Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

03/11/2008 (5:42 pm)

Homosexuality: Can a Cogent Debate Be Held?

I’ve spent the day composing a response to a remarkably vitriolic piece posted by Wonkette about a surreptitiously-obtained tape of Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern complaining to about 50 supporters of the danger of the homosexual agenda to America. The character of the response to Rep Kern raises the question: is it still possible, in America, for policy matters to be debated openly, honestly, in an intellectually supportable manner, with integrity and goodwill? or have we reached the point where nothing but throwing stink bombs will suffice?

The complaint against Kern consists of the tape of her voice, over a series of photographs of people holding signs saying “We’re listening,” “hate speech,” “words matter,” and the like. It begins with the legend, “This is what they say when they think we’re not listening.” (No analysis gets attached to who “they” are.) The piece is visually powerful, rhetorically sophisticated, and intellectually unacceptable: it constitutes nothing more or less than yelling “Shut up!” at their opponents. I’m less than impressed.

The original YouTube and response appear to have come from a progressive site called Pam’s House Blend. Reading over Pam’s site yields nothing more intellectually satisfying than Wonkette’s. They’re both full of scorn and devoid of substance.

Here’s the video. Afterward, since there’s no thinking at all in the reactions I’ve linked to, I’ve done my own analysis and commentary on Rep Kern’s diatribe.

To Rep. Kern’s message:

The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation

This, clearly, is exaggerated; or rather, incomplete. I would say instead “social progressivism is unmaking Western civilization.” It’s not merely the homosexual agenda, although that’s clearly part of the problem; the larger issue is that a corrosive moral system, which is really the same sort of rot that undoes every major civilization, has been systematically attempting to rewrite western morality since, I dunno, Rousseau? And now, thanks to a generation of undisciplined brats needing to feel relevant, original, and free (without paying the personal price necessary to truly become any of those), it’s finally taking hold here as it did a few generations ago in Europe — and we’re seeing the outcome in a horrid breakdown of civility, an inability to reason, an inability to make and keep commitments, an inability to live for any ideal greater than oneself; all the general evils of hedonism.

The very fact that I’m talking to you like this puts me in jeopardy.

Just look at the video. She spoke out: she’s being singled out for it, and attacked. She’s correct here.

Matter of fact, studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades, so it’s the death knell of this country.

I would guess she’s thinking of historical/sociological analyses of the fall of the great civilizations, and the common themes of deteriorating moral fiber and loss of creative energy that seem to mark their decline. I would also guess, from the generality and inaccuracy of the comment, that she has not read them herself. The authors of those treatises, austere fellows like Arnold Toynbee or Will Durant, probably would not approve of their works being called “studies” in the sense that “studies show” implies. They’re certainly the result of study; they’re not hard science.

I’ve seen lots of people do this: recall some conclusion they heard from a source they regarded as authoritative, and, in passing it on generally, attributing what they remember to “studies have shown.” She should be more careful; she’s vaguely correct about there being a link between moral deterioration and societal health; she’s wildly incorrect about the specifics of her claim.

You know why they’re trying to get early childhood education? They want to get our young children into the government schools so they can indoctrinate them. I taught school for close to 20 years, and we’re not teaching facts and knowledge anymore, we’re teaching indoctrination. And they’re going after our young children, as young as 2 years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle.

Since we’re addressing “what they say when they think we’re not listening,” I note that I was raised a liberal kid in a liberal household, so I actually know something of what liberals say when they think no conservatives are listening. I was party to literally dozens of discussions about the religious parents who, incapable of reason, stuck in their own unthinking points of view, would be unreachable to the sort of enlightened thinking that was absolutely required to save the planet from self-destruction (air quotes abound in that sentence). The obvious conclusion was that we needed to reach their children, against the parents’ wills. Every now and then, some theorist will let the Grand Plan slip and actually say that that’s what’s intended: “Every school, a school of humanism!” But for the most part, social progressives have been pretty good about keeping this tactic on the hush-hush. But you didn’t really think nobody would ever notice, did you?

