Sep 8, 2008

Sanctity of shotgun marriage

Here's another reason to oppose gun control: it would destroy the sanctity of that foundation of our civilization - shotgun marriage.

We know Sarah Palin supports abstinence until marriage and that her pregnant daughter will marry the boy who had something to do with that. The boy was displayed last week as an example to all teenagers with raging hormones. Boys, this could happen to you if you knock up a girl: a creepy old presidential candidate will shake your hand and you'll get to stand on the central stage at the Republican National Convention, cheered by a wild crowd of mostly old people. So better watch out.

It's good that they are giving an example to the kids nationwide, but I think it is irresponsible to make two teens marry just because they made a baby. Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment, and 17- and 18-year olds are not mature and experienced enough to decide on such commitment. According to CDC, brides younger than 18 have 1 in 2 chance of being divorced in 10 years and 2 in 3 chance of being divorced in 20. (By contrast, for brides over 25, the chances are 1 in 4 and 2 in 5, respectively.) In fact, I don't think it should be legal for anyone to marry before age 18, but that may be moot in this case, as Bristol Palin turns 18 on October 18. (Good thing teenagers get traffic tickets, otherwise we'd be left to speculate.)

Mrs. Pitt Bull and Mr. First Dude had a similar abstinence story of their own. Their first son was born 33 weeks and 3 days after their wedding, which would pin their elopement at some 2-3 weeks after her first missed period. Seems it was pregnancy test one day, shotgun wedding the next. Sure, they were 24 and had presumably been dating for a while, but it is still a bad way to make a life-changing decision. Wise couples marry when they want, not when they have to.

I will have none of the stupid knee-jerk reaction that those pregnancies and marriages are private matters and not important for the election. If Palin supported reproductive freedom of each individual and sex education grounded in science, I would not be the least interested in her own family planning and would be opposed to discussing any of this. But I am not willing to let her have the same privacy that she would deny to others. Her policy stance makes these private matters fair game.

Private or not, these personal stories provide important information about Gov. Palin's decision making and principles. Her express wedding is relevant because it shows that she let random events control her decisions instead of planning ahead and taking control of events. The speed with which she got married is also significant because it preserved some plausibility for the story that the baby was born just a little prematurely, and that suggests that she may have planned to lie to family and friends.

It is particularly relevant that she publicly opposed sex before marriage despite her own experience. (And what about the fact that, without premarital sex, Track Palin would never have been born? Isn't that one of the standard emotional appeals of the so-called "pro life" crowd?) Yet, she obviously did not persuade her daughter to postpone sex until marriage, so they are now rushing the marriage to bring it closer to sex.

So far, the facts do not bode well for the candidate's judgment, integrity and leadership. And I have not yet touched on the ethical issues with Sarah Palin's fifth child. That indictment of American head-in-the-sand values is coming soon.

UPDATE: Apparently, now she says she supports sex ed and is not for "abstinence only". Flip flop.

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