SO . . . the question about norms is which norms are valid, and by valid I mean which conduce to human flourishing understood in its fullest sense -- that is, not as momentary satisfaction of some desire, impulse, or compulsion, but as something that truly conforms to who we are, how we are made, and why we exist. If that seems highfalutin, it is at the heart of each and every assertion of normality. We can and no doubt will argue over these questions forever, but there can hardly be any argument over the inevitability of norms of one kind or another.
When the academics most steeped in political correctness begin to regard with alarm the social construction of what they call "heteronormativity," they are simply arguing for new normless norms, which would rule out of order in our social and political life such things as heteronormativity. Those who have retained enough commonsense to regard such things as laughable should not underestimate the capacity of those who have lost that sense to regard it with dead-seriousness.
Now, as I said, norms presuppose that one thing is normal and its alternative abnormal. Any attempt to wish this dualism away by declaring that all the mutually incompatible norms are equally valid is philosophically vacuous and socially nonsensical. It would simply mean that normless relativism has become the new norm, and that any and all other norms are forthwith declared abnormal and therefore odious. Which is more or less what is now being taught -- implicitly at least and explicitly in many cases -- in our government schools today. Again, it is a recipe for cultural disaster, or rather it is a symptom of the early-to-middle stages of such a disaster.
So the question of what is normal and what perforce is abnormal is unavoidable. But, as those who tar me with the brush of scapegoating every time I champion the moral norms that our civilization has regarded as incontestable for millennia seem to think, any invocation of norms is, per se, a scapegoating act. Well, perhaps not just any, for my critics casually and easily invoke politically correct norms precisely to accuse me of scapegoating, in other words of behaving outside the legitimate bounds of the prevailing social and moral norm as they see it.
Those who argue, as I do, that heterosexuality is normal do not thereby scapegoat homosexuals any more than we scapegoat quadriplegics by observing that healthy arms and legs are the normal condition for human beings. That quadriplegics and homosexuals deserve both our respect as brothers and sisters as well as our compassion for the very real difficulties that they face should go without question. To quote for the umpteenth time paragraph 2358 of the Catholic Catechism:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.But neither our respect for the human dignity of quadriplegics or homosexuals, nor our sympathy regarding the burden of their condition, is enhanced by the pretense that their condition is normal.
And so, again, it ultimately comes down to the question of whether what is regarded as normal actually conforms to how we are made, to anthropological reality, or not.
I'm perfectly aware that I will not convince my friends who vehemently disagree with me on this issue. I simply post this entry as a matter of clarification. I welcome your comments, whether you agree with me or not. I may occasionally become just as exasperated by those who disagree with me on this and other issues as they are with me, but we are, after all, children of the same God, and in due course we will all come face-to-face with the Truth, which we now see through a glass darkly, but which some of us feel we see a little bit clearer because we peer through the lens polished by centuries of careful reflection by those greater and wiser than ourselves.