I realize, as an aware adult, that very few people think of this as some sort of “conspiracy” or “Grand Scheme.” Of course we want to teach our children sound thinking skills. Of course we want them to learn to treat other human beings decently. Only, there’s a battle going on around us over how “decently” gets defined, and the people I grew up around — the social progressives — love to pretend that the Constitution requires, and have largely succeeded in demanding, that anything calling itself “religion” gets categorically shut out of consideration, so that there’s really nothing left but social progressivism to teach the kiddies. How… convenient. (The Constitution, meanwhile, requires nothing of the sort.)

And I also realize that most progressives don’t even understand that John Dewey’s “Affective Domain” education was specifically designed to accomplish precisely what we’re talking about here — a realignment of civilization around socially progressive standards through controlling early childhood education. So they don’t even realize that what they and I talked about as necessary back in college, has actually been going on for about 80 years.

Short version: Rep. Kern is correct on this point. One goal of government education is to indoctrinate children against the religious attitudes of their parents. That this is so, can be ascertained by anybody ambitious enough to study the work of John Dewey.

Is she correct specifically about homosexuals engaging in this indoctrination? The fact that the message of Gay Liberation has reached the classroom can hardly be controversial, can it? Gays have been remarkably effective in getting their message into public schools, but I don’t think uniquely so. They’re part of the problem, but not the whole problem.

I honestly think it’s the biggest threat that our nation has, even more so than terrorism, or Islam, which I think is a big threat.

To help social progressives stand in Rep Kern’s pumps for a second, let’s pretend we live in an alternative universe, in which social progressivism has been the dominant social philosophy for the last 1500 years. (This is impossible, because a society living by that pap will either fall into a self-destructing totalitarian nightmare, like the Soviet Union, or become hedonistic and lose the will to defend itself, like Western Europe, and get overrun by a more robust civilization. But hey, we’re pretending…) And in this alternative universe, a determined cadre of covert, free-market capitalists with dangerous libertarian ideals have taken over the school system, are teaching our children that socialism equals slavery, that Christianity equals liberty and reason, that the statist notions of their parents are the reason for their economic misery and lack of productivity, and that glorious, free-market capitalism and unfettered religious faith will lead to Utopia and save the grey planet. You know, like what I described in the last section, only inverted.

Can you social progressives see how you might think this is a greater threat than terrorists trying to kill us from outside the country? How’d you like the public schools teaching your kids those things, on the taxpayer’s dollar, without informing you?

Once again, I think she’s exaggerating the “gay” thing, and ignoring the wider “social progressive” thing, but given the rest of the premises, this is actually a legitimate synthesis, and cannot be dismissed so readily.

That is not the right kind of lifestyle. It has deadly consequences…for those people involved in it, they have more suicides, they’re more discouraged, there’s more illness, their lifespans are shorter, it’s not a lifestyle that is good for this nation.

This is all easily established by research, and there’s been plenty of it. However, the press has been so very pro-gay for the past 35 years, at least, that no research producing anything remotely like a negative view of the gay lifestyle will normally make it past the editor. We watched this happen just this January, as major news outlets hurriedly backpedaled over alleged “inaccurate” headlines that correctly observed that a recent study linked gay sex to the spread of antibiotic-resistant staph infections. This explains why most compilations of research showing the danger of the gay lifestyle come from groups hostile to the general acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, like the Family Research Council or Focus on the Family. The problem has never been a lack of data.

