NR waves the white flag at homosexual marriage
cover article in the July 28 National Review
urges complete and total surrender to homosexual marriage. Nowhere does he speak of what’s good and bad for man and society, of what’s true and false to the sort of being we are and the sort of being God wants us to be, or of what consequences would follow from the homosexualization of marriage. His entire argument is based on opinion polls and trends. The trends, he says, are moving dramatically in favor of same-sex marriage, and therefore there’s no point in opposing it. Even worse, he says there are no good arguments
against homosexual marriage, telling us over and over that conservatives who reject homosexual rights are bigots and haters. Thus Ponnuru, a senior editor of the flagship magazine of American conservatism, declines to offer any resistance to the most radical social innovation in human history, and concludes that any principled resistance to it is impossible in any case. The decision by NR’s editors’ not only to publish this article, but to make it their cover story, makes Ponnuru’s personal surrender the surrender of NR as well.
Of course, NR also publishes articles against homosexual marriage, including a piece in the same issue by Gerald Bradley, which is mentioned on the cover along with Ponnuru’s. Yet the Ponnuru article gets pride of place, being described in the table of contents as the cover article, with an extensive excerpt from it. Also, the cover illustration shows a male homosexual couple advancing forward arm in arm in a celebratory mood, echoing a much-noted cover illustration of The New Republic about ten years ago when the homosexual advocate Andrew Sullivan was its editor. So, while NR is allowing a variety of messages to be heard, “we must surrender to the gays, even if we’re unhappy about it” is clearly its dominant message.
In the face of the seemingly unstoppable advance of the cultural left and the abasement of mainstream conservatives before it, there is one thing that traditionalists must remember above all else: never to let go of the truth, even if falsehood seems to be taking over the whole world. That is the opposite of the emerging philosophy at National Review. NR famously began its existence by standing athwart history yelling stop. Now its philosophy is to consult popular opinion on the most fundamental questions of human existence, and adjust to it as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 23, 2003 08:15 AM | Send
While I agree with you overall that Ponnuru’s piece wrongly subordinated what is good and right for society to opinion polls and trends, I did not read him as saying there were no good arguments against homosexual marriage. His position as I understood it was that there were not arguments against homosexual marriage likely to appeal to the general public, or at least no arguments capable of overcoming the other side’s rhetoric of “bigot” and “homophobe.” I happen to disagree with him, but I grant that it is an arguable point.
It’s defeatism masquerading as realism, but I don’t think he actually favors homosexual marriage. In fact, I believe he is on record in support of the federal marriage amendment.
Not being a subscriber, I haven’t read the whole article. But the précis given online is enough to convince me that Ponnuru hasn’t merely surrendered to what he thinks is inevitable, but positively justifies homosexual marriage. This excerpt suffices:
“Social-conservative rhetoric on homosexuality remained stuck in the 1970s, presenting gays as sexual radicals. Homosexual groups also embraced the quintessential conservative idea of a fixed human nature. Indeed, they pushed an exaggerated form of that idea: genetic determinism. Many people who would otherwise be disposed to object to homosexuality came to believe that gays and lesbians were ‘born that way.’”
1) So “gays” who propose homosexual marriage are, according to Ponnuru, NOT sexual radicals.
2) According to Ponnuru, any tendency one is born with is ipso facto good, or at least should be socially acceptable. So people born with a tendency toward alcoholism or amoral behavior should not be encouraged to resist their special temptations. They should not be taught to try to live up to an ideal of good. Rather, whatever is is right. As to conservatives who acknowledge the important role of genetic inheritance in the formation of personality and character, Ponnuru surely knows that he is committing a caricature and a non sequitur.
The rhetoric is too familiar by now to be interesting. What’s more interesting is the question why National Review has embraced it. I’m not advocating long-distance psychoanalysis of individuals. My question has to do with how this new set of tenets fits into the general philosophy of the magazine.
Frieda wrote: “As to conservatives who acknowledge the important role of genetic inheritance in the formation of personality and character, Ponnuru surely knows that he is committing a caricature and a non sequitur.”
That’s an interesting point. I gather that what Frieda is saying is as follows: Homosexual advocates now argue that homosexuality is intrinsic, if not to mankind as a whole, then to a persistent small minority of mankind. Therefore, recognizing and respecting these intrinsic tendencies is in line with the conservative respect for the given, unchosen aspects of human nature, such as sexual differentiation itself. I suppose that Frieda believes this is a caricature of conservatism because the “intrinsic” homosexual tendencies are, in fact, _defects_ in human nature, just as a tendency to, say, alcoholism is a defect, and therefore there should be no question of respecting it.
Is that more or less what Frieda was suggesting?
What I was suggesting was simpler: that acceptance of the important role that genetic endowment plays in the formation of character and personality is perfectly consistent with condemnation of some innate tendencies and with an insistence that we all have an obligation and ability to fight those impulses that are wrong.
Traditionalists do not believe that “whatever is, is right.” We are not genetic determinists. People are responsible for what they do with their innate traits and drives; if they were not free to suppress or redirect the bad ones, moral codes would be pointless.
As I understand it, the homosexual movement takes two differing positions on the nature of homosexuality. The first, mentioned by Frieda and also advocated by David Horowitz, is that homosexuality is genetic. This is the position taken by HRC and GLSEN in their appeal to the soccer moms and other gullible elements of the general public. The second position, more commonly found in context of homosexual advocacy in public schools, is the post-modern idea that gender and sexuality are constructed or self-created. Hence the importance of making this valuable option available in public school - for children as young as kindergarten age. This second view is less advertised (as one might imagine) since it smacks of pedophilia and often raises alarms with parents whose children are subjected to such propaganda. Of course, pedophila is the next taboo to be torn down by the sexual Jacobins.
“This second view is less advertised (as one might imagine) since it smacks of pedophilia and often raises alarms with parents whose children are subjected to such propaganda. Of course, pedophila is the next taboo to be torn down by the sexual Jacobins.”
Parents’ alarm at having their children exposed to homosexual propaganda is just an unprincipled exception from liberalism, which will soon go the way of all other unprincipled exceptions. As long as there is not comprehensive opposition to liberalism, any opposition to particular aspects of the liberal agenda is just habit and prejudice, to be overcome soon enough by the inevitable advance of progress.
Maybe I should set forth my meaning in more detail. Ponnuru’s assertion reminds me of the “gotcha!” mode of argumentation that appealed to my sophomore students: conservatives believe in innate human nature; therefore they’re inconsistent if they condemn certain expressions of that innate human nature.
But since Ponnuru is no longer nineteen years old, and since his past writings showed an appreciation of complexity, it follows (I contend) that his sophomoric argument must be a rationalization of a position that he needs to justify.
Intelligent conservatives do indeed accept certain innate traits. It does not, however, follow that they are genetic determinists. IQ, for example, is modifiable to some extent by rigorous education, or the lack of it. Tallness is a genetic trait, although the children of short Japanese immigrants to the United States were several inches taller than their parents, owing to diet changes. Some genetic endowments are modifiable more than others. Don’t we all know that? Does Ponnuru think conservatives don’t know it? Of course he knows we know it. Why then does he accuse us of inconsistency when we advocate resistance to certain inclinations that we admit may be innate?
(Digression: The degree of innateness of homosexuality is disputed. Also disputed is the number of ex-homosexuals. I conjecture that those who succeed in “going straight” do so not because they are unhappy with the homosexual lifestyle but because they are convinced it is morally wrong. But, not being an expert, I admit that’s only a guess.)
So, what is the difference between such traits as a tendency toward tallness, a gene that predisposes its possessor to breast cancer, an IQ of 80, or a certain skin color, and such traits as a tendency toward homosexuality, alcoholism, or kleptomania? The first kind has no moral implications, and the second does.
If someone conflates those two kinds of innate tendencies, he must, to be consistent, say that moral codes are all nonsense. Moral codes tell us to NOT do what we’re inclined to do. If they told us to do whatever we wanted, they’d never have been invented or revealed.
