So, I got another email from my uncle (well, Debi got it and forwarded it to me). Here it is:


You have two families:

Jose Legal and Jose Illegal.

Both families have two parents, two children and live in California.

Jose Legal works in construction, has a social security number and makes $25.00 per hour with taxes deducted.

Jose Illegal also works in construction, has no social security number and gets paid $15.00 per hour cash under the table.

Ready? Now Pay Attention:

Jose Legal:

$25.00 per hour x 40 hours per week = $1,000 per week, or $52,000.00 per year.

Now take 30% away for State and Federal Tax:

Jose Legal now has $36,400.00.

Jose Illegal:

$15.00 per hour x 40 hours per week = $600 per week, or $31,200 per year.

Jose Illegal pays no State or Federal Taxes.

Jose Illegal now has $31,200.00.

The construction company that Jose Legal works for is small and during these hard economic times they can not afford to offer medical and dental coverage for their 3 employees. So Jose Legal pays medical and dental insurance on his own with limited coverage for his family at $600.00 per month or $7,200 per year.

Jose Legal now has $29,200.00

Jose Illegal has full medical and dental coverage through the state and local hospitals at a cost of $0.00 per year.

Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00.

Jose Legal makes too much money and is not eligible for food stamps or welfare.

Jose Legal pays $500 per month for food or $6,000.00 per year.

Jose Legal now has $23,200.00.

Jose Illegal has no documented income and is eligible for food stamps and welfare.

Jose Illegal still has $31,200.00 plus the benefits of the federal government.

Jose Legal pays rent of $1,200 per month or $14,400 per year.

Jose Legal now has $8,800.00.

Jose Illegal receives a $500 per month federal rent subsidy.

He shares a home with another illegal family so they pay nothing in rent.

He still has all his money.

Jose Legal pays $100 per month for auto liability insurance on their two older cars for a total of $1,200 per year.

He now has $7,600.00.

Jose Illegal doesn’t have a drivers license so he can’t get insurance and probably drives anyway.

He doesn’t need insurance cause he doesn’t have anything to lose.

He still has all his money.

If he gets pulled over he gets citation’s for no license and no insurance, but he doesn’t pay them because what are they going to do?

Take away his license?


Jose Legal has to make his $7,600.00 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline, clothing, out of pocket medical expenses, deductibles, co-pays, etc.

Jose Illegal has to make his $31,200 stretch to pay utilities, gasoline and what he sends out of the country to his family in the old country every month.

Jose Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work to help make ends meet.

Jose Illegal has his nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family.

Jose Legal and Jose Illegal’s children both attend the same school.

Jose Legal pays for his children’s lunches.

Jose Illegal’s children get a government sponsored lunch…. Free!

Jose Legal and Jose Illegal both enjoy the same police and fire services, but Jose Legal pay’s for them and Jose Illegal does not.






Here’s the response I sent everyone:

Hi Everyone,

I’m sure you don’t want to hear from me on this issue, but, once again, I feel an obligation as a professor who actually studies these kinds of things to offer some accurate information.  If you’d like to continue holding inaccurate beliefs, feel free to delete now.

So, where to start given all of the inaccuracies in this email?  First, the tax rate.  Current tax code would put Jose Legal, making his hypothetical $52,000/year into a 15% federal tax bracket (per this website), which would be $7,800, not $15,600.  And if he lives in the state of Florida, that’s it – no state income tax (Texas too).  But if he lives in California, it’s 7.95%, but we’ll round that to 8%, which is $4,160.  So, at the very most, Jose Legal will pay $11,960 in income tax (assuming he doesn’t itemize or get any deductions for his kids, which he is highly likely to do, substantially reducing his income tax burden).  So, that changes the very first completely bogus hypothetical calculation.  Jose Legal has $40,040.

As for health insurance, under the new health insurance bill, Jose Legal would qualify for a subsidy (he makes less than $88,000/year).  So, at the very most he would pay 10% of his income on health insurance, but more likely would pay about 7% (per this website).  So, Jose Legal gets another break here: rather than $7,200, he’d pay, at most, $3,640.  He’s now at: $36,400.  Jose Illegal, on the other hand, has no medical or dental benefits through the state because: He’s an illegal alien (seethis website).  Jose Illegal and his family, if they need emergency care, will get it in an emergency room and will be billed for it.  But, just like millions of other legal citizens in the U.S. who use the emergency room because they don’t have health insurance, Jose may not pay.  Then the burden falls on local tax payers.  Non-emergency care comes out of Jose Illegal’s pocket, and federal legislation has ruled out any subsidy for him or his kids – period.  Jose Illegal doesn’t get free healthcare, except emergency health care, and that’s only if he doesn’t pay the bill.  So, let’s assume Jose Illegal spends the average amount a family of four would on healthcare in the U.S. every year – about $15,000 (per this website).  His income is now reduced to $16,200.

As for food stamps and welfare… Jose Illegal is NOT ELIGIBLE.  See the Social Security Administration’s own website.  Jose Legal’s kids, on the other hand, are eligible, and he may be too.  So, you can completely reverse this calculation.  New numbers: Jose Illegal has $10,200 left; Jose Legal has $36,400 (assuming the completely ridiculous assumption that food stamps are sufficient to actually feed people, which is not remotely accurate).

As for Section 8 or rental subsidy housing – illegals are, once again, NOT ELIGIBLE (see here, though emergency housing is available for all immigrants regardless of status, for 2 years).  Jose Legal may qualify, but Jose Illegal doesn’t.  Once again, we reverse the calculations: Jose Illegal has -$4,200 (that’s negative); Jose Legal has $36,400.

As for car insurance, this assumes illegals are more likely to break the law, which actually isn’t true.  They are less likely to do so because they don’t want to be deported (see here).  So, we can apply this calculation to both Jose Legal and Jose Illegal: Jose Illegal has -$5,400; Jose Illegal has $35,200.

Hmm…  Turns out, illegal immigrants get screwed, while legal immigrants benefit from the social structure of the U.S. economy.  Illegal Immigrants are NOT ELIGIBLE for: food stamps, welfare, retirement benefits, unemployment benefits, Section 8 housing subsidies, health insurance subsidies, etc.  Illegal immigrants do one thing for the U.S. economy – make it lots of money.  They are underpaid and exploited by those who hire them, translating into huge profits for the employers and meager incomes for the illegals.  Many work in basically slave conditions, which have been highlighted in my local paper (see here).

I’m not sure who wrote the bigoted email below, but they clearly don’t have their facts straight and have a serious, ungrounded prejudice against illegal immigrants.  Illegals help our economy, not hurt it.  If you want to do something to help our economy, work toward a reduction in health care costs ($2.26 trillion in 2007) or military expenditures on the wars in Iraq ($734 billion) or Afghanistan ($284 billion) and a reduction in military spending ($685 billion in 2010).  Or, better yet, how aboutcutting off all the tax breaks for major corporations ($92 billion in 2006)?  Or what about getting rid of our subsidies to corporate farms in the U.S.?  Any one of those would go much further toward helping the economic situation of the U.S. than attacking illegal immigrants!!!

Sorry to bother everyone with another email response, but I feel a moral obligation to provide accurate information.



I should have noted, but didn’t, that the numbers used for illustration purposes in the original email (and copied in mine) are completely bogus.  I stuck with them just to prove a point, but most illegals and legals don’t make that much money.

Update – 7/20/2010.  Apparently people in Utah really don’t like illegals (see this news story for an example).  I got people on the email list all upset over this.  Here’s one of the more coherent responses and my response to his response:

Mr. Cragun,

The figures listed in the original email may not be correct. But then, neither are yours.

Health Insurance–what really happens:

Jose Illegal goes to the emergency room for everything! Since he does not pay– he and his family are provided health care and it is the most expensive type. Tax payers (Joe Legal) pay this cost. (19% of all Identity theft is insurance related? According to this web site: This is also one way that food stamps, welfare, rental subsidy housing are given to illegal immigrants.

You left out schooling which is provided free to their children, while they pay $0 taxes.

Concerning car insurance:

ILLEGAL immigrants don’t break the law more than those here legally?! First they are breaking the law by being here. The website you sent to support this idea talks about violent crime only (another issue). It doesn’t say anything about ID theft etc…By the way, how do you get car insurance without a valid drivers license??? You don’t! Driving without insurance is once again breaking the law. (Only recently have some states even started to allow illegals to drive.) They have accidents but don’t pay, which means those who have insurance pay for it through higher premiums.

