth hearing. The very fact that his mother does not concur with Ms Pan does not in any way discount Ms Pan’s view.

      The question is precisely whether children will “benefit from positive portrayals” of imperfect family situations or whether there is such an “unmet need that undoubtedly exists” and my post is precisely dedicated to arguing the negative. I don’t see how I have “missed the point” when my post is precisely dedicated to addressing the point!

      In sum, I don’t get it: we often refer to the views and insights of stakeholders when making decisions about public policy; Ms Pan is a stakeholder, given her circumstances; her view is worth considering, not as a representative of a group—nor indeed as someone who “contributes to the nation” to a greater or lesser extent—but as someone who will be affected by a particular public policy. Mr Foo’s para 3 about “individual contribution to the nation” is irrelevant.

      This is precisely what my second and third paragraph was about, that is, the background circumstances is irrelevant to the merits of the public policy proposals which must be judged based on its objective effects, and that background of the person making the argument is irrelevant to the merits of that person’s arguments.

      Mr Foo asserts that we would “prefer that children be raised by their own biological parents rather than an adoptive one or a blended family.” Yes—but the relevant set for comparison is not that set of all children (which Mr Foo refers to by using the unmodified group name “children”), but rather the set of children who are potential adoptees because of circumstance. That is to say, Mr Foo should not be comparing all children to adoptees, but rather within the set of potential adopteesactual adoptees and non-adoptees. Mr Foo’s preference implicitly contains an irrelevant hypothetical; it would only make sense if someone had suggested assigning allchildren to random parents at birth.

      The relevant set for comparison is precisely all children. If we were specifically discussing adoptees alone, then yes. But we are also precisely comparing single parent families to families with both parents, etc, in short, across the board. How does the restriction to only adoptees apply to this comparison? Especially when it comes to policies with regards to divorces and out-of-wedlock children?

      Even if Mr Foo is correct in his choice of comparison, the scientific evidence is not quite so clear-cut as regards who ‘should’ raise kids.

      It is precisely because the scientific evidence “is not quite so clear-cut” that I have not mentioned nor cited any quantitative evidence. I have mostly relied upon qualitative arguments and deductions in my post rather than scientific studies which I freely and readily grant is inconclusive. For every studies which the objector can cite, I can cite another one as well as criticisms of those studies. (For a more general discussion on the problem of social science and anthropological research in general, see here.) Therefore, I don’t really see the point of his extended arguments on scientific research since as he himself has granted, it “is not quite so clear-cut”, and rather than get mired in wrangling over statistics and studies, I prefer to appeal to qualitative arguments instead.

      Mr Foo argues that if “society can arbitrarily decide whose parents one’s child is,” there would be no reason why biological fathers should contribute to the maintenance of their estranged children. First, it’s not true, in adoption, that society is ‘arbitrarily’ deciding which parents to match up with which children; rather, we are recognising a commitment that an adult or adults are voluntarily making to a child. They have stepped up to assume responsibility. In the case of child support payments, the fact that the father has contributed sperm to make a kid (and thereby land the mother in a tough financial situation) suggests that he should also help pay for the kid. There is no analogy, because in the latter case society is enforcing an existing obligation, while in adoption society is recognising a new one. Second, there are what lawyers call “policy grounds” for forcing biological fathers to provide for their children—it discourages the phenomenon of irresponsible hit-and-run fathers. Last, it is not even clear of the conditionals Mr Foo mentions (biological ‘pedigree’ unrelated to parental ability and responsibility, status of child a social convention, society can arbitrarily assign parent-child relation, society can arbitrarily assign responsibility for child, all guardianship arrangements equally valid), which his argument is actually based on. The argument is muddled, and I think invalid.

      First, I never said that “in adoption, that society is ‘arbitrarily deciding which parents to match up with their children”. My argument is focused on what is so significant about this “sperm which make[s] a kid” which entails an obligation to pay for the kid? My argument is focused upon why we think there is such an existing obligation at all and my argument is suggesting that there is in fact something significant about biological pedigree and how itself creates a special link, and obligation, to their children. My argument is meant to be evidence of the premise that there is in fact something special about biological pedigree which by itself commends the biological parents for the parental role anterior to social considerations or conventions which merely recognises this obligation after the fact.

      Mr Foo brings up a scene from Up in which a woman grieves because she cannot conceive. I cannot pretend to know what that feels like. But he uses that to argue that the adoptive parent-child bond must necessarily be lesser than the biological parent-child bond, because if not, this character could substitute biological children for adopted children. I have two responses to that. First, and precisely because I cannot know what it feels like to be told that I cannot conceive, I would be wary of reading her reaction in that way. Why not, instead, blame an unfair society that links the female gender with the function of bearing children so closely that women who cannot conceive feel inadequate or challenged as women? Second, given the unavoidable reality that some women cannot conceive, surely arguments like Mr Foo’s (which de-legitimise adoption) and actions like the NLB’s (which make it harder to educate kids about adoption) actually compound the hurt that they may feel at having to adopt in order to have children?

      Well, certainly you can precisely dismiss the reactions of grief of woman who are unable to conceive as an irrational one which is merely the product of social conditioning and not based upon sound reasons. However, I have merely used it to be illustrative tool to point to a more general principle, it is not a rigorous argument in itself. I have placed the link where the more rigorous arguments can be found at the bottom of the paragraph. Besides, I have never “de-legitimise” adoption. I never said that it should be banned. I am merely pointing out that adoption is an imperfect arrangement compared to being raised by one’s own parents.

      This is one of those places where I recognise that my argument will leave a significant number of people unconvinced. That’s because I rely on the premise that children and parents in single-parent families, adoptive families, or same-sex-couple-headed families are particularly vulnerable to stigmatisation and therefore need support and positive portrayals.

      Since my post is precisely dedicated to refuting this premise, that some non-normative family arrangements are rightly stigmatised (although of course, as I have already said, the children should be spared the stigma, not because their family arrangement is normative but because they are not to be blamed for the actions of their parents), therefore I guess the arguments which follow from this are moot. For an extended argument for stigma as a necessary force of social ordering, see here.

