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Those Who Sincerely Wonder Whether My Posts Are Motivated By Anti-Gay Animus

might want to read my earlier posts trying to debunk the myth of the hyper-promiscuous median gay male (also here, here, here, and here), criticizing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", arguing against the "nongenital sex is unnatural" argument, and arguing that even religious people who take Biblical injunctions seriously, but who believe in religious tolerance, should treat tolerance of gays and lesbians as equivalent to tolerance of other religions. I will be the first to say that I don't endorse all the things that many gay rights activists endorse; for instance, while I support same-sex marriage, I think it should be recognized by statute, not by judicial fiat. But if you treat everyone who doesn't completely agree with you, and sometimes even agrees with your adversaries, as an anti-gay bigot, you might want to ask how sound, fair, and effective an attitude like that is.

Public_Defender:
Volokh's posts on gay issues provide a road map that gay rights advocates can use to persuade conservatives. It's counterproductive to nitpick him on this. Gay rights advocates need more friends on the Right. Why create an adversary?
8.24.2005 2:48pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
EV, most of us get it. The few who don't just happen to have more time on their hands to whine about it.
8.24.2005 2:50pm
Gordon (mail):
Thanks for your honest and thoughtful discussion of this issue. It would be ridiculous to claim that your posts equate with gay-hatred. But the cultural far left doesn't accept anything less than full orthodoxy on these issues.
8.24.2005 3:00pm
kipp (mail):
I enjoy this blog every day - EV has always been a deeply thoughtful and thoroughly fair-minded blogger. That doesn't mean he isn't allowed to enjoy a little firestorm with fearlessly selected blog topics: Frothing zealots of all kinds (especially those who never read the VC) deserve to be taunted, after all.
8.24.2005 3:17pm
billb:
Gordon, one of the strongest critics of Eugene was Downtown Lad who claims (in one of many comments) to be a conservative. I see no reason to not take him at his word (having looked at his blog). Maybe he's more of a libertarian, in which case it might be OK to accuse him of being on the "cultural far left" whatever that is. But the crticism of Eugene wasn't limited to the "cultural far left."
8.24.2005 3:17pm
DK:
I get it and I will never think that Volokh is a bigot, but IMHO, he is currently living out the story of a person who falls in a hole and then keeps digging. Actually, he is in two holes -- the "traitors on the left!" hole and the "conversion" hole. In both cases, IMHO, he would be wise to stop digging.

Most of the time, Volokh is a model of patient, reasoned argument with an unusual sensitivity to the merits and logic of contrary opinions. In both of these controversial threads, however, the criticism appear to be pushing Volokh to hit back harder. Instead of convincing people, his additional posts are having the effect of fanning the flames. I mostly agree with Volokh, but I will be glad when he catches his breath and asks himself if his responses are being effective.
8.24.2005 3:22pm
Tony (mail):
For the record, I don't think you are anti-gay.

But the discussion here is compromised by your refusal to qualify what you are talking about. To argue on the level of broad correlations is to miss the point entirely. "Gay sex" is a very diverse thing whose risk varies from zero to suicidal depending on what you do, who you are with, and what you know about their HIV status.

I'd say you're guilty of the sin of inappropriate aggregation. You are making broad statistical statements about an ill-defined class (gay men), an ill-defined activity (sex), and more or less guessing at all the critical numbers. You can get any conclusion you want from that! Want gay sex to look dangerous? Then examine drug-using, club-hopping young urban men who are likely predisposed to risk-taking behavior in general. Want gay sex to look safe? Then look for cases where quiet gay suburban couples do little more than drink brandy and snuggle on the couch. (Such men, incidentally, are far more representative of gay men in America, but represent the minority of those studied since they are so much harder to identify in large numbers.)

One perspective is no more valid than the other, but it is certainly a lot easier to find and study the risk-taking subset. And it makes juicier headlines. The majority of gay men who live rather unspectacular and non-promiscuous lives are justifiably weary of being conflated with men they have little in common with other than the gender of their partner. If you had said "unprotected anal sex with strangers" instead of "gay sex", your statement would have been more accurate, more useful, and totally devoid of controversy.
8.24.2005 3:22pm
Leeron:
Gordon's remarks are every bit as narrow and parochial as those he fabricates in his caricature of the "cultual far left."

I would hope that Prof. Volokh is sufficiently confident in himself and his opinions that he would regard Public_Defender's notion as silly. "Oh no - people are being hard on me because I am overstating my case. I shall now become their sworn enemy." Sure, that does seem to be how some law professors behave in class, but we're supposed to pretend that all of them are on the political left, aren't we? No self-respecting conservative would hold such a ridiculous grudge.

I view the comments which Prof. Volokh takes as accusations of "anti-gay bias" instead as reductio ad absurdem. Prof. Volokh did overstate his case, and they are making fun of him. If he's not comfortable with that type of response... unfair, sure, but a standard tactic in "blog-to-blog combat"... why is he even blogging?
8.24.2005 3:23pm
LT (mail):
It could be worse. You could be openly gay and expressing a similar viewpoint, which as everyone knows would just make you "self-loathing."
8.24.2005 3:29pm
Bleepless (mail):
Good sir, you should not have to apologize to hysterical absolutists.
8.24.2005 3:31pm
von (mail) (www):
Don't fear, Professor Volokh. The reasonable reader* knows from where you're coming, and generally approves. (FWIW, though, I think that your choice of the word "conversion" got you off on the wrong foot.)

*It should go without saying, but I clearly am the standard for the "reasonable reader." Accordingly, if you disagree with me, you are per se unreasonable. (I haven't decided whether I should simply end it there or create a rebuttable presumption of your unreasonableness; doubtless, though, once I decide, it will be a reasonable decision.)
8.24.2005 3:33pm
AnonymousRegularReader:
Only you know what is in your heart. The same holds true for your critics. Recognize that personal attacks on the motives of another are one of the primary tactics in the postmodern handbook of debate. If your heart be true, the best response is to point out that your critics are either sincere but mistaken, in which case they should recognize the undeniable fact that you are the best judge of your own motives, or engaging in a despicable wolf-crying free speech inhibiting tactic which you condemn in the strongest terms and only they themselves know in which category they fall. With that said, let the incident pass and return undismayed to the original topic at hand!
8.24.2005 3:39pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
One problem with these multi-post tempests is that they crowd out other stuff.

Is there a genuine federal issue in the California Supreme Court's recent ruling on lesbian parenting?

Should John Roberts have recused himself from a case brought against the President after he started interviewing for the President to give him a seat on the Supreme Court?

Whatever the virtues of such questions, they are less likely to degenerate into what we've seen lately. I incline to the theory one commenter proffered, that Prof. Volokh is actually researching an article on internet debating styles in comment threads.
8.24.2005 3:50pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
DK: I appreciate your constructive advice, and I've thought hard about the problem myself. But I have two goals here.

First, I want to articulate certain ideas, and to persuade some people to consider them.

Second, in certain situations, when I see that people are hotly criticizing the legitimacy of certain arguments -- arguments that strike me as entirely legitimate and important -- I think it's important to stand up and reaffirm those arguments' legitimacy.

I realize that I may be unable to persuade the people who are criticizing me. But I hope that I might reach some people who are undecided, both (1) persuading them of the substance of my argument, and (2) helping maintain a social norm that this argument is legitimate, and that people should feel free to make the argument despite the hot criticism that they get.

Naturally, these interests must be balanced against other matters -- I don't want to bore people, plus I actually have work to do. Perhaps I'm not balancing them right. But I want to do my part to make it easier for others to discuss these important subjects, and one way of doing that is to keep going (and even redouble my efforts) in the face of what strike me as unsound criticisms.
8.24.2005 4:01pm
Carol Anne:
Apropos Anderson's query, above: Is there a genuine federal issue in the California Supreme Court's recent ruling on lesbian parenting?

I posted this at the end of a very old thread earlier today, and I invite comments and feedback. I'm confused:

The California Supreme Court, on Monday, August 22, decided that a lesbian is liable for payment of child support to her ex-partner, another lesbian.

It seems to me that this either supports the separation of marriage from parenting (a point I recently asserted elsewhere in VC), or begs the issue "was theirs a marriage de facto, and child support is a natural consequence of the issue of that now-dissolved marriage?"

Perhaps some of the lawyers here can help me understand how a responsibility can be levied on a citizen without the concomittant authority/rights? Is that a principle of our society?
8.24.2005 4:10pm
jasmindad (mail):
Eugene, I am willing to take your professions of not having an anti-gay agenda at face value, but you have not sufficiently responded to the substantive objections to your formulation of the original question. Namely: (i) Were you saying anything more than that in a gay-tolerant atmosphere, more acts of homosexual activity will occur, especially on the part of the small percentage of the population that might be bisexual and whose sexual needs might be met in a less gay-open culture solely or nearly solely with acts of heterosex? (ii) Can you say which part of the increase in (i) is simply due to having more opportunities to explore, without any specific hypothesis about "conversion"? What is the evidence that any of it is due to community-driven or personal acts of "conversion"? (iii) Since you must know that that their kids would be "converted" into gay sex is one of the deeply held fears of a lot of people, don't you agree that you need to be especially careful in using that term unless the situation cannot be explained without that hypothesis? (iv) Why bring in issues of the "dangers" of such conversion in a posting ostensibly devoted to just myth-busting?
8.24.2005 4:27pm
No Name Given:
Well, we appreciate your concerns, but frankly the gay "community" (for what it's worth, I don't generally accept that term) has done the heavy lifting in discussing these issues amongst ourselves since the 80s. In the end, it is a personal decision how and if to protect yourself, and as a long standing advocate of personal responsibility, I can't think of anything else that can be done. Although I cannot condone the hysterical emotionalism displayed by some commenters during these discussions, I at least see what motivates it. As a gay person one becomes fairly numb to psychological, moral, spiritual, personal and occasionally (although not anymore in the US at least) legal condemnation; them's the breaks, as they say, and one learns to toughen up. But the fairly constant onslaught of this condemnation earlier in life does tend to put one on the defensive, and having the most intimate aspects of one's life clinically picked apart by lawyers for sport on a weblog seems a reasonable justification for becoming a tad overheated. I certainly have no qualms about discussing these issues, but the tone of these posts (at least after the first one) and the way you somehow went from "conversion" to the dangers of gay sex (as others have noted, this is so broad a term as to be fairly meaningless) tends to make one suspicious. Having been a longtime reader of your website I never really mistook your posts for anti-gay animus. But I also still don't quite understand the point of them (the later ones). I respect the urge to twist the knife a bit when people pile on, but I do think you should respect or at least understand why such discussions in this venue would make people wary and perhaps uncomfortable.
8.24.2005 4:31pm
No Name Given:
My comment, if it's unclear, was in response to Prof Volokh's last comment.
8.24.2005 4:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

In the end, it is a personal decision how and if to protect yourself, and as a long standing advocate of personal responsibility, I can't think of anything else that can be done.
How about condemning promiscuity because of the health risks that it entails? I don't mean that you have one or two partners a year; I mean the lifestyle that at least 20% of gay men engage in with multiple partners each week; mixing meth and Viagra; and picking up partners in public restrooms.

