On Homosexuality

My ideas here won’t be too surprising, given my religious-right upbringing, libertarian political leanings, and secular understanding of society. However, I’ve mostly decided I don’t agree with any of the relevant ideas for laws, including those already implemented.

Anti-LGBT violence is alive and well. I don’t pretend to understand what goes on inside the heads of people who do that. And I want to make clear that I don’t agree with it; no one should live in fear because of their lifestyle.

Gay marriage is a gray area for me. I don’t agree with a law requiring marriages to be heterosexual. I think there’s a good chance that sociological problems can arise from not encouraging heterosexuality, especially regarding parenthood. That would, however, not be the job of the government.

Homophobia, as an everyday attitude arising from suppressed homosexual desire, doesn’t seem to me to be a real thing. If a gay guy decides to dress or behave in a way that makes his sexuality apparent, he should expect his interactions to be sexualized. I honestly don’t want to be around a heterosexual of either gender who does that. (For example, I don’t recommend wearing any of this.)

If a gay guy doesn’t sexualize himself but still finds people acting strangely, I would chalk that up to the fear of the unknown, and the politicized nature of homosexuality. Suppressed desire does not seem to me to be necessary to explain any of this.

I know this is an unpopular opinion – from the left and maybe even the right. Please don’t simply tell me I have the wrong opinion; explain why it’s wrong.

Changes

  • 2015-06-21 – I’ve moved from not really having an opinion on policy to opposing all laws related to sexuality, including those concerned with “discrimination,” which is usually not the government’s concern. In particular, I used to think laws might be appropriate to encourage heterosexuality.
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9 thoughts on “On Homosexuality

  1. Pingback: Libertarianism of Women (or: On Feminism) | The Enchanted Spider-Web

  2. ravenhurtfew

    Hello! I followed you back from your reply to me at Central Standard Times. Thanks for that!

    I do apologize in advance for the length of this reply, but we do live in interesting times.

    Your points are well made, but also very one-track, as though homosexuality as a thing should be placed on one track and pushed along on that track only. If this, then that. Were heterosexuality swapped out for homosexuality in this post, the propositions would be odd and stifling.

    Anti-LGBT violence, gay marriage as a gray area, gay men sexualizing themselves… You yourself seem to understand that these conversations are all politicizations. (Also, this particular conversation is purely about gay men and not the broader group.)

    Deep down, in these discussions we feel a sense of futility because we know we don’t have to create a “policy” about homosexuals or anyone else. Yes, groups have grievances, but if you’ll notice, all those grievances are always just trying to catch up to the advantages of the main group.

    – Some gay men overtly sexualize themselves. I call this the “Hey, look at me, I exist!” phenomenon. As strange as it might sound, they’re a small minority within the larger group of gay men. Most of society hates the hell out of these men. But their yells for attention is what has saved most of their lives today. And also what has brought so many people to whatever acceptance of homosexuality they can muster. A ton of gay men are not like this; they can “pass” for straight. They spend their whole lives in hiding and never risk getting clubbed to death on the street. And they stay silent when people complain bitterly about homosexuals. But these flamboyant/over the top gay men always brought attention to the fact that homosexuality exists and it is being brutalized. Think of it as their lot in this stage of history.

    Tangentially, also think of it like this: At the turn of the century, imagine how disgusted people must have been at the length of women’s dresses shortening to show ankles and calves and even knees. Young women running around in groups with no men or chaperons, talking and giggling and flirting in the sight and hearing of everyone. It must have been completely disgusting for a lot of people. But this was also on the road to emancipating females from bad history. Now we’re completely used to seeing a woman walking around in a mid thigh skirt and short sleeved, V-neck blouse and her hair down, and think nothing of it; it doesn’t look sexualized to us at all.

    Gay men who sexualize themselves are perfectly within their rights as people to do so. Eventually, some gay men will feel they no longer have to (while others will continue, because whatever the political climate, some people, male or female, like to dress like that). Once upon a time, a majority of gay men had to “date” by hanging around parks and public toilets and abandoned buildings at night. Now all of them date in restaurants, have sex in their own beds, marital or not, and celebrate anniversaries like everyone else. With a conscious push, the group and its culture is being permitted to normalize across society.

