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Where the facts really stand

My two posts on Brendan Eich have attracted a commenter who wants us all to know he thinks homosexuality is a form of mental illness, and that therefore it is “tough love” to discriminate against them and deny their right to get married. He and I have been having a long back-and-forth discussion, in the most recent of which he said supporters of gay rights are guilty of “mental gymnastics” and “misrepresenting facts.” I have summarized my understanding of the relevant facts in my reply to him, but after thinking it over I’ve decided to promote it to a blog post as well. I’ll be interested in hearing your comments.

Here are the facts, as I see them.

  1. It is normal and natural for sexual behaviors to have functions unrelated to reproduction, in a number of species.
  2. Many biological behaviors are non-reproductive in nature, including sexual behaviors, and therefore it is incorrect and prejudicial to label any sexual behavior as “biologically abnormal” solely on the basis of reproduction.
  3. Many biological behaviors are neither optimally adaptive nor maladaptive, but merely neutral. It is therefore a false dichotomy to declare that every behavior is maladaptive unless it is optimally adaptive.
  4. Homosexuality occurs naturally, in humans as well as a number of other species.
  5. Homosexuality causes neither distress nor debilitation to homosexuals (see next point), and thus there is no objective basis for categorizing it as a disease or mental illness of any kind.
  6. Homosexuals are sexually attracted to people with whom they cannot reproduce, however this is not a disability or abnormality because it is normal and natural for sexual behaviors to have functions unrelated to reproduction.
  7. It is prejudicial, harmful, and oppressive to brand people as “mentally ill” for having sexual behaviors unrelated to reproduction, especially when you do so to only some of the people whose sexual behavior has no reproductive potential.
  8. Accusing someone of mental illness is no justification for mistreating them.
  9. No third party suffers any harm when two homosexuals fall in love with each other, any more than any third party suffers harm when two heterosexuals fall in love.
  10. The anti-homosexual movement has a long history of mistreating gays, up to and including imprisonment, torture, and death.
  11. Anti-homosexual rhetoric and policies, when unopposed, consistently lead to extreme abuse of gays and gay sympathizers and family, as is currently being demonstrated in Russia and Uganda. This is not in any way motivated by science, “tough love,” or objectivity.
  12. Anti-homosexual rhetoric consistently offers slanders, misrepresentations, distortions, and even delusions, as though they were factual arguments against homosexuality. Examples include the absurdly-contrived Regnerus study, dire threats that “marriage, America, and civilization will be destroyed unless we do more to persecute gays,” “prophetic” declarations that God is angry with us for not doing more to snuff out homosexuality, psychologically devastating de-programming techniques designed to brainwash gays into denying their sexuality, and of course attempts to canonize heterosexual behavior as the only “normal” and “natural” form of sexual behavior, for reasons that are based on the assumption that only heterosexual behavior can be normal and natural.
  13. The most powerful weapon against homophobia is the discovery that homosexuals are real, ordinary, nice people rather than the crude demonic monsters homophobes make them out to be. That, all by itself, should be enough to tell us where the facts really stand here.

Comments

  1. RickR says

    Meh. Some well-laid out facts there, but the only one that truly matters is #13. Coming out and being known as gay/ bisexual etc. to the people closest to you is indeed the best antidote for homophobia on the individual level, and as the number of individuals whose attitudes have shifted has increased, we are now at the turning point where the majority of the culture is no longer willing to endorse discrimination.

    Your commenter needs to answer this question- Playing tennis is “unnatural”. It does not occur in the animal kingdom, and is not “evolutionarily adaptive”. It cannot lead to offspring. Playing tennis sure seems like a waste of time to me, but the minority of people who engage in the activity sure do seem to enjoy it.

    Because tennis playing has no biological purpose, are tennis players “mentally ill”? Do they require the “tough love” of legally enforced discrimination to “suppress tennisism”, or to send a message that tennis playing is anti-social and maladaptive and that their interest in the sport is disordered and they should seek help?

    If not, then why is it necessary to do so with sexual minorities?

  2. Artor says

    Another fact to consider: The professionals at the American Psychiatric Assc. determined 40 years ago that homosexuality is not aberrant behavior. Anyone who tried to call it such needs to explain why their credentials are more credible than the professional medical community.

  3. countryboy says

    This might sound weird but homosexuality might be one of natures methods of population control. It’s a natural occurance that doesn’t lead to reproduction. Frankly, the human herd could use some thinning.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      That has a plausible ring to it, but I suspect that’s probably not quite what’s happening. What might be more likely would be if homosexuality were a case where a population has reached a local saturation point such that reproduction is no longer a priority, and the sexual behaviors are being preserved in ways that don’t lead to overpopulation. A subtle difference, perhaps, but one that is a bit less teleological. It’s adaptive without being intentional or reactive.

    • Nick Gotts says

      Er, no. That’s not how natural selection works, and “nature” is not an agent capable of adopting “methods”. So far as this point is concerned, I don’t think Deacon Duncan’s reformulation is much better: whatever the situation, heritable features that raise the probability of reproducing will tend to be selected for. The idea that local crowding would lead to individuals refraining from reproducing “to avoid overpopulation” (rather than because the resources needed are not available to the individual) was pioneered by V.C. Wynne-Edwards, but has never been confirmed empirically, and is almost universally rejected by evolutionary biologists.

      Frankly, the human herd could use some thinning.

      Are you volunteering to be among those “thinned”? This kind of dehumanizing language (“herd”, “thinning”) points the way to genocide.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Yes, I probably phrased that badly. My point was not that homosexuality would be selected for, but that selection is only one of the mechanisms involved in evolution, and may be less significant in populations that are stable and/or overpopulated, as humans are. There’s no biological pressure to select against homosexuality, so it remains part of the gene pool.

      • Nick Gotts says

        Why would it be less significant in such circumstances? What matters with regard to natural selection is heritable differences that affect survival andor reproduction (which needn’t be direct, e.g. a tendency to help one’s relatives raise offspring can also be selected for); and I can’t see any general reason why these differences should be lessened (or increased) by either population stability or increased population density. It’s a popular fallacy that we have “eliminated natural selection” because fewer people die young and people have smaller families on average. If homosexuality has over a long period reduced the average number of children people have, and if a tendency to it is heritable (neither of these things is obviously true, but both may be), then it must be maintained in the population by some compensating advantage that is genetically associated with it in some way.

      • countryboy says

        I more had in mind the idea that the overall population could stand to be less, I never suggested using violence to do it. You brought that up. However we do seem to have some just begging to be thinned, like Bundy and his militia buddies who seem to think their little rifles can stand off the Feds forever. I give kudos to the Feds for their restraint there but I’m afraid that is only going to be temporary.