      As far as when and how to teach children about non-normative arrangements and how to deal with them, that is for each parents to decide for themselves, not the public library, and as I have said in a previous post, the books should not have been banned but instead placed in another section where adults can borrow it and then teach their own children in their own time and according to their own judgement. Unless of course one believes that the state should decide how a parent’s children are to be raised, these difficult matters should be left to the discretion of the parents.

      Just as Mr Foo claims that Jaxe Pan cannot speak for all single parents, he can’t speak for all children of single parents. In particular, he can’t equate his experience (being a child of parents who divorced when he was already a teen) to that of a child who grows up without either parent, or a child adopted from birth, or a gay child. They might well need affirmation, and it would be poisonous to withhold it from them, or from their peers. And it is disingenuous to pretend that six- to ten-year-olds can appreciate the fine distinction of affirming an individual while not endorsing his family background (or for that matter sexual orientation among older children); these fine-grained moral distinctions are simply counterproductive and hurtful in practice.

      No indeed I do not pretend to speak for all children of single parents. That it is “poisonous” to withhold such “affirmation” is precisely the bone of contention and what is precisely being discussed. And it is odd that he thinks that children cannot “appreciate the fine distinction of affirming an individual while not endorsing his family background” when just in the previous paragraph he was extolling the children’s ability at “picking up cues about social approval and disapproval, and forming hierarchies and schemes in their mind which make sense of the adult world” and that “Children have a finely-developed sense of fairness from young”. Why shouldn’t this “finely developed sense of fairness” include the ability not to attribute the sins of the fathers unto the sons?

      1. Imagine an outrageous book that promotes child sexual abuse. Here, have a visual cue for outrage.
      2. It shouldn’t be in the children’s section, should it?
      3. Therefore, there exist some materials that shouldn’t be in the children’s section
      4. And Tango Makes Three and The White Swan Express shouldn’t be in the children’s section

      This is not my argument at all and is merely a straw man. My actual argument is to criticise the invocation of the principle of tolerance and to argue that “there are limits to everyone’s tolerance of children materials”. I have not used the book displayed as an argument to ban the three books in question. Nowhere have I never mentioned premise 4 and I challenge him to cite it. My argument is that the principle of tolerance is not unbounded and that it is qualified in its application.

      Dominic Foo concludes by asserting that Singapore has a pre-existing moral or civic structure which, by virtue of being a structure that defines a community and a social order, has to include some people and exclude others (that’s basically an implication of being a community). In other words, it cannot be inclusive without limits. But to me, that’s quite easy: include those people who (1) are Singapore residents by birth or choice and (2) don’t hurt others.

      What we are precisely disputing is what does “hurt” others and we are certainly not going to agree on our definitions and our premises as to what constitutes hurt or human flourishing as well as the acts or policy which promotes or negates it. As a taste as how fundamental our disagreement goes, I would cite the following by J. Budziszewski

      John Stuart Mill, the pioneer of this way of thinking, had all sorts of devices for reclassifying harms as non-harms. By his lights, the corruption of mores which safeguard human flourishing is not harm; seduction to evil is not harm; insult is not harm; conduct by which a person destroys his abilities to fulfill his obligations to others is not harm; and the risk of harm, distributed in such a way that we do not know on whom the sword will fall, is not harm either.

      We are not going to agree on our definition of what constitutes harm or hurt, we are certainly going to have very divergent conclusions.

      Tolerance, then, is about accommodating as many modes of living as can be accommodated—this is what we signed up for as a pluralist, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious society. That’s the difference with a social-conservative conception of tolerance, which they have often accused the (‘oppressive’) liberals of lacking towards them. Tolerance is not an empty value on which anything can be projected, and it certainly does not allow one group to force others to conform to its vision of the life worth living, or to devalue and denigrate other such visions.

      Again, I have already addressed this principal of tolerance, that nobody consistently applies it in every possible case without qualifications, the pederasty situation. Invocation of vague all encompassing principles does not help us to deal with our present situation. The discussion about allowing one group to force others to conform to its vision is also a vacuous principle. In every society the law abiding citizens forces criminals and law breakers to conform to their own vision of the life worth living. No society can exists without boundaries which distinguish between those in the society and those outside of it. To eliminate all such boundaries means the destruction of the whole.

      In conclusion, I don’t know why I spilt three thousand words on this pseudo-intellectual drivel. But it’s written like a lawyer (or, given the headers, at least like a law student who had just devoured a mooting instruction manual) and at first I thought it might be worth responding to. It was only when I started responding point-by-point that I realised just how poor some of his arguments were—particularly the Alfie’s Home / moral outrage one. Despite how painful it was, I have sought to take his arguments at their highest, and written off the time wasted on this as a sort of very trying intellectual exercise.

      Hopefully the next time he or she choose to response to my post, he or she would choose to deal with my actual arguments and premises and statements and not his or her own reconstructed arguments which has nothing to do with what I have actually said or the actual structure of my arguments.

      Like

      • Nicole Ong
        July 14, 2014

        You might perhaps entertain the possibility (remote as it might seem to you) that there’s validity to these comments (several people have responded with interpretations of your arguments, opposite to what you apparently intended.

        Obviously you’re not going to agree with me.

        Just seems like anything other than agreement with your point is likely to be shot down (might have something to do with the state of “having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions”). Yes I am not keen to engage in the conversation (anymore). You at least got that right! 😉

        Like

  9. William Goh
    July 14, 2014

    You raise an interesting point about the “one man, one woman, children” family being the “ideal” model of a family and the most superior form of love amongst all other family structures.

    My question is, should libraries expose children to this superior model exclusively? Libraries are supposed to be secular, apolitical repositories of knowledge, not preservers of social norms or political interests. Just because single parent families and homosexual parent families aren’t the ideal/normal situation for child-raising, doesn’t mean children should be deprived of any form of acknowledgement that such familial arrangements even exist.

    I would ask “what’s the harm in just allowing these books in the children’s section”, but you seem to have attempted to answer that:

    “knowing full well that civic affirmation of such imperfect arrangement would be subversive of the normative familial order by incentivising others towards such less perfect arrangement.”