    – Homophobia as an everyday attitude arising from suppressed homosexual desire exists. Conflating it with people who hate or are disgusted to see men in over-sexualized attire doesn’t negate its existence. Both are separate things. And even the people who experience both attitudes may not themselves know to distinguish.

    But if I get your point, it’s that over-sexualized men should expect negative sexualized encounters because of general disgust for such things. Sure, if you’re in a conference room, where it would be inappropriate. But why so in a bar or on the street with everyone else? If a group of men walked by a woman wearing a see-through plastic blouse and screamed at her that she was a slut, or actually attacked her, people would think that was nuts and out of control. What would be normal would be for everyone to roll their eyes and wonder what the hell she thought she was doing.

    – One can’t “encourage” heterosexuality. Despite all the noise and fury, human sexuality persists in its complex manifestations. Whether we as society in general hate, accept, discuss, intellectualize, marginalize, ignore, or rationalize it, it exists outside of our attempts at metaphysical control. I’m heterosexual, and no amount of “encouraging” increases it in me, anymore than encouraging my eyes to remain brown is what keeps them brown. I think that the best a civil society can do for itself is to protect all equally.

    – Please believe me when I tell you that heterosexuality has nothing whatsoever to do with parenthood. There are mass populations all over the world where father and mother are biological terms, but parenthood is a single/dual choice that cannot be forced based on sexuality. Children the world over are literally dying for good parenting and the ability should not be licensed. There are people parenting who will never get societal accolades, but let’s not get together and further remove their ability through laws.

    Finally, because in modern times we tend to believe we invented everything, we’re not remembering that heterosexuality wasn’t beatified until religions went global. Throughout human history different cultures have shown varying degrees of tolerance to non-dominant sexualities and have gone with whatever flow allowed them to exist and co-exist.

    The tensions we’re facing today in societies everywhere is that technology has trended for decades towards giving marginalized groups a voice. Those voices are unusual to the mainstream and so everyone wants to figure it out.

    It’s very difficult for any majority to wrap their heads around what minorities do or *are,* and for a very simple reason: I’ve been to so many places and seen so many things that I don’t exaggerate when I say that nearly every single behavior from a dominant group is a minority behavior somewhere else. Minority groups are difficult to quantify because they are everyone.

    Technology will only makes things “worse.” In 20 yrs’ time we’ll have been so exposed to truly alien cultures right here on earth that worrying about what to do about the gays will seem like the good old days.

    Carl Sagan, the human being I’ve loved the most in my life :), said in an episode of Cosmos that there are so many possibilities for human cellular variation that in the future our biology might decide we’re better with four arms instead of two. I’ve always wondered what human cultures would be like then.

    Thanks for allowing me the chat. 🙂

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    1. mihipte Post author

      Oh wow, that is long. 😀 I have to say, that you would follow me back from that comment and write a monster comment seems to say a lot about how much you agree with what I said back at CST. I feel warm and fuzzy.

      You should know that conditional logic (“if this, then that”) is a really deep habit for me, possibly because I’m a programmer. Also, I might say something at odds with the post, because my opinions have changed slightly. I’ve already changed what I saw; if you point out more, I’ll update it and add a note so the comments don’t lose context.

      What do you mean by the label of “politicizations”? Yes, we’re talking about politics; so?

      I see no reason to expect that lesbians would present a different situation than gay men. If English had a way to consistently use gender-neutral words (particularly third-person pronouns), I would have done it, but I find the “or” strategy (he or she, gay guy or gal, gay or lesbian person, etc.) very clumsy and unnecessary.

      I don’t accept the idea that sexuality is set at birth, so I think we *can* encourage heterosexuality. I don’t know how that would be done, but I suspect it shouldn’t involve the government.

      I don’t support a law rewarding heterosexuality; I also don’t support a law preventing private institutions from doing as they wish in this area. This is not the government’s problem, except that the marriage license shouldn’t exist. Civil unions are fine, but don’t force churches to marry “diverse” couples.

      In response to your comment about revealing clothing, well now we’re venturing into feminist territory. I think the social standard of feminine beauty is part of the problem of “systemic sexism.” Yes, all of this stuff is socially accepted, but it still makes people interact differently, and the women are the ones spending a whole lot of time and money to make it happen. This probably needs to be its own post.