To allow illegal immigrants to stay her and drain the system without paying is economically unsustainable. For you to say, ” Illegal immigrants help our economy, not hurt it” is absolutely incorrect. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m reminded of a quote I read recently ” you clearly don’t have your facts straight and have a serious, ungrounded prejudice in favor of illegal immigration”. Quoting liberal or inaccurate websites including your own liberal papers OPINION column, and Wikipedia is less than a genuine attempt to gather unbiased information. As a Assistant Professor that “studies such things”, I would expect a lot better. I can only assume you are aware that you have at least in part mislead those reading this by quoting inaccurate or completely biased sources.

Mexico lost Texas by uncontrolled immigration. We must for various reasons put a stop to illegal immigration. If you ” feel a moral obligation to provide accurate information”, then you first should acquire accurate information.


My response:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for responding.

Not surprisingly, I’m going to disagree with some of your arguments, but I’m also going to agree with others. First, the health care issue. Yes, Jose Illegal is going to go the emergency room and get treatment, the most expensive kind as you note, and is likely not going to pay. But so are about 40 million other CITIZENS of the U.S. who do not have health insurance. This is a health insurance and health care issue, not an immigration issue. Travel to Canada or the UK and have a heart attack and go to the emergency room. Are you going to pay anything for the care you get? Nope. Why? Because they provide universal health care coverage. If we did that (which, Obama’s plan kind of starts to do, and which would really mean higher taxes), this would basically be a non-issue. So, I’m agreeing that they abuse the healthcare system, but so do 40 million American citizens.

Your next point basically suggests that all illegals are identity thieves. I find that argument highly implausible. I won’t defend our government as being particularly competent, but I’m inclined to believe that our government doesn’t just give out free food, rent, etc. to anyone who claims to be a legal citizen (in fact, the Social Security Administration, which administers most of these benefits) does site visits and background checks for free rent and welfare specifically to rule out illegals. So, some may slip through, but I’m guessing most don’t. Ergo, I’m not buying your identity theft argument. Most identity theft is done by computer hackers and moderately well-educated drug addicts, not illegal aliens.

You got the schooling issue wrong. Almost all school districts in the U.S. are funded through real estate taxes, not income taxes. If illegals live somewhere and pay rent, they are indirectly paying real estate taxes (technically it is their landlord who is doing so). And since that is what funds schools, they are, in fact, paying taxes for schooling. Ergo, this argument falls flat.

You’re right that the website I sent about crime rates was violent crime. But that was just the first one I found and it was a direct response to the original email which claimed they were murdering farmers and ranchers. I doubt I can find evidence that they are less likely to commit identity theft, but that’s a different issue from the original argument.

As far as car insurance, here’s the irony here: My wife’s car was hit by an illegal without a license or insurance in 2000. We carried comprehensive coverage for uninsured motorists, so our insurance covered it. And, yes, I was pissed that she was illegal and was flagrantly disregarding the law (this was when we lived in Utah). But I also have a brother who lost his license for a year because a cop thought he was drunk (he had overdosed on anti-depressants), but he drove for a year without his license. Illegals aren’t the only ones who do this!!!! Also, until someone can put together actual numbers as to how much illegals driving in the US cost us every year in higher premiums, I’m not going to see this as a major issue.

Okay, so, do illegals help or hurt the economy? Well, Robert, do you help or hurt the economy? I’m assuming you work (looks like Hill Airforce Base from your email). How does that “help the economy”? Or does it hurt the economy? I’m guessing you’ll say you help the economy by working. And you’d be right. But you also help the economy by spending your money. Both factors play into this. We should also note that the economy is different from the financial situation of our government. Our economy (let’s use the GDP as an indicator of the economy) is helped by consumer spending and increased productivity. You’re doing both of these – spending money and working efficiently. Our government’s finances are better illustrated by our national debt. You only help this when you pay taxes, either sales, real estate, or income taxes as the government uses those revenues to pay its expenses. Now what about illegals? They are working, and very efficiently. They are also spending. So, technically, they are helping our economy. In fact, they may be propping up our economy because they often aren’t counted among workers, but their output is, making it look like productivity is higher than it really is. So, they absolutely help the economy. What about government finances? Well, they pay sales and real estate taxes (indirectly), so they are paying some tax revenue. They may skip out on income taxes, which is a problem, but they do pay two types of taxes. So, illegals help the economy, but may be a slight drain on government expenditures. But that also assumes that their employers don’t pay taxes on the profit generated from their work. If their employers pay taxes on the profits, then they are also indirectly paying income tax. Ergo, I doubt they are actually draining government coffers. But, I invite you to find legitimate evidence that they are. If I’m wrong on this point, I’d like to know it.

In short, illegals are really not a major problem in the U.S. I don’t know why people are so annoyed by them. It seems like prejudice and bigotry to me. Can you honestly point out how illegals are hurting you? I can point out how they hurt my finances (we had to pay the deductible on the car repairs – $500; my wife was fine, by the way), but I still don’t hold that against all illegals. So, why the outrage against them? I don’t get it.



Upgrade to Ubuntu

 1,378 total views,  3 views today

17 Replies to “new email from my uncle: Jose Legal vs. Jose Illegal”

  1. You can add this to your calculation:
    A member of my local chapter of Mensa is self-admittedly married to a former illegal alien, and as such has knowledge of how illegals get jobs. He reports that most illegal immigrants pay up to a few thousand dollars to get fake social security cards with fake SSNs and related IDs that are of such quality that it can take a federal inspector to identify them as fake. (He can tell you were to get them in town.) They take these credentials to their potential employer to show their “legal work status”, and use the fake SSNs to complete their W-4’s. Their checks come, minus tax withholdings. They don’t all have jobs because tens of thousands of companies are willing to risk hiring illegals. They have jobs because they have paperwork.
    At the end of the year when the company submits their tax forms, the IRS sends the company a letter saying that the SSN does not exist. That’s the end of it. There is no refund check. The money is surrendered to the government. Therefore you can deduct tax withholdings from Jose Illegals pay as well. I’m not certain whether or not the same credentials can be used to secure welfare payments as originally described.

    There’s some evidence the ICE is beginning to use the IRS findings to track down potential illegals and threaten/penalize companies.

    You’re not likely to find definitive citations for the black market part of it. You might be able to find a IRS policy doc on what they do if taxes are paid against a non-existent SSN though.

  2. I can’t remember the number off the top of my head, but I recently looked up the amount of money illegals were paying into social security, money they will never see again, and it was pretty absurd how much money they are not going to have for their own retirement.

    Therein lies my qualm with your rebuttal, dear brother 🙂 As you said, the numbers in the original post were bogus, so i’m not going to bother nitpicking the few things I didn’t like about your rebuttal (for the most part it was quite good), but I fail to understand two things. First, why on Earth would you be against “fixing” the illegal immigration problem. As you yourself said, the worst part about illegal immigration is the fact that illegals get screwed. I’ve been saying for a while that we can all only benefit by fixing this problem. Close the border (for multiple reasons), make the immigration process easier, and help the upstanding illegals that are here get legal (after paying a small fine). Why on Earth would the Bleeding Heart Liberals want to let the problem continue as is if fixing it benefits everyone? ( I know why, but the question still needs to be asked 🙂

    The second thing I have a problem with is calling the author of the email a Bigot and a Racist. Are his facts wrong? Obviously. Did he even so much as insinuate he had a problem with Mexicans simply because they are Mexicans? No, not once. He has a problem with ILLEGAL Immigrants. He may be ignorant, but he sure didn’t come off as a racist. This is why Tea Partiers are now toting around this sign:

    “It doesn’t Matter what this sign says, you’ll call it racism anyway.” Doesn’t matter what a conservative says any more. No matter what we do, we’re bigots and racists. What a stupid cop-out. It’s obviously, patently untrue, yet I hear the word every day.

    Obviously there are still racists and bigots out there, but even Joe Biden, on behalf of Obama, said he doesn’t believe the Tea Party movement is a racist movement.

    I want the border closed because it’s a huge security risk (plenty of jihadists have already come through our south border), because it’s dangerous for people to go hiking through the mountains to try to get here, because drugs and guns cross the border like its a highway, and because there’s a better way to handle the immigration issue that benefits everybody. And because of my stance on the issue I’M A BIGOT. Damn me for wanting to help Mexicans… and Asians… and Middle Easterners.