    Poverty is an “inferior familial arrangement”, since children of families in poverty face problems such as pressure to quit school to find a menial job to help support the family’s mere survival, or being prone to finding themselves in the middle of their parents’ financial arguments. And by this logic, civic affirmation of the existence of poor families would be subversive of the normative familial order by incentivising others towards such less perfect arrangements?

    You are attempting to suggest that it’s even possible to “incentivise” anyone at all to get into a situation that is almost entirely out of their control. There may be the odd woman who chooses to get a sperm donation and raise a child on her own, but are you really suggesting the homosexuals have choice in which gender elicits a sexual response of arousal? That the existence of And Tango Makes Three and its exposure to children would encourage children to find their own gender sexually arousing? That the presence of books with adopted families would encourage children to get emancipated and find adoptive families? Like it or not, these inferior familial structures have no choice in being that way. To attempt to remove these books from the library because they acknowledge the presence of such imperfect families means that the library is no longer a repository of knowledge to supply children with the whole truth of society. You may think that only including books that support the government’s definition of family is “pro-family”. I think that it reduces the credibility of a library as it omits truths of society from children.

    It would be nice for children of such familial structures to know that they aren’t alone. You seem to have accepted your situation without much emotional distress, but some others may not have been so lucky. There are children of gay parents who are being bullied because their of their parents’ sexual orientation. There are daughters of single fathers who feel alone in their journey through puberty. You object to the argument of “all children of imperfect families need recognition” but instead posit that “no children of imperfect families need recognition”? I won’t attempt to say that every child needs these books. But it’s even more ridiculous to say that no one would benefit from these books.

    But I shouldn’t even have to justify the benefit of these books being in the library. The library is home to the most banal, uninteresting, non-noteworthy books. Public libraries aren’t an exclusive club that requires all books to justify their usefulness to the community. The burden for proof lies on those who are in support of removing the book to show that these books’ presence in the library poses exceptional harm! And I see very little of that in this debate in general.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 14, 2014

      My question is, should libraries expose children to this superior model exclusively? Libraries are supposed to be secular, apolitical repositories of knowledge, not preservers of social norms or political interests. Just because single parent families and homosexual parent families aren’t the ideal/normal situation for child-raising, doesn’t mean children should be deprived of any form of acknowledgement that such familial arrangements even exist.

      You raise an open question here where I don’t have a firm opinion one way or another. I am not exactly certain as to whether libraries serve definite aims or what those aims are. I stick to a much more limited definition I gave at the start that public libraries exists “in harmony and support of the familial institution as the norm in comparison to other imperfect situations.” It may not outright be guardians or preservers of social norms or political interests, no single institution is, but it must at the very least be in harmony with the whole. My own stance in my previous post would be simply to relegate those child books to a different section and allow parents to borrow them and teach their own children at their own discretion.

      Poverty is an “inferior familial arrangement”, since children of families in poverty face problems such as pressure to quit school to find a menial job to help support the family’s mere survival, or being prone to finding themselves in the middle of their parents’ financial arguments. And by this logic, civic affirmation of the existence of poor families would be subversive of the normative familial order by incentivising others towards such less perfect arrangements?

      I fully affirm that poverty is an “inferior familial arrangement” and that is why it is state policy to give material and financial support to families in such situations of poverty to alleviate their poverty and provide them with the sufficient means to live a decent life. I trust nobody here would like to legitimise or glorify the wilful affliction or choosing of familial poverty as an ideal state to be celebrated and affirmed by all.

      You are attempting to suggest that it’s even possible to “incentivise” anyone at all to get into a situation that is almost entirely out of their control. There may be the odd woman who chooses to get a sperm donation and raise a child on her own, but are you really suggesting the homosexuals have choice in which gender elicits a sexual response of arousal? That the existence of And Tango Makes Three and its exposure to children would encourage children to find their own gender sexually arousing?

      This is a really complex question to do with the complicated nature and character of sexual orientations which I cannot fully discuss it here. I would direct you to this post instead and you can continue this discussion there.

      That the presence of books with adopted families would encourage children to get emancipated and find adoptive families?

      I never said that it did and I never argued for this at all.

      It would be nice for children of such familial structures to know that they aren’t alone. You seem to have accepted your situation without much emotional distress, but some others may not have been so lucky. There are children of gay parents who are being bullied because their of their parents’ sexual orientation. There are daughters of single fathers who feel alone in their journey through puberty. You object to the argument of “all children of imperfect families need recognition” but instead posit that “no children of imperfect families need recognition”? I won’t attempt to say that every child needs these books. But it’s even more ridiculous to say that no one would benefit from these books.

      As I have already said I have no problems affirming the individual children qua individuals, the sins of the fathers are not to be visited unto the sins, but it is a different thing to legitimise the errors of their parents.

      But I shouldn’t even have to justify the benefit of these books being in the library. The library is home to the most banal, uninteresting, non-noteworthy books. Public libraries aren’t an exclusive club that requires all books to justify their usefulness to the community. The burden for proof lies on those who are in support of removing the book to show that these books’ presence in the library poses exceptional harm! And I see very little of that in this debate in general.

      On the contrary, public libraries are funded by the common purse and therefore requires communal justification. As for the harm of these books, I sense that we are going to disagree very fundamentally as to our understanding of what constitutes “harm” and with that, I leave you with this passage from J. Budziszewski:

      John Stuart Mill, the pioneer of this way of thinking, had all sorts of devices for reclassifying harms as non-harms. By his lights, the corruption of mores which safeguard human flourishing is not harm; seduction to evil is not harm; insult is not harm; conduct by which a person destroys his abilities to fulfill his obligations to others is not harm; and the risk of harm, distributed in such a way that we do not know on whom the sword will fall, is not harm either.