  4. oldoligarch says

    Can the professionals at the A.P.A. tell us why homosexuality isn’t aberrant behavior but necrophilia,pedophilia and zoophilia are?Without resorting to ethical arguments?The science of Psychology is a branch of biology just like Physiology, and not a branch of ethics.Normative considerations are irrelavant when determining whether or not a certain psychological or physiological condition is normal or abnormal,evidence of disease or of health.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      I think a more relevant question would be to ask why you have such a hard time determining the difference between relationships that exist between two consenting adults and those that do not. The APA would have no problem at all noticing that significant difference.

    • Nick Gotts says

      Are you seriously claiming that “aberrant”, at least when used of human sexuality, carries no ethical implication?

      • oldoligarch says

        Mr.Gotts, In determining whether a condition is normal or abnormal,adaptive or maladaptive,healthy or unhealthy ethical considerations are not relevant. The criteria for determining whether or not a condition is a disease/disorder is its impact on the normal functioning of an organ, system or organism.Normal functioning enhances Darwinian fitness/health.
        I no more believe homosexuality is immoral than I believe albinism is, both however are disorders.

        Mr,Deacon,I understand there is an ethical difference between two men engaged in consensual homosexual sex and an adult with a child or a man raping a woman.But as pointed out in the above paragraph ethics is irrelevant when diagnosing a condition.
        A man who desires an unwilling woman and rapes her has a normal sexual desire,It is his means of satisfying it that is morally wrong and an issue of ethics not biology.
        If a man has sexual desire for a child or another man neither is normal.In both cases a biologically inappropriate stimuli triggers a sexual response.
        The normal functioning of the reproductive system is to reproduce.l.Homosexuality and pedophilia both impair normal functioning.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Don’t forget to include abstinence and celibacy in your list of abnormal behaviors then. You need to declare all Catholic clergymen as mentally ill, and declare that abstinence-only sex education promotes mental illness. You need to apply the same label to intercourse involving post-menopausal women or other partners known to be infertile as well. In fact, you should declare marriage itself as a form of mental illness, since it impairs reproduction by limiting sexual behavior to fewer partners.

        OR you could let go of your prejudice long enough to acknowledge that, since there is no biological requirement that all sexual behavior must be reproductive, it is incorrect and inappropriate to use reproduction as your sole criterion for whether or not a particular sexual behavior is “normal” in your opinion. You are perfectly happy to acknowledge that fact in cases not involving homosexuals, so why not just be consistent and unbiased and recognize that homosexual behavior is normal and appropriate for those who happen to be born with that particular orientation? It’s not immoral, it’s not harmful to anyone, and it’s not anyone else’s business, all of which you have conceded at one time or another. It is therefore both immoral and unjust to demonize gays and subject them to restrictions and discrimination and to declare that they cannot be allowed the same benefits and respect as heterosexual couples enjoy. And likewise, it’s immoral and unjust to attempt to marginalize them by labelling them as “mentally ill” just for falling in love differently than you do. This kind of slander and mistreatment is bigotry, plain and simple, and it’s a clear human rights violation. You should stop supporting it immediately.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        I think this response encapsulates what’s wrong with your position in a nutshell. You are classifying homosexuality as “abnormal” according to a definition that classifies rape as “normal.” It is obvious that your biased concept of “normal” has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not a behavior is healthy and apppropriate.

      • Nick Gotts says

        oldoligarch,

        You didn’t answer my very simple question, so I’ll repeat it:

        Are you seriously claiming that “aberrant”, at least when used of human sexuality, carries no ethical implication?

        Now to the rest of your nonsense:

        But as pointed out in the above paragraph ethics is irrelevant when diagnosing a condition.

        You’re not talking about “diagnosing” a condition, but about classifying it.

        I no more believe homosexuality is immoral than I believe albinism is, both however are disorders.

        “Disorder” is another of those terms that, in your usage, masquerades as being objective but is in fact judgemental. Let’s make the unproven assumption that homosexuality does, in fact, reduce the average number of children people have. (I assume you are aware that homosexual people can and do have children.) That still doesn’t make it a “disorder” unless any behaviour or behavioural tendency that reduces the average number of children people have is also a “disorder”, regardless of whether those performing that behaviour or having that tendency would prefer not to have it. Then, limiting ourselves to sexual behaviour, using contraception, remaining with an infertile partner rather than abandoning them, or failing to rape fertile women when there is a sufficiently low probability of suffering for it, would all be “disorders”.

        a biologically inappropriate stimuli

        If you’re going to use scientific terminology, it’s best to get it right: “stimuli” is plural.

      • oldoligarch says

        Mr,Gotts: When classifying or diagnosing a condition as a disease/disorder the word”aberrant” has no ethical implications.We’re assuming the affected person has no control over the condition and therefore no moral culpability. What makes homosexuality a disorder is that like other paraphiles they are sexually aroused by biologically inappropriate stimulus. Let me ask you,Is an adult who is sexually aroused by young children of the opposite or same sex,but who never lays a hand on a child normal?Is this evidence of a psychosexual disorder even if nothing unethical ever occurs? Why or why not?
        If we can’t morally make same sex-marriage illegal can we make sibling marriage illegal like we do in all fifty states as far as I know.And if we outlaw incestous relationships and sibling marriage ,even between consenting adults, aren’t we asserting the right of society to exercise some oversight over the most intimate and private of associations?If you say we’re protecting yet to be born children from deleterious genetic disorders,then should we allow those with Down’s Syndrome to marry?And what about allowing siblings to marry if they pass a genetic screening?
        It could be said we’re being judgemental whether we use the terms disorder,disease,abnormal,aberrant,or atypical.Which do you prefer? Are is there no such thing as psychosexual disorders in your opinion?
        You’re point about classifying is well taken as your point about my use of stimuli rather than stimulus.. We classify conditions and diagnose individual instances.Are grammatical points all you have to make?That’s weak.
        Mr.Duncan,men who are attracted to post-menopausal women or heterosexuals who stay with an infertile partner are still aroused by the secondary sexual charateristics of their partner and therefore normal.
        Celibacy and abstinence from sexual activity is abnormal,but unless they’re aroused sexually by inappropriate stimuli there is no disorder like paraphilias.
        The other purposes of sex that you keep referring to are ancillary to reproductive sex and not substitutes for it
        as homosexuals involved in committed relationships presumbably intend.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        There is no such thing as a “biologically inappropriate” stimulus. You are merely reflecting your own personal prejudice against homosexuality. It’s “inappropriate” in your eyes because you do not think people should be attracted to the same sex. That’s your own personal, moral judgment, and it’s impairing your reasoning. You know that sexual behavior does not need to be reproductive in order to be “appropriate” and normal and healthy, yet you persist in labelling homosexual behavior as inappropriate because it is non-reproductive. You have repeatedly demonstrated that you are resorting to a definition of “normal” that has nothing to do with whether or not a given behavior is healthy and appropriate (for example, classifying rape as “normal” and celibacy as “abnormal”). You persistently conflate homosexuality (which causes no distress or impairment or harmful behavior) with genuine disorders which do cause distress, impairment, and harmful behavior, and then pretend it’s some sort of ethical lapse to acknowledge the very significant difference between the two. Meanwhile, you yourself casually dismiss non-homosexual non-reproductive behaviors even though they meet all the same criteria as homosexuality apart from your subjective and tautological notion of “appropriate.” The reason you think homosexual stimuli are “inappropriate” is because you have decided that only heterosexual stimuli are “appropriate,” regardless of any considerion of distress or impairment or harm. That is an inappropriate definition of “inappropriate,” and it does more harm than the conditions it attempts to describe.