    Quit using that inane copout. It’s patently untrue, and it doesn’t help the American cause. A house divided against itself cannot stand. This type of ridiculous slander just furthers the growing divide in America. It’s not going to sway anyone to the left. It just pisses people off, because 9 times out of 10, it’s completely untrue. (In the case of Mel Gibson, it’s very very true. Flame away…)

    Well, there was my monthly hijacking of one of your posts, just to stir things up 🙂

    And remember, (this goes for you too Mario) if you have any problem with what I just said, just keep in mind i’ll be in Lake Powell this week, and you won’t be 🙂

    1. Hey Josh,

      First, why am I against “fixing the illegal immigrant problem?” Two reasons. (1) I don’t think it’s a problem. Ever since our economy took a nose dive in 2007-2008, illegal immigrants have been leaving the country in greater numbers than they have been arriving. That suggests to me that most of them are coming here to find work. As for the complicating factors involved with that (e.g., they take jobs away from Americans, the tax issues, etc.), I think most Americans are unwilling to do the jobs they take (I know I don’t want to pick cherries for a living anymore; I would if I had to, but I don’t want to). Additionally, it’s 2010 and its time for us to get rid of artificial borders. While many would call me an idealist, I have to admit that artificially drawn lines on maps don’t seem relevant to me anymore. That seems so 16th Century human. Why can’t humans be humans and not: Mexicans, Guatemalans, Americans, Canadians, etc.? (2) Do you really think there is a solution? Building a trillion dollar fence is going to help? You need to watch Penn and Teller’s Bullshit, Season 5, episode 6. They hire some illegal aliens at a Home Depot to build a spec border fence in the middle of the Nevada/California desert. It takes them all day to build it to the specs put forth for the fence by our government. And then they tell the illegals to get past the fence: some have to go over, others go under, and some go through. You watch them on the video and I think the longest it takes any of them to get from one side to the other is about 1 minute. So, a trillion dollar fence that – DOES NOTHING! Or is the solution a virtual wall of soldiers to patrol the border? At what cost? And what’s to keep illegals from then coming in other ways – via boat (the ocean is a big place), via plane, etc.? We’re going to spend trillions of dollars to keep out poor Hispanics, not terrorists, who are coming here to harvest our food and build our over-priced houses. And, regardless of what we do, it won’t stop them. This is a losing battle.

      Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that we should just open the borders (…yet, though I did say I would be in favor of this in point #1 above). We should still inspect for guns, bombs, drugs, smuggled women as sex slaves, etc. But I also agree with part of your solution – increase the number of people who can come legally. However, at the end of the day, I will freely admit that I (1) don’t have a solution for illegal immigration to the U.S. because it’s complicated and messy and (2) because of number 1, I shouldn’t say anything about it! 😉

      That, of course, doesn’t keep me from responding to bigoted emails like the one I received… Ooops, did I say bigoted? On to your second point….

      Okay, I specifically didn’t use the word “racist” because Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. So, I did call him a bigot. But why I did may not be apparent from my rebuttal. I called him a bigot not because of his completely erroneous calculations, but because of his support for the law in Arizona (the very end of his email). That law is almost identical to the laws the Germans instituted prior to WWII to track down Jews. It’s a profiling law and institutes a police state. You may say that you’d be okay carrying your “papers” with you all the time and wouldn’t mind if a police officer asked you for them. But you also know as a white American with no accent that you’re never, ever going to be asked for your papers. But what if you’re Hispanic and a LEGAL immigrant to the U.S. living in or visiting Arizona (say, you’re Mario’s mom)? You now have to carry your immigration documentation with you all the time and are highly likely to be asked to show your papers every time the police see you or stop you. So, the law discriminates based on the outward appearance (which is racial) and ethnicity (language, customs, religion) of certain groups, REGARDLESS OF THEIR IMMIGRATION STATUS! And that is the key – it targets a specific group of people for detrimental treatment. In short, the law is bigoted against ALL HISPANICS since they can now be stopped willy nilly and asked to prove their innocence by any officer of the law. Yes, yes, theoretically anyone could be stopped, but all of us whites know we won’t be. In fact, I’m so confident that I won’t be that the next time I travel to Arizona I’m not going to bring any documentation that I’m a legal resident of the U.S. Why? Because the chance of me being stopped is 0%. Since the author of the email is in support of the law in Arizona, he is in support of a bigoted, ethnic-profiling law. That, in my opinion, makes him a bigot.

      As for tea-baggers (I hope you don’t consider yourself one), it sounds to me like they are playing the “victim card,” which seems like a total Glenn Beck response, “Yes, I occasionally say racist and bigoted things. But I don’t always. So, you can’t always call me a bigot. And if you do for all of the bigoted things I’ve said, well, then, you’re just labeling us bigots.” Um, yeah!! If you hold bigoted, prejudicial views, YOU’RE A BIGOT! So, play the “pity me” victim card all you want. If you support bigoted legislation, I’m going to call you a bigot.

      Finally, I didn’t use the “bigot” card as a copout to destroy the email’s argument. I destroyed the email’s argument, then used the bigot card as the icing on the cake. Not only is the author completely and utterly wrong on almost every single count, but he’s also a bigot. Two wrongs make him an ass, not right! 😉

  3. I’m rarely at a loss for words, but I have a tough time knowing where to even try to establish common ground here. Maybe i’ll start by pointing out hypocritical it is to accuse the Tea-Baggers of playing the ‘victim card’. (And do you realize how ridiculous you sound when you use the phrase Tea Bagger? Honestly, it’s like people are 12 years old, saying gross things because they think it’s funny). Liberals have been playing the ‘victim card’ for I don’t know how long. If you criticize Obama ‘It’s because you’re a racist!’ Doesn’t matter what you say about him, ‘it’s because your a Bigot!’ Do you truly not see the irony here? The ‘Tea Baggers’ aren’t playing the victim card. They are holding there hands up in defeat and saying: ‘is there anything I can say about the left where I might get a rational response? Or am I going to be called names no matter what I do?’

    I think it’s rather important that we as Americans establish common ground on which to work through our problems. But if we can’t engage in rational debate without being called names, it seems hard to establish much of anything.

    As for the law in Arizona: When I lived in Spain, I was required to carry around my Empadronamiento card. If I didn’t have identification while my citizenship was pending, I could have been in trouble with the law. And boy was it a pain… I had to put a card in my wallet. And a few times cops actually asked to see my indentification. Wow, what horrible people those Spaniards are. Even though there were American’s living there with full citizenship, they asked ME to see my indentification. Who the crap cares? If you are obeying the law, you don’t have anything to fear.

    Now i’m not saying I support the new law in Arizona. I think a law ‘requiring the police’ to go out of their way and try to find illegals is a really bad idea, partly because it’s asking them to profile, but mostly because it’s not their job. Police are busy enough doing important things, why waste their time with that.

    It’s not that law I support, but the Arizona people. The Federal government (whose job it is to secure the border) has done absolutely nothing to help them. They feel threatened and in danger so they took things into their own hands. Do I think it’s the best solution? No, but i’m not going to fault the people in Arizona for trying to fix a problem when Phoenix is fast becoming one of the cities with the highest kidnapping rate in the world.

    And as you readily admitted, guns and drugs are flowing across the border, the horrendous drug cartel wars are beginning to spill over the border, sex slaves are sold across the border, and you’re going to freak out on the Arizonians because they are trying to do something about it? Seems to me your priorities are screwed up. Don’t tell me illegal immigration is ‘not a problem’. You yourself admitted it is a problem, because of the reasons I just mentioned, and because immigrants here get screwed coming and going. So how can you say it’s not a problem.

    That being said, I guess your answer of not doing anything shouldn’t have surprised me. The liberals haven’t done anything yet, and don’t appear to be poised to do anything, so I don’t know why i’m surprised.

    Anywho, I guess you can have the last word. I’m off to Lake Powell.

    Have a good one.

  4. @Josh
    Did I say “Tea Bagger”? Oops. Freudian slip! Honest! So, I’ll apologize for that. I’m usually not one for cheap shots like that. So, is it tea partiers? Hmmm… Doesn’t sound much better, but I’m going with it…

    So, here’s how the first part of your response sounded to me, Josh, “Um, yes, we’re playing the victim card, and so do liberals, so it’s okay.” My point, to quote myself, “Finally, I didn’t use the “bigot” card as a cop out to destroy the email’s argument. I destroyed the email’s argument, then used the bigot card as the icing on the cake.”

    I, and lots of people like me (including the Federal Government), think the Arizona legislation is discriminatory. It targets a group of people for negative treatment. That’s discriminatory.

    You kind of make an okay comparison by relating it to your experience in Spain. I had to do the same in Costa Rica. But, the laws there were geared towards NON-CITIZENS, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. That makes sense. If you are a legal immigrant, you should be required to carry evidence that you are legal. But if you’re a citizen and look like a legal immigrant, should you have to carry evidence that you’re a citizen? I don’t and don’t want to start doing so. And how many illegals from Asia or Europe do you think will be picked up based on this legislation? Or do you think this legislation is targeting Hispanics?

