Homosexuals (but not lesbians) are immoral. Homosexuals have penises. Therefore, penises are immoral!

Leave it to Dean and Rosemary Esmay to get another interesting debate going on homosexuality. This time, the topic is homosexuality and morality.

I did not start this debate, and obviously, I am not going to end it. I wish, however, to explore some assumptions commonly made, because much of the discussion seems to proceed without doing so.

First of all, what is morality? The blogger who provided the kernel for the latest debate defines it as involving responsibility:

Simply put: the basis of Christian morality is responsibility. The very first argument put forward by homosexuals as a group is: Homosexuality is not a choice. That is the very definition of denial of responsibility. When you start discussing the damaging consequences and correlations of homosexuality, the first responses are: any damaging consequences are soley due to a disapproving society, and HIV/AIDS is not a homosexual disease. These are also a complete denial of responsibility. Iím directing this to homosexuals of both genders, not just men.

What Iím arguing is not the eradication of homosexuality, but the acceptance of responsibility by the homosexual population at large. Iím advocating for the establishment of a moral homosexuality. I donít think it will ever happen.

For the sake of this post, I am going to stick to Nathan's definition of morality (although I think morality is more complicated than accepting responsibility for one's actions, and there are many ways of accepting such responsibility).

First of all, let's address the "choice" crap. Homosexual conduct is to me about freedom, and choice is irrelevant. People should be free to choose or not choose it -- regardless of whether or not some feel they have no choice. In the context of definitions of morality, whether one has a choice is a bit of a red herring. Because, a thing is either bad or it is not. Whether or not someone claims it is chosen does not affect its goodness or badness. Pedophilia, for example, may or may not be chosen depending on circumstances, but most people would agree it is immoral because of the presence of unconsenting victims who, even if they claim to consent, are deemed too immature to take such decisions. Plenty of other things are chosen or not chosen; if they are bad things, we do not entertain a defense that they were caused by accidents of birth. If someone was born nearsighted, he cannot be heard to offer that as a defense to his involvement in an automobile accident, because he should have controlled his condition by wearing glasses. Note that neither condition -- pedophilia or nearsightedness -- is immoral absent the afflicted person conducting himself in such a way as to cause harm.

That of course, is the essence of what Nathan calls responsibility. I don't have much of a quarrel with it, except that I see no way to attach the label of "immoral" to those who behave responsibly because of the actions of those who do not. If I do not infect people with AIDS or other STDs, there is no logical way that I can be accused of immorality because of the actions of other people in my purported "group." Some homosexuals are celibate, some engage in faithful monogamous relationships, some do little more than masturbate with each other, and still others play phone games or cyber games. It makes no more sense to lump them all together than it does to describe all "women" as "loose women" because some women engage in prostitution.

The odd thing about all of this is that I agree that morality does involve responsibility. But so what? How we can go from there to a declaration that "homosexuals" are immoral I cannot understand. I refuse to be judged or condemned on the basis of some social engineer's actuarial statistics, and I can think of few things more inimical to freedom.

Once again, I am reminded of what the social engineers would do to my dear pet pit bull, Puff. Or what they would do to my guns.

Regardless of how many pit bull owners engage in dog fighting or sic their dogs on two year old children, I do not do that, and I refuse to be lumped with them or treated like them. Ditto for guns.

My gun is my business. It isn't to be judged by what others do with theirs.

Similarly, my penis is my business. It isn't to be judged by what others do with theirs.

Bottom line here is that I dislike having my life judged by "correlations":

the extremely high correlation between homosexuality and all sorts of unfortunate consequences makes it very clear that homosexuality is not a good choice for long-term happiness in life.
You could substitute "guns," "pit bulls," "tobacco," or "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" for "homosexuality," and so what? Correlations do not equal immorality. (And I am not altogether sure that risk taking does either, but I don't feel like taking the risk of enlarging the debate right now....)

Nathan ought to be careful, because such communitarian thinking has a poor track record in history.

And speaking of "community".... Once again, I offer my apologies to the lesbians (more disease-free than heterosexual women) whom I ignored (only because Nathan ignored them too).

