Horowitz accuses Christian right of “intolerance” toward gays
has published a blistering attack
on the leaders of the Christian conservative organizations for their strong criticisms of GOP chairman Mark Racicot’s meeting with the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay organization. Here is a letter to Horowitz
that I posted today at Front Page.
In your attack on the Christian conservative organizations for protesting GOP chairman Mark Racicot’s meeting with the Human Rights Campaign, you’re wrong on two key points:
First, it is wrong to make this a matter of “intolerance.” If you oppose an organization on principle, on the basis that that organization has a loathsome agenda that is utterly harmful to society, then urging the president or the GOP chairman not to meet with that organization is not “intolerance” but a proper expression of moral and political principle. To make “tolerance” the guiding standard of political life, as you attempt to do here, is the essence of radical liberalism that makes any common standards impossible. Such “tolerance” is also impossible to practice consistently. For example, if the Christian right urged the President not to meet with the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or with supporters of terrorism, I’m sure you wouldn’t call that “intolerance.” When Mayor Giuliani refused to meet with Al Sharpton at the beginning of his mayorty, I’m sure you didn’t consider that an act of “intolerance,” but the proper shunning of a person who ought to be shunned. You would have considered it an act of moral and political leadership, not an “intolerant” act.
So, if you disagree prudentially with the Christian right leaders on this particular issue, then disagree with them. But to accuse them of “intolerance” is to mouth a liberal slogan rather than to make a substantive argument.
Second, it is false to deny, as you deny in your article, that there is a radical gay agenda and that the Human Rights Campaign represents it. That agenda ranges from gay marriage to gay adoption to gay propagandizing in the schools to the ostracism of the Boy Scouts to the complete forbidding of any criticism of homosexuality. The fact that some gays as individuals vote Republican is irrelevant to the fact that there is a radical—and extremely evil—homosexual agenda.
In conclusion, I repeat that to make “tolerance” the ruling principle of politics is not conservative, but the very essence of radical liberalism, because it leads to a society that cannot say no to ANYTHING, including terrorism, including anti-Semitism, including every manner of evil. Please see my article on this subject that you published at FrontPage: “Liberalism: The Real Cause of Today’s Anti-Semitism.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 20, 2003 02:56 PM | Send
A poster named Cincinnatus replied to my comment at FrontPage:
“First, thanks for a thoughtful response. Could you elaborate for us what a conservative position would be on this issue?
“Frankly, I have not found a comfort zone with how to deal with it…. Certainly I do not want to endorse or encourage, but also I don’t want to ridicule or ostracize those who—privately—are engaged in sexual activities of their own choosing. Where do we draw the line? Must we endorse same sex marriages or gladly turn our children over to gay scout leaders? It seems to me that David has raised an important issue, but that no answer is put forward that makes sense. Might it be found in the legal realm—the separation of private and public behavior, for example? … I am not aware (though I might be wrong) that even activist homosexual groups are advocating the denial of rights to others. But correct me. I am asking questions—and would be interested in a serious discussion on the matter, especially before we self-destruct and make John Kerry president.”
Here is the reply I posted to him:
Cincinnatus has asked a good question—what would the conservative position be on this issue. I’ll try to answer it.
Liberalism tries to organize society on the basis that there shall be no publicly recogized moral good. The idea is that all goods shall be seen as equally good and equally deserving of respect; therefore tolerance, rather than agreement on a common or higher good, becomes the operating principle.
The liberal vision is false to the nature of man, because man is a being who is oriented both toward a higher good and toward a common social existence. The liberal vision is also practically unsustainable, because in reality you cannot practice universal “tolerance” for everyone and everything and go on existing. Liberalism thus REQUIRES massive hypocrisy. The liberal will loudly demand that we be “tolerant” and “non-judgmental” toward one thing, but then, when something else appears that he disapproves of, his tolerance goes out the window and he will furiously denounce it. The liberal has his favored notion of the morally good, of the things he will applaud and the things he will ostracize, but his liberal ideology pretends otherwise. This actually makes modern liberal societies less free than traditional Western societies, because liberal societies conceal their own favored ruling principles, and as a result power becomes invisible and unaccountable. In traditional societies, which openly define what they see as the good, you at least know where you stand.