If you think I am making up this last one: I've lost count of the number of California rest area restrooms with "glory holes" drilled through toilet stall walls. I don't think that I could count the number of pieces of graffiti in university restrooms (in California) inviting guys to show up at a particular time to have sex. If you want to argue that you have a privacy right to homosexual sex, fine. Go somewhere private.
8.24.2005 4:51pm
goldsmith (mail):
I was wondering when you would show up, Cramer. Anecdotal evidence based on toilet stall writing, that's what I call sound academic analysis!
8.24.2005 5:04pm
DelVerSiSogna:
Mr. Cramer:

I wonder whether you can provide a source for your claim that at least 20% of gay men have sex with multiple partners each week (or even most weeks), mix methamphetamine and Viagra, and pick up sex partners in public restrooms?

It strikes me as highly implausible, so I'm very curious to know where your data is coming from, or if you have no hard data, what analysis leads you to the "at least 20%" figure.
8.24.2005 5:19pm
WB:
The writings on the walls of public restrooms have always frightened me (though the occasional bit of witty lewd poetry has just annoyed me as it's stayed in my head longer than I wanted it to), but I have never had any kind of evidence by which to judge their "sincerity." I usually just assume it's all in jest, finish my business, wash my hands and try to leave while touching as few surfaces as possible.

I'm sure that there's something out there that looks like an academic paper on this. If not, maybe we've identified a research gap.

Also, I didn't find "Downtown Lad" to be a particularly strong critic, unless by "strong," billb meant shrill, emotional, or "posts frequently." The most thoughtful responses so far have come from Orin Kerr.

My only quarrel with Professor Volokh's posts is that I haven't always been clear on what exactly he's trying to do or prove. The responses have cleared it up a bit.
8.24.2005 5:23pm
billb:
WB, I really should have picked another word. I thought about it only after submitting (and, yes, I previewed). I was thinking of "vocal," but your suggestions were appropriate as well.
8.24.2005 5:44pm
Ray (mail):
If you don't want your readers to suspect that you are an anti-gay bigot, you ought to take a little more care with your choice of words.
'Convert' has a commonly understood meaning in this context, to turn straight people into gay people. The charge that gays try to convert people is a charge that gay people consciously and deliberately target people who would be heterosexual, and use their evil gay wiles to twist them into something unnatural. If that's not what you mean, don't use the word.
Your claims seem to be
1. Gay people seek to create an environment where people aren't attacked for their sexuality, and
2. Gay people will support and encourage people who are already somewhat inclined to sexual experimentation.
I find it hard to believe that you can't see the difference between the claims you are defending and the terms you are using to describe those claims.
8.24.2005 5:59pm
Aultimer:
Dear No Name Given - if the group has already resolved these issues, how about a cite to whatever stands for the reporter in that court for those of us outside the group?

Cramer - are you limiting the need for condemnation to gay people? Straight promiscuity contributes to the same problems, and even if the harms are each less likely or smaller, our vastly greater numbers is likely to match or exceed the impact of the problems themselves and moreso of the increased tolerance for promiscuity.
8.24.2005 6:11pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
There is an aura of unreality about this entire sequence of posts. "Convert" is a well-established codeword in this area of debate, and Prof. Volokh displays a startling amount of tone-deafness in his use of it, regardless of the manner in which it is used.

As for "letting the data fall where it may", it's an admirable belief, but it alone doesn't justify ignoring the blaringly obvious context of the arguments. Let us suppose that in the Jim Crow south someone issued a study about the threat posed to the chastity of white woman by black males. Even if the study was a paragon of fastidious scholarship, people should still look askance at it. Why? The reality of the situation has been so overwhelmed in the public discourse by venomous associations and implications. So it goes with this line of argument. It is a fine case to put forward in of itself, and were it not for your usage of the codeword "convert", I would be defending you. But, as it stands, your miming of common tropes, whether they are in themselves accurate or not, stretches credulity to the breaking point.
8.24.2005 6:28pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
The "conversion" thread was over the top. It was certainly bigoted as it was written, althought I agree the bigotry may have been unintentional.

It's the equivalent of writing a post about "Are Jews really cheap?" and then stating that SOME of them certainly are cheap, so the myth really does have some truth to it. Does that make the person an anti-semite? No. But their post certain was.

The "conversion" post gives ample fodder to the anti-gay bigots that gays are molesting children. There is NO denying that. And that in turn will result in MORE violence against gay people.

And following that up with a post that gay people are more likely to have HIV. Why exactly is that suddenly relevant? Why barrage your readers with one negative stereotype about gays after another?

And as for the reader who says I'm not conservative. I'm pro-life, pro-war, pro death-penalty for lower taxes, for lower government spending, etc. But I assume you think I'm left wing, because I'm gay and I don't hate myself.

Like I said - just one ugly stereotype after another. I will not apologize for standing up to a barrage of hatred coming from your readers.
8.24.2005 7:11pm
Johh Fee (mail):
"Convert" is not an inherently pejorative term (see the OED), and it is news to me that it has any kind of code meaning here. Perhaps this code is not so well established as some people claim.

It is, of course, possible that in some communities, in some contexts, convert is a pejorative term. But if we are going to examine context (as I think we should), Prof. Volokh made very, very clear in the context of his original post that he did not mean "convert" as a normative criticism, but only in a dictionary descriptive sense. (He even described the the behavior to which he was referring as laudable.)

Since many people use "convert" as a descriptive term in accordance with dictionary definitions, it seems to me that those who claim that "It is a myth that gays and lesbians try to convert others" are the one's who should bear the burden of clarity if they are only using the term in a special "code" sense. If they only mean "Gays and lesbians do not try to convince anyone to behave in evil or unnatural behavior" or "do not use unfair methods of persuasion" or something similarly limited by normative qualifiers, then they should not use a term which generally has a much broader meaning and is likely to mislead. That is why Prof. Volokh was correct in his original post to say that this claim is "something of a myth, or at least quite incomplete."
8.24.2005 7:35pm
Stickdude:
Downtown Lad,

I've read through just about every comment to every post in this series, and you are the ONLY person who sees "convert" as a code word for "gays molest children". Everybody else seems to understand that EV was referring to consenting adults. If, as you claim, the original post will lead to more violence against gays, it's because people are reading more into the post than is there - much as you are.

I think Ray's definition of convert -

'Convert' has a commonly understood meaning in this context, to turn straight people into gay people.

is much closer to the mark, and as such, probably wasn't the best term to use.
8.24.2005 7:45pm
Uncle Kvetch:
But if you treat everyone who doesn't completely agree with you, and sometimes even agrees with your adversaries, as an anti-gay bigot, you might want to ask how sound, fair, and effective an attitude like that is.

I wouldn't say I "disagreed" with your argument, because for the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was. You combined "data" from one highly disputed study with paragraph upon paragraph of sheer speculation based upon absolutely nothing other than your own assumptions. Jasmindad zeroes in on this very succinctly above, so I don't need to say more about it.

Bigotry? I have no idea--as someone upthread points out, only you know what is in your heart. Sloppy, incoherent hackery? That sounds closer to the mark. And in the service of what, exactly?
8.24.2005 8:05pm
Ronj:
I've been silently following this, and I don't sincerely think you are motivated by antigay animus.

But the posts are so full of generalizations and likely ignorance.

Say you are arguing the other side of the point: Would you post generalizations like "Heterosexuals are greedy" or "Evangelicals don't respect personal freedom"-- after all, Heterosexuals are a vast majority of the population, yet they are the ones who set up actual organizations and hold rallies to turn gay people straight.

Also, gay people criticized the bisexuality study, and there is discontent and distrust of its "senior author" J Michael Bailey.

Also, if they are bisexual, they are not trying to "convert" anyone. They are already ostensibly attracted to the same sex. Short of tying them to the bed how are gay people going to make bisexuals not like the opposite sex anymore? Again there is no attempt to do so, unlike those "greedy heterosexuals" who actually have an organized conversion program.
8.24.2005 8:35pm
Josh Jasper (mail):
You may not have an agenda, but you still come off as a smug condescending know-it-all who's telling us queers how it really is.

This post is just more evidence. Here you are continuing to lecture people, and not realizing that there's a damn good reason that people are pissed at you.

I don't exepct you to get it. In fact, I've pretty much written you off in terms of being able to actualy give a sh*t about how insulting you are.
8.24.2005 8:44pm
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
Volokh and Detractors:

I have been a regular reader of this blog for quite a while. I am a regular reader of it largely because I frequently disagree with Eugene and his fellow bloggers, as a left of center reader, but nearly always find their arguments worth reading. As such a reader I would like to make two points:

1) Eugene Volokh is not a closet hater of gays. I have never seen any post that would lead me to believe that he is, and have watched him engage the gay hating segment of the right many times. While Volokh is frequently crafty in figuring out the way to say the least about his position while making a powerful argument, he has more than adequately tipped his hand when it comes to gay rights, and he is clearly for them.

2) The comments section and the posts on the main page have tended to change my mind on this issue. Apparently gay men are more at risk than I thought, and like Volokh I find this troubling precisely because I too support gay rights. That is to say it is troubling because to my mind gay men ought to have as enjoyable and safe a sexual life as straight men do. That matters largely beyond the control of gay men make this more difficult than it should be is both troubling and saddening. It is possible that Volokh is mistaken on this issue, and I have changed my mind prematurely. If that is so, those attacking him ought to focus more on the data behind his claims and less on his agenda if they wish to persuade me.
8.24.2005 9:48pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
"I've read through just about every comment to every post in this series, and you are the ONLY person who sees "convert" as a code word for "gays molest children". - Stickdude

Oh really? That's not what the evidence shows.

1) Example 1 - "In an attempt to be tolerant, other organizations embrace homosexual groups and, to show just how open-minded they are, they allow the sodomites and lesbians to attempt to convert children to an acceptance of homosexuality"

2) Example 2 - "Anita Bryant recently uncovered only the tip of the iceberg and sent shudders clear down to the bottom of the mountain of ice.
Everytime she speaks and holds up a page from a gay magazine telling readers how to convert children into homosexuals, or describing how to have sex with a three-year-old boy, or how half the American population can be made "gay" by seduction — she terrifies the homosexuals."

3) Example 3 - "People NEED to know the extent of the "gay" agenda's efforts to convert children - your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors' children - into acolytes of "gaydom". If not actual homosexuals, at least "gay is good" tools who will vote the way
they're told. People, this has to be turned around. The truth needs
to be spread far and wide. Let others know what you know. And please educate your children about the gay agenda - age appropriately, of course, whether you home school or send them to school. "

And I see that Volokh has now banned me. He doesn't think gay people have a right to defend themselves. But he lets the religious wingnuts like Clayton Cramer continue to spread lies about gay people over and over and over.