Studies — hard statistical research, not broad analyses like Toynbee’s history of the world — have established that homosexual males engaging in anal sex have as much as 4,000% greater likelihood of contracting anal cancer than the population at large(1), that homosexual males are uniquely susceptible to Hepititis A as a sexually transmitted disease(2), that homosexuals are vastly more likely to exhibit suicidal behavior, experience major depression or anxiety disorders, or take illegal drugs than heterosexuals(3), that AIDS strikes homosexual males 430 times more often than heterosexuals in the population at large(4), and that, unsurprisingly when considering the disease statistics, lifespan among gays could be as much as 40% less than for heterosexuals(5). That’s a whirlwind tour of the disease data; there’s actually a wealth of research establishing the vastly disproportionate health risks of the homosexual lifestyle. If you’re new to the topic, try using the footnotes from Focus On The Family’s fact sheets on homosexuality, keeping in mind that FOTF is a religious organization (albeit one run by a highly respected physician) and prone to giving biblical instruction.

In rebuttal to this, what does Wonkette, the video, and her site offer?

People who rant against homosexuals must be closet homosexuals themselves

reinforced by Wonkette’s title, suggesting that Kern’s opposition to gays comes with “vigorous, sultry passion.”

The remarkable thing is that anybody who calls other peoples’ words “hate speech”, as Wonkette does, would dare to make an “argument” like this (there go those air quotes again). The hypocrisy is breathtaking. This is not an argument, it’s a schoolyard bully’s taunt. Never mind whether she can produce an actual study supporting this “thesis” (and again), can she even explain the relevance of it to the debate at hand? How does the possibility of Rep Kern being gay rebut any one of her arguments? What could possibly be the point of making such an argument, except to cause pain to Rep Kern personally? And isn’t that the definition of “hate speech,” to use words deliberately to cause pain?

Kern is not the only person who should be ashamed, here. Assuming Kern needs to be ashamed at all.

We’re going to shame you until you stop talking. Shut up.

And that’s it. There’s no argument at all. None. Just “shut up” and “yer gay.” I’ve heard better while subbing at the local high school.

I have to tell you, Wonkette, however inaccurate Rep Kern was — and she was wildly inaccurate at several points — she was far more lucid than anything you presented. As an objective observer of the debate, so far, she’s winning. She hasn’t exactly made the case that homosexuality will be the death of America, but she’s on pretty solid ground when arguing that homosexuality’s being represented as a legitimate lifestyle choice in the schools, that it’s potentially part of a larger and very real threat to Western civilization, that it’s a vastly unhealthy lifestyle, and that anybody who dares to criticize it gets attacked viciously.

I’ve sent email to Wonkette explaining this post, and hope to receive a lucid and polite rebuttal from an intellectual equal. We’ll see whether she can muster anything of the sort. I have my doubts.

