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[Maggie Gallagher (guest-blogging), October 20, 2005 at 10:30am] Trackbacks
A Frank Concession:

A reader asks, "How about a frank admission that many people are opposed to gay marriage simply because they despise homosexuals, or have a strong religious feeling that homosexuality is wrong, wrong, wrong."

Yes this is true. In addition to the marriage debate about SSM, there is an overlapping and parallel moral debate over how we understand and accomodate sexual orientation.

For many people (almost all SSM advocates and a large number of SSM opponents) this is the main issue.

It's just not my issue. If Eugene wants to explore it intellectually on this space, he needs to find someone who knows more and has thought more than I have about it.

BTW, to the many comments posted: I really appreciate your input. And I will read and think about all your comments. But I've generated I dunno 500 comments. Please bear with me, as I spend most of the brief time left making my case, not rebutting yours.

Hans Bader (mail):
I agree. The gay marriage debate isn't really about marriage, since few people who talk about it seem to understand the real word consequences of getting a state-sanctioned marriage.

If they did, some gay marriage proponents would stop advocating it, to save gay partners from the horrors of divorce court, and some gay haters would stop opposing it, to let gays suffer just like heterosexuals.

State-sanctioned marriage in many states should perhaps be referred to as "anti-marriage" given the real world effects it has on relationships.

In many states, being legally "married" actually gives the spouse statistically more likely to initiate a divorce (that is, the wife -- wives initiate more than two thirds of all divorces in this country, according to the National Center for Health Statistics) an added incentive to do so, by giving that spouse alimony without requiring any showing of fault (under divorce laws that arbitrarily bar any evidence of fault in considering alimony and equitable distribution).

The social rituals of engagement and marriage, and solemn ceremony in a church or other forum, undoubtedly helps to bind husband and wife together, and thus to connect children with their father.

But the state laws of marriage and divorce merely reduce the cost, and thus increase the likelihood, of the wife leaving the husband and producing a fatherless home (since wives typically receive physical custody of the children; in the unlikely event that the husband receives custody, it is likely to be joint legal custody, which is largely honorary in nature, and not joint physical custody).

No wonder some have suggested the separation of marriage and state, i.e., getting the state out of the marriage business entirely and leaving it to churches and voluntary organizations.

That might also solve the gay marriage controversy, leaving churches free either not to perform gay marriages (as the Southern Baptists and Catholics would not) or to perform them (as the United Church of Christ would), without the state having to decide for them.

The gay marriage issue is being debated not on its own merits, but on whether homosexuality is good or bad. But for better or worse, homosexual relations are protected under Lawrence v. Texas. The issue for today therefore is not whether to prohibit homosexual relations, but how to channel them -- and whether state-sanctioned marriage would help do that, and benefit the lives of those involved.
10.20.2005 11:39am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Please bear with me, as I spend most of the brief time left making my case, not rebutting yours.

I don't object to your spending your time trying to make your case.

I do feel that you are wasting your time by ignoring completely facts that wreck your case, such as it is. You need not respond to every comment: but you haven't yet explained how it is you think that adopted children don't need (or don't deserve) married parents: or why you think it makes no difference whether or not children conceived by AID have married parents: or why you want to tie marriage down to fertility only, and assert that allowing it any other intrinsic meaning will somehow have negative social effects.
10.20.2005 11:46am
PC:
I appreciate that you're reading the comments, so I ask you: if it's imperative for us to restore the links between marriage, procreation and child-rearing by both a mother and father, then why shouldn't the state forcibly annul conventional marriages when the husband and wife don't wany any childrn? (Such marriages have always seemed a little odd to me. In a way, they're even odder than SSMs.) Why should a deliberately childless couple receive either the legal benefits or social sanction of marraige, when they could just cohabitate?
10.20.2005 12:03pm
Crane (mail):
Please bear with me, as I spend most of the brief time left making my case, not rebutting yours.

A previous poster compared you to a student who writes a 20-page paper, but doesn't get to the core argument until page 15. You're coming closer and closer to page 20, but still haven't addressed some of the main objections to your argument as presented so far. I know 500+ comments is a lot to read through, but the same points keep coming up again and again. Your case will be stronger if you respond to your opponents' main arguments against you instead of just ignoring them (or, worse, setting up a caricature of their arguments as a strawman).
10.20.2005 12:05pm
guest:
Actually, she just used up page 20, and is about to hit page 21. Out of curiousity, I cut and pasted all of her posts into MS Word (Times New Roman, 12 pt font), and she's written 20 full pages, 9,516 words. The fact that she STILL has not finished "making her case" is telling. If there were an elegant, straight-forward argument against SSM, she could have and would have finished making it several thousand words ago, and could now be addressing some of the comments that she's been studiously avoiding. But instead, she still needs to finish "making [her] case." I eagerly await finding out what crucial argument she's been holding back thus far...
10.20.2005 12:11pm
AF:
Thank you for your frank concession that much of the opposition to same-sex marriage is based on homophobia. Here is my question to you: Are your concerns about the effect of SSM on the institution of marriage really limited to the legal question of recognizing SSM, or do they extend to the very existence of homosexual relationships? Surely the erosion of marriage about which you are so worried is not caused solely by legal changes; the legal changes reflect changes in social mores. So why don't you oppose the changing social mores as well as the proposed legal changes? In other words, why don't you oppose the growing social acceptability of homosexuality?
10.20.2005 12:16pm
Eisenstern (mail):
So Gallagher is qualified to write 9500+ words on gay marriage, but can't comment at all on the "overlapping and parallel" issue of how (i.e., whether) to "accomodate [sic] sexual orientation" because she hasn't thought enough about it?

I'm calling shenanigans on that one.
10.20.2005 12:22pm
Huggy (mail):
And what should US do about homophobia? Create re-education camps and give out pink books with the wisdom of the properly selected butt reamer? Mao trademarked "Red Books."

Judicial control leads to social destruction. Don't ask don't tell is the proper Public Policy. Judges are in danger of losing their credibility.

Have I offended anyone with the butt reamer remark? How about if I say Bill Clinton is an adulturer?
10.20.2005 12:25pm
Lester L Weil (mail):
There is also a group out here who are ambilent about homosexuals but just despise gay activists.
10.20.2005 12:27pm
Passing By:
Ugh. That argument is sort of like saying you're ambivalent about blacks but just despise Rev. Sharpton.
10.20.2005 12:32pm
Colby:
No wonder some have suggested the separation of marriage and state, i.e., getting the state out of the marriage business entirely and leaving it to churches and voluntary organizations.

That might also solve the gay marriage controversy, leaving churches free either not to perform gay marriages (as the Southern Baptists and Catholics would not) or to perform them (as the United Church of Christ would), without the state having to decide for them.


Hans, you describe the status quo. Proponent of legalized SSMs would be 1. insanely unrealistic and 2. on utterly unconstitutional grounds were they to advocate that all churches be required to grant marriage to same-sex couples. The debate is about the issuance of marriage licenses, and intra-congregation debates should remain just that, intra.

