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June 16, 2006

Marriage and The Fear Factor

Derek Shackelford

Reality TV is very popular these days. It is not classified as a comedy, drama, or sitcom. It is called Reality TV because the viewer may somehow be able to relate to the persons on the other side of the television screen.

For a short time we get a glimpse into the life of a real live human being. The show - The Fear Factor - is one in which contestants attempt to overcome their fears by performing different stunts. The disclaimer by the host in the beginning even warns that the stunts may be dangerous and should not be performed by just anyone.

As the stunts for each round are completed the contestants move on to the next round. If they are afraid to attempt the stunt, they are disqualified from the competition. The contestants are reminded by the host that this is a game and strategy is very important because you have to play a psychological game with your opponents' mind.

In the first season, the host reminded the contestants that these people are not your friends; that they are your opponents. After all when it comes to this competition with the opponent you must learn how to play with their mind and play off of their fears.

Somehow, when I think of The Fear Factor, I cannot help but think of the Gay Marriage debate. Several weeks ago President George W. Bush reiterated before the nation that marriage was under attack by gays and lesbians.

The president firmly believed that an assault on traditional marriage has taken place and someone has to stop it before it gets out of hand. He - along with some Senate members - even proposed a vote by Congress on a constitutional amendment stated that marriage was only between one man and one woman. Fortunately, the measure was defeated on the Senate floor.

Had it passed both houses of Congress and ratified by the required number of states, it would be the first time in history that the Constitution would be used to restrict rights.

No matter what one may think about the definition of marriage, attempting to draft a constitutional amendment to address such a concern is dangerous, indeed. If it is restricting these rights today, it maybe, could be, will be something else under fire tomorrow.

This is the first time since the October 2004 election that the president has publicly stated his opposition to marriage by gays. Now it is mid-term election time and this issue comes front and center, again.

Remember psychological strategy is very important in the Fear Factor. This administration seems to be playing with the minds of voters and play off their fears.

Many Americans believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. The decision to marry should be made between two people without the intervention of some law that prohibits two people from spending a lifetime together.

A government that claims it wants to stay out of people's affairs seems to want to interfere when it is convenient during election time. The real issues seem not to matter in this case but playing on the fears of people is the objective.

The war in Iraq that seems to have no exit strategy, rising gas prices, rising health care costs, and a soaring national debt may be telling some that they are not be able to afford marriage.

One of the things I learned as a child in playing games in which winning was the sole purpose, people would try anything. It appears in this case when it comes to the gay marriage issue, desperate times bring desperate measures. Contestants who were able to move on through the Fear Factor competition were the ones in whom fear was not a factor.

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