Heteronormativity and the Closet

I’m not inclined to participate further on the debate on non-heterosexualities and school education, partly because I think it’s rapidly running its course, and partly because at the moment I can better focus my writing energies on my thesis. So after this post, I’ll disappear from Troppo til the weekend. But I do want to offer some suggestions on why I think the discussion has been so heated and controversial.

Liberalism, as a way of organising society, as well as a set of principles for government and politics, rests on a normative distinction between public and private spheres. Questions of personal ethics and lifestyle are held to be private, and the public sphere is meant to be impartial as between people’s choices and life projects. Public authorities can legitimately interfere in people’s private choices and actions, however, to prevent people doing harm to others and prevent them from interfering with other’s personal choices and life projects.

Where all this gets thorny, I think, is that matters to do with sex and partnership are normatively private (though subject to some regulation through laws to do with marriage, property and non-consensual sex). Hence the decriminalisation of things like “sodomy” progressively in Australian criminal jurisdictions. So, on one hand, we have public values which suggest people should be free from discrimination (and even in the case of defamation and anti-vilification laws, hateful speech or opprobrium) and on the other hand we have religious groups claiming that certain ways of living and expressing sexuality and intimacy are universally and always wrong. This is where the issue becomes difficult to resolve for some. Some among people holding these values (that is, the condemnation of non-heterosexualities as disordered, unnatural and wrong) would like to see the law reflect that condemnation. The “decriminalisation of homosexuality” rightly shows that a liberal society rejects this.

So what is it about sexuality that attracts such heated disagreeement? It’s got to do with how our culture thinks about sexuality and sex itself.

ELSEWHERE: On the original issue, Mr Lefty comments forcefully at AnonymousLefty. Kim provides some meta-commentary on the debate at at Yellow Vinyl Dress.

JUST IN: Rob Corr throws down a gauntlet or two to Ken at Kick & Scream.

The first thing we need to note is that the link made between sex and reproduction is the basis for the claim that only heterosex is “natural”. Human beings are capable of a finite but wide range of sexual acts, and therefore in a sense all sorts of sexual behaviours are “natural”. But the religious link between sex and reproduction derives from Christianity – it was quite foreign to Greek and Roman thought, which certainly regulated sexuality but along quite different lines (power and age, beliefs about potency and virility, for instance). Hence the church’s anathema against sodomy (anal penetration) came about not as a way of stigmatising “gay men” (there were none when this belief was formulated, but more of this later) but as a prohibition on sexual acts which were seen as oriented purely to pleasure. Similarly, coitus interruptus, birth control, and all other ways of avoiding conception were prohibited by the Catholic Church (and in most cases, still are). Christianity had a deep animus against bodily or fleshly pleasures, seeing these as corrupt and sinful consequences of our fallen state.

Although many people who find homosex distasteful would no longer argue a religious justification along these lines, it is deeply embedded in our culture.

It’s very easy, using both historical and anthropological evidence, to demonstrate that heterosex is not “natural” in the sense in which it’s argued to be. The Greeks for instance didn’t just condone but actively encouraged sex between older men and young men. This was seen as being one of the ways citizens were made, and a pedagogical as well as a sexual act. In Plato’s dialogues, Socrates expresses great surprise that Alcibiades isn’t attracted to young men, and Suetonius comments people thought it was most odd that the Emporer Claudius preferred only to have sex with women. In the Greek sexual system, sex was related closely to power. Sex between male citizens and adolescent males wasn’t penetrative sex, but rather rubbing the penis between the thighs, because penetration was mapped on an axis of active/passive where to be passive signified inferiority. Thus only women and slaves could be penetrated. For a male citizen to be penetrated was an act of subordination, and deeply wrong for this reason.

Unsurprisingly, the ancient texts which were held in very high esteem indeed in English speaking societies until recently (the highest form of liberal education being an education in the Classics – Greek and Latin language and literature) either glossed over this way of regarding sex, or as E. M. Forster famously demonstrated in his novel Maurice (which he would only allow to be published after his death), were expurgated with phrases like the Oxford tutor’s “omit the reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks”. Hence the phrase relating to love and sex between men, which was common at the time, “the love that dare not speak its name”.

Many other contemporary cultures have different ways of organising and regulating sex, and what is “natural” to them, some Native American cultures for instance, recognising more than two genders. But sticking to our own culture, it’s also very significant to note that as Michel Foucault famously argued in The History of Sexuality, the idea that sexual object choice defines identity is a very recent one in our culture. Christianity always taught that sodomy was a sin, for instance, but it wasn’t a defined “sinful” identity. Some people had a predilection for theft, some for sodomy. It didn’t mean that there was a majority of people called “heterosexuals” and a minority called “homosexuals”. Many Kings, such as James I and Edward II had mistresses as well as male favourites, and had sex with both, for instance. It was only when sexuality became far more regimented in the Nineteenth Century and sexology became part of psychiatry’s quest to classify deviations, that the term “homosexuality” was invented. “Heterosexuality” is a newer word, first coined in the 1890s, and was invented to define the norm against the deviant.

How does the closet relate to all this? Traditionally, homosexuality was indeed the “love which dares not speak its name”. People were supposed to conceal their “unnatural” desires. Until things like the Stonewall riots in the 1960s in New York, and the first Mardis Gras in Sydney in 1978 (which was a political demonstration where multiple arrests and bashings by police took place), mostly this system was strong.

The significance of the closet is that queer people were meant to be complicit in their own subordination. By being unable to speak their truth, or the truth of their desires, they were taught to despise themselves as dirty and unnatural beings. Even now, the rhetoric of “discretion” and the apparent fantasy that all queer people will come to work in gold lame g-strings speaks powerfully to the desire to repress, and render silent.