      *Of course* sexualized clothing is within people’s rights, but I have a right, even a reflex, to treat them differently for it. That’s not going to be the guy I sit down to talk with. If I do end up in a conversation with him, by default I won’t take him seriously. And that’s his choice. It works the same with people sporting mohawks.

      “If a group of men walked by a woman wearing a see-through plastic blouse and screamed at her that she was a slut, or actually attacked her, people would think that was nuts and out of control.”

      Note that I said “everyday attitude.” Anti-LGBT violence is not a common sight, while sexualized gay guys are. (Lesbians aren’t, or maybe I just can’t spot them.) When such violence happens, maybe it’s because the perps are actually homosexual. I’m inclined to think that’s an ironic sense of humor on overdrive; I suspect that the attackers are defending the existing social order, just like white racist punks who attack black folks.

      If homosexuality is, fundamentally, just as normal as heterosexuality, that should be born out by culture when government stays out of it. Leave people alone and let them associate as they wish. Then shame them in the public square if you find it necessary (as overused as that right is). But don’t send the cops to enforce your opinion.

      I agree with your points about social tension and technology.

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  3. ravenhurtfew

    – I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to shame people for things personal. And I can’t think of any situation where society at large would find it “necessary” to do so. I’m not sure either how it’s a “right” or whose right that would be.

    – In saying social interactions are politicized I mean that rather than letting certain things be sorted between individuals the state wants to turn them into laws and policies.

    Sexuality has become horrendously politicized, right from the first of notion making unfair decisions about certain types of sexual interactions – i.e. if between the same sex, then criminal. The practice isn’t modern of course, neither is the protest of it. But technology amplifies everything. And also because of it modern society feels it has to have an answer to every last “issue” plaguing those who don’t like what they’re seeing.

    – Lesbians are indeed different from gay men, just as female is different in psychology, physiology, biology and behavior from male. Not recognizing this had caused even science and medicine serious problems historically.

    – You really don’t believe you’re born with your sexual orientation, however expansive or fixed it might be? So you believe, presumably as strictly heterosexual, that you can be encouraged/convinced/trained to fall in love with and desire men? Aside the fact that “encouraging” heterosexuality, whether by laws or other means, isn’t science based, it’s caused hideous damage over centuries: methods used have been nothing short of torture porn in disguise. And I think beyond that, the question remains: why? We can’t all be one race or color or ethnicity, why must we be all one sexual orientation?

    [An interesting side note and an addendum to the irony of human behavior is that plenty of gay men and lesbians don’t themselves believe in bisexuality, especially in men. They fight tooth and nail that they themselves are homosexual, but the existence of bisexuality to them in a myth, used by gay men to hide that they’re gay. Women, sure, everyone knows women like to get busy with each other. But men? Nah.]

    – Churches can’t be “forced” to do anything – government can’t even stop them from denying life saving medical care to little children based on religious belief. Since churches don’t issue marriage licenses, the issue of whether or not ceremonies are held within their walls is entirely a community issue.

    – I’m not sure I follow how my example of revealing clothing leads into feminist territory. I guess you mean the right of women to wear whatever they wish being a “feminist” concept? And that consequences follow, such consequences being the cause of the women themselves?

    – Anti-LGBT is actually a daily occurrence across the US and the world. [Though it might only make news occasionally or if heinous enough.] And I’m sure it happens for as many reasons as there are humans brains to think them.

    All this brings me to an overall point and back to my initial observation about the way you parse your thoughts – your “conditional logic,” as you explained. It’s definitely a mode of thinking that has little to no application to society, as human society has its own entirely different set of behavior logic. And it sure doesn’t involve reaching for absolutes. Even the very best legal and philosophical minds can only extrapolate.

    So much so that in writing laws for the organization of a free society, the lawmakers do best when they take a largely hands-off approach. Conditional logic would break down not only right out of the gate but would probably take the whole system down with it.

    The reason US society became great is because its founding fathers and one founding mother that we know of were exposed to and grasped this basic concept.

    And I think the reason US society now seems in danger of factioning along so many lines is because over-politicization has reduced a vast multicultural nation to very small things. To the view that we must think every last one of these small things to a logical end, and we must have a way to police all of it. It’s futility itself. I’m pretty sure it’s why Marxism can’t seem to take off and why fascism breaks down so easily.

