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Another Word I Will Gladly Continue To Use:

A commenter writes:

One easy way to identify a Christianist or a bigot is their use of the word homosexual, when the term we use for ourselves is gay or lesbian.

I've heard similar objections elsewhere (or else I wouldn't have responded to an isolated comment), but I find them utterly unpersuasive.

First, the descriptive assertion that there's a high correlation between use of the term "homosexual" and the speaker's hostility to homosexuals strikes me as entirely unfounded. Search the archives of the New York Times — or for that matter the Advocate — the works of Andrew Sullivan, and a wide variety of other sources, and you'll see.

Second, I'm not even persuaded by the assertion that homosexuals themselves generally prefer "gay" or "lesbian," even in contexts where "homosexual" is more precise (such as when one is talking about either gays or lesbians and wants to use one word that doesn't imply — as "gay" in some measure does — a limitation to one sex). The speaker may be accurately reporting the views of those particular gays and lesbians whom he knows, and who are vocal on the subject; I'm skeptical of his knowledge of the views of homosexuals generally.

Just to give some examples from similar contexts (as I've noted before), a 1995 Labor Department survey reported that 50% of American Indians preferred "American Indian" and only 37% preferred "Native American"; 44% of blacks preferred "Black" and only 40% preferred "African-American" or "Afro-American"; 58% preferred "Hispanic" and only 12% preferred "Latino" (no separate data was given for "Latino/a"). Matters may have shifted some since 1995, but not vastly; and I'm pretty sure that in 1995, the preferred terms among activists were "Native American," "African-American," and (here I'm less sure) "Latino," yet the actual majority (or, for blacks, plurality) preferences were different. (Source: U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 20, 1995.) Even if I thought that I had some moral or good manners responsibility to use the label preferred by a strong majority of the group, I see no basis for accepting such a responsibility to use the label preferred by a vocal minority, or even half of the group.

Third, as I have described here, the argument that "the group prefers to be called X, so you have a good-manners obligation to call it that" is not enough of an argument in my book — even if there is adequate evidence that the group prefers that.

Naturally, there are clearly pejorative ways to use certain words (including "gay," "lesbian," or anything else). But I'm not going to let people buffalo me, or stand by quietly while people try to buffalo others, into abandoning the clear, useful, and generally nonpejoratively used term "homosexual."

UPDATE: On reflection, I thought I'd quote much of the older post I linked to above (which was about some people's preference for "handicapped" over "disabled," but which should largely apply here as well):

2. Moreover, shifting from an old label to a new label is not cost-free. It's not cost-free for the speaker. Sometimes the new term has shades of meaning that aren't quite apt for certain uses, and thus requires extra work to think through. ("African-American," for instance, isn't a racial group, but a racial subset of Americans; it thus isn't always an apt substitute.) Sometimes the new term carries an ideological literal meaning that the spaker may disliks evoking, even when it's fairly clear that he's using the term just as a label and not for its literal meaning. This is clearest for "differently abled" or "Latter-Day Saint" (I have nothing against Mormons, but I prefer not to call them Saints, even with the implied quotes). But it may also apply in other situations, such as with "disabled"; some people may genuinely prefer to stress the handicap (i.e., burden) under which a person labors rather than his disability.

Sometimes the word acquires a connotation of adherence to the ideology that spawned it; the word "womyn" may be the most famous example, though I suspect that these days it's so often used facetiously that people may want to avoid it for that reason as well. Speakers may then resist using the term because they don't want to be seen as proclaiming allegiance to an ideology that they do not adhere to. Sometimes the new term is just clunkier and sounds more stilted to many people; some, I suspect, take this view as to African-American, and I suspect that headline writers are especially unhappy with it.

3. But the more important cost to the speaker is that telling people that they should stop saying certain words, not because those words are likely to be reasonably interpreted as expressing hostility, but simply because some other people dislike those words, is itself something of an affront to dignity and a possible source of offense. Even the good-mannered among us cherish our freedom to speak as we please, and while we try not to be rude (in the sense of slighting others or saying bad things about them), we understandably bristle at being told to stop using this word and start using that one on pain of Being a Bad Person.

A sound explanation that shows why people are reasonably offended by a term (for instance, an explanation to someone coming from Russia, where "black" is insulting much like "yellow" would be, and "negro" is considered the proper scientific term, that in America "negro" is so rarely used that it sounds like a deliberate insult at worst or one of those what-did-he-mean-by-that? archaicisms at best) might soften the sting. But simply saying "most of us like this term, so stop using this other one that you've used all your life" is a legitimate source of offense for those whose speech people are trying to control. It's even more such a source if those people were once taught by then-representatives of the same group that "handicapped" was the better term, and some years later are now told that it's become bad. And it's especially so when the number of forbidden words grows and grows ("rule of thumb," "Chinese wall," "seminal," etc.).

4. On top of that, there's also another substantial cost to the "If you aren't a bigot, stop saying 'handicapped' and say 'disabled' instead" approach: It may actually increase how often the group that one is trying to protect from offense ends up feeling offended.

If handicapped people learn that some people say "disabled" and others say "handicapped," and that neither is evidence of hostility, a few might still bristle at one (or the other); but many will be satisfied by the explanation that decent people use both. But say that everyone is told that "disabled" is the one right term, and some decent people don't go along, whether because of force of habit, strong preference for "handicapped," or just bristling at being told what to say. Then handicapped people who hear the term may well become more offended, because they've been taught that the word is offensive.

People who might even prefer to shrug the term off might feel almost obligated to take it as an insult. If someone calls me "Gene" rather than "Eugene," I'm a little annoyed (that's just not the name I prefer in English), but I assume that it's just because they've fallen into that habit with other Eugenes they know, who do go by Gene in a way that I don't. I assume the speaker's intentions were good, and I think I'm happier for it.

But if someone started a campaign of insisting that calling me Gene is actually rude, perhaps even insulting (because the diminutive implies a diminution of my status), I'd both hear "Gene" a bit less often, and be much more annoyed when I do hear it, precisely because I'll worry that it's a deliberate violation of the New Good Manners Rule and thus a deliberate slight. Those who make the handicapped/disabled issue into a matter of identity politics rather than just a matter of apricot/apricot (or even Gene/Eugene) may thus increase the amount of hurt feelings on both sides.

5. So I think the approach that's more tolerant of speakers, ultimately more likely to avoid offense to the subjects of the speech, and less likely to be subject to the whims of a small minority of activists is generally to tolerate both the old terms and the new terms, and not consider either to be a breach of good manners.

There are exceptions. One, as I noted above, is when one term is so often used pejoratively that reasonable listeners might assume that the current user is using it pejoratively. Another is when the term is so archaic that it will make people wonder whether the speakers must have some ulterior motive in using it (the obvious motive, which is that it's a commonly used term that springs to people's minds naturally, being absent). There may well be others; rules of manners are often not competely simple and crisp. But as to handicapped/disabled, or American Indian/Native American, or black/African American, the let-at-least-a-couple-flowers-bloom approach strikes me as the clearly preferable one.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Lesbos:
  2. Another Word I Will Gladly Continue To Use:
Eric Muller (www):
Eugene, I find the language of your final sentence deeply insulting to the bison community.
7.25.2007 1:53pm
zooba:
After your numerous prescriptivist v. descriptivist posts, I find it incredulous that you can claim unilaterally prescriptively that homosexual is nonpejorative. And if you think that gays and lesbians secretly like to be called homosexuals, you obviously don't know that many gays and lesbians well.
7.25.2007 1:55pm
Yankev (mail):
What the heck is a "Christianist"? Is the writer implying a parallel between Islamists (who by deninition are willing to use murder, violence and terror to place the world under Islamic rule) and anyone (or at least any Christian) who entertains Judeo-Christian views about the morality of homosexual acts? If so, it seems the writer may have his own bigoted attitudes as well.
7.25.2007 1:57pm
cirby (mail):
zooba:

...and to some people who like to sleep with other people of the same sex, "gay" is offensive (or at least annoying), because it's too cheerful or nonserious or something. It seems to be a regional thing, as far as I can tell.

Quite a few PWLTSWOPOTSS don't like either category, and want NO reference to their sexuality. Not closeted, just really don't want the attention or pigeonholing.

It's like they were actual people, with variations in personal preferences, and not stereotypes or some monolithic social group with no free will.

Weird, huh?
7.25.2007 2:02pm
Kenvee:
It's odd, because I would never in a million years consider "homosexual" to be the perjorative term while "gay and lesbian" is the preferred one. I've far more often seen gay and lesbian used as insults and homosexual the simple descriptive. (Of course, anything can be used as an insult, but in general.)

Plus, it seems to me that homosexual is more inclusive. It's one of the options: homosexual, heterosexual, bi-sexual, etc. But while there's "gay", "lesbian", "transgendered", and all of the other choices, there isn't another term for people who prefer the opposite sex. (Polite, at least. ;)) So that implies that opposite-sex preference is the standard and everything else is a deviation from it, which hardly seems to be the message sought by the homosexual community.
7.25.2007 2:04pm
bjr26:
Eugene, you've previously argued that you'd consider abandoning a term for two reasons:

One . . . is when one term is so often used pejoratively that reasonable listeners might assume that the current user is using it pejoratively. Another is when the term is so archaic that it will make people wonder whether the speakers must have some ulterior motive in using it (the obvious motive, which is that it's a commonly used term that springs to people's minds naturally, being absent).

Isn't that what this commentor is arguing? Now, the commentor may be wrong about whether the term "homosexual" is really a flag for a Christianist or bigot, for the reasons you articulate, but that involves examining the evidence, rather than rejecting the argument as per se unpersuasive.

And about that evidence. While I'm not sure what Andrew Sullivan references or New York Times citations you found, I think the commentor is accurately describing not only the feelings of the overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians, but those of us who are active in the movement, who hear "homosexual" as an anachronism of a time when "homosexuality" was defined as a psychological disease.

I think the costs of switching here are relatively low -- please keep an open mind about whether you need to make a stand here.
7.25.2007 2:04pm
frankcross (mail):
Descriptively, words are used to communicate. At some point, the word communicates something pejorative. I trust you don't use the "N" word, EV. The issue is whether homosexual is in fact now a pejorative. Seems to me that depends on context, but in some contexts I would say it is. Although, oddly, the pronunciation of the word seems linked to whether it is pejorative. So long as you put the emphasis on the -sex- syllable and not the -mo- syllable, you're probably ok. But I'd generally steer clear of the word in public speaking, because of the prospect of misunderstanding.
7.25.2007 2:05pm
Spartacus (www):
I think the commentor is accurately describing not only the feelings of the overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians, but those of us who are active in the movement

I think EV made the point quite clearly that the commentor seems to represent only the latter group.
7.25.2007 2:07pm
WHOI Jacket:
Where does this leave Queer Theory?
7.25.2007 2:17pm
bittern (mail):
Yankev, you could read the original post to maybe find your answer, but EV did not link to it and I forget which thread it was on. So.

In your vision, do Judeo-Christian views about the morality of homosexual acts include authorization to use murder, violence and terror to tell gays &lesbians what to do? If yes, then perhaps the quotee would indeed consider people of your POV Christianists, Judeo-Christianists or the like. So few terms are well defined, what's the source of your definition of Islamist? Just curious; would like to know the firm ground.

On EV's supposed topic, the word homosexual sounds hyperscientific and I would think the closer parallel might be "negroid" which I doubt would be real popular. So I could see a bit of resistance.
7.25.2007 2:21pm
Yankev (mail):
Fracnkcross makes the excellent point that whether a word is perjorative often depends on intent and pronunciation. When I was in law school, a doctor at the U MN health service asked whether I was a "Hebrew" (I assume he needed to rule out certain genetic based diseases). I was amused by his attempt to avoid the term "Jew" -- apparently he was raised to consider the term rude and perjorative. And certainly it is when used as a verb or an adjective, or with a particular inflection. But most Jews I know consider the term Hebrew to be perjorative except when referring to language or alphabet.

So, since both terms can be considered perjorative, shall we ban both?
7.25.2007 2:22pm
Yankev (mail):

In your vision, do Judeo-Christian views about the morality of homosexual acts include authorization to use murder, violence and terror to tell gays &lesbians what to do?

In words of one syllable, Bittern, no.
7.25.2007 2:24pm
bittern (mail):

In words of one syllable, Bittern, no.


Then, Yankev, I believe the answer to your question is also "no."
7.25.2007 2:27pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
For those curious about my claims about Andrew Sullivan and others, here are a few excerpts. First, from an Andrew Sullivan article in The New Republic, Dec. 25, 2006:
What are Republicans going to do about homosexuals? The fact that this question has been asked repeatedly does not mean that anyone has yet given it a serious answer. There are, broadly speaking, two rival conservative factions on the subject: religious fundamentalists, who want to outlaw or deter homosexual love and sex on biblical or natural law grounds; and old-school conservatives, who want to treat the entire issue as a private matter--supporting public policy hostile to gay people and gay relationships while privately treating gay individuals with tact and respect....

All of these facts have been brought to public attention by Cheney herself. She has emphatically not chosen a path of complete privacy but has thrown herself into the political arena. No one can seriously claim that anyone is invading Cheney's privacy by debating her life and politics within the national debate about homosexuals' place in society. Here is a walking, talking, politicking piece of human reality....

One day, this will be the real conservative position on homosexuals as well as transgendered people: pro-family, pro-integration, pro-equality, and humane....


From The Advocate, July 13, 2007:
Holsinger wrote a paper in 1991 for a United Methodist Church committee that gay groups and others interpret as saying that homosexuals face a greater risk of disease and that homosexuality runs counter to anatomical truths.
From The Advocate, Jan. 29, 2007:
Best homosexuals on TV -- a list of personal favorites: ...

It's OK if you don't know the last two names. I assume the actors aren't gay. Who knows, really, but that's not the point. The point is that they play mutually disagreeable red-haired boyfriends on a new Comedy Central sitcom, The Sarah Silverman Program (premiering February 1 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern). And they're everything the gay characters on Queer as Folk and Will &Grace were too afraid and unimaginative and busy chasing their own boring tails to be: fat, bearded, nerdy, bickering, dude speaking, glasses wearing, karate chopping, video game playing, covertly masturbating, metal T-shirt--wearing malcontents. In other words, these are homosexuals I understand: My circle of friends finally represented fictionally on television. And I feel validated by a sitcom for the first time.
7.25.2007 2:28pm
Just Me:
I always find amusing that whenever someone says anything about a group of people someone rejoinds that if he thinks ____ think that he must not know very many ______. Surely even the most sociable person only knows several hundred or so people well enough to represent that he understands their thinking on a given subject. And its likley that person knows people mainly from his or her own area. I feel I know many gay and lesbian people, and I have a good idea what they think about labels. But I don't know, for example what older gays and lesbians think (most of my friends are young). Nor do I know what terms those that live on the other coast, or in the Mid-west would find acceptable. I find that those "in the movement" feel a lot more strongly about these things than those who are less active. Nonetheless, unlike EV, I am happy to call just about anyone just about anything because I don't want to offend. I would simply ask that when I, like EV here, am clearly not intending offense they not respond with deliberately offensive words like bigot.
7.25.2007 2:29pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I agree with Eugene that the term "homosexual" is perfectly fine.

Though, I think a more apt point would be those who refuse to use the word gay but insist on homosexual or otherwise put "gay" in quotation marks, often indicates bigotry.

I want to respect those whose worldview differs from mine, who hold legitimate convinctions on sexual moral issues. However, that still should not give carte blanch to gay bash with rhetoric.

I think antigay bigotry, like racism or antisemitism does exist. And not all bigots are like the KKK or Fred Phelps, who simply admit that they hate. Further I think constructive criticism of social groups can be non-bigoted, and often is valuable and needed. However, that criticism can cross the line into bigotry. And it can be hard to tell, indeed debatable, as to when the line is crossed, especially when those accused of bigotry are highly intelligent or intellectual types, who may have legitimate points intermixed with bigotry.

A textbook example of this difficulty is Bill Buckley's book In Search of AntiSemitism where he sought to answer whether his friends Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran were indeed anti-Semites (or were they intellectuals, with a different, but still socially respectable, point of view?). Buckley's book, as far as I remember, gave a seemingly convoluted answer to the question.

But if I may point out indicators of what I think signifies antigay bigotry, they are as follows:

1) If someone insists on calling homosexuals "sodomites";

2) the repeated use of Paul Cameron's phony reduced lifespan figures (between 39-43) for homosexuals;

3) the facile equation of male homosexuality with anal sex;

4) the attempt to "deconstruct" the homosexual person, claiming that no homosexual persons exists only chosen homosexual acts (and yes, I know gay/queer theorist like Foucault have pioneered this argument);

5) the use of a variety of buzzwords or buzzphrases about homosexuals "recruiting" children into the "lifestyle" or otherwise preying on children.
7.25.2007 2:31pm
FantasiaWHT:
Yankev- how do you use "Jew" as a verb?

Also, it's interesting to think about the different associations with calling someone "Jewish" vs. "A Jew"
7.25.2007 2:32pm
The McGehee (mail) (www):
All the tenth-generation Scottish-Americans I know dislike the word "floogelnorf."