        I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you inform us that everyone who masturbates is mentally ill and needs to be denied the right to get married. That would fit your arguments just as well as homosexuality does. And possibly even better, since masturbation does not provide the individual with the benefits of a committed, loving, supportive relationship the way homosexuality does.

      • says

        I am perhaps a little late to the comments, but the thing that sticks out to me is that oldoligarch seems to have a misinformed understanding of “Darwinian fitness/health.”

        I’ll put out the disclaimer that I am not a biologist, so, yes, this is my layman understanding, but my information is my understanding of what has been said by people who are biologists.

        I think it was at a Richard Dawkins event that I was at, so it would have then been Dawkins pointing out that evolution works on groups and not individuals. The example Dawkins used to emphasize this was bees. You have lots and lots of worker bees that cannot reproduce, yet provide an important roll to the survival of the group.

        Another important part of evolution, as I understand, includes the idea that diversity in a group help the group’s fitness. A group that is not very diverse is likely to not be able to adapt to changes in the environment. When we look at homosexuality, one possibility is this is a result of diversity in human genes. While the particular results may not be adaptive or maybe even maladaptive for the individual, that there is diversity in a group shows that there may be “fitness” in the overall group.

        The short of all of this, then, is that evolution works on groups (or populations), not individuals. oldoligarch’s focus on individuals reveals that they don’t have a sufficient understanding of biology to be making biological arguments. (Setting aside that doing so is conducting the naturalistic fallacy.)

      • oldoligarch says

        So,Mr. Duncan if there are no biologically inappropriate sexual stimuli then a man who is sexually attracted to the dog of the beautiful woman next door has no more a sexual disorder than his brother who is attracted to the woman. Right? It’s just a matter of consent ,right?If the dogphile can convince society the dog was consented there is no sexual disorder,right?That is what you’re saying.
        When I use the word ‘inappropriate’ I’m not using it morally but descriptively.I am describing the nature of a condition.The reproductive system is for reproduction.The ability to identify a potential mate or reproductive partner, out of all the objects in an organism’s environment, through the recognition of certain stimuli ,differing in both sexes, and the activation of a male or female specific arousal response,in preparation for sex is part of an organisms normal,healthy biologically appropriate functioning.
        The sexual arousal response in a species is male or female specific and has been selected for to facilitate copulation with the opposite sex.Not the same sex or a different species.The latter two conditions are psychosexual disorders.
        Homosexuals and other paraphiles are sexually attracted to and have there arousal response triggered by biologically inappropriate stimuli.The disorder lies in the nervous system , which identifies potential mates and triggers the response.
        Now I’ve been accused of being prejudice against homosexuals because I don’t consider heterosexual sex between people when one or both is infertile to be abnormal or evidence of a disorder, after saying the function of the reproductive system is to reproduce.
        The reason I don’t believe this abnormal is heterosexual couples in such relationships are not sexually aroused by the infertility but rather by the sexual characteristics of their mate.They might not mind the infertility but it is not what attracted and aroused them.
        This is not unexpected natural selection has not equipped us with the ability to always accurately distinguish between those who are fertile and those who aren’t .Age is a good indicator but often wrong.All women do not enter menopause at the same age so some are still fertile and would pass that trait to their daughters.So selection has not been as uncompromising with age as it has been with absolutely sterile sexual attractions such as homosexuality and other paraphilias.And even post-menopausal women are,well still women.
        Homosexuals are sexually aroused by the characteristics which clearly identify reproductive incompatibility.
        As to questions about oral,anal,or mutual mastubatory sex between heterosexuals being abnormal they aren’t as long as their supplements to actual copulation and not substitutes for it.In fact such behavior often strengthen the bonds between the partners and increases their chances of providing a loving and healthful environment for their offspring,increasing Darwinian fitness.
        Your point that an organ or body part can serve more than one function is correct.You’re example of a woman’s breast however is a bad one because both functions you identify,feeding children and attracting a mate are related to one end, successful reproduction.In fact I suspect an evolutionary correlation between the two.
        A better example would be the mouth.It’s primary function is as part of the digestive system,but it also functions as a communication organ, a third hand and as a sexual organ.None of these however, impairs its primary function.If they did they would be selected against and be considered disorders when they occurred.
        The male urethra functions as a part of two bodily systems,without impairing the normal function of either.
        I can’t think of any other function for the uterus,fallopian tubes, ovaries or testicles except reproduction can you?For that matter I can’t think of any other normal healthful function for the anus except as the terminus of the excretory system.
        You may disagree.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        I’ve explained this to you before, but perhaps you missed it somehow. The reason there’s no such thing as “biologically inappropriate” stimuli is because biology does not care what you find stimulating. You could be sexually aroused by wet concrete, and biology would be neither pleased nor shocked. It has absolutely no opinions nor preference as regards what you find exciting. It does not think or feel anything, and it certainly does not judge you as morally deficient based on what turns you on.

        The terms “appropriate” and “inappropriate” are value judgments. As applied to human social behavior, they are moral value judgments. Biology is not the one making these judgments. You are. When you claim that you are using these morally judgmental terms in a way that is “descriptive,” rather than morally judgmental, you’re not being honest. And I think first and foremost you are not being honest with yourself.

        You are suffering from homophobia, an irrational aversion to homosexuality. I recognize the symptoms from my own experience as a former homophobe. You are mildly to acutely uncomfortable with the mere existence of same-sex attraction, but you are unwilling or unable to acknowledge that these negative feelings originate within yourself. So you try to externalize them by projecting them onto biology, as though biology were somehow thinking things over and making the value judgment that same-sex attractions were “inappropriate.” You know that biology is doing no such thing, but you “forget” that you know this for the purpose of blaming homosexuals for your own unhealthy response to their existence.