    What we’re engaged in here – you and I – is merely rhetoric. Labeling, categorization, “further discussion,” of other people’s lives. Though it’s enjoyable if you’re a philosopher at heart, it’s not really real. The only thing real is, not even judgement, but liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    And yeah, I going to say it, that’s why America is the greatest country on Earth. Haha.

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    1. mihipte Post author

      “What we’re engaged in here – you and I – is merely rhetoric. Labeling, categorization, “further discussion,” of other people’s lives. Though it’s enjoyable if you’re a philosopher at heart, it’s not really real. The only thing real is, not even judgement, but liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

      I’m not sure what your point is. Yes, I enjoy this kind of discussion. I also consider it important for liberty, since we’re supposed to be governing each other.

      “I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to shame people for things personal. And I can’t think of any situation where society at large would find it “necessary” to do so. I’m not sure either how it’s a “right” or whose right that would be.”

      I was primarily thinking of shaming performed by liberals, of people who’ve expressed some unaccepted opinion.

      Legally, of course it’s a right, because it’s protected speech (absent any unprotected bits). It’s an ethical right if and only if it’s constructive, because I’m a utilitarian.

      I should have said “constructive,” not “necessary,” which requires far more evidence. Suppose mankind is responsible for climate change, and you live in a state with no laws concerning it. Your neighbor drives a Hummer, frequently uses his private jet, etc. (Nice neighborhood!) You approach him, but he’s totally resistant to your pleas. For the good of the planet, should you shame him? Are his travel habits personal, or does the environmental harm make him worthy of a good shaming? I could probably paint a similar world where any arbitrary “personal” thing is a public concern. I consider shaming an important regulatory tool of any society.

      “In saying social interactions are politicized I mean that rather than letting certain things be sorted between individuals the state wants to turn them into laws and policies.”

      Ah, I agree! Some issues don’t belong in law at all, and others should be at the state level rather than federal.

      “Lesbians are indeed different from gay men, just as female is different in psychology, physiology, biology and behavior from male. Not recognizing this had caused even science and medicine serious problems historically.”

      That still doesn’t seem material to our conversation. Is there some difference I’ve glossed over?

      “You really don’t believe you’re born with your sexual orientation, however expansive or fixed it might be? So you believe, presumably as strictly heterosexual, that you can be encouraged/convinced/trained to fall in love with and desire men?”

      (Yes, heterosexual.) Why should I believe otherwise? I have no evidence, other than essentially every other behavioral pattern being learned. Why should sexuality be any different?

      “Aside the fact that “encouraging” heterosexuality, whether by laws or other means, isn’t science based, it’s caused hideous damage over centuries: methods used have been nothing short of torture porn in disguise.”

      I don’t know much about the attempts to psychologically recondition homosexual people; from what I have read, I don’t support it. Note, I don’t think laws should be used here either; I would leave this to the private sector.

      “And I think beyond that, the question remains: why? We can’t all be one race or color or ethnicity, why must we be all one sexual orientation?”

      I don’t believe diversity of behaviour is an intrinsic good, so you might as well be arguing about whether chairs should have four or five legs. Experiment and see what works best.

      “Churches can’t be “forced” to do anything – government can’t even stop them from denying life saving medical care to little children based on religious belief. Since churches don’t issue marriage licenses, the issue of whether or not ceremonies are held within their walls is entirely a community issue.”

      This is holding for now, but it’s not a given. A related issue which involves a business rather than a church: http://abcnews.go.com/US/judge-orders-colorado-bakery-cater-sex-weddings/story?id=21136505

      “I’m not sure I follow how my example of revealing clothing leads into feminist territory. I guess you mean the right of women to wear whatever they wish being a “feminist” concept? And that consequences follow, such consequences being the cause of the women themselves?”

      Yes, and policing people’s reactions to such unusual behavior seems to be popular among liberals. Aaand we’re back on the shaming topic.

      “Anti-LGBT is actually a daily occurrence across the US and the world. [Though it might only make news occasionally or if heinous enough.] And I’m sure it happens for as many reasons as there are humans brains to think them.”

