Trapped In the Wrong Frame

Over at the Book of the Face, my newsfeed is popping up with the breaking story about a Kentucky clerk arrested refusing to process same-sex marriage licenses. Some have branded her an intolerant bigot, while others applaud her for standing up for traditional marriage or their state constitution’s definition of marriage. Certainly from a constitutionalist’s perspective, she is in the right in adhering to state law over an ex cathedra pronouncement by our modern-day ephors, but few are going to make such an argument, and I am not among them.

Instead, I find it fascinating to watch the two sides fight while ignorant of the fact that they are stuck within the limited confines of an overall agreed premise; that the state has the legitimate authority to license the institution of marriage.

Having settled that marriage be licensed, the next question is what are the qualifications, to get a marriage? And which branch of government decides? Hence, we find the battle being waged.

Once you’ve plugged out of the Matrix, so to speak, it becomes evident whenever there is a political debate between two people who are unaware that what they are arguing about is a secondary issue stemming from their agreement on the primary matter.

The entire feud would cease if one side were to argue that the state has no legitimate authority over marriage, or at the very least cause a critical shift in the frame of the argument. This would put the burden on the other party to justify such authority.

We see here the necessity of arguing within the proper frame. Almost any argument can be won if properly argued, but this makes it all the more imperative that libertarians establish and maintain the right frame (the NAP) in debating and discussing these issues with those will attempt to assume the sale, as it were, i.e. the state has legitimacy on the topic, by reframing the argument.

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