Jonah Goldberg of NRO dropped me a line about my criticism of the Ponnuru article:
“I’m not going to spend much time on this, but for intellectual honesty’s sake you might have also mentioned that NR’s editorial position is unchanged and NR ran a cover story and editorial on the need for a constitutional amendment. It seems to me the upshot of your argument is that you think there’s no place for debate on the right and that’s a tiresome position.”
Here is my reply to him:
First, I would say in light of Ponnuru’s article that NR is not so much carrying on a debate as putting out mixed messages, with the prominence given to Ramesh’s article having the effect of undermining its editorial position. If NR’s editorial position is to stop homosexual marriage, why put out a cover article the plain effect of which is to demoralize any opposition to homosexual marriage?
Second, regarding your criticism of me for wanting to “stop debate on the right,” it’s not a matter of stopping debate so much as appealing to a common understanding that certain positions should be seen as not acceptable among conservatives. If NR ran a cover article in 1983 saying “Soviet dominance of Europe is irresistible! Don’t deploy the Pershing missiles! Disband NATO! The dictatorship of the proletariat is coming, even if we’re unhappy about it”, with a cover illustration of Soviet troops marching happily into West Berlin and people standing by smiling, I think most conservatives would have said that such views did not deserve space in a conservative publication. If there are no definitions or boundaries to conservatism, then there is no such thing as conservatism, period. A conservative magazine that urged surrender to Communism would not be a conservative magazine. The same is true of homosexual marriage.
frieda said, “I conjecture that those who succeed in “going straight” do so not because they are unhappy with the homosexual lifestyle but because they are convinced it is morally wrong.”
Not exclusively at least. I have heard numerous ex-homosexuals testify that they were very unhappy in that lifestyle but felt constrained from leaving due to the social pressures brought to bear within the community. The suicide and depression rates among homosexuals in fact are higher than for normal folks. (They blame this on society of course, the way so many blacks blame their failures on white racism,)
Many homosexuals genuinely want to reform and marry and have a normal family, but they feel trapped. It can require enormous effort, which in many cases must be supplemented with outside assistance, and, as many testify, a turning to God, to get past the dark period in their lives.
What is really disgusting about this is how those who insist that homosexuals cannot change have no problem promoting the idea that there are so many heterosexuals who really are, or want to become, homosexual. Why is this only one way? Well, so we are told, society has tried hard to convince homosexuals that they should be straight.
BUT, by now is it not possible that a young man living in a region with a higher concentration of homosexuals — and even more so in the case of one raised by homosexual partners — that there might not be pressure to be homosexual when he really wanted to know the love of a woman? who fell into that lifestyle and later had second thoughts?
Nope. It’s only a one-way road in this way of thinking. If you’re homo, you must believe that this is permanent and remain that way — or at the very least infer bi-sexual tendencies. And that is why it truly is a life of bondage.
I accept Joel’s comment on my conjecture. Would he agree that part of the unhappiness that many homosexuals feel is due to an unacknowledged residue of their early lessons that it’s immoral, against God’s law? I shouldn’t be surprised if that repressed guilt feeling explains the stridency of much of the propaganda.
I’d like to make one more comment on the question whether a tendency toward homosexuality is or isn’t innate. (Notice I said “tendency”; the behavior of course is freely chosen.) I don’t think conservatives should wish that the scientific verdict on that question will be either yes or no. It’s an empirical question, to be settled by the scientific method. The verdict has surely been delayed by the biases of many scientists (geneticists, physiologists, endocrinologists), but the scientific method was developed precisely to minimize such extraneous influences, and in due course a reliable consensus will arrive. Why should conservatives not care what it is? Because no two truths can contradict each other. If conservatism is a true philosophy, then it’s necessarily consistent with all other truths. That, by the way, is a good reason to challenge NR’s terms of debate, which bypass the crucial (the moral) question.
frieda asks “Would he agree that part of the unhappiness that many homosexuals feel is due to an unacknowledged residue of their early lessons that it’s immoral, against God’s law?”
Certainly! And it need not even result from early lessons, just an innate sense that it is counter to nature. At the same time, I think God has arranged that there are consequences to sin, consequences which are significant in themselves, though one would hope this has the effect of bringing true contrition for the sin that brought them on, and not merely unhappiness over the negative results.
I didn’t mean to sound as if I was contradicting your point, just adding to it. You were making the higher point; I was making the lower point. ;-)
Your last paragraph is right on. To add another example to what yourself and Mr. Auster have said, supposing that through sound research it is discovered that child molesters share a common genetic defect? The rest of the question need not even be asked.
Homosexual liberation can never be content, but has to keep driving forward until total approval is won. As long as there’s any moral disapproval of homosexuality remaining anywhere, the homosexuals stand under a judgment, they are not truly equal and free.
But this is the nature of all rebellion, e.g., liberalism itself. Thus, after the liberals’ astonishing triumph in the Grutter and Lawrence decisions, they were still bitterly attacking Justices Thomas and Scalia for their dissents. It’s not enough for the left to win a revolutionary victory; there must be no one who disapproves of that victory, because that means that the liberals’ attempt to overthrow the order of being had not been accepted. Because they live a lie, because they live in transgression against truth, even a single truth speaker is enough expose them. Therefore the liberal tribe must eliminate all dissenters, and all outsiders.
There are 2 disturbing implications in what Mr. Auster has just said.
1) His very last sentence.
2) His very first — and more specifically what would happen next. I think in some ways that the rabid activism in pushing acceptance of homosexuality represents an attempt, not merely to justify what they are doing, but to fill a void that the lifestyle itself leaves open. The sense of mission, of purpose, that homosexuals feel in their ‘struggle’ can’t really fill that void of course, but does help to obscure it, since they can blame the inherent shortcomings in their lifestyle on society’s disapproval of it.
But with societal acceptance of homosexuality, the void will remain. How then to attempt to fill it? Inevitably, it will mean that the nature of the acts entailed in this lifestyle become even more depraved and destructive. Another reason why pedophilia will certainly be next.
For now, as Mr. Auster stated, homosexual liberation can never be content. After ‘liberation’ were achieved, all that will be left are the homosexuals themselves who can never be content.
Mr. Auster wrote:
“Therefore the liberal tribe must eliminate all dissenters, and all outsiders.”
Exactly right. The oppressor-untermensch must be completely exterminated in order for the free and equal new superman to emerge.
“After ‘liberation’ were achieved, all that will be left are the homosexuals themselves who can never be content.”
Indeed. Since liberalism can never succeed (success cannot even be conceptually understood in a coherent way, let alone achieved practically) it will always view its own immediate past as the oppressor-untermensch that is preventing the emergence of the free and equal new man. Today’s right-liberal is tomorrow’s target for extermination. That is one reason why right-liberals keep moving leftward. Nobody wants to live his life in front of a (metaphorical or literal) firing squad.
First, Joel wrote:
“But with societal acceptance of homosexuality, the void will remain. How then to attempt to fill it? Inevitably, it will mean that the nature of the acts entailed in this lifestyle become even more depraved and destructive. Another reason why pedophilia will certainly be next.”
There is a lot of evidence to back this up. One thing that comes to mind is a certain genre of films in the early ’90s, such as “The Last Seduction,” in which the characters (or rather the movie makers) keep doing more and more perverse things, almost as though they are hoping that some moral order will re-assert itself and stop them, but since it doesn’t, they keep pushing to further extreme acts or portrayals.
Second, on the idea of the left as the only tribe that must eliminate all others, here is an e-mail discussion between Jim Kalb and me from March 2000 in which this idea first gelled. It began with Mr. Kalb commenting on my March 6, 2000 article at NewsMax, “McCain: A Dangerous Man Reflecting the Triumph of Clintonism”:
Good point about McCain’s POW past etc. being a way of neutralizing the reaction against Clintonism. It’s interesting that “tolerance” — restricting what people and ideas will be allowed into political discussion — trumps all other issues. McCain can say he’s prolife or whatever and he’s still a hero as long as he’s on the right side of the tolerance issue.