      I think we lost track of our topic here. I’ll rephrase my claim to omit the troublesome language:

      I don’t believe aversion to homosexual people is born out of suppressed homosexual desire, pending a very surprising consensus in the psychological/psychiatric community that this is the typical case. (A consensus that it’s infrequently the case would be insignificant to my opinion, except right now I don’t think it ever is.)

      Such aversion seems to usually be a perfectly normal reaction to 1) the unknown, 2) ew, private parts and sex, and 3) strange behavior, appearance, etc. And then there’s the nutjob who attacks someone.

      “All this brings me to an overall point and back to my initial observation about the way you parse your thoughts – your “conditional logic,” as you explained. It’s definitely a mode of thinking that has little to no application to society, as human society has its own entirely different set of behavior logic. And it sure doesn’t involve reaching for absolutes. Even the very best legal and philosophical minds can only extrapolate.”

      I’m totally confused. What absolutes? I thought I was giving enough qualifiers and caveats… And how do you think society’s behavior logic works? Is it somehow not predicated on predicates?

      I should note that’s kind of a trick question, because conditional logic can be used to determine a solution for any solvable problem. Which would apply to law even if I did believe in free will.

      “So much so that in writing laws for the organization of a free society, the lawmakers do best when they take a largely hands-off approach. Conditional logic would break down not only right out of the gate but would probably take the whole system down with it.”

      I agree that it needs to be hands-off.

      “And I think the reason US society now seems in danger of factioning along so many lines is because over-politicization has reduced a vast multicultural nation to very small things. To the view that we must think every last one of these small things to a logical end, and we must have a way to police all of it. It’s futility itself. I’m pretty sure it’s why Marxism can’t seem to take off and why fascism breaks down so easily.”

      I’m not trying to write legislation; my thoughts on this topic only rarely relate to law or politics.

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      1. ravenhurtfew

        The idea of being able to shame your neighbor is largely creepy, because historically it always snakes into darker territory. If your neighbor’s behavior is bad for the overall planet’s long term climate, for example, a push for changes in even just municipal law and policy seems more logical.

        “I don’t believe diversity of behaviour is an intrinsic good,”

        This might explain why you’re writing so much and struggling with so much. 🙂 You’re trying to control a world in which diversity is cellularly built in. And assigning morality to neutral manifestations of it. As an example, when Paul the Apostle was writing his letters to the new Christian churches in the Greek world, he was reviled by sexuality. Be it heterosexual, homosexual, for pay, for love, whatever. This diversity of sexual behavior in his society was not an “intrinsic” good to him. The churches pushed back and he backed off and allowed for heterosexual acts in marriage. But two thousand years of not wanting diversity of behavior has had no effect on biology or nature, even among staunch Christians. And certainly, naming it good and bad has at best caused a lot of misery.

        “A related issue which involves a business rather than a church:http://abcnews.Go.Com/us/judge-orders-colorado-bakery-cater-sex-weddings/story?Id=21136505

        Legally, it’s not related. Religion is constitutionally protected, which is why government can’t force churches, temples or synagogues to do anything. Whereas businesses exist by government license and are so regulated. Government has generally found and so makes policy that businesses may not deny service to a category of persons because it disrupts commerce within that region and across state lines. Churches do not have to perform marriage ceremonies because their existence is not based on government licensing or laws and their existence is in fact protected as a human right. But operating a business is a legal / governmental construct and if a business owner feels that their religion prohibits them from serving categories of persons, that business is jeopardizing their license to conduct business under state laws. It’s certainly not personal to any religion. And it’s not related to any church.

        Maybe I’m misunderstanding your positions one by one, but they seem to read as though driving towards trying to micromanage other people’s behavior. Or at least, thinking about how it could be done. My apologies if I’m misconstruing.

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    2. mihipte Post author

      “The idea of being able to shame your neighbor is largely creepy, because historically it always snakes into darker territory. If your neighbor’s behavior is bad for the overall planet’s long term climate, for example, a push for changes in even just municipal law and policy seems more logical.”

      I think forbidding that type of speech sounds creepier. And I’m not sure what “darker territory” you’re referring to; I don’t think shaming is anywhere near consistently harmful. I’ll grant, though, that I can’t think of an argument against it essentially being low-key vigilantism. And often a better tool might be available, or it might not; maybe you already tried the policy route. Maybe shaming is your path to a public acknowledgement of the problem. Maybe a law can’t address the problem, such as a Confederate flag in someone’s yard.