    Just for fun, I decided I should read the legislation, since I hadn’t until this point. It’s available here for anyone else you wants to read it:

    In all fairness, a lot of the legislation is fine. It’s pretty tough on employers of illegals (which is what motivates them to come to the US in the first place and is really a major component of what should be done to stop illegal immigration). But then there are sections like this:


    Okay, reasonable. Now:


    Huh, what, huh? Scenario in my head: “Jose and Felipe, two young Hispanic men, are playing soccer in a park. Officer Johnson sees them. He walks over and arrests them on the suspicion that they have “committed any public offense” that makes them removable from the U.S. No evidence of guilt required. Nothing. Just – hey, they look Hispanic, er, I mean, guilty of some crime, maybe, possibly. Let’s arrest them.” Oh, and Officer Johnson doesn’t need a warrant. He just has to think they’re guilty of a crime. Any crime. Ever! Welcome to the POLICE STATE of Arizona!

    But the legislation isn’t done:


    So, Officer Johnson sees Jose and Felipe driving down a freeway and they look, um, Hispanic, er, I mean, they look guilty. He can pull them over and then arrest them for looking guilty.

    And the coup de etat:


    Basically, this section says, “Um, if an officer arrests you and he’s wrong, we’re sorry and we’ll give you $1,000.” Oh, and the bill also says that officers cannot be personally sued for arresting people under the provisions of the bill. What this says to me: Guilty until proven innocent! So much for the presumption of innocence in Arizona.

    As far as supporting the people of Arizona… Do they feel threatened? Maybe. But your “talking point” about Arizona being the “kidnapping capital of the US” is a trumped up Glenn Beck talking point. Here are some choice quotes from an MSNBC article on that point:

    The abductions are occurring in the Phoenix area at the rate of practically one per day, and police suspect they have led to killings in which bound and bullet-riddled bodies have been found dumped in the desert.

    Okay, that sounds terrible. But wait, there’s more:

    The kidnap victims are typically drug or immigrant-smugglers, who are seen as inviting targets because they have a lot of money, they can raise large sums of cash on short notice, and they are unlikely to go to the police, for fear their own shady dealings will come to light.
    “We have never had a victim that we have investigated that has been as clean as the new driven snow,” said Sgt. Phil Roberts, who investigates the kidnappings. “There has always been some type of criminal element to it. Either they are criminals, drug dealers or human smugglers — or a close family member is.”
    The kidnappers themselves are fellow traffickers who are doing it for the money or to punish their rivals.

    Oooohhh… I bet Glenn Beck didn’t mention that point. So, drug smugglers are kidnapping other drug smugglers for ransom. Um, still not a good thing, but not nearly as good of a talking point as “Arizona, the kidnapping for ransom capital of the US.”

    As far as the actual problems associated with illegal immigration and the drug wars… Yes, the drug wars in Mexico (still in Mexico) are a problem. But the solution isn’t to stop the illegal immigrants. That’s just silly. The solution is to address the drug problem. Do you know how much money the drug cartels have and make? And given the potential to make that much money, what do you think they are willing to do? What would you be willing to do to make $1 billion a year? Here’s a crazy idea: Legalize pot and grow it in the U.S. This would reduce as much as 50% of the profits of the cartels and would increase tax revenue.

    So, yeah, drug wars are a legitimate problem. But the solution isn’t trying to seal a border, which is a patently absurd proposition that ethnic-profiling in Arizona won’t solve. Legalizing marijuana, which is less harmful than alcohol, would go a long way toward solving the problem.

    I love your last point, “That being said, I guess your answer of not doing anything shouldn’t have surprised me. The liberals haven’t done anything yet…” Yeah, well, sometimes doing nothing is, in fact, better than doing something. I’d rather “do nothing” so as to prevent discrimination than to proactively discriminate, given those two choices.

    If you want my recommendations for solving the immigration problem, here you go:
    1) Institute massive fines for employers of illegals – $1 million per infraction should do it, payable within 30 days. I guarantee you work for illegals would dry up overnight.
    2) Increase the number of people who can immigrate to the U.S. legally (you’re suggestion as well)
    3) Legalize pot in the U.S. and tax the hell out of it. 50% of the Mexican drug cartels profit would be gone overnight and they would be much less powerful.
    4) Work to improve the standard of living in Mexico through development assistance and getting rid of pro-American business interest agreements like NAFTA, that enrich Americans at the expense of Mexicans

    There you go. Four reasonable recommendations. No victim card. No discrimination.

  5. Ryan, you forgot to mention this cute little bit of the original author’s fantasy:

    “Jose Legal now works overtime on Saturdays or gets a part time job after work to help make ends meet.

    Jose Illegal has his nights and weekends off to enjoy with his family.”

    Right, cause every illegal immigrant I ever met not only had but took the time to kick back in his armchair on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons.

    What a moron. If anything this alone shows the extraordinary lack of compassion and basic intelligence behind this author’s line of thinking. Has he or she even met an illegal immigrant? Would it even matter?

  6. NOW we are talking! Once you establish some common ground, a real conversation can take place. Amazing how that works 🙂

    In regards to the Arizona legislation, I think we are actually largely in agreement here. As I already pointed out, i’m definetely not a fan of the law, and I certainly don’t want to be forced into a position where I have to defend the merits of the law. Again, as I stated, there are about a billion other things the cops in Arizona should be doing rather than harassing Mexicans. I don’t like the racial profiling aspect of the law one bit. And you make a very good point about legal citizens having to carry around identification. I understand your reasoning, but I still don’t see how that in and of itself is a huge deal. When you drive a car, you are supposed to have identification and proof of insurance. And I don’t know about you, but anytime I leave the house I have my wallet with me, which has my identification in it. So… what’s the big deal?

    Regardless, that isn’t really the point i’m trying to make.

    “As far as supporting the people of Arizona… Do they feel threatened?”

    I would have to answer: Obviously! Why would they pass this law if it weren’t for the fact that they feel threatened? Unless of course the vast majority of voters in Arizona are out-and-out racists, but I find that impossible to believe, as i’m sure there is a large hispanic community there, among other things.

    The point i’m trying to make here is that the government failed to help these people, so they took it upon themselves to try and fix the problem. What I’m seeing here is the Arizonians were crying out for help, soliciting the government for a hand, and they got nothing. BUT… when they finally did something themselves, the government came down on them like a ton of bricks. That’s my main problem with this. Obviously there are problems with the law, but I don’t think you can write off the whole state of Arizona as bigotted because of the law. I liken this to racial profiling in airports.

    The sad fact of the matter is the vast vast majority of people that want to hijack airplanes and blow them up all come from the same few countries, have the same religion, and the same skin color. Airport officials are not supposed to profile, but you know they do. And why do they do it? Because it works. Sad but true.

    I see the Arizona law in the same light. The people of Arizona felt threatened, and came up with a controversial (and agreeably stupid) solution. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE BIGOTS. Maybe it means they are stupid, but if you simply write them all off as bigots, you fail to address the real problem. It just does not stand to reason that they wrote this law because they don’t like Mexicans. They wrote this law because they felt threatened by illegal aliens, and the sad byproduct of the law was racial profiling, because that’s the mechanism they thought would work. It simply does not mean they are racists.

    This is really the main point i’m trying to make. I have been accused of being a bigot several times simply because I would like to fix what I view as an illegal immigration problem. But I want to fix the problem NOT because I don’t like Mexicans. I want to fix the problem because it benefits everyone, and most especially the Mexicans if we fix it. You agreed with this in your first post. If the Mexicans that are here illegally were here legally, their standard of living would improve. And I’m a bigot for supporting that how…?

    I am almost constantly accused of being a bigot and a hater because of my anti-gay marriage stance. But when people actually take 5 minutes to ask my WHY i’ve taken that stance, they understand that I don’t hate anyone. My research has led me to believe (maybe erroneously) that the homosexual lifestyle is unhealthy, both physically and mentally. I don’t oppose gay marriage because I want someone to be unhappy. I oppose gay marriage because I don’t want people to die prematurely from rectal cancer or aids. The few people that have actually given me the chance to explain my stance realize I AM NOT A BIGOT. Most of them think I’m dead wrong, but at least we’ve established some common ground, and they are no longer using a copout to dismiss my arguments. But sadly, most people don’t bother to find out the WHY. Instead, they just make snap judgements, and call each other names. That is my problem with the situation.

    Finally, as for your solutions to fix illegal immigration… it’s a good start 🙂

    1- “Institute massive fines for employers of illegals – $1 million per infraction should do it, payable within 30 days. I guarantee you work for illegals would dry up overnight.”

    There are already laws instituted to fine employers if they have illegal employees. The problem is they don’t really enforce it. And to give you an example in my own profession, last year I had a conversation with the owner of one of the biggest lawn mowing companies in town (I just saw him about an hour ago, so it’s safe to say I know the guy fairly well). In our conversation last year, I asked him about the legal status of his employees. In a nutshell, he basically said he asked for proof they were here legally, which could be anything from a drivers license to a social security card. But as Ezra ably pointed out above, those papers can be easily forged. He knows for a fact that many of his employees are here illegally, but he has copies of the documents they provided him as “proof” of their legal status. How are they going to fine him 1 million dollars?