Because our society still has hangups about sex, and because of the cultural legacy of Christian linkages of sex and reproduction, and despite the hypersexualisation of the media and the internet, our culture still tends to regard queer folks as hypersexual beings. Unless they’re tightly constrained, and do their thang “in the privacy of their own bedroom”, who knows what damage all that powerful sexual energy would do? So when we talk about particular individuals being non-hetero, we seem to leap very quickly from identity to sex, which still has some sort of forbidden taboo aspect in our culture. So the call goes out for non-heteros to stop “getting in our faces”. Yet, with rare exceptions like Sydney’s Oxford Street, people who are deeply in love with others of the same sex can’t do what hetero couples take for granted, walk down the street holding hands, or kiss in public. Yet for queer people, every straight couple kissing on the beach or in the park is a sign that they and their sexuality aren’t valued or validated. Or it can be. And the incidence of queer bashing is apparently on the rise, even in traditionally queer-friendly inner urban precincts like Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. So, a huge range of active and passive social and cultural signals work towards keeping queer people invisible, and afraid of disclosing their sexual identity.

Where this ties in with the public/private distinction in liberal societies is the difficulty of containing sexual matters within the private sphere. So, given that many people hold “values” which suggest that homosex is always and everywhere immoral and sinful, any attempt to suggest that it ought to be valued quickly raises the spectre of sex itself, which is something we are not as open about as we think we are. The very same arguments that have been made at Troppo recently about “discretion” among teachers, the need to respect parental values, and not “privilege” homosexuality have both deep cultural roots, and also are very similar to the arguments made in Queensland in the Bjelke-Petersen years against any sex education in schools and condom vending machines in bars and universities – and even in the era of the Goss government, against educational material produced by the AIDS council which talked about “disgusting” sexual practices such as rimming. The moral panic over primary school students learning about non-heterosexualities and having non-hetero teachers who might not be sufficiently “discreet” also plays into our fears about kids and sex – and I don’t just mean pedophilia (the linkage of which with homosexuality is a notorious canard but a very common cultural trope), but also concerns about 8 year old girls wearing miniskirts, kids “pashing” and having “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” in Grade 3 and so on.

The other reason of course, why there’s so much angst around this issue, is the constant need to shore up the system of heteronormativity. Freud demonstrated quite convincingly that when born, humans are “polymorphously perverse”, that is to say capable of receiving pleasure and stimulation from the whole body as one erogenous zone. Although his particular theory of the “castration complex” is contested (and for fairly good reason), there’s no doubt that sexuality is in large part learned behaviour, and most theories of psycho-sexual development in psychology, for instance, start from that premise. Kinsey also demonstrated that most of us, at one time or other, have felt attracted to others of the same sex. Sexuality is much more like a continuum than two polar opposites. But our culture tells us never the twain shall meet, which is why the category of “bisexuality” is so unstable – there’s constant pressure to either be straight or gay.

All human bodies can be sexy, and most men might at one time or other have found a male body or an image of a male body sexy or aesthetically pleasing, and similarly with women and female bodies. But there are deep cultural and social pressures to repress and deny this attraction. Hence we get the exaggerated impulse to keep heterosexuality “privileged” and queer people as invisible and closeted as possible. There’s also – with regard to male homosexuality – an additional dimension of fear – related to how heteronormativity intersects with gender hierarchy. Part of the reason why men are still largely more powerful than women in our culture is what’s called “homosociality” – an easy kinship and friendship among men. But it relies heavily on a shared understanding of women as sexual objects (hence all the locker room humour, “did ya score, last night, mate?”, “she’s a bit of orright”, etc) and a repression of any suggestion that mates might find other mates, well, a bit sexy. So we have complicated and unspoken codes about where we shouldn’t look in urinals, how men look at each other, how close male friends can and can’t express their regard for each other, or when boofy blokes are showering together after the footy. Any concession that homosex is not unnatural threatens all these interlocking attitudes and behaviours.

What we need to do, I’d argue, is get over our hangups here. If you don’t worry too much about sexuality and sex, in my experience, you’re a lot happier. My ideal, and the ideal of “queer”, is that we should have a society where sexual orientation is irrelevant and people are free to be as fluid as they like in matters sexual (within the limits of consensuality) and in their sexuality. Obviously we have a long way to travel, but if we’re afraid to speak the truth of what exists and legitimately exists in our liberal society, it’ll be a much longer road than it needs to be. And people will get run over on the way.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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jen
jen
2021 years ago

Mark,

commenters on both posts distinguish between tolerating sexual orientation and what is appropriate in a specific classroom situation. You don’t make the distinction.

You also fail to make a distinction here.

Yellow says and asks:”I don’t view myself and my sexuality as a moral problem. if I decided to go and study education and become a teacher, should it be? why”

Jen replies: “Your sexuality is not a problem, but perhaps the lack of gentleness and tolerance that is entertaining on a blog, might bring you grief in a classroom.”

The subtext here is ‘although you are an entertaining blogger, put yourself in a teacher’s shoes’

You interpret my answer to Yellow’s question as an interpretation of her personality.

I don’t know her personally at all. I only know anyone on this blog (except Parish) from reading what they say. I can only comment on what she has said and the way she has presented it, on the blog. If you reread my answer you should see that.

I would consider it to be presumptious and bad manners to comment on a blogger’s personality.

I feel very strongly about this point and am taking lots of space to make it. A blog is not, cannot be a forum for personalities it is a forum for personas and ideas.

I bet debates would be clearer and more fun if that notion was always at the forefront of discussion.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Jen, I put up this post because I think I’ve said all I want to say about the specific issues to do with schools and education. What I wanted to do here was talk about how I think sexuality and gender in general are framed in our society, and why aspects of that make people passionately steamed up on questions to do with non-heterosexualities.