      Like

      • William Goh
        July 15, 2014

        “I stick to a much more limited definition I gave at the start that public libraries exists “in harmony and support of the familial institution as the norm in comparison to other imperfect situations.””
        There’s a difference between support of the norm and outright exclusion of those deviating from the norm. To suggest that children be introduced only to a narrow reality that is true only for a fraction of society is frankly quite insulting and regressive.
        “I fully affirm that poverty is an “inferior familial arrangement””
        So are you against the presence of books portraying happy protagonists in poor families in the children’s section?
        “I would direct you to this post instead and you can continue this discussion there.”
        Gay men may masturbate to straight porn not because of the heterosexual sex, but despite it. They may find the men attractive and picture themselves in the woman’s position, while ignoring the woman entirely hence removing the heterosexual nature from the porn. Likewise heterosexuals may masturbate to mirrors because of their own mental projections that satisfies their desires.
        Suffice to say, to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice is insulting to those who struggle with social rejection, repression and bullying for their sexuality because if heterosexuality could just be turned “on”, why wouldn’t they avoid such mental torment?
        “I never said that it did and I never argued for this at all.”
        In your exact words, verbatim: “incentivising others towards such less perfect arrangement.”
        So, knowing full well we’re talking about children’s books here, what the hell do you even mean by this sentence if you’re not implying that, rofl? That the presence of books featuring adoptive families in the children’s section would somehow induce children to, once grown up, choose to jump through thousands of bureaucratic hoops to adopt a child instead of just have a biological one? Or that they would, somehow, prefer an adoptive family over their current biological one? Please clarify what you mean instead of hiding behind pseudo-intellect with your unintuitive words and backtracking when I’m pointing out a direct consequence of what you’ve said.
        “but it is a different thing to legitimise the errors of their parents.”
        What errors have the parents even committed? The error of having to adopt because one parent is infertile? The error of engaging in a healthy long-term relationship with someone of one’s own gender instead of forcing a dead, loveless monogamous relationship with someone of the opposite gender? The error of being born into a poor family and being unable to escape the vicious circle of poverty? It’s one thing to recognise the fact that a familial arrangement is suboptimal. It’s another entirely to imply that these situations are gotten into as a result of “errors” arising from parents’ actions.
        “John Stuart Mill, the pioneer of this way of thinking, had all sorts of devices for reclassifying harms as non-harms. By his lights, the corruption of mores which safeguard human flourishing is not harm; seduction to evil is not harm; insult is not harm; conduct by which a person destroys his abilities to fulfill his obligations to others is not harm; and the risk of harm, distributed in such a way that we do not know on whom the sword will fall, is not harm either.”
        “the corruption of mores which safeguard human flourishing”: Humans have already flourished. We’re seven billion strong, occupying all seven continents. We have housing standards that place security and safety above the bare minimum for survival. We have constitutional laws that safeguard our rights to bodily autonomy, freedom from want, access to medical treatment for non-life threatening conditions. It’s time to look past flourishing or bare survival. Conservative estimates place about 2% of the human population as homosexual. Try to tell a child that 140 million people on the planet are to be frowned upon. That the families they start are of less worth to us. That children shouldn’t know about the existence of these people because them having families somehow ruins it for a fraction of us. Of course, you’d have to assume that the child him/herself is not one of those 140 million…
        “seduction to evil”: I would love for you to even attempt to suggest linking this issue to this sentence without seeming at all bigoted.
        “insult”: There are many differences between offending someone and someone taking offence. One of which is that it’s not fair to place the blame on anyone’s actions if someone else takes offence to them doing something many other people in the world do without any significant consequence.

        Like

  10. seewernhao
    July 14, 2014

    Hi, even though I don’t really agree with your article, I would like to thank you for being one of the few who penned out something like this, rather than merely resort to name-calling and such. If I may, I would like to respond to the points you made above, in the order which you presented it.

    1. How should public institutions run? To which groups’ interests should they cater?
    I think there is a slight misunderstanding of Jaxe Pan’s intentions. While she did start off her post with her background, she did not use it specifically as a sob story merely for rhetorical purposes. Rather, she was talking about the spectrum of families present within society (heteronormative, homosexual, adoptive, single parent).

    Therefore, given as you rightly pointed out in your premise that “the merits of a public policy should be judged upon its objective consequences and effects”, and how it can “[contribute to] the flourishing of the commonwealth”, when the “key civic institutions and arrangements” fail to take into account the wide spectrum of family models and instead choose to promote one (heterosexual normative types) over the rest, it necessarily leads to the Other-isation of families which do not fit into that mould. The discrimination faced by homosexual families as seen in this fiasco is explicit and needs no further elaboration. Elsewhere, discrimination can also be unfairly levied upon the children of non-heteronormative families, thinking that they would grow up “weird” or “confused”, passing judgment upon the child who is labelled as something before being known as someone. It may even take less hostile and more insidious forms such as pity or condescending curiosity (“You poor thing, growing up must have been tough for you”, “How was it like growing up without a father?”).

    Point is, public policy (and knowledge propagating and sharing entities like the NLB moreover) should cater to the entire spectrum of society, not favour one over others. That is why the key thrust of Jaxe Pan’s note is to promote acceptance and inclusiveness, not pretend that alternative family types do not exist, or even worse, are inferior to the norm. When public institutions therefore fail to recognise the full diversity of the society which they govern over, they are flawed and therefore need to change. Because each of these families contribute to society as well.

    2. How do or should notions of “Family” operate on? What Makes a Family Work?
    (I) Questioning Underlying Assumptions
    The assumption within the premise of any argument operating on the notion of a “functioning” or “perfect” family is that there is a singular prototype of the constituent elements of a family structure (father, mother, child) which is a prerequisite for a family, and children within it, to be fully functional and healthily develop.
    This is a dangerous assumption to make because it simplifies the family unit, making it more of a sterile equation which may take the form of “Biological Father + Biological Mother = (through the catalyst of healthy love-making) => Healthy Child”, rather than considering the socio-economic forces which shape these families. In reality, there are dysfunctional families which fit within normative definitions (abusive spouses and fathers, aloof parents, estranged parent-child relationships etc.). There are also single parent families, adoptive families et cetera which are more harmonious and display mutual understanding and affection.
    The point is, the constituent elements of a family, in and of itself, does not indicate or determine how families would develop. More often than not, it is social attitudes towards these families, economic circumstance, and the behaviour of individuals, which determine how a family is like. This brings me back to the point raised in Question 1 of my reply, that if public institutions fail to cater to the socio-economic flourishing of these families vis-a-vis the promotion of social acceptance or economic assistance and support, these institutions have failed in these areas and should change.
    Ultimately, the state’s goal of flourishing should go beyond the initial act of bearing a child. Rather, raising a child in an environment which teaches them healthy values regarding acceptance and open-mindedness goes a much further way in developing a harmonious society in the future as opposed to raising a greater populace which is more narrow-minded and aloof to such diversity.