    (additionally, this disproves your earlier theory that Americans don’t want to work the jobs illegals come here and work. My own profession -lawn mowing- is dominated by illegal immigrants, at least here in Utah. But guess what, I’m doing the exact same job they are doing. So I guess Americans would be willing to work at at least SOME of the jobs they are taking…)

    That being said, this isn’t a horrible idea to tax employers. I would actually support it, if I had any confidence that this ridiculous farce of a government would enforce it.

    2-“increase the number of people who can immigrate to the U.S. legally (you’re suggestion as well)”

    Again, we are in complete agreement. I think if we simplify the process of legal immigration that would largely solve the problem in and of itself.

    3- “Legalize pot in the U.S. and tax the hell out of it. 50% of the Mexican drug cartels profit would be gone overnight and they would be much less powerful.”

    Even if your marijuana idea fixed the problem, it would lead to a whole slew of new problems. When you legalize something, you promote it’s use. When we got rid of prohibition, the amount of alcohol consumed went through the roof almost overnight. Regardless, that is a completely separate debate, one that I would be more than happy to engage in when I get back from Powell.

    4-“Work to improve the standard of living in Mexico through development assistance and getting rid of pro-American business interest agreements like NAFTA, that enrich Americans at the expense of Mexicans”

    Sounds good to me. I have no problem increasing the standard of living in Mexico. That would be a great, great thing. I just don’t think that throwing money at them is the answer. Whenever we throw money at other countries, most of it tends to simply disappear without ever reaching the people that need it. Again, this is a whole new debate, but I mostly agree with you on this one, at least in the goal, if not in the approach.

    5- I’ll add my own here, in addressing the wall again. Penn and Teller are great, and I actually think Penn has some really good ideas and points, even if I largely disagree with him. However, in regards to the wall being innefective, that’s just silly.

    There is no doubt that if someone is truly determined, they’re going to find a way across the border. Penn’s example of them climbing the wall in under a minute is well recieved. HOWEVER, you can’t tell me that building a wall is not going to make it much more difficult, if not nearly impossible, to smuggle drugs and guns and backpack nukes across the border, not to mention sex slaves. An immigrant looking to get into the US to find a job maybe wouldn’t be too incredibly deterred by a wall. But a narco trafficante with 2 tons of drugs…? Seems like it would present him with some serious problems. Or someone smuggling sex slaves? How are you going to make them climb the wall?

    So even a liberal, when considering it under that light, would have to consider that a wall is a really good thing. An immigrant looking for a job (which I consider to be the very least of the problem here) could probably still get across. But someone with illegal goods will likely be stymied.

    I like your idealistic dream of not having borders, but it simply isn’t a reality right now. The European Union tried to do it with their money, making it a universal currency. Well… hows that working out for them right now? Yeah, it’s a great idea on paper, but right now it’s just not going to work.

    Ok, I still have some packing to do. If you didn’t notice, we didn’t leave for powell just yet. Now we are leaving at 4 a.m., so hopefully the discussion will continue until then, as I’m rather enjoying it.

  7. Josh,

    Regarding your “anti-gay marriage stance”.

    HIV is primarily spread through unprotected sex with high-risk partners (i.e., partners who have sex with a lot of unprotected sex with other people). Receiving anal sex has the highest risk or contracting the disease due to a number of factors. It is not a gay disease; it just happens that promiscuous gay men receiving anal sex have multiple risk factors that increase their odds. That said, homosexual women do not have those same risk factors, and mutually-monogamous couples have lower rates of all STD’s. Being a formerly non-abstinent single male, now a married, monogamous male, I can assure you that my risks have dropped since my wife and I started dating. Allowing gay couples to get married may very well take them out of the very risk categories that contribute to their higher risks for these diseases. I’ll also need references on disease rates among homosexual women, particularly the rectal cancer claim.

    I’ll also need to have references and get dates for any of the psychological ills that they supposedly suffer. Study after study has found that children raised by a gay couple suffer no ill effects. The ONLY reliable difference between a child raised by a gay and straight family is an increased likelihood to experiment with same-sex partners during adolescence/early adulthood. The adult rates of homosexuality are comparable.

    Any references that rely on studies prior to ~1990 are obsolete, as homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until 1986 (things didn’t change overnight when they new diagnoses was introduced).

    Apart from my doubts about your research, the underlying premise of your claims, “for their own good”, is also hollow. Obese people have substantially increased risks for numerous diseases, many of which can kill them. Research has found that if your three closest friends are obese, you are significantly more likely to be(come) obese. They’ve also found viruses that can contribute to (i.e., theoretically spread) obesity. Based on your argument, it would be better if we did not let two obese people get married, as it increases the likelihood that they will “make” other people get fat and die early. (The probability calculations are there, if you really want me to spell them out I will.)

    Bipolar disorder is the most heritable mental disorder there is, and one of the most destructive (~88% last citation I saw). Marry a bipolar person with another person with a mood disorder (depression, or bipolar spectrum), and your very likelihood for at least one of their children to inherit a mood disorder. Untreated bipolar has a high mortality rate due to suicide (much higher than AIDS rates among the gay population). Are we to prevent these people from getting married or having kids? (The U.S. eugenics movement in the 20’s tried the kid prevention approach through compulsory sterilizations, a program that gave Hitler his early model for social cleansing.)

    Point being that even if the data you’re basing your position on are accurate, there are A LOT of situations that contribute more to people’s physical and mental demise than gay marriage supposedly would. Gay marriage is more visible than the others, (depending on if one is a cross dresser, and how passable they are) but it doesn’t mean that your claimed reasons are more applicable to that group than several other groups.

    Overall, if you’re willing to provide citations for your research, can address the above points, and are open to reviewing additional research that may require you to update your position, then I can agree to disagree with you on the topic. Otherwise, I’ll have to take your claims as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    (Sorry to hijack the discussion, I figured the topic deserved to be addressed, and had more potential to actually influence an outcome.)

  8. @Josh
    Okay, probably not the nicest thing to do, but this whole idea of “common ground” is coming right out of the Glenn Beck playbook and is BS ). Basically what it seems like your idea of “common ground” is, Josh, is that I say you’re not a racist regardless of what you say. Now, keep in mind, I never said you were a racist (or even that the author of the email was a racist; I used the word bigot intentionally). I don’t know what you mean by “common ground” and it sounds like it’s just a way of saying, “I’m going to set the terms for the discussion, then we can have a discussion.” So, screw “common ground”! I’m not going to let you set the terms of the discussion. And if someone says something that is bigoted, I’m going to call them on it. So, the Glenn Beckian BS of establishing “common ground” isn’t going to work here. I don’t want to play on Glenn Beck’s field because it’s a biased playing field. You’re welcome to make the same claim about my playing field, and you would be right to some degree, but it’s my blog, so my terms for the discussion!

    If you really want “common ground,” how about these two: (1) Provide empirical evidence to back up your claims and (2) we both speak English, right? So, there, we have common ground. Moving on!

    So, we agree that the Arizona law is bigoted?!? Good. Yes, people can carry papers with them, if they are not citizens. But why should citizens have to carry papers with them? That is a problem, which you seem to see, but don’t want to admit. Just admit it.

    Now, as far as the people of Arizona feeling threatened, you’re way off here, Josh.

    Why would they pass this law if it weren’t for the fact that they feel threatened? Unless of course the vast majority of voters in Arizona are out-and-out racists,

    FYI, this was not legislation that was voted on!!! A legislator (Mormon, by the way) wrote it, rammed it through congress, and it was signed into law by the governor. This was not voted on by the people of Arizona. So, your claim that they feel threatened is both baseless and a non sequitur. Whether or not the people of Arizona feel threatened has nothing to do with the legislation – it was passed by state representatives with NO VOTE by the people! Ergo, your argument is baseless.

    Your next point also doesn’t work:

    the government failed to help these people, so they took it upon themselves to try and fix the problem

    Again, the government of the state of Arizona is who passed the law. No public vote on this! The people didn’t write this legislation; one bigoted congressional representative (who happens to be Mormon; sorry, I keep mentioning this, but it’s kind of funny if you ask me) wrote it. So, you’re saying the people are helping themselves and I’m saying this is actually the government taking action against the wishes of the people. In fact, immediately after it was signed into law, there were massive protests and more people wrote in to the governor asking her to veto the law than wrote in supporting it:

    Ergo, this is not “the will of the people.” This is actually government acting against the will of the people. So, again, stop pretending to be a populist here.

    I don’t think you can write off the whole state of Arizona as bigotted because of the law.

