Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Other angles on the same issue

As though who know me well know, I would love to wish away this entire conversation, but those driving the agenda won't let that happen. After ever short lull in the tightening of the screws there comes the next twist. H.B. 1913 is just the most recent.

So, since it seems we're destined to talk about the issue of "hate crime" legislation a bit longer, here is a little more input. Don't give up half way through it, for it concludes with the wisdom of someone who richly deserves the last word on this issue, as on so many others, Thomas Sowell, one of the most thoughtful public intellectuals of our time.

First, this just in from WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh:
The leader of a pro-family organization says families across the nation need to contact their U.S. senators now to try to derail a legislative plan that already has passed the U.S. House and is being awaited by President Obama – after a Democrat confirmed that it would protect "all 547 forms of sexual deviancy or 'paraphilias' listed by the American Psychiatric Association." . . .

The proposal, formally called the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act after a Wyoming homosexual who was killed in a horrific robbery and beating in 1998, creates a special class for homosexuals and others with alternative sexual lifestyles and provides them protections against so-called "hate."

It specifically denies such protections to other targeted classes of citizens such as pastors, Christians, missionaries, veterans and the elderly.
WND columnist Janet Porter offered this:
"I've written extensively about how this bill would criminalize Christianity and turn those who disagree with the homosexual agenda into felons, but criminalizing Christianity is just the beginning of what this bill would do. It would also elevate pedophiles as a special protected class – since the term 'sexual orientation' which has been added to the 'hate crimes' legislation includes them in the American Psychiatric Association's definition of various 'sexual orientations."
Porter cited the amendment offering from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, in committee that was very simple:
The term sexual orientation as used in this act or any amendments to this act does not include pedophilia.

But majority Democrats refused to accept that.
Congressman Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, then explained what that means:
If a mother hears that their child has been raped and she slaps the assailant with her purse, she is now gone after as a hate criminal because this is a protected class. There are other protected classes in here. I mean simple exhibitionism. I have female friends who have told me over the years that some guy flashed them, and their immediate reaction was to hit them with their purse. Well now, he's committed a misdemeanor, she has committed a federal hate crime because the exhibitionism is protected under sexual orientation.
Congressman Gohmert added:
And having reviewed cases as an appellate judge, I know that when the legislature has the chance to include a definition and refuses, then what we look at is the plain meaning of those words. The plain meaning of sexual orientation is anything to which someone is orientated. That could include exhibitionism, it could include necrophilia (sexual arousal/activity with a corpse) … it could include Urophilia (sexual arousal associated with urine), voyeurism. You see someone spying on you changing clothes and you hit them, they've committed a misdemeanor, you've committed a federal felony under this bill. It is so wrong.
According to Porter, Congressman King told the full U.S. House that the APA has a list of 547 different "paraphilias" that would be protected by members of Congress under the "hate crimes" plan.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a "hate crimes" supporter, agreed, saying:
This bill addresses our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and to guarantee that all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability or all of these 'Philias' and fetishes and 'ism's' that were put forward need not live in fear because of who they are. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this rule…"
Porter said families, parents, Americans, anyone interested in the future of the nation, needs to contact their members in the Senate and demand hearings, then demand a filibuster.

"Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered, cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection while children, seniors, veterans, and churches would not," Porter said.
The "hate crimes" proposal not only sets up criminal charges against those whose actions or words offend homosexuals but also provides money "to improve the education and training of local officials to identify, investigate, prosecute and prevent hate crimes."

President Obama, supported strongly during his campaign by homosexual advocates, appears ready to respond to their desires.

"I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect ALL of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance," he said.
Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission said the Senate proposal could be voted on in committee as early as tomorrow. (my upper case emphasis)

"You must call the Senate today and demand that they hold hearings on this bill," he wrote. "It is one of the most radical pieces of legislation to ever make its way to the Senate. If passed, it will lay the groundwork for restricting religious liberty and freedom of speech as it has in Canada and Europe."

