The Obsession

Balboa setting his war dogs upon Indian practi...
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While it might be an exaggeration to say that some story involving the matter of homosexuality appears in the American news everyday, it certainly seems to be a popular theme. The usual pattern is that someone will make a remark that is offensive to homosexuals and this will open the floodgates for responses and commentary. Obviously, I am guilty of being caught up in the flood. Mainly I am curious about what seems to be an obsession with the subject.

The easy and obvious answer is that being critical of homosexuality is an easy way for politicians on the right to establish their conservative bona fides. Of course, this sometimes takes a problematic turn for some allegedly anti-gay folks when there is an unfortunate boner find.  On the left, leaping to criticize such remarks is an easy way to polish those liberal bona fides. As such, people obsess about this matter because it is an easy way to score…political points, that is.

Another obvious reason is that it is not uncommon for religious folk to regard homosexuality as  sin, hence the grounds for concern. However, religious texts like the bible are chock full of sins that people are not very concerned about (such as usury and eating unclean foods). As such, the religious answer only pushes the question back since it is sensible to ask why religious folk are often so very concerned about homosexuality. After all, it is not even in the top ten list of what to do/not do (unless one is engaging in adultery).

The easy and not very helpful answer is that people are very interested in sex in general and hence they would be very interested in and critical of homosexuality. Perhaps this arises from curiosity that transforms to guilt and then anger (“I wonder what that would be like…gosh, I feel wicked for thinking that…damn fags!”) in some cases. Perhaps it is a lack of confidence in one’s own sexuality. Or perhaps it is simply a classic case of certain people being afraid of what is different from what they do.

Some people do claim that they are concerned because it is an important moral issue: either it is a wicked thing that must be fought to protect God, Country and The Children or it is a matter of freedom that must be allowed in a free society. Now, if homosexuality is an evil, it hardly seems to be the greatest of evils and it would seem that moral crusaders could better spend their energy addressing matters for more dire and damaging. The other side does seem to have a better case given how homosexuals are often treated and what they are often denied, namely equality.

In my own case, I regard homosexuality as morally neutral: neither good, nor bad. I do believe that people should be free to chose their sexual partners within the limits of informed consent. This requires that those involved be capable of understanding the matter and that they are free from coercion and compulsion. This nicely handles the stock claims that tolerating homosexuality means tolerating bestiality, pedophilia, rape and so on. Obviously enough, animals and children cannot give informed consent. In the case of rape there is, by definition, no consent. Hence, the slippery slope does not even get sliding here.

At this point someone will no doubt be thinking about necrophilia. No, not about committing it but about the claim that tolerating homosexuality entails tolerating necrophilia. The easy way out of this “criticism” is that tolerating homosexuality between consenting parties no more entails tolerating necrophilia than does tolerating people of different faiths or nationalities getting married. At the very least, the burden of proof lies on those who would make such a claim. Also, a corpse cannot give consent.

Naturally, it might be replied that sex toys cannot give consent either, but it would seem acceptable for people to have sex with them. After all, they are just objects so consent does not enter into the matter. So, one might argue, if we are tolerant about homosexuality, then we must tolerate necrophilia since corpses would be functioning as sexual objects. The obvious problem with this argument is that it would not be that tolerance of homosexuality entails tolerance of necrophilia. Rather, it is that tolerance of sex toys would somehow entail tolerance of necrophilia, which certainly does not seem to follow. After all, there is an important moral distinction between a dead person and a mere object.

I’ll close with a question: how concerned should people be about homosexuality?

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  1. My answer to the question is, “Not at all.” When it comes to what goes on sexually between consenting adults, I don’t think anyone should be concerned about anyone they’re not having sex with themselves, excepting a general concern for the spread of disease.

    I can easily imagine societies that are psychologically healthy, individually and socially, without stretching the limits of human nature, in which almost all of our sexual taboos are just non-existent. Religion seems to be the cause of almost all of it, certainly bolstered by our intense feelings surrounding the pleasure of it. But many people and many societies have handled homosexuality, polygamy, and all kinds of others.

    Some people might be natural prudes who don’t need a religion guiding them there, but I think religion is most likely the enabler that encourages them to condemn others publicly for their sexual differences.

  2. I live in America, and Americans are definitely more influenced by their religion than by science or philosophy. That’s why the media is full of “issues” like homosexuality, abortion, and church and state. I see some of the most contradictory people you could imagine out here. The same people who terrorize abortion clinics also advocate carrying firearms and the death penalty. The same people who whine about government spending on aid to the impoverished (both at home and overseas) don’t realize that such aid is the smallest fraction of the economic burden of the most expensive military in history. I’ve even heard people defend the usurious practices of credit card companies, despite the economic crisis we are in. We shouldn’t be so concerned about homosexuality. Our religious fundamentalism keeps us from solving real world problems like a disfunctional family.

  3. There is no reason to be concerned about homosexuality, but there are reasons to be concerned about those who are concerned about homosexuality.

    In fact, studies show that supposedly non-gay males with homophobic attitudes are more likely to be excited by gay pornography than those without homophobic attitudes.

  4. What about the tolerance of homosexuality entailing tolerance of incest. If there was no chance of pregnancy, both were adults and capable of consenting, it would just be sex between consenting adults.

  5. I have met many people who honestly believe that there is a choice between being heterosexual or homosexual. The truth is that I cannot help being Heterosexual any more than I can help being a male. There is no choice and one cannot be cured of either condition; again many people believe it is possible to effect a cure. In themselves heterosexuality and homosexuality are reasonably harmless other than the latter makes no contribution to the generation of the species. Other sexual orientations like paedophilia are harmful, and it is necessary to control those afflicted. The only thing I find distasteful, other than the thought of being forced to indulge in physical homosexual acts, is the overt, public, ostentatious display of sexuality, whatever one’s orientation in that connection.

  6. What I see is people who, otherwise left to their own devices don’t care much, or say much, about homosexuality. But I see them being radicalized by the unending chain of nudges provoking their concerns. And then the provocateurs act all surprised and hurt that somebody reacted to their none to subtle nudging. This pattern has not passed the stink test since the Scope’s trial.

    If the stats oft quoted are to be believed there’s 30 to 40 million gays in America. They’re, according to some, openly and continually antagonized. If we can assume they all have one or two non-gay friends and one or two non-gay relatives who love them, that’s 1/3rd to 1/2 of the American voting public solidly on their “side”. You’re telling me 100 to 150,000,000 supporter aren’t enough to make any minority feel as secure as all the other minorities?

    I think all the articles are *mainly* about feeding both wolves. Selling light(meaningless fireworks) at the cost of heat.

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