So there is no substitute for a higher moral good and for some kind of public agreement on what constitutes that good. The only question is whether it will be done openly and subject to discussion, as in traditional Western society, or done secretely, hypocritically, and tyrannically, as under modern liberalism with its regime of political correctness.
On the specific question of homosexuality, a commenter at View from the Right stated this summary of the issue with which I agree:
“1) Sodomy is immoral, period. It should never be treated formally and publicly as if it were not immoral.
“2) What the law should actually require and enforce is a matter of prudential judgement. The law need not (and indeed should not) comprehensively enforce what is morally right, but it should support the good and at the least should be consistent with it.”
Let me add that through all Western history including American history up to the 1960s, there was general agreement on those propositions. It is only in the post-Sixties period that we have made nonjudgmental “tolerance” our ruling principle—in sexual matters and elsewhere.
The substance of Horowitz’s argument is that homosexuality isn’t a political issue, it’s a religious and moral issue, and since we should all be trying to put together a political coalition, conservative Christians should lay off the issue.
The argument is misconceived. HRC wants to abolish sex as something ordered socially, turning it into an individual good like economic well-being that each of us pursues with the support and approval of the government and society generally.
That goal can be no more acceptable to a conservatism worth the name than the communist goal of abolishing property. Sex, like property, is one of the basic things that constitutes society. It *essentially* relates to other people. It’s central to family relations, and the family is the fundamental social institution. To make it strictly individual and private is to strike at the root of human self-organization and make some brutal and degraded mixture of tyranny and anarchy inevitable.
This really is not an issue on which compromise is possible.
Dear Mr. Auster,
I located this jewel on the home page of the
Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political
It is not an exagerration to say that the
underpinnings of this debate and the policies
that lead from them will help shape the kind
of society that we all will inhabit.
Lets hope for more Santorums and Loewenbergs
and fewer Horowitzes and Kennedy’s.
Take at look at this URL:
Here you will see the kind of ‘tolerance’ that some homosexuals have in mind for those who would dare to express an opinion against their deathstyle.
Mr. Horowitz is so wrong. Even his initial statement that the first 4 books of the New Testament don’t mention this practice — what does that have to do with the other clear and explicit references in the rest of the Bible? Take Romans 1 for instance.
Mr. Horowitz has done a great service to the country in many ways, and I have benefited from his efforts. (It’s how I was first introduced to Mr. Auster’s work.) But there are times when all his sense of logic and reason go out the window.
I recall in one of his articles he said he ‘leans’ toward the belief that homosexuality may be an inherited condition. Yet he is loathe to consider the possibility of racial differences in intelligence. The significance of this? — almost zero evidence for the former, and overwhelming evidence in support of the latter. And here you get an idea of how Mr. Horowitz is willing to put his own biases ahead of anything like emperical data. The evidence that acceptance of homosexuality is harmful to a nation’s cultural soul and its health is rather drastic!
It’s times like these where Mr. Horowitz seems almost as liberal as those he criticizes, as if he’s looking at things in terms of results rather than principles.
Another odd thing about Horowitz’s article: He’s not just accusing the Christian right of “intolerance” toward homosexual persons per se; he’s accusing them of “intolerance” toward a radical gay activist organization. It reminds me of how feminists, a few years back, came up with a new form of “intolerance” to indict: “anti-feminism,” meaning any opposition to the feminist agenda. Of course, Horowitz is not saying that any opposition to the radical gay agenda is intolerance. But still, I don’t remember anyone previously using the word “intolerance” in the way Horowitz uses it in this article, to describe people who say: “Here is an organization that is so offensive, so radical, so antithetical to everything we believe, that we don’t think top Republican leaders should meet with them.”
In my opinion religious arguments shouldn’t be used too much in cases like this. In this day and age people who quote scripture in their defence won’t get anywhere because everyone knows that scripture contains POV’s of various holy persons but it does not contain much in the way of arguments.
Homosexuality is culturally (hence ultimately, racially) destructive. It may not *always* be. For instance Greece and Sparta had traditions of homosexuality which probably didn’t harm those societies, because in spite of the whatever homosexuality went on, the men were expected to sire children. In contrast modern day homosexuals seek to destroy the social institutions by which one generation gives rise to another and they also form a subversive subculture which is generally supportive of anti-western leftist causes. In summary, there are plenty of justifiable reasons to oppose homosexuality that have nothing to do with what this or that religious scripture has to say.