      “This might explain why you’re writing so much and struggling with so much. 🙂 You’re trying to control a world in which diversity is cellularly built in. And assigning morality to neutral manifestations of it.”

      I didn’t intend to imply that diversity in general has a (lack of) moral value. But, at a policy level, I don’t see a point in encouraging (or discouraging) something simply because it’s different from everything else. And I don’t see a point in preventing someone else from discouraging (or encouraging) it.

      “As an example, when Paul the Apostle was writing his letters to the new Christian churches in the Greek world, he was reviled by sexuality. Be it heterosexual, homosexual, for pay, for love, whatever. This diversity of sexual behavior in his society was not an “intrinsic” good to him. The churches pushed back and he backed off and allowed for heterosexual acts in marriage. But two thousand years of not wanting diversity of behavior has had no effect on biology or nature, even among staunch Christians. And certainly, naming it good and bad has at best caused a lot of misery.”

      Paul was initially against monogamy? I’m intrigued, but [citation needed].

      “Legally, it’s not related. Religion is constitutionally protected, which is why government can’t force churches, temples or synagogues to do anything.”

      I have no confidence in the U.S. government’s adherence to the Constitution. From what I can tell, they’ve all but announced they don’t bother anymore. Even rulings with beneficial effects, such as that on marriage equality, are based on the Supreme Court’s whim rather than anything substantial.

      “Whereas businesses exist by government license and are so regulated. Government has generally found and so makes policy that businesses may not deny service to a category of persons because it disrupts commerce within that region and across state lines.”

      Disrupts commerce? This is an argument I haven’t seen before. First impression: It sounds like they had another reason and found a way to make it fit under the commerce clause. That’s more constitutional effort than I see anymore.

      “But operating a business is a legal / governmental construct and if a business owner feels that their religion prohibits them from serving categories of persons, that business is jeopardizing their license to conduct business under state laws. It’s certainly not personal to any religion. And it’s not related to any church.”

      The government has a right to tax transactions, enforce contraband laws, and ensure the safety of an establishment. I can’t think of any other legitimate reason for the government to interfere in a business relationship. If I don’t want a business relationship with you, that’s none of the government’s business.

      “Maybe I’m misunderstanding your positions one by one, but they seem to read as though driving towards trying to micromanage other people’s behavior. Or at least, thinking about how it could be done. My apologies if I’m misconstruing.”

      I’m arguing for less laws than you, and I’m micromanaging? If society has a tendency toward some behavior, my default assumption is that the behavior is somehow healthy. Unless the behavior is shown to be dangerous or harmful, leave it alone and let it run its course. (Offensive and inconvenient don’t count as harmful.) Society will seek equilibrium; the government’s job is to tweak the undesirable traits out of that equilibrium with minimal interference.

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      1. ravenhurtfew

        “I think forbidding that type of speech sounds creepier. ”

        No, not talking about forbidding anything. Never that. Just remarking on the idea of being entitled to do anything to someone else. Shaming as a word has been conflated into so many other arenas where it doesn’t belong. The idea of shaming someone because they may not know the full history or implication of their harmful behaviour is one thing, but making personal forays into people’s personal lives in the name of shaming is just not civil.

        “I don’t see a point in encouraging (or discouraging) something simply because it’s different from everything else.”

        Frankly speaking, even you would get tired of speaking in an echo chamber. The problem with “encouraging diversity” as I’ve seen it in U.S. mainstream culture is the simple fear of conflict and confrontation. Because the U.S.’s history with minority groups has been so dirty, majority groups are naturally repelled by the idea of widespread integration and having to hear / look at certain things. I’ve seen people who share the same goals and across the spectrum of ethnicities in the country but I see complaints of “don’t force diversity on anyone” keeping them all apart. In America, from what I’ve seen, when people complain about “diversity,” they’re complaining about the superficial things.

        “Paul was initially against monogamy? I’m intrigued, but [citation needed].”

        It’s 1 Corinthians 7. It’s where the church in Corinth gets back to Paul on his doctrine that men and women shouldn’t have sex, period. He’s forced to modify and say they can have sex within marriage. But not before. And that it really would be better if they didn’t have sex at all, like him, but that since everyone can’t do it, they should get married instead.