Gohmert warned the law will be used against pastors – or anyone else – who speaks against homosexuality or other alternative sexual lifestyle choices. He said it provides that anyone who through speech "induces" commission of a violent hate crime "will be tried as a principal" alongside the active offender.
Critics say that would allow for prosecutions against pastors who preach a biblical ban on homosexuality if someone who hears such a message later is accused of any crime.
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said, "A pastor's sermon could be considered 'hate speech' under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on 'sexual orientation.' The pastor could be prosecuted for 'conspiracy to commit a hate crime'" she said.
Those who think these concerns are exaggerated have not been paying attention and remain naive about how methodically committed those driving this agenda are to imposing a thoroughly post-Christian moral order on our society -- one that implicitly declares that there is no such thing as sexual deviancy -- and to impose this worldview with the help of a pliant and empathetic judiciary.

I say "empathetic" of course in reference to President Obama's single enunciated criteria for appointing the next Supreme Court justice. And it is on that score that we need to turn to Thomas Sowell:
Justice David Souter's retirement from the Supreme Court presents President Barack Obama with his first opportunity to appoint someone to the High Court. People who are speculating about whether the next nominee will be a woman, a Hispanic or whatever, are missing the point.

That we are discussing the next Supreme Court justice in terms of group "representation" is a sign of how far we have already strayed from the purpose of law and the weighty responsibility of appointing someone to sit for life on the highest court in the land.

That President Obama has made "empathy" with certain groups one of his criteria for choosing a Supreme Court nominee is a dangerous sign of how much further the Supreme Court may be pushed away from the rule of law and toward even more arbitrary judicial edicts to advance the agenda of the left and set it in legal concrete, immune from the democratic process.

Would you want to go into court to appear before a judge with "empathy" for groups A, B and C, if you were a member of groups X, Y or Z? Nothing could be further from the rule of law. That would be bad news, even in a traffic court, much less in a court that has the last word on your rights under the Constitution of the United States.

Appoint enough Supreme Court justices with "empathy" for particular groups and you would have, for all practical purposes, repealed the 14th Amendment, which guarantees "equal protection of the laws" for all Americans.

We would have entered a strange new world, where everybody is equal but some are more equal than others. The very idea of the rule of law would become meaningless when it is replaced by the empathies of judges.
Barack Obama solves this contradiction, as he solves so many other problems, with rhetoric. If you believe in the rule of law, he will say the words "rule of law." And if you are willing to buy it, he will keep on selling it.

Those people who just accept soothing words from politicians they like are gambling with the future of a nation. When you buy words, you had better know what you are buying. . . .
Some people say that who Barack Obama appoints to replace Justice Souter doesn't really matter, because Souter is a liberal who will probably be replaced by another liberal. But, if no one sounds the alarm now, we can end up with a series of appointees with "empathy"-- which is to say, with justices who think their job is to "relieve the distress" of particular groups, rather than to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

17 comments:

Kevin said...

Gil,
I can't believe you are quoting World Net Daily as a support for your ideas. Farah and his contributors have at best a passing relationship to the facts and sound science. The person you quote is making up things whole cloth because that is not in the bill.
You threaten your credibility by quoting people like this. You can and have made good arguments for your beliefs and why those beliefs should be protected.
Quoting these folks simply shows you are comfortable taking anyone's comments which support your position regardless of the credibility of the persons in question. Bob Unruh still thinks Obama is not an American citizen. I don't think such a man is a credible supporter of your cause.

We can agree or disagree; but turning to WND for corroboration is "jumping the shark" and abandoning any hope of convincing anyone that your beliefs are correct.

Ad Astra Per Aspera,
Kevin

Athos said...

Gold is where you find it.

A broken clock is right twice a day.

Even a blind hog will find an acorn once in a while.

To exclude, or scapegoat, anyone as unredeemably beyond the pale of acceptable discourse reveals quite a bias.

I find the comment about who one may and who one may not quote a condescending attempt to arm-twist into political correctness at best and a threat to revoke Gil's membership card in the arena of acceptable discourse at worst.

Cheryl Maslow said...

Well put, Kevin. I may be “old school,” but one thing I learned by the time I’d completed my graduate studies was how to gather reliable information. I had professors who would have given me a failing grade for trying to pass off the World Net Daily as a credible source.

I think this is about the clearest example I’ve ever seen of mimetic contagion. (Or “memetic” contagion, if we follow Dawkins’s model.) One person who is already fearful and uninformed about an issue seeks out opinions from other people who are fearful and uninformed about it. The contagion then spreads among people who lack the skills to distinguish reliable from unreliable information, and everyone becomes hyper-fearful, imagining and disseminating worst-case scenarios right and left. The only thing that would slow this process or stop it is respect for evidence and reason. But when everything in one’s training has encouraged one to distrust evidence and reason, then one is really stuck in a spiral of misinformation, some of which can be very dangerous and destructive, as we’re seeing in the case of condom use in Africa.