That point is to be meditated on—it may be a key to seeing how the whole, seemingly contradictory, system fits together.
I suppose the point is that blood is thicker than water, which really means that what defines the community, what distinguishes friend and foe, insiders and outsiders, precedes all other considerations.
What I think you are saying is that for the left, the allegiance to “tolerance” is their life blood, so to speak, it is what makes them what they are and joins them together in a oneness and differentiates them from all outgroups? And therefore transcends all other considerations. If that’s what you mean I think you’re right. But I’m going to have to sit down and work this out.
I think so. “Tolerance” rejects as evil all other principles of identity and thereby (1) makes its adherents reject all other allegiances, and (2) sets apart adherents as a uniquely good ingroup, the only *real* ingroup, the only group whose principle of identity is not intrinsically evil.
Fantastic. I think you’re really onto something here. And the emerging global community is precisely this new tribe, the first and only tribe in human history which is not intrinsically evil, which is only for those who are tolerant, and which will not allow any other tribe, ultimately, to exist.
[The new tribe] defines itself by rejecting something men naturally do, identifying themselves by reference to historical, family and similar ties and by shared concrete substantive goods. Its own theories about prejudice and bigotry, that they are a matter of constructing and justifying the self by rejecting and demonizing the other, will therefore apply perfectly to its own practice. It will need its enemies because without them it is nothing. Therefore the heresy hunting, the constantly shrinking circle of the elect, the lies, distortions and ransacking of history to find things that make everything outside the circle look like unrelieved horror.
Mr. Auster’s use of the word tribe when referring to the left is exciting. Using the word tribe can make political discussion less abstract. The word is tailor-made (or Auster-made) for a discussion of tolerance. If one were to tell a liberal that he belongs to a tribe that believes in tolerance except tolerance of tribes that do not believe in the liberal’s form of tolerance, the liberal would be hard-pressed to explain why his form of tolerance trumps other forms. Probably, he will try to change the subject by saying he does not belong to a tribe.
Very interesting and illuminating exchange, one I wish I had been privy to at the time. It helps me understand my reaction to McCain, who is usually billed as a conservative, war hero, man of principle…
When I first learned of him, it was as a resisting POW in Hanoi (I am a former Marine officer and fighter pilot, post-Vietnam - at one time I read a lot about the Vietnam POWs to learn from their experience. I flew with a few in the 1980s and had enormous respect for them, although they all seemed slightly unbalanced.) When he turned up as a senator, I was strongly prejudiced in his favor. Then when I actually saw him in action, he struck me as a sanctimonious … liberal.
LA and JK have put their finger on why McCain is so irritating. He has the self-esteem of the self-consciously tolerant, whether he is tolerating homosexuals, illegal aliens or women demanding combat jobs. He is just like Bill Clinton! I think the pro-life pose is only to keep a foot in the Republican Party.
There is one difference, of course. McCain was willing to stick his neck out for the United States. (Query, though: Would he have gone to Annapolis if he were not the son and grandson of admirals? Well, nothing wrong with nepotism.) Also - as a fighter pilot I can get away with saying this - he is crazier. I think the NVA whacked him in the head a few times too many. HRS
Here is my article about McCain, which was published just before he self-destructed in Virginia by attacking Christian conservatives as “evil.”
McCain: A Dangerous Man Reflecting the Triumph of Clintonism
Although some don’t seem to think it’s entirely relevant, I would like to comment on the issue of whether or not homosexuality is innate. If homosexuality were genetically determined, we would expect that cloning a gay person would result in two gay persons. Similarly, we would expect that identical twins, who have the same genetic code, would both have the same sexual orientation. When one is gay the other is gay — always.
Studies have shown, however, that when one indentical twin is gay, there is only a 31.6% chance that the other twin will be gay. This is a far greater concordance rate than that for non-identical twins (8.3%), non-twin siblings, and the general population, but it is a far cry from genetic determinism. At best, then, there are probably weak genetic predispositions involved in homosexuality, yet the same can be said of alcoholism, a bad temper, et al, and we wouldn’t excuse these things as ‘innate.’
It’s not relevent with regard to the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, but it never hurts to know what the facts and stats are. More knowledge is almost always better than less. ;-)
Interesting that the big three networks and the movies never talk about ancient Sparta. These warriors were raised as homosexuals. Yet the left wants people to believe the open celebration of homosexuality poses no threat to children or to religious beliefs. The left contends homosexuality is something one is born with, and we, therefore, must accept and even celebrate open homosexual behavior or we have a psychological illness, homophobia. Parents will have a difficult time protecting their children from homosexual influence when homosexuality is celebrated by the elite, who are supposed to set good examples.
1. RE: Innate Human Nature
“Homosexual groups also embraced the quintessential conservative idea of a fixed human nature.”
Ponnuru misrepresents the idea of a fixed human nature. He may be mistaking materialistic conservatives (eg Fumento) with traditional conservatives. The most essential quality of human behavior is the ability to choose our actions despite genetic and environmental influences.
2. In order to understand the role of choice in homosexuality, several terms must be clarified. Does choice refer to same sex activity or same sex desires or alternatives for partners? Our first mistake (David Horwitz) is discussing homosexual desires without some basic understanding of desires. Desire is a recognition of some good. Desire is never a choice. Someone who loves chocolate or Jack Daniels, Playboy or Mozart never chose his or her passions. The romantic has a point about the helplessness of love or rather lust, greed, vengeance and any other desire. Similarly, homosexuals have not chosen their desire. To say that homosexuals don’t chose their desire is a useless truism. However, the pursuit of a desire (behavior) is a choice. Homosexuals do have a choice to pursue homosexual activities. Morality informs us whether a given desire is a true good or a false good. Morality helps to decide whether or not a desire should be pursued.
3. RE: Homosexual ability to change orientation, APA Convention 2001
Spitzer concluded, “Some highly motivated individuals through a variety of change efforts can make substantial changes in multiple indicators of sexual orientation and achieve good heterosexual function.” Even those
who made less than substantial changes or no change still believed that the effort was beneficial.
PMurgos mentions Sparta. What about Athens? As I’m reminded reading Plato now, homosexuality and pederasty seemed to be quite rampant there as well, which reminds us that knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing.
P Murgos remark, “Interesting that the big three networks and the movies never talk about ancient Sparta” was unintentionally hilarious in its innocence.
Can you just see it? “Next up on CNN: Thought you knew something about Spartans? Wait till you see our exclusive report on the sexuality of the fighting men of ancient Sparta. And later, why ‘The Bachelor’ isn’t producing the kind of ratings many expected.”
Matt wrote at July 23, 4:44 p.m.:
“Since liberalism can never succeed (success cannot even be conceptually understood in a coherent way, let alone achieved practically) it will always view its own immediate past as the oppressor-untermensch that is preventing the emergence of the free and equal new man. Today’s right-liberal is tomorrow’s target for extermination. That is one reason why right-liberals keep moving leftward. Nobody wants to live his life in front of a (metaphorical or literal) firing squad.”
Initially the liberals leave alone each remaining unprincipled exception because it is unassailably supported by social consensus and habit, and because they have other fish to fry at the moment. But as they begin to focus on each new unprincipled exception in turn, it suddenly changes from an unquestioned traditional value upheld by the good sense of the American people, to an unacceptable form of discrimination that must be eliminated. So it, too must be abandoned.
Issues conservatism, as Matt has suggested, consists of having a handful of conservative positions, while one’s default position on all other issues and generally is liberalism. One never opposes liberalism as such, one only opposes liberalism on this or that issue. But since liberalism itself is not being opposed, it keeps moving forward and picking off each “conservative issue” one at a time. The only way to stop this process is to oppose this enemy.
Mr. Auster writes: “Issues conservatism, as Matt has suggested, consists of having a handful of conservative positions, while one’s default position on all other issues and generally is liberalism. One never opposes liberalism as such, one only opposes liberalism on this or that issue. But since liberalism itself is not being opposed, it keeps moving forward and picking off each ‘conservative issue’ one at a time. The only way to stop this process is to oppose this enemy.”
