William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Irrational Fears About Accepting Homosexual Behavior

The comment was made:

"[One could accept homosexual behavior as normal and biologically caused] as long as the Homosexual committed accepts the argument for a biological causation for the following acts:

1) Incestual love and relationships. Love and attraction are after all a Biological and natural part of life. One can't help but fall in love with someone they find attractive and are a "companion".

2) Pedophile should no longer be called a disease because there is evidence that those who suffer pedophilia can't help themselves be attracted to their objects of affections.

3) Prostitution should be legalized. Why should we stigmatize Prostitutes???

4) People who steal food from a grocery store because they have no other means to acquire food should not be prosecuted - therefore in the case of stealing food, it is a biological necessity that a person must eat - or starve to death. Those who claim that a person steals food so that they could provide food for themselves and their family ought to be prosecuted are dehumanizing, and stigmatizing the poor.

When I mentioned these to some of the more aggressive and militant same-sex proponents, they laugh and mock saying that such things are not proof. When I provided the empirical evidence, they call me a homophobe. To which, I in turn describe them and their actions very heterophobic."

To which I responded:

Your apparent slippery-slope argument for why it would be dangerous for us to be accepting of homosexual behavior, in my opinion, uses some very false analogies which should be addressed. In my own opinion, we must strongly distinguish between behavior which in and of itself harmful or violative of others' rights, and behavior which is generally innocuous but simply deviant by religiously-based moral standards. Allow me to address your particular examples:

1) "Incestual love and relationships." Generally, these relationships involve a minor who is incapable of giving meaningful informed consent to a sexual encounter. To the extent that this is the case, then the "relationship" can fairly be viewed as coercive and invasive of the minor's rights and human dignity. As for the (I believe very rare) situations of incest between consenting and sane adults, there seem to be at least some rational secular bases for prohibiting such conduct, such as the increased likelihood of retardation and birth defects in offspring. I personally find any incestual relationship disgusting, but my own personal disgust is not a legitimate reason for its condemnation. Though I am no expert, I would venture to speculate that those consenting adults who knowingly engage in incestual relationships almost certainly have severe mental illnesses which would be diagnosable by any reasonably educated psychologist. I would also venture to speculate, though I am no expert, that such adults would generally be treatable and that their natural sexual attractions would be easily transferable to non-family members. If I am wrong, please cite some data or statistics if you can.

2) Pedophiles don't even belong in any anology of homosexuals at large. Pedophilia has VICTIMS, and is a non-consensual situation which bears no relationship to consensual adult homosexual relationships.

3) While I believe that adult prostitution should be legal and closely regulated to guard against coercion and abuse, prostitution is also not analogous to standard consenting-adult homosexual relationships. But before I explain that, let me make some comments on prostitution. Although I have no personal experience with it, my exposure to the subject matter leads me to believe that there are at least some women who are willing to do it in the absence of coercion. Historic condemnation of prostitution seems to be based, directly or indirectly, on several main factors, including the following: (1) the association of prostitutes with sexually transmitted diseases; (2) the oft-occuring coercion of prostitutes through violence, drug addiction, and oppression to force them to sell their bodies; (3) human and religiously based fears of erotic expression; (4) the association of prostitutes with poverty and the human legacy of treating poorer people with less respect than richer people; (5) the danger to society posed by violence and property crimes associated with circles in which prostitution takes place; (6) unwanted pregnancies and children born out of wedlock (which historically often received no inheritance or other rights from their fathers); (7) the perceived shame a wife would feel when her husband visited a prostitute because it implied that she was not performing her "womanly duties"; (8) more recently, concerns that prostitution destroys marital intimacy. Pragmatically speaking, even if one detests prostitution, one cannot realistically expect that it will disappear through mere illegality. In fact, as with many vices, making them illegal can actually cause more problems than it solves, and can drive the perpetrators and victims underground where they can scarcely avail themselves of the protection and support which society could otherwise offer. In the case of prostitution, I believe we are much better off keeping it legal so that we can best protect the people who are going to do it no matter what. As for the particular historic concerns I mentioned above, I believe legalization and close regulation can alleviate all of them but (3), (7), and (8), and as for those three concerns, we must leave it up to individuals to work out amongst themselves, but they are in any event an insufficient basis for making prostitution illegal. For my part, on a moral level, the only reason I can think of for a moral prohibition on consensual-adult, responsibly-practiced prostitution, is the loss of intimacy; I think that sexual intercourse crosses out of the acceptable realm of sexual fantasy into the dangerous realm of sexual promiscuity. I have never condoned, and do not condone, unbridled sexual passion. Now let's turn to the issue of homosexuality and its relationship with prostitution. I don't see any, except for the fact that there exists such a thing as a male prostitute who caters to a homosexual clientele. Since I don't believe non-coercive prostitution must be outlawed, I don't think it is a reasonable argument to say that accepting homosexual behavior will lead to the "undesirable result" of making prostitution legal.

4) Theft. I don't know about you, but if I am truly starving, and I have no money, and I cannot beg for food, I would rather steal than starve. And I could hardly imagine that God would condemn me for such an act, unless my situation was of my own making. If you are so cold that you would prosecute someone who had no option to survive other than to steal, then I fear for your soul. Now, that being said, in our modern and wealthy and generally just society in the U.S., I think it would be an extremely rare occurrence that a person would ever actually have to steal food to avoid starvation. We have welfare programs to give a safety net to people who fall on hard times or suffer from mental or physical disabilities which prevent them from fending for themselves. So I don't quite get how you make the quantum leap from (a) accepting homosexual behavior; to (b) mass societal chaos where anyone may steal with impunity and avoid prosecution. Your analogy is a very poor one because, whereas people generally are equipped with the means to fend for themselves and provide for their basic necessities through honest labor, gays don't have the option of just getting "therapy" or taking other measures to rid themselves of the extreme "hunger" for a same-sex partner.

One final note: in coming to accept consensual homosexual behavior, we need not conclude, as you imply, that a mere innate desire to do something (whether biologically caused or not) gives us the automatic moral right to do it. But from a moral standpoint, before we prohibit something, we must have a good reason. And that good reason will generally be one which is graspable by the general population and not one revealed to some select few religious zealots. There are many times when we feel a desire to do something and there are reasonable grounds for restraining ourselves. In the case of consensual homosexual adult behavior, responsibly practiced, the only reasons I have ever been given for its prohibition are religious ones which have no perceivable basis other than fear and bigotry. Perhaps if I were gay, I might have some more exposure to the subject and know of some legitimate secular reason for determining that homosexual behavior is unacceptable. But as a heterosexual, I can perceive none. Maybe you can help me out and tell me what "empirical evidence" you are referring to. Thanks.

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