All the ninth- and eleventh-generation Scottish-Americans I know think all the tenth-generation Scottish-Americans I know are a bunch of floogelforfing crybabies.
7.25.2007 2:34pm
sjalterego (mail):
Well I do know that those who are actively involved in the anti-homosexuality movement dislike and think it pejorative to be called bigots, homophobic, fag haters etc. Therefore, I think not only "the overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians, but [also] those ... who are active in the movement" should refrain from calling those in the anti-homosexuality movement such names/words. They should use the preferred term "right thinking Americans".
7.25.2007 2:34pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
The notion that changing the word will change perceptions is so essentially Orwellian that it is downright funny. In 1984, the government seeks to abolish all improper ways of thinking by abolishing some words, so that it was impossible to think in certain ways. The effort to replace the value neutral "homosexual" with "gay" was part of that Orwellian effort to make homosexuality perceived in a positive way.

When my daughter was in middle school, I was horrified to hear her use the term "gay" as an insult: "That's so gay." I explained to her that one can disapprove of homosexuality without making an adjective describing it into an insult. Homosexuals had achieved their goal--replacing a neutral word with a positive word--but they hadn't changed fundamental attitudes. This was in a community that prided itself on being pro-gay, with schools breaking state law to promote homosexuality without warning parents in advance.

Maybe homosexuals should stop emulating Big Brother, and ask themselves why changing the word doesn't fix the attitudes? Or would that provoke too much introspection?
7.25.2007 2:35pm
Steve L (mail):
John Aravosis, a leading gay rights spokesman, at Americablog attacked this point directly. If you need proof, his argument is here:

In this article at americablog.com

Pretty much explains to you that your point is absolutely wrong.
7.25.2007 2:36pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:

But if I may point out indicators of what I think signifies antigay bigotry, they are as follows:

1) If someone insists on calling homosexuals "sodomites";
The only reason to do this might be in a discussion of the classical period, where there was a pretty clear distinction between sodomites and catamites. (Homosexual activists used to use classical period homosexuality as a justification for modern homoseuxuality--ignoring that during much of the classical period, it was a lot closer to NAMBLA than an equal relationship.)

2) the repeated use of Paul Cameron's phony reduced lifespan figures (between 39-43) for homosexuals;
You claim it's phony. Evidence? Or did the vast number of homosexual men who died of AIDS in their 30s and 40s not affect average lifespans?

3) the facile equation of male homosexuality with anal sex;
Oh? You mean most homosexual men don't have anal sex? You sure you want to defend that position?

4) the attempt to "deconstruct" the homosexual person, claiming that no homosexual persons exists only chosen homosexual acts (and yes, I know gay/queer theorist like Foucault have pioneered this argument);
So Foucault was an anti-homosexual bigot?

5) the use of a variety of buzzwords or buzzphrases about homosexuals "recruiting" children into the "lifestyle" or otherwise preying on children.
Except that you know that there are homosexual men (and some lesbian women) who prey on children. It isn't a majority; it is probably not even a large minority. But there's a reason that homoseuxals use the term "chickenhawk," and it isn't because they are describing rare members of their community, or the imaginings of anti-homosexual bigots.
7.25.2007 2:45pm
Waldensian (mail):

But if I may point out indicators of what I think signifies antigay bigotry, they are as follows:

There is another crystal clear indicator that someone is a bigot: the "I'm not...but" lead-in to a sentence. This is quite common. As in:

"I'm not a racist but..."
[Translation: "I am a racist because I think that...."]

"I don't want to be sexist but...."
[Translation: "I have sexist views, including...."]

"I'm not a homophobe but..."
[Translation: "I dislike homosexuals so I think that...."]

An equally clear tip-off is the multi-purpose corollary:

"I think they [insert group] should have the same rights as everyone else but..."
7.25.2007 2:48pm
jim:
Perhaps besides the point, but doesn't the word homosexual refer to a broad sexual orientation, while gay and lesbian refer to more specific sexual identities?

A fine point, I know, but occasionally relevant: Such as when the speaker does not care to imply socially constructed identities, when speaking about people who lived before the gay and lesbian identity movements, or when speaking about people in the context of a culture that has different types and concepts for sexuality.
7.25.2007 2:51pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Waldensian writes:

An equally clear tip-off is the multi-purpose corollary:

"I think they [insert group] should have the same rights as everyone else but..."
This is fun! "I think police offficers should have the same rights as everyone else but they shouldn't be subject to arrest for carrying a gun." Does that make gun control advocates into bigots?
7.25.2007 2:57pm
TerrencePhilip:
I think "homosexual" is an old-school word, you will see people like Judge Posner using it (in contexts where they engage in nonjudgmental discussion of the topic). It is not offensive in itself, or at least has not been perceived that way until recently; it is the kind of term educated people would have used in place of more pejorative older terms like sodomite, etc. Maybe it is now being driven out of the bounds of acceptable language as "negro" and "colored" were; it is just part of the evolution of culture and language, I guess.
7.25.2007 3:00pm
OrinKerr:
Frank Cross writes:
The issue is whether homosexual is in fact now a pejorative. Seems to me that depends on context, but in some contexts I would say it is. . . . I'd generally steer clear of the word in public speaking, because of the prospect of misunderstanding.
FWIW, I think that's right.
7.25.2007 3:01pm
e:
You can call me heterosexual. "Straight" doesn't really bother me, but I'd prefer a less silly and euphemistic word. I'd prefer to leave that word to its other meanings. Maybe straight is the opposite of bent, maybe in some circles it is thought of as closed-minded, or dull. I really don't usually define myself by sexuality, but when categorization is called for, I'd prefer accuracy to ambiguous and juvenile language. If others use hetero as insult, that's their problem. For those who like or need labels, don't limit my use of accurate language or appropriate otherwise non-descriptive words. Keep your neuroses to yourself. You can call yourself a non-breeder American if it makes you gay, but that path is already crowded and in sore need of repair. I'm an often happy non-breeder American. You can call me a bigot or an atheist Christianist fag if you wish, though I might disagree. You can call me heterosexual if it strikes your fancy. At least that would be accurate, even though I generally prefer for strangers to stay outside of my bedroom.
7.25.2007 3:02pm
SteveW:
Mayor Jim Naugle of Fort Lauderdale, FL, is in hot water with his local gay community partly because of his use of the word "homosexual," instead of "gay." Here's how it was reported in the Sun-Sentinel:

[Naugle] angered many in the South Florida gay community last week when he said, "I don't use the word 'gay.' I use the word 'homosexual.' Most of them aren't gay. They're unhappy."

Naugle made the comments when talking about his support of a proposed $250,000 robotic restroom on the beach. The self-cleaning contraption would have a door that automatically opens after a set time. Naugle said the Robo-John could help curb "homosexual activity" in public bathrooms.
7.25.2007 3:05pm
El Blogero (mail):
Great post. Now, can you take on the absurd pseudo-word "homophobia." As far as I can tell, this pseudo-word means either "fear of the same" or, more shockingly, "fear of homos." If it is the latter, it would be first time in modern times that a slur (homo) was included in a politically correct word. Also, what exactly does "fear" in this context mean? Isn't the intended term prejudice, dislike or even hate? What does fear have to do with it, and why would anyone recoil at being told that he or she "fears" a group (compare this to being called a racist, for example)?
7.25.2007 3:08pm
SteveW:
What the heck is a "Christianist"? Is the writer implying a parallel between Islamists (who by deninition are willing to use murder, violence and terror to place the world under Islamic rule) and anyone (or at least any Christian) who entertains Judeo-Christian views about the morality of homosexual acts? If so, it seems the writer may have his own bigoted attitudes as well.


Where did you get that definition of Islamist?

My understanding is that the popular definition of Islamist (as opposed to Muslim) is one who wants the government to impose Islamic religious law on the general population. Some people have started to use the word Christianist to mean one whose advocacy for particular governmental policies is motivated solely by his or her religious beliefs.

At least that's how the words commonly are used on the blogosphere. Islamist and Christianist are mostly used for negative criticism.
7.25.2007 3:19pm
NickM (mail) (www):
A person using the term "Christianist" calls someone else a bigot. Oh, the irony.

Nick
7.25.2007 3:23pm
liberty (mail) (www):
1. It really seems like an onion article, not a real concern. I find it astounding that so many of you are willing to go along with this absurd PC notion that we have to change the totally objective term "homosexual" to pander to a few loonies who have a problem with it. It isn't a word with a pejorative meaning or usage history-- it has a literal meaning and has been used in the most objective contexts, unlike words like "fag" and "queer" and "dyke" and "fairy" and "lesbo" and those kinds of words which though some have been turned around, are clearly the preferred pejorative terms.

2. If we can't use homosexual, then I guess we can't use heterosexual either? What about asexual? Do we need to re-write our science books? What do we call plants with "reproduction that occurs without the union of male and female gametes"?
7.25.2007 3:24pm
Houston Lawyer:
There are lots of pejoratives for homosexuals. I found it odd that younger people had started using gay as a pejorative in a non-sexual sense. If someone wants to use one, they clearly know how to.

If people want to run around making ever more fanciful terms to call themselves, such as African American, they shouldn't expect the rest of us to keep up.
7.25.2007 3:26pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
SteveW: Isn't the mayor in hot water more because he publicly says most gays are unhappy, presumably because he thinks there's something bad about homosexuality?
7.25.2007 3:27pm
frankcross (mail):
For the record Cameron's data is pretty dubious. I'll skip over the foreign data, but his US study relied on
obituary data from the Washington Blade (which does not publish a regular obituary section equivalent to those found in general distribution papers. This is not the sort of representative sample on which one can draw conclusions for the general population.

The simple lack of representativeness is alone a problem (like an internet poll), but the methodology had several skewing factors. For example, it covers only "newsworthy" deaths, which may be influenced by youth. It wouldn't include closeted gays, who may well be less likely to contract AIDS. And if older gays are more likely to be closeted than younger ones, that would create an enormous bias in the average age of death research.
7.25.2007 3:28pm
JC:
Whether or not speakers manage to adopt whatever new descriptive term a particular group (or vocal subset of a particular group) is advocating, my sense is that the advocacy itself is ultimately counterproductive.

When speakers are constantly on guard to avoid using a term that might be construed as impolite or hostile to a particular group, they are inevitably less comfortable around members of that group. The doctor had to struggle to find an appropriate term for "Jewish", for example, was probably less comfortable with his Jewish patients not because he was prejudiced but because he was always on guard to avoid uttering an offensive term. Similarly, I would expect that folks that work with openly gay colleagues are less likely to bond if they are trying to remember to avoid the word "homosexual". Particularly for those individuals that know that their social skills are below average, given the tremendous cost of being viewed as a bigot, the easiest option is to avoid unnecessary interactions with any coworker that isn't just like them. Over time, that sort of social discomfort is going to lead to cliques that end up disfavoring the minority group members when it comes time to hand out praise and promotions.
7.25.2007 3:29pm
Ken Arromdee:

"I'm not a racist but..."
[Translation: "I am a racist because I think that...."]


That doesn't mean "I am a racist". It means "I know some people will call me a racist". They may do so truthfully or falsely. And if it's falsely, saying something you know will be falsely called racist doesn't mean you are one.
7.25.2007 3:30pm
Rick Wilcox (www):
SteveW:
Come on, you posted the full context of the quote and you still think the outrage is over the word "homosexual"?

What's kind of sick about this is that an accurate gender-neutral term is going to get trampled because of the stigma bigots attach to it. I suppose Hindus need to stop using the swastika, children's underwear or swimwear ads need to be banned because pedophiles and ephebophiles pleasure themselves while looking them over, and holy Hell what are pansexuals (like myself) allowed to call themselves these days?

I'll stop using the accurate word "homosexual" when I stop hearing "heteronormative" and "het(ero)" used as insults.
7.25.2007 3:36pm
Rick Wilcox (www):
Addendum to my previous post:

Well, looks like EV and liberty beat me to it. That'll teach me to post from work.
7.25.2007 3:38pm
Philistine (mail):
El Blogero:


Also, what exactly does "fear" in this context mean? Isn't the intended term prejudice, dislike or even hate? What does fear have to do with it, and why would anyone recoil at being told that he or she "fears" a group (compare this to being called a racist, for example)?


Isn't "prejudice, dislike or even hate" pretty much the settled definition of "phobia" in the word "xenophobia"?
7.25.2007 3:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

For the record Cameron's data is pretty dubious. I'll skip over the foreign data, but his US study relied on
obituary data from the Washington Blade (which does not publish a regular obituary section equivalent to those found in general distribution papers. This is not the sort of representative sample on which one can draw conclusions for the general population.
This would seem like a valid criticism. Nonetheless: did or did not AIDS cause a dramatic increase in death rates for homosexual and bisexual men, many of them dying decades younger than natural causes? If it had only killed off .01% of gay men, I rather doubt AIDS would have been the profound political cause that it became.
7.25.2007 3:39pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Isn't "prejudice, dislike or even hate" pretty much the settled definition of "phobia" in the word "xenophobia"?
Phobia in the psychological sense refers to an irrational fear. People with agoraphobia develop cold sweats or panic attacks from going into large open spaces.

In the political sense that it is now commonly used, it only means disapproval. The vast majority of people accused of "homophobia" aren't afraid of homosexuals; they just don't approve of either homosexual behavior or of the totalitarian tendencies that homosexual activists display.
7.25.2007 3:45pm
Dave N (mail):
Eugene didn't post the link--and the quoted language was in response to one of my posts. For a frame of reference, I will include the relevant parts of all 3. These can all be found toward the end of the thread in EV's 7/24 post entitled "Bloggers and Campaign Finance Laws"

These are the relevant portions of the various posts:

RandyR: "And we have often seen from Christianists, men who rail on about gays have often proven to be gay themselves."

My Response: "[R}efering to Christians as Christianists shows a profound lack of respect for people of faith--but I suspect you already knew that and were trying to be provocative."

RandyR: "I do have a respect for people of faith, including Christians. I have no respect for an entirely different breed called Christianists. . . .
A person who spouts bigots comments may call himself whatever he likes, but I will call him a racist. (And I don't do so lightly, or at least I try not to!) A person who hate gays may call himself whatever he likes, but he's still a bigot. And a person who calls himself a Christian but wants to regulate everyone else's life to conform to his religious views is a Christianist."

The last quoted language is found three paragraphs before the languge EV quotes.

For those interested in the "Christianist" context of the quote, I hope this is helpful.
7.25.2007 3:49pm
Philistine (mail):

Phobia in the psychological sense refers to an irrational fear. People with agoraphobia develop cold sweats or panic attacks from going into large open spaces.


Generally, sure.

But that is not the case with the term xenophobia, at least. Which has (AFAICT) always meant fear and/or contempt of the foreign or different. This meaning has been general long before "homophobia" became a common term.
7.25.2007 3:50pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I'll stop using the accurate word "homosexual" when I stop hearing "heteronormative" and "het(ero)" used as insults.
And what's really sad about this is that as homosexuality has gone from something unlawful and which was generally looked down upon to its current status (legally equal in most states, and socially completely equal even in very conservative places like Idaho), the ferocity of the homosexual rage has gotten much worse.

If the sort of weird insulting stuff like calling ideas "heteronormative" were coming from the pre-Stonewall generation, who truly suffered from governmental and societal mistreatment, it would be understandable. But why is the generation that has grown up in a society that is generally at least as supportive of homosexuality as of heterosexuality ranting about these things?
7.25.2007 3:53pm
AF:
Consider the adjectives "Jew" and "homosexual," used to identify an individual person -- eg, "Barney Frank, a homosexual Jew Congressman from Massachusetts."

1) Which, if either, of these usages should be avoided?

2) If one should be avoided and the other should not, is that because, as an empirical matter, one is more likely to be perceived as bigoted than the other?

3) If the answer to question (2) is yes, should one reconsider one's answer to question (1) upon receiving new information about how the usage is likely to be perceived in a particular context?
7.25.2007 3:56pm
jim:

Isn't "prejudice, dislike or even hate" pretty much the settled definition of "phobia" in the word "xenophobia"?


I would say that xenophobia is generally used to describe prejudice that arises from a fear of things (people) unknown. Or at least that is the heavy connotation.

Use of the term homophobia to describe prejudice against gays thus seems to imply that such prejudices arise from unfamiliarity or fear. This is likely the case in many situations, but patently not the case in others.

On the other hand, the form of the word racism would seem to indicate hatred arising from an ideology which uses race as a fundemental criteria for explaining the world, and yet the word has long since ceased to be constrained to that definition.
7.25.2007 3:57pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

But that is not the case with the term xenophobia, at least. Which has (AFAICT) always meant fear and/or contempt of the foreign or different. This meaning has been general long before "homophobia" became a common term.
I'm curious: did xenophobia come out of psychology's clinical use of the term? Liberals now use it to mean anyone that believes we should enforce laws against illegal immigration, to the point where it means nothing at all, just like the continual misuse of "racist" and "homophobia" have rendered these words almost meaningless.
7.25.2007 3:57pm
Grange95 (mail):
Hmm, if I read this correctly, it looks like you are advocating what I would call the defense of "blame the listener"--if someone is offended by your language, it is never your fault for choosing that language, it is their fault for being offended by it.

To summarize the argument, it apparently doesn't matter to you if members of a group feel your language is insulting, unless they somehow can prove that some supermajority of the group shares the same view. And even if the group does show to your satisfaction that almost all of the group agrees that your language is insulting (or demeaning, or otherwise impolite), that fact is insufficient by itself to make you change your language usage even though you are fully aware it is insulting or impolite.