That’s the best possible answer to the question I asked yesterday morning: how does the new position on homosexuality, represented by Ponnuru’s essay, fit into National Review’s over-all philosophy? According to the above analysis, the magazine no longer has an over-all philosophy; it now has a set of discrete positions, each somewhat independent of the others. Each such position logically has less principled justification than it would if it were deduced from, and an integral part of, a philosophy, and it will be all the easier to abandon.
Can we predict which will be the next to be repudiated, and what circumstances will induce the editors to repudiate it?
I had formulated this issue to myself differently in the mid 1990s. I had said: conservatism means the attempt to preserve this or that aspect of reality from the reconstructions of liberalism. There are all these different conservatisms, each one is concerned about some particular thing it wants to conserve, whether it’s small government, or the Constitution, or traditional morality, or Western culture, or American nationhood, or the white race, and so on and so on. But none of these conservatisms has a complete view of what is to be preserved. The upshot is that there is no conservatism. There are just these fragments.
I think that was a valid insight (as well as being very disturbing). But Matt’s recent articulation of it, which applies the concept of the unprincipled exception to the dynamics of the liberal co-option of conservatism, makes the process much clearer.
Perhaps issues conservatives are best known as eX-conservatives. Many might have been conservatives but now aren’t while the others never were but hold a few principles the former conservatives held. The name also recalls the X-generation, many of whom are eX-conservatives. Moreover, the name can symbolize the false use of the word conservative when it is pointed out how the stupid title “The X-men” is a false use of the word men. “The X-men” is a story about superheroes who are not actually men but men and women.
I don’t disagree with Mr. Murgos’ main thesis, but I like the use of “X-men” to describe a team of men and women. The usage came about before it was considered politically incorrect misogyny to use “men” in a generic sense to mean human beings.
This isn’t a comment on the characters or storyline in general, just on the usage of “men” in the generic. Those of us who are Catholics and who have attended the novus ordo mass have no doubt felt the awkward point in the creed: “for us [whispered ‘men’] and for our salvation…” That is a good opportunity for a traditionalist to say the word “men” in a loud, confident voice as a word referring to both men and women.
Kudos to Matt for defending the English language against feminization! One idea for Papists who find themselves at that awkward point in the Credo at Sunday Mass - and at other points in the abysmally translated English Novus Ordo: say the Credo, sotto voce, in Latin - no mistranslation possible. The priests in my relentlessly Modernist parish often simply omit “men” in their recitals of the Credo, as well as carefully saying, in this order, “pray, my sisters and brothers…” whenever the opportunity arises. What’s wrong with “brethren” (Latin “fratres”)? How seriously the translators took their job is revealed in the first word: “Credo” does not mean “WE believe,” any more than “pro multis” means “for ALL.” HRS
Non-Papists: please forgive this digression, although it is a good example of how Leftists (liturgical in this instance) distort the meanings of things when they are allowed to tamper with language. HRS
If y’all attended a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic parish, as I do, you wouldn’t have this problem. Cranmer may have been a very bad man, but, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, his rendering of the liturgy is and remains a direct opening to the truth of Christ and Christianity. The English liturgy one sees in Catholic churches is written in language that falls below the level of anything I can describe. In addition, it is printed on cheap paper, in a softbound book that looks like a cheap magazine. These are not peripheral problems.
And enjoy Adam Nicolson’s God’s Secretaries, on the making of the King James Bible. An instrument to forge national unity through sublimity of language and conception. That is leadership.
I’d like to read it. But whose vision and leadership was it? James I himself, or someone else?
Mr. Auster wrote:
“These are not peripheral problems.”
Indeed they are not. Note though that those who neglect to say “men” in liberal parishes are not following the Missal, but rather their own liberal inclinations. I attended a Novus Ordo mass in Latin a few weeks back for the first time and, while I do prefer the deeper reverence of the Tridentine mass when I can get it (which has been with unfortunate infrequency where I live) the Novus Ordo in Latin was beautiful, concrete, and reverent. The “inclusive language” attack on traditional liturgy - which occurs both formally (as in the translation of “pro multis” as “for all” rather than “for many”) and informally (the hissing tentativity in many parishes during “for us men”) - may be one of the most insidious and dangerous encroachments of liberal modernism.
Thanks to Matt for the information about the history of “The X-men,” which I ignorantly assumed was a construct created to pack in the crowds or to make a statement or both. It goes to show how easy it is to jump to conclusions.
Mr. Sutherland wrote:
“One idea for Papists who find themselves at that awkward point in the Credo at Sunday Mass - and at other points in the abysmally translated English Novus Ordo: say the Credo, sotto voce, in Latin - no mistranslation possible.”
This is a brilliant suggestion, by the way. The local indult community here is only allowed to say the traditional mass once a month, but they do the novus ordo in latin each weekend that the Tridentine rite is verboten. No politically correct mistranslations possible there. (The fact that the old rite has been outright forbidden in many places would be more than a little horrifying if it wasn’t such old news).
Mr. Murgos wrote:
“Thanks to Matt for the information about the history of “The X-men,…”
You are welcome. I know far more about Marvel comics than any self respecting traditionlist should, since I grew up with them as a significant feature of my suburban childhood in the 1970’s. I wonder what the politically correct Hollywood types will do to _The Punisher_, an un-PC guy if ever there was one.
Auster et al. seem to conclude that if homosexuality is a biologically determined (or predisposed) trait, hence a “natural” trait, that it is simply a defect in human nature, like alcoholism is.
While there is a kernal of truth to this argument — that simply proving that a particular condition is innnate, unchosen, and grounded in biology doesn’t by itself serve to validate that condition because other “illegitimate” conditions may be similarly innate, unchosen, and biological (hence we might call these conditions “diseases” much more so than we would understand them as arbitrary immoral choices) — nothing has been done to demonstrate that homosexuality is indeed a disease or a defect in human nature. The question has been begged; it has not been answered.
It is simply presumed based on religious dogma. Or an appeal to tradition. But the question must be answered by using reason because: 1) in a country that was founded on the separatation of government and civil religion the rational that “my religion tells me this is wrong” will not by itself be sufficient in justifying stigmatizing homosexuality — 2) ditto with tradition. Traditions must be analyzed and justified by using reason because there have been many bad, irrational, and simply wrong traditions that have been scrapped in this nation. And our public stigma of homosexuality may indeed fall within this line of “valueless traditions.”
And finally, consider this passage from Andrew Sullivan’s Virtually Normal, where he distinguishes the innate and compelling biologically grounded condition of “alcoholism” with the innate and compelling and biologically grounded condition of “homosexuality”:
“Alcoholism is a ‘blameless condition,’ as science and psychology have demonstrated. It was unknown to Aquinas but fits neatly into his spectrum of conditions. Some have a predisposition to it; others do not. Moreover, the predisposition is linked, as homosexuality is, to a particular act…. Unfortunately, the analogy doesn’t quite work…Alcoholism doesn’t reach the core of the human condition in the way that homosexuality…does. If alcoholism is overcome by a renunciation of alcoholic acts, it allows the human being to realize his or her full potential, a part of which, according to the Church, is the supreme act of self-giving in a life of matrimonial love. But if homosexuality is overcome, by the renunciation of homosexual acts, the opposite is the truth: the human being is liberated into sacrifice and pain, barred from the act of union with another that the Church holds to be intrinsic to the notion of human flourishing in the vast majority of human lives. Homosexuality is a structural condition, which, even if allied to a renunciation of homosexual acts, disbars the human being from such a fully realized life.” Ibid. p. 44.
In other words, the alcoholic can give up alcohol and live a fully realized and complete life. For a homosexual to give up homosexual sex, the exact opposite is the case. No human being, even the alcoholic, has the innate need to drink alcohol in order to live a really realized life (otherwise we wouldn’t ask the alcoholic to stop drinking). If all of the alcohol were to magically disappear from the planet tomorrow, we would all get by. Sure drinking and getting a buzz is fun. But we would find other substitutes for alcohol and in time learn to do without it. The same cannot be said about the need to love and be loved and the need for sex. These are needs that must be met in order to live a fully realized life. The need to love and be loved is the essence of what it is to be human. Without meeting them, a gaping hole is left in the soul of the individual.
Let’s accept, just for the sake of argument, Mr. Rowe’s premise that there are homosexuals for whom homosexual acts are natural, and who would be thwarted as human beings by being deprived of those acts. Such people nevertheless remain a very small minority. Shall we overturn the whole structure of human society as it has existed for thousands of years, degrading marriage and the family and the sexual morality on which the happiness of human beings is based, all for the sake of making that tiny minority of homosexuals feel completely comfortable, equal, and free? I say the answer is no.
That does not mean oppression and cruelty toward homosexuals either. My view is that homosexual conduct is wrong, period, and that the state should not do anything that approves of or gives recognition to homosexuality. At the same time, actual laws and enforcement of laws governing sexual acts are a prudential matter left up to each polity. Even under pre-sexual liberation America, sodomy laws were very rarely enforced, and were used essentially as an expression of community morality rather than a method of interfering in private acts. So the ordinary laws of privacy would prevail. Within that private space, people could pursue their emotional and sexual relationships, just as they did before the days of the sexual revolution. I’ve previously given the example of Noel Coward, a homosexual who in pre-sexual liberation society had a fulfilling, successful and creative life, and didn’t seem to believe that traditional morality had to be overthrown in order to allow total public freedom and equality for homosexuality. In fact, he was disgusted by homosexual liberation.
Jon Rowe complains that the proposition that homosexuality is an objective disorder hasn’t been proved, it has only been presumed.
He goes on to say, “In other words, the alcoholic can give up alcohol and live a fully realized and complete life. For a homosexual to give up homosexual sex, the exact opposite is the case.” To say that this is an unproved claim is the understatement of the year. Homosexual behavior is no different than any other sin in that it damages the sinner. Quite apart from the array of loathesome and fatal diseases that active homosexuals are inordinately subject to, there is the isolating consequence of the behavior itself. Sexual behavior that is totally untethered from children and family produces lonely, bitter and asocial individuals focused on appetite and sensation. Not a recipe for a stable society.
“Shall we overturn the whole structure of human society as it has existed for thousands of years, degrading marriage and the family and the sexual morality on which the happiness of human beings is based, all for the sake of making that tiny minority of homosexuals feel completely comfortable, equal, and free? I say the answer is no.”
Again this comment begs the question that for society to fully accepting gays for who they are, or in other words, for society to accept that homosexuality is a “valid and legitimate” condition, will lead to “a degrading of marriage and the family.” Let us again turn to the writings of Sullivan:
“For others, [the notion that homosexuality is wrong because it’s unnatural relates to] the essential dual, male-female center of the natural world. To deny this is to subvert the mystery at the heart of God’s creation, to commit a crime against the contemporary dualism of the universe.
But all of these arguments are for the centrality of heterosexual sexual acts in nature, not their exclusiveness. It is surely possible to concur with these sentiments, even to appreciate their insight, while also conceding that it is nevertheless also true that nature seems to have provided a jagged lining to this homogenous cloud, a spontaneously occurring contrast that could conceivably be understood to complement—even dramatize—the central male-female order. In many animal species, and almost all human cultures, there are some who seem to find their destiny in a similar but different sexual and emotional union. They do this not by subverting their own nature, or indeed human nature, but by fulfilling it in a way that doesn’t deny heterosexual primacy, but rather honors it by its rare and distinct otherness. As albinos remind us of the brilliance of color; as redheads offer a startling contrast to the blandness of their peers; as genius teaches us, by contrast, the virtue of moderation: so the homosexual person might be seen as a natural foil to the heterosexual norm, a variation than does not eclipse the theme but resonates with it. Extinguishing or prohibiting homosexuality is, from this point of view, not a virtuous necessity, but the real crime against nature, a refusal to accept the variety of God’s creation, a denial of the way in which the other need not threaten, but may actually give depth and contrast to, the self.”
Ibid, at 46-7.
In other words, we can appreciate the special place that heterosexual unions and heterosexual marriage has in this society and still see homosexuality as having its legitimate and valid place within the human family. The two are not mutually exclusive!!!
Mr. Rowe believes that society’s recognition of homosexuality as a “valid and legitimate condition” would be without cost to the larger society. He should read Peter Wood’s article in the July 28 issue of The American Conservative (not online) looking, from an anthropological perspective, at the degrading impact on women and on families and children in societies where male homosexuality is validated.
I don’t think anyone denies the humanity and individual worth of homosexuals as people, so Mr. Rowe’s appeal for some such validation is beside the point. What he wants, rather, is public acceptance and normalization of homosexuality as a validly recognized minority lifestyle, sort of the way Jews are a seen as valid minority with full membership in America. That is what I disagree with.
“Even under pre-sexual liberation America, sodomy laws were very rarely enforced, and were used essentially as an expression of community morality rather than a method of interfering in private acts. So the ordinary laws of privacy would prevail. Within that private space, people could pursue their emotional and sexual relationships, just as they did before the days of the sexual revolution.”
No — the days of the pre-sexual revolution were no quite so easy for gays. Even if one didn’t get arrested (and one could be jailed or institutionalized in a mental institution simply for being gay), one could lose one’s good reputation and was literally barred from many government jobs. Many gays felt like walking anathemas. For a firsthand account of this, check out the comments of Arthur Silber here:
Auster writes further:
“I’ve previously given the example of Noel Coward, a homosexual who in pre-sexual liberation society had a fulfilling, successful and creative life, and didn’t seem to believe that traditional morality had to be overthrown in order to allow total public freedom and equality for homosexuality. In fact, he was disgusted by homosexual liberation.”
Yes in certain parts of bohemian society – one could get away with and live comfortably while being gay. But what if someone was not involved in these bohemian occupations (where gays are disproportionately represented) and was still gay (and I think despite their overrepresentation in bohemia, we are talking about the majority of gays)? What if one was not a playwright or author like Coward or Tennessee Williams, but instead was a businessman like Malcolm Forbes Sr. or a nuclear physicists like Frank Kameny (who lost an opportunity to be an astronaught simply because he was gay)?
Oh sure – some gays were happy and content before the “sexual revolution,” but many received terrible psychological wounds simply because of societal attitudes. How psychological wounded a particular gay person got depends on personality types: Some people are extremely sensitive to societal opinions – the opinions of “others” – and some people just don’t give a damn. These personality differences, like homosexuality, may to some extent be innate. A good example of this: Act Up founder Larry Kramer and WBZ radio host David Brudnoy both went to Yale around the same time [both men are in their sixties]. Both faced very similar environments: Both men could not say a peep publicly about their private lives and both had to lead double lives. Such alienation drove Kramer into a suicidal depression. Yet Brudnoy, facing the exact same environment was completely happy and actually got a kick out of leading a double life a sneaking out to gay bars. Brudnoy details this experience in his book “Life is Not a Rehearsal.” Many militant gay activists were furious at what Brudnoy wrote. The stated things like, “how dare you say that you had fun doing that – how dare you claim that you were not in fact miserable during this time period.” I don’t doubt that Brudnoy’s personal account was genuine. But the point is – faced with such alienation, not everyone is going to have the same psychological reaction that Brudnoy had. Many in fact will have reactions like Kramer’s and Silber’s. And if accepting gays for who they are leads to fewer psychological scars for gays as a group, then normalizing homosexuality is justified in my opinion, unless it can be demonstrated that society will incur great costs in this trade-off. And I remain unconvinced that this is in fact what will happen.
Mr. Rowe writes:
“The same cannot be said about the need to love and be loved and the need for sex. These are needs that must be met in order to live a fully realized life. The need to love and be loved is the essence of what it is to be human. Without meeting them, a gaping hole is left in the soul of the individual.”
One of the reasons it is absolutely essential to retain a celibate priesthood is that it is a direct repudiation Mr. Rowe’s contention that love necessarily entails intrinsically sterile sex acts. Those poor souls with gaping holes better not complain to celibate priests or Nazirite marrieds. Indeed, the implication that celibate priests and Nazirites are missing something essential as human beings is more than a little ironic coming from sodomites.
Mr. Rowe writes:
“Again this comment begs the question that for society to fully accepting gays for who they are, or in other words, for society to accept that homosexuality is a “valid and legitimate” condition, will lead to “a degrading of marriage and the family.” “
No, it doesn’t beg the question. The burden of proof rests on those who would overturn the traditional moral order. Traditions are not (or not always) written in stone, and bad traditions can develop and ought to be repudiated. A good example of one is political liberalism, and the proof-beyond-doubt can be read in the pages of VFR. But the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that society’s essential institutions will remain healthy after a radical innovation is on the innovators.
Mr. Rowe claims a moderate position for himself, not challenging the centrality of heterosexuality, but only asking that homosexuals be recognized and included as a valuable minority. But it’s not clear what conceretely he means by this. Does he support, like Andrew Sullivan whom he quotes at length, homosexual marriage? Does he support the inclusion of open homosexuals in the military? Does he support the campaign to force the Boy Scouts to hire openly homosexual Scout masters? Does he think the Catholic Church should have practicing homosexuals as priests and bishops?
On another point, I think it’s a mistake for Mr. Rowe to make David Brudnoy (a respected and intelligent radio host on whose show I have appeared several times to discuss immigration) a positive example of homosexuality. I saw excerpts from his book, and his boasting of his numerous “conquests” of young men did not make edifying reading. It only brought out the fact that homosexual conduct is a disgusting and destructive vice—at the very most to be tolerated, never to be validated.
In fact, it’s the very reality of their sex lives that homosexuals are most eager to bring forward and have validated by society. It’s like every other liberal issue. Liberals always think that some minority or outsider group is “just like us,” and that we are exercising an irrational bigotry against them by excluding them. But as soon as the group is included, as the liberals demanded, it begins publicly to manifest its real self, which turns out to be not “like us” at all. By then it’s too late, the society has already abandoned its former norms in the act of including the Other, and there’s no easy way to get them back.
“Mr. Rowe claims a moderate position for himself, not challenging the centrality of heterosexuality, but only asking that homosexuals be recognized and included as a valuable minority. But it’s not clear what conceretely he means by this. Does he support, like Andrew Sullivan whom he quotes at length, homosexual marriage?”
Yes I do. I don’t think that including gays in marriage radically redefines it given that the definition of marriage still will include the 97% of society that happens to be heterosexual. In many ways gays are in fact paying a complement to heterosexuals by wanting to join this institution.
I could also live in a world where 1) gays received domestic partnerships, or “marriage light,” or 2) where marriage was made into a complete private contract. The “private contract” example is good place to bring out the point that I believe that whatever is done, private religions should have the absolute right to not recognize, or recognize for that matter, gay marriage. For example, divorce is absolutely forbidden in Catholicism (and many other versions of Christianity) but civil divorce is allowed. Why can’t we live in a world where civil gay marriages are allowed but religions are also given the absolutely freedom to validate them or not?
“Does he support the inclusion of open homosexuals in the military?”
Yes. I see no good reason to bar them from serving. And it’s relevant to point out with 1) marriage and 2) the military – these are conservative institutions. And gays are trying to join them. How about that? Many gays have respect for these conservative institutions – the radical leftist “queer theorist” types have largely sat out of the “marriage and military” debate because they loathe these institutions and don’t want to see gays join them.
“Does he support the campaign to force the Boy Scouts to hire openly homosexual Scout masters?” No that’s for the Boy Scouts to choose. Although I don’t think that their policy is wise.
“Does he think the Catholic Church should have practicing homosexuals as priests and bishops?”
As a non-religious person who believes that Churches should have a near-absolute right to run their own internal affairs, I’d say that’s up to the Catholic Church. But just let me say this: I disagree with the Catholic Church on so many issues – for example, I quite frankly think their position on contraception is not just wrong but downright socially harmful – that I am not going to start discussion my prescriptions for reform in that Church.
“On another point, I think it’s a mistake for Mr. Rowe to make David Brudnoy (a respected and intelligent radio host on whose show I have appeared several times to discuss immigration) a positive example of homosexuality. I saw excerpts from his book, and his boasting of his numerous “conquests” of young men did not make edifying reading. It only brought out the fact that homosexual conduct is a disgusting and destructive vice—at the very most to be tolerated, never to be validated.”
I support fully validating and legitimizing the homosexual condition: I don’t support validating and legitimizing “cruising and the bathhouse culture.” I could write much more than you would want me to here so let me simplify: the gay subculture evolved as a “outlaw” or “backdoor” subculture by necessity, not by choice. And then in the late 60s and 70s, this outlaw subculture met the free for all of the sexual revolution. Then came AIDS. And because men are by nature more promiscuous than women are, relationships that involve two men may always be to some extent more promiscuous than are heterosexual relationships regardless of how society treats gays. But I believe that society should offer gays a social contract which is this: We will let you join our “bourgeois institutions” and do our best to fully integrate you into bourgeois society, and in return we will expect the same responsible sexual conduct that we respect from heterosexual members of civil society. Does this sound fair?
And as long as gay men are excluded from the institution of marriage and from bourgeois society (and by this I mean that middle America accepts openly gay and lesbian couples as their nextdoor neighbors, as long as they make good neighbors), I don’t ever see the problem of gay promiscuity being fully tackled as best as it can.
Mr. Rowe’s support for homosexual marriage and the inclusion of open homosexuals in the military reveals that his “moderate” and “conservative” stand, like that of Andrew Sullivan, is a fraud.
Jon Rowe says, “Oh sure – some gays were happy and content before the ‘sexual revolution,’ but many received terrible psychological wounds simply because of societal attitudes.”
He apparently assumes that the unhappiness of homosexuals is due solely to the attitudes of nasty heterosexuals. But this is untrue. There is of course no guarantee that celibate life would be an idyll of happiness for homosexuals. But the fact is that active homosexual behavior seems reliably to lead to disease, loneliness, anger and death for those who indulge in it.
To experience a disordered libido is a cross that few of us would wish to bear. It may be that few individuals, absent divine assistance, can live a thoroughly happy life under such circumstances. But the familiar debating tactic of homosexual ideologues, of blaming their unhappiness not on themselves but on others, is not merely untrue to what we can see with our own eyes, but of no help whatever to homosexuals themselves.
No Mr. Williamson – there is no doubt that greater levels of gay unhappiness is directly caused by societal attitudes – and if you lived your life as a gay person you would know this. If it makes you feel better to believe otherwise to assuage your guilt over the pain that attitudes like your have inflicted, then by all means continue to believe as you do. However, you are not living in reality. Just click on the link that I provided to Arthur Silber and read for yourself. And then from there click on the link to Sullivan where he discusses his recent encounters with numerous gays from the newest generation – gays in their late teens and early twenties – gays who came out in a world where there is a much lesser amount of public stigma associated with homosexuality. And Sullivan marvels at how at ease so many of these younger gays are with themselves. I too have seen this. I just turned 30. I am from the socially liberal northeast. And when I graduated from high-school, there were no “Gay-Straight Alliances” in our schools. Now many/ most of our public schools have them. And I too have talked with countless younger gay people who recently graduated from high school – and I too note that so many of them are so at ease with themselves. Many of them came out at a very young age (probably too young) and just accepted themselves for who they are and got on with their lives, without ever going through depression or any type of serious problems or issues relating to adjusting to their sexual orientation. For all the younger gays that I talk to from my geographical area, this is in fact the norm (or very close to it). And most of those who I talked to have very accepting parents with socially liberal attitudes on this issue.
However, if they were anathematized in high school and if they had parents whose attitudes were like yours, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them fell into deep suicidal depressions. And I thank God for the progress that has been made in recent years because I know that it has led to a lower level of unhappiness for these gay people.
And Mr. Auster – I never called myself a conservative. And I don’t consider myself a moderate either (on many issues, however, I am well to the right of the Republican party). I am a libertarian.
If I understand correctly, Mr Rowe is arguing for the principle of freedom of association, and that what consenting adults freely choose to do with each other in the privacy of their own homes is their own business. I dont have a problem with this, and I dont have a problem with civil unions. What I do have a problem with is the agenda of the radical left to enforce acceptance of homosexuality on all institutions both public and private. But as a libertarian I dont think that is what Mr Rowe is advocating.
“No human being, even the alcoholic, has the innate need to drink alcohol in order to live a really realized life (otherwise we wouldn’t ask the alcoholic to stop drinking). If all of the alcohol were to magically disappear from the planet tomorrow, we would all get by. Sure drinking and getting a buzz is fun. But we would find other substitutes for alcohol and in time learn to do without it. The same cannot be said about the need to love and be loved and the need for sex.”
1. You equate the need to be love with the need for sex. Babies have a need to be love and may even die with-out love but not sex. I am aware of no cases of anyone dieing from a lack or absence of sex.
2. As a species we do have a need for sex. Societies and culture cannot exist with-out people (i.e the depopulation of Europe)
3. Society has no “need” for none procreative pseudo-sexual behaviors heterosexual or homosexual.
4. Gay and Lesbian men and women contribute much to the society in spite of their sexual behaviors not because of their sexual behaviors.
Mr. Rowe states:
“As albinos remind us of the brilliance of color; as redheads offer a startling contrast to the blandness of their peers; as genius teaches us, by contrast, the virtue of moderation: so the homosexual person might be seen as a natural foil to the heterosexual norm, a variation than does not eclipse the theme but resonates with it. Extinguishing or prohibiting homosexuality is, from this point of view, not a virtuous necessity, but the real crime against nature, a refusal to accept the variety of God’s creation, a denial of the way in which the other need not threaten, but may actually give depth and contrast to, the self.”
Diversity is the modern scoundrel’s last refuge. Mr. Rowe confuses diversity of none consequential traits such as red hair or albinism with behavior. Would Mr. Rowe suggest that we need the homicidal maniac to balance the pacifist? Is Hitler the price we pay for Ghandi? According to this logic, prisons would be a crime against nature since prisons limit the variety of God’s creation.
The X-Men are also called the X-Men because they are a group of men and women who are on the next level of evolution. In fact, the comics state that they are not homo sapiens. They are beyond Man.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the above debate among men and have learned lots of interesting facts from it, so thank you all. I just wish to ask a question about something that Mr. Rowe said. He discoursed at length about how wonderful it is that very young homosexuals feel at ease with themselves. His approval seems to equate libertarianism (Mr. Rowe’s philosophy) with hedonism. Isn’t it possible that some people should NOT feel at ease with themselves?
I don’t think I equate libertarianism with hedonism. If those young people were not in fact young homosexuals but rather young heroin addicts, then yes, I don’t think it would be a good thing for them to feel “at ease with themselves” as heroin addicts.
Homosexuality is, I think, about the need to love and be loved, in the romantic or erotic sense. It is about that longing for one’s other half that Plato wrote about. These needs are the essence of what it is to be human; the need for heroin is not.
Frieda’s question goes to the heart of the matter.
If homosexuality is a sin, an abomination, as traditional Judaism and Christianity teach, then homosexuals *should* feel guilty or ashamed.
On the other hand, if the tradition is wrong, and homosexuality is just another valid way of being, then traditionalists should be ashamed of their antiquated, bigoted views.
Mr. Rowe doesn’t want to eliminate shame and the uneasiness it entails. He simply wants to shift its locus, to “privilege” a different position.
Jon Rowe: “No Mr. Williamson – there is no doubt that greater levels of gay unhappiness is directly caused by societal attitudes…”
Let me note again that this is simply assertion, with zero attempt at proof. Obviously homosexual persons have suffered and suffer today from social disapproval of their behavior. Since this disapproval seems unlikely to vanish in the future, despite whatever laws our ruling elite may impose on us, it’s unlikely this circumstance will change much.
But to concede this doesn’t alter the equally obvious fact that it is homosexual behavior itself that breeds social pathology and misery. There is no shortage of those who have engaged in homosexual behavior who report that its consequences include isolation and anger, not to mention disease and death. Sympathetic heterosexuals say the same thing. To ascribe all such testimony to ignorant bigotry is nonsense.
Many of us work in environments in which there is no stigma against homosexual persons, and yet we continue to see the same pathologies replicate themselves down through the years. To insist that the unhappiness of homosexual persons is due mainly to the “oppression” of others is unconvincing, to say the least. The infantile refusal of the homosexual movement to let go of this fairy tale is an indication of its lack of moral seriousness.
This in turn is related to the boiling anger we see in movement homosexuals that’s evoked by the slightest trace of disapprobation. Mature men and women don’t require an utter absence of criticism in order to live a happy life. And yet homosexual ideologues—as several here have noted—seemingly cannot tolerate the least trace of moral disapproval. All manifestations of cultural and social censure must be steam-cleaned from the environment before homosexuals can be happy.
Think about this for a moment—why should this be? It’s ordinary psychology. When we choose to persist in behavior we know at some level to be wrong, the mere existence of those who speak the truth about it can’t be tolerated because of what it tells us about ourselves. It’s the familiar case of the emperor’s new clothes, and it applies to all of us, homosexual and heterosexual alike.
Until homosexual ideologues are prepared to accept the fact that thoughtful non-homosexuals can observe and draw reasonable conclusions about their behavior, they will continue to live in a fantasy world. But a fantasy world—where moral realities are suspended—is, of course, what such individuals desire in place of the real thing.
Thank you, Charlie; that was indeed what I had in mind.
Another thought flitted through my mind when I read Mr. Rowe’s celebration of the young homosexuals’ feeling at ease with themselves: I was reminded of the idea that the most important outcome of “education” is the students’ “self-esteem.” The self-esteem need not be deserved or earned; it’s a good per se. Everything about those students has to be “positively valued,” or their self-esteem will be damaged.
The self-esteem campaign came with a promise that it would encourage better learning and behavior; it did not. According to reports I’ve read, the kids who score highest on self-esteem questionnaires are blacks with low grades, bad attitudes, and determined resistance to stay that way.
Mr. Rowe’s young homosexuals are products of this system, which also substitutes values-clarification for reading, writing, and arithmetic; nonjudgmental sex education for history and geography; and peace studies for civics. In brief, a discussion of the momentous change in American attitudes toward homosexuality should, I contend, give partial “credit” to what the educationists have done to our schools over the past generation.
Frieda: “…Mr. Rowe’s celebration of the young homosexuals’ feeling at ease with themselves.”
I wonder how true this is. I know and have known some younger homosexuals. If they are more “at ease with themselves” than older homosexuals, it is not obvious to me, at least. In fact, the opposite would seem to be the case as far as I have personally witnessed. Some older homosexuals manage to achieve a degree of peace with their situation. The younger homosexuals I have seen myself are more frequently desperately unhappy individuals. As I noted elsewhere, their situation is a cross we should not wish on anyone, and it demands sympathy if not approval.
Seth and freida,
I think that your comments about self esteem and self acceptance as a value are on the mark. Carl Rogers started the self esteem movement (radical none judgementalism) in the late fifties. According to a psychologist that worked with him (William Coulson) the movement nearly destroyed Rogers. The movement did lead to chaos for many people, families and institutions (especially schools). Interestingly, the one diagnosis in the psychiatric bible (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) associated with self acceptance and an absence of guilt or remorse is the Antisocial Personality Disorder. Self acceptance and self esteem are false virtues. Our culture is full of satisfied pigs and very few Socrates.
“Mr. Rowe’s support for homosexual marriage and the inclusion of open homosexuals in the military reveals that his ‘moderate’ and ‘conservative’ stand, like that of Andrew Sullivan, is a fraud.”
“I never called myself a conservative. And I don’t consider myself a moderate either (on many issues, however, I am well to the right of the Republican party). I am a libertarian.”
First, it’s not entirely true that he didn’t characterize his position as conservative. In response to my question whether he supports the inclusion of open homosexuals in the military, he replied:
“Yes. I see no good reason to bar them from serving. And it’s relevant to point out with 1) marriage and 2) the military—these are conservative institutions. And gays are trying to join them. How about that? Many gays have respect for these conservative institutions—the radical leftist ‘queer theorist’ types have largely sat out of the ‘marriage and military’ debate because they loathe these institutions and don’t want to see gays join them.”
He also wrote:
“But I believe that society should offer gays a social contract which is this: We will let you join our ‘bourgeois institutions’ and do our best to fully integrate you into bourgeois society, and in return we will expect the same responsible sexual conduct that we respect from heterosexual members of civil society. Does this sound fair?”
Clearly, Mr. Rowe is approving of the putative respect of some homosexuals for, and their desire to be included in, the “conservative” and “bourgeois” institutions of marriage and the armed forces, a respect that he distinguishes from the attitude of the gay radicals.
However, even if Mr. Rowe had not used the word “conservatve” to describe his position, his whole message has been the Andrew Sullivan message that homosexual liberation is not disruptive to society, does not threaten the centrality of heterosexual marriage, and so on. That’s the fundamental conceit. And it’s a fraud, no matter how smooth and reassuring the verbiage (which Sullivan has perfected and Mr. Rowe is pretty skilled at himself) suggesting that homosexual liberation is perfectly compatible with conservative and traditional values.
Mr. Rowe says he wants the “full validation and recognition of the homosexual condition.” In fact, what he and all other gay-rights advocates want is the full validation and recognition of vice. And any society that gives it to them is destroying itself.
Indeed, to give such validation is more wicked than the vice itself. Vice is vice. It has always been with us and always will. But for a whole society to approve the vice, to “liberate” the vice, to “mainstream” the vice, to present it as an acceptable norm to people, especially to young people—that is evil. Remember that the reason for which God destroyed Sodom was not the vice of sodomy, it was the fact that the ENTIRE CITY had embraced that sin. If America, as a political society, were to approve and institutionalize homosexuality, that would be an analogous transgression and would certainly result in the same fate, in one form or another.
Two items in today’s news, both from New York, indicate that the new order of uncritical approval of homosexuality that Mr. Rowe seems to favor is here - at least in the public realm, no matter what reservations people may harbor in private.
The New York Times reports that Bride’s magazine, the nation’s oldest and largest circulation magazine about weddings, is publishing a feature article about the ceremonies homosexuals use to solemnize their assignations. This, the Times happily informs us, is a first. A fine progressive development, one that liberals everywhere will no doubt applaud. Another little step on the road to officially elevating homosexual couplings to the same level as real marriages.
If Bride’s magazine’s adventure in inclusiveness is mischievous, what today’s New York Post reports is diabolical. New York City is opening (actually expanding and “upgrading” an existing facility) a public high school for “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.” New York City is now officially in the business of proselytising homosexuality. The operative presumption is that any adolescent who is confused about his urges is not a heterosexual, and must be encouraged to be a homosexual, then affirmed in that disastrous choice. Urging confused children to take the difficult and isolating (and I’ll admit I believe morally wrong) path of homosexuality instead of at least attempting to conform to the human norm is doing them no service. In a more civilized place and time, what New York is doing with this school would have been called corruption of minors, a crime. Sadly for conservatism, these are all objections that New York Conservative Party chairman Mike Long didn’t think to mention in opposing opening Harvey Milk HS.
Not surprisingly for a New York school, the program is as inept academically as it is rotten morally, if the diction of this year’s valedictorian is indicative: quoth Arthur Larsen: “I’m now an alumnus of a real school! There’s going to be more students. In four years I want to work here.” No doubt he will, with Mike Bloomberg and GW Bush beaming their approval.
Mr. Auster’s scriptural exegesis is well taken. Genesis 13 and 19 are not crystal-clear about whether the sin of Sodom consisted only of engaging in Sodom’s misdeeds or included approving and acquiescing in them. If the latter, as seems reasonable, watch out New York! HRS
One obvious point that I meant to make in my previous post, but forgot:
While New York City’s decision to set up Harvey Milk HS predated the U.S. Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision invalidating the Texas sodomy statute, the Lawrence opinion has much to do with Harvey Milk HS and similar government experiments in social engineering. Justice Kennedy and those who joined him have unconstitutionally deprived those who oppose such things as high schools that are fronts for homosexualist propaganda of any legislative means to work for their abolition. HRS
HIV cases rising again among active homosexual men—and here we are after decades of AIDS “education” and the ruthless campaign against traditional sexual mores conducted by our ruling elites. You could hardly ask for a better illustration of the death-wish at the core of the homosexual movement:
But Mr. Williamson doesn’t “get” it. As all enlightened persons understand, such behavior doesn’t represent the core of the homosexual movement, rather, it represents the extremists, the ones with a death wish, the ones who engage in anonymous promiscuity in order to transgress and destroy the order of society. The real homosexual movement is modest and moderate in its goals, and wants to be included in such conservative institutions as marriage and the military and the Boy Scouts in order to … transgress and destroy the order of society.
or to put it another way, they shall be as gods, establishing order in thier own image.
“NEW YORK, July 28 — New York City is creating the nation’s first public high school for gays,
bisexuals and transgender students.”
you can always count on the government schools.
What is it about homosexuality that drives those caught in its web to insist that the world accept it as healthy and normal? There are numerous forms of vice - almost as many as there are people. One rarely if ever hears of alcoholics, murderers, liars, and thieves demanding that their behavior be designated by society as healthy and virtuous. On the contrary, those who practice these other sins typically go to great lengths to avoid discovery and deny that they indulge in the procribed behavior. What makes this vice so special?
“What is it about homosexuality that drives those caught in its web to insist that the world accept it as healthy and normal? … One rarely if ever hears of alcoholics, murderers, liars, and thieves demanding that their behavior be designated by society as healthy and virtuous. … “
One could speculate about what makes them do this — about what makes them want to ram what they know perfectly well is a disgusting vice, completely inappropriate for society, down society’s throat. It’s likely that it involves some sort of extreme hostility toward society combined with some sort of deep self-hatred on their part. (It has to involve at the very least self-hatred, because a self-respecting person — one who didn’t hate himself — wouldn’t want to harm society.)
Not all homosexuals are motivated by extreme hostility toward society or by self-hatred, and many of this “mentally healthier” variety steer clear of the groups pushing the homosexual political agenda — they want no part of it.
There was a time when psychiatrists advanced theories about what motivated homosexual men to act irrationally and destructively, something a certain subset of homosexual men were known for. Somehow psychiatrists have been politically cowed into no longer producing such theories. There was a theory, for example, that homosexual men were more likely than heterosexual men to have a kind of masochism which led them to do things that were self-destructive, and I once saw the behavior of Oscar Wilde analysed in this way, in relation to certain things he did which had the effect of landing him in jail for corruption of a male minor (the implication of this particular analysis being that he might have avoided jail for the act he committed, had he not done certain legally foolish, self-destructive things prior to and during his trial, things which he did out of a sort of masochism, this psychiatrist claimed).
No matter what it is about them and their allies on the left that makes them do that — makes them insist on pretending that male homosexuality is normal, healthy, virtuous, and equal to male heterosexuality — we’re going to be swamped with that propaganda and we must steel ourselves against it lest we become like the walking zombies or whatever they were in the ’50s film, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” whose minds were taken over one by one until they were all spouting the same stuff.
As Mr. Auster, in a July 23rd blog entry, explained what we must do in the face of this incessant propaganda:
“In the face of the seemingly unstoppable advance of the cultural left and the abasement of mainstream conservatives before it, there is one thing that traditionalists must remember above all else: never to let go of the truth, even if falsehood seems to be taking over the whole world.”
That was what the hero in that movie did. We have to do as he did, and we’ll get through it with our minds intact.
Mr. Auster’s July 23rd blog entry is, of course, the one that gave rise to this thread.