When we discuss the pros and cons of the Matthew Shepard Act, we need to be very careful to keep the text of the bill in front of us and to parse it closely. If there are questions about the bill, then we need to look to legal experts, case studies, government records, historical records, and the like. The more objective the sources, the better. The more highly respected in the legal and scientific communities, the better. Beginning one’s research with opinion-makers like the World Net Daily or with dogmatic religious positions does indeed damage one’s credibility, very seriously so, and for a very important reason: it shows that one is disposed to pre-judge the issue, to start with a conclusion and then to marshal whatever facts one can find to support that conclusion. This is the opposite of the scientific approach, and the results are what we see in this month’s discussions and April’s.

One of the earlier bloggers on the condom issue (see “We’ve Come a Long Way, in April) made some interesting comments about faith and tradition as guides for developing policies for disease prevention. He seemed to be saying that the very fact of putting up a blogspot for discussion of these issues is a nod to reason and evidence. (Otherwise, why not just inform everyone of the Pope’s decision and leave it at that?) Religious faith has a serious credibility problem these days, so these arguments about hate crimes bills and condoms, etc., have to at least have a veneer of scientific respectability, and they have to appear to have been rigorously reasoned through. But they don’t and they haven’t been. And all that’s needed is the effort to examine these arguments carefully and the courage to challenge them when they’re flawed.

Cheryl

Athos said...

Or “memetic” contagion, if we follow Dawkins’s model.Ms. Maslow, your comments regarding graduate level professors' acceptably credible sources expresses reams about the presuppositions of the secular academy and their apparent self-appointed magisterial lock on what does and does not pass muster for acceptable terms of discourse.

As to citing Dawkins, of all people, you would, IMHO, do better to keep reading Girard's mimetic theory. Or does a militant atheist who does not check his facts really constitute an inestimable exemplar of research?

As Gerald Warner observes,Dawkins is not interested in empirical, scientific evidence when he is kicking religion. If the Pope favoured condoms Dawkins would probably be against them - on sound scientific grounds. Atheism is the new superstition and nobody illustrates it better than a scientist who rejects scientific method in favour of blinkered prejudice.Cheers

Mark Gordon said...

Good argument, Kevin. You spent four paragraphs writing "But, but, you can't quote World Net Daily because they're the wrong kind of people!" You must have a champ on the debating team.

Cheryl, the very naming of H.R. 1913 as the "Matthew Shepard Act" is an appeal to emotion and irrationality. The neanderthals who murdered Shepard, Russell Arthur Henderson and Aaron James McKinney, are serving two life terms and one life term without possibility of parole, respectively. Nothing in this bill would have prevented Shepard's death or added to the punishment meted out to his murderers.

In 2007, there were 25 "hate crimes" reported daily in the United States. Of those, 4.7 (1 in 6) involved "sexual orientation" or "gender identity." Of those, approximately .78 (another 1 in 6) involved bodily harm to the victim. And each of those crimes was already covered by state laws against assault.

Yet, gay activists and their supporters would have us believe that assaults based on sexual orientation are epidemic, and that the tidal wave of violence won't be staunched until the criminal law is federalized. The entire premise underlying the "need" for H.R. 1913 is based on fear and ignorance.

Since you presume to adopt a "scientific" approach to such questions (as opposed to us blind dogmatists), take a look at "The Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic", by James B. Jacobs & Jessica S. Henry, from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 1996. This "epidemic," like the one that gave rise to the first wave of hate crimes legislation in the 1990's, is purely the product of mass hysteria.

Kevin said...

Mr. Gordon,
For the record, I was a member of the '82-83 Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School debate and foresic teams. We won more than any other team in the substantial history of KMC. Indeed I'm not sure our record was ever surpassed. Yes, I was part of a champion team.
One tactic is to question the sources used by someone on the other side of the debate. That is what I did. You may not agree, fine, then tell me why these people are somehow useful or accurate sources.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,
Kevin

Cheryl Maslow said...