Does anyone need any further evidence that Volokh is bigoted.

Adios. Forever.
8.24.2005 10:04pm
Anonymous Law Graduate:
Notice how each of those "convert" quotations specifically identifies that children are, in their minds, the target. One must assume that children being the target is not the basic assumption- why else would they feel the need to explicitly state it if, as you rant, "convert" inherently means "molest children."

Also, I seem to recall you saying that these people never use the term "gay" because it's validating, and will ONLY use "homosexual." I see at least one place where they just say "gay" or "lesbian" without sneer quotation marks, and I would also like to point out that when they need a slur, they don't use "homosexual," they use "sodomite."

Of course, you're a GAY MAN, and thus you know better than this HOMOSEXUAL.
8.24.2005 10:22pm
DanB:
It's the equivalent of writing a post about "Are Jews really cheap?" and then stating that SOME of them certainly are cheap, so the myth really does have some truth to it.

No, it is the equivalent of pointing out that some Jews are cheap in response to repeated insistance by Jewish activists that *no* Jews are ever, under any circumstances, cheap, and that the notion that stingy Jews exist is an anti-semetic myth perpetrated by bigots.

Simply put, it is a lie that there exists a huge gay conspiracy to convert heterosexuals. It is also a lie that no gays seek to do this. The honest and truthful answer to the question "Do gays try to convert heterosexuals" is not "yes" or "no", but "some do".
8.24.2005 10:32pm
Adam (mail) (www):
DanB, and *some* anti-war activists are rooting for the insurgency. That doesn't mean that enough are doing so to be worth talking about as though it meant anything.

(Ten points to Gryffindor for tying the threads together?)
8.24.2005 10:37pm
Stickdude:
Downtown Lad (because I know you're still reading...) -

As Anonymous pointed out, each of the three examples you listed specifically used the terms - "convert children". Sorry, but that's not enough to convince me that the word "convert" by itself is some code word for molesting children.
8.24.2005 11:22pm
Rough Justice (mail):
With an overpopulated and dying world, I think heterosexual behavior is dangerous to the survival of life on planet earth. Can it be legislated against? Perhaps only homosexuals should be allowed to marry and adopt. We definitely need many more homosexuals and far fewer heteros. Am I the only one who sees how obvious this fact is? It is tragic that the heterosexual agenda, which includes rampant overbreeding, is destroying our beloved natural world. Can an in vivo test be developed to determine if the fetus will develop into a homosexual or a heterosexual person? Perhaps then a law can be passed to force the mother to abort the dangerous and destructive heterosexual fetus. Earth may then be saved as a result.
8.25.2005 12:59am
Brian King (mail):
The psychological reason people on the far left are upset about what Eugene wrote is this.

In order for a conversion to happen, one has to go from being one thing to being another. Because heteronormativity (the tendency for society to assume everyone is straight) is so prevalent, everyone is assumed to be straight. When the term conversion is used, it implies there is a change from one thing into another. But, because heteronormativity is so prevalent, any gay person is assumed to have been turned gay.

Having same sex desires in a society where everyone is assumed to be straight creates an enormous psychological hell. Closeted gay men are at hugely increased risk of suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, etc. Many of us ultra-lefties, having been through this hell ourselves, feel that we were gay even before we came out to ourselves. To us, there was no change. So, talking about conversion, to us, ignores a huge part of the psychological hell we went through. Let me say it again. Gay men who used to be bisexual leaning men nearly all feel like they were lying to themselves about being at all attracted to women. So, Eugenes advice for bisexual leaning men to not experiment on the basis of health risks comes off to us as sounding like we should of remained in the psychological hell we were in during that stage, and his talk of conversion angers us because we feel conversion involves change, and we don't feel we have changed so much as shed the conditioning our heteronormative society puts on us.

Ultimately, Eugene is a friend to the gay rights movement. As our friend, I hope he understands a bit about what motivates some on the left to attack him for his words, so that he isn't insulted by it.
8.25.2005 1:22am
Challenge:
"The comments section and the posts on the main page have tended to change my mind on this issue. Apparently gay men are more at risk than I thought, and like Volokh I find this troubling precisely because I too support gay rights. That is to say it is troubling because to my mind gay men ought to have as enjoyable and safe a sexual life as straight men do. That matters largely beyond the control of gay men make this more difficult than it should be is both troubling and saddening. It is possible that Volokh is mistaken on this issue, and I have changed my mind prematurely. If that is so, those attacking him ought to focus more on the data behind his claims and less on his agenda if they wish to persuade me."

Volokh is not mistaken. This is not even a matter slightly higher risk or even substantially greater risk. Gay males are literally hundreds of time more likely to be HIV positive than straight males. In 2003, 63% of new HIV cases were from homosexual sex. Only about 11% of males transacted the virus from heterosexual sex, and I suspect this number may, in fact, be lower. Now consider the relative size of the heterosexual and homosexual populations, and it becomes apparent how much greater the risk of HIV infection is if you're a gay male.
8.25.2005 2:15am
DanB:
DanB, and *some* anti-war activists are rooting for the insurgency. That doesn't mean that enough are doing so to be worth talking about as though it meant anything.

Enough are doing it for the claim "no anti-war activists root for the insurgency" to be a fundamentally dishonest one.

Also -- given that 97% of the population is straight, would it be fair to say that "not enough people are gay for gay issues to be worth discussing"? Just curious.
8.25.2005 2:36am
Ronj:
The logic some of you are using is odd.

Is it a myth to say Republicans don't hate blacks, because obviously some of them do hate. Suppose Volokh has something on the main page debunking the myth that Republicans don't hate blacks.

What would people think?

And if the people Volokh's talking about are bisexual, there still is no conversion. If a Bisexual man goes out with man, and then goes on a date with a woman, The bisexual wasn't converted. He simply went out on two dates.
8.25.2005 3:02am
Ray:
"Prof. Volokh made very, very clear in the context of his original post that he did not mean "convert" as a normative criticism, but only in a dictionary descriptive sense"

But he was referring to the 'myth' of conversion, explicitly examining whether that myth was true. And the 'conversion myth' is not about gay people stopping discrimination, or about bi people going on same-sex dates, its about gay people trying to 'turn' straight people gay. That is the myth that Volokh says has some truth to it.
8.25.2005 5:45am
bago (mail):
It's not so much the academic issue of looking at the problem in the abstract, that's great. It's the possibly unconscious choice of language, "conversion" instead of "experementation" that's raising hackles needlessly. There is a wide gulf between the two words, and to conflate them via sloppy terminology is well, sloppy.

Instead of clarifying the issues via concise terminolgy, vague terminology is used, and leads to confusion and less understanding than possible. It's like naming a class factory ClassFactory. Descriptive in a sense, but utterly useless and ambiguous from a user perspective.
8.25.2005 7:14am
Aultimer:
bago wrote: "Instead of clarifying the issues via concise terminolgy, vague terminology is used, and leads to confusion and less understanding than possible."

EV very clearly defined his terms in all the relevant posts. It's a blog - precise language often takes that form rather than well-crafted CONCISE writing in this forum. In my experience transactional lawyers, and often programmers, have no difficulty with redefining words within a context (every big contract has a raft of defined terms and every recent programming syntax allows for declared variables). Some here clearly don't have that skill.
8.25.2005 9:46am
Some Guy (mail):
You haven't quite kow-towed quite enough, Volokh. They won't be happy until you completely retract everything you've said, admit your bigotry, and change your views to match theirs.

Seems like you've touched on the reason A LOT of people who might otherwise be inclined to live-and-let-live are now utterly opposed to "gay rights". It isn't that we are really that opposed to gay unions of some sort, it's just that we are confronted with a gay rights movement that wants all or nothing. After all, what do I care if someone wants to "marry" another man? Fine, it's not my life. But that isn't their entire agenda, and if you buy in a little, they will give you the entire package.

Don't think your kid should be indoctrinated in school into thinking that homosexuality is just one of many lifestyles and that he may well himself be gay? You're a bigot. Don't think your church should be forced to ordain gay priests? Bigot.

Any deviation from the party line the gay rights folk are pushing is grounds for labelling you a "bigot". So, why should we be accepting towards "gay rights" at all? We know that if we make any reasonable concessions or recognitions, they will push their entire agenda on us while shrieking all the while about our bigotry. So, a lot of people (myself included) have come to the conclusion that it's just best to refuse to deal with them.
8.25.2005 10:19am
BevD:
Why not admit you were wrong? You made a false claim based on faulty arguments.
8.25.2005 10:21am
gov98 (mail):
Some guy,

You remind of the story, "If you give a mouse a cookie." But certainly for me, the past couple days, have tended to show just what you suggest. Even if, not long ago I used to be more live and let live.

It was exceedingly odd to me, how I was labeled a hater in two threads down because I used the term homosexual instead of gay. Apparently, the commenter missed my usage of the word gay in my second comment on that thread. Since I only used homosexual I must have been some person who hated gays. The whole thing just got silly.
8.25.2005 10:49am
Leeron:
Prof. Volokh, I hope you paid attention to the anonymous bigoted nonsense of "Some Guy".

Note how comfortable he is with your statements, and how he uses them to advance his anti-gay screed.

Had you written something on race relations which was similarly embraced by a John Metzger or David Duke, would you not wonder if you had overstated your case? Or if you should have chosen your words more carefully?

Given your post after post, whining about the cold shoulder you have received from people who don't hate gays, when can we expect the first post where you complain about the warm embrace you are receiving from people who do?
8.25.2005 12:05pm
SacSays (mail):
It seems deeply wrong to me that Eugene should have to defend himself with a post like this. As an openly gay man, and a daily reader of this site, I think that, while some of the criticisms he faces are worth talking about, the discussion of his "motive" is unfair at best, and flat-out incorrect as a matter of fact.

Anyone who has taken the time to read his posts over time — whether on gay issues or anything else — knows that the one thing that characterizes him above all else is a wide-ranging and (to me, at least) utterly engaging sense of honest curiosity. And that curiosity is seldom as interesting as when the subject is something that some people are afraid to talk, or even think about.

I think there is some reasonable disagreement about how some readers may have understood the word "conversion," but I don't think there's any doubt that Eugene used it in a very limited sense, and not the overwrought version that far too many people imply in casual criticism of gays. I pointed this out in a comment to the original post.

In that extremely limited arena, the question of HIV prevalence is relevant. It is a hard emotional truth, but exploring that sort of thing is exactly what appeals to Eugene, and makes this site in general so valuable. Attributions of bad motive seem to be designed to short circuit fair discussion of this issue, and look an awful lot like a concession that the accusers have little faith in their own arguments.