Of course, I can see why. Had lesbians been factored into his actuarial table, he'd have had the gay "Promise Keepers" he seems to think "we" need!

Identity politics, of course, invites this kind of debate.

Whether identity politics is immoral is still another question....


UPDATE: Be sure to read these two posts by Shell, at Across the Atlantic. (Not only is he thinking along similar lines, but he's spent more time grappling with the issue than I have.)

UPDATE: I was WRONG AGAIN. "Shell" is a she, not a he, although my praise is the same. (See comments below.) If only I had such a team!

posted by Eric on 12.08.03 at 07:48 PM







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» Preachin' for responsible penis usage? from Tiger: Raggin' & Rantin'
Over on Classical Values, I found this little quip: . . . my penis is my business. It isn't to be judged by what others do with theirs.I kinda liked it, but thought My penis is my responsibility is not... [Read More]
Tracked on December 8, 2003 10:14 PM
» http://www.ronald.idv.tw/archives/2003/12/09/.php from Who is Ronald?
Classical Values: Homosexuals (but not lesbians) are immoral. Homosexuals have penises. Therefore, penises are immoral! The discussion is interesting! I... [Read More]
Tracked on December 9, 2003 12:38 AM
» Homosexual Morality from Across the Atlantic
Rosemary at Dean's World links to this article by Nathan at Brain Fertilizer. Simply put: the basis of Christian morality is responsibility. The very first argument put forward by homosexuals as a group is: Homosexuality is not a choice. That... [Read More]
Tracked on December 9, 2003 9:59 AM
» Bonfire of the Vanities - Week 23 from Wizbang
The Bonfire of the Vanities returns to the land of weblog awards with the slimy film on the bottom of the barrel of the blogosphere. Of course we mean the worst of the worst, the suckiest posts by otherwise excellent... [Read More]
Tracked on December 9, 2003 11:49 PM
» Bonfire Of The Vanities - Week 26 from Wizbang
The Bonfire Of The Vanities is now a traveling show. Next weeks edition will be at Boots And Sabers. Entries should still be sent to bonfire at wizbangblog.com. The upcoming Bonfire schedule and signup information is listed here. If you... [Read More]
Tracked on December 31, 2003 12:59 AM
» Bonfire Of The Vanities - Week 26 from Wizbang
The Bonfire Of The Vanities is now a traveling show. Next weeks edition will be at Boots And Sabers. Entries should still be sent to bonfire at wizbangblog.com. The upcoming Bonfire schedule and signup information is listed here. If you... [Read More]
Tracked on December 31, 2003 1:00 AM



Comments

You're not actually suggesting that gay men, taken as a statistical group, are NOT at higher risk for a host of such health threats, are you? Rationally speaking, they simply are. That doesn't mean you're one of them, but that doesn't mean society has no palce whatsoever in saying anything about it or encouraging better behavior.

I continue to argue that there is a place for society to ask young gay men to behave better than they often do. I think the same thing for young straight nen. Is that really a bad thing?

Dean Esmay   ·  December 8, 2003 9:11 PM

Hi Dean,

I am absolutely NOT saying that encouraging responsible sexual behavior is wrong! Nor am I saying that homosexuals are not as a group at higher risk for STDs. I wouldn't even say that gun owners are not at higher risk for firearm suicide deaths than non gun-owners.

My argument is with the idea that if some (even most) group members do something, that all share responsibility. AIDS prevention is important (and I have donated to AIDS charities), but that does not make me responsible for people who refuse to listen.

Morality strikes me as very personal by definition. Thus, declaring that a group is immoral strikes me as tyrannical (unless the group's defining activity is immoral per se -- which I do not believe homosexual conduct is). To say that homosexuality per se is immoral because of STDs makes as much sense as declaring drinkers immoral because of cirrhosis.

Irresponsible homosexuals may of course be immoral. All that proves is that some homosexuals are immoral.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 8, 2003 9:31 PM

Your title can only be correct if you ignore about half of what I said.

But in your defense, I've written ALOT on the subject. Have you bothered to follow any of the relevant links on my blog? Your post seems to indicate that you haven't, since most of your objections have already been addressed.