        You know that nothing in biology (or even in common sense) dictates a biological organ or system or behavior must be limited to having one and only one “legitimate” and “appropriate” function. You know that sexual organs and behaviors can and do have multiple functions. I assume you know that ovaries and testicles have physiological functions far beyond mere production of egg and sperm cells. You know that in males, the same orifice produces both reproductive semen and excremental urine. You know that it would be absurd to accuse a man of mental illness for using his penis to urinate instead of to impregnate. You know that actual reproduction is a very tiny fraction of lifetime sexual behaviors and functioning even among monogamous heterosexual couples, and you know that it would be absurd to call them “mostly mentally ill” for their non-reproductive sexual attractions and behaviors. You know that there’s no mandate, biological or otherwise, that requires everyone with reproductive organs to use them for actual reproduction. You know that romantic, sexual love creates strong, beneficial social bonds regardless of the presence or absence of reproduction, even in cases where reproduction is not even possible. You know that relationships between two consenting adults are morally different from relationships that are not. You know that when an attraction or behavior produces one positive, beneficial outcome instead of a different positive, beneficial outcome, that does not mean that the attraction or behavior is inappropriate, unnatural, or mentally ill just because it happened instead of the other outcome. That’s just common sense.

        Yet you irrationally forget such simple, obvious, and uncontroversial facts when attempting to make value judgments concerning homosexuals. Oh no, same-sex attraction is going to produce a loving, committed, mutually-supportive and advantageous partnership instead of producing offspring! How terrible! Well, that is, it’s only terrible when both partners are the same sex (even if they do arrange to reproduce anyway via in-vitro, etc). Opposite-sex couples can do the same thing, with no intention/ability to produce offspring, and it’s just fine. But we’ll just ignore that, since they fall in love the same way we do, and therefore that makes them “normal.”

        It’s just not rational. Any other time you have no problem recognizing the value of a strong sexual relationship independently of actual reproduction, but not when it comes to gays. Where gays are involved, suddenly the moral value of everything is determined by the contribution it makes to some kind of assumed mandate that everyone with reproductive organs must use them directly or indirectly for reproduction and reproduction alone, regardless of any other consideration. And even there, you’re not really consistent, since strong sexual partnerships equip both parties to be healthier and more productive participants in society, which makes society stronger and thus creates an environment more suitable for raising strong and healthy offspring. By your own standards, same-sex marriage contributes as much to the survival of the species as an infertile person’s genitals do—and maybe even more. But you refuse to take a broader, less-biased view that would admit the possibility of an indirect, species-level benefit to same-sex marriage. Gays fall in love differently than you do, and in your eyes that makes them wrong, period. Everything else is just a rationalization intended to drive us willy-nilly to that conclusion.

        Listening to you go on and on about reproduction this and reproduction that and what is and is not justified by reproduction, I get the impression that you have some kind of serious hang-ups about sex itself. It’s almost as though you think all sex, gay or straight, is somehow nasty and disgusting and repulsive, and needs some kind of super-powerful justification, like the survival of the species, in order to redeem it for being so filthy and bestial. If that’s the case, then I do feel sorry for you. Sex is normal, natural and healthy, and it forms secure bonds of partnership that are a great benefit to all couples, gay or straight, as well as to society as a whole. That this bond frequently contributes to the propagation of the species is a big plus, but sex does not need that “redemption” in order to justify its existence and its contribution to society.

        What is harmful to society is bigotry, intolerance, and persecution of minorities just for being different. Such oppression and injustice creates an environment that is less favorable to raising healthy offspring, and thus (to use your standards) is unnatural, unhealthy, and inappropriate.

      • nrdo says

        @ Leo Buzalsky

        Agreed, oldoligarch’s comments reflect a complete misunderstanding of psychiatry and biology. First of all, There is ample evidence suggesting that homosexuality is not a paraphilia, including the growing circumstantial evidence that it is precipitated during fetal development. Secondly, there are thousands of atypical (not shared by the majority of humans) mental states, habits and paraphilias, that do not impair the executive functioning of the individuals who have them and are not mental illnesses.

        @ oldoligarch

        The other purposes of sex that you keep referring to are ancillary to reproductive sex and not substitutes for it

        unless they’re aroused sexually by inappropriate stimuli there is no disorder like paraphilias.

        This is completely wrong and again illustrates that it’s you who are smuggling values into a biological question. For example, if bisexuality is a trait that help a population of bonobos adapt to their environment, then it is “appropriate”, period. The fact that it is not expressed in the majority of individuals is irrelevant.

    • Mark Weber says

      Why wouldn’t you want to frame this discussion as one of ethics? Isn’t that the most important dimension for assessing whether a behavior is okay or not? Included in any legitimate ethical examination is whether anyone, including the actor, is harmed by the action. As a result, taking medication to treat mental illness would be more ethical than forgoing meds which put one at greater risk for the consequences of their illness. What is it about homosexuality that you see as harming anyone? There is simply no rational reason to prevent people from engaging in a behavior that they enjoy and which harms no one. I find the tennis analogy above quite apt.

      • oldoligarch says

        There is an ethical dimension in evaluating human behavior,certainly. It has no place in determining the question of whether a condition is a disease/disorder or healthy.
        In physiology a disease broadly speaking is any condition or state that effects the normal functioning of an organ,system or organism.The same should apply to psychology.
        What is unethical is the pretense that homosexuality of all paraphilias is not a sexual disorder.It is!
        Same-sex marriage implies some equivalency between homosexuality and heterosexuality.There is none.
        There is no normal variation in sexual behavior.For reasons I’ve already given.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        The correct criteria for determining whether or not a condition is a disease is whether or not it does any harm. Merely failing to satisfy your arbitrary and prejudiced definition of “normal” does not constitute any kind of genuine harm or impairment. Homophobia, by contrast, comes a lot closer to meeting the criteria for being an illness: it causes the homophobe to experience emotional distress under inappropriate circumstances, such as observing the mere fact that homosexuals exist and are not universally vilified by caring people. It also stimulates harmful and anti-social behaviors, including attempts to unfairly and inaccurately stigmatize people as “mentally ill” when they are not. It impairs the victim’s ability to think rationally and objectively about the targets of his or her prejudice, and causes obsessive thoughts and behaviors that are anti-social and harmful. With very little encouragement, it erupts into full-blown persecution of innocent people, such as is happening today in Russia, Uganda, and other places where homophobia is upheld as some kind of perverse virtue.

