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Dec 13 2012

How You Know They’ve Run Out Of Arguments

Steven over at WWJTD informed me of this nonsense:

The newest argument against homosexuality has arrived. It turns out it prevents straight dudes from being friends. Trevin Wax at The Gospel Coalition explains:

“But there is no such thing as absolute freedom when it comes to sexuality. The moment we celebrate or endorse certain behaviors, we curtail freedom in other areas. This is the nature of freedom.”

Wax then lists a few examples of platonic affection between straight men which have fallen out of vogue, such as lovingly written letters, holding hands and sharing a bed.

Wax attributes this lack of affection between men as the result of gay people being accepted into society. Because if there are gays, you don’t want to risk being mistaken for one of those people. He then goes on to talk about how a hypothetical pro-incest movement would damage his ability to be affectionate with his daughter.

As Steven points out, Wax nearly stumbles upon a good point:

Where I do agree with Wax is that I think it does suck that hetero men feel they can’t be affectionate with one another. And a good chunk of the reason for that is people fear being seen as gay.

That’s where we stop agreeing, because society moving toward acceptance of gay people won’t hinder hetero same-sex affection. It will bolster it. The less of a big deal being gay becomes, the less people will care if people mistake them for gay.

Where Wax screws up is that he makes a huge correlation-is-not-causation error. Yes, it used to be acceptable for men to be very affectionate with each other (platonically). It also used to be unacceptable to be gay (although, it’s worth noting that there was no such thing as “gay” back when romantic friendships were in vogue). Nowadays it is much more acceptable to be gay, and much less acceptable for men to be affectionate with each other. Therefore one must’ve caused the other, amirite??

No, I am not right. While this isn’t really my field, my hypothesis would be that the cultural stigma we’ve placed on (straight) men being affectionate with each other is largely a side effect of the way our culture sexualizes everything. Think about it. Women often can’t even breastfeed in public anymore because it’s “inappropriate” (read: too sexy). Women can’t be topless in public, not even on beaches, even though in many other Western countries they can. Fathers being affectionate with their daughters and teachers hugging their students are often looked upon with suspicion, because why would an adult want to touch a child if not sexually? (Maybe because touch is a universal way to express all kinds of platonic, romantic, and familial love, as well as friendly affection and reassurance, but whatever.)

The most amusing thing about Wax’s argument to me, though, is how blatant a sign it is that the bigots have truly run out of arguments to use against homosexuality.

After all, haven’t we rehashed all the usual ones hundreds of times by now?

“YEAH WELL HOMOSEXUALITY DOESN’T PRODUCE CHILDREN”
“Yes it can, and anyway, neither do infertile or voluntarily childfree straight couples.”
“YEAH WELL GOD SAID IT’S WRONG”
“Even if that’s true, you can’t make the rest of the country live by your religion.”

“YEAH WELL IT’S UNNATURAL”
“Homosexuality is found in hundreds of animal species; homophobia is only found in one.”
“YEAH WELL THEY’LL CONVERT KIDS INTO BEING GAY TOO”
“No, there’s no evidence for that.”
“YEAH WELL THEY CHOSE TO BE GAY”
No, they didn’t, here are all the studies showing that sexual orientation is not a choice.”
“YEAH WELL THE BEHAVIOR IS A CHOICE”
“So do some people not deserve to have love and sex in their lives?”
“YEAH WELL IT’S A MENTAL DISORDER”
“Then why can’t it be ‘cured,’ why did it get removed from the DSM decades ago, and why can gay people live happy and healthy lives?”
“YEAH WELL IT’S GROSS”
“So is Jersey Shore, but that’s legal.”
“YEAH WELL NOW STRAIGHT DUDES CAN’T HUG EACH OTHER”
“Wut.”
There you have it. They are out of arguments, and now they’re doubling down and reaching for the most inane ones they can think of.

31 comments

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  1. 1
    Crommunist

    Women can’t be topless in public, not even on beaches, even though in many other Western countries they can

    For the record, Canada is one of those countries. *Salutes the flag*

    1. 1.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      THAT’S IT I’m moving to Canada.

      1. 1.1.1
        Crommunist

        There is a sign at the end of my street that reminds people that men and women are allowed, by law, to be topless in all public places. The beach is across the road from the sign.

        Topless or topped, you should come visit Vancouver.

        1. 1.1.1.1
          Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

          Well, at any rate, I would have to arrive topped and perhaps remove the top once I’m already there. Otherwise, I’d guess they’d kick me off the airplane even faster than they kick off women who wear revealing tops.

          I can’t believe you live next to a beach I’m so jelly you don’t even know.

