Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 5, 2009

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE TO ROBOT LOVE.... On Tuesday, about 1,000 conservative activists stood on the lawn outside North Carolina's state legislature, demanding a statewide referendum on banning gay marriage. We heard plenty of the usual palaver about the destruction of Western civilization if two consenting adults get state recognition of their life-long relationship. Whatever.

But as Ron Chusid noted, one of the far-right activists raised an argument we haven't heard before.

David Gibbs III, a lawyer who in 2005 fought to keep brain-damaged Terri Schiavo on life support, told rally participants gay marriage would "open the door to unusual marriage in North Carolina. "Why not polygamy, or three or four spouses?" Gibbs asked. "Maybe people will want to marry their pets or robots." [emphasis added]

The times they are a changin'. Rick Santorum warned us about "man-on-dog" relations; now we have David Gibbs raising the specter of man-on-robot action.

I think someone has been taking "Battlestar Galactica" a little too seriously.

I suppose, though, Gibbs' disturbed slippery-slope argument does raise some related questions. He's apparently worried about people having multiple spouses, marrying pets, and/or marrying robots. But what if we took this to the next logical level? How about preventing marriages between humans and multiple robots? Someone might be attracted to robots and want to pursue polygamy -- and then what will happen to civilization?

Or better yet, let's combine all of three of the ridiculous fears. As I understand it, there are plenty of popular dog robots on the market. Perhaps North Carolinians need to worry about someone marrying multiple dog robots. After all, if two consenting adults can get a marriage license, isn't it reasonable to assume this might be the next step?

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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If the robots look like Tricia Helfer or Grace Park, sign me up.

Posted by: Jim on March 5, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

i think the tar heels are more likely to go for cigarette smoking hogs, except around the research triangle -- that's where yer robot problems will emerge. But most of them researchers are pointy-headed yankees. so they'll just be run off to silicon valley.

Posted by: neill on March 5, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Matt on March 5, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, remember "Westworld"!

Man-on-Robot action always leads to trouble.

Posted by: howie on March 5, 2009 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

This is all very silly, and there's a sensible argument against it:

You have to be able to give informed consent to get married.

Dogs can't give consent, robots can't give consent, children can't give consent.

Adult human beings can give consent.

Posted by: tom on March 5, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

What self respecting robot dog would marry a Republican? I don't see the problem.

Posted by: madstork123 on March 5, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

The state shouldn't recognize "marriage" at all. It should recognize civil unions. Those civil unions should be available for any and all collections of citizens. Unless Eqs. Gibbs is proposing to give citizenship to his Roomba, the line is pretty clear. If AI ever reaches a point that we recognize robots as citizens, then why the heck not let them marry, or marry people?

Posted by: Bernard HP Gilroy on March 5, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

I can only imagine the Apocalypse is nigh the day they allow you to marry GAY robots.

Though I am looking forward to the gay porn version of Blade Runner, based on the short story "Do Gay Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep Cock?"

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 5, 2009 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Well, those Roomba's are kinda cute;>

Posted by: martin on March 5, 2009 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, legislation restricting and monitoring the purchase of dog robots is in order.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on March 5, 2009 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Please, don't be too hard on North Carolinians. I am one. Yes, these guys are embarrassing, but it isn't really a NC thing specifically.

Also, I saw this surreal video on Youtube about "objectum sexuals," who are people attracted to and, yes, have sex with, inanimate objects. One person in the video had to be torn away from the Eiffel Tower. I don't want to fuel the fire of these moral crusaders, I hope they don't see that vid. Robot love is real.

Posted by: Alex Kirby on March 5, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

I'm betting David Gibbs III has spent just a little too much time lingering over the RealDoll webpage. This country has gone so deeply stupid.

Posted by: Anna Granfors on March 5, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

What I find most interesting about the weird anti-gay marriage equivalency arguments is that by saying same-sex marriage is like marriage to a dog or a robot you're saying that a human being is JUST LIKE A DOG OR A ROBOT.

I have very good friends who have been together for 12 years and have an 8 year old who live in Raleigh-- what the hell is up with attacking their family for politics and sport? How is that "family values"???

My partner and I have been together for 10 years next month, we have a house, cars, dogs, cats, yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm really sick of people using our stable, loving relationship as a political weapon. It's sick.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on March 5, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Bender The Robot:"I don't want people thinkin we're robosexuals! If anyone asks, tell em you're my debugger."

Posted by: Joey Giraud on March 5, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

The protesters may be missing the point with the fear of techno-eroticism.. The real threat to Western Civilization is good ol' man-on-sheep. It's a red-state sort of thing, though.