On another note, I paraphrase Evan Wolfson when I say that gay couples don't want gay marriage or SSM; we want marriage--the same responsibilities, the same protections. And, indeed, granting such sameness will result in the same positive externalities. To repeat, from earlier posts, just one of these societal benefits: As same-sex couples are integrated into traditional family units, we will increasingly relieve society of the responsibility for caring for our ill spouses, our (in my partner's and my case) special-needs children, our aging in-laws, our extended families. Of course, thousands of us are already happily doing all of this work. Granting civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples shifts the government's relation to us from one of hindrance (e.g. carrying around a portfolio of legal documents) to one of mutual benefit.

This is the libertarian argument, and it's why some of the country's most popular libertarian candidates, such as Ed Thompson of my home in Wisconsin, support extending marriage responsibilities and rights to gay couples. Families shift responsibility from the government to smaller, local, tightly bound units. Government makes itself less relevant by supporting families. Government should, then, extend marriage responsibilities and rights to same-sex couples.

Why does this argument preclude the extension of such responsibilities to polygamous families? To name just one argument: One need not be an expert in contract law or economics to know that the confusions, complications, and problems increase exponentially from a two- to a three- or more-party arrangement. Moreover, one need not be an expert in human relationships to know that the chance of dissolution increases, also exponentially, from a committed pair to a three- or more-party commitment. The externalities in such a public-private contract clearly switch from positive to negative.

Finally, why not "civil unions," or, as I like to call them, "gay marriage"? Civil unions and "gay marriage" are insulting. They are government's way of telling my partner and I that we are less of a family than our neighbors, and, unless there is a rational basis for doing so (and courts in Massachusetts and Hawaii have ruled that there is not), it is not the place of government to make such distinctions.
10.20.2005 12:37pm
A reader:
"Please bear with me, as I spend most of the brief time left making my case, not rebutting yours."

Most of the comments posted here are responses to your arguments. They are not efforts to develop an independent affirmative case for gay marriage. It's your prerogative to ignore these responses, of course. But to ignore challenges to your argument is not going to "achieve disagreement," as you initially stated was your goal. Remember that blank wall that you thought Andrew Sullivan and David Blankenhorn saw? You're staring at it. By ignoring all the comments, you refuse to look away from that wall.
10.20.2005 12:38pm
Ivan (mail):
So let me get this straight.....

You don't have any problems with homosexuals, but you don't want them to have children or enter into stable family structures to raise those children?

Is that an accurate representation of your views?
10.20.2005 12:56pm
Bill (mail):
SSM might turn out to make gay couples act more like the more conservative of their straight counterparts. At least one gets this impression by viewing the "poster children" of the SSM movement. For each of the liberal professors Ms. G decries as wanting to warp the meaning of marriage, there seem to be dozens of, for lack of a better term, gay Cleavers.

So someone with Ms. G's views should at least consider the possibility that gay non-marriage is more subversive than gay marriage.

And people who hope that gay marriage will make us all reconsider and perhaps improve upon the tradition of marriage should consider whether SSM might rather have conservative effects.
10.20.2005 12:57pm
Justin (mail):
I've gotta run quick, but one question: If the fact that a good portion (perhaps a large majority) of those who oppose SSM do so for hatred of gay people is immaterial, then why does it matter that a small minority of proponents of SSM do so to destroy rather than protect the concept of marriage?

Just saying, ya know?
10.20.2005 12:58pm
Taimyoboi:
"Thank you for your frank concession that much of the opposition to same-sex marriage is based on homophobia."

You realize that claiming a majority of Americans are stupid and homophobic isn't likely to make them concede that they're wrong.
10.20.2005 1:01pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Lester Weil writes:

There is also a group out here who are ambilent about homosexuals but just despise gay activists.

Passing By responds: Ugh.

That argument is sort of like saying you're ambivalent about blacks but just despise Rev. Sharpton.
There is a rather substantial gap between homosexuals and gay activists. A lot of homosexuals want to be left alone; they wanted the sodomy laws repealed; they may even find some comfort in anti-discrimination laws; but they aren't particularly interested in getting married. I frequently hear from homosexuals who read my blog and consider many of the virulent gay activists--the ones who defend NAMBLA, and think masturbating on top of floats in gay pride parades is a sign of liberation--to be an embarrassment that sets them back.

I don't approve of homosexuality, but if homosexuals are prepared to exercise a little discretion, we can all get along. I've had enough experience with gay activists to know that they are scum. Harrassing phone calls to my employer; obscene phone calls to my kids; threats to have public obscene displays in front of my home.
10.20.2005 1:03pm
Anonymous Clerk:
"If Eugene wants to explore it intellectually on this space, he needs to find someone who knows more and has thought more than I have about it."

I'd like to suggest Christopher Wolfe of Marquette.
10.20.2005 1:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You realize that claiming a majority of Americans are stupid and homophobic isn't likely to make them concede that they're wrong.
So what? Homosexuals are relying on the judiciary to overrule the "stupid and homophobic" majority--and so far, they have usually been successful. Romer v. Evans (1996) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003) demonstrate this.
10.20.2005 1:05pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Colby,

I wasn't suggesting that churches were currently compelled to perform marriages (e.g., same sex marriages) simply because the state permits them. (For example, churches can refuse to marry non-members based on their religion). I know they're not currently compelled to marry anyone they don't want to (although the Bob Jones case suggests a state might be able to condition a church's tax exemption on not racially discriminating).

Rather, in talking about state-sponsored marriages, I was suggesting that the state currently attaches legal consequences to such marriages, some of which it has no business doing. Those consequences include not only mutual duties of support during the marriage (which makes sense) but also, in most states, the duty to support an ex-spouse after the marriage terminates, regardless of which spouse was at fault in the deterioration of the marriage or whether the supported spouse contributed, financially or otherwise, to the marriage at all (which makes no sense at all -- giving lifetime alimony to a spouse who initiated a no-fault divorce is like letting a partner terminate a partnership for no reason and then demand that she receive a share of her ex-partners' profits for life).

I was raising the idea of getting the state out of the marriage business so that it would no longer mess up such relationships by providing incentives for divorce. The state would no longer attach legal consequences to private religious ceremonies and the like (beyond what the parties actually agreed to in the text of any marriage agreement -- that would be governed by general contract law, not marriage laws).

The marriage would thus be defined solely by any contractual understanding between the parties, presumably informed by their religious or personal beliefs regarding the proper nature of marriage.

I doubt that any prospective husband would contractually agree that in the event of a divorce, he would pay alimony for life to maintain his wife's standard of living, even if she cheated on him and did nothing during the marriage to contribute to his earning capacity. (Keep in mind that, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, two-thirds of divorces are initiated by wives).

Yet that inequitable result is what can happen in many states, where the divorce courts categorically refuse to consider fault in determining alimony and equitable distribution. (They do seem to consider gender, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Orr v. Orr (1979) that doing so is unconstitutional, since more than 99 percent of alimony recipients are women, including some very wealthy women who did no work of any kind during the marriage, while poor ex-husbands who work two jobs to put their wives through medical school or law school are almost invariably denied alimony when they seek it).

Getting the state out of the marriage business would prevent that (and reduce their ability to engage in unjustifiable sex discrimination).

