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Score one for Princeton students

May 20, 2009

I work down the street from the offices of the National Organization for Marriage, the ironically named organization which gave us that offensive-yet-hilarious “Gathering Storm” ad and, indirectly, its countless parodies on YouTube. I can’t say the proximity doesn’t bother me, and I’ve actually kept an eye out for where their office is so I might give their sign an evil stare, but I’ve never found it. But last week, students from Princeton University picketed the place, which apparently is right across the street from the campus.

From the Princeton Packet:

Waving umbrellas and posters, around 30 Princeton students danced and cheered in front of the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Nassau Street offices Wednesday to voice disapproval of the group’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

NOM, which was founded in 2007 by Princeton politics professor Robert George and Maggie Gallagher of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, is a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for organized opposition to same-sex marriage around the country, according to its Web site. The group is based in Princeton, across the street from the university.

“The fact that NOM exists so close to campus and that it was founded by a Princeton professor, yet that there hasn’t been much discussion about the issue, gives the impression that Princeton is ambivalent,” said Emily Sung, a sophomore who helped organize the protest. “That’s what we’re combating. We want to end the silence.” …

Students also donned cardboard masks of Professor George and carried posters with satirical messages from “I love my local hate group!” to “Gay people want to turn us all gay.” The posters and cries of “Honk for equality, honk for equal rights!” drew various responses from members of the community.

Had I known about the protest in advance, I probably would have run down the street to join them.

Given how conservative the school generally is, it’s refreshing to see the student body taking a stand against a group like this, whose sole purpose is to deny other people equal rights. Of course, they say they merely want to uphold “traditional” marriage, but mentions of their support for making a woman property or arranging marriages between children for political gain are conspicuously absent from their web site. NOM was one of the major contributors to the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign in California, and was also the group to flare up that “controversy” with Carrie Prejean of the Miss USA pageant, an issue that bears no further mention.

To get a better idea of why I find NOM so offensive, check out their latest ad. It’s airing in New Hampshire, where state legislators are fighting over the language of a gay marriage bill:

Aside from the fact they’re using kids who are too young to realize what they’re doing (or how mortified they’ll be of this when they’re adults), the faulty logic just slaps you in the face. “Young children don’t understand it, so it must be wrong!”

For the record, there are plenty of kids who understand gay marriage just fine. When I was five or so, I asked my dad why two men or two women couldn’t get married. Surprised, he answered with a cleverly evasive, “They can in some countries.”

Let’s follow the ad’s idea to its logical conclusion. Here are a few other things that should also be illegal, since no kid could understand them:

  • Affordable housing — Because who likes poor people anyway?
  • Family assistance programs — See above
  • Unemployment benefits — They’re for lazy people
  • Land use and zoning laws — What’s wrong with putting the playground alongside the highway with the strip joints?

Keep in mind that I’m not insulting children’s intelligence—a lot of these things are hard for grown-ups too. I’ve written about the first and last issues, and they’re almost ridiculously complex. But I’m curious, dear readers:

What else should we outlaw because it’s too complicated for kids to understand?

Comment with your ideas!

Had I known about the protest in advance, I probably would have run down the street to join them.
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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Charlie permalink
    May 20, 2009 11:14 pm

    “Young children don’t understand it, so it must be wrong!”

    You might have inadvertently hit upon the blanket logic of the far-Right. Seriously, I haven’t asked any little kids about evolution, global warming, or the benefit of stem cell research either, but I guarantee that the reactions would be a whole lot of “Buh?”

  2. Kate permalink
    May 20, 2009 11:28 pm

    You’re thinking too small-picture here. Small children don’t understand:
    – the tax system
    – the complexities of the legal system
    – finance & banking
    – how computers, the internet, and technology actually work

    Although, many adults are confused by them, too….

    • May 20, 2009 11:31 pm

      I agree with all of those, though I was thinking more of what kind of things the legislature can control.

      I actually had the tax system on the list, but I took it down so as not to give the other side any more ammo, since something tells me a lot of NOM’s supporters are very much against taxes (and yet still use government services).

  3. Charlie permalink
    May 20, 2009 11:34 pm

    Also: reproduction.

  4. Wendy permalink
    May 21, 2009 2:57 am

    As the parent to a three-year-old, I can give a pretty quick list of things kids don’t understand (or have a firm grasp on):
    sharing
    money
    meal times
    the need to use the bathroom when one needs to, uh, use the bathroom
    regular bathing
    why she can’t have what she wants right now
    that the days of the week have a regular order and that merely insisting on a day being one doesn’t make it so (e.g. today will be Thursday no matter how much shouting and crying one does)
    time, in any of its forms

    …. I could go on, but I think it’s obvious that there’s a reason the world isn’t run by little kid logic. Oddly enough, one thing she is clear on is that people in a marriage love each other and that’s what a marriage is.

    • May 21, 2009 8:58 am

      If that’s the one thing your kid understands, it sounds like you’re doing something right!

  5. Jennifer DiIorio permalink
    May 21, 2009 1:02 pm

    Children also don’t understand:
    1) Why bullying is wrong
    2) Empathy
    3) Sharing resources (“I want all the cookies”)
    4) Global Warming
    5) Not getting their own way
    6) The basics of cause and effect

    They do however:
    1) Believe in fairy tales
    2) Disrupt adult conversations
    3) Idolize Barbie dolls
    4) Say they “hate” things they don’t understand

    Holy crap! The far-Right are just giant, old looking pre-schoolers!

  6. May 21, 2009 4:35 pm

    What crazy logic-ugh, I feel the same as many commenters above. Also, as a Cornell grad, it’s a big deal for me to say this-but that was awesome of Princeton!

  7. Jon Cruz permalink
    June 17, 2009 3:00 pm

    Outlaw calculus! I never understood it, anyway. For that matter, outlaw all subjects. They’re tough to grasp, especially when you’re the age of the kids in that commercial.

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