Posted by: Ken on March 5, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Based on what seems to be typical a GOP from the Family Values Division hypocritical behavior, Gibbs does indeed have metal fever. C3P0, R2D2 and Robbie the Robot are scared.

Posted by: Former Dan on March 5, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

If I marry my car, will my health insurance pay for tune-ups and maintenence,or just accidents with a huge deductible? I suppose hospice care(a parking garage) is out of the question.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on March 5, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Better beware of this guy, gals.

Posted by: Basilisc on March 5, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Joey Giraud beat me to the reference by 2 minutes.

Posted by: Basilisc on March 5, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

The highest porn site rates of usage are in red states.

And my dog is smarter than most Republicans. She understands more words.

Posted by: jen f on March 5, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with martin

"Well, those Roomba's are kinda cute;>"

I'm sure Gibbs is well acquainted with his Roomba's soft lateral brush, specially designed to caress those hard-to-reach places...

Where do they GET these guys? I've been to NC many times without realizing it was so close to the moon.

Posted by: richard greenslade on March 5, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

As a native North Carolinian, I should point out that David Gibbs III is from Florida. So please don't project his kookiness onto all of us here in the Tar Heel State -- we have enough of our own homegrown nutjobs to do that for us!

Posted by: Bull City on March 5, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Laugh if you like... robots will be in our schools telling school children robot love is NORMAL... That if you find you're attracted to a robot, that may be natural for YOU.

Robots want EXTRA rights. They'll want to recruit our children! Some think robots were made that way but being a robot is a choice. No robot was made a robot by God and enough prayer will fix the problem.

P.S. Slappy Magoo, you made me laugh out loud. Very dangerous as someone might ask what I thought was funny and I'm at work.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 5, 2009 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto!

Posted by: eeyore on March 5, 2009 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

What if two robots want to marry each other?

Posted by: Markozilla on March 5, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

It depends, Steve - are they male dog robots?

Posted by: firefall on March 5, 2009 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Very serious stuff...

Today's quiz question:

If a man & a woman from Kentucky run away & get married in Arkansas & then move to California, are they still cousins?

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 5, 2009 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Warner Todd Huston is way ahead of you.


"Let's take it further. Can we so easily dismiss the possibility that science could offer us the capability of creating a slave race that is inferior in mental capacity? Is it so outside the realm of possibility that we could breed a lower race of subhumans to do our dirty work for us or is it even so hard to believe that we might breed a race of lower creatures that could be used for sexual pleasure? It must be remembered that slaves have served the sexual needs of masters since time immemorial, after all. And what could that do to our soul, our psychology?"

Posted by: Downpuppy on March 5, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

How clueless are these Repub losers? You know if they looked in their wives' nightstands they'd learn they'd been replaced by a little (surely superior) robot love long, long ago. Maybe that's what they're really all worked up about.

Posted by: zeitgeist on March 5, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Getting married turned me into a robot. Does this mean I'm no longer married?

[Wait a minute. My wife needs me to rub her feet some more. I hear and I obey.]

Posted by: chrenson on March 5, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Are these gay robot dogs we ware talking about here? I'd have a problem with that!

Posted by: Michael on March 5, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

He probably stumbled across a DVD of "Lars and the Real Girl" and is still having nightmares.

Posted by: PS on March 5, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Just wanted to say that this is my favorite Steve Benen post ever!

Posted by: KJ on March 5, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

He obviously heard about Roombas and thought "well, the only reason I got married was to get someone to do the cleaning for free, so..."

Posted by: ajay on March 5, 2009 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

British have already pioneered man-robot love. Saw it on BBC America a month or so ago.

Guys buy life sized animated dolls, and keep them as lovers. The guys interviewed were, well, different.

Posted by: zak822 on March 5, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I'll go for the Replicant types (Darryl Hannah or Sean Young).

Does it make things more acceptable if they have a termination date?

Posted by: Bill on March 5, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Serious question:

How can the US, with its First Amendment, outlaw polygamy in the Muslim community?

I know we forced the Mormons to give it up to get statehood for Utah but why can't a Muslim man have 4 wives in the US?

Posted by: neil wilson on March 5, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

What if I marry my sassy dog robot, and then that robot eventually passes the citizenship test, and then successfully runs for congress in, of let's say, North Carolina. It's possible that my soon-to-be robot-canine wife will enact legislation that opens the door to eventual human slavery at the hands of their robot overlords.

ps - the invitations go-out this weekend, check the mail on Monday for yours...

Posted by: rusrus on March 5, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

What, no one's mentioned Glenn Reynolds yet? He'd sign up in a heartbeat.