Of course, it would also prevent other things that might be desireable (such as married tax filing status for those married couples who benefit from it, and need the money to raise children), so I am not taking any definitive position that the state should get out of the marriage business by no longer recognizing marriage as such. But I think it is worth pondering.

Monogamy is something worth promoting, given how it benefits children, social stability, and public health. Marriage is worth promoting to the extent that it promotes that end. The legal label of "marriage" is merely a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.
10.20.2005 1:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Huggy writes:

And what should US do about homophobia? Create re-education camps and give out pink books with the wisdom of the properly selected butt reamer? Mao trademarked "Red Books."
Gay activists have already called for concentration camps for former homosexuals. See this article from the Washington Blade.

I am actually more concerned about the totalitarianism that gay activists promote than I am concerned about homosexuality now. At least the Religious Right, if it had its way in writing laws, would be overruled by the courts. The totalitarian gay activists will never be overruled by the courts as they are currently constituted.
10.20.2005 1:13pm
paulhager (mail) (www):
I have, somewhat reluctantly, come to the conclusion that there is some utility in the state promoting heterosexual marriage or, at least, procreative marriage. I discuss this in a blog piece I wrote titled Positive Feedback. Briefly, the argument is that the state should be pronatalist and that ipso facto means the state should be pro-family and pro-marriage and that radical changes in tax policy need to be embraced to promote both institutions. I was quite surprised to see a similar view expressed by left-of-center writer Phillip Longman.

It wasn't too many years ago that gay rights demonstrators would chant, "More deviation, less population." Now, perhaps, attitudes have changed in the gay community or maybe it's just a change in the political leadership. Insofar as same-sex marriage can foster pronatalism, it should be promoted. Otherwise, it shouldn't.
10.20.2005 1:44pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Bill writes:

SSM might turn out to make gay couples act more like the more conservative of their straight counterparts. At least one gets this impression by viewing the "poster children" of the SSM movement. For each of the liberal professors Ms. G decries as wanting to warp the meaning of marriage, there seem to be dozens of, for lack of a better term, gay Cleavers.
Hmmm. Here's one of the first SSM couples from Massachusetts:

Yarbrough, a part-time bartender who plans to wear leather pants, tuxedo shirt, and leather vest during the half-hour ceremony, has gotten hitched to Rogahn, a retired school superintendent, first in a civil commitment in Minnesota, then in Canada, and now in Massachusetts, the first U.S. state to recognize gay marriage.

But he says the concept of forever is "overrated" and that he, as a bisexual, and Rogahn, who is gay, have chosen to enjoy an open marriage. "I think it's possible to love more than one person and have more than one partner, not in the polygamist sense," he said. "In our case, it is, we have, an open marriage."
10.20.2005 1:45pm
PaulD:
Although not surprised, I am irked that those of us who think homosexuality is wrong from a religious standpoint are deemed to be necessarily homophobic or bigoted.

First "homophobic" -- this is a manipulative term if there ever was one. A phobia is a fear. I am not afraid of homosexuals (should I be?); I just think that homosexual activity is a sin.

Second, "bigoted" -- another ridiculous accusation. Call me ignorant or misguided, but don't be so presumptuous as to call me a bigot. Calling me a bigot because I think homosexuality is wrong is like my calling a Jew a bigot because he doesn't think Jesus is the Messiah. I might call him uninformed or mistaken, but not a bigot.

I think Maggie's whole approach is barking up the wrong tree. It is not a matter, ultimately, of reproductive capabilities, but of society's collective assessment of what is right and what is wrong. As I said before, I am in favor of civil unions (in lieu of SSMs) as a civil rights issue. But SSM is tantamount to getting my approval (or rather of the majority of the citizenry) that SSM is right. My daughter says my view makes gays second class citizens. If the only thing between keeping them from being second class citizens is my approval of what they are doing, then I'm afraid they will have to go on being second class citizens.
10.20.2005 1:57pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
OK, let's not paint Maggie with the same brush as some of her comrades-in-arms.

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/5587.html
10.20.2005 2:52pm
guest:

I am irked that those of us who think homosexuality is wrong from a religious standpoint are deemed to be necessarily homophobic or bigoted.


So because your view of gays is grounded in religion, it necessarily is not bigotted? David Duke relied on the Bible to justify his views on race. Does that mean he wasn't a bigot?
10.20.2005 2:53pm
Taimyoboi:
Mr. Cramer,

A bit of a pause before responding to posts would have led you to realize that I was adressing a prior post that was shedding more heat than light.
10.20.2005 3:01pm
Taimyoboi:
"I was quite surprised to see a similar view expressed by left-of-center writer Phillip Longman."

Mr. Hager,

You shouldn't be so surprised. Phillip Longman was advocating for pro-natalist policies by the government because he was concerned that the higher birth rates among conservatives and religious people would make liberals a permanent minority.
10.20.2005 3:04pm
magoo (mail):
According to compelling anecdotal evidence, over time marriage reduces coital frquency. So if you oppose homosexual acts, you should support gay marriage.
10.20.2005 3:44pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Mr. Cramer,

A bit of a pause before responding to posts would have led you to realize that I was adressing a prior post that was shedding more heat than light.
Actually, that prior post was expressing a widely held belief of gay activists--that the majority are too stupid and "homophobic" to do the right thing--hence the need to get their way by the tyranny of the judiciary. It doesn't occur to the gay activists that perhaps the majority is in the right, and homosexuality is a sickness--something that only became obvious to me after living in the San Francisco Bay Area for a few years.
10.20.2005 3:57pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
PaulD writes:

I think Maggie's whole approach is barking up the wrong tree. It is not a matter, ultimately, of reproductive capabilities, but of society's collective assessment of what is right and what is wrong.
I completely agree. A secularist argument against SSM is unlikely to be very persuasive. What this really boils down is whether our laws are going to be determined Constitutionally, or at the whim of a few judges twisting the Constitution to suit their needs.

Unless the Constitution explicitly prohibits the majority from doing so, the majority is free to pass laws. These laws may not always be the wisest (and they often are not), but stupid does not equal unconstitutional. I would put sodomy laws (whether specific to homosexuals or applicable to all) in that category. I would have a hard arguing that these laws make a lot of sense, but they are clearly Constitutional--or there would have been some recognition of their unconstitutionality a heck of a lot sooner than Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

All criminal law, and much of the civil law, reflects certain collective assessments of right and wrong. The laws against murder, rape, robbery, extortion, fraud--all of these impose one set of religiously based morals on a minority. For historical reasons, these were based on Christian notions of right and wrong.