    (II) Then Why The Fuss Over Biological Factors?
    To be fair to your argument, I have looked at the post which you talked about biology in-depth. Your article basically posited the following, please correct me if I am mistaken: Because individuals and society aims to have genetic continuity, marriage codified as a public institution (meant to serve the public good) implicitly wants its members to bear offspring and develop a responsibility to it regardless of transient passions, that the permanence of love and duty to be directed at the efforts of such child-raising shall supercede that of potentially transient passions and expressions of love.
    I shall tackle that argument, both from a legal viewpoint and a viewpoint comparing the goals of society to that of the individual:
    (a) Legal Argument – Presumption of Duty
    The parental biological factor, in and of itself, isn’t really the point. Rather, the decision made by the former-couple to bear a child represents a commitment towards the latter’s development. Upon incidences of divorce for whatever reason, the party which no longer is in the household naturally becomes unable to be physically present to look after the child. Yet, said party still has the duty of providing financial aid to the other party who is taking care of the kid. Since raising children is a hefty financial burden, this represents the barest and minimum symbol of commitment which he can undertake.
    (b) Moralistic Argument – Is Child-bearing the raison d’etre of marriage as a public institution?
    On the first level, the answer is no. It is easy to see, prima facie, that by allowing infertile or aged couples to marry, the state (has to) acknowledge that mutual love, while it is a private concept, still forms the fundamental bedrock of marriage between two individuals. That the desire of the nation to acknowledge such a sacred bond, in the hope of though never guaranteed of its permanence, supersedes that of child-bearing is testimony to how love – no matter how vague or vacuous or misunderstood a concept is – still forms the ultimate ideal and purpose of marriage. While I concede that you make excellent analysis regarding the social directing of eros into parental care, the very fact that it is direction, rather than explicit instruction (there is no “in sickness or in health I will have babies” line in vow-taking), surely means that child-bearing remains secondary to the objective of acknowledging love.
    Even if it is true that child-bearing is an important goal of marriage as a public institution, this goal cannot come as a compromise to its obligation of inclusiveness to its citizens. Personal sexual orientation and beliefs (which do not represent a threat to others) form such an important core of human living or flourishing – however you want to describe it – that it must always supercede population goals. The state is made up of its people – human beings. If the state can’t even take care of individuals who hold such deep, entrenched personal beliefs, nor allow family units which do not fit into its desired mould to flourish on an equal level as the rest, what is the point of having more people in the future? Sure marriage is a public institution and state does have influence over it. But just because the state has influence over it, doesn’t give it the right to hypocritically undermine its own values of equality which resulted in the formation of the state in the first place.
    I concede that having a kid is an important desire for many individuals in spite of the fact that there are also certain individuals who are disinterested or find children a hassle. And yes I also concede that a child-bearing experience embodies a unique experience which facilitates parent-child bonding due to immense maternal suffering and resultant emotional attachment. However, like aforementioned, it is the difficult process of raising a child and the quality of upbringing which supercedes the initial act of childbirth which forms a testament of affection and commitment. Since this transcends sexual orientation (homosexuals are not predisposed to be worse parents than heterosexuals) and family-types, therefore it is erroneous to ascribe merit only to the heterosexual model of family. For if we accept that a father can take the role of househusband and a mother can take the role of breadwinner, then we must naturally accept that similar permutations of upbringing can apply across the spectrum of households. Thus I reject the traditional definition of family and its resultant implications on education.
    3. Civic Order and Human Civilisation Has Always Been Artificial
    Simple reply here. I think this commits the Is/Ought fallacy. Just because something (in this case, discrimination) has been the case, it doesn’t make the status quo right. Case-in-point: African-American racial discrimination in the 1960s.
    4. Books Are Not Banned
    Another simple reply. Yes people can still purchase the books. But this privileges those who can afford it. The moment an individual who is incapable of the luxury of spending money on books (no matter how cheap you may claim it to be) becomes denied of the source material as a result, this is a deprivation of an access to knowledge. Financial capability thus indirectly influences what society reads, or does not read, about.
    The library as a public institution has a role and duty to educate and inform, within legal boundaries. I reject the argument that it should reflect current social norms because, as a non-partisan, non-political organisation, its existence as a public institution means that its role is to cater reading material to as broad a range of ideologies as it can, and not pander towards any one specific segment of society.
    5. What is a “Bigot”?
    Don’t really want to rebut this point because I see it as a side-tracking of the main issue regarding the books. However, just wanted to say that yes, the dictionary may posit it as a definition. But a word’s usage is also largely defined by how modern society uses it. And since the LGBT movement is gaining traction of late, Jaxe’s use of the word “Bigot” slanted towards homosexual discrimination. I believe she was not malicious, so please don’t penalise her arguments heavily for it.
    6. Is Intolerance over-invoked?
    No, it is not. Current hate-speech against discriminated groups in society on social network and in real life are testament to that.
    Regarding the book which you have screenshot, I would say yes allow it. Because this provides opportunity to explain to children the dangers of sexual harassment and abuse, and that you don’t have to borrow it if you don’t want you or your child to read it.
    The excuse that children may pick it up inadvertently by themselves due to the inability of parents to control what they read is a red herring. Of course parents are unable to (and hopefully don’t) police their children 24/7. Primary School children are already potentially exposed to sexual-related content at a very young age, from TVs, Adult Section books which they may find outside of the children’s section, et cetera. It would be erroneous to make the naïve assumption that kids do not wander about outside of their prescribed reading section, and idealistic to think that they do not come into contact with age-inappropriate material spread by their peers or schoolmates. Ultimately, parents can only advise their children what to do when they come into contact with such material, and approach topics pertaining to sex and sexual orientation with appropriate sensitivity.
    Let us not be over-protective and dole out knee-jerk reactions to such topics. There was a myriad of solutions to do the NLB issue. Shredding books was the most extreme one and uncalled for. Similarly, I feel that Minister Ibrahim’s response did not adequately deal with the fundamental nature of the whole issue when citing social norms. Hence, I support Jaxe’s Pan’s letter.
    I look forward to your response.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 14, 2014

      I have spent too much time already on this blog post (as you can see from the length of my replies to various comments here) and I will not go through your comment point by point. I will at most reply to various broad comments by giving you the links where I’ve discussed this at length. I will not be replying to you anymore, not because you’re being rude or unpleasant, but simply because I have no energy or time left to keep replying to everyone who comments on my blog exhaustively.