But I'll also add that if you only read the last few posts, including the comments on Dean's World, your confusion is understandable.

nathan   ·  December 8, 2003 11:28 PM

Nathan,

My title was intended as tongue-in-cheek satire. Sorry that I couldn't read all of your links; I couldn't get your "Main" page to load when I was writing this.

The quality and quantity of work you have put into this issue is impressive, and I don't disagree with you all that much, but my principal objection still stands; it is not fair to restrict, judge, or punish all members of a "group" because of the actions of some -- or even most. Group punishment may be appropriate in certain school or military settings, but not for adults in a free society. If you read through my blog you will see that I have a problem with identity politics, and even with the idea of a grouping people based on sexual desires.

To give an example of where you and I part company, I disagree with this type of thinking:

If you accept the usual liberal public health arguments (such as applied to guns), these are all legitimate public health arguments for regulating homosexual anal sex--even if the law is overbroad, affecting the relatively small percentage of gay men who are in permanent, mutually monogamous relationships. After all, liberals don't mind that many gun control laws are even more overbroad, impacting the vast majority of gun owners who will never misuse a gun.
I don't care what liberals or conservatives mind, nor do I care how many foolish people die because of stupidity; I oppose such restrictions on personal autonomy as a threat to human freedom.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Eric Scheie   ·  December 9, 2003 12:08 AM

I totally agree with you! I oppose gun control _and_ anti-sex laws.
As for his statistical correlations: Homosexuals have been condemned and criminalized for so long and so thoroughly it's no wonder that some do turn to promiscuity, drugs, even suicide. Also: Some 50% of marriages end in divorce, with all that that entails. Is marriage wrong? Is falling in love wrong?
I'll reiterate what I wrote on Dean's blog, if you will: Falling in love with, and marrying, someone of the same sex is not wrong. Being "deviant", i.e., different from the majority is not wrong. _Choosing_ to be different from the majority is not wrong. Making love for other than reproduction is not wrong. Trying to _change_ "deviants" so that they will conform to the majority is wrong. Surrendering to pressures to conform is wrong. You/I must be loyal to yourself/myself above all, to your/my deepest vision of the true, the good, the beautiful. That is where I stand.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  December 9, 2003 4:36 AM

Eric, I agree with you 100% about individual vs. group morality. I've been arguing the same points on my site and on Rosemary's.

shell   ·  December 9, 2003 9:57 AM

Eric,

Across the ATlantic is a team blog. shell is my blog partner as well as life partner, and I am delighted (and amused to report) that shell is delightfully female.

Lionel Mandrake   ·  December 9, 2003 10:46 AM

There I go, making assumptions!

:)

I take it you are the Group Captain?

Eric Scheie   ·  December 9, 2003 11:03 AM

Eric,

Yep.

Lionel Mandrake   ·  December 9, 2003 11:41 AM

"Simply put: the basis of Christian morality is responsibility..."

Silly me. And all this time I had been led to believe that the basis for Christian morality was the Wholly Babble.

Babble on....

Quite frankly, all of this discussion is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I guess some people have too much time on their hands. Concerning themselves with what others do.

raj   ·  December 11, 2003 10:30 AM

My only response (distilled from paragraph upon paragraph of argument) to nathan's position is: "Figures always lie, and liars always figure." The statistical methodology behind studies of homosexual conduct are so flawed as to be nearly meaningless. Guiding principles should be applied to the place of homosexuality in our culture, not a spreadsheet of moralistic cost-benefit analysis.

I agree with Dean that society in general (though "society" is a dangerous term itself) is free to speak out about the harmful repercussions of things like unprotected sex, reckless drug use and . . . and bicycling without a helmet, in fact; but that in no way gives society (or any "concerned group") the right to arbitrarily regulate the sexual behavior of one group (if that group can even be *identified*) while giving the rest of society a free pass, essentially.

I believe that consensual sexual behavior cannot morally be regulated in any fashion whatsoever. Certainly, I cannot see how gay and lesbian Americans -- an understudied, stigmatized and largely unrecognized part of the population -- can be singled out for such regulation.

Nathan is long on credentials but short on credibility, I'm afraid.

John Kusch   ·  December 14, 2003 5:13 PM

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