If you want to make an argument that there should be some other basis for our laws, go ahead and do so. Libertarians are partial to the idea that only actions that cause harm to others (either personally or economically) should be unlawful. But that still involves imposing Christian morals that it is wrong to break someone's arm or steal their property. What makes this libertarian notion of appropriate laws anymore correct than the Christian-based standard? At least the Christian-based standard has a majority behind it (although sometimes not very consistently).
10.20.2005 4:07pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Magoo writes:

According to compelling anecdotal evidence, over time marriage reduces coital frquency. So if you oppose homosexual acts, you should support gay marriage.
That's because heterosexual marriage usually doesn't involve visits to the local rest area restrooms and bathhouses for random sexual partners. I mentioned above the SSM example for Massachusetts and their "open marriage." As near as I can tell, that's not particularly unusual in the gay community.
10.20.2005 4:09pm
PaulD:
"So because your view of gays is grounded in religion, it necessarily is not bigotted? David Duke relied on the Bible to justify his views on race. Does that mean he wasn't a bigot?" -Guest

What I meant to say (if I didn't) was that a religiously-based opposition to homosexuality isn't necessarily bigoted; not that a religiously-based opposition to homosexuality was necessarily unbigoted.
10.20.2005 4:12pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
PaulD: What I meant to say (if I didn't) was that a religiously-based opposition to homosexuality isn't necessarily bigoted

Why would it make it any less bigoted just because your justification is that you think God wants you to be a bigot?
10.20.2005 4:46pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
The difficulty with these discussions of what constitutes "bigotry" is that I can't imagine too many homosexuals regarding opposition to homosexuality as anything but bigotry, in the same way that most alcoholics consider the widespread societal disapproval of what they do to be "bigotry."

It is very true: every alcoholic doesn't drive drunk. Every alcoholic doesn't beat his or her spouse or kids. Every alcoholic doesn't hang around Skid Row drinking out of a brown paper bag. I've worked for alcoholics with responsible jobs. It is just "bigotry" that we discriminate against them as a class. You can construct a similar set of examples for convicted felons--and yet we have laws that similarly show "bigotry" against anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony.

The fact is that there are a lot of classes that we discriminate against by law or by social custom. It is often the case that just because members of group X are disproportionately engaged in self-destructive or antisocial behavior doesn't mean that every member of group X does so. Still, if a member of group X is 10-15x more likely to be an IV drug abuser than the general population (for example, lesbians), it does make you wonder if there's something a bit damaged about members of that group.
10.20.2005 4:53pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Is it suddenly not possible to dislike a class of some larger group without by extension disliking the larger group itself?

See, my problem with gay people is that no matter what they say or do, I can't possibly have a problem with what they specifically said or did - I can ONLY have a problem with them being gay. Whenever I tell a gay person I don't like their behavior, they call me a homophobe. They claim that whatever they were doing was perfectly fine because it's a part of their culture and community which they can't help because they were born that way and what a bastard I must be to think they can just stop being gay.

I don't want them to stop being *gay*, I want them to stop being *jerks*, which IMO has nothing whatsoever to do with being gay. Being gay is not a license to just start gaying up the place wherever you go, inserting your gay culture and community and standards into the midst of existing cultures and communities with their own standards. You can have your gay culture; you just can't necessarily have it whenever and wherever you *want* to have it. There's a time and a place for it, just like there is for everything else.
10.20.2005 5:03pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Clayton:

The difference is one of relevance. Drunkeness is RELEVANT to a large number of human endeavors. If someone drinks to excess, they shouldn't drive, shouldn't operate heavy machinery, are much more likely to get into fights, abuse their spouse, abuse their children, be unable to do their jobs, etc.

In contrast, homosexuality is something that is IRRELEVANT to most human endeavors but which intensely bothers and threatens lots of people, for very complex sociological reasons that have long been the subject of study (e.g., Freud).

The result of this is that we can assume that most "discrimination" against drunks is effected for socially valid reasons, because drunkeness impairs a person from engaging in many common human endeavors. In contrast, when it comes to homosexuality, the presumption is precisely the opposite-- most discrimination against homosexuals, like most discrimination against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities and against women, is due to irrational fear and loathing of homosexuals, because there is nothing about homosexuality that impairs a gay or lesbian person from participation in the vast majority of human endeavors.
10.20.2005 5:07pm
PaulD:
Well, clearly, if I thought God _wanted_ me to be a bigot, I would embrace the label, wouldn't I? But your question seems to be, essentially: "What makes you think your views are any less bigoted just because you think they are approved by God?"

I suppose from your perspective I am ipso facto bigoted because I hold to a bigoted belief system. Let me work through this. "Bigot: one obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion." I guess by that definition (Webster's New Collegiate of 1981) I am indeed a bigot. But when I think of the word bigot, I think of hatred towards other people, a sense of superiority and disdain towards outsiders. I don't think I'm a bigot in that sense. On the other hand, if being a Christian who takes the Scriptures seriously makes me a bigot, then I guess it is an "occupational hazard" so to speak.
10.20.2005 5:07pm
Taimyoboi:
"Actually, that prior post was expressing a widely held belief of gay activists--that the majority are too stupid and "homophobic" to do the right thing--hence the need to get their way by the tyranny of the judiciary."

Mr. Cramer,

You have no argument from me on this point. I was simply addressing the callous use of phrases like homophobic or stupid to the opposition as not being constructive towards any resolution whatsoever.

No need to burn bridges.
10.20.2005 5:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Dilan Esper writes:

In contrast, homosexuality is something that is IRRELEVANT to most human endeavors but which intensely bothers and threatens lots of people, for very complex sociological reasons that have long been the subject of study (e.g., Freud).
I agree that in most jobs, it really doesn't matter what a person's sexual orientation is. Software engineer? Mechanic? Lawyer? I'm hard pressed to see why it really matters.

There are occupations where I am not so sure. For the same reason that many women prefer to see a female ob-gyn, I would not be comfortable having a gay man doing a proctological exam on me. (The last proctological exam I had was done by a pretty openly lesbian doctor, and I didn't feel uncomfortable about this.)

Some years back, San Francisco Police Department went on a recruiting mission to a leather bar. The San Francisco Chronicle's coverage of this (about 1992 or so) quoted one of the recruiters as saying that the nice thing about looking for police officers in a leather bar is, "We don't have to teach them the use of restraint devices." I don't know about you, but I am not at pleased at the concept that someone who gets a sexual charge out of inflicting pain and humiliation is going to become a cop. (Although it might make some members of the San Francisco community look forward to getting arrested.)

LOTS of Americans are uncomfortable having a homosexual as a teacher--and not just because homosexual men are disproportionately molesters. (Studies that I have seen find that 20% to 26% of molesters either self-identify as homosexual, or exclusively molest little boys--and remember that only about 4% of men are homosexual or bisexual.) The concern is that we don't want our kids, who may be going through a difficult and confusing adolescence to glom onto the idea of, "I must be homosexual" rather than working through what is a difficult time.

A second issue is that there are some social pathologies in the gay community that are quite disproportionate. Substance abuse, for example. The traditional model of EEO enforcement that looks only at percentages hired may not work with sexual orientation.

When I was an employment agent, I was pretty liberal about the whole sexual orientation issue. But I did notice over time something that I would have regarded as pure bigotry--the very disproportionately flakey nature of the homosexuals with whom I had professional contact. (Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area actually increased my awareness of this.) Any measure of the number of homosexuals hired would certainly have found them underrepresented--but not underrepresented when flakiness was factored in.
10.20.2005 5:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I was simply addressing the callous use of phrases like homophobic or stupid to the opposition as not being constructive towards any resolution whatsoever.

