Archive for August, 2010

The New Marriage — No Sex Required

I’ve been a published and produced science-fiction writer for several decades.

Sometimes I’ve described myself as a one-man think tank.

What it is that a science-fiction writer and a think tank have in common?

Both science-fiction writing and think-tanking is the business of looking at something — a problem in international relations, a war, a new technology, a new law, a social policy — and trying to draw inferences that can help us to understand what the probable consequences are. It’s a process of gaming future trends. It’s the same business as the racetrack tout, the astrologer, the storefront reader/adviser, the financial analyst, the mystical prophet.

Unlike the astrologer, the storefront reader/adviser, and the mystical prophet, the science-fiction writer and the think tank are supposed to confine themselves to an intellectual exercise — often using the tools of symbolic logic and extrapolative projections from historical examples. But despite such attempts to rely on something approaching science, every once in a while such analysis turns an unexpected corner based on nothing more than a flash of intuition.

I think I had such a flash of intuition today. If I’m inclined to do so, it may well become the central plot device of a new science-fiction novel, short story, or screenplay.

I think the ongoing legal and lexical redefinitions of marriage from its most common historical meaning of a sexual union between a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation and consolidation of property — to the new definition which includes legal unions of same-sex couples to equate homosexual pairings with heterosexual ones — will ultimately result in more marriages between straight couples than gay ones.

Furthermore, once marriage has been redefined to eliminate the sexual component, there is no longer any reason to restrict marriage to legal commitments that have been forbidden because of the risk of bad biological outcomes — such as the increased risk of recessive genes creating problems from incestuous pairings.

What in the past has constrained marriage to a union between a male and a female was the biological impulse toward procreation of the species. The ubiquitous historical customs requiring sexual intercourse to consummate a marriage before the vows were regarded as binding are evidence on that point.

But once that sexual requirement has been eliminated from the definition of marriage — as the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex partnerings does when it eliminates sexual intercourse as the final seal on the deal — there is no longer any reason why marriage should not be regarded as a partnership suitable for any couple, not just the ones entering into it because they wish legal equity for their homosexual pairings.

The lexical and legal redefinition of marriage to eliminate the necessity of sex as a component means that any cohabitation between two adults of the age of legal maturity can be recognized as a marriage.

If two siblings wish to cohabitate and find it convenient to file a joint-income-tax return, the logic of the new sex-not-necessary marriage dictates that this arrangement should qualify as a marriage under the new definition.

If a mother and a son, a mother and a daughter, a father and a son, a father and a daughter, two first cousins — all prohibited from marrying because the assumption of sexual intercourse within such a marriage has engendered higher risk of genetic monstrosity — now wish to marry under the newly desexualized definition of marriage, logic dictates there is no longer any reason for society or a government to disallow it.

What the redefinition of marriage actually does is make marriage a sexually-irrelevant institution, just as a limited partnership, a living trust, a corporation or LLC, or any joint-stock company is sexually irrelevant.

What the new definition of marriage accomplishes is making both sex and romantic love beside the point. It makes marriage purely an institution meant to widen the scope for extending the legal protections and usages of marriage to couples that in the past would not have qualified because marriage laws required them to fuck each other.

The 2007 comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry portrays a marriage between two heterosexual firefighters so one can extend his pension benefits to his children. The plot device requires them trying to convince an investigator that they are gay.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Adam Sandler and Kevin James in
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

But, in fact, no such pretense would need to be made. Nowhere in any of the new marriage statutes does it require same-sex marriage partners either to be in love with each other or to engage in any form of sexualized behavior with each other.

Marriage is being redefined not as homosexual-inclusive, but as asexual-inclusive. It is being redefined away from a romantic relationship to a purely utilitarian relationship.

On that basis, I see no reason why any church, religion, or tradition should have any problem with it.

When all is said and done, all we are doing is changing a customary usage of a word.

Now, I suppose, traditionalists need a new word that preserves the business of elaborate gowns, tuxedo rentals, flowers, catering, multi-layered cakes, live music, ice sculptures, and Elvis impersonators.

This article is Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Why the Customer is Always Right

I live in Pahrump, Nevada. I wrote, produced, and directed my movie Lady Magdalene’s here in Pahrump. I’m writing this from Pahrump.

Most people know of Pahrump for only one of two things. The first is that Pahrump has the two legal brothels closest to Las Vegas. The second is that Art Bell broadcast his immensely popular and spooky late-night radio show from Pahrump — what he charmingly called “the Kingdom of Nye” — just a hop, skip, and a jump from Area 51.

Pahrump is a town of about 40,000. It has a 24-hour Walmart, recently got its first Carl’s, Jr., but does not have a single movie theater.

