Brenda Simmons on Martin Luther King, Jr

So worth reading: On Martin Luther King Day, Ask ‘Where Art Thou?’
Brenda Simmons, co-founder of the African-American Museum of the East End and assistant to the Southampton Village mayor, delivered this speech on Rogers Memorial Library on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2008.

These lines are particularly moving:

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

We have a MLK Day parade here in Los Angeles: The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and Western Avenue. From there it rolls west along King Boulevard until it takes a left turn south onto Crenshaw Boulevard. It then marches down Crenshaw to Vernon Avenue, where the parade takes a final turn and ends with a gospel festival at Leimert Park. There will also be lots of food booths and fun things to do throughout the afternoon and evening at the park.

Or if, like me, you social phobias keep you inside, ABC will be live-casting it here.

Slippery slope arguments and Rick Santorum

So I’m always on my students’ cases about slippery slope arguments in their theory essays as these arguments usually involve a logical fallacy easily refuted. Rick Santorum’s debate about marriage nicely illustrates the problem:

“Reason says that if you think it’s okay for two, then you have to differentiate with me as to why it’s not okay for three.” **

Reason says no such thing. It’s hard to tell if Santorum believes he is engaging in reductio ad absurdum, or whether this just sounded good to him.

The dimension being argued in this slippery slope argument is the number of people. So if two people are all right, but not three, we still haven’t addressed the issue of what equipment the two people have/what roles the two people have or why he’s worried about either issue, or why the rest of us should care why he’s worried. And, according to Rick’s reasoning, a marriage of two people is better than a marriage of three people (or more!), so that a marriage of one person must be more valid than a marriage of two people. Not the outcome he would favor, probably: i.e., the slope that started us sliding was recognizing marriage in the first place: if we legally recognize a man and a woman in a relationship favored by tax, inheritance, and family laws, then other types of couples will want that arrangement, as well.

He’d be better off simply standing by the communitarian argument based on tradition: “a marriage has always been between one man and one woman in this country, that’s what it should remain because tradition matters to community cohesion and identity.”

**BTW, I could care less if three people want to get married, so his analogy to polygamy doesn’t work, either. Polygamy has a long status in the history of mankind, and it’s still practiced where tradition and economics allow. Marriage in the US, legally, is mostly a property contract; the things that give marriage social meaning are much more complex. I’ve yet to see any research showing that kids in two-parent families do better than kids in four-parent families, or whatever. I’m not saying that research doesn’t exist; I’ve just not yet seen anybody produce it.