        I’m not saying that homophobia is a mental illness. I think it’s plain old bigotry. I’m just saying that if we’re going to talk about attitudes and behaviors that meet the criteria for being mentally ill, it’s clear that homophobia comes a whole lot closer to fitting the bill than does the mere fact that homosexuals fall in love differently.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        By the way, I have to laugh at your declaration that there is no normal variation in sexual behavior. Do you really think there is only one “normal” way to have sex? Seriously?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Also by the way, you have a very dysfunctional definition of disease. By your definition, exercise is a disease, since it effects the normal functioning of the muscular system (and also affects it). So does medicine. And of course, you are still basing it on your personal, subjective, biased opinion about what constitutes the “normal” function of things. What, in your opinion, is the one, sole, “normal” function of breasts? Is it providing milk to the young (thus making it “abnormal” to involve them in sexually stimulating behaviors), or is it to serve as a focus of sexual stimulation (thus making it “abnormal” to breast-feed)? Has it ever occurred to you that some things have more than one function, and that all of them are perfectly normal? The fact that heterosexual behavior is normal does not mean that homosexual behavior is not.

        Seriously, you need to drop the quack psychology. You’re not good at it and it’s only embarrassing you. And just for the record: there’s nothing unethical about opposing and correcting bigoted and malicious pseudo-science. The lack of ethics lies entirely with your attempt to misuse science to cause harm to innocent (and healthy) people.

      • Mark Weber says

        Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that your horrible definition of disease/disorder is viable and that homosexuality satisfies that definition, but sex post-menopause, post-vasectomy, on birth control, heterosexual oral and anal sex, mutual masturbation, et al, do not satisfy it. What significance does your diagnosis have? If it harms no one, does it matter whether it is “normal”, “abnormal”, “aberrant”, or whatever other pejorative adjective you come up with to describe it? For example, I prefer to count iterations by even numbers, and particularly powers of two. This is probably a symptom of very mild OCPD (not to be confused with OCD, a similar but distinct disorder), but since it doesn’t significantly interfere with my life or with the lives of those around me, why should I bother with it in any way? There is simply no need to treat such a benign condition. If you are correct in all your presuppositions (you aren’t), most expressions of homosexuality are surely as benign as my OCPD. Why should we care whether it is normative or a disorder? This is why its ethical status is far more important than any potential diagnosis you may want to confer on it.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        In fact, homosexuality is more than just neutral or benign. It’s healthy and beneficial: it equips individuals to participate in a mutually committed, loving, supportive and protective relationship that makes both parties more healthy and productive in society. There’s no good reason to classify it as a disease, and every reason to call it healthy and normal.

      • Mark Weber says

        I agree. My point is simply that even granting all his unwarranted assumptions, that still isn’t a good reason to provide any “tough love”. At worst, it’s a benign maladaption. It really is a benefit to all involved (except for rejected advances, but that’s equally true for heterosexual relationships). There’s simply no good reason to discriminate against homosexuals, no matter what one thinks about their behavior.

      • EnlightenmentLiberal says

        (Emphasis added:)

        There is an ethical dimension in evaluating human behavior,certainly. It has no place in determining the question of whether a condition is a disease/disorder or healthy.

        Bullshit.

        Morality (and ethics) is the basis of the definition of health. Why would we prefer to not be in pain over being in pain? Because we value living pain-free. Why would we prefer having two functioning legs to no legs? Because we value our mobility (and the vanity of not appearing to be disabled). Thus we define healthy as generally including being pain-free and having 2 functioning legs.

        You cannot talk about health without an underlying set of values.

        For example, how would you respond to someone who says that they think it’s healthy to vomit all the time?

        Also, I hope you don’t take the idiotic tact of “healthy is whatever has the best Darwinian survival value”, because then your definition of health is entirely irrelevant. We’ve long ago decided that acting for our benefit at the cost of the best interests of our genes is the plan. Don’t do the “appeal to nature fallacy” aka “naturalistic fallacy”.

      • oldoligarch says

        We value what is healthy. What is healthy is adaptive.What is adaptive increases Darwinian fitness. What increases Darwinian fitness becomes the normal.What is normal must be healthy. We value the normal.

        Someone who thought it would be healthy to vomit all the time would be wrong,as well as abnormal, assuming he actually practiced his belief.

        I wonder if what benefits us can be separated from what benefits our genes.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Exactly: what is healthy is adaptive, and if biology teaches us anything, its that there are many things that are adaptive, and that benefit the species as a whole, without involving individual reproduction on the part of the individual exhibiting the characteristic or behavior. Same-sex attraction does not need to be individually reproductive if it increases the individual’s fitness in other ways, by equipping them to be more productive members of their social group, for instance.

        Same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage do enhance the social and mental health of gays by allowing them to experience stable, committed, and supportive partnerships that improve their ability to function as productive members of society. They can even adopt and raise orphans, which contributes directly to the successful propagation of the species, which you seem to value so highly. Individual reproduction is not the only way a behavior can be adaptive and beneficial and healthy, as you freely admit in cases not involving gays. But it’s true of gays, too. What’s unhealthy is to be obsessed with slandering and stigmatizing people who fall in love differently than you do, in an attempt to prevent them from being able to experience healthy and adaptive relationships with each other.

      • says

        Sexual relations with a member of the same sex is healthy. It’s fun, it releases endorphins that make you feel good, it’s decent exercise, and it’s a wonderful bonding experience.

        As a bisexual, I can attest that the purpose of both hetero and homo sexual activities tends, in the vast, vast, vast majority of cases, to be the exact same thing – good clean wholesome fun with someone you care about.

      • Mark Weber says

        What is normal must be healthy.

        You don’t really mean that. By that reasoning, racism, sexism, economic disparity, and other forms of oppression are healthy. Let alone the days when slavery and genocide were world wide norms. You are consistently falling prey to the is/ought fallacy. As Deacon pointed out elsewhere, any classifying we do regarding reality is ultimately descriptive, not prescriptive. This isn’t to say that we cannot derive concrete reasons for ethical choices or that we need resort to pure relativism, but it does mean that we can’t rely on what is “natural” or “common” or “normative” as the basis for determining what behaviors are and are not okay.

      • oldoligarch says

        withinthismind,
        The same benefits you ascribe to homosexual sex could probably be claimed for incestous sex between consenting adults. Is such sexual desire normal, healthy?Should we drop the laws against such behavior? Should we legalize marriage between close relatives if both or consenting adults? Does incestous sex or marriage do any harm?Is prejudice against it an irrational social attitude?
        Undoubtly those who engage in incestous sex do it for fun, and probably don’t understand what everybody else’s big hang-up is.Are they normal?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        It’s sad the way you continue to obsess over other people’s personal relationships, and over finding some prejudiced comparison you can make to incite hatred against them. Come on, if God had not wanted people to have incestuous sex, He would have created more than two parents, and put more than one family on the Ark, eh? Sheesh. Laws against incest are there for two reasons: because of birth defects, and because most incest is men sexually abusing underage female relatives. And by the way, what happened to your argument about being stimulated by someone’s primary and secondary sexual characteristics? By your definition, it ought to be perfectly normal to feel sexually attracted to a close relative. Do you not agree that the real problem with incest is the actual harm it brings rather than the sexual orientation of the attraction?