      The discrimination faced by homosexual families as seen in this fiasco is explicit and needs no further elaboration. Elsewhere, discrimination can also be unfairly levied upon the children of non-heteronormative families, thinking that they would grow up “weird” or “confused”, passing judgment upon the child who is labelled as something before being known as someone. It may even take less hostile and more insidious forms such as pity or condescending curiosity (“You poor thing, growing up must have been tough for you”, “How was it like growing up without a father?”).

      As for the point of discrimination, I would refer you to this post.

      In reality, there are dysfunctional families which fit within normative definitions (abusive spouses and fathers, aloof parents, estranged parent-child relationships etc.). There are also single parent families, adoptive families et cetera which are more harmonious and display mutual understanding and affection.

      I have already addressed this point in the link about the heteronormative nature of families. To quote:

      To be sure, this ideal is sometimes not met, the order is often broken. But just because an ideal is not met or the order broken does not therefore imply that the ideal or order is not good, any more than the fact that a country’s laws are no good simply because they are broken, or a music composition is bad because it was poorly performed.

      When the standard is not met, you do not alter the standard to suit our imperfections, you find ways to help those who fail to meet the standard to live up to their obligations.

      That the desire of the nation to acknowledge such a sacred bond, in the hope of though never guaranteed of its permanence, supersedes that of child-bearing is testimony to how love – no matter how vague or vacuous or misunderstood a concept is – still forms the ultimate ideal and purpose of marriage.

      As I have already argued in the same post, there is no point or purpose for a nation to acknowledge such a “sacred bond”, it would be as much an idle indulgence as getting the state to have us register our friendships and to get the state to “acknowledge” bonds of friendship. In fact, such “sacred bonds” would from a legal point of view be utterly indistinguishable from friendships. To be sure older Chinese societies took vows of brotherhood before the gods to become sworn brothers and all that, but I’m sure you don’t mean for the state to provide such legal facilities for recognising friendships as well. It would be a tremendous waste of the state’s time and resources to create legal facilities just to give testimony to something they can ill define, vaguely and more importantly, legally vacuously. I have an extended discussion on discrimination, the difference between being in love and promising to love as an obligation here.

      Even if it is true that child-bearing is an important goal of marriage as a public institution, this goal cannot come as a compromise to its obligation of inclusiveness to its citizens. Personal sexual orientation and beliefs (which do not represent a threat to others) form such an important core of human living or flourishing – however you want to describe it – that it must always supercede population goals.

      There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the state has this “obligation of inclusiveness to its citizens” and “personal sexual orientation”, which is a concept barely a century old, is too nebulous and ambiguous a concept to be an object of legal action even less “an important core of human living or flourishing.” For my discussion on the problem of sexual orientation as well as the so-called existence of the gay community, see here.

      Like

  11. DOE Administrator
    July 15, 2014

    Hi there, I am writing to you seeking permission to reproduce your post reflecting personal thoughts about the recent NLB debacle at our portal http://www.domainofexperts.com; explicit mention shall be made of the fact it first appeared on your blog. Should you require us to add in further details about you as the author please do let us know. Hope to hear from you soon! 🙂

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    • Dominic
      July 15, 2014

      Hi, I am fine with you reproducing the post as long as you reproduce it in full without any edits except for grammar and spelling mistakes and as long as you cite me as the author and my post’s link.

      Like

  12. Daryl
    July 15, 2014

    Even accepting that “not all familial arrangements are equal”, in that not all familial arrangements are equally preferable, or equally conducive to raising children, you fail to address the idea that all familial arrangements should be treated equally nonetheless; that all familial arrangements should be treated with equal dignity. For example, when someone loses his legs as a result of an accident, “we know that something important has been lost”. However, that does not mean that people, let alone the State or a public authority, should treat the disabled person with any less dignity afforded to others.

    Hence, the primary problem many have with the NLB’s act is not really about censorship. It is that by removing these books, NLB has insulted an important part of many people’s identity, treating them with less dignity than others. Once the significance of NLB’s act to its detractors is understood, many of your points fail to hold water. Namely:

    “Individual Subjective Background of Participants Irrelevant”: No, their individual background is not irrelevant because they are trying to show, through their personal life stories, that their identity is worthy of equal respect and dignity.

    “Civic Order and Human Civilisation itself is Artificial and Maintained by Actively Enforced Norms”: There is a vast difference between enforcing norms like spelling or traffic rules, and enforcing norms that play a part in people’s identity. It is one thing for a particular identity to naturally form the majority and thus become “normal”; it is quite another for people to treat the minority with less respect and dignity, and it is yet another thing for the state to treat minorities with unequally.

    “Books Not Banned and Still Accessible”: The nub of the problem is that NLB’s act of removing the books is an act that demeans the identity of many people. The fact that the books still exist outside the public library is immaterial.

    “Children of Imperfect Family Arrangements Affirmed in their Individual Worth”: While the fact that a particular family model is seen as most preferable does not necessarily demean those who come from other backgrounds, the implication of NLB’s act is that the portrayal of these backgrounds is somehow a corrupting influence on children. It is entirely reasonable that many people from those backgrounds feel like the NLB’s act is demeaning to them.

    At the end of the day, defenders of NLB have to explain why these people do deserve unequal treatment. This they cannot cogently do, except by resorting to poorly veiled religious grounds.

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    • Dominic
      July 15, 2014

      Even accepting that “not all familial arrangements are equal”, in that not all familial arrangements are equally preferable, or equally conducive to raising children, you fail to address the idea that all familial arrangements should be treated equally nonetheless; that all familial arrangements should be treated with equal dignity.

