Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Two Percent?

If the 1% is economically privileged and the 99% economically aggrieved, does the 99% have the right to demand more of the 1%? After all, we're just putting a burden on 1%

If the 98% is comfortable with traditional social arrangements and the 2% is put out by the same, should the 98% accede to the 2%? After all, there are so few of them, what difference will it make to everyone else?

The latter question has to do with same-sex marriage. The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta points out that our best estimate is that LBGT (bonus points for scrambling those letters and being understood: note that BLTG sounds like a sandwich with an additional ingredient) folk comprise about 2% of citizens of Our Republic.

GF-R's conclusion is that such tiny populations can't make the difference to the overall sociology that people assume when they contemplate same-sex marriage with an overestimate of the number of people who would be seeking such. Fair enough, we say, though we doubt that this correlates as GF-R thinks it does. Rather, we suspect that citizens, asked how many gay marriages they would expect to see where such legalized in their state, would respond with small numbers; then, asked to re-estimate the number of gay folk in their community, they'd re-estimate lower.

Regardless, note that in both cases of political reasoning--the 1% of economic privilege and GF-R's 2% of LBGTs, there remains a notion that the number is so small that the consequences are inconsequential. Just take 10% more of the massive wealth of the 1%, and all will be better off. Just give 2% what has historically not been theirs, redefining what societies universally have recognized, and great good will be done for them with no harm to society.

Here's where that nasty issue of principle comes into play. What if there's something in play besides what does good for an aggrieved majority or an restricted minority? What if, say, the rights of people to keep what is legally theirs is fundamental to a free society? What if the permanent, exclusive relationship of a man to a woman is fundamental to a functioning society?

We think that there's much to consider in the observation that there are fewer LBGT citizens than most imagine, and that not many of them really seek to be wed to same-sex partners, just as there's much to consider in observations about the so-called 1%--that theirs is not a static population, that growing gaps between their wealth and the wealth of the 99% actually correlate better with economic improvement for the 99% than the other way around, that taxing them at 100% would not address Our Republic's fiscal crisis.

But we can't simply dismiss a significant social issue because it affects so few directly.

1 comment:

Central Christian College of the Bible said...

Thanks for the excellent analysis, as always. The public's incorrect assumptions are directly tied to the over-representation of LGBT (or BLTG!) people as characters on television. George Gerbner's Cultivation Theory demonstrated this with many areas. It has also been applied to the media's portrayal of homosexuals.

Simply put, those who watch more television are more likely to believe what they see portrayed on television is actually a mirror of what is in the real world. Even though TV viewing is on the way down in the major networks, combined media consumption is steady enough to keep the mistaken assumptions alive.

What is sad to me is that people are more likely to believe what they see on television than what they see with their own eyes.