      2. 1.1.2
        jose

        Same reason why men and women can’t be friends: you can’t be friends with somebody if your only interest is whether you’ll be able to “hit it”. Conservatives think gay men see men as they see women: as targets. It was called projection, right?

        1. 1.1.2.1
          Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

          Resident psychology major here: yes, that’s what it’s called.

          Same with all the conservatives who call feminists man-haters. The crap that anti-feminists say about men sounds exactly like man-hatred to me, honestly.

    2. 1.2
      slc1

      I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with Mr. Crommunist here about women going around topless.and engaging in sport activities From a health standpoint, I think that’s a bad idea, just as I think that men going around bottomless and engaging in sports activities is a bad idea. Breasts need support and so do testicles.

      1. 1.2.1
        Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

        Citations?

        1. 1.2.1.1
          Francisco Bacopa

          I agree. This issue is amenable to scientific investigation, but as far as I know no such study has ever been done. Some have suggested that constant support of the breasts during physical activity causes connective tissue in the breasts to weaken. I don’t really have a personal stake in this issue as I am not a woman, and even as an “observer” I don’t really have any strong preferences, and even if I did , it wouldn’t really be my business anyway.

          I’m just pointing out that it’s possible that some female runner who worries about what her physical activity might do to her breasts may have things backward. The support she thinks she needs may have the opposite effect from what she desires.

          And we have to consider how it came about that she had that much to be concerned about in the first place. History has plenty of examples where people have said that women will ruin something or other. Studying the sciences will cause too much brain development so that the uterus atrophies. Yes, they really said things like that. Now it’s milder stuff like “if you’re smart, boys won’t like you” and “if you go running without being trussed up by our product, your boobs will get ugly”. No evidence for either one.

          1. Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

            And also, Crom was never talking about physical activity. The conversation was only about whether or not women can be topless in public, period.

            Even if exercising without a bra were potentially harmful, it still shouldn’t be illegal, for reasons I hope I don’t have to elucidate. :P

            I really like your analogy about studying science and uterus atrophy. People used to make up all sorts of pseudoscientific rubbish to keep women in their place. Well, and they still do.

      2. 1.2.2
        lrah

        Err… since when have saggy boobs been detrimental to one’s health? AFAIK, sagging is pretty much the only risk when engaging in sports without support.

        I’d be very interested to know whether there’s an actual health risk involved.

        1. 1.2.2.1
          anne mariehovgaard

          I don’t know about “health risk”, but I never do anything more energetic than sitting or possibly walking slowly without wearing a bra, simply because it HURTS. F/G-cups need support; my ex’s not-even-an-A-cups are usually OK without it, even when jumping up and down a lot ;)

      3. 1.2.3
        Tori

        Breasts need support…

        Mine don’t, except while running. Do I get to go topless just on my word alone, or is there a test I need to take or what? ;)

  2. 2
    oolon

    As a tourist in India I freaked out the guide by expressing how cool it was that there were so many openly gay couples about, what with their being so many men holding hands. This was a major faux-pas and I wouldn’t recommend it but it was a quick way to learn how screwed up my view of male intimacy is and unfortunately how homophobic Indians can be…

    1. 2.1
      baal

      I work with Indians regularly and have been there. Yeah, they are extremely homophobic. The handholding and putting arms around each other is more of a public expression of allegiance. I made a similar error not about religion per se but about their superstitions on fetishes. One host had some beads tied to his bumper. They were blessed by a Hindu priest to prevent accidents. He hadn’t had one since so it works. QED. I was also treated to a hour on why astrology is scientific unlike poojas from another higher level guy.

  3. 3
    Bystander

    I just left the following comment at Mr. Wax’s blog, on this post: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/12/13/rethinking-church-planting-a-conversation-with-jimmy-scroggins/?comments

    As of now, the comment is still in moderation.

    Your post “Sexual Freedom Always Curtails Other Freedoms” has comments closed, so I’m stuck adding links to replies to that post to your more recent posts. Please let me know (via a comment, or post) if this is not wanted, or if there is a different, better method for doing so, and I’ll be happy to use it.

    There was a reply at WWJTD, here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2012/12/trevin-wax-cant-show-affection-because-gay-people-ruined-it/

    and this was discussed at Brute Reason, here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2012/12/13/how-you-know-theyve-run-out-of-arguments/

    You and/or your readers, would be very welcome to comment on either post.

    (The first reply was previously mentioned in a comment on “A Review of the New Kindle Paperwhite”, but that comment did not pass through moderation.)

  4. 4
    Acolyte of Sagan

    “YEAH WELL IT’S GROSS”
    “So is Jersey Shore, but that’s legal.”

    That is genius! I may have to borrow it, although here in the UK I’d need to swap ‘Jersey’ for ‘Geordie’, or just go for ‘TOWIE’*.