      The government does not hand out “dignities” (whatever that even means). The government’s policies are aimed at policing social behaviours by various material and empirical incentives and disincentives as well as enacting public policy which effects material benefits to those with empirical needs. The concept of treating people with “equal dignity” is a more or less vacuous concept. Once you grant that empirically speaking these familial arrangements are not equal, then public policy cannot but be tailored and suited towards each of their circumstances. The exact same logic holds precisely for why the government treats disabled people differently, not giving them the same army vocations or work in National Service, sometimes even giving disability aid. To repeat my main objection, the government does not distribute “dignities”, that is a more or less meaningless abstraction. The government does distribute material benefits as well as enact public policy aimed towards policing behaviours by various material incentives and disincentives.

      Hence, the primary problem many have with the NLB’s act is not really about censorship. It is that by removing these books, NLB has insulted an important part of many people’s identity, treating them with less dignity than others.

      Sexual Orientation is too nebulous a concept to constitute anyone’s “identity” unless “identity” is merely the function of the frequency of one’s verbal assertion. I have discussed in depth the ambiguities of sexual orientation here.

      No, their individual background is not irrelevant because they are trying to show, through their personal life stories, that their identity is worthy of equal respect and dignity.

      Whatever their personal life stories, it has no effect whatsoever upon the objective effects of their proposed public policy or arguments. (For reasons why personal life stories have no special privilege nor should be trusted, see here.) To make the validity of the argument dependent upon the subjective background of the person is called The Genetic Fallacy.

      At the end of the day, defenders of NLB have to explain why these people do deserve unequal treatment. This they cannot cogently do, except by resorting to poorly veiled religious grounds.

      If you wish for good accessible public civic reasons independently of religious affliations for different public policies tailored towards homosexual arrangements, you can read a short summarised version here and a more extensive treatment here.

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  13. Daryl
    July 15, 2014

    Your conception of the government as some handout machine, or some grand designer whose purpose is to engineer the perfect society, is limited at best and impoverished at worst. While those are certainly functions which governments do undertake, the contemporary conception of democratic government goes much further than that. In fact, the debate today has very much to do with public morality and the proper relationship between the state and its various constituents, and very little to do with social behaviour or material benefits. The debate today is really about principle first, and policy second.

    On that note, your assertion that “the concept of treating people with “equal dignity” is a more or less vacuous concept” seems to betray the rigour that your writings on this blog have otherwise shown. Certainly, it is an abstract concept not without its difficulties, but it is a very bold claim to call it “vacuous”. The concept of treating people with equal dignity has played an important role in the arguments for things like, universal suffrage, the end of racial segregation, social security and protection for the vulnerable, and, of course, for gay rights. The concept has found legal expression in many Constitutions, including our own. I do not know why you believe the concept devoid of meaning, but I invite you to reconsider.

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    • Dominic
      July 15, 2014

      the contemporary conception of democratic government goes much further than that

      And I am not a believer at all in “democratic government” or any other nebulous abstractions. Government is an empirical entity with worldly empirical ends, results which I can taste and see, not idealised or spiritualised principles. For a full critique, see here.

      A thousand different other historical factors and motivations have played a role in those things other than the conviction in nebulous abstract principles which has only become vogue in the 21st century. Social security and protection of the vulnerable has certainly predated anything resembling the idealisation of human dignity. This is of course assuming that I even approve of universal suffrage, which I don’t by the way. Social security and welfare has existed in Bismarck’s German Empire long before anything like human dignity has become a fad, and I certainly approve of social welfare since it is about clearly discernible empirical and material benefits. But this human dignity or idealised principles, I have no idea what you’re talking about. For a greater critique of universal suffrage and other assorted abstractions, see here.

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  14. Stacy
    July 15, 2014

    i thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the writings. Thank you for taking time to elucidate your thoughts.

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  15. leeraph
    July 16, 2014

    While preferably a family unit should consist of both parents and/or biological offspring, a preferable family unit has no bearing on how “perfect” a family unit is. Would you rather two deadbeat parents or a single mum whom sacrifice the best for her child? Family units aren’t perfect because of its makeup – as subjective as perfection can be no one would deny their desire for a perfect family is based tender love and caring affection. It is pointless to say an adoptive family, or single parenthood, is no more or less favourable than a “family norm”.

    As mentioned in the comments, as a society it does not matter how different the makeup of families are, it is how we treat each families as equals. Do you think it is fair we deny a single parent’s right to own a public housing? It is only half apt to say your mother does not aspire for recognition – i would arrogantly suggest neither does she wants her family construct to been seen as inferior.

    If you allow me to speak on behalf on Jaxe, her note speaks for families which does not fit the “norm” as Yaacob Ibrahim defines. She wants to hit home that not all familial arrangements are the same but all equal. She is speaking for family units outside the norm. Is NLB going to burn a storybook about single bird mums and younglings, or a couple deciding not to have kids, or even Tarzan? God forbid. You are fortunate your communities does not look down on single parent families, what about those that do? Are we going to “affirm” or “endorse” their actions? Jaxe defends dignities of the moms who plays both mum and dad, the dads who plays both dad and mum, the dads who play the mums and the mums who plays the dad, the parentless and the childless. She does justice to the people who say an adopted child is less precious than a biological child. Circumstances are only bygones that made them abnormal, but not a tragedy.

    Secondly, a tinge of small cleverness(as the Chinese saying goes) to stir publicity by posting a turning page of Uncle Elfie. The only intolerance from Uncle Elfie is its lack of literary value. And to sting a bit, neither would this article be worth putting in the library. (Anyway the book does not praise the virtues of pedarasty, but the reverse. It is told in such a way a toddler could articulate better)

    Thirdly, it is precisely the pulping of books is perceived symbolically of censorship and intolerance.

    And in humblest response to your last paragraph, society should attempt to draw a circle big enough that society would not see its circumference. Ideally so for inclusivity of every hair and fringes, that is the virtue of a society.