Mr. Athos: I would be happy to discuss Richard Dawkins's work with anyone who has actually read it. But citing second-hand opinions about it doesn't count for much with me.

Cheryl

Doughlas said...

I thought Cheryl might respond to Mr. Gordon’s remarks about contagion, epidemics, hysteria, etc., but maybe she is taking a breather. As a gay man, I should be qualified to weigh in on this.

Ah, where to begin...

Mr. Gordon is setting up a straw man, as he did before with respect to Ms. Bruns’s comment about the Holocaust. Let me quote, first of all, his generalization about gay activists. And here, please note that Mr. Gordon does not say, “some” gay activists or “certain” gay activists, but just “gay activists,” as if we were all totally on the same page and of a like mind. His remark is also of a piece with the “Everybody knows that... but won’t say...” pattern that we saw in Mr. Gordon’s earlier comments. This is thought without nuance and without reality checking, and it is part and parcel of the bigotry at which Mr. Gordon excels. Stereotyping is one of the mental practices that we try to combat. Here is the remark:

Yet, gay activists and their supporters would have us believe that assaults based on sexual orientation are epidemic, and that the tidal wave of violence won’t be staunched until the criminal law is federalized.Well, that certainly sounds sensational, but it was news to me that we gay activists (I’m gay and I’m sticking up for myself, so I must be an activist) believe that these assaults are epidemic. I hadn’t realized that. I’m certain that in a U.S. population of perhaps 30 million homosexuals, some or even many must believe there is an epidemic. But that’s not the point. People have all kinds of reasons for supporting legislation, and because we are not (not!) omniscient, we can never be sure of their motivations unless they reveal them.

So, to try to get some sense of the gay community’s take on the epidemic question, I went to the Web site of one of our primary organs, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and I did a search on “Hate Crimes epidemic” and one on “Epidemic of Hate Crimes.” The first search brought up nothing, and the second brought up an instance of this phrase from their annual report of the year 2000. There was also a very informative FAQ about H.R. 1913 in which one of the answered questions is “Is there an epidemic of bias motivated violence?” I would urge everyone to read it.

I am citing the HRC not because they are an objective source (they are not), but because they represent the gay community and can give us some idea of that community’s thinking about H.R. 1913, and that is what we’re after.

Personally, I am not supporting H.R. 1913 because I believe there is an epidemic of assaults. Rather, I am supporting it because it provides federal assistance to state and local jurisdictions that may not have the resources to combat and prosecute hate crimes against homosexuals. It provides training to local police, it provides school programs to combat bullying. What’s not to like about all that?

Best of all, H.R. 1913 gives crimes based on sexual orientation the same national attention and resources as crimes based on religious belief, gender, etc. And the rationale behind doing so is the same, i.e., that hate crimes are targeted at entire communities and deserve national, not just local, attention and resources.

Mr. Gordon says, “Nothing in this bill would have prevent Shepard’s death or added to the punishment meted out to his murderers.” He may be correct about the second point, but his first point is, once again, pure speculation. One thing we do know about Matthew Shepherd’s case is that local funds were lacking for the prosecution of his two attackers, so four government (court?) employees had to be furloughed. If sexual orientation had been a protected class under the older hate crimes laws, then these furloughs would not have been necessary.

Doughlas Remy

Cheryl Maslow said...

Thank you, Doughlas. I, too, have noticed the generalizing/stereotyping tendency in a lot of the anti-gay rhetoric I hear. (Not all, I hasten to add!) Mr. Gordon’s Webspot, “Suicide of the West” is rife with it. The pattern of such rhetoric is to select, from an entire class of people, instances of the most outrageous, shocking, and criminal behavior, and then to suggest that those instances represent the behavior of the entire class. Hitler’s propaganda machine carried this off successfully with the Jews, and the pattern has been observed in nearly every culture, as far as I know. The victims vary according to who is up and who is down.

For example, I could snap a photo of a straight man dressed in a weird costume at a Mardi Gras parade and try to claim that this is how straight men always are. Of course, it wouldn’t work, and I wouldn’t convince anyone, because heterosexuality is the default orientation, and everybody already knows how much variation there is in the behavior of straight people. In other words, we could all weigh such an absurd claim against our own experiences with straight people, and we would immediately realize that the guy in the photo is just dressed for the parade and may be a banker or an accountant during the rest of the year. But homosexuality is not the default orientation, and many homosexuals are either closeted or extremely discreet. Because many straight people don’t even realize that they know any gay people, they sometimes accept stereotypes at face value. This is where education plays such an important role.