    *if you don’t know it, please take my word for it; that way madness lies!

    1. 4.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      I’m not familiar, but I’ll take your word for it. There are also plenty of other American substitutions for Jersey Shore…all of which are perfectly legal!

  5. 5
    thebookofdave

    One false premise that never seems to get challenged enough is Wax’s opening suggestion that freedom is a finite resource. He sets up his opposition as a competitor in a fabricated struggle over civil liberties in a zero-sum game. Telling the folks that there’s plenty of freedoms for everyone and a rising tide lifts all boats is no way to get them off their duffs. You gotta scare ‘em into action.

    You’re dead wrong on one thing, Miriam. They aren’t about to run out of arguments. You’ll forget all about Please-Tell-Me-They’ve-Hit-Rock-Bottom next week, when we move on to their new fad in paranoid fantasy. Maybe “Teh Gay is spreading to livestock and threatening agriculture” or “Demoralized normal people will simply give up on traditional relationships” or something even more laughably insane will be dumped into the feeding trough. I’m holding my breath, waiting for ZOMG!-There’s-An-Even-Slimier-Bottom-Underneath-The-Old-One!

    1. 5.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Dammit, you’re right, and also, I forgot that whole bit about causing hurricanes. *sigh*

    2. 5.2
      Acolyte of Sagan

      May I ask a question on something that’s been bugging me for a while? Why is it now seemingly the norm to precede the word ‘gays’ with ‘Teh’ on many blogs and fora? I simply don’t see the reason to mis-spell ‘the’.
      Sorry if it’s something obvious, but I just don’t get it.

      1. 5.2.1
        serena

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teh
        “Along with pwn, teh is a standard feature of leetspeak.[3] Originating from the common typo, it has become conventionalized in a variety of contexts. It is often used ironically,[4] and can be used to mock someone’s lack of “techie” knowledge or skills, as an insult, or to reinforce a group’s elitism;[2] cf. eye dialect. It is frequently used to denote mock ignorance of over-used and over-determined concepts (e.g., “long live teh Patriarchy”).[5]”

        Sorry for the lazy copypasta… yeaaa i am teh lazeh.

        1. 5.2.1.1
          Acolyte of Sagan

          Thanks for that; ironic mis-spelling, who’dathunkit?. I supppose I’ll better get off now to find out just what the Hell ‘leetspeak’ is.
          Oh, I’m just too old to be learning a whole new ironic non-language.

    3. 5.3
      baal

      I quit predicting the next horrible under the bush the lesser admin. They did all of them and then kept going.

  6. 6
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    They just have the causation wrong. Stigmatization of the gay is what causes the problem. So, less bigotry, not more, is the answer. Also, I’d like a pinpoint on the exact time and location for this utopian era of hot platonic man on man affection. The lovingly-written letters between men ended circa the end of letter writing.

  7. 7
    emptyknight

    “YEAH WELL IT’S UNNATURAL”
    “Homosexuality is found in hundreds of animal species; homophobia is only found in one.”

    I never thought to add the part about homophobia to this refutation. Bravo.

    Also, for those that haven’t seen it, SMBC!

  8. 8
    smrnda

    I’m sure that Mr Wax also can’t wear pastel colors or enjoy things like the theater or art museums for fear of being thought of as gay. The man sounds like a total homophobe who thinks everybody else must be obsessed with whether he’s gay or not.

    If I see two men being affectionate, I really don’t give it much thought. They might be gay, they might not be. If Wax is so self-conscious about this, he’s got to have some issues.

  9. 9
    coragyps

    It’s interesting that out here in Texico, those most macho of individuals, the not-many-generations removed Mexican guys, don’t appear to think a damn thing of giving their male friends a big abrazo when they meet in public. I’ve never had any real discussions with more than a couple of these guys, so I don’t know if that demographic is more or less “homophobic” than your standard Anglo Texas redneck. And yes, I know there’s a few centuries of cultural divide mixed up in there, too.

  10. 10
    anne mariehovgaard

    it’s worth noting that there was no such thing as “gay” back when romantic friendships were in vogue

    Bingo!
    You can only be worried about being suspected of “being a homosexual” if you are part of a culture that 1. sees M/M and/or F/F sex as a very bad thing and 2. considers people who have/want to have M/M or F/F sex a distinct group. If you either think such acts are something pretty much anyone might do if they felt like it, or that being gay is no big deal, it makes no sense.

  11. 11
    left0ver1under

    “They’ve run out of arguments”? Beg your pardon, but they never had an argument.

    Religious “arguments” against gays are, and always have been, sophistry and soap opera.

    1. 11.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Hey, I never said the arguments had a shred of truth or logic to them. :)

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