Sunday, February 01, 2009

Britain, a "moral slum" says Hitchens

Not that the rest of the once vibrant "West" is far behind.

Like Peter Hitchens in the quotation below, I'm more than eager to get back to matters of a more wholesome and edifying nature. But the first task of those who would preserve some vestige of western civilization is to prevent our moral vocabulary and our anthropological realism (call it "commonsense") from being commandeered and corrupted by ideologues.

Compare what the British comedian, Pat Condell, says about the capitulation to radical Islam (in the blog post below) to what the British journalist, Peter Hitchens, says about the perfectly parallel capitulation to the "Lesbian-Gay-Bi-sexual-Trans-sexual" agenda. (The hyper-hyphenated quote is taken from the Obama White House website, where the new administration pledges to strictly enforce that agenda.)

Compare Condell's concern with Hitchens' and you get an idea of what is actually happening to what was once Western Civilization.

Here's Hitchens:
If I never again had to read or write a word about homosexuals, I would be very happy. I really don’t want to know what other people do in their bedrooms. But these days they really, really want us all to know. And, more important, they insist that we approve. No longer are we allowed to keep our thoughts to ourselves, while being polite and kind.

We are forced to say that we think homosexuality is a good thing, that homosexual couples are equal in all ways to heterosexual married couples. Most emphatically, we are compelled to agree that homosexual couples are just as good at bringing up children as the children’s own grandparents. Better, in fact.

Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show. I am sure that many of them regularly lie about their views, to avoid such trouble.

We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the ‘Gay Pride’ parade passes by.

And that’s another thing. We can’t even call homosexuals ‘homosexuals’ any more. This neutral word is not considered enthusiastic enough. We have to say ‘gay’. Which is exactly why I don’t, apart from in inverted commas.

You think I exaggerate the power and fury of these forces? The totalitarian rage on this subject is quite astonishing.

I have had several brushes with it, and been called rude names by its militants.

Well, I can live with that. It’s my job. But what about a powerless pair of grandparents in Edinburgh, their grandchildren’s lives shipwrecked by the multiple horrors of our ‘liberated’ society?

First, their daughter ends up as a drug abuser, like so many others in a country which permits the endless promotion of drug use by rock stars and refuses to punish the possession of narcotics, the only measure that would work.

Then, when they seek to look after her children, they are first insultingly informed that they are too old, and that their minor illnesses disqualify them from the task. Heaven help any employer who dared ‘discriminate’ in this fashion. But the new Thought Police are oddly exempt from their own rules.

Next, the grandparents are informed that the children are to be put into the care of a homosexual couple. And – this is the crucial moment – they are warned in the most terrifying terms that if they object to this arrangement they will never see their grandchildren again.
Leave aside the rest of it. It is this demand, that they mouth approval of the new regime like the defendants at some show trial, which is the bit that ought to make your flesh creep.

This is the action of a tyranny in operation, especially the use of children to blackmail their parents and grandparents. People who can do this can do anything.

Isn’t it amazing to reflect that this campaign began in the name of tolerance?
The original is here.

European multiculturalism is a brief interlude on the way to a European monoculture. The only question is whether this rigorously enforced monoculture will be doctrinaire metro-sexual secularism or Sharia Islam. (Care to guess which is more likely to stand its ground when push comes to shove?) As we speak, members of the European political class are carefully placing their bets and acting accordingly. It is conceivable that these two antagonists will forestall their final clash by turning their mutual contempt for Christians and Jews into a common cause, but that will only postpone the final showdown.


Athos said...

The metrosexual maelstrom - including the "Yes we can" American version - is the supernova of Gnostic romanticism. It will implode shortly on both sides of the Atlantic into its nihilistic black dwarf and/or black hole state where it will syphon in any who venture too near its powerful attractive edges.

IMO it is one of the twin pincers of Girard's primitive sacred - the Scimitar being the other assailing the world.

I heard a marvelous homily yesterday in the Crypt of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. An elderly, feeble priest said, in ref. to the Gospel, that the devil's weapons are cynicism, despair, and violence. The Good News, he said, offsets these - exorcises these - with faith and hope and love. He admonished us to drive out the devil in Jesus' Name.

The battlefield in this case is our own heart.

Kevin said...

Greetings all,
It seems that the moral paucity is the preference of a set of strangers are given preference over blood relations. These grandparents are not exactly geriatrics. The question of age seems completely bogus. The Grandparents or any blood relations should have preference before strangers unless there is some compelling reason to remove the child, such as abuse or neglect.
I'm appalled by this and it should be reversed. I don't see this necessarily as part of a homosexual agenda as this would be outrageous regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple granted custody.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,

Doughlas Remy said...