Also as Joel pointed out there is far less evidence of heritability of homosexuality than there is of heritability of IQ, but many of the people who loudly affirm the former also loudly deny the latter. This sort of situation happens partly because the leftist social vision is at odds with reality.
One other point that I don’t think i saw made is that, if one claims that homosexuality should be culturally permissible because its a genetically determined condition, then someone else can claim that ‘homophobia’ should likewise be culturally permissible because it might be a genetically determined behaviour itself.
Your points as to the applicability of Scripture versus empirical observation are well taken. But I’m not sure their so mutually exclusive as they might seem. The Bible condemns homosexuality, period. Any attempt to deny this is nonsensical, though I grant that a few still try.
But the dictates of Scripture, based on what is objective truth, would be meaningless if what we have observed over time didn’t affirm the Scriptural teaching. I think in this case, (and any other that comes to mind,) the Biblical teaching has been born out by experience.
The Bible is simply expressing the ‘root’ of the reality — that God created man and woman to be together, and that violating this formula brings serious consequences both to the individual and to society. It was not without some experiential basis that Biblical morality became the basis for Western Civilization, nor is it a coincidence that the embrace of the same contributed to strong families and by extenstion, strong nations.
I lack the scholarly competence to remark on your example of Greece other than to note that some historians have indeed attributed to their licentious practices the eventual decline of their civilization, as Gibbons similarly argued concerning Rome. But I leave that to others.
Your latter point was especially noteworthy, considering where it must inevitably lead in the liberal mindset. The word ‘purge’ comes to mind.
There are many many religions in the world, some of them claiming to have direct teachings from god-figures. Is God going to decend from the sky and save conservatism because we quote some scripture? I think not. I think that religion is important. I’m not a Christian which most of you people may consider to be a failing or sin on my part. I think that we do live in a “moral universe” (so to speak) and religion is bound to be at the centre of any healthy society and morality is intertwined with religion. Because of the interconnectedness of morality and religion, we cannot invoke one to defend the other. Both must be defended by the same, or similar arguments. Fallwell, are you listening?
A corresponent wrote to me defending David Horowitz from my criticisms. Here is our exchange:
Correspondent to LA:
I disagree with your letter to Horowitz. This isn’t the Man-Boy Love Association—which has one political agenda which is about having sex with children—something that would affect everybody and has nothing to do with treating homosexuals as equal citizens. Terrorists of course support a principle that is antithetic to democracy. It’s true the Human Rights Campaign has a leftwing agenda, but would you consider it reasonable for a conservative group to demand that the RNC Chairman not address the NAACP, and then compare it to the Ku Klux Klan? Politics—democratic pluralist politics—is indeed in some basic way about tolerance. We agree to disagree. We concede elections instead of having civil wars. We live with the obnoxious and combat it in the realm of ideas. I didn’t say that Bauer and Co. should lie down and accept the Human Rights’ Campaigns agendas, I just said they shouldn’t bar dialogue with them.
Sharpton is not an organization. A boycott of Sharpton may make specific sense—like boycotting the Man Boy Love Association or the Ku Klux Klan.
The phrase “homosexual agenda” is an intolerant phrase implying as it does (falsely) that all homosexuals are of one mind.
Horowitz never said there wasn’t a radical gay agenda and in fact he said just the opposite—that it was important for conservatives to distinguish between agenda of leftwing gays or the leftwing agenda of some gays and the gays themselves.
Explain how a democracy can function without the principle of tolerance being its central political—not moral—value.
LA to Correspondent:
First of all, I was not necessarily agreeing with the Christian right leaders’ position that Racicot should not meet with the HRC. Rather, I was disagreeing with Horowitz’s characterization of their position as “intolerance.”
Second, if my analogies to NAMBLA, Sharpton, and terrorists were inapt (and I’m not persuaded that they were), let me present a different analogy. If there was a Muslim organization which carried on a range of activities, some of the charitable or mainstream, but whose fundamental objective was to support Muslim terrorism and rejectionism of Israel and to turn America into an Islamic state, and if a group of citizens said to Racicot that such an organization was beyond the pale and that he should not meet with them because that would only help legitimize them, would that be “intolerance”? Or, if a group of citizens urged Racicot not to meet with a pro-Communist organization that believed in a dictatorship of the proletariat, would that be “intolerance”?