I am not a defender of all of Euguene's arguments, particularly on gay marriage. I think judges who overrule exclusionary marriage statutes based on their honest reading of what "equal" means in various constitutional contexts are not engaging in judicial "fiats," but are doing exactly what judges are supposed to do under our constitutional rules. But I'm willing to have the argument with him on open terms, his arguments against mine, and may the best man win.

I have yet to read anything of his that suggests he is homophobic, or even marginally biased against lesbians or gay men. And I, at least, think it a true shame that he — or anyone — has to point out that fact.
8.25.2005 1:15pm
kipp (mail):
My comment near the top of this list expresses my appreciation of the blog.

EV would not needed to have written this post if he hadn't been ornery and decided to post about the dangerousness of gay sex immediately after a post that was widely, and unjustifiably, misinterpreted as anti-gay. I respect his autonomy to choose his own topics - and it is worth a very great deal.

But it was simply a case of bad taste to post the dangerous gay sex article so soon after the other gay post. While EV may have thought it was just addressing another idea inspired by the previous discussion, it looked to many like he was retaliating to previous criticism from gay activists by lobbing his own rhetoricfal bomb in their direction. And even I as long time reader could see it that way pretty easily.

I hope EV continues to write about whatever he chooses to. But the heat generated by this discussion was associated with very little light. The same post about dangerous gay male sex could have initiated a far more effective discussion if it had been delayed by even a few days. Instead it added fuel to the rage of misinformed critics and made the rest of us ignore it as just another post in that weird "gay thread".

But all in all, it's nice to see a little extra personality in the blog. Who'd have guessed a rhetorically prolific lawschool prof might have a mischieviously argumentative side ;-)
8.25.2005 2:10pm
bago (mail):
Aultimer: I would like to see a reasoning that posits "conversion" as a better term than "expermentation" for someone who decides to try something new.
8.25.2005 2:10pm
eddie (mail):
Methinks that both sides doth protest too much. I think it is a bit naive for Professor Volokh to debunk a myth (the conversion myth), which in itself is an expression of bigotry and not an expression of fact, by attempting to de-contextualize the term "conversion" using some sort of quasi-statistical/scientific analysis. I do not think that this warranted labelling the Professor as a bigot himself, at least not actively, but his effort to somehow show that the conversion myth is "justified" using "empirical" data belies his own attempt to treat this subject objectively, i.e. without bias.

More importantly, sensitivity to criticism (even over the top criticism) in this type of forum and this type of discussion is out of place, since I dare to suggest that the Professor's intention was to spur debate and not necessarily to denigrate gays. However, the Professor has been somewhat sophistic in his arguments without any sensitivity to the actual meaning of his words. If someone has to explain that his use of a word doesn't mean what most people think the word means, then such use is disingenuous. Conversion implies a change induced by X. The clear implication is that this conversion process is in fact taking place and would not take place but for the greater tolerance to homosexuality and that this is precisely the "gay agenda".

But I am skeptical of my own part in this "discussion": it hides that fact that this is somewhat like arguing about angels on the head of a pin and misses the more fundamental questions concerning the rights of individuals. While I might not necessarily disagree that issues like same-sex marriage are better handled by legislation, how is blatantly anti-homosexual legislation to be handled? The anti-gay agenda has a multi-faceted attack on such matter: e.g. insistence that legal questions may be based on religious precepts; a blind "originalist" approach (or should I say textual minimalist approach) to the Constitution that would require the abandonment of any sense of a right to privacy, etc. These are the more important questions (unless every political debate must devolve into a debate about numbers, i.e. we need to be concerned about "conversion" simply because we can let "them" outnumber "us"?). And isn't that the real reason that the same folks that bring us the protection of marriage amendment also want to reinstate the ban against contraception?
8.25.2005 2:48pm
dolphin (mail) (www):
I didn't read the conversion post, so I can't speak to how clear EV was about what his intended meaning was when using such a word. I do NOT believe that it's usage was innocent, however I am willing to concede that he may have used it as a "Drudge-esque" headline. In otherwords, make an imflammatory headline so that people will read the article to see what you're talking about. Those who have claimed that "conversion" was a completely appropriate word are being intellectually dishonest (I suspect, because the other option is that you have been hiding under a rock your whole life). "Conversion" is a buzz-word among the anti-gay movement. Even ignoring that fact, you must acknowlege that "conversion" does not mean what I've read several of you claim it to mean. To convert is to change something into something it wasn't before. If a closeted gay person or a bisexual person "experiments" with sexual activity with a member of the same-sex, they are not changing into something else, just exploring an additional aspect of what was already there.

The post that I read and was extremely offended by was the post on the "dangers" of "male homosexual activity."

EV's entire post did not offer ANY evidence as to why sexual activities enjoyed by myself and my monogamous male partner of 5 years are any more dangerous, than they would be were that partner a woman.

There's little doubt that promsicous unsafe sexual practices are dangerous (regardless of sexuality), but that is NOT what EV purports to be declaring. The only way possible to make his argument work logically is to declare "male homosexual activity" to be synonymous with "unsafe promiscutity" and such an idea is clearly offensive and anti-gay as well as a complete falsehood.
8.25.2005 2:57pm
Jimmy (mail):
It seems to me that some of us are talking past each other (no?).

Case 1: Those within the gay community (however defined) see the word "convert" in a very negative way. Those outside the community generally don't attach the baggage to the word that it has understandably received within that community--this is especially true if you, as Professor Volokh is, are generally pro-gay rights. Much of this discussion seems targeted at the differing definitions of this word.

Case 2: The term "gay sex" is considered meaningless in the gay community, as it should be. However, those who are not in that community are probably using the term as shorthand for unprotected anal intercourse between two men. So, to refine the Professor's argument a bit:


Whereas - the reservior of HIV in the population of men who have sex with men is higher than that in any other subpopulation except for injection drug users.
Wheras - unprotected anal intercourse is among the riskiest sexual practices in terms of HIV transmission.
Resolved - the chances of contracting HIV through unprotected anal intercourse with a man who has had sex with men in the past is considerably higher than any sort of sexual behavior with a woman.
8.25.2005 3:45pm
Ray:
"Those within the gay community (however defined) see the word "convert" in a very negative way. Those outside the community generally don't attach the baggage to the word that it has understandably received within that community"

That's exactly backwards. Within the gay community (AFAIK) the word 'convert' just doesn't come up, _except_ as a response to its use as an extremely negative term by those outside of, and attacking that community. The large and vocal anti-gay community often uses the idea of 'conversion' to suggest that gay people are attempting to change straight people into gays. Have you and Volokh been sharing the same holiday home on Mars?
8.25.2005 5:04pm
zoe kentucky (mail) (www):
First of all, like any minority group, there isn't one voice, one perspective. So I really hate to think that people with limited exposure to gay people in real life and who are inclined to have a "life and let live" perspective are then turned off by supporting our family rights due to their interactions with a few people online.

I am a Jewish lesbian with a partner of 6.5 years whom I love very much. Frankly I don't care what other people call our relationship, we had a ceremony 3 years ago, we have full support of our religious community, our families and friends. But as we prepare to start a family of our own, we are reminded that until the laws change, we are forever "single" before the law. Legally, we are total strangers to one another. Yes, we do carry around legal documents everywhere we go, but we have to worry that they won't be recognized and if we are ever hosptialized it's dubious if our legal paperwork will be recognized depending on where we are. (It's happened to us already.) Our family isn't illegal, it's extralegal, we exist outside of the law. And to put it blankly, it sucks. We can get married in our synagogue, have everyone we know consider us married, we can pledge ourselves to one another through sickness and in health, we can adopt children, but we can't be considered family to one another under the law.

Personally, I don't care if it's called "marriage" or "domestic parntership" or "civil unions." We just need something so our family is legally protected like everyone else's, especially once we have children. Just thought I'd throw that out there, for what it's worth.
8.25.2005 6:17pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I wonder whether you can provide a source for your claim that at least 20% of gay men have sex with multiple partners each week (or even most weeks), mix methamphetamine and Viagra, and pick up sex partners in public restrooms?

It strikes me as highly implausible, so I'm very curious to know where your data is coming from, or if you have no hard data, what analysis leads you to the "at least 20%" figure.
See ANDREW JACOBS, "Gays Debate Radical Steps to Curb Unsafe Sex," New York Times, February 15, 2005:
That frustration has been ratcheted up by the growing popularity of crystal meth in New York, which many say has led to an abrupt increase in unsafe behavior and a spate of infections. Although exact figures are difficult to determine, a recent survey of gay men found that 25 percent had tried crystal meth in the last few months.
See also http://www.hon.ch/News/HSN/516609.html for a discussion of the dramatic increase in syphilis cases caused by promiscuous unprotected sex by gay men who are HIV+, and figure that they have nothing left to lose.

And this one:

A study by the Los Angeles Gay &Lesbian Center of 19,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) tested there for HIV between 2001 and 2004 shows a near doubling -- from 5.8 to 10.3 percent -- of reported use of crystal meth. Among MSM who tested HIV-positive, crystal use had nearly tripled -- from 11.7 percent to 30.2 percent -- in the same time period. Among users, 86.6 percent report use of the drug during sex.

"We are desperate for more MSM-specific treatment programs for meth users," said Craig E. Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). "Crystal use is ten times greater among gay men than the general population. Up to twenty percent of gay men report using it. While there is no proven link to date between crystal use and the rise in HIV rates among gay men, it is clear that what was perceived as a west coast phenomenon is now a national emergency."



And here:


Crystal meth - which can be snorted, smoked or injected - has been a popular gay party drug on the West Coast for more than a decade, and in New York since the late 1990s. In many cities, however, gay activists and health officials were not quick to confront the fact that the drug, by curbing inhibitions and boosting energy, encourages unsafe multi-partner sex and thus increases the risk of HIV transmission.

In New York, alarm over meth intensified in February, when health officials reported a rare strain of highly resistant, rapidly progressing HIV in a gay man who regularly engaged in meth-fueled sex parties. But the tide began turning against the drug a year earlier, when gay activists held the first of several forums on the epidemic and an ex-addict named Peter Staley circulated posters with an eye-catching message: "Buy Crystal. Get HIV Free."

...

Increased publicity about the gay meth epidemic comes at an awkward time for the national gay-rights movement as it pushes for same-sex marriage rights.

"There is anger at the opportunity this phenomenon is giving the rest of the world to associate the gay identity with promiscuous sex, with out-of-control behavior," Malpas said. "We don't need additional opportunities to be perceived negatively."

Kathleen Watt, who runs the Van Ness addiction-recovery center in Los Angeles, believes some major gay advocacy groups have tried to play down the epidemic.

"They're afraid people are going to say, 'Why should we put money into HIV treatment when these guys are knowingly going out and having sex and infecting other people?'" she said.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said some accounts of the gay meth problem had been "salacious" and "overjudgmental" - highlighting the role of promiscuous sex while underplaying the destructive addictiveness of meth for any user, gay or straight. He praised gay activists for taking the lead in fighting the epidemic.