But I’ll answer your questions since you posed them here.

I don’t have time to go through all the very long threads on this issue but I don’t agree that I failed to distinguish between tolerating sexual orientation and what’s appropriate in a classroom discussion.

I do make that distinction but I continue to believe that the student teacher behaved appropriately.

Let’s say that the teacher had a male partner to whom she wasn’t married pick her up. The kids then ask her – “who’s that”. She says “that’s my partner” and when asked if that means her husband, or what it means, quickly discusses the fact that not everyone with kids is married in our society today. In fact, this is less probable because most classrooms now would contain kids whose parents aren’t married, or who are divorced, or with single parents. That wasn’t the case when I was in primary school.

Would you say this would be inappropriate?

I still can’t see what she did wrong. All she was doing was drawing the kids’ attention to the fact that there are people with same-sex partners, after she was asked about hers. What’s the problem with this? There are people with same-sex partners. Shouldn’t kids know about it?

I can imagine all sorts of things that could have happened that would have been inappropriate but I don’t think what did happen was.

Clear enough?

We’ve heard Ken’s reasoning at great length and repeatedly, but I’d be interested in your opinion, jen.

As to your interchange with yellowvinyl, I can only speak for myself, as I did before. But I will say this. You wrote: “Your sexuality is not a problem, but perhaps the lack of gentleness and tolerance that is entertaining on a blog, might bring you grief in a classroom.”

I can see how I might have thought you were saying something about yellowvinyl’s personality. I accept your assurance that you weren’t, but perhaps you can understand why I thought that.

I don’t think at all that we don’t infer something about other commenters’ and bloggers’ personalities nor that we don’t show aspects of our own – for instance we get a certain viewpoint on Ken’s personality through the comments you direct at him or make about him. We know that EP worries about sperm theft. We know that observa sees himself as the salt of the earth and that he thinks the lunch room at his work is the font of all wisdom. We know Homer is a Christian who thinks Chris Sheil has bad music taste. Etc etc.

I agree that we shouldn’t personalise the discussion, but I think it would be very boring if we thought of each other just as disembodied typing. People argue in similar ways on different topics as well, and over time we get a sense of what they think about lots of stuff. With some people, you can almost predict what they will say on any topic before reading the comment. The way we interact with a sense of the different personalities also makes it interesting and fun.

yellowvinyl
yellowvinyl
2021 years ago

well said and tightly argued, Mark.

what you write of course illustrates why the fundos and culture warriors didn’t want anyone to see the film Kinsey or take his work seriously.

jen
jen
2021 years ago

Personas not personalities make the blog interesting. We ARE disembodied. That is one of the delights of the medium.
Off topic to be sure and metablogging again – excuse me, but that example from the last thread (and the hysterical tone of the thread) was too good to pass by without comment.

Now, what do I think about sexual orientation? I think… right this moment? I think, sex is great with some people and pretty ordinary with others.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

I thought I’d post a feature piece from Monday’s Daily Tele. I’d didn’t even know it had been published but at tonight’s board meeting of the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON), the clipping was in our board papers. It doesn’t really need any further comment from me.

The Daily Telegraph
Edition 1 – StateMON 07 MAR 2005, Page 021
Ultimate price paid for my ignorant prejudice
By ADRIAN PICCOLI

I have killed a man. In fact, I have killed men. Not through what I have done, but through my own pathetic and stupid prejudice. Not long ago I went to the funeral of a young gay friend of mine who had died of a rare wasting illness. He ultimately died of a broken heart — he died because he was sorry to be gay. He was a country bloke who didn’t want to be gay, but he just was.

He didn’t want the prejudice that he would inevitably face. I guess he wanted the textbook life that we generally romanticise about and call “normal”, but it just wasn’t him. At the cemetery I saw two of his friends, both male, holding hands as they lowered the casket, bawling their eyes out at the loss of their beloved friend. Through their tears my eyes were finally opened. Their love and respect was what mattered. Who cares what people do as long as they love each other?

I felt like a complete moron. In all these years of thinking that being gay was odd or unusual, in actual fact I was perpetuating prejudice that was killing young men — and which still kills young men.

I killed my friend through my failure to accept difference, and through the lack of understanding from other country blokes, just like me, who made him hate being gay. It is not overt prejudice or open vilification. It’s the more dangerous, subtle, constant things we do that must have gnawed away at his soul. It was people such as me who give gay people a funny look, who make gay men ashamed in country Australia.

And I haven’t just killed him, I have killed many. Killed them at the end of a rope in the back shed or at the barrel of their father’s gun or next to an empty bottle of grog. It’s a tough realisation to come to. I have been brought up and remain a strong Catholic, believing in strong “family values” and that heterosexual relationships were what God was all about. But only a week after the funeral I went to a wedding where the priest read the Gospel where He says “of all of my commandments the most important one is to love thy neighbour”. Unless they cut out a bit on the end that said “unless they are gay,” I reckon God didn’t care much about who you love, so why do we?
Thomas, if you can hear me, forgive me for now I understand.

*Adrian Piccoli is the National Party State MP for Murrumbidgee

wbb
wbb
2021 years ago

You are a prolific bastard, Mark. If only you could apply yourself to yr thesis.

Nice post. You are one of the big personalities in the blogosphere.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Thanks, Geoff – that’s very moving, and as you say, speaks for itself.

Thanks also, wbb. I do my best!

The thesis is going well. Fortunately for both the thesis and my blogging career, I write very quickly when I get motivated – on a good day I can knock out 1000 words an hour. Of course, I’ll have a bit of editing to do, but I should be in a position to let you all know whether Fukuyama is right and history has ended next month :)

Antonio
Antonio
2021 years ago

Mark, very well argued position and I thoroughly agree with you.