My basic point is that the Christian right leaders have substantive views about right and wrong that lead them to consider the HRC beyond the pale for the Republican party. They were not telling Racicot that homosexual persons should not be welcome in the Republican party. They were not telling him that he should never meet with any homosexual spokesmen. They were telling him he should not meet with this particular homosexual organization. So I don’t see how that is “intolerant.”
You write: “The phrase ‘homosexual agenda’ is an intolerant phrase implying as it does (falsely) that all homosexuals are of one mind.”
You’re basically saying that no one can refer to the “homosexual agenda” without being accused of “intolerance.” Now, everyone knows that there is a homosexual agenda and what it consists of. Sure, there are some moderate or conservative-leaning homosexuals who don’t support it. But they are basically non-affiliated and politically negligible. It’s the same old false issue of supposed “moderates” (e.g. “moderate” Muslims) who in practice either support or quietly go along with the radicals. Do I need to remind you that the gay pride parade every year in New York City welcomes NAMBLA? Are you aware of any gay organization that protests the inclusion of NAMBLA?
Then you write: “I never said there wasn’t a radical gay agenda and in fact said just the opposite—that it was important for conservatives to distinguish between … the leftwing agenda of some gays and the gays themselves.”
But in the present discussion, the Christian right was not attacking gays generally, they were attacking the HRC, which you yourself acknowledge has a left-wing agenda. So how can it possibly be offensive to refer to a “homosexual agenda” in the context of criticizing the HRC?
Then you write: “Explain to me how a democracy can function without the principle of tolerance being its central political—not moral—value.”
The question of tolerance is really inappropriate in the context you are presenting. We are not speaking of an entire class of people being socially harmed or verbally or physically attacked or deprived of their rights. We are speaking of the question of whether a particular organization should be welcome within the Republican party.
However, if by tolerance you mean that citizens in a republic should be open to discussion with other citizens, that is of course true. But even that sort of tolerance has its limits. Every community defines itself by what it tolerates and what it doesn’t tolerate. There are things that David Horowitz doesn’t tolerate, i.e., he doesn’t tolerate Christian right leaders telling the GOP chairman that he shouldn’t meet with radical gay activists. So we can’t solve the question before us by reference to tolerance. We can only solve it by reference to our substantive moral and political principles, which lead us to tolerate some things and not tolerate others. Therefore Horowitz’s disagreement with the Christian right should not be based on an undefined abstract ideal of tolerance, but on the substantive disagreement he has with them regarding where the line between the tolerated and the un-tolerated should be drawn. So, if Horowitz thinks the HRC is a legitimate American organization that should be welcome in GOP councils, then he should make that argument. I’m sure his readers would be interested in seeing such an article. In any case, accusations of intolerance are not appropriate to this discussion.
Correspondent to LA:
Good try Lawrence, but by making this Muslim organization support terror you’ve shown that your position is untenable. Gary Bauer is an extremely intolerant individual. I attended an event entirely composed of conservatives where Manny Klausner who is a libertarian voiced his pleasure that Calif. Prop 15 had passed, legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes. Bauer bellowed at him in a voice that made me shake, “We don’t want you in our party.” Of course Manny was not in our party, but suppose he was. That means that all other issues—including war and peace—were nothing in the scale when it came to legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. I stand by my characterization. Generally I like Gary Bauer, but his behavior in both these instances was that of a politically stupid moral bigot.
Yes, I am basically saying that using the term “homosexual agenda” is ipso facto bigoted, just as the terms “white agenda” “black agenda,” Jewish agenda, and Christian agenda would be in all cases except one and that is where your survival or rights as a community are at stake. Your claim that homosexuals who disagree with the left’s agenda are politically neglible flies in the face of the fact that 30% of homosexuals vote Republican—more than Jews. Are you prepared to maintain that conservative Jews are politically negligible and that liberalism is a “Jewish agenda?”
Gays and nambla. Gay pride parades. You obviously don’t read the writings of gay conservatives who roundly condemn Nambla and the pride parades. You should read Andrew Sullivan’s Virtual Normality before making statements like this. It doesn’t really matter if there are any gay organizations that condemn Nambla since conservatives are known for being difficult to organize—but try the Log Cabin Republicans.
You’re concluding paragraph on political tolerance is exceedingly weak. Disagreement isn’t intolerance. Horowitz’s piece has a lot of sympathy for Christian conservatives. He’s criticizing boycotters and political blackmailers (or do you have some other interpretation of what that meeting was about). To call the critic intolerant for criticizing intolerance is sophistry.