Foreman and other gay-rights leaders also note that even in the hardest-hit communities, most gay men don't use meth. Estimates have ranged from 10 percent or 20 percent of all gay men, and as high as 40 percent in San Francisco - by any measure a problem that can't be wished away.





From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Smith is one of a growing number of young gay men in Atlanta who believe they contracted HIV after meth abuse and risky sex. But in metro Atlanta, which has the largest concentration of gays in the Deep South, AIDS groups have not yet started meth-specific education campaigns. The problem, however, has become a crisis, say some therapists and medical experts who treat gay men.

"They are taking outrageous risks," said John Ballew, an Atlanta therapist who says two-thirds of his clients are gay men. "It has really become associated with the fast-lane night life among certain gay men. My professional take on it is, the problem is just as bad as [in] New York or San Francisco or Los Angeles."

Meth use among gay men in Atlanta is "really, really insidious," said Michael Dubin, a counselor whose clients are all gay men. "From what I am hearing from friends and from clients, it is a lot more extensive than any of us would like to think, especially in the club scene. And it leads to people throwing caution to the wind — when they know better."

Dr. Sanjay Sharma, a psychiatrist at Grady Health System's infectious disease program, said the drug's use among gay men has become a serious health concern. "A lot of these substances, crystal meth in particular, are associated with euphoria and hypersexuality," he said. "And along with that, increased sexual risk-taking behaviors, and then an overall impaired judgment. That's not a good combination of effects."

Many gay men have never tried methamphetamine. Some have only experimented briefly with the drug. But a minority of gay men habitually abuse the drug during sexual encounters with multiple partners. For these men, meth use has become part of sex.

Meth, a psychostimulant that excites pleasure centers in the brain, makes users feel euphoric for hours. The drug impairs judgment, lowers inhibitions, keeps people awake for days, and can increase sexual arousal.

"They go from feeling like wallflowers to feeling like supermen," Ballew said. "Safer sex messages are just forgotten."

...

Meth is so linked with this subculture of gay men engaging in anonymous sex with strangers that men advertise either that they have the drug or want it during sex in personal ads and on the Internet. Their notices carry the phrase "PnP" for "party and play," a euphemism for crystal methamphetamine and sex.

"People will have what they call Tina sex parties," said Danny Sprouse, coordinator of HIV prevention and mental health services for gay and bisexual men at Positive Impact Inc., an Atlanta nonprofit that counsels people with HIV. "They may set up some rules at the beginning to say, 'You can only have safe sex.' So they'll have a lot of condoms available."

Or they may have Tina parties where condoms aren't even allowed, Sprouse said, "where they say, 'We're only going to have unsafe sex.' "

Even at condoms-only Tina parties, men don't always use protection as the drug kicks in and the night wears on, he said.

John, a 36-year-old gay man who lives in Midtown, said he wished he had never touched the stuff.

"On Tina, you make bad judgments about safe sex, about your life, about just about everything," he said.

John asked that his last name not be published. He has known since 1997 he is HIV-positive. He used meth for more than 18 months until he quit, with great difficulty, this Jan. 1, he said.

While on methamphetamine, he frequented all-night Atlanta sex clubs and often had anonymous, unprotected sex with men who also were high on the drug, he said.

"I think there's a possibility that I may have infected someone. I couldn't tell you who," John said. "And I have the feeling that the people that I did have unprotected sex with had already had unprotected sex with other people, so there's no way for them to know if it would have been me or someone else."
8.25.2005 6:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Aultimer asks:

Cramer - are you limiting the need for condemnation to gay people? Straight promiscuity contributes to the same problems, and even if the harms are each less likely or smaller, our vastly greater numbers is likely to match or exceed the impact of the problems themselves and moreso of the increased tolerance for promiscuity.
I've blogged frequently about the destructive effects of heterosexual promiscuity. Go to my blog, and search for discussions of HPV--a virus that is also spread sexually, but because it is only killing women (by causing cervical cancer), not gay men, gets no significant press attention.

It is certainly true that heterosexual promiscuity is much less dangerous for spreading AIDS than homosexual promiscuity--for a number of technical reasons (anal sex is a more effective transmitter of AIDS; women transmit AIDS to men less effectively than the other way around) and for social reasons (heterosexual men are less promiscuous than homosexual men, and heterosexual women are less promiscuous than heterosexual men). This is why AIDS, while it is a big problem for heterosexuals who engage in prostitution and IV drug abuse, has not spread into the general heterosexual population as it has among homosexuals.

Seriously: are there people that condemn homosexual promiscuity but consider heterosexual promiscuity okay? I've never met such a person.
8.25.2005 6:42pm
Jim Copland:
First, I'm a regular reader of this site and a big admirer of Eugene's work. He, like me, has libertarian leanings, and I think any suggestion he is motivated by anti-gay animus is silly. He, of course, isn't gay, and he probably was unaware of how certain words like "conversion" or "male homosexual activity" might be used as "code words" from anti-gay activists (and, thus, he probably did not have an appreciation for the understandably strong emotions they would evoke from many politically aware gay and lesbian people -- as he would likely have a strong appreciation for the implications underlying terms like "judicial activist" or "Zionist").

That said, Eugene does raise two interesting points. The first, as I would reinterpret it, is essentially that greater openness towards homosexuality likely leads more people to be intimate with those of the same sex. That proposition itself is really beyond dispute; does anyone seriously think that as many people engage in same-sex relations in, say, Saudia Arabia as in the U.S.? Though Eugene isn't 100% clear on this point, the proposition in no way suggests that all--or even many--gay people actively try to encourage others who do not identify as gay to try same-sex intimacy. As a Manhattan resident with many gay and bisexual friends, I no of no instance--joking aside--where such "recruitment" occurred. Most of my gay friends gave up the frustrating pursuit of "straight crushes" very early on.

The interesting analogy, for me, is that with interracial sex and marriage. Undoubtedly, relaxation of social norms against interracial intimacy have led to a marked increase in such relationships. Again, as far as I know, this change isn't due to "recruiting" by interracial couples but rather a shift toward a more natural equilibrium undisturbed by strict social mores. And, as with the move toward more openness in same-sex relationships, the move toward more openness in different-race relationships is generally a good thing from those of us who ascribe to a welfare-maximizing metholodically individualistic paradigm.

I think that Eugene would agree with that conclusion, but for his caveat: that male homosexual activity is more dangerous; and, ergo, it might be rational for individuals--worried about their family and friends--to prefer less openness toward same-sex intimacy.

Many here have objected that Eugene, offensively, conflated "unsafe promiscuity" with "male homosexual activity." While I can only begin to understand how, emotionally, readers might feel that way due to the social stigma heaped upon gay men by many, I don't think that as a logical matter Eugene did so.

Put aside the broad studies and statistics Eugene cited and ask merely the following question: in the United States, is the percentage of gay men currently infected with HIV significantly higher than the population at large. I don't think anyone would suggest otherwise. It therefore follows, ceteris paribus (all else being the same), that male homosexual activity is more dangerous than other sexual activity. The ceteris paribus qualification here is what matters. Protected anal sex with a monogamous partner may be quite safe, but as long as it is not 100% safe, it is more dangerous between two men than between a man and a woman, all else being the same--precisely because if one of the partners cheats (no individual can ever be 100% sure that his partner will cheat), and cheats in the same way (e.g., with anal sex, with oral sex), the same sex male partner will more likely cheat with another gay man (with a higher statistical likelihood of carrying HIV) than will the opposite gendered partner. Similarly, receiving fellatio may have lower risk than anal or vaginal sex, but as long as the risk is nonzero, and all else is equal, it's less likely to receive it from a woman than a man, precisely because her probability of being a HIV carrier is lower.

Thus, Eugene's statement that male homosexual activity is more dangerous than other sexual activity needs no qualification as long as we adopt a ceteris paribus rule, as those of us with economics training are wont to do--apart from the qualifier "physically" (i.e., I agree with those who suggest that the non-physical risk from heterosexual vaginal intercourse--pregnancy--is a relevant comparative variable; and psychological harms from not being self-actualized may also be highly relevant).

Nevertheless, I think Eugene's argument suffers somewhat from a fallacy of division, i.e., what is true for the group isn't necessarily true for the individual. Consider that even if openness towards homosexuality leads more people to engage in same-sex intimate conduct (and, almost assuredly, it does); and even if male homosexual activity is physically riskier than other sexual activity, ceteris paribus (and it is, axiomatically, if we accept that the current infection rate among gay males is higher than the general population), it does not follow that it is rational to oppose more openness toward homosexuality for concern about your friends and family--even if their physical well-being is your only concern. Why? Your friends and family may engage in less risky conduct in an open regime. It is certainly a workable hypothesis that in a regime with a high degree of shame over same-sex relations, individuals might be more prone toward impulsive, risky behavior than in an open regime in which they can feel comfortable with a same-sex lover. And some anecdotal evidence supports this hypothesis if indeed the disproportionate increase in HIV infection among black females is due to black men engaging in homosexual conduct "on the down low" as a function of a greater degree of stigma attached to male same-sex intimacy in the African-American community.

Finally, I also note that an analogy can again be drawn with the interracial marriage case. Interracial marriages are more likely to end in divorce. But that fact doesn't logically support one objecting to a particular family member's interracial marriage on its face. And it would be a peculiar argument indeed to extrapolate from that fact (or from on-average harms to "the children," if in fact the "tragic mulatto" stereotype had empirical support, which to the best of my knowledge it does not) to sustain an argument against interracial marriage as a whole.

Indeed, because interracial marriage, and homosexuality, remain quite rare as a percentage of the population, I think it's safe to assume that most such arguments are rationalizations of underlying prejudices. I don't in any way think that holds true for Eugene--I think he was merely engaging in an interesting intellectual exercise, as he likes to do--but in light of the general rule and some of the intertwined political context, I can see how people who aren't as familiar with his writings might have jumped to the wrong conclusion about his intent or subconscious leanings.
8.25.2005 7:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
More evidence about the high percentage of gay men engaged in dangerous activities--this from the New York Blade, a gay newspaper:
Planning for the First National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV &Hepatitis, set for Aug. 19-20, began as a way to respond to a belief that increased meth use will lead to higher HIV and hepatitis rates, according to Luciano Colonna, executive director of the Harm Reduction Project, which hosts the conference.

"We were alarmed by the heath risks associated with the spread of methamphetamine," Colonna said. "But we were also very concerned at the lack of infrastructure in rural areas of the U.S. when it came to dealing with issues like HIV and hepatitis, and also just the basic fiscal toll and care toll that outbreaks for methamphetamine use could have on communities."

By gathering together groups that address meth use, Colonna said he hopes to create a better understanding of the "continuum of care" that includes treatment, prevention, harm reduction and law enforcement.