If this is truly your position, then you logically must agree that it is acceptable in general discourse to use any offensive racial, ethnic, sexual, or religious language you want, so long as your intent was not to offend. Never mind that the listener perceives your language to have negative or pejorative connotations, or that you could express your point equally well without use of the offending language. Because your intent trumps all, the listener must tolerate your offensive language.

I doubt this is your true position on the issue, and I think that the problem in your argument is giving too little credence to the views of the group in question. If a significant portion (not even a majority) of a group finds a particular word or phrase to be offensive, one should no longer use that word or phrase in polite discourse. To do otherwise marks one as impolite or insensitive at best, and mean-spirited or bigoted at worst.
7.25.2007 3:58pm
The General:
The main problem is that too many HOMOSEXUALS/GAYS/LESBIANS, etc, think that if someone doesn't think that homosexuality/gayness/lesbianness is just super and should be promoted at all costs and says so, then that person is somehow a bigot and a hater that needs to be exposed as such. They're too small-minded or intolerant to the view that there can be non-bigoted reasons to oppose such behavior and related policies. Really, the name-calling is just a way to silence political opponents rather than making actual arguments, i.e., "Agree or you're a bigot." Until there can be real discussion and debate over the merits of the issues involved, all we're gonna see is more name-calling and nothing will be accomplished.
7.25.2007 3:58pm
SteveW:
Isn't the mayor in hot water more because he publicly says most gays are unhappy, presumably because he thinks there's something bad about homosexuality?


He's in hot water with the gay community for several reasons. The robotic bathroom and his use of the word "homosexual" are only part of the problem. Also, I should stress that Naugle intentionally uses the word "homosexual" in a pejorative way. As you noted in your original post, "[T]here are clearly pejorative ways to use certain words (including 'gay,' 'lesbian,' or anything else)."
7.25.2007 4:02pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Which groups are entitled to be offended, and by whom? A great many activist "gays and lesbians" love to label anybody opposed to ANY of their political agendas as "homophobic," a very inaccurate label. Indeed, most of the group-identity activists in this country are perfectly comfortable labeling all those who oppose their various political agendas, or their fundamental effort to identify themselves primarily by their group membership, as being bigoted, racist, "homophobic," and similar outrageous terms. Am I entitled to be offended? Can I object to their language, and if I do, must the rest of the public bend to my will?

If, as an earlier commenter suggested, most individuals who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex mostly wanted to be treated as individuals rather than categorized primarily by their sexual orientation (which I think they do), then perhaps the activist groups which purport to represent them should stop being so strident in demanding special laws for them precisely BECAUSE of their sexual orientation.

Finally, ANY term can be said in a derogatory manner. As others have pointed out, "gay" can and often is pronounced in a sneering, contemptuous manner. "Homosexual" can be said offensively even when the accented syllable is "sex" rather than "ho" (think of the reverend in The Simpsons going on about "homoSEXuals").

As a general rule, I'm all for calling groups what they prefer to be called. I've previously argued on this blog that "pro life" and "pro choice" are the appropriate labels to use for their respective adherents, because they both suggest the positive viewpoint of that general collection of policy positions. But this can be taken to extreme, particularly where, as the post notes, there's an extensive amount of evidence that there is not unity among the group as to which is the "preferred" term. It's foolish to waste political capital demonizing people who may well be on your side politically for using the "improper" term. If I'm a legislator stuck in the middle of, say, a gay marriage issue, and I'm wavering and might go either way, getting dressed down for saying something "offensive" when I had no intent at all to offend would tick me off pretty bad, and probably make me less likely to side with that advocacy group's desires.

Plus, this sort of obsessive focus on language trivializes political debate and helps turn elections into relentless "gotcha" sessions which focus not on substantive policies but on catching candidates in "mistakes" which can easily be reduced to sound bites.
7.25.2007 4:09pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
They're too small-minded or intolerant to the view that there can be non-bigoted reasons to oppose such behavior and related policies.

Well, let's hear your reasons and give specific examples where you think someone said something defensible but was shouted down by being called a bigot.
7.25.2007 4:14pm
bjr26:
Eugene, thanks for the citations to Sullivan and the Advocate. But do you think they suffice to demonstrate convincingly that "homosexual" is in widespread use among the -- ah, let's us "LGBT" for now -- community? I could point you to this Wikipedia entry on the word "gay":

"Some people reject the term homosexual as an identity-label because they find it too clinical-sounding. They believe it is too focused on physical acts rather than romance or attraction, or too reminiscent of the era when homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Conversely, some people find the term gay to be offensive or reject it as an identity-label because they perceive the cultural connotations to be undesirable or because of the negative connotations of the slang usage of the word.

According to the Safe Schools Coalition of Washington's Glossary for School Employees:

" Homosexual: Avoid this term; it is clinical, distancing and archaic. Sometimes appropriate in referring to behavior (although same-sex is the preferred adj.). When referring to people, as opposed to behavior, homosexual is considered derogatory and the terms gay and lesbian are preferred, at least in the Northwest [of the United States]. "
—Safe School Coalition, Glossary for School Employees

I think the Safe School Coalition hits the mark here. The phrase "incidence of homosexuality" is less offensive than, say, "according to Professor William Eskeridge, a homosexual, same-sex marriage should be . . ." So I ask again: are the costs really that high to switching to "gay and lesbian" for general usage?
7.25.2007 4:15pm
Guestius:
You're missing the point of the original comment. The point was not to make people change the terms they are using. The point was to undermine political opponents by grouping them as "bigot[s]" and "Christianist[s]" based on their use of a common term. In other words, it's an ad-hom.

By fighting on the merits of the term you're missing the larger point.
7.25.2007 4:22pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Clayton: The CDC reports that there were 450,000 AIDS deaths from 1981 to 2000, and 40% of them stemmed from infections from male-to-male sex. Taking 4% as the best estimate of the U.S. male population that's gay, we're talking roughly 200,000 premature deaths from AIDS out of a population of roughly 6 million. (All numbers rough, since more precise numbers would be misleading.) Taking life expectancy at birth being roughly 75, and assuming that the average AIDS victim died at 35 (warning: guess, but I suspect a guess that's a bit on the low side), that's a life expectancy decline for gays of (75-35) * 200,000/6M = about 1 to 2 years.

Naturally, this doesn't speak to any other possible causes of lower life expectancy; but it does suggest that it is not sound to argue:
You claim [Paul Cameron's reduced lifespan figures (between 39-43) for homosexuals) are] phony. Evidence? Or did the vast number of homosexual men who died of AIDS in their 30s and 40s not affect average lifespans?
7.25.2007 4:23pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

3) the facile equation of male homosexuality with anal sex;

Oh? You mean most homosexual men don't have anal sex? You sure you want to defend that position?


No. John Corvino has a great article on why it's inaccurate to define gay men = anal sex. The simple reason is some/many, even if a statistical minority, don't have anal sex. As Corvino put it:


For me, being gay means that I like guys. It means that I like guys—I have crushes on them, I fall in love with them (one in particular), I want to "get physical" with them. It doesn't specify how I should do this.
7.25.2007 4:24pm
frankcross (mail):
Something overlooked, but significant, is that it matters who's doing the speaking. I was advising a conservative student arguing in a debate against gay marriage and suggested he say "gay" rather than "homosexual." I would not have given the same advice to the advocate for the other side. Because if Andrew Sullivan uses the word, you know it's not pejorative. If a speaker taking an "anti" position uses the word, people will react more negatively. Some of the people you are trying to persuade will question your credibility, wonder about your attitude. If such a speaker uses "gay" instead of "homosexual" that is signaling to the audience that he isn't hateful and is respectful of gays, but simply believes that marriage goes too far and they will think harder about that position.

Some will get all upset at this distinction, I suspect, on some sort of high-horsed principle. But language is about effective communication, in this case, persuasion. And the strategic tactic was to use the word gay.
7.25.2007 4:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Some people reject the term homosexual as an identity-label because they find it too clinical-sounding. They believe it is too focused on physical acts rather than romance or attraction, or too reminiscent of the era when homosexuality was considered a mental illness.
If you read articles like this one on Volokh Conspiracy, you can see why some people think it is about "physical acts rather than romance or attraction...."

I'm sure that there are homosexual men who hook with one partner, and stay with that person for years or decades. But from what I have seen living in the Bay Area, completely anonymous sex--sometimes with persons that the recipient of anal sex never even sees face to face--are pretty typical male homosexuality.
7.25.2007 4:50pm
abb3w:
For anyone who's still looking, the original comment.

Clayton E. Cramer: (more or less)
Philistine:
Isn't "prejudice, dislike or even hate" pretty much the settled definition of "phobia" in the word "xenophobia"?
Phobia in the psychological sense refers to an irrational fear. People with agoraphobia develop cold sweats or panic attacks from going into large open spaces.

In the political sense that it is now commonly used, it only means disapproval. The vast majority of people accused of "homophobia" aren't afraid of homosexuals; they just don't approve of either homosexual behavior or of the totalitarian tendencies that homosexual activists display.
I'll agree with Clayton that "irrational" is key to the definition, in all usage. I don't have a phobia about hitting the ground at a couple hundred miles per second, nor about a dynamite-strapped <ethnic> standing next to me; merely an ordinary fear. Remove the speed or dynamite, and I'm not bothered. On the other hand, I believe Philistine's position is closer overall (and the position less prejudicial). While clinical psychiatric terminology usually restricts "phobia" terminology to only only fear-based aversions, more casual usage in wider society includes irrational reactions of hatred as well.

While I have no Psych or Medical qualifications (I'm just a well-read computer geek), I'd suspect that both such fear and hate reactions are subspecies of a broader category, since adrenalin may cause either "flight or fight" reactions; I suspect the clinical meaning is limited due to the relative frequency of cases sufficiently disabling as to require treatment. This shouldn't be taken to mean that I believe every whatever-phobe qualifies as having a mental disorder; some may be the result of an unconsidered educationally ingrained response, such as the early 17th century aversion to tomatoes in belief they were poisonous.
7.25.2007 4:50pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Naturally, this doesn't speak to any other possible causes of lower life expectancy...
You are correct; AIDS should not have caused a dramatic reduction in average lifespan. Alcohol and drug abuse are well-established to be much more common among homosexuals (both male and female), as is smoking. Those might make more of a difference than AIDS in reducing lifespan.

I would agree in any case that relying on obits from a gay newspaper is unlikely to produce particularly trustworthy data.
7.25.2007 4:53pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

No. John Corvino has a great article on why it's inaccurate to define gay men = anal sex. The simple reason is some/many, even if a statistical minority, don't have anal sex.
Still, the equation of "gay men = anal sex" is no more bigotry than the equation of "straight couples = vaginal intercourse." There are straight couples that have not yet had vaginal intercourse (so that both can pretend to themselves that they are still virgins), but it is a large enough majority that do have vaginal intercourse (at least occasionally) that it is a fair assumption.
7.25.2007 4:58pm
GayRoger:
I've read that AmericaBlog post before, I think it's absolutely right. Go read it, if you haven't already. But I do have a few other thoughts.

There's a difficulty in classifying people into different sexual orientations. I see at least three possible ways to do so:
1) based on behavior,
2) based on desire, or
3) based on self-identification.

Depending which method of classification you use, you could end up with very different groups of gays. The groups you might see switch between "gay" and "not gay" according to system are people who have sex with persons of the same sex; and people who acknowledge sexual desire for persons of the same sex, while consciously rejecting those desires, as manifested in behavior or self-identification.

I don't believe 'homosexual' and 'gay' describe the same group. Because of the clinical/psychological setting 'homosexual' arose from, I believe it tends to describe groups based on (1) or (2). These are the more objective categorizations, I think (e.g., (2) might be measured physiologically). 'Gay' tends to describe (3).

Personally, I take issue with 'homosexual' because it's tied to its clinical roots. When people use the term (outside of a clinical setting), I perceive the speaker as focusing my identity on my acts or my reactions to particular stimuli—while identity seems more correctly determined based on personal viewpoints and self-description. When I say, "I am gay," I assert more than sexual attraction or activity; calling me 'homosexual' removes the nuance and reduces me only to sexual attraction or activity, in a way I find demeaning.

As a practical matter, I think people know that the thought of two men engaging in anal sex causes visceral disgust for many; those who wish to use 'homosexual' pejoratively enjoy the 'homosex' emphasis, and gay rights activists probably prefer 'gay' to dissociate gay people from that visceral reaction.
7.25.2007 5:02pm
El Blogero (mail):
Re the comments on my comment:

1. Xenophobia is specifically meant to describe an irrational fear. People who use it in the "dislike, prejudice, hate" construct are in fact adding to the definition.

2. In any event, the xenophobia example still illustrates my point: first, "homophobia" is an absurd pseudo-word because the prefix either means "same" or, at best, "derogatory term for homosexuals"; second, the whole word means "fear of," but the "dislike, prejudice, hate" construct is being added much the same as in xenophobia, without foundation.
7.25.2007 5:07pm
Townleybomb (mail) (www):
frankcross--

That's a very good point, but I think that it's just as true on the flipside. As an earlier commenter put it:

"If I'm a legislator stuck in the middle of, say, a gay marriage issue, and I'm wavering and might go either way, getting dressed down for saying something "offensive" when I had no intent at all to offend would tick me off pretty bad, and probably make me less likely to side with that advocacy group's desires."

To the extent that people who make arguments like this are interested in serious dialogue (rather than Clayton Craymeresque venting, which I think is more often the case), I think that they're ultimately self-defeating.

And to add the obligatory 'azza' statement, as a homosexual man, I see absolutely nothing at all offensive in the use of that term.
7.25.2007 5:11pm
BEB (www):
Does all this mean that whenever one of my gay and lesbian friends refer to themselves as "homosexual", I can can call them "self hating gays/lesbians"?
7.25.2007 5:19pm
Christian K:
Love the post + thread, great conversation.

My own opinion as a gay man: I have never heard a gay man or woman refer to themselves or other gays or lesbians as "homosexual", except in a self deprecating or mocking fashion. When I do hear someone refer to gay men or women as a "homosexual" or refer to "homosexuals" as a group, I assume the person is bigoted against gay men and lesbians.

Also re:


The General:
The main problem is that too many HOMOSEXUALS/GAYS/LESBIANS, etc, think that if someone doesn't think that homosexuality/gayness/lesbianness is just super and should be promoted at all costs and says so, then that person is somehow a bigot and a hater that needs to be exposed as such. They're too small-minded or intolerant to the view that there can be non-bigoted reasons to oppose such behavior and related policies. Really, the name-calling is just a way to silence political opponents rather than making actual arguments, i.e., "Agree or you're a bigot." Until there can be real discussion and debate over the merits of the issues involved, all we're gonna see is more name-calling and nothing will be accomplished.


I agree completely! That is the opinion of most gay men and lesbians (mine as well), if you don't agree that gay men and lesbians should be able to live their lives free from prejudice or discrimination, you are bigoted. However, I would not call it "small minded" just morally superior.
7.25.2007 5:27pm
Seamus (mail):
After your numerous prescriptivist v. descriptivist posts, I find it incredulous that you can claim unilaterally prescriptively that homosexual is nonpejorative.

"Incredulous" is not a synonym for "incredible."
7.25.2007 5:37pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
"Still, the equation of "gay men = anal sex" is no more bigotry...."

The antigay types I'm thinking of really don't follow that kind of nuanced reasoning (i.e., many gay men have anal sex, so we can reasonably make a connection between the two) but equate the two as synonymous while often ignoring oral sex or lesbianism.

If any sexual behavior ought to be equated with gay male sexuality it's oral sex because that, unlike anal sex, is nearly universally practiced by gay men. It's also the way lesbians have sex and between 85-90% of heterosexuals do too.

Yet, the antigay types I'm thinking of don't do this because it's not divisive enough and can't be used to score rhetorical points.
7.25.2007 5:59pm
TheGoodReverend (mail) (www):
I think homosexual is less offensive as an adjective than as a noun. That might be an important distinction to draw.
7.25.2007 6:06pm
Sebastian Holsclaw (mail):
Strange, I'm homosexual (and because this may be a regional difference) from southern California.

My general understanding of the terms has always been that 'homosexual' identified people who engaged in sexual activity with members of their own sex. 'Gay' was used to describe the society, culture, and brotherhood of homosexuals.
7.25.2007 6:32pm
Ramza:
The way I see it is that usually/originally

Homosexual is used in a medical/psychological sense. A man who is attracted to men, or a women who is attracted to women. Sometimes it includes bisexuals sometimes the word homosexual doesn't.

Gay on the other hand is related to a social construct. A person who accepts he is gay, and then uses that term to describe himself or something related to him. Sometimes the word gay is not used to describe homosexuals but things people associate with homosexuals (even if it isn't related), such as "That is so gay."

To put it simply, Ted Haggard may be a homosexual, but he would never call himself gay.

----------------------

And I agree with the original poster Eugene was commenting on. Often "Christianists" (a recent made up poltical word that is no longer a creation and has its own set meaning) use homosexual far more often than they would use the word gay. Additionally they say it with disdain in their voice. Identifying non-christianist organizations such as the NYT who sometimes use homosexual misses the point, sometimes the NYT uses homosexual, sometimes gay, it isn't the amount of useages but the ratio.