No need to burn bridges.
I find it interesting that gay activists work harder at burning bridges than any other group that I have found.

Over the years, I have been very public about a lot of very controversial issues: gun control; affirmative action; capitalism vs. socialism. There's only one topic that I have ever touched that led to harrassing phone calls, threats of violence, attempts to get me fired, etc. And that was when I asked why NAMBLA marched in the San Francisco gay pride parade--and my question was a leading question, "Why don't you just exclude them? I would think you would want to avoid this negative stereotype." I soon found out that a lot of gay activists didn't see it as a negative stereotype, but something to be accepted.
10.20.2005 5:46pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
PaulD: I suppose from your perspective I am ipso facto bigoted because I hold to a bigoted belief system

Do you? Were we arguing hypothetically, or did you mean to assert that you do think God wants you to be a bigot?
10.20.2005 5:53pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Clayton:

First, I am going to assume this was just an honest mistake:

"LOTS of Americans are uncomfortable having a homosexual as a teacher--and not just because homosexual men are disproportionately molesters. (Studies that I have seen find that 20% to 26% of molesters either self-identify as homosexual, or exclusively molest little boys--and remember that only about 4% of men are homosexual or bisexual.)"

The statistic does not show that "homosexual men are disproportionately molesters" but that molesters include a greater percentage of homosexuals (if we also include male heterosexuals whose pedophilia is directed at boys and not girls) than the public at large. The vast, vast majority of homosexuals are NOT molesters, and that's the relevant statistic for determining whether discrimination against them in jobs involving children has a rational basis.

As for your broader point (that SOMETIMES homosexuality may be relevant), I don't doubt that there might be some situation where sexual orientation might be a relevant occupational qualification, though I don't think your examples show it. (For instance, given that kids receive their socialization from their peers rather than their teachers, it is doubtful that having a gay teacher is going to make much difference in whether kids misidentify themselves as gay. In any event, I don't think kids misidentifying themselves as gay is any more of a problem than kids misidentifying themselves as straight. Further, lots of people take a long time to discover and define their sexuality; many a straight female, for instance, has "experimented" with same-sex activities in college and has not suffered from it.)

But even assuming that sexual orientation is relevant in limited circumstances, it is irrelevant in most, as you yourself concede. So when you have people who want the law to officially discriminate against gays and lesbians and to permit private entities to do the same (while also continuing to prohibit private race, ethnicity, gender, and religious discrimination that is also irrelevant in most instances), I don't think it is unreasonable to make a conclusion about homophobia and bigotry. We can argue the merits of whether there are a few situations when it may be appropriate to take sexual orientation into account. But it must be recognized that at the very least in most situations it is irrelevant.
10.20.2005 5:59pm
PaulD:
Jesurgislac,


PaulD: I suppose from your perspective I am ipso facto bigoted because I hold to a bigoted belief system

Do you? Were we arguing hypothetically, or did you mean to assert that you do think God wants you to be a bigot?


No, God doesn't want me to be a bigot. But He doesn't consider it bigoted to think homosexuality is wrong, either.
10.20.2005 6:29pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The statistic does not show that "homosexual men are disproportionately molesters" but that molesters include a greater percentage of homosexuals (if we also include male heterosexuals whose pedophilia is directed at boys and not girls) than the public at large.
Guess what? That means that homosexuals are disproportionately molesters. Go back and re-read what you wrote.


The vast, vast majority of homosexuals are NOT molesters, and that's the relevant statistic for determining whether discrimination against them in jobs involving children has a rational basis.
The vast majority of men (straight or gay) are not molesters, but men are about twice as likely to be molesters as the "average population" simply because nearly all child molesters are men. (The same is true with respect to rape.) Do you think there's no rational basis for discrimination against men in daycare settings? Guess what? Most parents are very uncomfortable leaving their child with a guy unless there are other women around. My son-in-law is the only guy working in a daycare center--and while he completely understands the reaction, he says that you can see how uncomfortable parents are when they first meet him.


As for your broader point (that SOMETIMES homosexuality may be relevant), I don't doubt that there might be some situation where sexual orientation might be a relevant occupational qualification, though I don't think your examples show it. (For instance, given that kids receive their socialization from their peers rather than their teachers, it is doubtful that having a gay teacher is going to make much difference in whether kids misidentify themselves as gay.
Unless, of course, the teacher decides to take Johnny on a special trip. Don't pretend that there aren't gay teachers behaving like some straight teachers.


In any event, I don't think kids misidentifying themselves as gay is any more of a problem than kids misidentifying themselves as straight.
Hey, guess what? Nearly all parents disagree with you. I've had a number of homosexuals tell me, "Why would anyone choose this?" Just about all parents would like their kids to grow up, marry a member of the opposite sex, and be "normal." You might not share that feeling. Fine. You are wrong.


But even assuming that sexual orientation is relevant in limited circumstances, it is irrelevant in most, as you yourself concede. So when you have people who want the law to officially discriminate against gays and lesbians and to permit private entities to do the same (while also continuing to prohibit private race, ethnicity, gender, and religious discrimination that is also irrelevant in most instances), I don't think it is unreasonable to make a conclusion about homophobia and bigotry.
Except that when you pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, you are preventing discrimination in the "limited circumstances" that you admit might be legitimate. (And that you don't see a problem with having a gay man poking around in a straight guy's rectum and the emotional discomfort that this will engender tells me a lot about how little you understand about normal people.)

I don't have much sympathy for anti-discrimination laws in general. For blacks, there was a very serious problem caused by generations of laws passed to keep them in their place. The situation for women is somewhat analogous, but not exactly. For most other groups protected by these laws, the history of discrimination is mild by comparison. In any case, homosexuality is not like race, religion, or gender. In any case, race was the specific reason for the Fourteenth Amendment. There was no concept of protecting homosexuals in the same way when the Fourteenth Amendment was passed.
10.20.2005 6:36pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I disagree with the point that a large number of those opposed to SSM are bigoted, unless, as suggested above, bigoted includes folowing the well established tenets of millennia old religions. (And note that Judaism, Christianity, or Islam actively push, or even condone, racial bigotry, but do discourage homosexuality).

But I think that plenty of people oppose SSM who don't have a real problem, religious or otherwise, with homosexuality. I can't oppose it, because I don't know what I would do if I were wired to like men instead of women. I am not, and never will be. What you do in your bedroom is your business. Not mine.

That said, tarring me as bigoted or homophobic because I oppose SSM is just making a cheap, dishonest, argument. We are talking an almost universal human institution, that has existed with the essential being the union of at least one man and at least one woman probably from the dawn of recorded human histry.

I am frankly not yet willing to take the chance that billions upon billions of our ancestors over the last ten thousand or so years have been wrong on this subject. I might accept conservative (in its traditional meaning) for my views, but not bigoted or homophobic.
10.20.2005 7:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Clayton:

Every time you get in trouble in your argument, you come back to the fact that lots of people are uncomfortable with gays and lesbians. Lots of people are uncomfortable with them being proctologists. Lots of people are uncomfortable with them being teachers. Lots of people are uncomfortable with their children identifying themselves as homosexuals.

