Is Marriage Dead? Let’s Quibble Over Methodology!

Dan replies to my reply with a challenge:

 So, Greg, is it your *hope* that the signs of movement represent an interest in returning to traditional marriage, or can you analytically determine they are something more than evidence of a dead-cat bounce?  And can we reasonably say it is not similar to liberal lionization of Ronald Reagan, now that he is safely gone and no longer able to hurt them?

In previous posts I’ve deftly dodged Dan’s dialectical daggers by quibbling over definitions and by quibbling over metrics. This time I shall quibble over methodology.

I could respond to Dan’s challenge by piling up additional instances of elite cultural institutions labeling the collapse of marriage as a problem; this has run (recently) in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and other major media. Brad Wilcox’s research is being taken seriously. Etc.

But I get the feeling that no matter how high I piled the examples, to Dan it would still look like just a big pile of dead cats bouncing. (You’re welcome for the mental image.) What we really need to do here is get a sense of what counts as a live cat.

Here are my standards:

1. Connection to established fundamental imperatives. These institutions can’t say the breakdown of marriage is damaging the poor, women, and children (especially among minorities!) and generating a rigid bifurcation of social classes, and then say “but we don’t necessarily have to do anything about it.” That would be like the pope saying the male priesthood and the authority of the magisterium are essential to the church’s identity as the incarnation of Christ, but hey, that doesn’t mean they’re, like, a big deal or whatever, like he’s going to lose any sleep if they went away. If the dinosaur media say the breakdown of marriage is damaging the poor, women, and children, etc. they aren’t going to be able to walk away from that.

2. No more “mixed and inconclusive” BS. I’ve been in the school choice movement for ten years. I knew we were winning when the media stopped falsely characterizing the academic findings on the impact of vouchers as “mixed and inconclusive.” They never were that, but it took years of effort to get the reporting to start to match the reality. We’ve seen the same change for marriage. (Not yet on gay marriage, but on divorce.)

3. It’s science! Science is the last remaining uncontested source of social authority. If science agrees it’s bad, it’s bad. I’ve written elsewhere about why that’s a bad development overall, but here’s a case where it properly works in our favor.

That’s enough to be going on with for now, I expect. Looking forward to getting slapped with the next dead cat from Dan.