I was doubly surprised to hear Gil quoting Christopher Hitchens in support of his own views about homosexuality and hate speech. First, Hitchens (author of “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” and “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice”) is hardly a thinker with whom Gil would have much in common, so it is indeed strange seeing them come together on this issue. (Hitchens, we may safely surmise, would be openly contemptuous of nearly everything Gil stands for.) Second, the entire quotation is a take-no-hostages rant. Hitchens’s rancor knows no bounds; his vitriolic hyperbole is just the sort of style we might expect from someone who has never been touched by the teachings of Jesus, Gandhi, or any other great spiritual leader. I wonder if this would be more apparent to Gil if Hitchens were expressing his opinions about Pope Benedict.
Hitchens’s first paragraph sets the tone. Let’s read it once again, carefully:
“If I never again had to read or write a word about homosexuals, I would be very happy. I really don’t want to know what other people do in their bedrooms. But these days they really, really want us all to know. And, more important, they insist that we approve. No longer are we allowed to keep our thoughts to ourselves, while being polite and kind.”
Hitchens is talking about “homosexuals.” Not, “some homosexuals.” As a homosexual myself, I immediately bristled. “Am I about to be characterized, once again, by someone who doesn’t even know me and who imagines that everyone belonging to a certain class is the same?” I wondered. Isn’t this just the pure distillation of bigotry? What better example can we find?
So, I learn from Hitchens that I want him to know what I do in my bedroom, that I really, really want him to know. And to approve!
And, though I earlier described myself as a “homosexual,” Hitchens informs me in a later paragraph that I insist on being called “gay.”
And finally, we learn that Hitchens would like to keep his thoughts to himself, “while being polite and kind.” Why do I hear Henry Higgins (in My Fair Lady) singing “I’m an Ordinary Man” at this point?
“A patient man am I, down to my fingertips,
the sort who never could, ever would,
let an insulting remark escape his lips
Very gentle man... “
Hitchens is an intelligent thinker and is capable of clearer thinking and writing than what we see here. So the most interesting question to me is, “Why does he lose all sense of measure and restraint on this topic?” Why does he sound, in spite of all his education, like the stereotypical Southern bigot? Why so much vitriol? If certain homosexuals have given him a hard time about things he has said or done, why not simply respond to them without insulting and demeaning them in their very being and identity? Is it tit for tat? Was he insulted and demeaned for being heterosexual? Did a gay acquaintance object to the constant barrage of heterosexual sex in the media (e.g., advertisements showing men and women kissing), saying it was disgusting and should be kept in the bedroom?
I found Hitchens’s rant both childish and offensive and can understand why some “militants,” as he calls them, have objected. (I guess I must be a militant, too, as is anyone who disagrees with him.) But I would never stoop to responding with an opener such as: “If I never again had to read or write a word about heterosexuals, I would be very happy.” (Switching identity terms is an excellent exercise in spotting prejudice. Try “blacks,” or “Jews,” as well.) My objections are about his ideas; his identity is irrelevant.
Hitchens’s rant does not qualify as “hate speech” because, though it is bigoted, it does not attempt to incite violence. Whether it attempts to stir up hatred is another matter, but one that should remain between Hitchens and his audience. The concept of “stirring up hatred” is too vague and subjective to serve as the basis of legislation. I have no desire to restrict Hitchens’s freedom of speech, but I would seriously object if he were suggesting to his readers that they should kill me. If that were the case, I would indeed hope that I could seek some protection from the law.
I suspect the Hitchens quotation had a certain appeal for Gil because it depicts homosexuals as victimizers while ignoring their long and tragic history as victims. If we have learned anything from the history of the Jews over the past century, it is surely that we are all both victims and victimizers. There is no difference, though we keep trying to find differences to fuel our grievances and justify our fears. If Girard is correct, an escalation toward the violence of the Shoah or the Apocalypse (or now, Gaza) can only be averted if we understand this.
Finally, I agree with Kevin’s very sensible comment that what happened in the case of the Edinburgh grandparents was not part of some homosexual “agenda.” The notion of a class “agenda” stirs paranoid fantasies, of course. There is no international homosexual conspiracy [to recruit children, to repeal laws against bestiality, etc.]. I don’t know enough about the case to judge whether the authorities’ behavior was excessive, and I’m certainly not about to trust Hitchens’s account of it. In principle, however, I believe discrimination against homosexuals in the public sphere should not be allowed by law. There is nothing “militant” or “radical” about this view. It is simply a path toward creating a more just society. Again, I think this becomes clearer if we substitute “Jew,” “Christian,” or “African-American” for “homosexual” in these discussions. If we cannot make that substitution, then I believe we should enter into a serious and prolonged discussion about the reasons why.
Doughlas Remy

Gil Bailie said...