(1) See Fenger, C. “Anal Neoplasia and Its Precursors: Facts and Controversies,” Seminars in Diagnostic Pathology 8, no. 3, August 1991, pp.190-201; Daling, J.R. et al., “Sexual Practices, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and the Incidence of Anal Cancer,” New England Journal of Medicine 317, no.16, 15 October 1987, pp. 973-77; Holly, E.A. et al., “Anal Cancer Incidence: Genital Warts, Anal Fissure or Fistula, Hemorrhoids, and Smoking,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 81, no. 22, November 1989, pp. 1726-31; Daling, J.R. et.al, “Correlates of Homosexual Behavior and the Incidence of Anal Cancer,” Journal of the American Medical Association 247, no.14, 9 April 1982, pp. 1988-90; Cooper, H.S., Patchefsky, A.S. and Marks, G., “Cloacogenic Carcinoma of the Anorectum in Homosexual Men: An Observation of Four Cases“; Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 22, no. 8, 1979, pp. 557-58. Also see Between the Lines, Michigan’s statewide gay newspaper, reporting on the risk of anal cancer for men who have sex with men, http://www.afa.net/homosexual_agenda/ha031901.asp
(2) See, for example, Dritz, S. Medical aspects of homosexuality. “New England Journal of Medicine,” 1980302463-4; also http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1432868.
(3) See Fergusson, D.M.; Horwood, L.J.; Beautrais, A.L., 1999: Is sexual orientation related to mental health problems and suicidality in young people? Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 876-880.; Herrell, R.; Goldberg, J.; True, W.R.; Ramakrishnan, V.; Lyons, M.; Eisen, S.; Tsuang, M.T., 1999: Sexual orientation and suicidality: a co-twin control study in adult men. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 867-874.; Sandfort, T.G.M.; de Graaf, R.; Bijl, R.V.; Schnabel, 2001: Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 58, pp. 85-91.; Bailey, J.M. (1999): Commentary: Homosexuality and mental illness. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 876-880. Herrell, R.; Goldberg, J.; True, W.R.; Ramakrishnan, V.; Lyons, M.; Eisen, S.; Tsuang, M.T. (1999): Sexual orientation and suicidality: a co-twin control study in adult men. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 867-874. “Not Afraid to Come Out: A celebration of freedom from homosexuality,” by Matt Kaufman, Boundless webzine, Focus on the Family, September 30, 1998.
(4) See Sartinover, Jeffrey, MD, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Hamewith Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996, p 57.
(5) From a footnote found at Americans For Truth: Mr. Trey Kern, President of the Citizen’s for Parent Rights, in Pasadena, Maryland has collected an impressive amount data on studies documenting the diminished lifespan of active homosexuals. Studies include: (G. Tardieu, 1858; M. Hirschfield, 1914, Kinsey, 1930’s, 1940’s; Mattachine Society, 1950’s: Berger, 1960’s, Kinsey Institute, 1969; Spada Report 1978; M. Mendola, 1979; Cameron, Playfair, Wellum, 1994; Hogg, R.S., et. al, International Journal of Epidemiology, 1997; Cameron, P, Cameron, K, Playfair, WL., Psychological Reports, 1998. I don’t doubt that Paul Cameron’s name will generate some heat; however, what he reports, while methodologically assailable, is consistent with what we’d expect given the other public health information (indeed, it would be remarkable if not true) and clearly deserves further research. The Americans For Truth footnote includes a reference to a document called “Homosexual Myths: Homosexuals Live Long Lives,” at http://www.cprmd.org; however, I have been unable to find any documents at that site. If anyone knows where I can obtain this document, I’d like to read it.

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8 Comments »

March 11, 2008 @ 7:31 pm #

Holding up signs saying “I heard you” is pretty weak. If you don’t like what you’re hearing then offer some intellectual response or any kind of sentient response. Argue, for crying out loud.

March 11, 2008 @ 7:50 pm #

It appears that 2-5 would be mostly solved if homosexuals could be successfully encouraged to take an accepted place in society living in a monogamous manner – something that hasn’t really been tried.

I suspect 1. is related to the diseases tied to 3.-5.

March 13, 2008 @ 5:01 pm #

I don’t dispute for a minute that this society is experiencing “a horrid breakdown of civility” (hell, anyone who’s ever driven a car can confirm this from a cursory observation of his fellow drivers). What I don’t understand is the notion that greater sexual freedom (e.g.) is the causative agent of this breakdown.

Sure, the pursuit of pleasure CAN be put into practice in a way that is totally self-regarding and solipsistic, but it can also coexist with a healthy regard for others. (For instance, consensual sexual activity where both partners truly have each other in mind… or a night out at the bar during which the drinker places responsible limits on his own consumption and thus doesn’t become a pugilistic jerk or a public nuisance).

In other words, I think there’s quite a distance between mere pursuit-of-pleasure and hedonism in the full philosophical sense (i.e. not giving a tinker’s damn about others). Extreme propositions are fun for thinkers and debaters, but most of real life is lived somewhere in the middle.