As a side note, working in eastern religious studies, it’s very bizarre to note the pervasive influence of western homophobia and prudishness littered throughout the scholarship. Sexually explicit terminology, symbolism and metaphors in translations of Buddhist and Hindu Tantric literature IS STILL GLOSSED OVER AND LEFT UNTRANSLATED TO THIS DAY! And I still laugh at the fact that the very explicit section of Buddhist monastic rules (vinaya) that deals with sexual transgressions (of all kinds – hetero-, queer, bestial, onanistic etc) was originally only paraphrased into LATIN(!) by western scholars at the turn of the century. Needless to say, these sections still remain untranslated into a modern western language in the modern era!

Personally, I really don’t understand homophobia or any other such irrational fear of personal human characteristics (ethnicity, gender etc) that do not affect others liberties.

The political party I am a member of (Liberal) does, I admit, have it’s fair share of homophobes and in that sense is (unfortunately) very representative of the wider society.

As such, I often hear all of the arguments by the social conservatives in extenso ad nauseum:
– it’s morally wrong (yeah it’s true, sex is so passe now. It’s just too 80s!),
– judeo-christian heritage (where are the archaeological remains of these “judeo-christians”?),
– defending the foundation of our society (hear hear, let’s disenfranchise women and bring back imperialism and slavery while we’re at it!),
– protecting children (still waiting for just ONE of my gay and lesbian friends to admit paedophilic and/or pederastric tendencies),
– respecting the employment rights of private schools (oh I forgot, Gregory Terrace has a “no atheists” policy too, right?).

All this is very frustrating for a classical liberal. Here i was worrying about sustaining economic growth, encouraging self-reliance and communitarianism, liberalising our industrial relations system, international terrorism, eliminating poverty and restoring voters’ faith in our political system. Boy was I dumb. The most serious problem facing our society is whether school teachers are sexually attracted to the right bits!

Those hardline social conservatives! Finger on the pulse of the nation I tell you!

But seriously, any discrimination based on an inherent characteristic that does not unnecessarily impinge upon another’s freedom is totally wrong and scary. When that discrimination becomes enshrined in government legislation (a la the recent legislative enshrining of the heterosexual definition of marriage), it is just appalling.

What is needed though is more high profile queer people (at least one would be good!) in the major political parties. The Liberal party DOES have a significant number of queer people in it’s ranks but we need more and we need those queer people to enunciate their own views and experiences.

The recent Ingrid Tall campaign for the seat of Brisbane is a very good example of how NOT to be a queer candidate in the Liberal party. Everyone knew she was queer but she refused to discuss it. The social conservatives voted Labor, family first preferenced against her and the social liberals voted against her because she refused to stand up for her own beliefs.

Put simply, the debate with the social conservatives cannot be won. They debate in absolutes, we debate in relatives. Both sides have completely different and irreconcilable views of the human condition. What can be won however is the battle for the hearts and minds of those undecided and non-committed voters and the ever dwindling youth in Australia. If you win that war, then as liberals we HAVE to legislate tolerance of intolerance out of existence!

[rant ends]

Kim
Kim
2021 years ago

thx for the link, Mark.

Antonio, very well said! Jason Soon said some time ago that there was a lot of common ground between liberally minded people on the left and in the Liberal Party, if I remember correctly, and yr proving him right. I think liberals of all persuasions need to argue these points very forcefully in an increasingly intolerant and conservative climate. it’s more evidence that this is not a left/right issue but one about toleration, individual rights, and freedom.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2021 years ago

christ antonio, what are you doing in that party??!!

(I should ask the same thing about Andrew Norton but he’s a hopeless Machievellian and lost to the Quixotic amongst us completely)

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Hi Mark.

I’ve been struggling to keep up with this topic. Apart from the usual lack of time, a certain young man around here cooked his motherboard the other day, so last night was working late doing a chemistry assignment on my computer. The graphs and tabulations were a wonder to behold! Something about readings of toxins found in a creek around here. With our school-based assessment in Qld every assignment counts and frankly I’m staggered by the complexity of work the students have to produce.

I wanted to make a couple of points which support, I think, the excellent work you’ve been putting in on this one.

One of the main functions of schools is social reproduction. This involves in part the desirable notion of transmitting society’s values and norms. The aim is that we fit in, conform if you like, when we sally forth into the big wide world.

In large part this is as it should be. But there is a major problem. Schools also reproduce the toxicities of society. And if we take the easy course (“discretion is the better part of valour” or whatever) then these toxicities are transmitted with our tacit approval and we are complicit in the damage they do.

Another main function of schools is personal development. Part of this is critiquing the values and norms of society. Schools should prepare kids to choose the degree to which they wish to conform to society and how much they would like to stand outside it or change it.

The other two main functions of schools are care (in loco parentis, but what if the parents are dysfunctional as parents?) and, finally, the business of the teaching and the learning of the curriculum.

The problem with these functions is that some of them can be contradictory. The role of the teacher is quite difficult.

There is a tendency on the part of teachers to say that their role relates to the curriculum only, especially in secondary schools. They try to keep the role in a safe zone.

To some degree they must, because they are not psychologists or counsellors, and if they become overt warriors for social change they will rapidly bring themselves grief. As in one instance where a teacher sent animal liberation literature home with the children in a pig-farming area. Yet if they wave through all the social toxicities then they may be acting as the MP Geoff cited above.

Also the functions of schooling as identified are not discrete and maintained in neat separation. Much of the ‘social reproduction’ function and the ‘personal development’ function are carried by the curriculum.

Moreover we are dealing with real people, teachers and kids, in schools. If the teachers stay safely within their ‘teaching the curriculum’ role and activites, books and other curriculum resources are selected so as not to offend parents (the principal’s life is made easier, and no parents write letters of complaint to the Minister) then education in schools will become very bland.