But that just proves my point. What is the source of this discomfort? Is it some actual, rational reason for disparate treatment of gays and lesbians? Or is it simply that people have deep-seated fears and anxieties about homosexuals that they don't have about heterosexuals.

Since you brought up the history of race discrimination, let me bring up something that I think is relevant from that history. A lot of people once feared racial integration because they felt that black males were likely to rape white females. I don't know what the crime statistic was on black-on-white rapes vs. white-on-white rapes, but many people certainly feared that if blacks were integrated that their daughters were not safe.

But that fear was not RATIONAL. And pointing to those fears, far from proving that people weren't bigots, proved that they WERE. That they made gross stereotypes about blacks. That they were uncomfortable with the integration of the races.

It is no different with attitudes about homosexuality. Plenty of people may fear that the gay teacher or the gay proctologist is a rapist, thus as plenty once feared that the black janitor was one. But in the vast, vast majority of cases, he wasn't one. And the same is true of gay teachers and gay proctologists and gays in every other professions. The fact that people still fear gays is the clearest demonstration of homophobia in modern society.
10.20.2005 8:12pm
Medis:
I think "homophobia" may be an unfortunate phrase in this context. It seems more like a taboo notion than a phobia: essentially, the idea is that gay people and/or gay sex is "unclean", and thus gayness has an almost mystical power to corrupt anything it comes in contact with. Hence, we must "protect" straight/procreative marriage from the unclean influence of gay people and/or gay sex.

The same thing applies to children as well ... people feel we need to "protect" them from the corrupting influence of gay people.

Of course, like phobias, taboos can be irrational, and a lot of what is going on looks to me like attempts to rationalize these taboos.
10.20.2005 8:33pm
Question Asker (mail):
What would our society (USA) be like if it were 96% homosexual instead of 4% homosexual?
10.20.2005 10:57pm
goldsmith (mail):
A whole lot more fun for us current 4%. Any other questions?
10.20.2005 11:05pm
Question Asker (mail):
No doubt. Any ideas how to rectify this situation?
10.20.2005 11:26pm
Question Answerer (mail):

What would our society (USA) be like if it were 96% homosexual instead of 4% homosexual?


The next generation of humanity would be about 20 times smaller than the current generation.

If you think there's a social security crisis looming now, just imagine how little money there would be for all those future gay and lesbian retirees...
10.20.2005 11:48pm
Question Answerer (mail):

"LOTS of Americans are uncomfortable having a homosexual as a teacher--and not just because homosexual men are disproportionately molesters. (Studies that I have seen find that 20% to 26% of molesters either self-identify as homosexual, or exclusively molest little boys--and remember that only about 4% of men are homosexual or bisexual.)"

The statistic does not show that "homosexual men are disproportionately molesters"

Here's the math. Let's define H as homosexual and S as straight (since H for heterosexual is already taken), and M as molester and N as non-molester.

Assuming these statistics are correct (and using the smaller number of 20%) here are the probabilities we have:

Pr(H|M) = Probability of being homosexual given that you're a molester = 0.20
Pr(H) = 0.04
Pr(S|M) = 1 - 0.20 = 0.80
Pr(S) = 1 - 0.04 = 0.96

Using Bayes' rule,

Pr(HM) = Pr(H|M) * Pr(M) = Pr(M|H) * Pr(H)
= 0.20 * Pr(M) = Pr(M|H) * 0.04

and

Pr(SM) = Pr(S|M) * Pr(M) = Pr(M|S) * Pr(S)
= 0.80 * Pr(M) = Pr(M|S) * 0.96

Now, solve both equations for Pr(M):

Pr(M) = Pr(M|H) * 0.04 / 0.20
Pr(M) = Pr(M|S) * 0.96 / 0.80

That means

Pr(M|H) * 0.04 / 0.20 = Pr(M|S) * 0.96 / 0.80,

so

Pr(M|H) / Pr(M|S) = (0.96 / 0.80) * (0.20 / 0.04)
= 6.

Therefore, the probability Pr(M|H) of being a molester given that you're homosexual is 6 times the probability Pr(M|S) of being a molester given that you're straight.

You can quibble with the stats if you want (I'm not an expert on whether those numbers are correct), but if they're true then mathematically the initial conclusion is correct - homosexual men are disproportionately more likely to be molesters. In fact, it's *very* disproportionate - 6 times more likely.
10.21.2005 12:05am
OKAY (mail):
The most men-loving-men cultures in the world today are the ones that make women wear chadors (i.e. personal jails). These cultures have occasional public executions of boys caught with men to maintain the illusion that it's an abomination, when in fact it's all they have.
10.21.2005 12:35am
goldsmith (mail):

Studies that I have seen find that 20% to 26% of molesters either self-identify as homosexual, or exclusively molest little boys


This is misleading, since these two categories (homosexual and persons who molest "little boys") are not the same thing, at least in a clinical definition of pedophilia, given that we don't view pedophilia as simply an age disparity between two or more persons engaged in otherwise normal adult sexual activity, whether homosexual or heterosexual. A child molester (even if he identifies himself as "homosexual") is oriented toward children as the first condition of attraction; the gender of the children is a secondary consideration. Therefore, I don't think it is necessarily a foregone conclusion that someone who is only attracted to male children is a homosexual. They are rather a pedophile who may or may not also participate in sexual activity with adults of their gender (or the opposite gender), quite apart from their psychopathological attraction to children.

I also question what this study is considering as criteria for molester? Does it include cases of 18 year old males who are arrested for sexual activity with 17 year olds?

And what does this data tell us? It still shows that child molesters are about 3 times more likely to be heterosexuals. And what of the fact that the great majority (nearly totality) of molesters are male? Do we therefore consider men automatically suspect? Some (including Cramer above) seem to think that we should.

I just wanted question the data that "Question Answerer" (what question were you answering?) interpreted above. Anyway, this discussion of molestation data has nothing to do with the topic of this post; yet again Clayton Cramer came into a homosexuality-related discussion and lobbed his usual "dirty bombs" in an attempt to gin up the same amount of disgust and animus toward homosexuals as he apparently harbors. In the few years I have been aware of Cramer, his obsession with male homosexuality has seemed by turns to be laughable, sad and creepy. It's interesting that it should take his comments here to make me realize that while I mostly don't agree with Ms. Gallagher's points, she has at least tried to put up some sort of argument that is not based simply on religious doctrine and/or personal disgust.

I am a gay man who does not support a non-democratic change in federal marriage law, and who would prefer a civil and legal contract for same-sex couples that granted equal rights in those areas, yet preserved the current definition of marriage. But it is comments like Cramer's (and others) that make me suspicious that perhaps my darkest suspicions about the anti-same-sex-marriage side's true motives are justified.

OKAY wrote: The most men-loving-men cultures in the world today are the ones that make women wear chadors (i.e. personal jails). These cultures have occasional public executions of boys caught with men to maintain the illusion that it's an abomination, when in fact it's all they have.