        Interestingly, he does tell them that he doesn’t actually have any commands from “the Lord,” it’s just based on his judgment as a divinely inspired.

        Also interestingly, because of the [frustrated sounding] back and forth between Paul and the early churches, a lot of which forced Paul back on some of his most extreme doctrines, I believe that Christians today should also push back on many of those same doctrines which are still in application today but no longer relevant. Paul had to adjust to Hellenistic culture – from out of Jewish historical and religious culture – and it’s strange to me that church leaders today, such as the Catholic Pope, can’t seem to do the same. They’re losing their faithful just as Paul feared he would do and adjusted accordingly.

        “Even rulings with beneficial effects, such as that on marriage equality, are based on the Supreme Court’s whim rather than anything substantial.”

        That’s hard to rationalize, based on the constitutional basis the Court relied on, Equal Protection of the laws. The issue might arise if one doesn’t believe that sexual orientation is immutable. But even if the premise is that sexual orientation *is* mutable, the question of adequate state interest for the exclusion of two same-sex adults from the civil contract of marriage still stands.

        “Disrupts commerce? This is an argument I haven’t seen before. First impression: It sounds like they had another reason and found a way to make it fit under the commerce clause.”

        That’s pretty much how it went down. It’s ironic that you feel it’s more constitutional effort than you see anymore, because during it’s – rather smart – formulation, conservative states were livid. It was then later used as the basis for outlawing minority segregation in business, so you can imagine the terrific rage among the states. Scores of segregationist state laws were passed in the wake of it, and legal lore has it that it’s the origin of the “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” sign seen in most businesses.

        “If I don’t want a business relationship with you, that’s none of the government’s business.”

        See above. To be sure, the government doesn’t force anyone doing business into business relationships or contracts. I’d posit however that government issuing state business licenses and thus regulating business, has made for a wealthier, more civil society. Not to mention, since we’re all paying taxes for the roads and water and electricity and so on that allow businesses to run smoothly, we should all at minimum expect common courtesy.

        To be clear, I’m for less laws. I think it’s notable that the US Constitution is a slight document. And I think that were it not for the rampant racial and ethnic strife in the US, and the sometimes blatant intent of state laws to exclude and torment nonwhites, pretty much every issue in the national/state spotlight can be resolved by a referral back to the main document and its amendments.

        It’s intensely admirable how in the US the laws of control are directed at “the state.” So that (1) their power is actively and continually limited, (2) burden of proof is always on them, and (3) mandate to treat all equally is likewise always on them. As I’d stated in a previous comment, Americans are quite free to carry on as they wish in their private lives. But once we leave our front doors and step out onto the street, ours is one of the only multi-ethnic societies on Earth that has laws that work to keep us all moving forward. The US could easily be apartheid South Africa within a short period of time. I’ve seen both, and I can honestly tell you that it very, very easily creeps up. It’s that beautiful, “state”-focused Constitution that keeps us – sometimes forces us – in an open, relatively level playing field. All of us will be “the petitioner” one day.

        P.S. I’m very sorry for my delay in responding. Life. 🙂

        Like

  4. mihipte Post author

    “P.S. I’m very sorry for my delay in responding. Life. :)”

    🙂 I actually thought I had scared you off. I’m glad you stayed, especially since I think I might seem a consensus forming. And I believe that’s the only legitimate purpose of this sort of conversation.

    “The idea of shaming someone because they may not know the full history or implication of their harmful behaviour is one thing, but making personal forays into people’s personal lives in the name of shaming is just not civil.”

    I’m getting the idea that we disagree on this only by a small degree. Typically I’m in your position, arguing against shaming as a tactic, but I don’t believe in ruling it out.

    This podcast episode was released after my last post, and one of its topics is close enough to this issue to stand in as my response. I hope you’re in a position to listen to it; if not, I can summarize it: https://soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/the-dark-side

    “Frankly speaking, even you would get tired of speaking in an echo chamber. The problem with ‘encouraging diversity’ as I’ve seen it in U.S. mainstream culture is the simple fear of conflict and confrontation. Because the U.S.’s history with minority groups has been so dirty, majority groups are naturally repelled by the idea of widespread integration and having to hear / look at certain things. I’ve seen people who share the same goals and across the spectrum of ethnicities in the country but I see complaints of ‘don’t force diversity on anyone’ keeping them all apart. In America, from what I’ve seen, when people complain about ‘diversity,’ they’re complaining about the superficial things.”