In fact, there is a tremendous amount of variation in the LGBT community—variation of ideas and viewpoints, of tastes, education, vocation, life stories, race, religious views, and all the rest. You know this better than I. But when we find someone misbehaving in some horrible way, let’s resist the tendency to generalize about the entire class to which he or she belongs. It is unfair, hurtful, and destructive to suggest that your church tenor is as evil as a convicted child molester simply because they are both gay. It helps to think of homosexuality as a biological trait, like early baldness in males, rather than as a specific set of behaviors. Evolutionary biologists like Leonard Shlain (“Sex, Time, and Power”) support this view, and variants of it are now almost universally accepted among health-care professionals (the AMA, the two APAs, the American Sociological Association, and others).

Cheryl

Mark Gordon said...

I thought Cheryl might respond to Mr. Gordon’s remarks about contagion, epidemics, hysteria, etc., but maybe she is taking a breather. As a gay man, I should be qualified to weigh in on this.Why on earth would being gay qualify you to weigh in on contagion, epidemics and hysteria, Doughlas?

Rather than dig into this again - after all, who can argue with an objective, disinterested source like the Human Rights Campaign? - let me make this prediction on which we can all perhaps agree: The Matthew Shepard Act will become law. There is no stopping it, just as there is no stopping the legalization of "gay marriage."

The momentum of social evolution - or devolution - is all on this movement and those, like me, who argue against it are fecklessly tilting at windmills. In the end, as Athos points out frequently, the only recourse for faithful Catholics - those who accept the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, the family, and the purposes of civil society - will be to reconstitute our own culture as a counterpoint to the culture at-large.

Doughlas said...

Why, Mr. Gordon, what a silly question. Why would I, a gay man, weigh in, you ask? Because your claim was about contagion, hysteria, etc. in the gay community.

Anticipating your objection about the HRC, I wrote a separate paragraph to explain why I was citing them. To repeat, you had made a claim about what gay activists are thinking. So, what better source than the HRC on that subject? (I forgot, however, that they may “know” but not be “saying” what they know...)

I agree that you are tilting at windmills. Gay marriage is a done deal, and the younger generation in this country is now immune to gay fear-mongering. Even the Republican party is now considering dropping opposition to gay marriage and hate crimes legislation from its platform. “The debate about gay equality appears to be ending,” says columnist Danny Westneat in this morning’s Seattle Times. (May 6, 2009)

There are, however, other issues to take up. May I suggest poverty, homelessness, and injustice, for starters? How about genocide? There are so many worthy causes, why waste time trying to legislate love?

Doughlas Remy

Kevin said...

Doughlas,
Although my sons, and many of their generation, are indeed immune I'm not sure the debate is ending. There is still much hatred and bigotry around. Ironically several times that I've mentioned to friends that my boys are showing interest in girls and the fun that might be; they've responded "Well at least it is girls." There is an a priori assumption that gay is catching like a cold. This fight will continue for some time.

Have you seen this video from NOM (National Organization for Marriage)?
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/04/funny-anti-gay/

No, I don't think the fight is anywhere near over even if the end is a foregone conclusion. I'm sure there will be backlash, especially as economic conditions worsen. There are a bunch of scared people out there looking for a scapegoat. Homosexuals are the last group one may despise with impunity even with praise.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,
Kevin

Mark Gordon said...

Doughlas wrote: There are so many worthy causes, why waste time trying to legislate love?Yes, and I'm sure that will be your position when "group marriage" is insisted upon or challenges to laws against incestuous marriage are introduced. After all, if marriage doesn't mean one man and one woman, why should it be limited to a binary formula at all? Or if a father and his daughter really "love" each other in connubial sense, who are we to "legislate love?" If "marriage equality" obtains for one deviant lifestyle, why shouldn't it obtain for every other?

Cheryl wrote: ...heterosexuality is the default orientation, and everybody already knows how much variation there is in the behavior of straight people.Really? How do you know what "everybody already knows?" I'm sure Doughlas is deeply offended now that you've imputed to him knowledge he hasn't admitted.