So gay men like to make women wear chadors? Actually your statement seems to imply that cultures who most repress and deny homosexuality are ones that are more likely to inflict brutality on women and engage in occasionally murderous double standards. I'd heartily agree.
10.21.2005 1:17am
Carl (mail):
Dilan:

Employers regularly discriminate for all sorts of reasons that don't bear any relationship with the qualifications needed for a job: they may discriminate against fat people, ugly people, short people, and people they don't feel comfortable with but can't explain why. I find it rather hard to believe that homosexuals suffer from more discrimination than all of those groups. But even if that's what you think, surely reasonable people can disagree as to which ones of these groups most need protection. Is someone a "bigot" for not supporting anti-discrimination laws based on fatness, etc.? What's the difference?
10.21.2005 1:18am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
PaulD: No, God doesn't want me to be a bigot. But He doesn't consider it bigoted to think homosexuality is wrong, either.

Ah: So you think that God does want you to be bigoted, but you also think God doesn't want you to think of yourself as a bigot just because you hold bigoted views.

I find that rather odd, but then (though I now think of myself as an atheist) the religion I was brought up with was Christianity, and that religion thinks that God hates hypocrites.
10.21.2005 7:14am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Carl: What's the difference?

I think the difference is that one can not-support a law that requires employers not to discriminate on the grounds of fat, or height, or good looks (all of which have been proven to sway interviewers in face-to-face interviews) without actually thinking that fat, height, good looks are valid grounds for discrimination.

Say you have a short fat ugly woman who is a better programmer than a tall thin handsome man: a rational person would say she ought to get hired first and that it would be a shame if interviewers let themselves be swayed by personal appearance over job-related skills. But a bigot would say it was better to hire the tall, thin, handsome man because someone who was bigoted about height/fatness/good looks would believe that those are valid grounds for discrimination.

A bigot will always believe that their bigoted opinions about the group they are bigoted against are true.

A racist will say they are not bigoted against black people: it's just true that black people are [pick racist stereotype of your choice].

PaulD (see my comment just above) probably really does believe that God wants him to think homosexuality is wrong, and therefore he is not a bigot, because homosexuality really is wrong.

The hypothetical job interviewer picking thin man over fat woman probably really does believe that the thin man will do the job better than the fat woman - without ever looking at the bigoted reasons used to come to that conclusion.

I think laws forbidding interviewers to discriminate on the grounds of personal appearance such as height, weight, good looks, would probably be unenforceable, and therefore not good laws, simply because we do have varying standards of what constitutes height, weight, good looks. But that doesn't mean I think that discrimination in a job interview is a good thing.

I myself admit I tend to find people who are fat - not obese, just comfortably fat - more comfortable to be with, rather than skinny types who look like they forgot how to eat a decent meal: but in carrying out a job interview I would try to focus on the job skills of the applicant, not in what I thought of their personal appearance. We need an employment culture in which what people do matters more than what they look like.
10.21.2005 7:27am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Esper writes:

Every time you get in trouble in your argument, you come back to the fact that lots of people are uncomfortable with gays and lesbians. Lots of people are uncomfortable with them being proctologists. Lots of people are uncomfortable with them being teachers. Lots of people are uncomfortable with their children identifying themselves as homosexuals.
You obviously missed my point. I made a point of telling you the last proctology exam done on me was by a lesbian doctor, and it did not make me uncomfortable (well, at least no more uncomfortable than such exams already are). The fact is that there are a lot of situations where normal people would prefer not to have someone who might have a sexual attraction to them engaged in some rather intimate procedures.


Since you brought up the history of race discrimination, let me bring up something that I think is relevant from that history. A lot of people once feared racial integration because they felt that black males were likely to rape white females. I don't know what the crime statistic was on black-on-white rapes vs. white-on-white rapes, but many people certainly feared that if blacks were integrated that their daughters were not safe.

But that fear was not RATIONAL. And pointing to those fears, far from proving that people weren't bigots, proved that they WERE. That they made gross stereotypes about blacks. That they were uncomfortable with the integration of the races.
Actually, that fear was probably the result of projection, at least initially. The first American laws banning both interracial sex and marriage were passed in Virginia and Maryland because there was a shortage of white women, and these laws were passed to reduce competition for the existing supply of white women. (Remember that many white women were indentured servants, socially not much above slaves, and there were still quite a few free black men at the time.)

While the incidence of masters taking advantage of their female slaves was exaggerated for propaganda purposes, it did take place, and often enough to be a source of considerable discomfort to Victorian ideals of monogamy and fidelity. I suspect that there was some projection by Southerners of their own discomfort about this onto black men.

Of course, in modern times, Eldridge Cleaver wrote that raping white women was a "political act." Indeed it was: ugly and destructive. What might have started out as white Southerners projecting their own guilt onto black men became a political weapon for black radicals, many of whom, like Eldridge Cleaver, were thugs before they became revolutionaries.


Anyway, this discussion of molestation data has nothing to do with the topic of this post; yet again Clayton Cramer came into a homosexuality-related discussion and lobbed his usual "dirty bombs" in an attempt to gin up the same amount of disgust and animus toward homosexuals as he apparently harbors. In the few years I have been aware of Cramer, his obsession with male homosexuality has seemed by turns to be laughable, sad and creepy.
It is precisely because of the disproportionate molestation involvement of gay men that there is the widespread discomfort among straights about homosexuality. Homosexual activists into the early 1980s were often strong supporters of pedophilia, and it was not until groups like Focus on the Family started to document the presence of NAMBLA in gay pride parades that homosexual activists finally decided that NAMBLA was a problem for them.

Even now, I get emails from homosexuals drawing a distinction between "pedophiles" (those who want sex with prepubescent boys) and "ephebophiles" (those who want sex with boys of 12, 13, 14). Your wholly owned subsidiary, the ACLU, actually argued that 14 year olds enjoyed a "liberty interest" in having sex with adults in the Limon case--but the 14 year old wasn't the one being charged. It was an 18 year old--and the 14 year old had said NO to him. The ACLU's argument made no sense--they were effectively arguing a Constitutional right for adults to have sex with a 14 year old--when the 14 year old was not consenting.
10.21.2005 12:38pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Clayton:

Your discussion of the history of anti-miscengenation laws is interesting (and offensive, to the extent that you imply that there was more than a trivial number of "political" rapes), but missed my point. The point was, people didn't have a rational fear that black males would rape their white daughters. If you are correct that they were projecting, that explains the fear, but also explains that it was irrational.

The psychological MECHANISM by which heterosexuals fear homosexuals may be different (perhaps of Freudian origin rather than being a form of projection), but the fear itself is just as irrational, because the vast, vast majority of homosexuals are no danger at all, just like the vast majority of heterosexuals. So there's no real basis for discrimination; just irrational fears of homosexuals, just as there were irrational fears of black males in the past.
10.21.2005 3:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Your discussion of the history of anti-miscengenation laws is interesting (and offensive, to the extent that you imply that there was more than a trivial number of "political" rapes), but missed my point.
How do you know that there was never more than a "trivial number" of such rapes? You are making an assumption. What happened to Patty Hearst was political rape, this is very clear. It just happened to get a lot of press.