Several of the conference's presentations discuss meth's impact on gay men, including sessions on meth use and sexual risk for men who have sex with men, meth dependence and treatment among gay men and a "Tweaking Tips for Party Boys" discussion by Michael Siever, director of the Stonewall Project at the University of California, San Francisco.

Recent studies show that 15 percent to 17 percent of gay men used meth in the last three months and as many as 20 percent have used in the last year, according to Gordon Mansergh, a senior behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control &Prevention who will take part in the conference.

Mansergh also said research drew links between men who have sex with men, meth use and unprotected sex.

"What we see in over a dozen studies is that meth users exhibit greater rates of unprotected anal sex than non meth users," he said.
8.25.2005 7:45pm
dolphin (mail) (www):
Well, I generally ignore folks like Fred Phelps and Clayton E. Cramer because who backs a statement like "at least 20% of gay men have sex with multiple partners each week (or even most weeks), mix methamphetamine and Viagra, and pick up sex partners in public restrooms" with a study that shows *gasp* 25% of gay men has tried crystal meth (as compared with 7.9% of the high school aged gneral public). But for the sake of argument, if 25% of gay men have tried crystal meth (which based on how difficult it is to obtain data on all gay men one must assume is probably closer to 5-10%), and that is the only criteria for having sex with multiple partners each week (or even most weeks), mixing methamphetamine and Viagra, and picking up sex partners in public restrooms, then with 7.9% of high school seniors having tried crystal meth, you have to figure that at least what, 5% of our high schoolers are doing the same thing?

What a joke. That's what I have to laugh at about the extreme hate-mongers. Their arguments are so far from any reality that they are the only ones who can't see how ridiculous they make themselves look.

For those who aren't too blinded by hatred to actually think clearly on the issue. I'm still waiting for a valid answer to why the "male homosexual activity" between me and my monogamous partner of 5 years is more dangerous than it would be if he were a she. Jim Copland has come the closest to an answer with his never can be 100% sure that a partner won't cheat so in the extremely small chance he does cheat he'd have an extremely small chance of getting infected with AIDs that is just barely higher than the chance of catching it from a female. So all things considered, just to take a guess at this, my "male homosexual activity" is probably around .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% more dangerous than were it straight sexual activity. Is that really reason enough to suggest that people ought to stay in the closet which has been associated with a higher chance of a variety of health problems (keeping that significant of a secret takes a toll on the body as has been shown by a variety of studies)?
8.26.2005 12:14am
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
I'm still waiting for a valid answer to why the "male homosexual activity" between me and my monogamous partner of 5 years is more dangerous than it would be if he were a she.

Wow, that will be a good point just as soon as you can find the place where Volokh suggested that it was.
8.26.2005 1:25am
Challenge:
"I'm still waiting for a valid answer to why the "male homosexual activity" between me and my monogamous partner of 5 years is more dangerous than it would be if he were a she."

Ask the many individuals who have gotten an STD from their supposedly "monogamous" partner. There is no guarantee one's spouse or lover is true to the relationship. Given this reality, yes, even what one believes to be a monogamous relationship is more dangerous.
8.26.2005 6:21am
Shawn:
Jim Copland, you make a fine argument. However, I suggest to you that increased social pressure on men to not engage in gay sex will not work to reduce HIV transmission rates. For information on why this is true, see studies and literature on the "Down Low" community in the US.

The African-american community stigmatizes homosexuality far more than the white community does. This leads to men who have sex with men not identifying as "gay" or "homosexual." This group doesn't respond to traditional safe sex education and has a greater problem with HIV transmission rates as a result. While the stigma may prevent some men from engaging in gay sex, the data suggest that it results in far more men eschewing safe sex practices.

Or to put it another way, if a young man has a sexual attraction to men and his parents strongly condemn homosexuality, who does he turn to for support and information?


To address the language issue… when you read anti-gay articles and opinions, especially those of the religious conservatives, you see a pattern in the way they describe gay men. (And no doubt there is a pattern in the way gay men describe them.) Conversion is a strong theme, as well as child molestation and disease. Gay men are most often referred to using the clinical word "homosexual". Expect to see a "homosexual agenda" spoken of directly or implied. The agenda they refer to essentially boils down to diseased men converting children to homosexuality. If you see a theme of "protecting children" in anti-gay writings, it is safe to assume they are referring to that agenda. The current petition drive for an anti-gay marriage/anti-civil union law in Florida is full of references to children, as an example.

For people used to seeing this language in reference to themselves, it's not surprising seeing it in professor Volokh's blog created so much controversy. The one-two punch of "conversion" and "disease" really did the trick. Do I think he's a bigot? Nope. Do I think he stumbled into emotionally loaded language? Yup.
8.26.2005 11:41am
Aultimer:
Clayton Cramer wrote:
"Seriously: are there people that condemn homosexual promiscuity but consider heterosexual promiscuity okay? I've never met such a person."

In the context of this blog, that seems to be exactly what you were saying. You may be famous in some part of the blogosphere (as I now gather), but my reading is limited to a few libertarian-leaning blogs and a funny one my cousin does. FWIW, your description of the promiscuity of gay men sounds pretty similar to what straight young adults did from 1965-1985, substituting marijuana/cocaine + alcohol as the drug of choice, and dorm room/apartment/bar for bathroom. It may still be true, I'm just too old to know.
8.26.2005 12:14pm
dolphin (mail) (www):

Wow, that will be a good point just as soon as you can find the place where Volokh suggested that it was.



I don't know what's on YOUR screen but on mine the title of the artile read: "Dangerousness of Male Homosexual Activity" So I'm asking why is my "Male Homsexual Activity" more dangerous.


Ask the many individuals who have gotten an STD from their supposedly "monogamous" partner.


While it takes alot of nerve to insult someoneelse's relationship, I'm still waiting to understand why this can't happen in a straight relationship. Now here's the kicker. If the reason the activity is more dangerous is BECAUSE it's between two men, then that should mean that I'm at a higher risk in my monogamous relationship (and yes it's monogamous and those suggeting that same-sex relationships can't be monogamous should get a life) than a straight man who sleeps around.

What I'm getting at is that dangerous behavior is dangerous behavior but being gay or straight doesn't make it more or less dangerous (and that's even if we limit the term "male homosexual activity" to exclusively sexual activity though clearly it's vague enough to apply to any activity a gay man partakes in).
8.26.2005 12:48pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Aultimer says:

In the context of this blog, that seems to be exactly what you were saying.
Because I didn't explicitly condemn promiscuous heterosexuality at the same time? As I asked before, have you ever met anyone who condemned promiscuous homosexuality but thought it was just fine for straights? Ever?
8.26.2005 1:31pm
Kent (mail):
Prof. Volokh's original thread concerned "converting" heterosexuals to homosexuality. Insufficiently volatile on its own, the "riskiness of gay sex" was soon added as an accelerant. Ka-Boom.

In an effort to justify the combination, Clayton Cramer has helpfully presented statistics to bolster the, to me, unremarkable observation that a significant subset of the gay male population is both promiscuous and careless when it comes to sexual behavior. We may assume that he considers this an exercise in honest intellectual discourse.

Yet Mr. Cramer's own history as a co-Conspirator on this blog should have enlightened the management to the "riskiness" of relying on one's personal lack of animosity as a shield against charges of willful ignorance or even homophobia.

Back in 2003, Mr. Cramer felt compelled to defend himself in regard to his opposition to libertine gay parades and the infamous NAMBLA. (For those who don't recall, the North American Man-Boy Love Association.) http://volokh.com/2003_03_16_volokh_archive.html#200030290

Under the title "AM I A HOMOPHOBE? YOU DECIDE!," Mr. Cramer proceeded to explain how he developed his position on such issues. An epiphany of sorts had resulted from viewing a video supplied by the "traditional values" organization Focus on the Family. [In an ironic twist, Focus on the Family runs the national "Love Won Out" campaign to encourage parents to subject their orientation-questioning (or outright gay) children to "reparative therapy." That is, to "convert" them to heterosexuals. Their website proclaims "Focus on the Family is promoting the truth that homosexuality is preventable and treatable — a message routinely silenced today. We want people to know that individuals don't have to be gay."]

As an aside, Mr. Cramer added that:

Oh yes: about Focus on the Family? As I said, at the time I had significant philosophical differences with them. Those homosexual activists who responded to my concern about NAMBLA's presence in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade are part of why I occasionally contribute money to Focus on the Family now (even though I still have some signficant areas of disagreement). Homosexual activists persuaded me, in a way that Focus on the Family couldn't.


Now before you delete this post because it seems to approach ad hominem, let me make my point. Mr. Cramer felt justified in contributing to, and thereby supporting the agenda of, one of the most aggressively anti-gay organizations in America because, he says, he was rudely criticized on an internet bulletin board. That would seem to buttress EV's calls for civility and an approach emphasizing the benefit of the doubt.

Yet it also buttresses the concern that an otherwise honest debate about an issue can be co-opted by unsavory opponents. It isn't hard to imagine anti-gay political activists pulling quotes from this debate and claiming, "It isn't just me! Really smart people say the same thing."

EV's original musings on "converting" heterosexuals displayed an honest intellectual curiousity together with an uber-geek's lack of understanding of what the debate is really all about. I guess that kind of entertainment is what keeps us all coming back for more.
8.26.2005 1:51pm
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
I don't know what's on YOUR screen but on mine the title of the artile read: "Dangerousness of Male Homosexual Activity" So I'm asking why is my "Male Homsexual Activity" more dangerous.

No, you are not make appoint regarding whether "male somosexual activity" is more dangerous. You are attacking the argument that every single instance of male homosexual activity is more dangerous. But Volokh, near as I can tell, has made no such argument. Consequently you are attacking a straw man.

Volokh has claimed that, in the general case, male homosexual activity is more dangerous and he has provided statistics to prove this claim. He has not argued that every conceivable circumstance under which gay men might have sex is dangerous. His is a claim about probability and statistics. This is not a claim about every instance occuring under the set gay sex.

For example, in the general, case we might say that driving is more dangerous than walking. That statement can be true, while it also might be true that there are specific instances where driving is safer than walking. Say during an electrical storm, or late at night in a dangerous neighborhood.

Do you see the difference?
8.26.2005 1:56pm
dolphin (mail) (www):

You are attacking the argument that every single instance of male homosexual activity is more dangerous. But Volokh, near as I can tell, has made no such argument.


I missed the qualifiers, could you point them out please?

What you don't seem to get is that what MAKES the activity more dangerous is the entire point. Is it because it's a risky activity or because it's "homosexual"? It's the tatic of the anti-gay movement to do exactly what EV has done. You want to bash risky behavior, by all means do it. But don't claim that behavior is risky BECAUSE it's gay unless you're ready to back it up. Then to suggest, when you haven't even show it dangerous to be gay despite that being your stated intention, that gay people stay locked up in the closet (which, unlike simply being gay, DOES actually pose health risks) because of this fictional danger, goes to the extreme.