    I’m not. I’m writing off the legislature as bigots because of the law!

    You have one valid point in the next part of your comment:

    Airport officials are not supposed to profile, but you know they do. And why do they do it? Because it works. Sad but true.

    Turns out, there is some EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE to support this:

    It may still not be the most moral position to take, but I will agree that it works. See, I can be reasoned with, but it requires hard evidence, not “common ground” BS.

    You then set up a strawman, claiming that I’ve said all Arizonians are bigots. I never said that. Look in this discussion, Josh. I NEVER SAID THAT! That’s easy to attack because neither of us believe it. What I did say is that the law is bigoted. And I will say that the legislators who wrote it are bigots. But not everyone in Arizona is a bigot. Stop arguing against strawmen.

    To attack your claim about feeling threatened… Maybe they did. But, here’s the amazing thing, crime rates have not actually increased in Arizona over the last 10 years:

    From this link:

    CONAN: And on Sunday, the Post published a piece you wrote that started with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s claim that law enforcement agencies found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that had been beheaded.

    Mr. MILBANK: Yes, I think Governor Brewer lost her head on that one in particular. Now, there’s a huge problem with violence on the border, but virtually all of it happens to be on the Mexican side. And what happened in the case of this claim is a news organization out there called the Arizona Guardian called all the coroner’s office, the medical examiners in those border counties, and they could not think of a single instance of an immigration-related beheading.

    I called the governor’s office to see if they could give me some of this decapitation information, and they didn’t so much as return an email or a phone call. So I suspect if they had evidence of that, they would have furnished it.

    CONAN: And no updates since publication.

    Mr. MILBANK: There is no reply still.

    CONAN: There are any number of stories about the immigration issue, which is really hot right now, but border violence on the rise, Phoenix becoming the world’s number-two kidnapping capital, illegal immigrants responsible for most police killings. The majority of those who are crossing the border are doing so as drug mules, and you say all wrong.

    Mr. MILBANK: Yes, in each of those cases. Now, the drug mules was again Governor Brewer, and in the case of the number-two kidnapping capital in the world, that’s being voiced around town on the various networks by John McCain.

    So we’re in this curious situation where the Arizona Senator McCain and Arizona Governor Brewer, vying to see who can repel the largest number of tourists from Arizona. So they seem to be attempting to do in their own interests.

    CONAN: And the facts, as you suggest, are not elusive here. The issue about crime rates and the border counties has been, you suggest, exhaustively reported in the major newspaper in that state.

    Mr. MILBANK: They have been, and the FBI keeps statistics on this, and the fact is that violence is flat to slightly lower than it was a decade or even two decades ago. But when this is pointed out, the President said as much in his speech, people get indignant, and they respond with anecdotes like such-and-such rancher was killed in March, or this trooper was shot in April.

    Now, these things are true, but of course, the anecdotes don’t by themselves don’t prove that there’s actually more crime than there was previously. And then the response to this story has been very much the same, just sort of, like, angry. They suggest that I’m making up the facts. But I just, you know, pulled them from the FBI website. Now, I guess the FBI could be making up the facts, but I don’t know how far we can take this.

    So, um, Josh, please refute MY FACTS! Please! I will change my position if you can provide evidence to the contrary. But I have evidence on my side. What do you have?

    You then claim that I called you a bigot, again. I never called you a bigot. I called the author of the email a bigot. Are you the author of the email? If so, well, then you’re a bigot. If not, then, I haven’t called you a bigot. Can you get that through your head??? Why are you assuming that I’ve called you a bigot? Or is this part of the Glenn Beckian “common ground” strategy: Play the victim, assume everyone thinks you’re a bigot, and then argue that you’re not? That is a ridiculous strategy, Josh.

    As far as your position on homosexuality, Ezra quite succinctly summarized the scientific literature on this point. I don’t know what “research” you’re referring to, but I don’t think it’s the scientific literature. And to add just one thing to Ezra’s argument, your argument is, once again, a non sequitur. Here’s what you say:

    #1 I oppose gay marriage
    #2 because the gay lifestyle is unhealthy.

    How does statement #2 relate to statement #1? This is like me saying: I oppose eating beef because cows get sick. Um, there are plenty of reasons to not eat beef, but “cows getting sick” is not a good reason or even a logical reason. Whether or not homosexuality is healthy should have no bearing on whether or not they are given the same rights as everyone else. If your logic holds, then people with bipolar shouldn’t be allowed to vote; people with major depression shouldn’t be allowed to use libraries; and people with hepatitis shouldn’t be allowed to swim in public swimming pools. Do you support all of these positions? Seriously, Josh. You’re saying unhealthy people are less deserving of human rights. In what world does that make sense?!? (Not to mention that homosexuality is not, inherently, unhealthy, as Ezra cogently argued.)

    Finally, as to the solutions I proposed:
    #1 – reasonable rebuttal; if the employer has documentation, he shouldn’t be fined. Or should he? What if he is found to have false identification? Here’s the solution. Set up an electronic system that allows employers to quickly and easily verify someone’s documentation (e.g., SSN is legit). This means they can’t claim to have legit documentation. Problem solved.
    #2 – done; we agree
    #3 – You may not have meant to, but you completely contradicted yourself here. You say legalizing something promotes it’s use, then talk about how prohibition led to an increase in alcohol consumption. Your example is actually an illustration of demand when something is made illegal, supporting my point perfectly!!! Thank you!!! Legalize it and we can control it. Simple.
    #4 – agreed. Don’t throw money at the problem. Hire some social scientists to go figure out good solutions. 😉 I’d do it for cheap.
    #5 – Once again, you’re presenting a bizarre argument here. As it stands, most of the drugs and sexual slaves brought into the U.S. are not dragged across the desert. They are smuggled in on boats or in cars or planes. They pass right through our border checkpoints and ports. Yet, you want to build a wall in the middle of a fracking desert. Seriously? This is like trying to remove a sliver in your finger by hitting yourself in the head with a hammer – wrong tool in the wrong location. If you want to reduce the influx of drugs and sex slaves, take all the money slated for the wall and put it into border checkpoints and ports (or, better yet, do numbers 3 and 4 above).

    Enjoy Powell!

  9. @Mario
    I think the vague notion of “finding common ground” makes great sense if it really means trying to see where you agree and disagree. But the way Josh was using it made it seem more like “I’m setting the ground rules to this discussion or I’m going home to play alone.” I’m not a fan of this second approach.

    Mario, you’re always welcome to intercede. 😉

    And Vaudevillian seems like a perfect description of Glenn Beck! 😉

  10. To Josh’s credit, the attempt to find “common ground” in a discussion is the basis of a Rogerian argument (this is what I teach my students), which is generally at odds with rhetoric or the art of persuasion. That said, if Beck has hijacked the Rogerian argument for his own dubious and vaudevillian purposes, I wouldn’t know. Watching his show makes my ears bleed.

    Anyway, since I’m geographically located between the two of you (Ryan and Josh), I thought I could legally (and briefly) intercede.

    PS Vaudevillian is perfect for Beck, isn’t it? Especially considering the second half of the word…

  11. Ok, back from Powell, and taking all comers in order.


    Thank you, thank you, thank you for proving my point. Here I was trying to form an argument about how people would rather attack me than establish common ground and have a discussion about our differing viewpoints. And what is the first response to my argument? A complete stranger comes steaming angrily at me like a freight train. So… again, thank you for helping me make my case 🙂

    As for the discussion, i feel like we are hijacking the thread, but i’m more than happy to briefly respond to your demands. (and possibly in the future Ryan might like to start a new thread where we can further the discussion.)

    Do me a favor. It will only take 5 minutes. Open up google in your internet browser, and type in something like “risk factors of homosexual behavior” you’ll find a plethora of interesting and thought provoking articles. Some of them are obviously religious propoganda websites, but many of them are unbiased researches and studies. I suggest you look through them. In the interest of furthering the discussion, I’ll post one that I found just seconds ago that looked rather interesting:

    Now this is NOT an anti-gay site. It’s a website that claims to be unbaised, and presents both the pros and cons of many different arguments (I didn’t take the time to research the site, maybe it’s crap, but that’s not really the issue). Now I scanned through that page in about two minutes, summing up the arguments on both sides.

    On the “con” side, the argument seemed to be the same argument you made in your above post, that being homosexual does not immedietely make you unhealthier. I couldn’t agree more. If for some reason I led you to believe that I thought that someone that suddenly declares “I’m a homosexual” was going to immedietely come down with aids and cancer, I apologize. The thought is ludicrous.