LA to Correspondent:
All I’ll say now is that I’d have no objection to criticizing people if their specific behavior is bigoted—i.e., stupidly, stubbornly and offensively hostile. For example, I would consider the antiwar right to be bigoted against Bush and the neocons. If Gary Bauer behaves in a stupid bigoted manner in some meeting, I have no objection to anyone’s criticizing him for that. Similarly, if the specific behavior of the Christian right leaders who met with Racicot was offensive, then they could be criticized for that. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is that Horowitz said that the very act of calling on the GOP not to meet with a radical gay organization was an instance of illegitimate “intolerance.” And that’s where I (and many many readers of FP) disagree with him.
This is an aside to be sure, but Mr. Auster’s correspondent unwittingly confirms a point made in a different discussion: that liberals consider themselves to be asserting a political agenda and expressly not a moral agenda, that therefore liberals themselves would disagree that they are equating the good with the desired and will see such a construction as a straw man. Here is the quote:
“Explain how a democracy can function without the principle of tolerance being its central political—not moral—value.”
Is it just me, or did the ‘Correspondent’ simply dodge half of your arguments? After all, a boycott is expressive, and thus reflects a disagreement between ideas based in principle. And obviously Horowitz is not entirely tolerant towards the expressions of Christian conservatives, or he wouldn’t condemn them so strongly.
So instead of an objective argument, the ‘Correspondent’ mires the debate into semantics, proving your initial claim that Horowitz was simply appealing to the pejorative of ‘intolerance.’ His argument was based entirely upon an emotive term, rendering it baseless.
I think there’s something to what Mr. Courrèges says about “intolerance” being simply an emotive term.
It also occurs to me that there is a fundamental difference between “intolerance” and “bigotry.” “Bigotry,” the will to be stubbornly, emotionally negative toward someone regardless of truth or fairness, is a type of wrongful attitude or sin that would be recognized and condemned by traditional morality. But “intolerance” would seem to be comprehensible only as a violation of LIBERALISM, not as a violation of traditional morality. It’s hard to imagine “intolerance of the leader of one’s political party or church negotiating to adopt the agenda of a group that one considers deeply immoral” as being included in any catalog of major or minor sins.
To put it another way, if “intolerance” is a sin, what is the virtue of which it is the defect? And the answer is: universal non-judgmentalness. While I’m not knowledgeable in these matters, I somehow doubt that universal non-judgmentalness is a Christian virtue. (And please don’t bring up “Judge not.” That has to do with the inner quality of one’s responses to other people, not with thought and action in the social/political realm, where obviously judgment is needed.)
Now it might be said that I’m ignoring the correct meaning of tolerance, which is the quality of letting something be even if we disapprove of it. Such tolerance does not involve a suspension of moral judgment, but a practical acceptance of the existence of something that one disapproves of in order to have social peace. That’s all fine. But the problem is, that is NOT the way “tolerance” is used in liberal society. “Tolerance” is used to denote approval of something. For example, when Mayor Giuliani was challenged by callers on his weekly radio program over his marching in gay pride parades, he would reply that such parades were only about tolerance. This was an obvious falsehood. Those parades do not merely say, “Please let us live in peace, despite your disapproval of us.” Rather, these parades boldly proclaim an entire lifestyle and message and demand approval of it. Thus “tolerance” means giving up one’s negative judgments about things that deserve to be negatively judged. And, as I said, there is no way that such non-judgmentalness is a virtue according to traditional or Christian morality.
Here’s how Webster’s defines tolerance: “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own.” This is close, though not identical, to the traditional meaning of tolerance as I understand it. It does not exactly suggest an abandonment of judgment, but rather a provisional softening of judgment to allow for social peace. But here’s a somewhat better traditional definition of tolerance I just found on the Web: “to recognise and respect the beliefs and practices of others without necessarily agreeing or sympathising with them.”
Now, in certain contexts, tolerance according to either of these two definitions would be a good human quality, and its absence a flaw. But that leaves unanswered the question: in WHICH contexts? The question points to the fact that tolerance properly understood is not an abstract universal activity, since we still must make judgments about which things we will tolerate and which things we won’t. In any case, it’s hard to imagine anyone arguing with a straight face that tolerance as defined here would require a person to be equally tolerant of all political views, even those that are loathsome and destructive.