It has two major casino hotels in what passes for “downtown” Pahrump. The first, the Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Gambling Hall, can be seen as a shooting location in Lady Magdalene’s. About half my cast and crew stayed there during the principal photography of Lady Magdalene’s in May-June 2006.

The other, the Saddle West Hotel, Casino, and RV Resort, was not on screen in Lady Magdalene’s, but the other half of my cast and crew — including my line producer — stayed there during principal photography. I also held our cast and crew wrap party there.

The Saddle West, 1220 South Highway 160 in Pahrump, NV 89048

I was writing a lot of checks during the production of Lady Magdalene’s. I’m pretty sure the checks for rooms and food written to the Saddle West from my production added up to more than $25,000.

You’ll find the Saddle West thanked in the end credits of Lady Magdalene’s.

The Saddle West has a restaurant and buffet. Like most Nevada casinos, the purpose of the buffet is to draw people in to gamble. So the quality of the food at Nevada casinos tends to be what we used to call when I lived in California “better than a Denny’s.” You’ll tend to get good salad bars, Italian food about at Olive Garden quality, and generally food at hotel quality level — good enough to be served at a wedding, if you’re not too fussy. And, it’s cheaper than Denny’s or IHOP. If one lives in Pahrump and gambles at the Saddle West enough to average 800 “points” on one’s player’s club card, one qualifies for a “two-for-one” buffet Sunday through Thursday. That means dinner for two is $8.95 — and the money you would have spent on the other dinner as often as not ends up in one of the slot machines … and then some.

I’ve eaten at the Saddle West frequently enough for all the waitresses to know my mother and myself by name — and they know my mother and my drink orders by heart. The ladies at the Players Club desk also know me by name.

I was 86’ed from the Saddle West tonight. My God, what did I do? Did they catch me running a magnet on one of the slot machines to try and get it to pay off? Nope. Was I counting cards at the 21 table? Yeah, like I have a good enough memory for that.


My mom — who is 85, has no gall bladder, is Type II diabetic, is half blind, and has memory problems these days — was recently diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. That means her stomach tends to crowd her esophagus, which before we got that sorted out caused her to be hospitalized twice with extreme gastritis, nausea, and dehydration. I kept her at home for a couple of weeks following the latter hospitalization getting her digestive system calmed down, and we eventually reached a point where I was willing to take her out to eat again. I chose the Saddle West because its buffet tends to have a lot of bland food on it — pasta with white sauce, mashed potatoes, unseasoned rice.

Because of my mom’s hiatal hernia, she can barely eat even a quarter of a meal at a time. If I make her a sandwich, half needs to be put away for later.

So tonight, I took my mom to the Saddle West for dinner (a friend accompanied us) and I put a small portion of lasagna and manicotti on my mom’s plate. She was able to eat only a few bites of each and was full. So she asked me to wrap it up and put it in her bag for later.

Now, I’m not an idiot. I know every buffet has rules against taking food home. But I also know that any food left on the table is going to be thrown out — has to be thrown out — by health code rules. So by my way of thinking — in a world in which many people are starving — there’s something sinful about throwing away food in the first place; and if the food which I’m wrapping up for my mother is already garbage by the restaurant’s rules — and is food that my mother’s medical condition prevents her from eating at one sitting — I figured it’s a rule a casino buffet can and should overlook for a regular.

By the living standards of a small town — a town too small even for its own movie theater — I thought there was a reasonable expectation that good business, decent treatment of the elderly, and small town manners could overlook such a petty infraction of the house rules.

Nope. Tonight, two burly security guards came to our table and turned not to me — who had wrapped up my mom’s food in a napkin and put it in her purse — nor my mom — who asked me to do this for her — but instead went to my friend and asked him to accompany them.

I figured out what was going on in short order, told the security guards that I was the one who had wrapped up the food, and asked my friend to go back to the table to stay with my mom.

The guards treated me like I was caught trying to rob the till. I offered to pay an additional buffet price for the take-out food and one of the guards told me — and this is a direct quote, “You can’t buy your way out of this one.”


The amount of food — excuse me, garbage — I wrapped up on my mom’s plate probably had a street value of zero. I doubt a homeless person would have taken it as a hand-out.

Yet, for this the floor manager of the Saddle West was willing to treat a regular customer as a thief, embarrass him in front of his mother, harass his friend merely for sitting at a table with him.

She told me the “86” would be only for a month, then I could come back. I told her that I was 86’ing myself, permanently, that she had lost a customer who regularly took friends there to eat and gamble.

Every business has the right to set the rules under which they make customers welcome or unwelcome.