Of course this is a "general rule" and there are plenty of exceptions.
7.25.2007 6:35pm
HidingMyName:
Why must we pretend that we approve of all other groups? While our society requires that we treat each other civilly, why must we constantly test our attitudes to ensure that we hold no negative feelings toward some group?

I have occasionally mentioned to gay friends that I think homosexuality is yucky -- but that I think broccoli is yucky as well. I hate broccoli, but that has no effect on our relationship. Likewise, there is no reason that I need to approve or condone their sexuality, because the relationship I share with that friend has nothing to do with sexuality.

Whether it's working in the same office or playing softball, his homosexuality and my heterosexuality never enter into it. And thus, my (lack of) appreciation of his sexuality doesn't affect how we interact, just as his sexuality itself doesn't harm me.

Perhaps I am a bigot, but I don't like homosexuality. That's my problem, not theirs. I will continue to treat gays civilly, and I hope that I will continue to have rewarding relationships with them. But I don't want to live in a society that expects me to like it.
7.25.2007 6:44pm
Randy R. (mail):
Pat: "If, as an earlier commenter suggested, most individuals who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex mostly wanted to be treated as individuals rather than categorized primarily by their sexual orientation (which I think they do), then perhaps the activist groups which purport to represent them should stop being so strident in demanding special laws for them precisely BECAUSE of their sexual orientation."

Excellent argument Pat, and one I agree with. But please tell, what specific laws are gays asking for that striaght people don't already have?

the General: "The main problem is that too many HOMOSEXUALS/GAYS/LESBIANS, etc, think that if someone doesn't think that homosexuality/gayness/lesbianness is just super and should be promoted at all costs and says so, then that person is somehow a bigot and a hater that needs to be exposed as such."

You are almost correct, General. Gays think homosexuality is just super for gays. Whether it should be promoted at ALL costs, I don't know, but it certainly shouldn't be repressed. Gays, on the other hand, have no interest in promoting homosexuality among straights. Why? Because we know better than anyone that you simply can't change a person's orientation. So it's a complete waste of everyone's time to promote homosexuality to people such as yourself, for instance. And yes, you are correct, anyone who has problems with gays is a bigot, because there is no rational reason for it. Thanks for the clarification.

Hat tip to DaveN for accurately quoting my comment which promted this thread.
7.25.2007 6:58pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
EV: I thought that here, of all places, there would be a recognition that the alleged origin of the phrase "rule of thumb" was (. . .wait for it...) (. . . not yet. . .) an old wives' tale. (Old wives: please send all complaints to E.C.). I remember a track-down of this, years ago, to references, without citation, in a couple of 19th century American cases, to mention of such a rule in Blackstone's Commentaries, which, when checked for the allged mention of such a rule, yielded none whatsoever. BTW, the American judges, IIRC, noted the rule only to mention it as an anachronism which they were rejecting.

If you feel your're being buffaloed by groups of people deciding that they will take offense at the application of certain label words to them, because those words are historically freighted, I can only imagine how you feel if those folks believe the words in question are historically freighted and are simply historically WRONG. . .
7.25.2007 7:04pm
Randy R. (mail):
THE ANSWER!

The National Gay and Lesbian Journalists' Association (NGLJA) (properly pronounced 'negligey' with a bit of a campy accent) has a stylebook which states: "Use only if 'heterosexual' would be used in parallel constructions, such as in medical contexts."

I myself agree that mostly people who hate gays use the word homosexual almost exclusively. Rarely, if ever, do people who hate gays use the term gay or lesbian, and if you scan this thread, you will find that to be true. That still means that there are people who love gays who sometimes use the term, or gays themselves. To me, it's a pretty good indicator, though.
7.25.2007 7:07pm
Randy R. (mail):
I hate to beat a dead horse, but heck why not?

Paul Cameron was stripped of his credentials for his consistent lack of ethics in the field of psychology. Yet he continues to produce 'studies' which all just happen to show how awful and terrible gay people are. His most famous study was to show that the average lifespan of gay men is in the low 40s. His methology was to read the obits of gay men in the Washington Blade and average their ages.

You could do the exact same thing yourself to find the average lifespan, say, of a soldier in Iraq. Simply read all the death notices in the paper, calculate that most of them died while in the 20s, and conclude that the average lifespan of a soldier is 23.

That's how stupid his methodology is. He has been exposed often about this, and his paper was written sometime in the early 90s. So any one who would seriously quote the guy on anything hasn't done anything except accept the word of biased idiots. If you do just a modicum of research, you will find the truth.

But as we know, when it comes to gays, Christianists have no interest in the truth.
7.25.2007 7:13pm
Yankev (mail):
Jon Rowe

1) If someone insists on calling homosexuals "sodomites";



Interesting. In some religious traditions (including the one that gave the world the story of Sodom), the people of Sodom were condemned for their xenophobia, greed, dishonesty and hard heartedness; their threats to rape the strangers were the result of a need to violently humiliate them more than out of lust. Notwithstanding Jewish tradition's condemnation of male homosexual intercourse, "the sin of Sodom" means something very different to a traditional Jew than to a Christian.

Fantasia
How do you use "Jew" as a verb? Perhaps the charming phrase "Jew him down" is no longer in current use. I confess that I haven't heard it since 1985, but then again some people are smart enough not to use it within earshot of someone they know is Jewish. Others are dumb enough not to realize it is offensive.


AF, "Jew" is a noun. When used as an adjective, it is offensive to most Jews that I know. Either Barney Frankel is a "homosexual Jewish Congressman" or a "homosexual Jew who serves as Congressman" -- and who, in either case, was given a pass when he disgraced his district and his office by allowing his room-mate to run a prostitution ring out of their apartment.

bjr, would that be the same Washington where a city employee was disciplined for using "niggardly", and was forced to apologize to a city councilor for the councilor's own ignorance (as in sorry I was so insensitive as to use a term that had nothing to do with race, but that confused and offended you)?
7.25.2007 7:18pm
Randy R. (mail):
Hiding: "Perhaps I am a bigot, but I don't like homosexuality. That's my problem, not theirs. I will continue to treat gays civilly, and I hope that I will continue to have rewarding relationships with them. But I don't want to live in a society that expects me to like it."

Thank you, Hiding my name, for a truly honest post. In fact, one of the most honest here. I have no problem with people who have some unarticulated problem with homosexuality. My problem is with people who don't feel that thats enough, and so they make up lies about us to justify their feelings. That I can't countenence.

Your feelings are your own, and, like everyone else, you are entitled to them, and they certainly are not wrong in any fashion. You don't have to like gay sex, and we gays don't have to like straight sex. In fact, I find the idea of a woman's genitals make me shudder! It's VERY icky to me. And I also find the thought of most of my friends, gay or straight, having sex, to be very icky. Ever think about your parents having sex? Pretty darn icky. Unless you look like Brad Pitt, most people would also probably also prefer not to visualize how you have sex with another person.

So, knowing that gays might even find your sexual acitivities quite disgusting, how should gays treat you? Civilly, I would hope. Should gay people, though, try to strip you or your rights to get married, or hold a job, or lease an apartment just because they don't like they way you have sex? I hope you get my point.

And yet, we find many people -- and people right here at the VK -- who feel exactly as you do regarding gays, and feel that they have to do everything they can to show what terrible people we are as a group, and that we must be banished from the land. And what exactly would any of that accomplish? Nothing at all.

So thanks for sharing your real feelings on the matter. If your gay friends are at all decent, I'm sure they would welcome a discussion like this. Try it, and get back to us.
7.25.2007 7:24pm
wooga:

Perhaps I am a bigot, but I don't like homosexuality. That's my problem, not theirs. I will continue to treat gays civilly, and I hope that I will continue to have rewarding relationships with them. But I don't want to live in a society that expects me to like it.

I don't like to think about fat people having sex. I grosses me out. Same with ugly and hairy people. I suppose I would be weirded out by midgets having sex too, but I've never seen it. Finally, man on man action is just not pleasing to my eye.

I guess that makes me a horrible, horrible bigot for not embracing and celebrating sexual diversity.
7.25.2007 7:26pm
wooga:
Many people are born predisposed to obesity, and some may briefly experiment with obesity during their freshman year of college. In fact, "fat" is an unfairly ambiguous term, as we all are a little bit fat - it's just a question of degree.

So... what happens if 80% of the population belonged to a cult which condemned fatness as evil gluttons, doomed to the bowels of hell? After all, the morbidly obese could always change their behavior or undergo severe surgery to 'correct' their obesity. We could even subsidize this surgery.

Ignoring the whole tautology argument about SSM, how would people feel about this cult society banning marriage between people over 500 pounds?
7.25.2007 7:36pm
wooga:
About 3% of the population is "morbidly obese."
7.25.2007 7:41pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Richard Gould-Saltman: You'd think right; see this post of mine from 2002.
7.25.2007 8:05pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Clayton: I appreciate your saying, "You are correct; AIDS should not have caused a dramatic reduction in average lifespan. Alcohol and drug abuse are well-established to be much more common among homosexuals (both male and female), as is smoking. Those might make more of a difference than AIDS in reducing lifespan." But earlier you had said, in response to a statement about "the repeated use of Paul Cameron's phony reduced lifespan figures (between 39-43) for homosexuals,"
You claim it's phony. Evidence? Or did the vast number of homosexual men who died of AIDS in their 30s and 40s not affect average lifespans?


In your work on guns, I've generally found you to be a cautious and thoughtful commentator. Yet in your comments on homosexuality, errors and reliance on unreliable data seem to creep in fairly often. It just seems to me that extending your usual care to this subject would be helpful.

On a related note, could you please pass along some more details on the studies that well establish the proposition that "Alcohol and drug abuse are ... much more common among homosexuals (both male and female), as is smoking"? Thanks.
7.25.2007 8:09pm
Chimaxx (mail):
HidingMyName:
Why must we pretend that we approve of all other groups? While our society requires that we treat each other civilly, why must we constantly test our attitudes to ensure that we hold no negative feelings toward some group?

I have occasionally mentioned to gay friends that I think homosexuality is yucky -- but that I think broccoli is yucky as well. I hate broccoli, but that has no effect on our relationship.


First off, I'm glad that you and broccoli have a good relationship despite the fact that you find it yucky. Broccoli has never had a bad word to say about you.

However, your post doesn't answer the question it poses: "Why must we constantly test our attitudes to ensure that we hold no negative feelings toward some group?" Don't you think it would be worth examining your feelings if your feelings of "yucky" extendes from the "-ity" to the group--if you found homosexuals yucky.

I find football yucky, but football players yummy.
I find fishing yucky, though I like both fish and fishermen a great deal.

AS long as you are happy enjoying their company, do not wince should they mention the name or fact of their same-sex partner (and act as if they should know better than to mention this around you), treat said partners with respect and civility should you meet them, and treat said partnerships with the same respect you would any other relationship of similar duration, how you feel about the sexual behaviors you presume they engage in is not really important (and it's a good bet that some of them share similar feelings of revulsion toward the sexual practices they presume you engage in)

El Blogero: Give it up. You may not think that "homophobia" SHOULD mean "irrational fear and revulsion toward homosexuals", and etymologically you might have a thin leg to stand on (but "homosexuality"--and "heterosexuality" are pretty much bastard creations themselves, combining one part Latin with one part Greek), but whether your approach to langauge is descriptive or prescriptive, the fact is that the word has been used to mean that since at least 1969. At this point, trying to make arguments that it shouldn't mean that just looks silly.

PatHMV:
A great many activist "gays and lesbians" love to label anybody opposed to ANY of their political agendas as "homophobic," a very inaccurate label.


Can you identify even a handful of this "great many" you refer to?

In my experience, I hear the leaders of gay and lesbian organizations willing to, say, work on other issues with the legislator who opposes extending hate-crimes protection to "sexual orientation" because she opposes the idea of hate-crime legislation. At the same time, they may point out the apparent anti-gay bias inherent in someone who supports hate-crimes penalties on the basis of religion but not on the basis of sexual orientation.

But the "homophobe" label tends to be reserved for those who go out of their way to be outspoken against any and every pro-gay political move--folks like Jesse Helms, Robert Dornan, Anita Bryant, Fred Phelps, Porno Pete LaBarbera, Grant Storms, Rick Santorum and the aforementioned Paul Cameron.

Are you saying that the label "homophobic" is always and everywhere inaccurate--that it cannot apply even to the likes of Fred Phelps and his family?
7.25.2007 8:21pm
JM Hanes (mail):
Christian K:

"When I do hear someone refer to gay men or women as a "homosexual" or refer to "homosexuals" as a group, I assume the person is bigoted against gay men and lesbians. "

I think that's unfortunate, really, in part because you're going to end up assuming that there are a whole lot more bigots than there really are, but also because if you do, in fact, make such assumptions regardless of context, aren't you just as likely to be the one committing the injustice?

This is the first time I've come across what is being described as widespread objection to using the word homosexual, even though I'm familiar with a lot of what I might easily have referred to as either gay or homosexual issues being discussed by both gays and straights across the blogosphere. The idea that I should know better, or that I would avoid such use if I weren't a bigot, rests on the apparent expectation that, barring the advice of friends, I ought to have consulted activist GLBT sites or organazations on acceptable usage before joining any conversation or discussion of such topics. It further assumes that I should feel obliged both to police and to alter the expression of my opinions accordingly.

I hope you would agree that it's certainly not my fault if a lot of bigotted people use the term homosexual in offensive ways. I, personally, would have said "homosexual" was a formal, as opposed to clinical, term, where "gay" started out as a label which was not entirely inoffensive itself. Some people may still simply be unsure about using it, although it has sinced gained relatively neutral currency in ordinary conversation, as a replacement for the older term. I notice you distinguish gay men from gays generally, yourself. I'm still using gay incorrectly that way, however, according to activist resources, where it is also gender specific. If I'm using it in place of the collective homosexual, should I assume I'm offending lesbians everywhere? To be entirely correct, it would seem I'm stuck with either using a political acronym, GLBT, which is tough to pronounce, and meaningless to anyone who isn't politically au courant, or spelling out gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgendered every time -- which I don't see much of anybody doing very often.

That's a lot to expect from folks who might only be trying to say they support homosexual marriage, don't you think? Intent can often be difficult to ascertain, but the idea that the word, not the intent, makes the bigot is both perverse and unfair. I believe that most people who aren't bigots will make a reasonable effort to avoid giving gratuitous offense. It seems to me that the underlying issue here is not sensitivity, but politics. It's hard to get more offensive than calling someone a bigot solely on the basis of politically incorrect terminology. In any case, I intend to go on using the word homosexual where it strikes me as appropriate, as well as using gay collectively, as I ordinarily do when saying things like I'm pro-gay marriage. If anyone construes my use of the former as evidence of bigotry, I'm afraid that's really their problem, not mine.
7.25.2007 8:25pm
Randy R. (mail):
There is, of course, quite a bit of alcohol and drug abuse and smoking among gays. Additionally, the suicide rate is higher, and for gay teenagers, suicide is the leading cause of death.

So what do all the gay-bashers do with these facts? The say, see how destructive the 'homosexual lifestyle' is! They want to make it look like gay people choose to be gay, and then this leads to drug abuse and everything else, culminating in death from AIDS or suicide. See what a horrible disgusting lifestyle they are trying to save us from! (They often use the word 'deathstyle.' I kid you not).

But a person who is not out to portray gays as horrible people might ask the question, WHY are drug abuse, smoking and suicides rates so high for gays? The answer, as many studies have shown, is because of the way society treats gays. Many gays are thrown out of their home as teenagers, so living on the streets will lead to a shorter lifespan. Many gay people suffer discrimination, alienation from family and friends, loss of livelihood and so on. We have religion constantly telling us we are worthless and damned to hell. Schools turn a blind eye to the gay kid who gets beat up all the time.

If you have any doubt, I will happily introduce you to the social workers at SMYAL, the Sexual Minority Youth Action League. you will find stories of abuse and discrimation against gay teens that will break even the most homobphobic of hearts. THEN tell me that being gay is a choice!

Some will say, come on Randy, quit the pity party! But facts are facts. Blacks living in inner cities also experience high rates of suicide, drug abuse, smoking, and shorter lifespans, and studies have shown that the stress of discrimination and poverty all contribute to a great degree. So are we supposed to say that being black is a deathstyle too, and we must save black kids from that fate and turn them white? It's the same silly argument.

Every study on the subject has stated that if gay people were treated exactly the same as straight people, all these rates would decline.
7.25.2007 8:31pm
Randy R. (mail):
BTW, there is only one location of SMYAL, and it's located right on Capitol Hill of Washington, DC. If you want to the hell of a gay teenager, I invite you to stop by and visit just once. You will find that this one location is woefully inadeaquate to deal with all the gay teens who have been beaten, abused, thrown out of their house and disowned by good "Christian" people, who are merely doing what their preacher told them in the name of 'family values.'

Okay, enough of the bitterness. Too nice a day!
7.25.2007 8:35pm
Randy R. (mail):
JM Hanes:" I believe that most people who aren't bigots will make a reasonable effort to avoid giving gratuitous offense."

You are, of course, absolutely correct. And most people who say 'homosexual' are not bigots. It grates slightly on my nerves, but I always let it pass -- there are much bigger issue to worry about.

I remember family members as late at the 80s referring to blacks as 'colored people.' This grated on me, and I'm sure blacks wouldn't be too happy. But that was ther preferred term in THEIR day, so it's no big deal. We all try to get along, right?