I for one welcome our nubile robot overlords.

Posted by: Gregory on March 5, 2009 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

What about those ubiquitous inflatable "robots" that seem so popular in the more rural parts of the country? Lots of lung power and a patch kit and they're yours for life.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on March 5, 2009 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Neil, it's because the Supreme Court held in Reynolds v. United States that anti-polygamy legislation doesn't violate the First Amendment. It's not just that the Mormons gave polygamy up for statehood, as a matter of political history; it's that a state can criminalize it, as a matter of constitutional law, and all of them do. A muslim wouldn't be in any different position than a mormon.

Besides, there's no political constituency in favor of legalizing polygamy. Conservatives think it's un-Christian, and liberals tend to think it promotes gender inequality.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on March 5, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but I'm FOR Boomer/Caprica sex....even Boomer-Caprica sex....

Posted by: gwangung on March 5, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I am worried about the single lady next to me. I don't know if she married a robot or not, but every night I hear a buzzing through the wall our bedrooms share, followed by some moaning.

Posted by: gttim on March 5, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

People resist radical changes. Perhaps it would be better to start with legalizing polygamy and polyandry since we have a diverse population with many Moslems and Africans, and these forms of marriage have widespread acceptance worldwide. This could be a stepping stone to gay marriage.

One step at a time.

Posted by: Luther on March 5, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK


Not only that, but I think we found the next wedge issue that will tear the Conservatives apart! If you Google "Sadly, No!," "Glenn Reynolds," and "Robots," it should give you all the research you need.

Posted by: Cruel Jest on March 5, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Earth to douche bag trolls. The polygamy argument is a seperate issue entirely.

Posted by: Gandalf on March 5, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

It's been well established that quite a few of the most vociferously anti-gay Republicans are closeted gays. It's not too great a leap to conclude that those who want to make sure man-on-dog and man-on-robot action don't become legal are afraid of unleashing their own impulses if societal constraints against these things are dropped.

Posted by: here kitty kitty on March 5, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

With Inhoye and their other nitwit Senator, perhaps less Boomer Sooner Sex would help.

But, the one type of marriage which sickens me is the thought of Rush marrying anyone of either sex.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 5, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

richard greenslade: Our dog LOVES our Roomba. Can robots and dogs get married if no humans are involved?

Posted by: gradysu on March 5, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

If you Google "Sadly, No!," "Glenn Reynolds," and "Robots," it should give you all the research you need.

I'm a regular Sadly, No! reader, as I'd hoped that reference indicated. It always amuses me when conservative trolls whine about being mocked here -- S,N! serves up some industrial grade mockery.

Posted by: Gregory on March 5, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

I am very much in favor of gay marriage.

My personal view is that marriage in a church is a personal matter and civil marriage is a state matter.

I don't care what you do in your church. But I don't want your church dictating what I do outside of your church.

Posted by: neil wilson on March 5, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

I've always found the curvaceous yet ruthlessly efficient Rosie from the Jetsons to be oddly appealing...

Posted by: lcross on March 5, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'm embarrassed to say that David Gibbs was in my law school class...

Posted by: Embarrassed on March 5, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Homosexuals should be required to marry each other in order to prevent sham marriages between homosexuals and heterosexuals, like the marriage David Gibbs III has.

Posted by: Brojo on March 5, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

My partner and I would LOVE to get in a Deanna-Sharon sandwich. The four of us could be so happy together! WHY IS THE STATE DENYING US OUR EQUAL RIGHT TO GAY POLYGAMOUS HUMAN-ROBOT LOVE!?!

Posted by: Keori on March 5, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

You damn kids with your Cylons and replicants.
I'm saving my WD-40 for Julie Newmar--Rhoda in "My Living Doll".

Posted by: Steve Paradis on March 5, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"What self respecting robot dog would marry a Republican?"

Umm, Tammy Faye Bakker?

Posted by: fostert on March 5, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Robot love is REAL! Wake up sheeple!

"What they didn’t count on were the effects of several months of self-iteration within the complex machine-learning code which gave Kenji his initial tenderness. As of last week, Kenji’s love for the doll, and indeed anybody he sets his ‘eyes’ on, is so intense that Dr. Takahashi and his team now fear to show him to outsiders.

The trouble all started when a young female intern began to spend several hours each day with Kenji, testing his systems and loading new software routines. When it came time to leave one evening, however, Kenji refused to let her out of his lab enclosure and used his bulky mechanical body to block her exit and hug her repeatedly. The intern was only able to escape after she had frantically phoned two senior staff members to come and temporarily de-activate Kenji."

Posted by: MissMudd on March 5, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK



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