But it works both ways. Every customer has the right to put a business on his 86 list … and the Saddle West in Pahrump, Nevada is now permanently on mine.

It’s a good thing for them I’m a libertarian and not inclined to be litigious, because I’m pretty sure I could cause the Saddle West a lot of grief by making this a federal case under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I won’t. I’ll just wait for them to understand that this is an economic climate where the cost of treating customers rudely is to lose customers … and the friends they would have taken there. Do that enough and word spreads.

Hey, I’m a writer, with words to spread.

Saddle West: Buh-bye.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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A Libertarian Tolerance Test

The core libertarian test of any human behavior is whether it forces itself upon any unwilling party. So, it would be a core libertarian position that doing anything by yourself in private on your own property — or privately between or among universally consenting sentient beings — should not be invaded to prevent it by any outside party.

Somewhere in here then comes questions pure materialists might regard as mere matters of taste or personal preferences but which those with a philosophy embracing any sort of metaphysics — a sense that existence itself is biased — might regard as nature.

A pure libertarian might be absolutely value-free when it comes to a question of whether nature is at all to be preferred over invention or artifice; many libertarians, it appears to me, actually have a strong disregard for the natural and prefer the invented; a disdain for the mainstream and a preference for the offbeat. I think this is true of most real intellectuals of any stripe.

But how far is anyone willing to take this? I actually think most libertarians — most intellectuals — are more conventional than they believe themselves to be.

Luis Bunuel's The Phantom of Liberty

So let’s find out. Here’s a quiz for libertarians.

1. Would you be comfortable living in a society where cannibalism was practiced? I exclude the eating of murder victims by their murderers from this question. But it would include the eating of murder victims by third parties when their families sold the bodies to restaurants, children and teens killed in automobile accidents, suicides, prisoners executed for murder, and — soon available on eBay — celebrities who die from overdoses of drugs.

2. How would you get along in a society in which undergarments commonly substituted for bathrooms, so that it would be a common occurrence to be sitting in a restaurant or movie theater — or walking through a shopping mall — within a few feet of someone freely and unabashedly defecating or urinating under their clothing?

3. Professor Arnold van Huis of Holland’s Wageningen University has written a white paper for the United Nations in which he suggests replacing the Western diet’s reliance on red meat for protein with insects. How would you feel if his suggestion were commonly adopted and KFC served Kentucky Fried Cockroach? Let’s up the ante. What if restaurants had bullshit burgers on the menu?

4. Combat to the death was popular in ancient times; the custom of dueling made it to the 19th century in America and later elsewhere. The Romans explored just about every variety of this, including combat between gladiators, human bouts with wild animals, and even filling an arena with water and staging ship battles. Would you have any problem with this as popular sports — and new variations, such as two skydivers fighting over one parachute — if all athletes were volunteers?

5. For much of human history human childhood ended at the onset of puberty. Could you live in a society where 11-year-old girls and 13-year-old boys could marry, work, smoke (including tobacco, marijuana, and opium), drink, consent to sex, gamble, and engage in prostitution in which they got to keep the earnings?

6. Do you believe people have the right to decorate, accessorize, or configure their bodies in any way they desire? Suppose tattooing and piercing were one-upped by “amping” — the deliberate amputation of body parts — or blinding — people deliberately deciding to remove their eyeballs?

7. Here’s a question about practices which are already not uncommon throughout Europe and Asia: public offerings of nudity and sex? Do you have a problem with X-rated sex-fetish movies on broadcast television; billboards with both male and female full-frontal nudity; nude beaches; topless women on sidewalks; couples having sex in public parks; red-light districts with prostitutes offering their sexual services to the street; clubs with orgies and human-animal sex shows?

8. A federal judge has just overturned California’s Proposition 8, which had restricted marriage to a man and a woman. Do you accept that any form of marriage should now be legal, that California county clerks should now issue marriage licenses for unions including any number of men and/or women within a single marriage — and that these marriages should be able to have as many children — naturally, through surrogates, or through adoptions — as they desire?

9. Should any form of peaceful protest be allowed, not only burning of American flags, but including the defacement of religious icons — crucifixes, portraits of the Prophet Mohammad, Jewish Torahs?

10. Fox News commentator/comedian Greg Gutfeld, has proposed the opening of a gay nightclub adjacent to the “Ground Zero Mosque.” I’ve already watched a documentary about a pro-life center operating across the street from an abortion clinic. Do you believe White Supremacists should be able to open offices next to NAACP centers, and that Neo-Nazis should be able to operate offices next to Jewish Synagogues?

[Revised August 15, 2010]

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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