As far as the “inability to reason”… again, the observation is correct, but the proposed causal agent is wrong. There are plenty of not-at-all-hedonistic folks, on both extremes of the political spectrum, who simply don’t know how to think through an issue. I’d be quicker to attribute this inability to a declining emphasis on individualism, in favor of numerous collectives (e.g. group membership / identity politics for the far academic left, extreme patriotism verging on nationalism for the far right). If we’re not comfortable being willful and responsible individuals with personal agency over our actions, then by definition we won’t be comfortable advocating an individually reasoned viewpoint that might disagree with whichever collective is closest to us. (Not to mention — there are always bad apples in any bunch. Idiocy has been with us for a long time, and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. It’s just a fact of life that some folks don’t know how to think; I don’t think this has anything to do with teh buttsecks.)

Re. the medical facts about homosexuality — it’s hard to deny that there are certain physical risks to the behavior. However, does physical risk alone justify banning any given behavior? There are definite physical risks associated with, say, too much KFC… yet we still allow the product to be sold. Essentially, we view it as a matter of individual responsibility to enjoy this greasy vice in a moderate fashion that renders it less dangerous; I think the same could be said of homosexual behavior. Using condoms cuts the risk of STDs; reducing one’s number of partners cuts it *significantly* — propositions which, incidentally, are also true for heterosexual sex.

Finally, I have to say I’m amused by the implication that the educational system’s growing emphasis on GLBT acceptance somehow constitutes “indoctrination”. Certainly, many people disagree with the proposition — but that alone does not render the idea “propaganda”. Unfortunately, it’s all too common — throughout the political spectrum — to make this equation. This is because it’s such an effective tactic — essentially, appeal to fear. After the horrible dictatorships that defined the 20th century, free people have a natural aversion to the whole concept of propaganda, which is precisely why it’s such an effective bell to ring.

By the way… for what it’s worth, I myself am homosexual. My refutation of selected claims may not convince you (indeed, I think we might be on some rather intractable ground, committed as we both are to our respective viewpoints)… but hopefully it at least makes clear that my indulgence in the Hellenic vice has done nothing to harm my cerebral function. ;-)

March 13, 2008 @ 8:00 pm #

CubPaws,

Last first: I’ve read lots of medical assessments of various homosexuality behaviors; I’ve never read of one that makes the victim incapable of rational discourse. ;) Hell, it seems at least to improve their taste in clothes… On the other hand, Gov. Spitzer reminds us that sex can drive even very bright people to do, individually, very stupid things.

Re indoctrination: the mention of GLBT, in and of itself, does not constitute indoctrination. The mention of it at every level, coupled with the rules prohibiting any other point of view from being mentioned — that makes it indoctrination. There’s a debate going on over the subject; do you really not understand why those on the side that’s been forbidden a voice object to the ground rules of the debate?

Re AIDS and KFC: I’m not sure which is more deadly (that’s a joke). The problem I have here is not the occasional chicken leg v. the occasional friendly leg, it’s the general behavioral profile of the indulging population. If 80% of KFC visitors were seriously obese, 50% reported visiting a KFC compulsively every time they passed one, and 35% experienced nutritional deficiencies related to an inability to indulge any other type of food, I’d argue there was something seriously wrong with KFC-eaters that required further study.

The point here is that homosexual behavior in general fits a pretty well-understood medical profile: desire for an abnormal sexual object, coupled with high compulsivity and promiscuity, coupled with depressive disorders, coupled with relational instability, equals a pretty typical compulsive sexual deviation, of which homosexuality is only one of dozens. The symptoms define the disorder. Any particular individual within the group may be more or less compulsive, more or less promiscuous, more or less depressive, but the group population fits the profile. And that takes the entire group out of the “individual responsibility” category and puts it into the “self-destructive pathology” category.

It’s a touchy subject, of course, because nobody wants to think of themselves as pathological (I sure as hell didn’t when I was there), and as a culture we value individual choice. However, strong denial is also part of that profile, isn’t it? So as with any other self-destructive pathology, like, say, alcoholism, while we’re loath to cuff someone and drag him to rehab Clockwork Orange style, when the self-destructive drunk says “I’m an adult, and I can legally have a drink if I like,” while he’s correct, sooner or later responsible adults have to tell him, “I think you’d better not.”