        One more question you have not yet addressed is why anyone else’s sexual attractions are any of your business at all. We can justify intervening in the case of people who are genuinely mentally ill because genuine mental illness produces distress and/or impairment in the person suffering from it. But that justification obviously does not apply to sexual attractions that do no harm, let alone to those that are positively beneficial, the way homosexuality is.

        You not only want to poke your nose into other people’s business, you want to interfere with them, deny them their fundamental right to freely associate as married couples, and cut them off from their right to employment and housing and ordinary business (like being able to buy wedding cakes at a bakery). You have no right to do so, there’s no possible justification for doing so, but you can’t let go.

        That’s not just bigotry, it’s unhealthy. It’s not good to be obsessed with persecuting innocent people, and it creates an environment that is less well-suited for raising healthy, productive offspring. By your own standards, homophobia is an unhealthy abnormality. If intervention is justified at all, it’s much more justifiable in your case than in the case of gay couples. They are not doing anyone any harm. You are. Or at least, you’re trying to.

      • oldoligarch says

        Mr. Duncan I had no interest in other people’s relationships, until proponents of homosexual marriage brought the issue into the public square.Then it became everybody’s business.
        The issue of legalizing homosexual marriage raises all sorts of questions. Questions about whether or not society has any right to regulate marriage?If so what marriages should be allowed and which shouldn’t?How do we determine this? What traits do all relationships we choose to legalize have in common?I believe there should be logical consistency in the law. Don’t you?
        I think that we can all agree marriage should involve consenting adults only. But what else can we agree on?
        If homosexuals can’t justly be denied the right to marriage ,can people who are siblings or even parents and an adult child be denied that right? What about polygamy? if all parties are consenting adults can we justly prohibit them from marrying?
        Are some sorts of sexual desire to be considered unhealthy or abnormal?Or some sorts of sexual desire evidence of mental illness? And if so is this just cause to deny them the right of marriage?
        Laws against child sex abuse could prevent or punish parents who harm their children.Need we prosecute consenting adults in incestous relationships too?What about genetic screening to prevent birth defects? If we limit this to incestous relationships aren’t we stigmatizing those people? Shouldn’t we then also prohibit people with a known genetic disorder like Down’s syndrome, from marrying and reproducing?
        Can you answer these questions without introducing special pleading for homosexuals?

      • Deacon Duncan says

        First of all, no, when homosexuals began asking to be treated decently and fairly, it did not somehow make it “everyone’s business” to meddle in their personal lives and relationships, any more than it’s “everyone’s business” to meddle in the personal lives of heterosexuals who desire public, legal recognition for their marriages. I mean, seriously, come on.

        Secondly, you ask easy questions that I’m sure you could answer yourself if your mind weren’t so clouded. Most people have learned the elementary moral principles involved by the time they’re able to read and write, and I’ve no doubt you did too. You’re just letting your phobias impair your moral judgment. Please allow me to remind you of the simple principles your prejudice wants you to forget.

        When you intervene in someone’s life to bring them welcome relief from suffering, persecution, and injustice, you are doing good. When you defend liberty by protecting people’s right to do as they please, so long as it does no harm to others, you do good. When you defend the innocent by preventing others from harming them or persecuting them just for being different and/or vulnerable, you are doing good. These are basic, simple, ordinary moral principles, and they justify gay marriage, which does no harm and which brings significant benefit to those who are able to participate in it.

        When you attack and harass people for being different in harmless ways, you do evil. When you take advantage of superior strength and/or influence and/or numbers in order to bully the vulnerable and make them suffer, you do evil. When you try to incite hatred and disgust against the innocent just because they have preferences you do not share, you do evil. These, too, are elementary moral principles, and by these principles your jihad against gays is wrong.

        Same-sex marriage is justified on the grounds that (a) where there is no harm, society has no right to restrict liberty, and (b) same-sex love is not merely harmless, but positively beneficial in the lives of those for whom it comes naturally and by mutual consent. You keep wanting to compare same-sex relationships to incest, even though you ought to know better, so I have to ask you: is it your position that incest is also a beneficial relationship that does no harm? If that’s what you truly believe, then present your arguments. Tell us exactly why you believe that incest is a good thing, and who, exactly, you believe is currently being discriminated against because they can’t marry their close relative.

        If you want to justify incest, then I’m sure you can make a good Biblical argument for it at least. Clearly, God created man to have sex with those who share all the same genes as he does, since Eve was “bone of [Adam’s] bone and flesh of [his] flesh.” Obviously, God intended all of their children to have sex with their siblings too, just as He intended all of Noah’s grandchildren to procreate with their siblings or first cousins. In fact, according to the flood story, He even made it universal across the whole animal kingdom, since the offspring of each pair of animals would have only their siblings to mate with after the flood eliminated all other potential mates. I’m sure that, from a believer’s perspective, it must be clear that God feels quite good about incest, which may be why there are so many Old Testament characters whose temporary or permanent partners were siblings, half-siblings, or cousins. Yes, if you want to argue that incest is a good thing that does no harm, you could probably do a lot worse than to start with the Bible.

        On the other hand, if you recognize that this is not the case, that incest is unlike same-sex attraction due to the manifest harm that’s involved in the former—and the utter lack of anybody seriously wanting to participate in an incestuous marriage—then you can understand why society can have a legitimate right to intervene in the case of incest, in order to prevent harm, without automatically conferring any right or obligation to intervene in relationships that are only beneficial and not at all harmful.

        It is painfully obvious that you have no moral or rational basis for your hostility against gays, and are merely making invidious comparisons in order to try and incite hatred and disgust against them. The special pleading is entirely on your side of the argument. You know that sexual relationships have an inherent value that’s independent of personal reproduction, but in the case of homosexuals you make a special exception that says in their case, only reproductive sex can be valid. You know that society has no right to infringe on individual liberty in someone’s choice of a life partner where both parties are consenting adults, but you make a special exception in the case of homosexuals so that you can infringe on their individual liberty. You know that there are differences between conduct that is exploitative versus conduct that is harmless and mutually beneficial, and you know that the two are not comparable, but in the case of homosexuals you make a special exception so that you can compare them to everything you can think of that disgusts you, in order to incite hatred against them. That’s bigotry, plain and simple. It does not get any more bigoted than that.