    My argument, as can be summed up by the “pro” side of the linked article would be that people that identify themselves as homosexuals are much more likely to engage in risky behavior. As stated on that website:

    “Homosexual men experience higher rates of many diseases, including:
    Human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of cervical cancer in women and anal cancer in men,
    Hepatitis A, B, and C,
    ‘Gay Bowel Syndrome’, a set of sexually transmitted gastro-intestinal problems such as proctitis, proctocolitis, and enteritis, and
    HIV/AIDS (One Canadian study found that as a result of HIV alone, ‘life expectancy for gay and bisexual men is eight to twenty years less than for all men’).
    Lesbian women, meanwhile, have a higher prevalence of:
    Bacterial vaginosis,
    Hepatitis C,
    HIV risk behaviors, and
    Cancer risk factors such as smoking, alcohol use, poor diet, and being overweight.
    Various research studies have found that homosexuals have higher rates of:
    Alcohol abuse,
    Drug abuse,
    Nicotine dependence,
    Depression, and

    And as you can see, that research appears to have been done in 2003, well within your requisite time frame.

    As for the ‘non-sequitur’ argument, Ryan, I think you use a poor example. I actually agree AND disagree with you on this point. I can see your reasoning if this were simply an issue of physical health (uh oh, did we just find common ground again? i’ll address that idiocy in a moment…) But as you may have noticed in the info I posted, many researchers are finding emotional problems linked with homosexual behavior.

    Some of this research indicates homosexuals are more prone to suffer from depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. Now i’m not an expert, so I wouldn’t know why this happens or what specific details of homosexual behavior MIGHT cause this, but if this research is in any way true, than your non-sequitur argument doesn’t hold water. Living a homosexual life style carries greater risks.

    But even with my earlier concession, I fail to see how homosexual men, for example, are not more prone to ‘gay bowel syndrome’, for example. Unless they are not having sex. So, in that case, you are correct. Homosexuals that don’t have sex are not much more likely to suffer from sexually transmitted diseases and gay bowel syndrome. HOWEVER, it sure seems that homosexuals that have gay sex are indeed more prone to these problems. If you feel the need to make that distinction, than by all means make that distinction.

    Ok, i’ve said all i’m going to say about that. If you want to start a different thread about that topic, i’d be more than happy if you invited me to participate, but I don’t feel it had any relevance to the actual topic, and I hate to see blogs getting jumbled.


    First, lets talk about Glenn Beck. Do you know what time he comes on in Utah? 4:00 p.m. At least on the station I listen too. (Though I recently heard that might have changed…?)

    The point being: what self respecting lawn mower mows lawn in the heat of July after 4:00 p.m.? On my worst days, I try really hard not to be out past 2:30. It’s too damned hot. So… in reference to your countless “That’s a Glenn Beck argument” copouts, if i’m lucky, I listen to Glenn maybe 1 hour a week. Usually not even that much. If you insist on calling me a drone than you need to change your cop-outs to include Michael Medved. He’s the only political commentator I listen to everyday. If i’m feeling narcissitic I’ll catch some of Rush in the mornings, but generally my mornings are filled with either Spots Radio or Dennis Miller, and then Medved. Not that i’m jumping off the Beck train. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I think he’s doing alot more good than bad. Unfortunately, I almost never listen to him.

    As for your derision of my desire to establish ‘common ground,’ I think Marius has the short of it. The importance of establishing common ground is something I discovered after countless arguments with our dear sweet mother (and honestly I have no idea how that coincided with Beck, or even what his advice is on the subject). I simply fail to see how a useful dialogue can be had until common ground is established. I will give you two examples: first, I am trying to establish common ground with Ezra. If he can accept the fact that I don’t baselessly hate gay people, than we can proceed from there, presenting our cases on our beliefs, listening to the opposing views, and responding in turn. IF he cannot accept that premise, than we have absolutely no base from which to work. Nothing I say will hold any water with him because he’ll assume my arguments are based on hate, not fact. Thus, in my way of thinking, we must first establish a common base from which to build.

    The second example: this is an off-topic example, but I find it funny when the government sends envoys over to Iran, or to the Palestinians and Jews, in order to ‘establish a dialogue’ and try to ‘further the peace process.’ The President of Iran is on record as saying stuff like: “I want to kill all the infidels.” To simplify a very complicated issue, the Palestinians basically just want to kill the Jews and take their land. And they’ve been fighting for how long now? It seems to me that it’s hard to come to some sort of compromise with someone that simply wants to kill you. Kind of hard to establish common ground. They can’t just ‘kind of kill you’, or maybe just ‘kill some of you…’. Kind of important to establish common ground. Maybe that’s why the fighting has been going on for a thousand years. No common ground on which to build.

    So, enough with your Glenn Beck copouts. Find a new reason not to respond.

    (Ahhh dang dang dang! Just lost about 45 minutes worth of writing. I hate that. I’ll try to remember what I wrote…)

    “You then claim that I called you a bigot, again. I never called you a bigot.”

    Ok, this needs some clarification on my part. You may recall a conversation we had maybe 9-10 months ago about affirmative action, right here on your blog? Yeah, in that conversation you called my views bigotted. That was what I was referencing. I apologize for not making that clear. Maybe you don’t remember the conversation, but I certainly do (and we can go and look it up, thanks to your excellent blog:) ). I was shocked at the time that you leveled that accusation. I felt, and still feel, that you know me better than to throw that out there.

    Arizona: Your point about a politician being responsible for the Arizona law is a good one. It’s such a good point, actually, that we can probably put this part of the discussion to rest. For whatever reason, I had taken it upon myself to defend the people of Arizona against what I perceived to be your accusations of bigotry against the residents of the state. As it turns out, you are simply accusing a single politician of being a bigot. You agree with me that the Arizonians are not, in fact, bigots. Cool, more common ground 🙂

    As for the politician himself; is he a bigot? I dunno. Maybe. Probably. I don’t know the guy, and really can’t bring myself to care. He’s a politician. 99% chance that he’s going to hell. (But really, you feel the need to point out multiple times that he’s a Mormon? Not trying to be offensive here, but that seems pretty juvenile, doesn’t it? How was that in any way relevant to the debate at hand?”)

    “You may not have meant to, but you completely contradicted yourself here. You say legalizing something promotes it’s use, then talk about how prohibition led to an increase in alcohol consumption. Your example is actually an illustration of demand when something is made illegal, supporting my point perfectly!!! Thank you!!! Legalize it and we can control it. Simple.”

    I’m not following your reasoning here at all. The history of prohibition indicates that alcohol consumption WENT DOWN during prohibition, then WENT UP when prohibition was lifted. That means more people used alcohol when it was legal.

    Same thing will happen with Marijuana. If it becomes legal, more people will use it. That is a bad thing. Drugs make you stupid. They make you do things you wouldn’t do sober. They turn productive members of society into leeches. Sorry, just not going to agree with you on this one.

    Apart from that, we can probably put Arizona itself to rest. Somehow the topic strayed from the original debate about whether or not the writer of that email was a bigot. Then we seemed to argue for several days even though we were largely in agreement. Good thing we established that common ground… 🙂

    And Marius, please feel free to interject anytime. I find hopping on Ryan’s website and trying to raise his hackles is therapeutic, (and a good way to stay in touch with family that lives on the other side of the country. ((and i’m always outnumbered on here by these elitists leftists dogs, so anytime you wanna jump in the ring on my team, you’re more than welcome 🙂 ))).

    PS- Ezra, I hope you realize that these ridiculous debates I engage in with my brother are certainly not personal attacks. Ryan and I have reached an understanding about that. I enjoy a rousing political debate, and he loves trying to prove me wrong (and being right), so please don’t take any of this personally, and feel free to fire away at me. I won’t take it personally (unless it’s meant personally, then I probably won’t care:) ).

    PPS- Missed you guys at Lake Powell. Lots of fun.

    PPPS- Like I said, I lost alot of work tonight with a poorly placed click of the mouse, but I tried to remember and re-type most of it. I’m also suffering from a sinus infection and it’s late, so if I failed to address something, let me know.

  12. “would rather attack me than establish common ground and have a discussion about our differing viewpoints. And what is the first response to my argument? A complete stranger comes steaming angrily at me like a freight train.”

    1. “Complete stranger” – irrelevant statement in a public debate. Millions of gay people that currently can’t get married/unionized are complete strangers to you and are affected by your position on the topic.

    2. “steaming angrily at me like a freight train.” – Writing can’t be “angry” without verbs and adjectives. For the most part writing is ambiguous and is assigned tone by the reader. I re-read my entire passage, looking for any potentially “angry” words. I could find only three instances for which there could be any such argument made: “Apart from my doubts about your research”, “the underlying premise of your claims, ‘for their own good’, is also hollow”, and “Otherwise, I’ll have to take your claims as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”. All three statements are directed towards the evidence/arguments and not “at you”. (Point out any other “angry” words from my post if you see any.) I can calmly disagree with your arguments, and offer counter evidence, as was done and is done here.