So, jen, I appreciate that teachers have to pick their own path in all this and have to work within the strengths and weaknesses of their own personalities. Myself, I do think they need to let their humanity show, with honesty and a certain directness, if they are to do the best by the kids.

In the school my young son attends personal development and what they call pastoral care are major features and form an explicit part of teachers’ roles. They do have counsellors for bachup, but unless care and personal developoment are mainstreamed using the teachers you get a situation where only the worst cases are attended to, inadequately by the overworked specialist staff.

Finally Mark, I think one of the problems in all this goes back to that liberal value you cited in another post (now closed) when you said “one value that rarely gets mentioned is the fundamental liberal value of toleration”. As you are certainly aware, toleration is not enough. It’s a halfway house that makes me a bit sick when I know that it often (even typically) masks disapproval. We should actively value and support people in what they are and what they can become within a frame of creative intersubjectivity.

Sorry this has been so long and I must now get back to preparing spreadsheets for our tax accountant when I can get access to the computer.

Rob
Rob
2021 years ago

What does this bit mean, Antonio?

“If you win that war, then as liberals we HAVE to legislate tolerance of intolerance out of existence!”

And how do you square it with:

“They debate in absolutes, we debate in relatives.”

Shouldn’t intolerance be understood as a relative condition? And isn’t legislation as absolutist as you can get?

You seem to suggest that the intolerant walk free, but those who tolerate the intolerant will wind up behind bars. A very strange prescription for a liberal.

Antonio
Antonio
2021 years ago

I know the sophist game you are trying to play Rob – “liberals are opposed to absolutism yet paradoxically and in a circular fashion they have to resort to an absolutist mechanism to protect their opposition to liberalism.”

For me, the fundamental ethical precept of classical liberal ethics is tolerance. Liberals believe in using the legislative mechanism to protect what they believe to be a fundamental human value. As such, it is only logical that liberals legislate against intolerance in general and tolerance of intolerance in particular.

Your point is one of meaning and definition. You view the legislative mechanism as absolutist. You seem to impute that the logical antidote to absolutism for a liberal HAS to be anarchy. But the problem is that to a liberal, anarchy is just another form of absolutism. We tend to define absolutism in terms of an essentialist approach to morality and social policy. This essentialist approach of the absolutists often seems to me to approach the criteria of “pseudo-science” of Popper – ie. resistence to falsifiability.

Put simply Rob, liberals view the legislature as a NECESSARY MECHANISM to protect tolerance. We do not view anti-hate legislation as “absolutist” but rather a necessary protection of freedom of speech, thought and action. But then Rob I guess if you tactically choose to define absolutism as a praxis AND a theory of morality then arent you yourself lapsing a terrible sin of the relativists – “semantic relativity”!

P.S. Rob, just out of interest, what is your view of hate-crime and hate-speech legislation?

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Congratulations, Antonio – that was comment #19999 at Troppo. This is comment #20000. Do we get some sort of prize, I wonder?

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Or in other words, Antonio, as I was saying in the post the prime value of liberalism is the ability of all to choose their form of life (providing it does no harm) and this freedom needs public protection from intolerance in the private domain.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

“As you are certainly aware, toleration is not enough. It’s a halfway house that makes me a bit sick when I know that it often (even typically) masks disapproval. We should actively value and support people in what they are and what they can become within a frame of creative intersubjectivity.”

This is absolutely the crux of the issue that those on Mark’s side of the debate can’t seem to get their head around. Tolerance *is* enough. People should not be forced to accept and praise lifestyle decisions that they do not agree with. The law says they must tolerate them, and that is what they do.

Should we also actively support serial womanisers who cheat on their wives? I don’t think so, but we tolerate them because what they are doing is not against the law in this country.

Should we actively support people who get shitfaced drunk 5 times a week? My flatmate fits that description. I’m worried about him but there’s not much I can do short of tolerating it. The last thing I want to do is actively support him in his quest to drink himself to death.

People have every right to disapprove of homosexual lifestyles. For one thing, it’s more dangerous. Homosexuals have a shorter lifespan than heteros (although how much shorter is a topic of much debate). It should follow that we shouldn’t encourage people to be homos any more than we should encourage people to take up smoking.

Whether Brian, Mark, and Yellowvinyl think being a homo is the greatest thing in the world or not is beside the point.

Most of my friends favourite pastimes is to get really drunk, go to a pub, then pick up a previously unknown girl for a night of drunken unprotected sexual intercourse or, failing that, have a fight.

Should we be praised and supported? Of course not. Are we going to change because people disapprove of our actions? Nope.

However, leftists like Mark think it’s quite ok to curtail things like binge drinking and smoking, but any attempt by people to curtail the actions of homosexuals (an equally valid lifestyle choice, in my opinion) is met with howls of outrage.

As I’ve already said on a previous comment thread. He’s a hypocrite who is intolerant of others, yet expects people to go beyond tolerance when concerned with his own particular differences from the norm.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Very civil, yobbo. I assume your last paragraph means that I’m a hypocrite. It’s not entirely clear what the referent of the subject of the last sentence is.

Actually, um, I’m a smoker…

Your analogy fails. There are laws which prevent people from binge drinking in public, badly enforced as they are. The reason for these laws is that binge drinking is likely not only to do harm to people who engage in it, but also to others, through the propensity of some very drunk people to engage in verbal and physical abuse of others.

Non-heterosexuality by contrast is an orientation towards others of the same or opposite (in the case of bisexuality) gender. It does no-one any harm.