    That’s just uncanny. This looks like an argument I would make if I were embedded in a conservative online community.

    1. My social media presence is all about eliminating echo chambers, primarily mine but also those of everyone I meet.

    2. I have no problem with diversity itself; in fact, racial integration is one of the issues that can get me to agree with government action, although I go there reluctantly. But diversity as a pseudo-platonic ideal is morally neutral, because it’s removed from any system in which it might “work” or “not work” (there’s my utilitarianism again). Each type of diversity must have its own case made for why it’s worth any effort.

    3. I see similar wasted potential for cooperation.

    4. All of that said, I rarely agree with forcing diversity.

    “It’s 1 Corinthians 7. …”

    Aha, I’m slipping. Not too long ago, I would have remembered the gist of that immediately. Agnosticism has a deleterious effect on my Bible knowledge. Heh.

    To return to your original point:

    “This might explain why you’re writing so much and struggling with so much. 🙂 You’re trying to control a world in which diversity is cellularly built in.”

    I don’t think that’s accurate. I think the left would like to artificially generate diversity using the government, and I’m generally opposed to that (plus I’m doubtful it would even work). I would restrain them, not diversity.

    “Interestingly, he does tell them that he doesn’t actually have any commands from ‘the Lord,’ it’s just based on his judgment as a divinely inspired.”

    That passage is actually useful for arguing that Paul didn’t consider himself divinely inspired. If he has a direct line to God, why is he unsure on this point? That was part of my path out of Christianity.

    “That’s hard to rationalize, based on the constitutional basis the Court relied on, Equal Protection of the laws.”

    If Equal Protection applies to marriage, may I marry my brother or sister? Why should our status as siblings matter? This especially applies if it’s my brother, as there’s no chance of inbred offspring. Or what if we all three decided to marry each other? What if I decide I love my dog and want to marry her? Why am I then less protected than people with more conventional amorosity?

    Furthermore, this understanding of Equal Protection seems to imply that government-funded schools could not afford special consideration to minorities or poor students. If laws may not consider the particular characteristics of citizens, they are by definition colorblind. Or do you have reason to not consider this a double standard?

    I actually think the marriage license is a silly idea and would support its abolition, although contract law would probably need to be tweaked in order to fill the void left by the absence of marriage.

    On the other hand, I disagree with the implied definition of “protection.” What are we being protected from? Specifically, what does marriage protect us from? Taxes? Is marriage simply the most ironclad declaration of inheritance? As I mentioned, I think contract law is a better tool for that problem. But I see no constitutional problem with marriage being defined as between one man and one woman. If you want to commit to someone of the same sex and hold a ceremony, go ahead. That has nothing to do with law.

    “It’s ironic that you feel it’s more constitutional effort than you see anymore, because during it’s – rather smart – formulation, conservative states were livid.”

    The irony was fully intended. I think it’s a despicable logic.

    “To be sure, the government doesn’t force anyone doing business into business relationships or contracts.”

    Oh, but it does. The gay wedding cake I mentioned is a perfect example of this. Laws against discrimination in private-sector employment would be another. Barring a contract to the contrary, my relationship with one person does not, per “political ethics,” obligate me to a similar relationship with another person. And the government has no place predicating a business license on such a contract.

    “Not to mention, since we’re all paying taxes for the roads and water and electricity and so on that allow businesses to run smoothly, we should all at minimum expect common courtesy.”

    Of course, courtesy is great, and at an individual level it’s ethically required. But, as a political consideration, absolutely not.

    “To be clear, I’m for less laws. I think it’s notable that the US Constitution is a slight document. And I think that were it not for the rampant racial and ethnic strife in the US, and the sometimes blatant intent of state laws to exclude and torment nonwhites, pretty much every issue in the national/state spotlight can be resolved by a referral back to the main document and its amendments.”

    I agree.

    “The US could easily be apartheid South Africa within a short period of time.”

    Yep. I really hope the next president is hamstrung by Congress for 8 years, because all of the candidates suck.

    Like

    Reply

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