However, you will find that the likes of Pat Robertson, James Dobson and co will always use the word homosexual. Any person under the age of at least 30 who uses it is almost always using it is in a perjorative way.

Test yourself on this: Read any article on the subject of sexual orientation. You will find that if they consistently use the word 'homosexual' they are against gay rights, and if they use the word gay mostly, they are pro-gay. Just do a search on the internal search engines of magazines, such as the New Republic, The National Review, The Weekly Standard, Washington Monthly, and all of those types. You will find a strong correlation between the words they use and the view on gays.
7.25.2007 8:42pm
Chimaxx (mail):
The Supreme Court, "homosexual" vs. "gay" and Scalia's apparent anti-gay animus: http://www.danpinello.com/Scalia.htm
7.25.2007 8:43pm
Christian K:
JM Hanes:

I need to explain a bit more, I feel. In my day to day life I rarely hear someone use the term "homosexual". Mostly people use "gay", or if being more formal "GLBT". The only time I hear or see people use "homosexual" is when people use the term to rail against equal marriage rights, the current hot topic of the day.

I don't particularly find the term offensive, more clinical than anything really. However I do find that the people who do use "homosexual" are being disparaging rather than empowering to me and those like me.

When I was younger (I am in my early 30's now), I never thought I would see a debate about equal marriage rights for same gender couples. I would have never thought that "my people" would have come so far. I am very confident that I will see it as a reality in my life time, which does bring a smile to my lips. :)
7.25.2007 8:49pm
Randy R. (mail):
Thanks Chimaxx. Here's a list of gay organizations from that Scalia article. I cannot think of a single gay organization that uses the word 'homosexual' in it's name. Every single one uses gay, or gay and lesbian, or a variation of GLBT.

Gay &Lesbian Advocates &Defenders
The Gay &Lesbian Alliance against Defamation
The Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association of South Florida
Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty
The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago
The Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York
The Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
The Mennonite Council for Lesbian and Gay Concerns
The National Center for Lesbian Rights
The National Gay &Lesbian Task Force
The National Lesbian and Gay Law Association
Parents, Families &Friends of Lesbians &Gays
Presbyterians for Lesbian &Gay Concerns
The United Church Coalition for Lesbian &Gay Concerns
United Methodists for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Concerns
The World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Organizations

Hopefully, this should put to rest what the gay community prefers.

And Scalia, being a anti-gay bigot, almost exclusively uses homosexual. Which proves my earlier point.
7.25.2007 8:59pm
Chimaxx (mail):
JK Haynes:
I, personally, would have said "homosexual" was a formal, as opposed to clinical, term, where "gay" started out as a label which was not entirely inoffensive itself. Some people may still simply be unsure about using it, although it has sinced gained relatively neutral currency in ordinary conversation, as a replacement for the older term.


It's not really clear which world is older. The word gay was used in reference to men with same-sex attractions/behavior as early as the 1880s and was in wide wide use by gay men to identify themselves since the 1920s.

The first recorded use of homosexual in an original English language text wasn't until 1912, and it didn't see really wide use outside the therapeutic community until after Freud's famous letter to an American mother (1935, published in the popular, non-scholarly press 1951).

Finally, I find it hard to believe that a writer who would never think og using "sodomite" or "invert", "inversion" or "buggery" would find it too much effort to consider whether his audience might, in context, find the term "homosexual" as a noun to refer to an individual to be too reductive or archaic or clinical.
7.25.2007 9:08pm
Dave N (mail):
RandyR,

I have stayed out of the debate--if you prefer to be called "gay," that is fine by me. However, I am not sure group names say that much. I wasn't thinking of any particular gay organization, but rather the NAACP. The C is an archaic word for Black people--which is considered highly offensive if used as a descriptive term in any other context--not quite the N word, but close.

Personally, I do not think use of the word "homosexual" is a sign of bigotry. However, I would agree that "homo" is, as are "fag" and "faggot" and perhaps even "queer" (though to me that appears to be a word that gays can use but straights cannot, sort of like the N word in certain parts of the Black community) are horribly offensive and do demonstrate bigotry.

And it's certainly your cause and not mine, but I would think that working to eliminate the use of the obviously bigoted words I cited would be more productive than an assault on the word "homosexual."
7.25.2007 9:39pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
As for the use of the word "Jew" as a verb - I think it very much depends on your relationship. I use it with impunity with some of my close Jewish friends to refer to stereotypical Jewish behaviors, actions, etc. Thus, I might say "you Jewed me again" when they got the better of me in a deal. But I would never use it in the 3rd person, nor with someone I wasn't close to.

But most of the time, it is perjorative. It is like Whitey using the N word to refer to an African-American. Someone has to give you permission to use it in regards to them. Not permission generally (as Imus found out), but specifically.

I should also note that one of the guys I use the J verb with calls me a "Christianist". I would be offended if called that by someone I didn't know, but from him, it is the same sort of mutual fraternity brother teasing that has been going on between us for nearing 40 years.
7.25.2007 9:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
Dave N. :"but I would think that working to eliminate the use of the obviously bigoted words I cited would be more productive than an assault on the word "homosexual."

Agreed. I've said it's not really a big deal with me what people use, and if I had my druthers, I would prefer everyone to use gay instead of homosexual. But this is a post about the topic, and you know me -- I love a good meaty discussion!

I just wanted to make a point that the words we choose to use can be a clue or a reflection of one's attitudes.
7.25.2007 10:07pm
Toby:
Chimax

El Blogero: Give it up. You may not think that "homophobia" SHOULD mean "irrational fear and revulsion toward homosexuals", and etymologically you might have a thin leg to stand on... the fact is that the word has been used to mean that since at least 1969.

It was clearly a political term adopted to put people on the defensive and to be offensive. I personally consider that the opions of easnyone who defends deliberately antagonistic hate speech that *they* like, even if its been in place, as you say, since 1969 to lose all validity in calling the attention of others to their sensitivity.

With a backgroung in biological brain research, I have worked with all sorts of homosexual activity that I would be loath to refer to as "Gay". I know all sorts of Gay behavior that is decried by the old male couple that thre my engagement party. THis tens me to accept the social/technical split for the two terms.

Of one thing I am certain, LGBT will look as hackneyed in 30 years as does the United Negro College Fund now, and is not a phrase that should be enshrined in law.

I am reminded of the poor, uneducated, occassionally not literate Grounds department at the University near my home. They have strong standing instructions to remove all hate messages rapidly, whether written in chalk on the sidewalks, or sprayed on the side of buildings, or carved into trees. One night the student GLBTQ group, getting ready for their administration sponsored and student-fee funded celebration weekend, wrote "Queer" in chalk on all the sidewalks, sometimes as parts of sentences or questions, sometimes standing alone.

The groundskeeper arrived at 5:00, as he usually did, and realized he had to respond quickly. Hate speech, all over campus. He responded quickly, re-assigning each new wave of groundskeepers to clean up duty as they arrived. They did a great job.

Of course, the GLBTQ Students, who slept until after the mess was cleaned up, called the campus cops and filed protests over the Hate Crime committed by dasardly folks who wanted to destroy their message...
7.25.2007 10:17pm
GayRoger:
EV:

First, the descriptive assertion that there's a high correlation between use of the term "homosexual" and the speaker's hostility to homosexuals strikes me as entirely unfounded.


I think this is right, but I think it misses the point. Here's an analogy based on a long ago discussion, when I learned about tortious negligence and res ipsa loquitur.

The Exploding Soda Bottle: it's tempting to apply res ipsa if we pick up a soda bottle, and it explodes in our hands. Suppose we're sure there was a manufacturing defect (e.g. there's overwhelming forensic evidence). The res ipsa argument would be something like: clearly the manufacturer was negligent, or there would not have been a manufacturing defect.

The argument would be wrong, with some numbers as a for-example:
- M produces 1000 bottles
- M is negligent 1% of the time
- Negligent manufacturing produces defects 80% of the time
- Non-negligent manufacturing produces defects 1% of the time
In this case, M produces 18 defective bottles per 1000, but only 8 are due to negligence. Thus, it would be incorrect to assume that the exploding bottle was due to negligence (there's a 44% chance, though).

Here's the analogy: use of the term "homosexual" is the manufacturing defect, and "hostility" is the negligence. It may be entirely correct that most of the instances of use of the term "homosexual" are by people without hostility, just as most defects may result from non-negligent practices. To this extent, I agree with EV. It may be incorrect to infer that a person who says "homosexual" is also hostile to homosexual people.

However, we know negligence has a much higher rate of defects than non-negligence; informal, anecdotal experience suggests "hostility" has a much higher usage rate of "homosexual." If the informal evidence is accurate, it's not erroneous to conclude that a person who says "homosexual" is more likely to be hostile than a person who says "gay"; it's not erroneous to conclude that a defective bottle is more likely to have been negligently made than a non-defective bottle.

To the extent that people already pick up on this signal, there's a benefit to encouraging non-hostile people to avoid use of the term "homosexual": the signal becomes stronger, and additional information is conveyed more clearly. That is, if we lower the incidence of manufacturing defects in the non-negligent process, we can better conclude that defects are associated with negligence.
7.25.2007 10:22pm
albert mason:
I guess that I just don't see the point. While I find the image of two fellows fellating each other in private personally to be distasteful, I always hire people on their abilities, not on any other quality. I've employed several flamboyant individuals, and I'm awfully thankful for their excellent efforts.

As for nomenclature, I doubt whether a group of Frenchmen would be grossly insulted if a presidential candidate (even a house-elf like Ross Perot) addressed them in this fashion: "You people are responsible for a great history of intellectual and culinary achievement."

A rose is a rose is a rose.
7.25.2007 10:54pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Toby:
I personally consider that the opions of easnyone who defends deliberately antagonistic hate speech that *they* like, even if its been in place, as you say, since 1969 to lose all validity in calling the attention of others to their sensitivity.


So do you lose all respect for the Southern Poverty Law Center when it uses the term "racism" to refer to new-Nazis? Does the Anti-Defamation League lose all validity every time they call something "anti-semitic"?

When used in a political setting "homophobia" clearly is meant to put people on the defensive, but the same is true of "racism", "sexism" and "anti-semitism." Are they "hate speech" too? If not, what is the difference?

But it is not always used in the political arena. In fact, its use there came later, after it was used to describe the irrational basis for acts of violence sometimes committed against gay men and lesbians because of their sexuality (by clinical psychologist George Weinberg, who is credited with coining it), who may have thought that the exiting term--homoerotophobia--was simply too many syllables.

That is, the term homophobia was first used to describe the likes of Terry Mark Mangum. (In fact, what other single word can be used to describe the animus behind and the effects of Mangum's actions toward Kenneth Cummings?)

Only later was it metaphorically extended to politicians and public figures who seem to reflexively go out of their way to oppose any support for legal recognition or dignity for gay people--like, most memorably, Anita Bryant, who turned her opposition to a local anti-discrimination statute into a nationwide anti-gay crusade, a reaction far in excess of the provocation, like hunting a mouse with a Howitzer.

I'd be a fool not to acknowledge that sometimes people throw around these "-ism" words and "homophobia" too easily in an attempt to stifle any disagreement. It pretty much never works. But the fact that these words are sometimes used punitively in cases where they don't really apply is not the fault of the words. The fact that some zealots would argue that any disagreement with Israeli policy constitutes anti-semitism doesn't mean that real anti-semitism doesn't exist. The fact that there have been infamous cases of grandstanding using the term "racism" (Tawanna Brawley anyone) doesn't mean that real racism didn't and doesn't exist.

If we remove "homophobia" from the lexicon, what word should we create to replace it in order to describe what drove Terry Mark Mangum to decide to go to a gay bar in order to find a gay man to kill in order to "carry out a code of retribution" against homosexuals?

One question: The old male couple who threw your engagement party. When same-sex marriage comes to your state, will you throw their engagement party?
7.25.2007 11:20pm
J_A:
Randy

I was very interested in your description of SMYAL. Do you know if there might be a similar organization in Houston particularly, or in TX in general?

Thanks
7.25.2007 11:45pm
Anonymous Commenter (mail):
I have two predictions:

(1) Eugene has gotten a number of private emails/comments saying "hate to say it, Eugene, but I think you're wrong on this one."
(2) He's been surprised by how many of these messages have come from people he knows and whose judgment he trusts.

Just my guess.
7.25.2007 11:58pm
Toby:
Chimaxx:

I would be happy to, except they are down in New Orleans and I have 3 kids in college.

People who go looking for offense, usually find it. Nazi's is the most over-used slur in the owrld today. I would refer you to Godwins law.
7.25.2007 11:59pm
Ramza:
I ain't saying these are the most similar organizations to SMYAL in houston but here are some relevant ones.

Montrose Counseling Center is a clinic/organization of therapists that offers paid and non paid treatment/help in general therapy, hiv/aids, chemical dependency, anti violence and gays entering their elderly years (spry or something like that)

HATCH is a youth Social and support group for GLBT youth in the Houston area. You can attend if you are 13-20 or you can mentor if you are older than 25. There is a screening process both for youth and mentors (to prevent harm to any irrational person to the youths) as well as a background check for the mentors.

Gay and Lesbian Switchboard is a 24 hour telephone line. You can use it to reach out, ask question about issues, or if you are in serious need.

They Gay and Lesbian National Hotline. Can provide in need help, someone to talk to , or can be a general operator about local organizations that register with the hotline. Has adult counselors, or youth counselors (if a kid wants to talk to someone more his age) depending on which of the two numbers you call. Isn't 24 hours though. There website is also hooked up to a national database of local programs.

Three more links (I don't know them personally)
Crisis Intervention of Houston
Houston Area Women's Center
Project X-Cite Another queer networking group this time for ages 14-19. It is either new or uncommon for I know of no one who went to this group and I am in my early-mid twenties.
7.26.2007 12:08am
J_A:
thanks, Ramza, am a forty something well adjusted gay person, but thought that SMYAL could be an organization worth my support and volunteer work.
7.26.2007 12:41am
Chimaxx (mail):
Toby:
People who go looking for offense, usually find it.


But that principle is not commutative.
7.26.2007 12:49am
BEB (www):
Has anybody else raised the possibility that the way to identify a bigot is if they use the word "Christianist"?
7.26.2007 1:00am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

In your work on guns, I've generally found you to be a cautious and thoughtful commentator. Yet in your comments on homosexuality, errors and reliance on unreliable data seem to creep in fairly often. It just seems to me that extending your usual care to this subject would be helpful.

On a related note, could you please pass along some more details on the studies that well establish the proposition that "Alcohol and drug abuse are ... much more common among homosexuals (both male and female), as is smoking"? Thanks.
The first place that I saw mention of the substance abuse disproportion San Francisco Department of Public Health: EMT Associates, Inc., Gay Men, Lesbians, and Their Alcohol and Other Drug Use: A Review of the Literature,(San Francisco, San Francisco Dept. of Public Health: 1991). On pages 1-17, that report discusses that it has long been known that homosexuals (male and female) abuse alcohol, cigarettes, and other recreational drugs at higher levels than the general population.

This article in New Scientist
reports:

Teenage lesbian or bisexual girls are many times more likely to smoke regularly than straight girls their age. They are the worst hit by tobacco among all groups of young people, according to a new US study.

Almost 40 per cent of teenage lesbian or bisexual girls aged between 12 and 17 said they smoked weekly compared with just six per cent of heterosexual girls in an ongoing study of 16,000 adolescents.

However, these high rates were not seen in gay or bisexual boys, who were no more likely to smoke than straight boys.


This study from American Journal of Public Health reports on IV drug abuse rates among "women who have sex with women" to use PC terminology:

Women injection drug users who have sex with women (WSW IDUs) comprise 20 percent to 30 percent of American women IDUs. Compared to other women IDUs, WSW IDUs have higher HIV prevalence and incidence rates and a greater likelihood of engaging in high- risk injection and sexual practices with men.

Previous studies have suggested that WSW IDUs may be especially likely to engage in drug injection and sex with men who have sex with men (MSM) and to be subordinated and isolated within drug users' social milieus and more generally. However, historical and generational factors may have changed some relationships as a consequence of the HIV epidemic itself. To further examine HIV risk among WSW IDUs, the authors compared social situations, injection and sexual networks, and behaviors of young WSW IDUs with those of other young women IDUs.

A post hoc analysis was conducted of data collected from July 1997 to March 1999 from street-recruited women IDUs (predominantly heroin and cocaine injectors) ages 18 to 30 in five US cities. Trained research staff conducted face-to-face interviews and collected blood and urine samples. The questionnaire covered sociodemographic characteristics and sexual and drug-using behavior and partnerships, usually for the six months before the interview.

Women who reported having had sex with a woman in the preceding six months or who self-identified as lesbian or bisexual were classified as WSW (n=274). Classifications as WSW or non-WSW could be made for 803 participants. Proportions of WSW among women IDUs varied by site (20 percent-54 percent).
Lesbian and bisexual women are perhaps 2-3% of American women. This makes "women who have sex with women" somewhere between 6 and 15 times overrepresented.