In general, my position is pragmatically libertarian. I think conduct is over-regulated in society generally. There are many instances where I think that conduct is wrongly prohibited or regulated. The rule of thumb ought to be whether others are harmed, or there is potential harm to the person themselves (within reason, people need to take responsibility for their own actions) and whether different values within a broad spectrum of legitimately acceptable behaviours and orientations to the world are wrongly stigmatised.

Brian is quite correct to say toleration is not an ideal, but it may be the best we can achieve in our society as presently constituted. My ideal would be that sexual orientation were to be thought of by the majority as irrelevant to the worth and value of a person qua person.

Rob
Rob
2021 years ago

I’m sorry, Antonio, but I really find this quite scary:

“As such, it is only logical that liberals legislate against intolerance in general and tolerance of intolerance in particular.”

The human condition is not perfect nor is it perfectible. The idea that you can legitimately use the power of the state to force people to conform to some standard of moral ‘perfection’ (espeically if it is ideologically defined) is something I find abhorrent, anti-democratic and seriously frightening. Legislating for ‘tolerance’ is, IMHO, the very opposite of what is generally connoted by the word.

It follows from what I have just said – to answer your ps – that I am absolutely (yes!) opposed to ‘hate crime and hate speech’ legislation. What people believe, think or say is no business of the state. Think of what a nightmare we would be invoking if the government were to paw through the comments on this and related Troppo threads to determine who is guilty of anti-gay ‘hate-crime’ and to what extent.

Your argument that ‘We do not view anti-hate legislation as “absolutist” but rather a necessary protection of freedom of speech, thought and action’ involves a strange, convoluted and anti-libertarian form of logic. How on earth can you protect freedom of speech by criminalising it? If people put up ridiculous ideas – as David Irving did – it’s up to their opponents to shoot them down (as his did). But no one should be un-free to put whatever wares they wish into the general marketplace of ideas.

The only time the state has a legitimate intervention role is to protect the physical body from assault, and property from theft (in their various manifestations), and the environment/ecology from scientifically quantifiable and demonstrable damage (e.g. to protect endangered species). The rest are moral issues as between citizens, as evidenced by recent vigorous debates on Troppo. JS Mill, to whose timeless wisdom in these things I pay homage daily (well, almost), understood all this perfectly.

I am totally opposed to the UK government’s banning of fox-hunting on these same grounds. The hunts do no damage, and the foxes would be killed anyway. The fact that self-righteous urban dwellers have convinced themselves it’s immoral is just too bad – for them. Let them persuade or cajole the hunts into giving up their pradtices. That’s fine: but the government has no business intervening. In less civil forums I would be tempted to call that fascist.

And, Mark, I’m glad to hear you’re a smoker. We have something in common, mate!

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Plus baroque music Rob!

I’m inclined to disagree with you and agree with Antonio, but I want to develop the reasoning I outlined in my response to Yobbo using the example of smoking. In Qld now we have laws regulating smoking in outside public places (I won’t go into the laws about smoking in cafes and restaurants because it’s reasonable in my view not to smoke while people are eating). Now smoking is prohibited within 4 metres of the entrances of buildings, in bus stops, on open train stations, near children’s playgrounds etc. etc. With regard just to smoking at a bus stop. Almost every smoker does, because it kills the time and the act of lighting up a ciggie tends magically to make even the notoriously unreliable Brisbane buses appear. However, I try to be sensitive to others and stand clear of the bus stop when I have a smoke. I’ve been doing that for years. And if asked politely, I’m more than happy not to smoke around someone if it annoys them. However, I, like many other people, tend to get annoyed by laws telling us where we can and can’t smoke, so am actually probably less likely to be civil when the state tells me a ludicrously exact distance I have to stand away from the bus stop. So these laws actually discourage civility, and discourage citizens from politely chatting to each other about what minor irritation they might be doing to the other person.

I hope that fleshes out my more general point to some extent.

Better go have a fag now before I go to bed!

Rob
Rob
2021 years ago

Mark, yes, and to develop mine along your lines I’d say that for someone to say to you or me, ‘Do you mind smoking somewhere else, I find it offensive and potentially health-damaging’ is fine, and I for one would comply. For the government to weigh in and prescribe a bloody distance and a criminal sanction for infringing it is….well, I said I wouldn’t use the f word.

Ron
Ron
2021 years ago

Yobbo wrote: “Homosexuals have a shorter lifespan than heteros”

Oh no…why didn’t someone warn me about his earlier… if I had known I would have *chosen* a hetero *lifestyle*!

Michael Carden
Michael Carden
2021 years ago

I’ve yet to see any evidence for this statement. I still remmebr back in ’96 the Senate SExuality INquiry when it came to Bris. There was a huge multi media presentation by a homophobic doctor and his supporters. One of his stateemtns was that the average life expextancy for homosexuals was 40. It turns out this figure was based on a comparison of death notices in the Sydney Star Observer (at a time before much of the current treatments for HIV/AIDS) and those in the Sydney MOrning Herald and noting the age at death. I couldn’t imagine a more flawed methodology.

blank
blank
2021 years ago

According to figures in The Australian on 16/12/04, married men have a higher life expectancy than single men. Single people are nearly twice as likely to die in any given year compared to married people.

Same-sexers in Australia are by definition single, and would be included in these shorter lived singles.

It would be interesting to see whether members of partnered same-sex relationships live longer than non-partnered.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Mark

Throwing down the gauntlet??!! I don’t intend to say anything more on this issue. Everything that can be said has already been repeated several times over. I don’t agree with every single aspect of the stereotypical left line. But I’m tolerant (in the sense of agreeing to disagree, as Don Arthur said) of your differing viewpoint (and that of Robert Corr, yellowvinyl etc). And apparently unlike some of you guys, I don’t even think that the disagreement of my opponents can only be explained by their having deep unresolved fears about their sexuality or that of their kids. I don’t even find your claim to that effect offensive (although I’m sure many people would). I just accept that we disagree, and that there comes a point where continuing discussion isn’t achieving anything useful. And that point arrived some time ago.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Ken, I understand your position and your reasons.