I was quoting Peter Hitchens, not Christopher Hitchens.

Doug Hickman said...

I guess the Thought Police didn’t reach Hitchens in time to stop him from publishing this rant, Gil. Maybe he is freer than he imagines, but if he is correct, then I would expect to see him lose his spot on “Mail Online” any day now. I had never heard of him, but he sounds like a British version of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter, though less successful. I would suggest “Bigoted and Proud!” as a fitting motto for his blog site. But why on earth did you quote him? His arguments are poorly reasoned, mean, and coarse, and he is obviously more interested in venting than in building bridges of understanding. Venting, after all, is what his readership expects from him. It pays the bills.

Hitchens has obviously been strafed in a few discussions with homosexuals, and if they are anything like the crowd who responded to him on his blog, then I can understand why he sounds so cornered. It was a feeding frenzy. Do you catch the sacrificial overtones here as I do? Hitchens’ rhetoric is intentionally polarizing, and the red meat he’s throwing his readers is both himself and homosexuals, depending on your viewpoint. Anything will do. “It’s my job,” he says. Indeed, his job is to coarsen the quality of public discourse as much as possible, if that’s what sells. But wasn’t your intention in quoting him, Gil, to make a point about the corruption of our moral vocabulary? It seems Hitchens may be a prime example of the trends you deplore.

A detailed analysis of his rant has already been provided by his readers, so I’ll just mention one telltale sign of the “coarseness” that I’m seeing in his blog. That is his insistence on calling his opponents what he wants to call them rather than honoring their own preferences. If it is true that some homosexuals prefer to be called “gay,” then, by all means, let’s call them gay. It is a minimal show of respect toward people to allow them to choose their own names. To persist in calling them by names that they dislike is a technique of intimidation and bullying.

But I spotted Hitchens as a bully from the first sentence of his rant. Didn’t you?

Doug Hickman

Cheryl said...

I found very little to agree with in the piece by Peter Hitchens. I personally know many gays and lesbians, mainly through my church, which is open and affirming. Yesterday evening, in fact, I was present at a dinner party where two gay couples were present. Never once did they insist on my knowing what they do in their bedroom. Nor did they solicit my approval. Nor did we even discuss sexual orientation. Instead, we enjoyed a varied conversation about travel, jobs, housing (we all live in the same neighborhood), politics, and cuisine. At one point we exchanged personal stories about how we had met our mates. When we parted, we all exchanged hugs.

After reading the Hitchens article, I made a sort of mental inventory of all the gays and lesbians I know. I can’t recall any of them behaving in the way Hitchens describes. On the contrary, they are all extremely discreet and polite. Could there be a major difference between British homosexuals and American ones? I don’t think so.

I am not suggesting that there are no homosexuals who enjoy discussing their sex lives with all and sundry, and we all recognize that there is a plethora of porn for any and every taste. But I know a little about bell curves and statistics because of the work that I do. If we look at the curve on sexual orientation, we’ll find incidences of the kinds of behaviors Hitchens describes all along and throughout the bell. Some heterosexuals enjoy revealing personal sexual information and may appear to be fixated on sex. Some are opinionated and confrontational. And many homosexuals also exhibit these behaviors. In other words, these behaviors don’t necessarily correlate with sexual orientation.

Hitchens’s first mistake is to ascribe certain behaviors that he finds offensive to individuals in only one area of the bell curve, instead of recognizing how evenly scattered these behaviors are throughout the curve. If Hitchens wishes to avoid sex-obsessed, pushy homosexuals, maybe he should just choose his friends more carefully and he could still number homosexuals among his friends.

His second mistake is in failing to recognize how extremely provocative his own rhetoric is and how much responsibility he bears for his own bruises. I have a hard time sympathizing with him. Think of the dinner party I just described. What if I had come across to the two homosexual couples as judgmental or disapproving of their identity? What kind of reaction should I have expected from them if I had insulted them or informed them that God’s judgment was on them and quoted the Catechism or Leviticus? Which of us, in that scenario, would have been “in your face?” Would they, then, be justified in characterizing my behavior as rude, combative, and confrontational?

Like “Doug,” (above), I see Hitchens as a bit of a lout—definitely not the kind of person I would like to invite to a dinner party. And I definitely wouldn’t look to him for any wisdom about the deterioration of our moral vocabulary.

Cheryl Maslo