Cheryl also wrote: Hitler’s propaganda machine carried this off successfully with the Jews, and the pattern has been observed in nearly every culture, as far as I know. The victims vary according to who is up and who is down.That's Cheryl's third invocation of Hitler and the Nazis in this discussion, and it is appalling. As both Doughlas and Cheryl demonstrate, the most powerful accusatory gesture in modern society is not "GAY!" but "BIGOT!" And that gesture is rendered supercharged when joined to the charge, even implied, of "NAZI!"

By the way, in deploying this kind of language against those with whom they disagree, folks like Doughlas and Cheryl reveal the true object of their project: the Christian moral tradition that holds homosexuality to be gravely disordered and sinful. It is that belief and its expression that must be extinguished, whether by force of law or by social opprobrium. To which I say, "Fine." I named my blog "Suicide of the West" in recognition that we are entering the end-stages of a civilizational collapse, heralded (as all such collapses are) by the abandonment of sexual morality and the destruction of the family. In Girardian terms, one might say that we're approaching the "paroxysm of the mimetic crisis" ("Things Hidden ..."), which is characterized, not coincidentally, by the spread of ritualized homosexuality.

So, I'll say it again: Congratulations, the future is yours!

Doughlas said...

Mr. Gordon, you sneaky devil! I thought you’d signed off. You see now how sloppy I get when I think no one’s there to keep me honest. ;-)

My remark about legislating love was not followed by a long series of qualifiers because I didn’t think they would be needed in the context of this discussion. We had been discussing gay marriage, not incestuous marriage, marriage with farm animals, etc. In argumentation, this is known as “shifting ground.”

You wrote, If “marriage equality” obtains for one deviant lifestyle, why shouldn’t it obtain for every other? The first clause in that sentence contains a false premise.

I am not deeply offended at Cheryl’s assertion that “everybody already knows how much variation there is in the behavior of straight people.” I don’t think she needs to back up that kind of claim with a poll. It is just common sense. I can’t imagine anyone answering “False” to the following True-False question: “There is a lot of variation in the behavior of heterosexuals.” It is like saying, “Everybody knows there is lots of variation in animal behavior.” Well, duh. Yes, of course, there is.

I’m fascinated to hear you think the Holocaust should be taken off the table. Maybe you could persuade Gil on this point. See his “Eyes Wide Shut” entry of Saturday, April 25, 2009. (I may do a search on your own Blog site, so you’d better check it carefully!) Whether mentioning the Holocaust is right or wrong depends a lot on whose ox is being gored, or so it would seem.

I do not personally agree that the Holocaust should be taken off the table. In fact, I believe we mustn’t ever do so. There is so much to learn from it, and we must be ever vigilant that we’re not about to re-enact it with a new set of victims. (Let’s recall, too, that as many as 10,000 homosexuals—wearing the pink triangle—died in the Nazi death camps.)

I don’t recall anyone calling you a bigot, though I did opine that you excelled at bigoted thinking, of which there is such abundant evidence on your blogspot. There is a difference. “Bigot” is more like a label that gets attached to you and that you can’t get off (like “fag,” “queer,” etc.), whereas bigoted thinking is something that you can change. If you’d like to talk about what bigotry is, we might be able to move the conversation in that direction, with Gil’s forbearance. I believe that people’s behavior can change when they understand the patterns they are caught in.

To Kevin: Thanks for the kind words. I did see the video you mentioned, and you are right. It’s not really over. If I really thought that, I wouldn’t be blogging this morning instead of having my breakfast. That was just me, being hyperbolic and a bit premature in my optimism.

Doughlas Remy

Doughlas said...

Mr. Gordon, when I asked my partner if he thought that anything about our relationship might be hastening the end of civilization, he was stumped, but he did admit that the idea made him feel awfully important.

BTW, we recently spent a weekend in Victoria, BC. Lovely place. So civilized!

Doughlas Remy

Cheryl Maslow said...

Mr. Gordon’s has raised the specter of incestuous marriages, which were not a part of the context in which Mr. Remy used the phrase “legislate love.” We were talking only about gay marriage, not “love” in all its forms and manifestations, so I see no reason why Mr. Remy should have to clarify unnecessarily. Regarding the “slippery slope” fallacy, I would just refer Mr. Gordon to Mr. Remy’s remarks about this style of argumentation, appended to Gil’s “Processing down the aisle...” entry earlier today. After reading the humorous example he gave, I thought what fun it would be to collect and publish a historical record of all the slippery slopes that nobody slipped on. (Dire predictions, real outcomes...) We could have fun with this, but perhaps another time...