        Do you want to know how racists feel when they try and argue that other races are “inherently inferior” to their own race? Just look at how you feel when you try and argue that homosexuality is wrong. Do you want to know how anti-Semites feel when they accuse Jews of being corrupt? Just look at how you feel when you call homosexuality immoral. Do you want to know how sexists feel when they insist that women should be treated like personal property “for their own good”? Just look at your own “tough love” for homosexuals. It’s the same self-centered, self-privileging, self-righteous bigotry no matter who the target is. And it’s evil, and you should repent.

      • says

        —-The same benefits you ascribe to homosexual sex could probably be claimed for incestous sex between consenting adults.—-

        As long as all parties are actually capable of consent (meaning, not coerced in any way), eh, why the hell not?

        Of course, finding an incestous couple in which coercion of some kind isn’t actually present would be quite the trick, which kind of renders your example to be complete bullshit, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? You know your example is bullshit.

        —-Does incestous sex or marriage do any harm?I—

        As long as all parties involved are in face capable of consent and no breeding actually occurs, nope. Nothing harmful.

        I suggest you actually familiarize yourself with the terms ‘coercion’, ‘capable’, and ‘consent’ before responding.

        —-Undoubtly those who engage in incestous sex do it for fun—

        You should also look up the term ‘undoubtly’. It does not mean what you think it means.

        The only times you will find ‘incestous’ couples without there being an element of coercion (usually having to do with dysfunctional family dynamics or being full on abuse) is when both members of the couple do not know they are actually related, which rather defeats whatever point you thought you were making, doesn’t it?

      • EnlightenmentLiberal says

        @oldoligarch

        We value what is healthy. What is healthy is adaptive.What is adaptive increases Darwinian fitness. What increases Darwinian fitness becomes the normal.What is normal must be healthy. We value the normal.

        Wrong.

        You are a social Darwinist. The rest of us are not. I call you evil. A good person values (human) happiness, safety, freedom, self determination, well-being, and the other values of humanism. An evil person values something other than that over the values of humanism. You value Darwinian fitness over the happiness of people. This makes you evil.

        Concrete example: What is the healthy choice? Two people in a relationship. One is HIV positive. Do they have unprotected sex to have children? Or do they use contraception and forgo children? The first clearly has a better Darwinian fitness measure. Thus, by your measure, the first is more healthy than the second. You have some serious problems.

        Unfortunately, I can no more convince you that you are wrong about what you value than I can convince someone who denies that hammers fall when dropped even after several demonstrations. My inability to convince the person that “hammers fall when dropped” has no bearing on whether there is truth in the matter. Similarly, my possible inability to convince you that “valuing Darwinian fitness over happiness is evil” has no bearing on whether there is truth in the matter.

  5. Robert B. says

    I have some additional points:

    Whether something is “natural” does not signify whether it is moral or immoral, or even mentally ill or well. By moral standards, nature is unspeakably cruel. I don’t think your facts about natural-ness are incorrect, but they’re not relevant. Metal tools, cooked food, and artificial light are all unnatural, but no one tries to suggest that they therefore shouldn’t be allowed, or that these things are somehow wrong, harmful, or symptoms of illness.

    When two homosexuals (or bisexual people of the same gender, or non-gender-binary people, etc.) fall in love, not only is there no harm to any third parties, there’s no harm to the first and second parties either – in fact, they are benefited, in the same ways that loving relationships are beneficial to everyone who has them. Exceptions such as abusive relationships exist, but they’re not in any way particular to same-gender love. Often, third parties are benefited also, such as when a same-gender couple adopts children out of an overstrained foster system and gives them a stable, loving home life.

    Every professional’s definition of mental illness includes the requirement that it interfere with one’s life in some way, that it impedes or causes harm. Being gay does not, which is why the mental health professions agreed that it should be removed from their catalog of mental illnesses. (On the other hand, homophobia/heterosexism does harm people. I don’t think heterosexism is much like a mental illness at all… but it’s more like one than homosexuality is.)

    • Mark Weber says

      Your point that “naturalness” is not a factor in determining a behavior’s ethical status is well taken. Greta Christina makes a similar point in her interview with Alex Gabriel over at “Godlessness in Theory”. People seem to be born with all kinds of immoral and/or destructive predilections (violence, addiction, psychopathy, schizophrenia, etc.,) so being “born this way” ultimately isn’t sufficient to render something moral or healthy. The relevant fact for homosexuality, as you point out, is the lack of harm, indeed the benefit, it poses to those who practice it and to society, at large.

      I was actually planning to raise your final point. One could argue that homosexuality leads to distress in the form of shame, ostracism, and difficulty finding work or residence. Basically, though, that’s saying, “We make being homosexual interfere with one’s life which makes it maladaptive/mental illness and thus we are justified in shaming and ostracizing people and denying them employment and residence to disincentivize their behavior. Circular reasoning is circular.

    • Howard Bannister says

      I think you’re correct on the naturalistic fallacy, but just want to point out that the good Deacon was responding to the argument from nature presented by the commenter; i.e., that he wasn’t raising the argument, just responding to it.

      • Mark Weber says

        Agreed, but when addressing a poorly framed argument, the better response is to frame it correctly. For example, when someone starts saying, “Evolution is false, therefore god exists,” one can respond with trying to convince the person that evolution is true or get at the deeper issue: “Let’s say you’re right and evolution is false (you’re not, it’s empirically verified), how does that entail ‘therefore god’?” The real issue is one of materialism (methodological or ontological) vs supernaturalism. Evolution is just the symptom of the broader problem. So, too, for this. The question isn’t one of what is natural. Best to frame it properly.

  6. Otto Tellick says

    Your 13-point list is certainly sufficient (for anyone other than unrepentant homophobes and unthinking religious dogmatists), but I think it’s worth elaborating point #12 (or perhaps breaking it down to two or more points, which might help folks who have attention-deficit disorders).

    I think (and I expect Deacon or others can correct me if I’m wrong) that the relatively few scriptural passages that specifically pertain to homosexual behavior all fall into just two categories: (a) unexplained associations of homosexuality with criminal behaviors (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:9-11), or (b) unexplained pronouncements of God’s abhorrence of homosexuality (e.g. Leviticus 18:22). What is unexplained in both cases is: what specific properties or consequences of homosexuality would justify portraying it in this way? No reasons are ever given.

    Meanwhile, the only statement attributed to Jesus in the NT that could possibly be construed as directly relevant to homosexuality is Matthew 19:12, where Jesus speaks of “eunuchs who have been so from birth…” The context there is Jesus’ condemnation of remarriage after divorce; the disciples respond that “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replies “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given.” He then mentions eunuchs (including the “natural born” ones) and says “Let anyone accept this who can.”