I'm not in a position to decide what EV thinks or believes inside, but I am a bit shocked that he thinks people think he's a bigot. If it talks like a bigot..
8.26.2005 2:13pm
dolphin (mail) (www):
It's the old correlation versus causation thing.

More people drown on days where pavement tar melts than on days when it does not. Following the logic presented in the post, you should therefore only swim on days in which the pavement tar is not melting because it's "safer" to do so.
8.26.2005 2:15pm
davecolo (mail):
clayton cramer: you made a glaring generalization with your 20% comment. you attempted to back it up with all kinds of data that did nothing to even coming close to backing up this audacious statistic. nothing.

in my mind, your assertions deserve no attention unless you can back up claims.

we're still waiting.
8.26.2005 2:44pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Eddie asks:

The anti-gay agenda has a multi-faceted attack on such matter: e.g. insistence that legal questions may be based on religious precepts;
Nearly all matters of criminal law are based on religious precepts. We have laws against murder, robbery, and rape, because Judaism and Christianity have religious precepts that say they are wrong--and not just against members of your own tribe, but others as well. (This was a pretty amazing new idea at the time.)

a blind "originalist" approach (or should I say textual minimalist approach) to the Constitution that would require the abandonment of any sense of a right to privacy, etc.
Since the modern notion of a right to privacy did not exist when the Constitution was adopted, there's nothing "blind" about this. You might not like the idea of the state government having authority to pass laws telling consenting adults what they can do in private. I'm not thrilled with it either (although I can see some merit to laws obligating married couples to obey their marriage vows). But the evidence is very clear: every state had laws banning either "buggery" (which included oral and anal sex, as well as bestiality) or banning specifically homosexual sex. If there was a right to privacy that the Framers had in mind in 1789, it would not appear to have included a lot of sexual practices that you hold near and dear.

These are the more important questions (unless every political debate must devolve into a debate about numbers, i.e. we need to be concerned about "conversion" simply because we can let "them" outnumber "us"?).
No, the concern about "conversion" is that quite a number of people are concerned (perhaps wrongly) that you will lure their children into homosexuality.

And isn't that the real reason that the same folks that bring us the protection of marriage amendment also want to reinstate the ban against contraception?
Huh? I certainly don't want to reinstate the ban against contraception. As one of the dissents in Griswold observed, and as Justice Thomas's dissent in Lawrence echoed, it was an "uncommonly silly" law. But just because you don't like a law doesn't make it unconstitutional.
8.26.2005 2:49pm
dolphin (mail) (www):

We have laws against murder, robbery, and rape, because Judaism and Christianity have religious precepts that say they are wrong


At the risk of getting off-topic, this is one of the most asinine statements I've heard in awhile. Nearly ALL cultures and societies (even those with little to no judiac or christian influence) outlaw murder, robbery, and rape. Most of us do not require a religion to inform us that these things are wrong.
8.26.2005 3:30pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

At the risk of getting off-topic, this is one of the most asinine statements I've heard in awhile. Nearly ALL cultures and societies (even those with little to no judiac or christian influence) outlaw murder, robbery, and rape. Most of us do not require a religion to inform us that these things are wrong.
Uh, wrong on several counts.

A defining characteristic of many "primitive" cultures is that laws protect only members of the tribe--not outsiders.

At this point, there are few cultures left that have not had substantial Judeo-Christian influence as a result of imperialism. (Of course, Islam is a Judaism-influenced culture, as much as Islam hates Jews today.) British imperialism, for example, played a major part in largely stamping out suttee and the thugee cult in India, and a slave trade that had gone from Africa to the Arab world for a millenium.
8.26.2005 3:57pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

clayton cramer: you made a glaring generalization with your 20% comment. you attempted to back it up with all kinds of data that did nothing to even coming close to backing up this audacious statistic. nothing.

in my mind, your assertions deserve no attention unless you can back up claims.

we're still waiting.
Gee, I give you a bunch of articles from pro-gay newspapers (and one actually a gay newspaper) that tell you that there is an epidemic of promiscuous, unprotected sex between gay men using meth, that various surveys show that 15-25% of gay men have used meth, and that a sizeable fraction of that have used it recently, that there is a serious problem of mixing meth &Viagra, and you say that I haven't backed up my claim?

Sorry, but I am not responsible for your inability to read.
8.26.2005 4:02pm
Aultimer:
Clayton Cramer wrote:
"As I asked before, have you ever met anyone who condemned promiscuous homosexuality but thought it was just fine for straights? Ever?"

Yes. I live in the South, where a majority of my neighbors and coworkers condemn homosexuality, both promiscuous and monogamous. Many of those who do the condemning contentedly keep/are mistresses or consider dalliances on business trips to be a perq of WASPhood.
8.26.2005 4:29pm
dolphin (mail) (www):

Uh, wrong on several counts.

A defining characteristic of many "primitive" cultures is that laws protect only members of the tribe--not outsiders.


Which is actually more compliant with Christianity (which authorizes violence against non-believers) than our current law is. Regardless, murder, robbery, and rape were outlawed in societies that pre-date Christianity. The fact remains that murder, robbery, and rape are not outlawed because of the Christian religion. They're outlawed because they are clearly detrimental to society and (apparently aside from a few) most of us are quite capable of believing murder is wrong without having to have some old book tell us so. It's very disturbing that you need such a thing.


Gee, I give you a bunch of articles from pro-gay newspapers (and one actually a gay newspaper) that tell you that there is an epidemic of promiscuous, unprotected sex between gay men using meth, that various surveys show that 15-25% of gay men have used meth, and that a sizeable fraction of that have used it recently, that there is a serious problem of mixing meth &Viagra, and you say that I haven't backed up my claim?


Looking at just what you've said here, you've shown that you didn't back claim. What you have presented is that 15-20% of gay survey respondents (which is a far cry from 15-20% of gay men) have TRIED meth. You have also presented that among meth addicts (which is a far cry from someone who has tried meth) there is a certain percentage that practice unsafe promiscuous sex. I have no problem with any of those claims. Now what I have a problem with is your conclusion that 20% of gay men do such things. You're assuming that 100% of meth addicts are involved in the activities you mention, and 100% of people who have tried meth are meth addicts, AND 100% of the gay community answered a meth questionaire.

That's quite alot of assumptions you've made. Not only are they assumptions but they are assumptions that are almost certainly false (based on probability alone).
8.26.2005 5:09pm
Jim Copland:
Shawn, you said:


Jim Copland, you make a fine argument. However, I suggest to you that increased social pressure on men to not engage in gay sex will not work to reduce HIV transmission rates. For information on why this is true, see studies and literature on the "Down Low" community in the US.


I agree with you. As I wrote in my comment:


Consider that even if openness towards homosexuality leads more people to engage in same-sex intimate conduct (and, almost assuredly, it does); and even if male homosexual activity is physically riskier than other sexual activity, ceteris paribus (and it is, axiomatically, if we accept that the current infection rate among gay males is higher than the general population), it does not follow that it is rational to oppose more openness toward homosexuality for concern about your friends and family--even if their physical well-being is your only concern. Why? Your friends and family may engage in less risky conduct in an open regime. It is certainly a workable hypothesis that in a regime with a high degree of shame over same-sex relations, individuals might be more prone toward impulsive, risky behavior than in an open regime in which they can feel comfortable with a same-sex lover. And some anecdotal evidence supports this hypothesis if indeed the disproportionate increase in HIV infection among black females is due to black men engaging in homosexual conduct "on the down low" as a function of a greater degree of stigma attached to male same-sex intimacy in the African-American community.
8.26.2005 5:36pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Yes. I live in the South, where a majority of my neighbors and coworkers condemn homosexuality, both promiscuous and monogamous. Many of those who do the condemning contentedly keep/are mistresses or consider dalliances on business trips to be a perq of WASPhood.
So they tell you about these "dalliances"? Or are you just assuming this?
8.26.2005 5:41pm
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
I missed the qualifiers, could you point them out please?

You are shifting the burden. I asked you to show where Volokh makes the argument you accuse him of. You have been unable to prove this, and seem to not notice that you aren't attacking the argument he has made. You are arguing with someone else, someone who is not Eugene Volokh. That person deserves your time, Volokh doesn't.

What you don't seem to get is that what MAKES the activity more dangerous is the entire point. Is it because it's a risky activity or because it's "homosexual"?

Two things seem to put homosexuals at higher risk that have been pointed out:

1) Anal sex is better at transmitting the disease.
2) More gay men are currently infected.

These have been advanced to explain the statistics which indicate a starkly disproprtionate rate of infection of HIV amongst homosexual men.

As a consequence, on average, if you happen to be a man who engages in sex with other men you are at greater risk than if you are a man who engages in sex with women. That's unfortunate. That's the argument Volokh has made in several places.

It's the tatic of the anti-gay movement to do exactly what EV has done.

It's the "tactic" of the anti-gay movement to post criticism after criticism of the anti-gay movement and then make a few reasoned posts about disease rates among gay men? It's the "tactic" of the anti-gay movement to support gay marriage, gay rights, and point out that gay sex is no more natural or unnatural that straight sex?

I think it's not.

You want to bash risky behavior, by all means do it.

Neither I nor Volokh have "bashed" risky behavior. The problem here is precisely that gays are not being stupid and putting themselves at needless risk. The problem is that matters largely beyond the immediate control of the gay community force them to disproportionately endure the effects of a terrible disease.

If gay men were evil, doing evil things, or heedless of risk this wouldn't be tragic. Because none of that is true, it is tragic.

But don't claim that behavior is risky BECAUSE it's gay unless you're ready to back it up. Then to suggest, when you haven't even show it dangerous to be gay despite that being your stated intention, that gay people stay locked up in the closet (which, unlike simply being gay, DOES actually pose health risks) because of this fictional danger, goes to the extreme.

The danger is not fictional. Gay men have to be more careful than straight men to equalize the risk. That's patently unfair, but the statistics make that clear. Evidence has been provided, and if you would like to rebut it go ahead.

I'm not in a position to decide what EV thinks or believes inside, but I am a bit shocked that he thinks people think he's a bigot. If it talks like a bigot..

But you have provided no evidence for this claim. You ascribe an argument to Volokh that has never appeared on this blog under his name. It is you that are lashing out against someone before understanding them. I can understand why you might do this, and even sympathize, but that does not make it correct.
8.26.2005 5:45pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I wrote:

A defining characteristic of many "primitive" cultures is that laws protect only members of the tribe--not outsiders.


Which is actually more compliant with Christianity (which authorizes violence against non-believers) than our current law is.
Huh? Which part of the New Testament authorizes murder, rape, and robbery of non-believers?


Regardless, murder, robbery, and rape were outlawed in societies that pre-date Christianity.
In some societies, yes. But by no means all. More importantly, on what basis did those other societies prohibit it?