Here is a good, succinct discussion of the difference between traditional tolerance and the new tolerance, which, it says, requires that we see all values as equally good: http://archives.tcm.ie/carlownationalist/1999/10/09/story5045.asp.
The idea that the liberal, as distinct from the traditional, notion of tolerance means the abandonment of moral judgment and moral distinctions is also backed up by the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance Proclaimed and signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November 1995. http://www.unesco.org/cpp/uk/declarations/tolerance.pdf. While these paragraphs offer a range of meanings, what clearly comes through is that tolerance means the comprehensive suspension of negative judgment of attitudes and ways that differ from one’s own. The only sort of non-judgmentalness that is frowned on is non-judgmentalness toward intolerance and inequality. Unlike the traditional, Webster’s definition, the liberal, UNESCO definition would, it seems to me, require conservative Republicans to welcome a radical gay rights organization within their party.
Article 1 - Meaning of tolerance
1.1 Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.
1.2 Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. In no circumstance can it be used to justify infringements of these fundamental values. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals, groups and States.
1.3 Tolerance is the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments.
1.4 Consistent with respect for human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one’s convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one’s own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behaviour and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one’s views are not to be imposed on others.
It seems traditionalists might be impractical in that they habitually indulge the liberal behavior of changing the subject. Mr. Auster’s obvious and decisive premise-subject is tolerance lacks a fuzzy meaning but is an English language word that in everyday usage means endurance of other points of view, period. Mr. Auster’s initial argument was, to say the least, well done and deserved a well-done counter-argument. Instead, the opponent cursed the argument with the word sophistry, which introduced the opponent’s change of subject to the relevance of the Man-boy analogy that Mr. Auster used merely to illustrate his point and not to suggest an equivalence. When it suits them, liberals ignore Wittgenstein’s common sense theory (or truism) that there can be no private language. Liberals change the subject by inventing secret meanings to words such as tolerance.
An essential reason for Ronald Reagan’s success was his ability to keep the argument on point. He kept saying the same thing over and over but in different ways. Perhaps, therefore, a traditionalist would be more effective if he refused to be sidetracked. This implies that the traditionalist must expend his energy in learning how to keep listeners focused on the traditionalist’s point. Perhaps someone has learned how and will fill the rest of us in.
” … the traditionalist must expend his energy in learning how to keep listeners focused on the traditionalist’s point.”
That is what we need to do. And Mr. Murgos shrewdly points out how my correspondent attempted (successfully I guess) to sidetrack me. Yet I did keep returning to the point and I tried very hard to nail him down. Maybe I’ll share that correspondence later.
Also, see my recent comments on race and intelligence at Lucianne.com where I kept making the same points over and over until, I think, it started to get through to some people.
Oh boy. The ideas were mere ideas and not criticisms. Mr. Auster’s untiring efforts are admirable.
The comments indicated by Mr. Auster appear unavailable.
That web page was closed to further postings on Friday and was removed from the Web, while the discussion was continued on a second web page. Fortunately I saved a copy of the first page, which I’ve now uploaded to this site. So you can now go this article and click on the link there and read the saved web page:
” … Greece and Sparta had traditions of homosexuality … ” — Sporon (May 20, 8:52 PM).
“I lack the scholarly competence to remark on your example of Greece … ” — Joel (May 20, 9:17 PM).
Joel and Sporon, this business about homosexuality having been sanctioned by ancient Græco-Roman society and government at large is not settled fact, but is disputed among scholars. Some time ago, I sent a letter to the readers’ forum at www.RichardPoe.com on this topic:
In that letter, I could have quoted more of the Voltaire essay but was limited by the Poe forum’s 400-word maximum. Voltaire closes his essay with: “Enfin je ne crois pas qu’il y ait jamais eu aucune nation policée qui ait fait des lois contre les mœurs” — “Finally, I don’t believe there ever was a single civilized nation that adopted laws that went contrary to morality.” This echoes Matt’s recent proposal that our law “should support the good and at the least should be consistent with it.”
(“Voltaire: Dictionnaire Philosophique,” Garnier-Flammarion, 1964; chapter entitled “Amour Nommé Socratique,” pp 35 - 38; the translation in my letter to the Poe forum was my own)