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  16. ziyangyang
    July 18, 2014

    Hi Dominic,
    First of all, I’d like to thank you for writing a series of clear, logic and indeed interesting arguments in support of your stance, it was a pleasure to read. At the same time, it was also disheartening to see that the majority of comments on this page were rhetorically driven rants devoid of logic and clear argumentation. As a liberal myself, I’d like to disagree with a few points discussed here and will greatly appreciate your reply if possible.
    You made an interesting case about the natural superiority of heterosexual, biological parenting as compared to being raised by adopted parents or a homosexual couple. As in the post,
    “Consider for a moment if biological pedigree have absolutely nothing to do with the parental ability and responsibility, that is, if being a child was purely a matter of social convention, and that society can arbitrarily decide whose parents one’s child is and who is to be responsible for it and that all caretaker-child arrangements are all equally valid. Why is there a presumption that the biological fathers have a duty towards the maintenance of children of which they have begotten, especially those out of wedlock and therefore those outside of the social definition?”
    I think there is a mistaken equation of ability and responsibility. In my view, biological parents have the inherent obligation of caring for their child, because it is them that brought children into the world, where children had no choice of their own, to be born vulnerable and needy. As a consequence, the burden of caring for the child should lie upon them, for their choices lead to the creation of the new life. This, however, is different from parenting ability. As an analogy, if I were to destroy your house, I would have been required by contract law to be responsible for the reconstruction of it as compensation. The fact that I do it, rather than having the responsibility arbitrary allocated, speaks nothing with regards to my ability to build a house, but rather my duty.
    Beyond that, in divorce law, part of the reason why fathers are required to pay compensation is the violation of the marriage contract, that the decision to have a child was untaken under the assumption of the salaries of 2 people, hence the need for financial sustenance, not as a consequence of parenting ability.
    However, I think the most important argument that you raised is the innate, inherent love for biological children.
    “Ellie sits crying while the doctor explains with gestures her condition, we know that something important has been lost. If the love and care which one has for adopted children was qualitatively indistinguishable from the love and care for one’s own begotten children, then the grief of Ellie would be incomprehensible, if not utterly irrational.”
    This is an interesting perspective on the issue of family. Indeed, I must concede that there exists a certain primal, evolutionary desire to see your proverbial ‘flesh and blood’ in a child. However, the implicit assumption beneath your argumentation is that there exists a strong co-relation between the extent to which one loves his child and the biological linkage. Allow me to suggest, this may perhaps have been an overly simplistic understanding of the nature of love. You assume that love is fundamentally dependent on the biological desire to have your own children. While this might be intuitively true, experience and psychology tells us that love is fundamentally complex and exists without borders. It comes in many forms and arises for many reasons, including but are not limited to, spend immense amounts of time with the child, initial chemistry and attraction, traits and personality, seeing a child grow under your guidance and care. Just like romantic love, it is often not as a result of a variety of stipulated personality and traits that we look for, but arises from inexplicable reasons such as chemistry. I don’t have a perfect understanding of love, so unfortunately I am unable to describe it in words. But the point here is that our desire for biological linkage is not substantial in our ability to provide a loving environment for the child. I know I have not proven anything, for this is near impossible to prove, but I strongly suspect that biological linkage is not a barrier for quality, endearing love.
    But moving on, I find your comparison of homosexuality and pedophilia to be rather disturbing. One involves a case of consenting adults, while another an asymmetrical and unhealthy relationship between an adult and a minor. We object to underage romance for obvious reasons, such as emotional immaturity, the imbalance of power, etc. This is no different from prohibiting minors from seeking employment, driving or making series surgical decisions. Pedophilia, unlike a consensual relationship between two adults, causes serious harms.
    Furthermore, I wish to question the necessity of banning even questionable material. There are lots of content in the media that are arguably bad: Pokemon – Promoting violence and pet abuse. Ancient Chinese History – Armies conquering and killing each other, glorifying violence, bloodshed and even rape in some instances. Dozens upon dozens of pornographic websites (average age of access is approx. 11-12 in US) with questionable genres such as BDSM and strange sexual practices. I acknowledge that I have read/watched all of these in my childhood, as have most people. Guess what? We grew up to be pretty normal and decent, didn’t we? If pedophilia was really inherently disgusting and inappropriate, wouldn’t children be wary of such texts? Even if we acknowledge that this can be dangerous at times, there are often counter-veiling forces to correct such inappropriate texts. It’s not like we would be living in an age of pedophilic propaganda if such books were allowed on the shelf, the reality is that they would be heavily outnumbered by heterosexual, normal romance novels (presumably normal people outnumber strange artists that write about pedophilia…..). Society, the media and parents can well provide avenues for the dissemination of education and information too, and even criticize questionable materials when necessary.
    The beauty of free speech is that if we allow for the free market exchange of information and discourse, it is likely that the moral and correct stance will prevail. Then you might ask, isn’t there still a teeny tiny bit of risk in this? What happens if it doesn’t prevail, and society lapses into a state of nihilistic anarchy? The answer is, while the idea that we need such paternalism to ‘protect us’ is intuitively appealing, we need to weigh it up against the costs of such censorship. Consider that if censorship ensured that only the ‘socially accepted norm’ was allowed to be published in all forms of media, anti-slavery books would have been banned in the 19th century, gender equality books in the early 20th, racial equality in the late 20th and so on. We would all be living in the 1800s being perfectly contended with what is now seen as disastrous social norms. The problem of censorship is that we will never be sure whether the prohibited material is really wrong without the process of public discourse and debate over a long period of time. Forcing society to flee instead of confront controversial material and assuming that individuals are only safe when shielded away from ideas that we are currently uncomfortable with is indeed an insult to the human spirit and the historical progress that have been made. For this reason, my opinion is that even dubious material should not be banned, but rather subjected to critical debate and public discourse. So long as we live in a world with counter-veiling forces of information and free debate, I don’t think the danger to children will be significant.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Thankyou.

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  17. Robin Yeo
    July 24, 2014

    Sharing a letter (related to this topic) to the Straits Times online forum that I wrote:
    http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/forum-letters/story/clearing-the-misconception-support-traditional-family-unit-20140723

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  18. Pingback: Step into others’ shoes if you want others to step into yours – A response to Jaxe Pan | homosexualityandscience

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