Re pursuit of pleasure v full-blown hedonism:

Consider this: most adults are pretty decent folks most of the time. Nobody says “I want to grow up to be Richard Speck,” or anything like that. And most of us know right from wrong, and do right most of the time.

The place where we get into trouble is that very occasional instance where the wrong thing seems, for some reason, the absolutely necessary thing, or the really important thing, or the thing we’ve been waiting for all our lives. And if we mess up in just this one area, we’re still basically good folks in all the other ones. With these and similar words, we all allow ourselves those very occasional lapses (which become more frequent lapses, then daily lapses, then we’ve forgotten why it ever bothered us); and it’s the lapses, taken together as a whole, that lead philosophers and priests to regard the human race as innately wicked, and cause most of the death, destruction, pain, and misery in the world.

This is why religion is so important. It’s not that religion teaches us what’s right and wrong; we all know what’s right and wrong, at some level. Religion is important because it gives us the reason to do good at precisely the point that every one of us would allow ourselves that one little slip. This is why the Ten Commandments are as they are; they address those sins that, in the right context, pay off the best (who doesn’t understand the occasional appeal of coveting one’s neighbor?), and the most important one is always the one you want to break today.

So, when you say:

I think there’s quite a distance between mere pursuit-of-pleasure and hedonism in the full philosophical sense (i.e. not giving a tinker’s damn about others). Extreme propositions are fun for thinkers and debaters, but most of real life is lived somewhere in the middle.

…my reply is that there are no Hedonists, ever, there are only occasional pursuers of pleasure who live somewhere in the middle. And those, I’m afraid, are the destruction of the race.

I’m not talking about cowering in fear from making the slightest personal error. The vice of extreme legalism is as much a vice as that of extreme hedonism; it’s just another form of self-indulgence. But there’s no such thing as an unacceptable extreme of decency. Refusing to sin does not equal refusing to live, just refusing to live self-indulgently.

I hope I’ve made sense. Thanks for coming, and feel free to come back anytime.

March 13, 2008 @ 8:39 pm #

“If 80% of KFC visitors were seriously obese, 50% reported visiting a KFC compulsively every time they passed one, and 35% experienced nutritional deficiencies related to an inability to indulge any other type of food, I’d argue there was something seriously wrong with KFC-eaters that required further study.”

The analogy is (if I understand you corectly) that KFC food is the “object of desire”. Fine, how does this analogy NOT apply to hetero guys? You want to apply it only to gay guys? Open your eyes! All of your arguments against gays in this regard apply equally to straights, including the consequences of promiscuous unprotected sexual activity. ‘Gay’ sex, per se, is no more socially destructive than ‘hetero’ sex, if subject to the same rules and social constrictions (monogamy, hygiene, etc.). All the more reason to support ‘gay marriage’!!!

March 14, 2008 @ 3:06 am #

All of your arguments against gays in this regard apply equally to straights

I’m sorry, but this is simply nonsense. We’re talking about distributions of behaviors in a large population. The average heterosexual is not depressed, compulsive, promiscuous, relationally unstable, or exhibiting clinical denial (though there are individual instances of all these things); the average homosexual is all of those things. This is established by research, and is neither a guess nor an opinion.

March 14, 2008 @ 3:15 pm #

I’ve never read of one that makes the victim incapable of rational discourse.

No, but you did attempt to tie a more sexually liberated, pleasure-driven modern society to a broader decline in reasoning…

If 80% of KFC visitors were seriously obese, 50% reported visiting a KFC compulsively every time they passed one, and 35% experienced nutritional deficiencies related to an inability to indulge any other type of food

What, exactly, are each of these percentages supposed to represent as applied to gay men? Numbers that high, applied with negative intent, start to look like something out of Paul Cameron… whose methodology has been strongly discredited. (Indeed, the only people who still take his numbers seriously are those who share his entering bias of Christian fundamentalism).

