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Morality and Gay Rights Discourse Essay

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Morality and Gay Rights Discourse


When Aristotle discussed the material premises of enthymemes as being important in rhetoric, he was prescient of the kind of appeals that would be tendered by opponents in the discourse over gay rights issues long after his time. Smith and Windes express the nature of this conflict accurately when they write, “symbols expressing fundamental cultural values are invoked by all sides” (1997: 28). Similarly, Sarah S. Brown describes the participants in a “struggle to stake out symbolic positions of good and to frame their side in terms of morally powerful conceptions of right and wrong” (2000: 458). Fascinatingly, she suggests, “even people with deeply conflicting opinions appeal to the same moral concepts for the force of their arguments” (458). In fact, these same moral concepts are ubiquitous to all discourse and to life. They penetrate the social order at the most fundamental level. They are not static, however, and their malleability gives rise to a constantly shifting landscape of debate wherein, as Smith and Windes (1997) assert, the adversaries literally have so much impact as to drive the process of self-definition for one another.

Related to that process is the way in which the landscape itself is defined, which Haider-Markel and Meier see as consequential in terms of “what resources are important and [what] advantages some coalitions [in the struggle] have over others” (1996: 346). (See also: Kintz, 1998; Smith and Windes, 1997). Particularly, they demonstrate that models of discourse which conceptualize gay issues in terms of morality (or culture) as opposed to politics or civil rights offer a rhetorical upper hand to proponents of anti-gay arguments. It is the objectiv...


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...vation in Gay Rights/Special Rights.” In: Kintz, Linda and Lesage, Julia. 1998. Media , Culture, and the Religious Right. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Patten, Steve. “Preston Manning’s Populism: constructing the common sense of the common people.” Studies in Political Economy, Vol.50 (Summer, 1996): 95

Schulze, Laurie and Guilfoyle, Frances. “Facts Don’t Hate; They Just Are.” In: Kintz, Linda and Lesage, Julia. 1998. Media , Culture, and the Religious Right. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Smith, Ralph R. and Windes, Russel R. “The Progay and Antigay Issue Culture: Interpretation, Influence, and Dissent.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, Vol. 83 (1997): 28-48

Terry, Jennifer. “Unatural Acts In Nature: The Scientific Fascination with Queer Animals.” QLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Vol.6.2 (2000): 151-193


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