    They are certainly nothing compared to your statement of “elitists leftists dogs”. (For the record, I am not a leftist or elitists. I don’t know what your definition of elitist is, but I highly doubt I fit it. I grew up lower-middle class and attended a public state university for my bachelor’s degree, which I paid for with the G.I. Bill after military service.)

    “My argument, as can be summed up by the “pro” side of the linked article would be that people that identify themselves as homosexuals are much more likely to engage in risky behavior.”

    3. “Pro side” – I’ll take the first two cited articles, increased risk of STDs, at face value. They should say “currently are much more likely”. Groups can change their behavior. The gay community did it in the late 70’s/early 80’s when AIDS first emerged. Many of them had friends die, and it changed their behavior. There’s currently a bit of a resurgence, some believe because the new generation hasn’t experienced that. I refer back to my earlier point that promiscuity is the actual risk factor, not being gay. Ergo, the only position supported by this research is against promiscuity. Committed, monogamous relationships, such as can happen in marriage, can mitigate the risk of promiscuity. Meaning, that supporting gay marriage can be one way to fight promiscuity in that group of people.

    Uganda’s fight against AIDS (formerly ~15% of the population) was largely due to heterosexual sex, not overly prevalent gay sex. They started teaching the ABC approach: Abstinence, be monogamous (limit partners, particularly high-risk partners), and use condoms. The program was one of the most successful AIDS prevention campaigns in the world (last rate I know of, ~5%). Again, entire groups that were formerly at risk can change their behavior.

    The third citation from the “pro” side, the only citation of the psychological risk factors, is from the Family Research Council, which is, as you say, “obviously religious propoganda [sic]”. Perhaps the findings are based on honest research. If you can find a different citation, we can discuss.

    You’ll also find that the con side offers counter evidence against many of the claims of the pro side. You can throw out the UCLA LGBT center statement on the con side, as it’s similarly biased and has other issues.

    Furthermore, the studies regarding rates of anything in a sub-population vs. general population do not show causality. I.e., just because there may be higher substance abuse in the gay population doesn’t mean that engaging in gay behaviors makes you use drugs/alcohol. It could be just as likely that people who use drugs/alcohol are more likely to engage in homosexual behaviors, or “the negative reactions of others” could be the contributing factor. Overall, the arguments are based on statistical fallacies taught to (the equivalent of) Statistics 101 students.

    If you separate groups into gay/straight up front, you tacitly assume that the sexual behaviors are causing something. You could just as easily group by suicidal (including attempts) vs. not and look at rates of sexual orientation. (FYI, anytime “suicide” is higher in a group, mental illnesses will also be higher in that group as the vast majority of suicides in the U.S. have a mental illness).

    Call it what you want (common ground). I have considered and responded to your evidence, and still hold that the rationale you claim to base your anti-gay marriage stance on does not warrant your position.

  13. “…I can calmly disagree with your arguments, and offer counter evidence, as was done and is done here.”

    Right on. If you weren’t angry, say, “Hey, I wasn’t angry,” and i’ll believe you. You have credibility with me until you lose it, and frankly you seem like an intelligent and thoughtful individual.

    As for my ‘elitists leftist dog’ comment, that was merely an attempt at jocularity on my part. I would never stoop to hurling childish insults in earnest, but I will often poke little jibes at my snobbish elitist all-knowing brother who is currently living it up in Europe without me 🙂 So please accept my apology Ezra, as that was certainly not meant to offend. And on top of that, thank you for your military service.

    “… I refer back to my earlier point that promiscuity is the actual risk factor, not being gay.”

    There’s credence to this argument, but it should be noted that anal sex in and of itself presents greater risks (though obviously straight people that like to shove things up the old poop chute are in the same boat, homosexuals can’t really have sex any other way…)

    The American Cancer Association says: “Exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV) increases the risk of anal cancer. HPV risk is increased by having anal intercourse and many sex partners.”

    There is some research that indicates alot of anal sex my cause long term problems, like incontinence, but the evidence is far from empirical. Most research in this area indicates you are simply more likely to develop infections and that type of thing, basically stuff that is bad, but not life threatening if treated quickly and properly. (Obviously you are also more likely to get sexually transmitted diseases and what not as well, but we are assuming a monogamous relationship for the sake of this argument)

    “…It could be just as likely that people who use drugs/alcohol are more likely to engage in homosexual behaviors…”

    Great point, and it could very well be true. If you have any evidence to back it up, I would love to see it. But until that causal link can be established, viewing it the other way around seems to make more sense.

    “Perhaps the findings are based on honest research. If you can find a different citation, we can discuss.”

    I googled ‘mental risks of homosexuality’ and this is the first thing that popped up:

    Even more alarming to me than the physical health risks associated with the homosexual lifestyle (which I will gladly concede can be lessened with a decrease in promiscuity) are the apparent mental health risks, and there is certainly enough research on the subject to indicate that it is a real problem. As indicated in the above cited article, homosexuals are more prone to depression and suicide, among other things.

    I don’t claim to be a clinical psychologist, so I have no idea what may trigger these mental health problems. There may be something that increases these mental risks, much like promiscuity increases the health risks, but what that trigger may be, I have no idea.

    Again, I like your argument. Cutting down on the promiscuity is a good thing (for gays and straights alike). But that leads us to the other concern of mental health problems among homosexuals. Why are homosexuals more likely to behave in a promiscuous way? The research indicates that homosexuals are more likely to be promiscuous, AND they are more likely to suffer from mental health problems. Perhaps there is a link? I haven’t seen any evidence in support of this, but it’s maybe something to think about.

    “…It could be just as likely that people who use drugs/alcohol are more likely to engage in homosexual behaviors, or “the negative reactions of others” could be the contributing factor.”

    It stands to reason that social stigma would be a contributing factor to depression among homosexuals, but strangely enough I have read several studies that indicate depression is even greater among homosexuals that live in ‘stigma free’ places, like San Francisco or Amsterdam. Most of the homosexuals indicated that social stigma was NOT a contributing factor to their depression.

    “I have considered and responded to your evidence, and still hold that the rationale you claim to base your anti-gay marriage stance on does not warrant your position.”

    How can that be? I gave you my reasons, and I maintain my stance 🙂 Unless of course you think I’m simply lying about all of this, and went to all the trouble of researching this and writing it all down for you just to hide the fact that I truly am a bigot with no basis for my hatred… I’m a pretty crazy guy, but I really have better things to do with my time, my friend.

    I would even go so far as to say even Religious people that haven’t given this issue a second thought and merely maintain an ‘anti-gay marriage stance’ solely because the bible says so don’t do it because they are bigots (obviously a small minority of anti-gays are bigots, but they are a very small minority). Largely the ‘anti-gay marriage stance’ is maintained by people that are concerned that the homosexual lifestyle is unhealthy. Whether or not they are correct really has nothing to do with the original argument of bigotry. Maybe they are just as healthy as heteros, maybe they are not. Given the current data, we could argue this back and forth all year long. The fact of the matter is I’m just as concerned for the safety, health, well-being and happiness of my homosexual friends and relatives as you are. Again, maybe my data is dead wrong, but that doesn’t make my concern or love for my fellowman any less than your own. And calling me a bigot for that is simply playing into the Politics of Division. (and before you pounce, Ryan, yes, the Politics of Division is right out of the Michael Medved playbook 🙂 ). ((Hope you enjoy your European Vacation).

  14. So, I obviously checked out of this discussion while on vacation in Europe. But I have to respond to at least one point. The increased rates of depression and suicide are directly related to the treatment of homosexuals by broader society. In fact, another young Mormon man killed himself last week precisely because of this:

    And, as that post notes, Utah leads the nation in male youth suicides, likely because of the stigma associated with homosexuality by the LDS Church.

    So, Josh, claiming that you don’t know what the source of the mental health problems is seems pretty disingenuous. The source is obvious (and, in fact, I can back this up with peer-reviewed publications if you’d like): it’s the stigma associated with homosexuality, primarily by religious groups.

    And, as Ezra points out, the physical health problems stem primarily from promiscuity, which is not exclusive to homosexuals. Additionally, part of the promiscuity results from the exact same source as the mental health problems: social stigma. If you’re forced to sneak around to have intimate relationships, you’re much more likely to be promiscuous than if you can have open relationships. In all likelihood, removing the stigma of homosexuality and allowing same-sex marriage would reduce promiscuity and improve the health of gays, as Ezra argued.

    Additionally, your argument really is a non sequitur. If you’re worried about the health of homosexuals, that is almost wholly unrelated to their ability to marry. And, in fact, allowing them to marry may improve their health. So, based on your own argument, you should actually be in favor of same-sex marriage, not against it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *