Carrying tolerance too far....

Gay Guns.

What is it about putting those words together which pushes so many hot buttons? Considering recent controversies, I see no better way to plumb the depths of tolerance in the blogosphere than to juxtapose these issues again.

John Kusch writes very well, better than most bloggers, and certainly better than I do. Dean Esmay finds him annoying, but links to him anyway.

I have to admit that I was a little annoyed by the fact that John Kusch was annoyed by Frank J. of all people, (Frank J. being my favorite humorist in the blogosphere), and I have been more than a little annoyed by John's failure to appreciate the value (especially to homosexuals) of the Second Amendment. But nothing John has said could possibly be more annoying than some of the downright bigoted things this guy (who I charitably call a "satirist") has said. (Here are a few examples.)

Even though I find myself disagreeing with some of John's thinking on guns and on gays, that's OK, because there isn't anyone I agree with on everything anyway.

First, guns. This was a note to Kim du Toit (who, despite John's contention, did print and comment on it)

A Comment You Will Never Read

This comment was posted -- but will likely never be displayed -- in response to the Kim du Toit article, "It's Ball-Kickin' Time in Wisconsin", in which he calls upon his Wisconsinite readers to rise up against Governor Doyle's recent veto of a bill that would have allowed citizens to register for and carry concealed firearms:

I think you should do a long essay on all the social good concealed weapons have done in our nation's ghettoes. I'll be fascinated to review your results.

You'll note that one of the groups in opposition to this legislation was law-enforcement officers. I work in a correctional environment with lots of sheriffs and police officers, and not one of them thinks this bill was a good idea. And they're all pretty manly-looking, at least compared to me.

Who am I more likely to trust -- you, a foreign-born non-Wisconsinite with a single-note agenda, or law enforcement officers from my own state who have to actually live here? Do the math.

I suggest you attend to your own balls before presuming to know what to do with ours.

I am not terribly impressed by arguments to authority -- in this case law enforcement officers -- especially on matters of constitutional rights (especially when said rights place limitations on their authority!). I am as much a Second Amendment absolutist as I am a First Amendment absolutist. Guns have saved my life twice, and I support concealed carry. As to the "social good concealed weapons have done in our nation's ghettoes," hey, poor people living in ghettoes have just as much right to self defense -- concealed or otherwise -- as any American. To argue (which John seems to do implicitly) for a different standard for the poor, or for people living in ghettoes, is simply wrong. I would be willing to bet that a number of lives have been saved by concealed weapons in the hands of the poor. I believe that an armed society is a polite society, and that concealed weapons make people extra careful (for the simple reason that criminals don't know who is armed).

In my view, the fatal flaw in John's argument is the failure to distinguish between criminals and law abiding citizens. Crimes committed with guns are by definition not committed by the law abiding, so it is illogical to compare concealed carry by criminals with concealed carry by law abiding citizens.

Apples and oranges. So, while I have to disagree with John Kusch on guns, I should note that I have this same disagreement with some of my best friends.

Kim du Toit is an absolutist on the Second Amendment, and I think that's a good thing. I have had disagreements with him too -- particularly on the tone of his pussification post. Unlike John Kusch, though, who disagrees with Kim du Toit on almost everything, I thought du Toit was absolutely right about a number of things -- notably the destruction of freedom in this country and the failure of people to stand up to it. I think men and women are both guilty, though, and I no more need du Toit telling me how to be a man than I need John Kusch telling me how to be a proper homosexual. But both of these guys strike me as sincere and honest. Both speak from the heart, and both write in a very compelling manner. Both, incidentally, are against drugging children with Ritalin!

I realize that it would be too much to ask that they be civil to each other; the very idea strikes me as wildly naive. That does not mean that I can't engage in civility. John Kusch and Kim du Toit are a far cry from Ted Rall, Fred Phelps, or the rest of the raving moonbats who populate the fringes.

While I am at it, I have to confess that I am a little frustrated by this post too -- because it seems to divide the world into homosexuals and heterosexuals.

I recently had a discussion with a woman at work who asked me, "If there are gay men who can marry a woman and, I mean . . . they can function and have children and live a normal life, then why don't they just stick with that?"

"Because it's torture," I answered. "Straight men in prison have sex with one another because they're in prison and they have no other options. A gay man who feels he must marry a woman and have children to enjoy a real and fulfilling family life is in a similar situation psychologically. I've known many gay men who were married, and what I keep hearing again and again from them, after the marriage has dissolved, is, 'I had no idea what it was like until I fell in love with a man.' Their marriages never last long after they realize what they've been denying themselves.

"It isn't natural for a gay man to be with a woman. It's painful and degrading, and it's unfair to the woman. Would you want your daughter to marry a man who couldn't really love her?"

The problem I have with the above is that it overlooks something which (at least to my way of thinking) stares me right in the face: the existence of a thing called bisexuality. I have blogged about this before, as it has annoyed me for many years that so many people have such an aversion to the idea of bisexuality that they refuse to admit it exists.

I am sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but bisexuality (or whatever you wanna call it) exists now and has existed since ancient times. Homosexuality is an artificial modern creation: a new, manipulative word to describe a perfectly normal variation of human sexuality. It should not be stigmatized or judged in any way. Even the word "homosexual" is a judgment, implying that people have to be a something-sexual. I don't like hyphenated humans, and I don't like identity politics. It should not matter what someone does with his genitalia, yet it does. I worry that it matters not only to busybody "heterosexuals" but to some "homosexuals" as well.

While there may be prisoners who are made miserable by having sex with other men, I would be willing to wager that most of them are gay men forced into being sex slaves. [UPDATE: Or, of course, all victims of prison rape.] Their partners are not particularly miserable. They are usually bisexual. I have known a lot of guys (NOT prisoners) who prefer women, but who have had sex with an occasional man just because they felt like it. And they were not "miserable."

What would be miserable would be to force oneself to have sex with someone not sexually appealing. This is not restricted to unhappily married homosexuals married to members of the opposite sex. Many heterosexual men and women have unsatisfying sex lives. Some of them get into therapy, or counseling, and are able to change it. Others divorce, then later find someone more to their liking.

I just can't understand the apparent insistence that one must find only one sex -- and not the other under any circumstances -- attractive.

Notwithstanding such an outrageous statement, I am the first to recognize that most people find members of one sex more attractive than the other, and it would be tyrannical in the extreme to tell them they shouldn't. But this gets into the matter of tolerance. Heterosexuals are the vast majority, and not generally accustomed to being, er, "different." Therefore, they tend to assume that everyone is like them, and this can create an unconscious (sometimes fully conscious) intolerance of homosexuals and homosexuality. Homosexuals, being a fairly small minority, are accustomed to living with this intolerance.

In my view, this ought to make them more tolerant of human differences, such as bisexuality, not less. Pretending a thing does not exist -- or angrily insisting it is "dishonest" -- is anything but tolerant.

On the other hand, is there anything wrong with intolerance in the blogosphere? Certainly I would be the last person to condemn it outright, or argue for anything resembling restrictions. Hell, I even link to people I consider downright bigoted, and like Glenn Reynolds, I don't believe in delinking -- no matter what a link might say. More speech beats no speech. Civility and tolerance are not rules, and even bigoted extremists help define freedom.

Intolerance is one thing gay gun nuts understand. I can think of no better way to experience it.

And, much as I hate it, it's probably good for the soul.

Did I just conclude that intolerance is good? What's wrong with me? Am I becoming a moonbat?

UPDATE: What's the use? As Frank J. just made abundantly clear, it's kill or be killed time in the blogosphere!

Kill 'em all! Let Blog sort 'em out!

posted by Eric on 11.20.03 at 04:26 PM


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Tracked on November 21, 2003 2:28 PM


"Frank J. being my favorite humorist in the blogosphere"


...just kidding. He's mine too. Good points all, Eric!

Don   ·  November 20, 2003 9:25 PM

Um, well, uh, er, ah, let's see....

Here is what I really meant to say (but had to abbreviate for my readers):

"Frank J. being my favorite humorist in the blogosphere, if only because Don Watkins has for the time being deliberately held himself back out of respect for Frank J. (whose fame and fortune Don will stage-manage to the point of super-stardom) following which the blogosphere will witness a gigantic crescendo of humor the likes of which have never been beheld by mere mortals, thus making Frank J. and Don W. the Greatest and Most Funniest Humorists of all places, all peoples and all times!"

(Something like that.)

Eric Scheie   ·  November 20, 2003 10:00 PM

John Kusch isn't denying the existence of bisexuals. He's just not talking about bisexuals. He's denying, if anything, the notion common among many intellectuals that we are all bisexual. I really don't know what "bisexual" is. Flip of the coin? Men and women are different, physically, visibly, palpably, _aesthetically_ different. Angular vs. curvaceous, hair all over vs. hair on top, etc.. These differences are so great that I just cannot see being indifferent or oblivious to them, unless one is wearing ideological blinders. I would certainly prefer a good- or even average-looking man to an ugly woman, but I still would prefer the most beautiful woman over the manliest man, just because that's just the way I am, the way I was made if you will, a gynosexual man, a Lesbian in a man's body if you wish. I identify completely with the Lesbian I read in one of Dean's threads who described how heterosexual marriage was torture, she had to close her eyes and think of women every night while the hairy lug was on top of her. "Try it, you'll like it" doesn't work, she did try it and she hated it. As she said, she wasn't going to go through that again just to please the Christian Reich.

Men and women are so different that, as I've said before, the real division is between androsexuals and gynosexuals, and I think the ancients would have seen it that way. "Homosexual" means androsexual men and gynosexual women being thrown together by society into the same dungeon. But, actually, even my own neologisms are but rough approximations, for the real division is not binary nor even a spectrum, but idiosyncratic to each individual, as I'm attracted to one set of women whom I see as pulchritudinous, while my equally gynosexual friend Robin Georg Olsen is attracted to a quite different set of women whom he finds pulchritudinous. And that's just the way it should be.

Sorry to be so long-winded, and I didn't mean to quibble or to be argumentative. Just wanted to clarify a few things as best I can as I see them. Wonderful post. I wish gay men like John Kusch would see the value in the right to keep and bear arms -- and those like Clayton Cramer would see what that liberty is that our guns are here to defend, i.e., freedom of worship, the right to privacy. Harold Veit: a guy who's definitely asking for a fisking, and I intend to give him one as soon as I get around to it. Intolerence is good. Provided that it means intolerance of the bad and love of the good. Otherwise, I'm intolerant of it.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  November 21, 2003 12:50 AM

I was thinking about this some more, and it came to me, another way in which certain elements of the "Left" dovetail with certain elements of the "Right": I think one main reason why the mantra of the "Left", "we are all bisexual [as distinguished from _some_ are bisexual], there is no difference between a man and a woman, the sexes are equal and interchangable, it is a sin to discriminate or prefer one over the other" infuriates me so (other than it's being so patently false) is that it is totally consistent with the ChristiaNazi doctrine that homosexuality is immoral because it does not reproduce children, i.e., more slaves for Church and State. In the ChristiaNazi argument the only significant difference between the sexes is in their reproductive organs. Thus, the most consistent Communist regimes, Mao's China and Pol Pot's Cambodia, pioneered the "unisex" look to erase all aesthetic differences between the sexes while at the same time imprisoning or exterminating homosexuals. And, therefore, on these premises, that Lesbian _should_ give up her selfish aesthetic preference for a woman and just lie there and learn to like it while the big hairy gorilla inserts his reproductive instrument in her.
I hold the diametrically opposite premise, i.e., that sex is the deepest experience of a particular type of beauty, it is and should be selfish (even as the two lovers would gladly die for each other!), that it does indeed make _all_ the difference in the world from a selfish aesthetic point of view whether one (you, I, he, she) is with a man or a woman precisely just because men and women _are_ so different in the way they _look_ (as well as in voice, gesture, demeanor, etc.). And, therefore, from my premises, to demand, e.g., that a Lesbian switch, abandon her Lesbianism, and let the man inseminate her is nothing other than rape. Sorry to be so long-winded again but the whole idea just infuriates me.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  November 21, 2003 10:29 AM

I'm with you on guns, Eric. In fact I've seriously considered getting one, and taking a safety course. Trouble is, I might need an anger management course too. Well. Maybe owning a gun would be an anger management course.

But I'm leaving a comment because I disagree with a couple of things you said here. Homosexuality is a modern word, a modern concept; but I do not believe it is a modern, culturally-induced condition. Very likely it has some biological basis. And surely it existed before it was named. Indeed, it used to be called the love that dare not speak its name. I have read studies suggesting that true bisexuality (i.e. non-situational) is much rarer than homosexuality. Sorry I can't make any citations without a lot of research which I don't want to do at this moment.

Some leftist intellectuals try to make a case that sexuality is a polymorphous spectrum, with sexual exclusivity in either direction a kind of aberration. I think this is nonsense, and it may well be what Kusch wants to assail (I haven't looked at that link yet). There are two genders, two polarities in human nature. It makes sense that genuine bisexuality would be rare. The type of male-on-male fooling around that you call bisexual, I would probably call narcissistic.

Alan Sullivan   ·  November 23, 2003 8:18 AM

Wow. Hope I'm not a narcissist! (Just kidding!)

Now, please indulge me in another typical ramble….

I have no quarrel at all with exclusive homosexuality or exclusive heterosexuality, and I do believe that there are biological bases for both. However, because some homosexuals were born that way does not mean all were, nor does it mean that bisexuals must be either exclusively homosexual or exclusively heterosexual. Of course, the problem may be that the "bisexual" label is equally judgmental. After all, who should have any legitimate interest in labeling people on the basis of what they do with their genitalia? To my mind, the only people who have a right to be concerned are one's sexual partners.

The ancients (Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great being two examples) would have laughed at the idea that they had to be either heterosexual or homosexual. Why the need for such labels, and insistence on sexual judgments? I fear it comes from religious taboos -- with natural rebellion having resulted in defensive lifestyle codification which (I hope) will eventually fade into irrelevance.

Not for one minute do I subscribe to the socialist nonsense that everyone is polymorphously sexual, and I think that most Americans are either heterosexual or homosexual. I am merely saying, based on personal experience, that there are many bisexuals who cannot admit it, and are tyrannized into keeping their "homosexual" side secret. To admit to bisexuality in our sexually politicized world is to be labeled (and stigmatized) as a homosexual -- and a rather foolish, closeted one at that. The idea that a single homosexual experience makes one a homosexual (and causes one to forfeit the right to engage in heterosexual intercourse) makes about as much sense as declaring that someone with one-eighth Negro blood is "black." Analysis of sexuality has unfortunately become political instead of logical. And highly emotional. Except for a few nuts like me, people just don't want to talk about it.

Thanks for the link. (Please bear in mind that one of my blog's primary purposes is to fight all types of sexual guilt, defensiveness, and stigmatization. I think the ancients offered a better approach.)

One last thought: for the sake of argument, let us suppose you are right about some male-on-male sex being narcissistic. I think there are more causes for homosexual conduct than prenatal hormones and narcissism, but is sexual narcissism necessarily a bad thing? I don't see why the "causation" of sexuality should matter in any way -- absent harm, of course.

Eric Scheie   ·  November 24, 2003 3:56 PM

Hmm. I notice that you're very concerned about negative or judgemental labels. Gay people certainly know firsthand the power and peril of labelling. But I'm a word-lover, and I like to have accurate terms for things. "Narcissistic" is a fine word with a rich classical history. I dislike reductionism, and I had no intention of suggesting self-love was per se a bad thing, though it certainly can injure or obstruct relationships. I used the term because I think it affords a useful distinction between behavior that is essentially self-referential and behavior that really originates in alarming or inexplicable attractions to people of both genders. It's late, and I'm tired, or I might pursue this line of thought further. Another time, perhaps.

Alan Sullivan   ·  November 27, 2003 10:42 PM

I think the main reason you felt bisexuals were left out of the excerpted conversation above is that they *were* left out of the discussion.

I realize that this admission is pretty conveniently timed, but I'm technically bisexual: I can have and enjoy sexual relations with either sex.

However -- and this is a crucial distinction in my mind -- I do not fall in *love* with women. While I can have satisfying sex with a woman, I would not want to spend my life is an intimate relationships with a woman, or at least any woman I've met so far. My *emotional* preference has always been exclusively male.

In the above conversation, I don't talk about bisexuals because they aren't relevant to the debate. The woman I was talking to was essentially saying, "If you can fake being straight, then why not just suck it up and suffer?" I wasn't denying the existence of bisexuals, but I also wasn't mentioning them because bisexuals can and often do enter into natural, voluntary marriages with members of the opposite sex. Exclusively gay and lesbian people, however, don't marry members of the opposite sex because they want to. They do so because they feel they *have* to. And that coercion -- whether physical in the case of prison or cultural/religious/social in the case of gay persons "playing house" -- is what concerns me.

I think true bisexuality is rare, and I think it's as fine as homosexuality. I certainly wish there'd been more bisexual men in my high school! But the issue of bisexuality simply wasn't germane at the time.

John Kusch   ·  May 2, 2004 10:40 AM


Thank you for commenting, and especially for sharing that you're bisexual. Bisexuality is extremely frustrating, because most people see it as a "closet" stage in "coming out." Life is supposed to be an either/or deal. Bisexuals are seen as suspect, because bisexuality threatens theories of sexuality which are heavily politicized. Gay activists seem as threatened by bisexuality as groups like Exodus.

For me, bisexuality means unable to be in the closet, and unable to be out of the closet, because human assumptions lurk everywhere, with homosexuals assuming homosexuality and heterosexuals assuming heterosexuality. These assumptions make it tough for bisexuals to lead normal lives. It's much easier (for me it's an honor, as well as a way of thumbing my nose at bigotry) to accept the default label of gay. But is it honest? If you're in the middle of the Kinsey scale, what are you supposed to do? Is there a duty to anyone? It's a little like the "conservative" or "liberal" label; people who are on one side want to label me as being on the other. But why must sexuality be that way? I feel obligated to at least grapple with the concept as a way of expressing my frustration, and I apologize if I came off assuming you were in the "either or" camp.

Thanks again!

Eric Scheie   ·  May 3, 2004 11:34 AM

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