The psychological MECHANISM by which heterosexuals fear homosexuals may be different (perhaps of Freudian origin rather than being a form of projection), but the fear itself is just as irrational, because the vast, vast majority of homosexuals are no danger at all, just like the vast majority of heterosexuals. So there's no real basis for discrimination; just irrational fears of homosexuals, just as there were irrational fears of black males in the past.
Have you ever walked up behind a woman that doesn't know you in the dark? What has been her reaction? Often as not, it is fear--and she either walks faster to get to a well-lit area, or she will actually start to run. Now, you would say that this is an irrational reaction, because most men aren't rapists. I have had the experience of feeling really unfairly treated under these circumstances--I'm not a rapist. But her fear isn't irrational. It is based on the fact that any man is twice as likely to be a rapist as the "average" person.

What happens if she says to herself, "I'm being a bigot. The chances of that man being a rapist are very small." If she does the Politically Correct thing, and takes no action to move to a safer location, there is a small chance that something really horrible is going to happen to her--but she gains nothing from this. If she behaves like a "bigot," she reduces the small chance of being raped (or worse), and loses nothing by it.

The same thing, alas, is true about race, at least today. Jesse Jackson (of all people) made this statement some years ago:
There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery and then look around and see it's somebody white and feel relieved. How humiliating.
His point was that young black men were far more likely to be aggressors against him than young white men. Jackson was angry that the situation in the black community had reached this horrifying position where a civil rights leader was more afraid of members of his own race than of the "oppressor" race.

The same thing is true, at least in some contexts, with respect to homosexuals, because of the disproportionate number of homosexual child molesters. The risk that any gay man is a child molester is quite small--but the hazard involved with that small risk is quite substantial.

Now, you may not want to believe this, but child molestation produces extraordinary levels of damage. I've lost count of the number of victims that I have talked to over the years (both heterosexual and homosexual abuse). The damage can be very severe; in some cases, the phrase "soul murder" that I have seen used in some overwrought feminist literature is really appropriate.
10.21.2005 3:33pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Clayton:

You are misusing the Jesse Jackson quote. Jackson certainly is admitting that he, like many people, fears black males on the street more than he does other people. He's not saying his fear is rational or that he's right to do so (indeed, he is saying there is nothing more painful to him than this fear), and HE IS CERTAINLY NOT SAYING THAT HIS FEARS JUSTIFY DISCRIMINATION.

That, in contrast, is what you ARE saying. That the fears that you and others hold regarding the possibility of criminal conduct by homosexuals, whether or not rationally held, justifies discrimination. And that's simply wrong-- the fact that people have irrational fears of other people are one of the prime reasons why we need anti-discrimination laws, i.e., to save people from their own stereotypes.

(Oh, and by the way, the fact that most black-on-white rapes were not animated by political motivations is one of those things that falls in the category of "don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows". What happened to Patty Hearst is rather extraordinary and far removed from the more common fact patterns in rape cases.)
10.21.2005 5:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

He's not saying his fear is rational or that he's right to do so (indeed, he is saying there is nothing more painful to him than this fear), and HE IS CERTAINLY NOT SAYING THAT HIS FEARS JUSTIFY DISCRIMINATION.
But his fear is rational--and that's why he was so upset about it. It wasn't white racists that made Jesse Jackson fear unknown young black men--it was the actions of a small but disproportionate number of young black men.

Typically half of all murders in the U.S. and about 60% of all robberies are committed by blacks--who make up about 11% of the population. (The murder victims are overwhelmingly other blacks--robbery victims are still largely black, although not by such an enormous disparity as murder.) Overwhelmingly, those murders and robberies are committed by young black men--robbery is almost entirely done by men, and young ones at that. Murder isn't quite so dominated by young men as robbery, but still often enough that Jesse Jackson's humilating fears were well-founded.

That the fears that you and others hold regarding the possibility of criminal conduct by homosexuals, whether or not rationally held, justifies discrimination. And that's simply wrong-- the fact that people have irrational fears of other people are one of the prime reasons why we need anti-discrimination laws, i.e., to save people from their own stereotypes.
This is the point that you obviously can't bear to confront: the fear may be unfair but it is not irrational.

It is unfair to any particular gay man--for the same reason that it is unfair to any particular man that a strange woman is afraid of him in a dark alley, and unfair to a black man trying to get a taxi to pick him after dark in Washington, DC. (And the taxi drivers are just about all black.) This doesn't make it irrational. The risk in particular circumstances is distinctly higher, and the hazard if you get one of a small number of criminal members of that group (gay men, men, black men) is substantial. It would actually be irrational (or ignorant) under these particular circumstances (a dark alley; a taxi driver looking for a fare; hiring someone to care for your little boy) to not discriminate.

This is one of the reasons that while members of group X might be discriminated against as strangers, they are not likely to be discriminated against if well known. If the gal that lives next door saw me in a dark alley, she would be relieved--because I am a known quantity, and far more likely to protect her than to hurt her. If the black guy that works in the cubicle next to me were looking for a taxi ride, and I was a taxi driver, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment about picking him up. If I knew a gay man who wasn't emotionally messed up (and I'm sure that they must exist, and probably with more frequency than leprechauns), I might even trust him to teach in an elementary school.
10.21.2005 6:13pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
> If I knew a gay man who wasn't
> emotionally messed up

The problem with this statement is that in our current culture, you can't grow up gay and NOT be emotionally messed up, and it's largely straight people's fault. In essence, you're saying that you don't trust homosexuals to teach elementary school because of what we have done to them, and it seems to me that it would be hard to come up with a more unfair policy.

And regardless of whether a schoolteacher is gay, the concerns over molestation merit vigilance no matter what. If we are monitoring our schoolteachers sufficiently to ensure that children are not molested, it doesn't matter whether they're gay. If we're not, then it appears we have a somewhat larger problem than whether the teachers are gay.
10.22.2005 5:14pm
PaulD:
This post comes after a long internet-free weekend, and may well pass unnoticed...

Jesurgislac quotes me and then responds:


PaulD: No, God doesn't want me to be a bigot. But He doesn't consider it bigoted to think homosexuality is wrong, either.

Ah: So you think that God does want you to be bigoted, but you also think God doesn't want you to think of yourself as a bigot just because you hold bigoted views.

I find that rather odd, but then (though I now think of myself as an atheist) the religion I was brought up with was Christianity, and that religion thinks that God hates hypocrites.


In his next post he writes:


PaulD (see my comment just above) probably really does believe that God wants him to think homosexuality is wrong, and therefore he is not a bigot, because homosexuality really is wrong.


In this second comment, Jesurgislac is correct. And his view is, I think, what I said early on:


I suppose from your perspective I am ipso facto bigoted because I hold to a bigoted belief system.


When I wrote that I didn't mean to say my belief system is bigoted. Rather, I was saying Jesurgislac probably thought my belief system was inherently bigoted and there was no way I could believe it without being bigoted myself. I see no hypocrisy in my view. It is unpopular, and subject to ridicule, but no hypocritical. If I were to say amongst "the brethren" that homosexuality were wrong, but say it is okay when speaking with outsiders, that would be hypocritical.
10.24.2005 1:15pm