I think you’re wrong to take this personally, though. To say that there is a cultural pattern which all of us are prone to is not to make a personal accusation.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

And in turn I think you’re being unfair to accuse those who disagree with you of taking a “stereotypical left line”. That’s the sort of comment you usually dissent from. It’s very clear this is not a left/right issue and nor, as Antonio and Jason demonstrate, do the positions cluster around a neat left/right cleavage in politics.

Rob
Rob
2021 years ago

I don’t know it it’s struck anyone else, but there seems to be a strong taint of burning witch emanating from Troppo at the moment. I’m all for vigorous, even occasionally imtemperate debate, so long as people keep a sense of proportion. But I don’t like this deliberate, conscious pack hounding of people across the blogosphere because they have divergent views and are honest (not to mention brave) enough to make them known. It’s made Troppo a rather unpleasant place to be these past couple of days. No wonder Ken and Sophie have bowed out.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

“Yobbo wrote: “Homosexuals have a shorter lifespan than heteros”

Oh no…why didn’t someone warn me about his earlier… if I had known I would have *chosen* a hetero *lifestyle*!”

Come on Rob, you can do better than that.

Whether you choose the lifestyle or not, the point is that most leftists have no problem with government making laws to protect people from themselves. Alcoholics don’t choose to be alcoholics either, but that doesn’t stop the lawmakers.

In my opinion, laws against binge drinking and smoking are just as unjust as laws against homosexual acts. You guys, on the other hand, prefer to cherry pick what freedoms people should be allowed to indulge in.

Gay sex is fine, but group sex with football groupies is setting a bad example to children?

Marijuana? Let people grow it in their own house and smoke it! Tobacco? Growers must be licensed and charge a 1000% sin tax to protect people from the evil weed!

Michael: I’m not going to defend any figures that suggest that homosexual lifespan is anywhere near 40. However, the fact that HIV is more common in homosexual populations means that all other things being equal, they would have a lower average life expectancy.

I suppose you could take into account that homos put more average work into physical fitness than heteros, but there are other factors at work as well (like the higher instance of drug abuse, etc).

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2021 years ago

Rob, this blog is an exemplar of civility, compared to nearly all others that attract significant comments. If you don’t believe me, try expressing a dissenting opinion at Tim Blair’s.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Yobbo, I’d be more than happy for marijuana to be legalised, and surely the point with group(ie) sex and footballers is that it should be consensual. Catherine Lumby, who wrote the report for the NRL, was predictably pilloried when she said that nothing was wrong with group sex if all parties consented.

As to the age span argument, if it has any legs (which I take leave to doubt), it invalidates your argument that people should be free to “choose”.

I’m sure blank’s right – the argument about marriage probably shows the causal factor as being partnered, and I’m sure it would hold true for heteros and non-heteros alike.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

“Your analogy fails. There are laws which prevent people from binge drinking in public, badly enforced as they are. The reason for these laws is that binge drinking is likely not only to do harm to people who engage in it, but also to others, through the propensity of some very drunk people to engage in verbal and physical abuse of others.”

Actually, that’s not the reason for binge drinking laws in any way, shape or form. Any perusal of state governments’ health department advertisements would make it quite clear that binge drinking is treated as a health issue, and that the health of the drinker themselves is what is of most concern.

The law is on this side as well. If you get pissed and beat someone up, you are held entirely responsible for your own actions and will face assault charges. However, if you get pissed and pass out on the road and get run over by a truck, then the government will go after the person who sold you the liquor.

I’m afraid my analogy is quite valid. Try again.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Rob, when I was making similar comments about some of the education threads inspired by Dr D on the weekend, I was told I was being precious, lacked a sense of humour, it was all just vigorous debate, etc.

Maybe now you and Ken can see why I was feeling somewhat beseiged?

I think first that it’s unsurprising that there are strong views on this matter because it goes to the heart of people’s identity and people’s beliefs on both sides, and secondly, that Tim Dunlop is on the money with his contention that there is no viable “centrist” position on this one:

http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/surfdomarchives/003071.php

Ken tried to stake one out and look what happened!

So you can’t have it both ways – it’s all good and robust if you think your position is winning, and it’s witch-burning if it seems it’s not.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day in sunny Brisvegas, and I’m off to do some thesifying – after a leisurely coffee and a cigarette of course! Have a nice day!

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2021 years ago

To go back to Yobbo’s comment, schools of course routinely encorage positive, prosocial behaviour and discourage the opposite. That’s simplistically stated, but we are in a blog comment afterall.

School’s, being compulsory, also amount to a massive intervention, for the public good, but also the private good of individuals. Families, as well as an institution of nurturance, can be an institution of oppression and harm to the young. The function of schools is, in part, to compensate for this harm.

Hence schools have to think very carefully who their real ‘client’ (if I may use that word) is, the child or the parent/guardian. In my view the ultimate loyalty and concern must be for the child where acting in the the child’s best interests are in conflict with the family.

There is a tendency to say we shouldn’t intervene in the lives of others, but we do so automatically in many cases. Who would not intervene if you saw a child probing a toaster with a knife or poking a wire into an electrical socket? If some-one gets caught in rip on the beach we fish them out and then hopefully teach them how to avoid such situations and how to get out of them if they find themselves caught again.

In the case of the student teacher, as far as I can see, she responded to a simple question in a direct and human way. Full marks IMO. It is possible that parents made this into an issue where there wasn’t (or shouldn’t have been) one. The principal, it seems effectively poured kerosene onto the fire rather than water, thus supporting prejudice and making himself complicit in the harm it does.