The fact remains that murder, robbery, and rape are not outlawed because of the Christian religion. They're outlawed because they are clearly detrimental to society and (apparently aside from a few) most of us are quite capable of believing murder is wrong without having to have some old book tell us so.
So you want to argue that our criminal laws aren't there because of Christianity? Do you know why we have a distinction between first-degree and second-degree murder in American law? Hint: go look at the definitions and punishments in the Levitical code, in particular, the reason why "malice aforethought" distinguishes murder from manslaughter, and "lying in wait" is one distinguisher between first-degree and second-degree murder.

It's very disturbing that you need such a thing.
It's very disturbing to me that you don't understand where our laws come from.
8.26.2005 5:46pm
dolphin (mail) (www):

You are shifting the burden. I asked you to show where Volokh makes the argument you accuse him of.


And I showed you. Read even the title. You're telling me that what he said wasn't what he said, so the burden is on you. I'm equally offended if he meant promiscuious sexual activity and chose to refer to it as "male homosexual activity." They are not the same.


The danger is not fictional.


Then as I said, explain how my "male homosexual activity" is more dangerous than were it "male heterosexual activity."


Huh? Which part of the New Testament authorizes murder, rape, and robbery of non-believers?


Surely I don't have to teach you your own religion. You're familiar with the parable of the ten minas (hint: it's in Luke). Well as I recall at the end, the king (ie. Jesus) told his followers to bring his enemies (ie. the non-believing Jews, which I stretch a bit to cover all non-believers, you may disagree but that's aside from the main point) before him and kill them. This is way off topic now.


So you want to argue that our criminal laws aren't there because of Christianity?


Yes I do. Here's a tip. Saying that because an action is outlawed in Christianity AND is outlawed under our justice system doesn't prove (or even indicate) that our ustice system adopted the law because of Christianity. What you need to do to make your point is show me a law which exists ONLY in Christianity that is part of our justice system.


It's very disturbing to me that you don't understand where our laws come from.



And it's disturbing to me that you think you do.
8.26.2005 6:05pm
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
And I showed you. Read even the title. You're telling me that what he said wasn't what he said, so the burden is on you. I'm equally offended if he meant promiscuious sexual activity and chose to refer to it as "male homosexual activity." They are not the same.

That title only means that every instance of gay sex is more dangerous in your mind. I guarantee that if you ask Volokh whether he meant that he will say no.
8.26.2005 6:07pm
Aultimer:
Clayton Cramer wrote:
"So they tell you about these "dalliances"? Or are you just assuming this?"

They tell me. Sometimes I help with the polite cover stories. Do you think everyone in the "Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" crowd is a lefty? No good ole boys up your way, I guess.
8.26.2005 6:35pm
dolphin (mail) (www):

That title only means that every instance of gay sex is more dangerous in your mind.


Well then help me understand. If I were to title a post that says "Poodles are dogs" would you assume that I meant ALL poodles or dogs or would your assumption be that I meant SOME poodles are dogs. I'm assuming (based on what you've said thus far) you'd assume that I meant only SOME poodles were dogs, so now my question to you becomes (since I put no qualifiers to the word "poodles") how do you know that I'm NOT talking about ALL poodles and if you can answer that, is there a way for you to know WHICH specific poodles I'm talking about?

It doesn't matter ultimately. As I said in the previous comment, if he meant "male homosexual activity" as synonmous with "risky promisicuous sex" it's equally (if not more) offensive.
8.26.2005 7:19pm
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
Dolphin:

If I said:

"Driving is dangerous"

Would you conclude:

a) That every single act of driving is dangerous?

or

b) That on average driving in the general case is dangerous.

The statement "Poodles are dogs" is different because a) it does not involve statistics (which inherently cannot be claims about identity which what the statement is in the end) and b) we already know that the statement all poodles are dogs is true.

It doesn't matter ultimately. As I said in the previous comment, if he meant "male homosexual activity" as synonmous with "risky promisicuous sex" it's equally (if not more) offensive.

You are simply making the same argument here with different words. For example suggesting that driving is dangerous does not suggest that all driving is "risky drunk driving." You want to interpret the statement "activity X is dangerous" to mean either "every instance of activity X is dangerous" or "activity X means a dangerous example of activity X." Neither is warranted and for the same reason.

And this does matter quite a bit. You are callously tossing arround hurtful accusations at Eugene Volokh without evidence, while at the same time accusing him of painting gay men with an overly broad brush. Don't you see the hypocrisy of your position. Volokh did not make the statement you attribute to him. The person being intolerant and hurtful here is you.
8.26.2005 7:33pm
dolphin (mail) (www):
I think we're gonna have to agree to disagree. I think that A=A and you think that A=B. He said what he said. I read what he said, you read what you want to think he meant. I do think it's interesting I'm told that my loviong monogamous relaitonship is "dangerous" and yet you think I'm the one being intolerant and hurtful. I dont' think you know the definition of those terms. I'm not being intolerant. Intolerant of what?

Maybe I'm being hurtful, if it's hurtful to challenge the viewpoint that is presented. If that's the case, then I am not overly concerned about it. I'm not tossing around callous accusations without evidence. I've explained the backing for my concerns and you've responded with "don't worry about what he wrote, this is what I think he means so ignore the words on the screen and take my word for it."

I will NEVER agree that an article that says which sole purpose is to stir fear and hatred toward gay men is anything but bigotted (whether intended or not).
8.27.2005 2:28am
dolphin (mail) (www):
Oh, and just so there's no confusion, if you said "Driving is Dangerous" I would challenge you on it in a heartbeat. Driving is not dangerous per se. Driving drunk is dangerous, driving on icy roads is dangerous etc, but I would definately challenge your statement the exact same way that I'm challenging Volokh's statement that "Male homosexual activity is dangerous."
8.27.2005 2:41am
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
You are being intolerant because you are purposefully misreading an article in order to be offended.

driving on icy roads is dangerous

Really? Every instance of driving on an icy road is dangerous? You don't think that we can find one single case where driving on an icy road is not dangerous?

Let's take the conclusion to Volokh's last writing on the subject:

So male homosexual activity does seem much more dangerous, on average, than male heterosexual activity. As I've said before, this danger is tragic. But it seems to me a grave mistake to deny this danger.

Notice that he says "much more dangerous, on average..." Does the seem like the type of thing a person would say who is arguing that every single instance of gay sex is dangerous?
8.27.2005 8:18am
bago (mail):
As I suspected, nobody took me up on my offer to explain why conversion was a better word than expermentation. I think that proves my point.
8.27.2005 2:41pm
dolphin (mail) (www):

You are being intolerant because you are purposefully misreading an article in order to be offended.


I'm not misreading anything. I'm reading what was written on the page (or screen). Of course for what's it's worth, what you're suggesting isn't "intolerant" anyways. I don't think you know what the word means.

Every instance of driving on an icy road is dangerous?


I'd say so. I suppose if you were driving your car in the middle of an ice rink one square mile or more in size, it wouldn't be dangerous, but I think that's a limited enough exception to make the generalization. In this case Volokh is claiming that the exception is the rule. In the bit you quoted, he even says "much more dangerous." Since even HIS OWN ARTICLE shows tht claim to be laughable at best how is this anything more than fear-mongering.

Secondly it's simply bad advice. His argument is that because wreckless, unsafe, promisicuous same-sex sexual activity is dangerous (apparently we're supposed to believe that wreckless unsafe, promiscious opposite-sex sexual activity is A-ok), those who are in the closet should stay in the closet (which has been shown to cause health problems in and of itself). Essentially he's suggesting that one drink bleach to kill any bacteria that might have been on the food they just ate.

It's typical fear-mongering. I absolutely 100% believe you know this (if you were honestly too dumb to recognize this I seriously doubt you'd know how to so much as turn a computer on). Unfortunately, because it's in support of an agenda you support, you are willing to defend against what you KNOW is wrong.

---

As I suspected, nobody took me up on my offer to explain why conversion was a better word than expermentation. I think that proves my point.


Absolutely bago! Words were specifcially chosen that are known to illicit fear. It's such obvious fear-mongering. There is no reason to go out of one's way specifically to crete the illusion of danger unless one is doing it intentionally. It's the way of those with such an agenda though. The vast majority of the straight population are not concerned with the gay community so in order for the bigots to pursue their agenda they HAVE to scare the average straight person into fearing gay people. That's why you get lots of discussion of NAMBLA (which is flasely associated with the gay community), talk of "conversion," and assertions that gay men by and large have AIDs (I'm trained as an HIV/AIDs awareness educator by the red cross. If I made statements like Volokh's at a session, I'd surely lose my certification).
8.27.2005 8:03pm
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
Secondly it's simply bad advice. His argument is that because wreckless, unsafe, promisicuous same-sex sexual activity is dangerous (apparently we're supposed to believe that wreckless unsafe, promiscious opposite-sex sexual activity is A-ok), those who are in the closet should stay in the closet (which has been shown to cause health problems in and of itself). Essentially he's suggesting that one drink bleach to kill any bacteria that might have been on the food they just ate.

Apparently we didn't read the same article. Volokh never suggested anywhere that people should "stay in the closet." He never suggested that unprotected heterosexual sex is "A-ok." You are shamelesly attacking straw men of your own devising. I suppose there is not much point in continuing this, it's pretty clear that you have no interest whatsoever in bothering to understand what was said.
8.27.2005 9:49pm
dolphin (mail) (www):
Ok we must have read different articles. If you want to read the ones I read, there are links at the top of this page.


Apparently we didn't read the same article. Volokh never suggested anywhere that people should "stay in the closet."


See in the article I read he said "If it weren't for the disproportionate and grave health danger from male homosexual activity, I'd think such encouragement to explore which relationships give people the most happiness would be positively quite good." In otherwords, it'd be ok for gay people to be in the relationships that would make them happy if it wasn't so "dangerous."


He never suggested that unprotected heterosexual sex is "A-ok."


It's implied. If a gay person should stick to exclusively heterosexual sexual behvaior because gay behavior is so dangerous, then the only possible option is that heterosexual behavior is not dangerous. Were that not the the point he was trying to make there'd be no need to submit that people should refrain from one and practice the other.


I suppose there is not much point in continuing this


I suspect you're right. You're clearly not going to acknowlege what was said. You might ask EV to change his posts though because with you sitting here claiming that he never said what I quote directly from while those articles are still on the web is really making you look very silly.


it's pretty clear that you have no interest whatsoever in bothering to understand what was said.


You're right again (in one way). I understand what was said, but you're 100% right I have no interest in doing the "reading between the lines" that you're doing. Why? because what's important isn't what was "meant" (as you claim), but rather what was said, because that's what most people will walk away with.

I'm with bago in awaiting your answer to he terminology used.
If there was no ill-intent, why would EV chose unclear and notoriously imflammatory words to make his "point." This is especially curious since there is a variety of terminology that could have been used to make the point you claim he was trying to make (which as best as I can tell is that all unsafe sex is bad) without blatantly using the language of the anti-gay movement.
8.29.2005 12:58am