(Continued.)
7.26.2007 1:09am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Here's a longitudinal study published in Archives of General Psychiatry in 1999:

The data were gathered during the course of the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS). The CHDS is a 21 year longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1,265 children born in Christchurch (NZ). At 21, 1,007 sample members were questioned about their sexual orientation and their sexual relationships with same sexed partners since the age of 16. Twenty eight subjects (2.8%) were classified as being of GLB sexual orientation. Over the period from age 14 to 21, data were gathered on a range of psychiatric disorders including major depression; generalised anxiety disorder; conduct disorder and substance use disorders. Data were also gathered on suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

Results: GLB young people were at increased risks of: major depression (OR = 4.0; 95% CI = 1.8-9.3); generalised anxiety disorder (OR = 2.8; 95% CI = 1.2-6.5); conduct disorder (OR = 3.8; 95% CI = 1.7-8.7) nicotine dependence (OR = 5.0; 95% CI = 2.3-10.9); other substance abuse/dependence (OR = 1.9; 95% CI = 0.9-4.2); multiple disorders (OR = 5.9; 95% CI = 2.4-14.8); suicidal ideation (OR = 5.4; 95% CI = 2.4-12.2 ) and suicide attempts (OR = 6.2; 95% CI = 2.7-14.3).
Of course, gay activists have long claimed that these problems have been because of growing up in a homophobic society. This longitudinal study involves people born in 1977 in New Zealand—so kids who grew up after homosexuality was no longer stigmatized in the Western world.

A bit of data on those who identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual:
Of the 1,007 subjects questioned at age 21, 20 (2.0%) identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. In addition, a further 8 subjects self identified as heterosexual, but disclosed that they had had sexual relationships with a same sex partner since the age of 16. Using this information, a classification of gay, lesbian or bisexual orientation was constructed by including all of those who reported GLB sexual orientation or those reporting having same sex partnerships into the definition. Of the 28 subjects (11 males, 17 females) classified as GLB, 24 (86%) reported having sexual relationships with a same sexed partner since the age of 16. (Of the 20 subjects reporting that their sexual orientation was gay lesbian or bisexual, 9 were male and 11 were female).
It appears that the study attempted to see if the psychiatric problems were present throughout adolescence. If these were only present at adulthood, I suppose that you could argue that these were the results of a homophobic society, but the report seems to indicate that these problems were disproportionately present even at age 15.

(Continued.)
7.26.2007 1:11am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
The study also examined the possibility that the GLB (gay, lesbian, bisexual) group had an unusual family structure that might have caused their increased mental disorders.

To examine the equivalence of the GLB and comparison groups a large number of comparisons were made on the childhood, family and social backgrounds of both groups prior to the age of 14.... These comparisons showed that with respect to the majority of these measures the GLB series and the comparison series had similar social, family and childhood backgrounds. However, the two groups were distinguished by two factors: GLB youth tended to have experienced a higher rate of parental change during childhood (P[less than].05); and GLB youth were more likely to have parents with a history of criminal offending (P[less than].05) than the comparison series.
This doesn't surprise me. I've mentioned before my hypothesis that childhood sexual abuse and adult homosexuality are connected. It is also clearly established that an absent father puts children at greater risk of sexual abuse, partly because stepfathers and live-in boyfriends lack the social taboos against sex with someone else's kid, and partly because fatherless boys and girls tend to look for father figures outside the home—putting them at risk from sexual predators.
To the credit of these researchers, they acknowledge that "homophobic society" isn't the only possible explanation for the high rates of psychiatric problems in the GLB group:
Whilst there is an emerging consensus from recent studies that young people who disclose homosexual behaviors or attraction are at increased risk of suicidal behaviors and mental health problems, the processes that lead to these associations remain unclear. Although such findings are frequently interpreted as suggesting the role of homophobic attitudes and social prejudice in provoking mental health problems in GLB youth, alternative explanations are possible. These include: a) the possibility that associations are artefactual as a result of measurement and other research design problems; b) the possibility of "reverse causality" in which young people prone to psychiatric disorder are more prone to experience homosexual attraction or contact; and c) the possibility that lifestyle choices made by GLB young people place them at greater risk of adverse life events and stresses that increase risks of mental health problems, independently of GLB orientation.


While I don't have any method of finding comparable data for straight people, this New York Times article from a couple of years ago observes what was causing the development of a superstrain of HIV:
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.
Above you claimed:
Yet in your comments on homosexuality, errors and reliance on unreliable data seem to creep in fairly often.
Yes, this data above is clearly unreliable. :-) Are you sure the problem isn't that you are confusing your gay colleagues (who are probably about as typical of the gay population as straight law professors are typical of straight people in general) with the average gay person?
7.26.2007 1:13am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Sorry I had to break this up into several different postings. I was having trouble getting it to take some of the quotes--I hadn't realized that HTML was getting confused by the less than signs in one of the quotes.
7.26.2007 1:15am
JM Hanes (mail):
Randy:
"Test yourself on this...."

Why is it that I need to test myself, and why is that anyone might expect me to do so? Why would I otherwise need to be able to determine which GLBT (assuming I would even recognize the acronym) groups most accurately represent the feelings of the majority of gays, or the gays I might know, might encounter, might encounter and not know etc., or strangers I might potentially offend on the web by failing to keep up with the latest in politically acceptable speech? I don't doubt that bigots consistently use the word homosexual both exclusively and pejoratively. I just don't see that as a reason to cede them the use of it or expect others to do so on pain of being tarred with someone else's bigotry.

This conversation reminds of the femist lawyer who ripped into Eugene for both content and tone when he asked women to opine on their periods (and no, I'm not equating the two discussions). In my opinion, however, there as here, expecting him to consult feminist advocates before embarking on discussion seemed both unrealistic and unreasonable. There are so many minorities and so many interest groups so ready to take offense! I think PC speech codes are an intellectual scourge which hamper open public discourse and are worth resisting. In terms of advocacy, I would also think that trying to get people to quit using the word homosexual would rank pretty low in terms of generating productive discussion and advancing fundamental issues.

I am not discounting or tryng to diminish the feelings and/or experiences you and others are voicing here, and I will inevitably be more sparing in my own usage. At the same time, I would reiterate my conviction that where ordinary, unresearched, civility will not suffice, the ball is simply not in my court.
7.26.2007 1:55am
Randy R. (mail):
"the ball is simply not in my court."

Clayton: " I suppose that you could argue that these were the results of a homophobic society, but the report seems to indicate that these problems were disproportionately present even at age 15. "

Kids at 15 are not part of society? By the time they are 15, many kids have sat through hundreds of sermons denouncing gays. It only takes a few stray comments from a parent or family member to know that gays are not welcome in the family. It's precisely those aged in the teen years that are the most vulnerable to a homophobic society, and they also have the least in resources to help them.
7.26.2007 2:08am
Randy R. (mail):
All your quotes, Clayton, merelyl reinforce my statement's earlier that gay's do often abuse sex, drugs, alcohol and suffer from depression and other mental disorders.

So do many other segments of our society. So do many individuals of ANY segment of our society.

The proper inquiry then, should be, what causes it, how can it be prevented, and how can it be treated if not prevented. Alienating gays even more, casting blame upon them, turning your back, your saying good riddence to them are, however, not proper responses. At least not in a civil society. \
7.26.2007 2:12am
Randy R. (mail):
Oh and yes, there are kids kicked out of their house as young as age 15. You think their life is going to easy after that?
7.26.2007 2:14am
Randy R. (mail):
BEB: "Has anybody else raised the possibility that the way to identify a bigot is if they use the word "Christianist"?"

No, because people have read all the posts up on this thread, and it was already dealt with. If you are too lazy to read all the posts, then don't bother posting.
7.26.2007 2:16am
Andy123 (mail):

This longitudinal study involves people born in 1977 in New Zealand—so kids who grew up after homosexuality was no longer stigmatized in the Western world.


This is one of the most absurd comments I have ever heard.

You have no credibility after such a remark.
7.26.2007 2:51am
Chimaxx (mail):
Clayton:

Re: The IDU study from the American Journal of Public Health study. First of all, "women who have sex with women" is not "PC terminology"--it (like "men who have sex with men") is used to identify a group only some of whom identify as lesbian/gay or bisexual. Many of them self-identify as heterosexual, though they sometimes have same-gender sex. Starting off by dissing the technical terminology as "PC" suggests you have no intention of using the study data honestly. And you don't. The claim also throws off your calculation at the end of the piece: Lesbians and bisexual women may make up 2-3% of the female population, but WSW is a larger group, usually reported at 4-5%.

The pool of study subjects are injection drug users, which means there's no way to extrapolate from its data to talk about the prevalence of drug use/abuse among the larger lesbian, female bisexual or WSW populations. The only thing this study can show is a higher prevalence of same-sex activity among female drug users.

Nothing in the passages you quoted or in the rest of the abstract you linked to indicates that their sexuality led to the drug abuse. If anything, it suggests the opposite--that their drug abuse and a collection of other high-risk behaviors may have led to same-sex encounters they would not otherwise have had: "Compared to other young women IDUs, WSW IDUs were more likely to have engaged in riskier behaviors, to have had high-risk sexual and injection networks, to have been homeless or institutionalized..." Certainly homelessness (have sex with someone for a place to stay) and incarceration (no access to opposite-sex partners) could lead to an increased likelihood of same-sex activity.

Nor were most of these women lesbian in the way most women would understand it: "WSW IDUs...reported having more male sexual partners"--that is, more male sexual partners than the women who DIDN'T have sex with women.

Overall, it's a portrait of a group of women living opportunistically, in the grip of their addiction, and with little care for themselves: "WSW IDUs were more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors (receptive syringe sharing, sharing rinse water, and sex trading) and WSW IDUs were also more likely to report having unprotected sex with MSM; having sex with an IDU or someone they knew or thought was infected with HIV."

Again, given the limitations of the study population, there's no way to say whether same-sex sex and attractions led to the risk-taking and IDU, the drugs led to increased same-sex sexual behaviors, or some third factor (a high-risk-taking tendency, abuse or some other unnamed factor) led to both the drugs and the same-sex sex, but what hints there are point in the opposite direction from the conclusions you want to draw.

=============

The one thing you left out in your discussion of the youth study (and this is odd, given that it is the topic of the overall discussion) was that while they found an increase in a number of psychological problems among the "GLB" youth, and confirmed the increased use of tobacco found in the first study you mention, the one factor they looked at for which there was no statistical difference between the GLB youth and the controls was drug and alcohol abuse. They were at an increased risk of depression and suicide ideation, but not at a significantly higher risk of drug abuse/dependence.

=============

Way down at the bottom, drawing conclusions from an unidentified study mentioned offhand in an article about a "superstrain" of HIV--an article largely debunked because the superstrain turned out not to be so super and the feared wave of superinfections never happened--THAT is supposed to be convincing to anyone?

=============

So, there's good evidence from New American Scientist that lesbian and bisexual female teens smoke tobacco more than hetero female teens or than teen boys (whether gay or straight). But you try to make your second study do something it can't do--extrapolate from the subpopulation of IDU women to women in general. The next study is at least prpoerly designed to test for this, and while it supports the first study in finding increased tobacco use (and also shows other psychological issues), it finds no statistically significant increase in substance abuse among GLB youth. (How far the findings in youth can be extrapolated to adults is another question.) And you end with a bit of evidence so flimsy it can hardly be construed as better than anecdote.
7.26.2007 2:53am
Crunchy Frog:
While I am seriously late to the party, one thing has been bugging me for quite a while: the GLBT construct that has popped up in the last couple of years. One can make clear and convincing arguments for acceptance for homo- and bisexuality, can we please refrain from lumping in "transgendered"? I will buy for the sake of argument that a non-trivial minority have no choice in what type of body parts that it gets their juices flowing to look at/touch/insert or whatever. However, in my not-so-humble opinion, the desire to swap out one's current body parts for their opposites (accompanied by a lifetime of hormonal therapy to trick the body into thinking this is okay) is indicative of serious mental illness and should not by any means be encouraged.
7.26.2007 2:58am
BEB (www):
BEB: "Has anybody else raised the possibility that the way to identify a bigot is if they use the word "Christianist"?"

No, because people have read all the posts up on this thread, and it was already dealt with. If you are too lazy to read all the posts, then don't bother posting.

First of all Randy, no need to live up to the name.

Second of all cut back on the caffeine.

Third of all, your response to my question contradicts itself and so your evident outrage at the question is crushed by your seeming misunderstanding of the English language.

I suggest you refer to one of several grade school readers to understand my question and/orevaluate your response more closely.

But most important, cut back on the joe.
7.26.2007 3:15am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Anonymous Commentator: No, no such private e-mails.

Clayton: Thanks very much for the pointers; much looking forward to reading the materials.
7.26.2007 3:51am
JM Hanes (mail):
Christian K:

Thanks for responding further. My own come-to-Jesus moment on all things gay, came when I was walking down the street in Provincetown, Mass. It was sort of like the anti-matter version of a Pat Robertson conversion. I'd never actually made the trek down the Cape during the summer, and hadn't been there at all for a decade or more, so the new P'town came as something of a surprise.

As a (straight) woman, I initially found it a little disorienting, but aside from a certain theatrical atmosphere, what struck me most was all the same-sex couples doing all the usual pedestrian couple things. I was suddenly and overwhelmingly stunned by how incredibly cruel it seemed that almost anywhere else, people who loved each other, or even just sorta kinda liked each other, would even have to hesitate over something as simple and natural and otherwise mundane as holding hands in public. It's not that I was unsympathetic to start with, it was that the politics of it all just evaporated. Any time two people want to make commitments to each other, I believe everybody wins.

In an ideal world, it would be that simple for everyone. In the real world though, I do think that for every Pat Robertson, there are a so many other folks who, despite their own possible ambivalence, are working hard not pass along the prejudices they grew up with. It seems to me that that's where the folks (not meaning you) who are so quick to accuse others of homophobia and bigotry -- and the GLBT side of the fence has its share of them -- end up creating so much gratuitous blowback. There's always a tension between patience and push which isn't easy to resolve on the road to change, but that's not what I'm talking about. I suppose all I'm really saying is that there's a two way street when it comes to giving unnecessary offense.


Climaxx:
"It's not really clear which world is older."

I was really talking newer/older in my experience, not historically, although at this point even my own experience is beginning to develop a slightly historic patina. The current usage of gay as a neutral descriptor does seem recent to me, but beyond that, I'll defer to your more informed opinion.
7.26.2007 4:13am
JM Hanes (mail):
Chimaxx: Apologies for the misspelled moniker above!
7.26.2007 4:20am
hey (mail):
I'm really aggravated by the GLBTTQQTS..... community, or rather the "activists" amongst them. The "acceptable" terminology seems to cycle every few years between homosexual and an ever expanding acronym. To listen to the activists, "gay" doesn't accept women; Gays &Lesbians isolates bisexuals; GLB (I'm truncating) isolates gender dysmorphics; GLBT isn't trans enough; GLBTT doesn't encompass queers (an evil going to hell word, sometimes, and sometimes demanded... I'm confused); GLBTTQ doesn't accept the questioning (6 terms isn't enough?); GLBTTQQ - but what about Native Americans (never "natives" good lord my brain hurts)?

On group names = preferred term. Tell ANY black person that the United Negro College Fund is the reason why you're calling them "Negro". Call me and tell me how that works out. NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, Urban League, UNCF and the presently "preferred" (for activists) term is African-American, or sometimes person of color. But wait "colored person" is evil and "person of color" is progressive? Such are the ways of the activist Left.

For a long time "gays" was the pejorative, especially "the gays". People like Robertson stopped using "the gays" to stop being overtly offensive, for whatever motive. The ground has shifted again and the word they were previously told to use is now offensive, thanks substantially to their very use of the previous "correct" term. Jew, Hebrew, Jewish have all changed as well but now people mostly just understand your tone. It's long past time to stop playing word games and deal with the substance of statements. Word games are futile and create resentment amongst non-antagonists.
7.26.2007 6:28am
SteveW:
Climaxx: Thanks for posting the link to the Pinello article. I was struck by this paragraph from the article:

In contrast, in his two relevant opinions (dissents in Romer and Lawrence) in the Supreme Court's gay rights jurisprudence since 1988, Justice Scalia uses "homosexual(s)" or "homosexuality" as his own 109 times, while "gay and lesbian" just once (at the end of his second footnote in Lawrence). (Indeed, I'd wager that the footnote reference was not intentional by Justice Scalia, but rather the product of a law clerk that wasn't caught by the Justice himself, because Justice Scalia otherwise scrupulous puts quotation marks around "gay.") Hence, Justice Scalia has used the term of identification preferred by gay people themselves less than one percent (.009) of the time among 110 occasions in which he had reason to make a reference.


When I read that, it seemed to ring a bell, and I thought that I remembered Scalia putting quotation marks around "gay," but when I looked at Romer and Lawrence, I could find no instance of Scalia's use of quotation marks around "gay." Perhaps there is another case where he did that. The only other gay-related case that I can remember since Scalia came to the court is Boy Scouts v. Dale, and Scalia did not write separately in that case. Any of you know what Pinello was referring to?