The point here is that homosexual behavior in general…

But in a society like ours which purports to respect individual rights, do we really serve our own purported values by legislating to the generality? Do general numbers even tell us anything that’s meaningful at the level of a specific individual? One might say that a hypothetical “average” urban African-American (composed of little representative bits of all urban African-Americans) is “more of a criminal” simply because, for whatever reason, a statistically disproportionate share of urban crimes are committed by African-Americans; would this alone justify attaching a greater suspicion to each and every single urban African-American, no matter how innocent?

desire for an abnormal sexual object

“Abnormal” is value-laden language; this doesn’t necessarily trivialize it or render it meaningless, but it does weaken the empirical character of any proposition the word is offered to support (by inserting an additional premise the listener must accept in order to buy the rest of the argument). What’s more, offered in proof of an allegation that the behavior in question is pathological, this word starts to look like a bootstrap.

coupled with depressive disorders [... and] relational instability

As a gay urban professional (namely, an attorney living in the Twin Cities), I know dozens of happy and conventionally successful gay individuals, as well as numerous stable, happily partnered gay and lesbian couples. I strongly suspect that these were the folks whose coming-out processes were eased by supportive friends and family… and that the ones who DID end up depressed or alcoholic were led there by some other vector than sexual orientation itself. Being statistically unusual is trying enough when you’re growing up; add to that the burden of being morally anathema, and it’s a prescription for serious social difficulties that are more than capable of catalyzing depression and other mental illnesses within a developing adolescent brain.

The group population fits the profile. And that takes the entire group out of the “individual responsibility” category and puts it into the “self-destructive pathology” category.

How many have to “fit the profile” in order to justify disparate legal and social treatment of the whole bunch? Again, we live (or so I thought) in a society founded on individual rights and freedoms…

With these and similar words, we all allow ourselves those very occasional lapses (which become more frequent lapses, then daily lapses, then we’ve forgotten why it ever bothered us)

I’m surprised that a thinker as apparently meticulous and detailed as yourself offers up no typology of these “lapses” — nor any particular standard to measure a given behavior as a deviation from. The rhetorical value of Mr. Speck aside, I don’t think any serious moral theory can place consenting sexual behaviors between two adults — shortcomings though they may have — anywhere near multiple altricide in terms of wrongness. Without some degree of factual relationship between small lapses and large ones, or explanation of just what makes a certain behavior immoral (as opposed to merely risky), we’re left with little more than a slippery-slope assertion that anything we call a “lapse” will lead inextricably to more lapses. We wouldn’t accept this sort of reasoning if it were offered to prove that most people excused from parking fines eventually turn into rapists; why should we accept it here?

and it’s the lapses, taken together as a whole, that lead philosophers and priests to regard the human race as innately wicked, and cause most of the death, destruction, pain, and misery in the world.

…Or it could be the fact that regarding the human race as innately wicked conveniently creates a powerful role for priests, philosophers, and churches as gateways to salvation. There are plenty of people who are truly spiritual… but plenty of lapel-riders who find that spiritual assertion is a convenient train to the fulfillment of secular aspiration.

…my reply is that there are no Hedonists, ever, there are only occasional pursuers of pleasure who live somewhere in the middle. And those, I’m afraid, are the destruction of the race.

Do you really mean this, without any provision for just how much pursuit of pleasure is enough to generate destruction? Are you arguing for flat-out asceticism as the only route to salvation? If you are, that’s all well and good… but as a lover of liberty, I’d just as soon that remain a personal quest rather than a legal imposition. [And you'd better not enjoy that cup of coffee that, if you're like most bloggers, never leaves your side during the creative process. :)]

March 15, 2008 @ 10:35 pm #

According to comments on that Wonkette thread, I believe they didn’t understand that it was an open invitation, but only to debate on Wonkette.

Figures, huh?

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