Regarding my generalization about what everybody knows to be true concerning the variation in straight people’s behavior, let me just point out that not all generalizations are created equal. Some are extremely weak on their face, while others are supported by common sense. It is hard for me to imagine any reasonable person denying that there is a lot of variation in the behavior of straight people.

The invocations of the Holocaust seem to be a terrific sticking point for Mr. Gordon. I believe there are lessons to be learned from it and that we must never put it aside. Mr. Bailie apparently believes this as well, judging from his blog entries. Bigotry is all around us, and we need to recognize it, name it, and combat it. This does not require using epithets like “bigot” to describe people, and no one has done so in this discussion, to my knowledge, though certain positions have been described as bigoted (or as examples of bigotry, etc.). This is entirely legitimate, in my view. Let’s observe that Mr. Gordon has characterized homosexuality as “gravely disordered and sinful.” That’s quite strong language, but also legitimate, in my view, as a free expression of his viewpoint. That particular description (of homosexuality) does not worry me much, however, as it is purely emotional and sectarian-based and is not supported by science any more than the Catholic Church’s “objectively disordered” characterization, which is arrant nonsense. So while these characterizations are easy to refute, they are difficult to dislodge from the thinking of a-priorists, who give precedence to faith, tradition, and the authority of the church (or, alas, the Bible!) over reason or evidence.

Whether or not Mr. Gordon’s speech is bigoted is debatable. Merriam-Webster defines a “bigot” as one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” One thing we can be certain of is that bigotry toward homosexuals is rampant in this culture at present. If this is not so, then the word “bigotry” simply has no meaning. So there are some benchmarks, such as the sermons of the Reverend Phelps at one end of the scale and, at the other, let us say, the views of certain very progressive ministers. To get an approximate idea of just how bigoted Mr. Gordon’s remarks are, we only need position them on this scale. That would be a complicated undertaking, of course, requiring questionnaires and study participants, etc. So the best we can probably do is to throw out opinions like, “Mr. Gordon’s views about homosexuality are, in my view, bigoted.” That is an opinion, not a statement of fact, but stating opinions is entirely legitimate, too. It is for the reader to decide whether the opinion has any merit, unless there are objective measures (evidence, reason, etc.).

Same-sex marriage does not lead to the “abandonment of sexual morality and the destruction of the family.” The family is still strong in Massachusetts and shows no signs of imminent destruction at the hands of newly married gay couples there. As for “sexual morality,” well, it’s obvious that marriage beats promiscuity hands down. Any law that encourages long-term commitment in monogamous relationships has my full support.

All in all, aren’t we getting a little overwrought about civilization collapse? Indeed, the end may be near, but I don’t think it will have been caused by gay marriage. Environmental collapse will more likely trigger an end-times scenario. When I think of my gay friends and their partners causing the end of civilization as we know it, well, frankly, I have to laugh. Sorry.

Cheryl Maslow

TheBrightAngle said...

Gil, there is so much misinformation in this post that I don't even know where to begin. (And I've been too busy to tackle it.) Surely, by now, you have followed this story and have realized how flawed your premise is, but I haven't seen a retraction yet. Let's just take one small but foundational piece of the post, where one of your sources claims that the Matthew Shepard Bill would "elevate pedophiles as a special protected class – since [he claims] the term 'sexual orientation' which has been added to the 'hate crimes' legislation includes them in the American Psychiatric Association's definition of various 'sexual orientations."

Here's where a little bit of fact checking can go a long way. The APA does not include pedophilia or any of the other "paraphilias" in the category of "sexual orientation." They include only homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, and asexuals--people who are attracted to either nobody or another person of appropriate age.

Here is the definition from the APA:

"Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female), and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).

"Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Some persons can experience sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex.

"Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behavior."

There's so much more that could be said about this post. I would encourage you to do the careful and honest research yourself and then issue a retraction. A moment's search on the Internet (objective sources only!) yields a wealth of accurate information. Please be careful about trusting sources that are paid to deliver a pre-determined opinion. They make their living that way.

Doughlas