Monday, September 11, 2006

When they Sell you "Family Values," do you Buy it?

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There's an interesting post over at the great blog, Debunking Christianity, about "Family Values."

I find it outrageous that Christians are claiming to be pro-family and therefore by default or by admission, claiming that people who do not condemn alternative family structures are somehow "anti-family" and "anti-values."

It seems to me atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and other non-believers need to stop allowing Christians to define what it means to be pro-family and pro-values. Because non-believers are just as pro-family and pro-values as Christians, if not a lot more.

I understand completely, and I used to complain about this a lot. I don't want people thinking that atheists are anti-family, because then people think that atheists are bad people.

But now I'm taking a different angle. There are a lot of phrases and term-memes out there, and I have found myself responding to them awkwardly: "that's just a thing people say that doesn't mean anything." I say that so often now, that I realize I sound inarticulate about it. I need to invent a new term--this time, one that actually means what I say it means. It's not a "sound-byte." That's 90's. I send out the call now. Someone help me come up with a good term for this! I'm implying that "family values" is a marketing term, an empty slogan.

The comments section of the blog makes an interesting read. (Especially since I commented.) I responded thusly:

Hellbound Alleee said...

Well, Rich, I'd have to say that the point is not that you have family values and others have science values. The point is that the term "family values" is either loaded, or, more in keeping with my opinion, meaningless. When I hear the phrase "family values," I tend to think that it means hating queers. Which makes the term meaningless. Hating homosexuals is not a value at all. So if you claim "family values," I have no idea whatsoever if you are referring to values at all, or you just want to use a term that sounds good to most people.

If "family values" really meant what it means, it means a person wants the best for himself and the people related to him, generally those who live with him. It's rather a given, don't you think? So there's actually only one point to be made by saying "I have family values:" that is, you hope that it makes you look like a standup guy to whomever is listening. It's nothing but politics, and, well sorry, just a bunch of BS to fill empty air.

Of course, the response is to say that while one opposes homosexuality, one doesn't hate homosexuality, etc etc. You oppose the air, but you don't hate it. Difficult job!

I'm very good at not making myself clear, aren't I?

Claiming that, your little 50's-esque, country-fucking club Christian Political Action Committee is pro-family is a really great way to send the message that you hate queers, and the ladies better damned well shut their mouths and go get you some cold ones. Wearing modest pink pantsuits. Those hair-dryer-brains really know how to communicate without saying what they mean. It's called politics, and you can argue with me that "it's just that you have values and we have different values" until your brains explode, but the lie isn't going to go away. You can't call it "values" when it means being against things.

That's why you're not going to find values in the damned Ten No-Nos (at least the ones people think are the Ten Commandments. The real ones--with the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, and such-- showed value in the first of everything, which goes to show that values can be analyzed as irrational, and therefore morality comes from your brain). "Values" means what it means, and, wouldn't you know it, groups can't have values! Political Action Committees can't have values!

That's sort of the bad news. "Atheists," as a whole, as a group described by, say, hairdryer-brains, can't have values. Even a family can't have values. Individuals have values. You have values. If you oppose the sand, that's your business, but don't try and tell me it's a value.

For now, the phrase "family values" is getting put on my list of empty slogans. Can someone help me to put a good deconstructionist label on it?

1 comment:

breakerslion said...

Hmmm.... Interesting challenge. Allow me to free associate for a moment and maybe I'll come up with something.

Manson Family values? Genovese Family values? Onan Family values? "Swell" Eisenhower Family values? Where child abuse and tawdry affairs get swept under the rug at 4-Martini time? Lot Family Values? where rape victims of drunken pedophile fathers get all the blame? Hatfield Family values? ... Sorry, no sound bite yet. I'll keep working on it.