Looking at Lawrence, however, reminded me that Scalia began his dissent in that case by referring to the "homosexual agenda."
7.26.2007 10:39am
Breeder (mail):
"Christianist" is a term invented (or at least popularized) by Andrew Sullivan as a slur against those with whom he disagrees. It is a linguistic cudgel, and intentionally so.
7.26.2007 12:43pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The speed with which words come into disrepute, or become, suddenly, unobjectionable seems kind of unnatural.
Permit me to say, as I have before, that believing the ostensible motivation of an activist is a really, really bad idea.
Among other things, the more words which can be labled as offensive, the more material there is to use for feigned offense to shut up arguments which cannot be dealt with in other ways.
Eventually, there will be enough forbidden words regarding a given subject that discussing it at all will be difficult. Not that that's what anybody has in mind.
This is particularly likely when the power differential is great, such as in a classroom.
So, I would suggest that when using a word in good faith and finding somebody objecting to it as offensive, the response should be one of the following two;
"Take a minute and get used to the idea."
"Bite me."
Falling like a moron into the discussion of whether the word is or should be forbidden is the equivalent of being punished by frivolous lawsuit. Sure you win, but that only means you have to work two jobs until the day you die. Or, in this case, you spend some unpleasant moments arguing with some clown who is being dishonest about the premises of his argument. The next time the subject comes up, you're likely to self-censor. Not that that's what anybody has in mind.
Otherwise, one's freedom to speak will be incrementally challenged and reduced. Not that that's what anybody really has in mind.
7.26.2007 12:44pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Randy R. writes:

Kids at 15 are not part of society? By the time they are 15, many kids have sat through hundreds of sermons denouncing gays. It only takes a few stray comments from a parent or family member to know that gays are not welcome in the family.
Hundreds of sermons? My guess is that I have sat through about 1600 sermons in my life. One denounced homosexuality, and was careful to emphasize that it was no greater of a sin than adultery, or gluttony, or a variety of other sins. Admittedly, I've attended churches that are a bit more fundamentalist than I agree with--perhaps those liberal Protestant churches and Catholic churches are preaching up a storm against homosexuality. I certainly haven't seen it.

I'm sure that there are families that are profoundly hostile to homosexuality out there. But over the years, I've seen far more families that at least accept that a family member is homosexual, and generally make gobs of arguments for why it is okay. I don't think most families are enthusiastic about having a gay child, but the sort of ferocious hostility that you describe doesn't fit the families that I have seen.

As for your claim that homosexuals have substance abuse problems because they are oppressed--well, that could be. But that's not the only possible explanation; it is the only explanation that homosexual activists are prepared to accept, because the alternative involves some introspection, and considering whether their sexual confusion is something to be proud of, or something to work through.
7.26.2007 1:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Crunchy Frog writes:

I will buy for the sake of argument that a non-trivial minority have no choice in what type of body parts that it gets their juices flowing to look at/touch/insert or whatever. However, in my not-so-humble opinion, the desire to swap out one's current body parts for their opposites (accompanied by a lifetime of hormonal therapy to trick the body into thinking this is okay) is indicative of serious mental illness and should not by any means be encouraged.
Ditto. Same-sex sodomy and oral sex is downright normal compared to having your penis and scrotum removed to create a faux vagina; hormone injections and implants to have fake female breasts; and all the suffering that goes with these operations. The fact that homosexual activists enthusiastically dragged in these very, very confused and messed up people is a pretty good indication of how sick homosexuals must be to consider these fellow travelers. This article from the British newspaper The Guardian--hardly a traditional values publication--is just heartbreaking to read, as it discusses someone who keeps changing sex, and now isn't either male nor female--and still very unhappy. There's a lot of these sex changers who end up after all the surgery still miserable--because it wasn't that they were "trapped in the wrong body" at all.

And yes, I know that these examples aren't typical of homosexuals--but once you've accepted the concept that what consenting adults do in private is none of the government's business--what's wrong with castration and amputating legs as a sign of bonding between two men? You'll need to do a bit better than "that's sick" or "that's mental illness." Because that's what homosexuals used to be called.
7.26.2007 1:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Oh and yes, there are kids kicked out of their house as young as age 15. You think their life is going to easy after that?
I'm sure that there are homosexuals that this happens to. But you know what? I've seen a lot of families over the years respond to a homosexual child by getting very defensive of their child's "lifestyle choice." I've never seen one kicked out of the house.
7.26.2007 1:17pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Andy123 writes:


This is one of the most absurd comments I have ever heard.
You will need to defend your position. When I graduated high school in 1974, homosexuality was considered an eccentricity, but that's about it. The prevailing attitude of my generation was that if that makes you happy, well, so what. The following year, California decriminalized homosexuality by repealing its laws against oral and anal sex. By the 1990s, I doubt that there was a single public college in America that didn't have a gay students club, and certainly, the thrust of law since the mid-1990s has been aggressively supportive of treating homosexuals as an oppressed minority.
7.26.2007 1:20pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Nothing in the passages you quoted or in the rest of the abstract you linked to indicates that their sexuality led to the drug abuse. If anything, it suggests the opposite--that their drug abuse and a collection of other high-risk behaviors may have led to same-sex encounters they would not otherwise have had: "Compared to other young women IDUs, WSW IDUs were more likely to have engaged in riskier behaviors, to have had high-risk sexual and injection networks, to have been homeless or institutionalized..."
Correlation isn't causation, of course. But which came first? If IVDU led to prostitution, you could make the argument about which came first. But women having sex with women? That's not the usual result of prostitution (which almost always involves males hiring either males or females).

It is likely that both the IVDU and the sexual preference are symptoms of a common factor--and there is now a considerable body of evidence showing a correlation between sexual abuse as children and adult homoseuxality. And guess what? Sexually abused children are more likely to become substance abusers when they grow up.
7.26.2007 1:23pm
Yankev (mail):

So, I would suggest that when using a word in good faith and finding somebody objecting to it as offensive, the response should be one of the following two;

Examples of offensive words that are accepted parlance in the US and that it would not occur to me to ban, or even (in most cases) to take offense at:

Pharisee and its adjectives, when used to mean self-righteous, hypocritical, etc. as opposed to the doctrinal beliefs of the Pharisees, which today are embodied in what is called Orthodox Judaism.

Talmudic, when used as a pejorative to mean a niggling obsession with meaningless detail.

Old Testament.

Ultra-Orthodox.

A.D. or Anno Domini when used in governmental documents.

It would not occur to me to demand that these terms be banned just because they devalue and run counter to my religious beliefs.
7.26.2007 1:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Yankev writes:

Examples of offensive words that are accepted parlance in the US and that it would not occur to me to ban, or even (in most cases) to take offense at:

...

A.D. or Anno Domini when used in governmental documents.

It would not occur to me to demand that these terms be banned just because they devalue and run counter to my religious beliefs.
Fortunately, you are a reasonable person. Over the last ten years, a fair number of university history departments have gone through and revised course descriptions to only use B.C.E. and C.E., rather than B.C. or A.D. Why? I find it hard believe that there are enough religious people studying history at American universities who find these offensive. I can see why a few Muslims, Jews, and Jehovah's Witnesses might get religiously offended by the meaning of those abbreviations. I'm going to throw out a wild guess that perhaps 10% of Muslims and Jews might be sufficiently upset about the descriptive use of BC and AD in dates to complain. (I'm not considering the JWs--I rather doubt that any JW who takes his religion seriously enough to be offended by BC and AD is going to be studying history.) I doubt that avoiding offense to 10% of 5% of students (or about .5%) caused this change.

So why make this change--which makes the course descriptions a bit confusing to the vast majority of Americans? I'm going to guess that it was because it was a cheap way for academics to remind incoming students that Christians really aren't welcome. In practice, it doesn't drive any away--it's just a cheap shot taken for no legitimate purpose.
7.26.2007 2:14pm
Yankev (mail):

Fortunately, you are a reasonable person. Over the last ten years, a fair number of university history departments have gone through and revised course descriptions to only use B.C.E. and C.E., rather than B.C. or A.D. Why?


Even as a reasonable person, I will not use or endorse the use of AD. I will not display any document that uses it (e.g. a diploma) without first blotting it out, and I strike it from the notary clause in any document that I notarize.

I'm going to guess that it was because it was a cheap way for academics to remind incoming students that Christians really aren't welcome. In practice, it doesn't drive any away--it's just a cheap shot taken for no legitimate purpose.

It may be for a variety of reasons. First, even from a Christian perspective, there may be sound reasons to use BCE and CE (not that I'm holding my breath). As I undestand it, historians believe that that certain man was born about 4 BCE. That makes the terms Common era and Before Common Era more accurate even from a Christian perspective.

Second, and more important: refusal to adopt or echo a view point does not necessarily mean that those who hold the viewpoint are unwelcome. If there is a crucifix at a hospital or a university, does that tell me that non-Christians are unwelcome, or does it tell me that this is a Christian institution? If an instituion refers to Sabbath rather than Shabbos or Shabbat, does that tell me I as a Jew am unwelcome, or does it simply tell me that the speaker is either not Jewish, or at least chooses for any variety of reasons to express himself as one who is not?

So too removing BC or AD. Why do some Christians assume that they are unwelcome, or that their beliefs are under attack, simply because someone refrains from echoing those beliefs? Why should someone's refusal to say "Merry Ch-mas" I(which would mean an endorsement that a certain man was, as Christians believe, the messiah) an attack on Christianity? Why is it not enough that Christians are allowed to practice Christianity and celebrate Christian holydays unless all of society celebrates with them?

I have learned not to begrudge this (I have it a lot better here, BH, than I would in a lot of other countries, and my religion teaches me that there are limits to what I can or should ask of the majority culture), but it continues to puzzle me.
7.26.2007 2:51pm
Yankev (mail):

I'm going to guess that it was because it was a cheap way for academics to remind incoming students that Christians really aren't welcome.


Clayton,
If that is the reason, try not to feel too bad. Practicing Jews aren't especially welcome either. Many secular Americans -- Christian, Jewish, or otherwise -- tend to mistrust anyone who takes Judaism or Christianity religion seriously -- especially if the Christianity is not one of the mainstream liberal denominations.

Prof. Steven Carter (himself a liberal) documented this trend more than a decade ago in his excellent book The Culture of Disbelief.
7.26.2007 3:03pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Practicing Jews aren't especially welcome either. Many secular Americans -- Christian, Jewish, or otherwise -- tend to mistrust anyone who takes Judaism or Christianity religion seriously -- especially if the Christianity is not one of the mainstream liberal denominations.
I'm aware of this. Judaism is a bit more tolerated because it's "ethnic" in the same way that black Christianity is somewhat acceptable because it has cultural significance to a racial minority. Islam is especially cool to the intellectuals right now because they perceive it (wrongly) as the particular enemy of George Bush (although not of their own social liberalism).
7.26.2007 3:21pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Yankev writes:

It may be for a variety of reasons. First, even from a Christian perspective, there may be sound reasons to use BCE and CE (not that I'm holding my breath). As I undestand it, historians believe that that certain man was born about 4 BCE. That makes the terms Common era and Before Common Era more accurate even from a Christian perspective.
However, as a method of communicating information, BC and AD have a well understood meaning. If we were still commonly dating events A.U.C. (years since the founding of the city of Rome), I would have no problem using AUC. I don't have a problem using BCE and CE. I do have a problem when language becomes a tool not for communication, but for manipulating thought. Changing from BC/AD to BCE/CE in materials that are aimed at the average American college student is an intentional slight that interferes with the purpose of language: easy communication. If someone insisted on replacing the word "homosexual" with some exotic word that was not commonly understood (even if the term had a negative connotation), I would have serious problems with it.

The idea that you can change reality by changing the words we use to describe that reality is positively 1984. Homosexuals aren't the only ones doing this. In some Christian circles, fetus was first replaced with "unborn child" (which at least had the virtue of covering both embryos and fetuses), and that is now being replaced with "preborn child" which grates on my ears pretty seriously.
7.26.2007 3:29pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Clayton: I don't know why you see exposing college students to CE and BCE as an intentional slight as opposed to an attempt to expose them to a new idea. But we wouldn't want that: Colleges should merely ratify the noncritical assumptions that students hold when they first walk on campus. Otherwise students might start thinking independently.
7.26.2007 3:59pm
wooga:
This longitudinal study involves people born in 1977 in New Zealand—so kids who grew up after homosexuality was no longer stigmatized in the Western world.
This is one of the most absurd comments I have ever heard.
You have no credibility after such a remark.

Andy123, are you serious? How old are you?

I was born in 1976. Of the thousands of people who have confided personal biases to me, not once have I ever personally encountered someone saying they hated gay people. Many found gay sex gross, but many also found hetero butt action even grosser. In contrast, I have had many dozens express overt racism, using the n-word as if they were a 18th century caricature. The number is hundreds when you factor in overt actual jew hatred (not just anti-Israel) and anti-arab.

I've worked, socialized, and lived with gay men, (including several years in the south) and never once had somebody drive by in a pickup, yell "fag" and throw beer cans at us. Based on my TV watching, I was surprised that that sort of occurrence didn't happen on a weekly basis.

All this time, I have been bombarded with tv messages telling me to embrace and celebrate queer homosexual, GLB, GLBT, different sexual orientations. MTV might as well have a crawl at all times saying "if you flinch when you see two guys kissing, you are a nazi..."
7.26.2007 4:14pm
Yankev (mail):
Clayton,

Judaism is a bit more tolerated because it's "ethnic" in the same way that black Christianity is somewhat acceptable because it has cultural significance to a racial minority.


That may be true today. Given that Judaism is identified on campus with Israel, and given that Orthodox Jews insist on marrying other Jews and is sometimes identified as being archaic, racist, sexist, homophobic and oppressive by many who do not understand its beliefs, I have my doubts.

Certainly it was not true a few years ago when Yale refused to let Orthodox Jewish students enroll because the students would not agree to live in mixed-sex arrangements that were flatly prohibited by Jewish law.

Nor was it true at U of MN Law School in the late 1970's, when I first started taking steps toward becoming observant. Some of my erstwhile friends were downright offended that I would no longer eat certain foods, and that I stayed home from class on certain days -- they took it as a rejection on my part of their tolerance. There were also rumors that one assistant dean was annoyed that a group of Jewish students asked (in very timely and respectful manner, by the way) to move the by date of our graduation so as not to coincide with a lesser known but important Jewish holy day that would have prevented observant Jewish students from attending, and with another student's request for accommodation when Rosh Hashannah coincided with her class's registration date, which would have kept her from getting into some of the courses she needed.
7.26.2007 4:33pm
Yankev (mail):

In some Christian circles, fetus was first replaced with "unborn child" (which at least had the virtue of covering both embryos and fetuses), and that is now being replaced with "preborn child" which grates on my ears pretty seriously.

On the other hand, when was the last time that you heard an expectant and joyful parent of either sex refer to their not-yet-born child as a "fetus" or an "embryo"? "Oh, look, Max, the embryo is kicking." Usually I hear them use the term "baby", even though the baby has not yet been born.

Whenever I hear someone talk about a fetus, I am pretty sure they consider it at best disposable and at worst a hostile intruder to be destroyed as quickly as possible.
7.26.2007 4:42pm
El Blogero (mail):
Climaxx: Nothing in your posts did anything to knock down the "thin leg" on which my posts rest ("Oh, it was coined in 1969? Well, that settles it!"). In fact, after your posts, it looks stronger than ever after. Personally, I am amused that the word includes a slur as a prefix and is still used by polically correct people with such abandon. So, as far as I am concerned, use it at will.
7.26.2007 5:17pm
Randy R. (mail):
BEB: "But most important, cut back on the joe."

Your'e right. I was rude. My apologies. But it wasn't the coffee -- I don't drink it! -- but I was in a spunky mood last night.
7.26.2007 5:19pm
Randy R. (mail):
Clayton: " I don't think most families are enthusiastic about having a gay child, but the sort of ferocious hostility that you describe doesn't fit the families that I have seen."

Then you have to get out more. About half of all teenagers living on the streets of LA are there because they are gay and were kicked out of their home. Gay kids, even today, are often beat up in school. Maybe not YOUR school, but there are thousands of schools in the US, and it happens a lot more than you think. I don't particularly care about your anecdotes -- it's the facts and stats that really matter. More so, what matters are the kids that are beat up.

"As for your claim that homosexuals have substance abuse problems because they are oppressed--well, that could be. But that's not the only possible explanation; it is the only explanation that homosexual activists are prepared to accept, because the alternative involves some introspection, and considering whether their sexual confusion is something to be proud of, or something to work through."

Perhaps if you spent more time reading gay magazines instead of the warped studies of Paul Cameron, you would find this not at all true. I subscribe to several gay magazines and read several weeklies. There are plenty of stories of drug abuse, sex abuse, spousal abuse, AIDS, HIV, depression and so on within the community.

Trust me, no one is more introspective about the gay community that the gay community, but you just don't want to read about it.

Sexual confusion? So I guess we are all heteros, and gays are just suffering from 'sexual confusion?' And if we just got ourselves straightened out, we would be straight and happily married? This shows you really know nothing about gay people. And why does this concern you so much? Why are you so tenatiously trying to portray gay people as sick and mentally ill? No medical society does, and no medical professional does. And I think they would at least know a bit more about this than you.
7.26.2007 5:31pm
Randy R. (mail):
"I've worked, socialized, and lived with gay men, (including several years in the south) and never once had somebody drive by in a pickup, yell "fag" and throw beer cans at us."

It depends on where you live. Now, I have several friends who have been beat up just for holding hands, and this is in relatively liberal Washington. Go to Virginia, and you will be lucky to be alive after the beating. Once you get out of the major city centers, it's much tougher.

Ask your gay friends if they feel comfortable kissing each other or holding hands at the local suburban mall.
7.26.2007 5:33pm
wooga:
Ask your gay friends if they feel comfortable kissing each other or holding hands at the local suburban mall.