    If “eunuchs from birth” are men who never marry women (because they are not attracted to them, but rather are attracted to other men), it seems that Jesus is not condemning people of that sort. Quite the contrary. (“Oh,” the devout homophobes will say, “but if he had been asked about homosexual behavior, Jesus would obviously have condemned it.” Of course, dogma-based rhetoric is overstocked with the things Jesus would have said if asked, but in this case, the sock-puppet attribution simply lands us back in category (b) above.

    • thascius says

      the whole eunuch=homosexual idea is a fairly modern one where it is assumed that a homosexual male is “unmanly”. The idea that people are exclusively homosexual or heterosexual generally only goes back to the 19th century or so. Homosexual behavior was known before that of course. The Judeo-Christian scriptures that refer to homosexuality seem to be operating on the assumption that these are heterosexual people engaging in homosexual acts (indeed Romans explicitly refers to men and women giving up heterosexual relations and engaging in homosexual ones). In Roman society it was considered normal for men to have partners of both sexes and when you consider the list of men, heroes, deities believed to have had male partners which would have included Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Hercules, Achilles, Zeus, Apollo “unmanly” or “eunuch” aren’t the words that come to mind.

      • Kevin Kehres says

        Indeed; eunuchs were selected to protect the harem on the basis of their strength and size. Nothing unmasculine about them whatsoever.

        And then their nuts were cut off. So they wouldn’t make non-approved babies with the harem girls. The ancients didn’t know a lot of biology, but they sure knew where babies came from. (OK, they thought it was implanting a tiny human-shaped seed inside the woman — but they got the source of the “seed” right!)

        Seems to me there was a paper about the ability of eunuchs to “satisfy” the harem girls published a while back. Can’t spend the time to re-look it up, but I’m pretty sure not having testicles is not an impediment to getting an erection.

        /thread derail.

      • Numenaster says

        Kevin, you are correct: a man who loses his testicles after puberty can still get an erection. Prepubescent boys can too, and there are even sonograms of late-term fetuses with erections. But it’s my understanding that boys have to go through puberty before they can have an orgasm, so the age at which the eunuchs were eunuch-ized would have a major effect on their future pleasure.

  7. thebookofdave says

    I understand your phrasing is more closely relevant to the topic, but Number 11 of your list can be broadened to mean: “Anti-minority rhetoric and policies, when unopposed, consistently lead to extreme abuse of people, their sympathizers and families”. This makes more obvious the comparison between discrimination against homosexuality to the institutionalized bigotry of minority groups in history, as well as the true motivations behind it.

  8. gwen says

    Being postmenopausal when I married, I had no hope of conceiving. I can have ‘non-reproductive’ sex until my brains fall out. No one even approached me to tell me my marriage was inappropriate because it would not produce children. We had no intention of adopting, so it would be truly childless. That I can marry and they can’t for exactly the same reason is thoroughly hypocritical.

  9. says

    To me, there are two commonsensical definitions of normal: That what happens in the majority of cases, and that what fulfils the intended purpose. By those definitions (and assuming that the only purpose of reproductive organs is reproduction, which is already a stretch), I can see some logic behind calling homosexuality “not normal”.

    Thing is, so what? By extension, riding a bike to work is not normal, having antibiotics at one’s disposal is not normal, and using a knife to tighten a screw in the absence of a screwdriver is not normal. To paraphrase what Terry Pratchett let’s one of his main characters say when confronted with the claim that something is “not natural”, ah, so you never cook your food?

    • Howard Bannister says

      Normal carries undertones of ‘ought;’ that’s one reason why, for example, autistic people prefer to use terms like ‘typical’ when talking about non-autistic people.

    • =8)-DX says

      I think the whole problem of “normal” can be reduced to expectations. “Normal” is what we expect to see from others.

      So people, two steps:
      Step 1 – stop expecting people to be like you (they’re not).
      Step 2 – stop expecting people to be like the stereotype in your head (they’re not).
      It’s that simple.
      If you always assume everyone is different from you and the stereotypes, and then build up your estimation of them based on their actual behaviours, personality and expression, you’ll have a much more accurate and healthy model of the people you interact with.

      The existance of “normal people” is just a kind of horrible nightmare abstraction of our brains.

  10. Kevin Kehres says

    Seems to me someone doesn’t understand the meaning of “consent”, nor the meaning of “private behavior”.

    What business is it of anyone if two people like to rub peanut butter on one-another every Saturday night? If their Saturday night peanut-butter rubbing behavior does not interfere with anyone else’s behavior, then who is to claim it wrong?

    Blue-noses who think ‘god’ considers peanut-butter rubbing wrong, that’s who.

  11. Tualha says

    “marriage, America, and civilization will be destroyed unless we do more to persecute gays”

    Whoa! Someone actually came out and said that? I can’t think of anyone but Fred Phelps who would have been that explicit. Was this recent? You wouldn’t think they would want to characterize it as persecution. Citation, please? Google comes up empty.

  12. Tualha says

    Um, it seems to me that you should have left “unless we do more to persecute gays” outside of the quotation marks. They’re saying the other stuff explicitly, but they never describe their position as a call for persecution. It is, certainly, but they don’t acknowledge that, they don’t say that, and it doesn’t belong in quotes.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Ah, I see: what you mean is that you don’t think it’s correct to set off a paraphrase in quotation marks. I had not heard that objection before. I can see where it would be inappropriate to quote a specific individual and put quotes around words that individual didn’t say, but I have always understood that quote marks were fine around paraphrases that summarize typical things you hear repeated in general, even with a bit of editorializing.

      • Tualha says

        Well, no, of course you don’t use quotation marks for a paraphrase. Putting quotation marks around text amounts to a claim that someone said or wrote those exact words. Well, aside from “scare quotes,” which are a different usage of the punctuation entirely and can generally be recognized by context, e.g.: Fred Phelps was always eager to give people the benefit of his “wisdom” whether they wanted it or not.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        I wasn’t quoting Fred Phelps, though. I was quoting a hypothetical, typical, unusually-blunt homophobe giving an accurate description of the “threat.” I don’t think it’s legit to accuse someone of inaccurately quoting their own hypothetical character. In fact, I think it looks a little odd for you not to put quotes around your example about Fred Phelps. Had you done so, it would have been more clear that you intended it as an example of a statement someone might make that would illustrate your point.

  13. forestdragon says

    It’s always interesting to me to note that when homophobes get up in arms about homosexual sex, it’s always in reference to gay men and gay men having anal sex, as if other sex acts and lesbian women don’t exist at all.

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