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Those Wacky Polyamorists!

The BBC brings us a somewhat chirpy look at polyamory in the UK. Excerpt: “There’s always a small amount of insecurity,” reflects Sarah, recalling how she felt when her fiance fell in love with Charlie. “But compare my small amount of discomfort with the huge amount of love that I could see in both of […]

The BBC brings us a somewhat chirpy look at polyamory in the UK. Excerpt:

“There’s always a small amount of insecurity,” reflects Sarah, recalling how she felt when her fiance fell in love with Charlie. “But compare my small amount of discomfort with the huge amount of love that I could see in both of them, and honestly, I’d feel like a really mean person if I said my discomfort was more important than their happiness.”

Jealousy has to be handled differently in a polyamorous relationship, adds Charlie.

“In a two-person, monogamous relationship, it’s not necessary but it is possible to say, we just need to cut out all of the people who are causing jealousy and then everything will be fine.

“Whereas when you are committed to a multi-partner relationship, you can’t just take that shortcut. You have to look at the reasons behind the jealousy.”

If an issue does arise, the four may stay up all night talking it over.

“We do so much more talking than sex,” laughs Charlie.

Says the UK reader who sent me this link:

I thought it interesting that the public broadcaster of the UK presents this in the way it does, as a mildly controversial but ultimately harmless lifestyle choice (and that they have chosen a quite harmless looking bunch as the faces of ‘polyamory’). They quote two ‘experts’ neither of whom seriously questions the validity of ‘polyamory’ – one breezily talks of a trade off between jealousy and monotony. The way the four talk about their lifestyle hints that they are ready to claim the mantle of the persecuted victims of a judgemental society, although one partner hopes for a time when this arrangement will be seen as ‘normal and everyday.’

Is this a flash in the pan, or a sign of things to come?

Polyamory seems so strange, but is it really that much stranger in 2013 than legalized same-sex marriage sounded in 1983? The logic justifying them both is the same. I think there is really no way to overstate the power of the mass media in conditioning the public to accept things like this. The propaganda campaign for gay marriage has been overwhelming. We’re starting to see it on transgender stuff now. Note well that I don’t expect or desire the media to propagandize for my point of view. What is important to note about these things is not that the media report on them, but the way in which the media report on them. As at least two of the ombudsmen for The New York Times have written, that newspaper, the most important one in the world, covers gay issues and gay-rights issues as cheerleaders and advocates. Here’s Arthur Brisbane from 2012:

Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.

As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.

And here’s Daniel Okrent from 2004:

But it’s one thing to make the paper’s pages a congenial home for editorial polemicists, conceptual artists, the fashion-forward or other like-minded souls (European papers, aligned with specific political parties, have been doing it for centuries), and quite another to tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear. I don’t think it’s intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn’t have to be intentional.

The gay marriage issue provides a perfect example. Set aside the editorial page, the columnists or the lengthy article in the magazine (”Toward a More Perfect Union,” by David J. Garrow, May 9) that compared the lawyers who won the Massachusetts same-sex marriage lawsuit to Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King. That’s all fine, especially for those of us who believe that homosexual couples should have precisely the same civil rights as heterosexuals.

But for those who also believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination, it’s disappointing to see The Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading. So far this year, front-page headlines have told me that ”For Children of Gays, Marriage Brings Joy” (March 19); that the family of ”Two Fathers, With One Happy to Stay at Home” (Jan. 12) is a new archetype; and that ”Gay Couples Seek Unions in God’s Eyes” (Jan. 30). I’ve learned where gay couples go to celebrate their marriages; I’ve met gay couples picking out bridal dresses; I’ve been introduced to couples who have been together for decades and have now sanctified their vows in Canada, couples who have successfully integrated the world of competitive ballroom dancing, couples whose lives are the platonic model of suburban stability.

Every one of these articles was perfectly legitimate. Cumulatively, though, they would make a very effective ad campaign for the gay marriage cause. You wouldn’t even need the articles: run the headlines over the invariably sunny pictures of invariably happy people that ran with most of these pieces, and you’d have the makings of a life insurance commercial.

This implicit advocacy is underscored by what hasn’t appeared. Apart from one excursion into the legal ramifications of custody battles (”Split Gay Couples Face Custody Hurdles,” by Adam Liptak and Pam Belluck, March 24), potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage have been virtually absent from The Times since the issue exploded last winter.

What’s especially interesting to me is that despite this criticism from two of its own ombudsman — one of whom (Okrent) states that he supports SSM — the Times’s advocacy approach to cultural journalism has not abated. They know exactly what they’re doing, and they don’t care.

I am sure the same is true for the BBC. I am sure the same is true for most of the US major media. So while polyamory may or may not be the wave of the future, adoring coverage of it probably will be, at least if the SSM story is any guide.