I admit, that gets to the heart of it. They typically don't, and the ones who say they don't mind... I think they are lying. So yes, it is still not socially acceptable to engage in homosexual behavior. Whether this rises to the level of 'stigma' turns on how you define 'stigma.'

So, I would correct my prior post to admit that there is still a 'stigma' of sorts in Western society, but I would classify it as increasingly approaching the level of stigma attached to being disfigured, having an ailment like MS, being morbidly obese, and other genetic predispositions (I assume homosexuality has a strong genetic component). People will give you nasty looks, may call you names, and they don't want their children socializing with you. But, 'mainstream culture' (whatever that may be) certainly embraces gays over the fat folk.
7.26.2007 5:52pm
wooga:
Reading my last post, I wanted to note that I am NOT saying being gay is an 'ailment' or 'mental disease.' I am lumping it with other genetic issues that are not 'celebrated' by society, but rather are still socially seen as having an undesired behavioral component. The morality of that is another question altogether.
7.26.2007 5:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Randy R. writes:

"As for your claim that homosexuals have substance abuse problems because they are oppressed--well, that could be. But that's not the only possible explanation; it is the only explanation that homosexual activists are prepared to accept, because the alternative involves some introspection, and considering whether their sexual confusion is something to be proud of, or something to work through."

Perhaps if you spent more time reading gay magazines instead of the warped studies of Paul Cameron, you would find this not at all true. I subscribe to several gay magazines and read several weeklies. There are plenty of stories of drug abuse, sex abuse, spousal abuse, AIDS, HIV, depression and so on within the community.
I'm not sure that I have ever read anything by Paul Cameron. I've read quite a bit of stuff by homosexuals who post in soc.motss, and of course living in the San Francisco Bay Area, homosexuality was something that you had to deal with on a daily basis.

Trust me, no one is more introspective about the gay community that the gay community, but you just don't want to read about it.
Sorry, but over the years, I'm not sure that I've talked to more than a couple of introspective homosexuals. (And I suspect that they were pretty unusual because they were both pretty socially conservative, except for their sex lives.)

Sexual confusion? So I guess we are all heteros, and gays are just suffering from 'sexual confusion?' And if we just got ourselves straightened out, we would be straight and happily married? This shows you really know nothing about gay people.
About half of gay people who are strongly committed to the process seem to be successful at making a change in not just behavior, but in orientation. It may be that there is more than cause of homosexuality. Perhaps some are that way because they were damaged somewhere along the way, and others are born that way. It is hard to tell, but the current insistence that there is only one possible explanation for homosexuality precludes serious research on the topic.

And why does this concern you so much? Why are you so tenatiously trying to portray gay people as sick and mentally ill? No medical society does, and no medical professional does. And I think they would at least know a bit more about this than you.
It concerns me because of the totalitarian tendencies that the gay activists reveal, with their insistence on sending people to prison for speaking against homosexuality, and their corruption of the legal system to impose a minority viewpoint. That is at least as worrisome as what you do in private.

You are simply incorrect when you say that "no medical professional" believes that there is a problem. There is a still a significant minority of psychiatrists who are not convinced. A majority vote by the APA signified that a majority were tired of the constant yammering about it, and that they were not able to come up with a persuasive explanation or treatment for it. If you can't cure it, it must not be a disease!
7.26.2007 9:40pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton: I don't know why you see exposing college students to CE and BCE as an intentional slight as opposed to an attempt to expose them to a new idea. But we wouldn't want that: Colleges should merely ratify the noncritical assumptions that students hold when they first walk on campus. Otherwise students might start thinking independently.
Because CE and BCE doesn't expose them to a new idea at all. It just makes it more difficult at first glance to figure out what the class will be covering. Yes, I expect that students will figure out pretty quickly--but why?

If you really don't object to challenging students to force them to think independently, then you won't mind if college catalogs replace the word "gay" with "faggot," right? I mean, it's all about challenging their minds, right?
7.26.2007 9:45pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It depends on where you live. Now, I have several friends who have been beat up just for holding hands, and this is in relatively liberal Washington. Go to Virginia, and you will be lucky to be alive after the beating. Once you get out of the major city centers, it's much tougher.

Ask your gay friends if they feel comfortable kissing each other or holding hands at the local suburban mall.
Why ask? Since at least 1990, everywhere that I have lived I have seen same-sex couples engaged in PDAs. Not just in Sonoma County, a largely rural county north of San Francisco, but even in Boise. There are fewer same-sex couples here (especially openly gay men), and they are a bit more discreet, but it isn't like no one knows what the relationship is. There was a pretty obviously lesbian couple sitting next to my wife and me at The Tempest the other night.
7.26.2007 9:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It depends on where you live. Now, I have several friends who have been beat up just for holding hands, and this is in relatively liberal Washington. Go to Virginia, and you will be lucky to be alive after the beating. Once you get out of the major city centers, it's much tougher.

Ask your gay friends if they feel comfortable kissing each other or holding hands at the local suburban mall.
Why ask? Since at least 1990, everywhere that I have lived I have seen same-sex couples engaged in PDAs. Not just in Sonoma County, a largely rural county north of San Francisco, but even in Boise. There are fewer same-sex couples here (especially openly gay men), and they are a bit more discreet, but it isn't like no one knows what the relationship is. There was a pretty obviously lesbian couple sitting next to my wife and me at The Tempest the other night.
7.26.2007 10:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Then you have to get out more. About half of all teenagers living on the streets of LA are there because they are gay and were kicked out of their home.
LA is a profoundly liberal place. I find this almost impossible to believe--unless your liberal friends aren't as much your friends as they want you to believe.
Gay kids, even today, are often beat up in school. Maybe not YOUR school, but there are thousands of schools in the US, and it happens a lot more than you think. I don't particularly care about your anecdotes -- it's the facts and stats that really matter. More so, what matters are the kids that are beat up.
1. Violence, unfortunately, is widespread in schools. I was beat up a lot in middle school. Not for being gay, but for being perceived as easy pickings. Are we sure that they are being picked on for being gay, or because gays are perceived as easy to beat up?

2. Of course, it goes both ways. You may (or more likely, have not) seen the news coverage of the lesbian gang that is raping middle school straight girls in Tennessee.

3. Considering how many of the highly publicized "gay bashing" incidents over the last few years have turned out to be fabrications (here's a list for you of a few), it makes me wonder how much of this problem is real.

4. Some cultures have very high violence problems. We don't have much violence here in Boise. Washington, DC, on the other hand, has a huge violence problem. I find myself wondering how much of what you are describing is violence because your friends are gay, and how much is because they are in a cesspool of a city that has often won the national dishonors for highest murder rate. Even the attackers use anti-gay epithets, it may simply mean, "You're a white person in DC, you're fair game." But liberals have a hard time admitting that there are black racists, so it is always easier to blame it on anti-gay animus.
7.26.2007 10:19pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Clayton:

Is this the lesbian gangs story you're discussing:

This was not the first time GLAAD took the media to task for irresponsibly and sensationally reporting on "lesbian gangs." In February, GLAAD called on local ABC24 and CW30 affiliates in Memphis, TN not to air a shockingly defamatory and inaccurate report dramatizing "Gays Taking Over," with actors portraying a group of African American women preying on other women. In the report, which GLAAD screened before its airdate, the principal interview subject, a so-called "gang expert," stated without evidence that people victimized by "lesbian gangs" would be turned gay.

Although GLAAD's urging prompted the station to modify its report and to disclose that it was unable to document its claims or provide evidence to back them, the segment that aired retained its sensationalistic and homophobic tone. And, unlike Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, ABC24 general manager Jack Peck refused to acknowledge the report's irresponsible exaggerations. And recently, he even began falsely claiming that GLAAD had threatened to sue the station.
7.27.2007 1:53am
Randy R. (mail):
Clayton: "Sorry, but over the years, I'm not sure that I've talked to more than a couple of introspective homosexuals. (And I suspect that they were pretty unusual because they were both pretty socially conservative, except for their sex lives.)"

Then instead of talking to a handful of gays, why don't you actually read the publications that I mentioned?

"About half of gay people who are strongly committed to the process seem to be successful at making a change in not just behavior, but in orientation."

This is ridiculous. Where do you get these figures? Even Exodus won't say this. At most, they say that changing your orientation is a lifelong process, only for the most deeply committed, and even then there is very little hope of complete change. They certainly have not released any stats. What you are saying is at best wishful thinking.

"It concerns me because of the totalitarian tendencies that the gay activists reveal, with their insistence on sending people to prison for speaking against homosexuality"

Really? First of all, gay activists don't send anyone to prison. Juries and prosecutors do. Second, name just one instance where merely speaking against us has led to any prosecutions. The one that is most widely touted was the one in Philly, and they were arrested for BY THE POLICE, not gay activists, for disruption.

"You are simply incorrect when you say that "no medical professional" believes that there is a problem. There is a still a significant minority of psychiatrists who are not convinced." No there isn't, Clayton. The psychiatrists that say this are affiliated with Cameron, or Regent University, or lack any real credentials.

" A majority vote by the APA signified that a majority were tired of the constant yammering about it, and that they were not able to come up with a persuasive explanation or treatment for it. If you can't cure it, it must not be a disease!"

You know, I'm really tired of this. The APA votes were well documented on this issue and can be found in any history of the event. There was a majority vote to remove Homosexuality as a mental disease in 1973 by the entire membership of the APA, and it was done because there was no convincing evidence that it is in fact a mental illness. Study after study since then has proven this true. More recently, the APA has voted that there is NO evidence reparative therapy works, and that it does more harm than anything else, and that anyone actually praciticing it should be disciplined. This isn't because we tiny minority of people who are gay hold so much power over the entire APA membership, but because it was based upon facts.

Clearly. you have a problem with gays. You believe we are mentally ill, wish to destroy society, and that we can be changed. You are entitled to your opinions, but not your facts. And when confronted with facts, you simply wave them away under "I can't believe that." Then you raise phony facts like the lesbian gangs, even though Bill O'Reilly had to go on air and retract his statement because even HE realized it was a complete fabrication.\

Basically, any fact that makes gays look good can't be true, and any idea, no matter how false or ridiculous, that makes gays look bad, must be true.

There really is no point in any further discussion.
7.27.2007 1:59am
Ramza:

I'm sure that there are homosexuals that this happens to. But you know what? I've seen a lot of families over the years respond to a homosexual child by getting very defensive of their child's "lifestyle choice." I've never seen one kicked out of the house.

Well you may not "see me", but I am one such homosexual who was kicked out of my family house. I was not 15 though, nor did I live on the street unlike some unfortunate souls, but I was very much kicked out, and my family is very much not accepting or making arguments about how being gay is 'acceptable.'
7.27.2007 2:05am
Chimaxx (mail):
Clayton:
About half of gay people who are strongly committed to the process seem to be successful at making a change in not just behavior, but in orientation.


Sentence 1: This is an outrageous misrepresentation of Spitzer's study. About similar misrepresentations of his study, Spitzer says:
"Although I suspect change occurs, I suspect it's very rare," he said. "Is it 1 percent, 2 percent? I don't think it's 10 percent."

and
… of course, they [Focus on the Family] were delighted with that study. What they fail to mention — and it's not, I guess, a big surprise — is that in the discussion I noted that it was so hard for me to find 200 subjects to participate in the study that I have to conclude that, although change is possible and does occur, it's probably quite rare. And of course, they don't want to mention that." video


It's been fun the past couple of months watching the ex-gay/anti-gay movement go into conniptions as Exodus head Alan Chambers started publicly advancing a more nuanced definition of "change":
["Ex-gay" is] too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. "By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete," Chambers said.
7.27.2007 3:03pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Sentence 1: This is an outrageous misrepresentation of Spitzer's study. About similar misrepresentations of his study, Spitzer says:

"Although I suspect change occurs, I suspect it's very rare," he said. "Is it 1 percent, 2 percent? I don't think it's 10 percent."
Sorry, I was relying on Spitzer's PowerPoint presentation--not someone's misrepresentation of it. Perhaps Spitzer misrepresented himself? And when a journal finally published Spitzer's paper, it so angered one of the gay editors that he resigned.
7.27.2007 3:49pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Is this the lesbian gangs story you're discussing?
Yup. I presume that if a television station is prepared to say something negative about homosexuals, it must have pretty persuasive evidence to do so. Are you claiming that homosexuals never engage in rape? Perfect, aren't they?


There really is no point in any further discussion.
Yup. Fanatics who refuse to see anything wrong with sending people to prison (as in several European countries) for expressing disapproval of homosexual are clearly deranged.
7.27.2007 3:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clearly. you have a problem with gays. You believe we are mentally ill, wish to destroy society, and that we can be changed. You are entitled to your opinions, but not your facts.
The difference between us is that I am quite prepared to not use the government to arrest homosexuals, send them to prison, and so on. Homosexuals are quite prepared to fine, sue, and imprison people for refusing to go along with their agenda.

I'm sure that you are full of excuses for why these are all necessary steps. But it does show the totalitarian nature of the homosexual activists.
7.27.2007 4:05pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Yup. I presume that if a television station is prepared to say something negative about homosexuals, it must have pretty persuasive evidence to do so.


And what would you base that presumption on, even when it goes against the available evidence.

Sorry, I was relying on Spitzer's PowerPoint presentation


Then either YOU are willfully misinterpreting one of Dr. Spitzer's slides to make a point it was never intended to make and cannot support (in other words, you are lying), or you are too stupid to know the difference.

That you repeat this assertion after Spitzer has repeatedly decried this particular misinterpretation of his study data in the New York Times and elsewhere makes stupidity unlikely.
7.27.2007 4:08pm
Randy R. (mail):
Funny how Clayton likes Spitzer when he claims 10% cure, but I guess Clayton didn't like Spitzer when he was one of the leading voices within the APA to have homosexuality declassified as a mental illness.

Nor does Clayton list any of the numerable lawsuits filed by anti-gay activists who don't like their schools teaching that gay people exist. Last time we had a skirmish over how many gays are killed simply for being gay, Clayton of course didn't believe me, so I emailed him the articles. Of course they must be false, right! Nor does he mention the people who picket the funerals of gay people -- nope , no discrimination exists the US.

As usual, he picks and chooses whatever he can to make gays look bad. There simply is no amount of reason or facts that can convince him. My only concern is that people reading this blog might think he is on to something, and so for those people, we correct the record.

Me, I prefer the words of the dearly departed Tammy Faye Baker, who said on Larry King on July 19, just a few days before she died: You know when we lost everything, it was the gay people who came to my rescue and I will always love them for that."
7.27.2007 5:57pm
Kieran Jadiker-Smith (mail):
Getting back to the original subject of this post, before the thread got diverted into an argument about Clayton E. Cramer's lovingly curated collection of straw men and tales of anal sex:

I think there's something of a generational difference when it comes to "homosexual" versus "gay." I'm a 23-year-old gay male, and I find that, among people anywhere close to my age, "homosexual" is used mainly -- though not exclusively -- by people openly hostile to homosexuality. When "homosexual" is used in a non-pejorative way, in my experience, it tends to be when the speaker is older than, oh, 30 or so.

Oddly enough, my generation is also the one where it was commonplace to use "gay" as a synonym for "lame," so I'm not sure why gay people my age didn't gravitate toward some other word, but we didn't. Some of us, especially those of a certain political bent, use "queer," but the majority don't. Personally, I rather wish "queer" wasn't loaded down with all kinds of political baggage, since it would be convenient to have a single non-pejorative word for "gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc." But I'd say for most of the gay people I know, the term "queer" is a bit like fingernails on the chalkboard, perhaps because they associate it with an insult, or perhaps because (like me) they find the politics associated with the word tiresome.

Something interesting I've observed among kids today (by "kids" I'm thinking middle school aged or a bit older or younger) is that many of them, when corrected about using "gay" to mean "lame," and told that it's bad manners because it's insulting to gay people, express surprise that the "gay" that means "lame" is the same "gay" that means "homosexual." The first time a kid said he thought they were just homonyms, I thought he was being disingenuous, and trying to talk his way out of trouble, but I've heard it enough that I think kids often don't realize the connection (though some do, obviously).

When someone uses the word "homosexual" I don't immediately assume they're hostile to gays and lesbians, but I'd say that it causes my antennae to perk up, because more often than not, they are. On the other hand, when someone uses the word "gay," it doesn't set off alarms in my head unless it's in a tone or context that makes me think they mean it pejoratively.

I can't think of any occasion when, while talking among gay people my age, we've described anyone as a "homosexual" except when the term was being used ironically or with mock horror.

So the bottom line, in my opinion: "homosexual" isn't necessarily considered pejorative, but it's getting there.
7.27.2007 11:07pm
JM Hanes (mail):
Clayton Cramer:

"About half of gay people who are strongly committed to the process seem to be successful at making a change in not just behavior, but in orientation."

I don't believe that for one flat second, and the few "testimonials" of the sort that I've ever heard struck me more as heartbreakingly painful than anything else. I'm not even going to challenge you to produce supporting stats from a reputable source, because they simply don't exist. The more we learn about both genetics and about the chemistry of human interactions, the more pernicious such anecdotal "evidence" and the people who tout it appear.
7.28.2007 4:40am
JM Hanes (mail):
Clayton Cramer:

And just in case your formulation was deliberately disingenuous, I'd also point out that 50% of 2 "strongly committed people" is a statistical non-starter.
7.28.2007 4:47am