At a minimum his action and that of parents prevents some people from being who they legitimately and positively are. However, the effects of such prejudice are potentially so damaging that the state is perfectly justified in legislateng to restrain such behaviour IMO. In other words there is a warrant to intervene to protect the minority.

It is not a matter of choice of life-styles or values I’m afraid. The state in a liberal democratic society is doing what it is there for.

btw I heard and American who has written a book about gender characteristics and relations, who said that homosexuality was, in his opinion, prosocial in the social circumstances in which we evolved, mostly in the ice ages. We survived and flourished, he said, because of our practice of cooperating in small groups (in contrast with the preference for individual competitive behaviour today). One in a dozen males, and somewhat fewer females, were out of the reproductive cycle and function as extra adult contibutors around the camp and in hunting parties etc.

Similarly, one in a dozen males, apparently, (this from memory, it seems a bit high to me) has colour blindness. Just what you need to see through camouflage to spot the tiger or bear in the forest or the enemy scout.

That is speculation, of course.

Finally, a bit of deconstruction. I’d suspect that we have in the population, if we relaxed and took away the prejudice and social pressure, up to 10% who are exclusively homo and a similar percentage who are exclusively hetero. In between we would have graduated shades of grey. So I could define human nature as predominantly homo and a small percentage as hetero. But that would be wrong and oppressive. More accurate would be to recognise exclusively homos and exclusively heteros as minorities and the rest as bi-sexual. What we have, in fact is a small percentage of hetero bullies persecuting a small percentage of people who are different. The rest of us mainly join in or look the other way.

Typical, and shame on us!

Hope that doesn’t stir up another shit war.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

“Yobbo, I’d be more than happy for marijuana to be legalised”

As would I. I’d also be perfectly happy for tobacco to remain legal, but the age of legal tobacco is rapidly coming to an end.

“and surely the point with group(ie) sex and footballers is that it should be consensual.”

How does that compute with:

“Catherine Lumby, who wrote the report for the NRL, was predictably pilloried when she said that nothing was wrong with group sex if all parties consented.”

Doesn’t the fact that she was pilloried for saying that kind of prove my point?

“As to the age span argument, if it has any legs (which I take leave to doubt), it invalidates your argument that people should be free to “choose”.”

You lost me there. Please explain.

“I’m sure blank’s right – the argument about marriage probably shows the causal factor as being partnered, and I’m sure it would hold true for heteros and non-heteros alike.”

So HIV/AIDS has no effect at all?

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Yobbo, not in Queensland at the moment where there’s been huge controversy about binge drinking and violence in the CBD after a young bloke was beaten to death outside a City pub at 5am. Consequently, laws on things like promotion of happy hours, and the laws on serving booze to intoxicated people are being ratcheted up and enforced.

Ok – off to work now.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

Mark: The exact same laws have been in effect in WA for ten years, and instituted by the health department. Apparently, binge drinking is bad for you and a drain on the health system.

*By the way, if the host could see some way to allow insertion of italic or emphasis tags in these comments, it sure would make responding to certain sentences a lot less messy.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Quickly, Yobbo.

If married people live longer than single people and the only difference is that they’re partnered, then one would expect non-straight people in long-term partnerships to live longer than non-straight people who are single for the same reason.

As I understand it, new HIV/AIDS infections are largely outside the gay community now, so you would expect mortality statistics to shift accordingly over time.

I don’t think it’s worth discussing unless someone can point to a study to give us something to go on. The argument over the percentage of queer folks in the population demonstrates the issues that arise when trying to do statistical research on a fairly fluid characteristic such as sexuality (where does the married bloke who goes to beats fits, or the young woman who might have pashed her friend, or the person who’s deeply confused about their orientation, etc etc).

Gotta go now – see ya.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

“Finally, a bit of deconstruction. I’d suspect that we have in the population, if we relaxed and took away the prejudice and social pressure, up to 10% who are exclusively homo and a similar percentage who are exclusively hetero. In between we would have graduated shades of grey. So I could define human nature as predominantly homo and a small percentage as hetero. But that would be wrong and oppressive. More accurate would be to recognise exclusively homos and exclusively heteros as minorities and the rest as bi-sexual. What we have, in fact is a small percentage of hetero bullies persecuting a small percentage of people who are different.”

What a load of bollocks. You must hang out with a buttload of homos if you think only 10% of the population is exclusively hetero. I’d say it’s more like 75% exclusively hetero, 5% exclusively homo, and the remaining 20% undecided. And even then I’d be overstating it.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2021 years ago

“I don’t agree with every single aspect of the stereotypical left line.”

Ken, I’m afraid you still don’t get it. It is not a matter of a ‘left’ line. It is a matter of the oppression of minories, not for the opinions they hold, but for what they are and the right to freely express their full humanity.

I’ve got to head for the wilds of Upper Brookfield now, so cheers till tonight (if le kid doesn’t steal my computer again).

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“So HIV/AIDS has no effect at all?”

Much less so since the introduction of antiretroviral therapy in the mid 90’s. It’s gone from being irrevocably fatal to a chronic manageable disease. In terms of it’s effect on gay lifespan, there are approximately 13,000 Australians living with HIV, around 80% of whom report homosexual contact as the source of their infection. Nobody knows for sure how many homosexually active men there are but let’s say – conservatively – around 300,000. This would give us a gay seroprevalence rate of about 3.5%. The overwhelming majority of gay men don’t have HIV and I think it’s effect on overall gay lifespan isn’t significant.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Yobbo, I’m not talking about what is, I’m talking about what might be if people would only stop persecuting the minority who come out.

It’s speculative, of course, but we’ll never know until we all relax about this one. It is a case of an illegitimate and damaging taboo. Cheers.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

“Yobbo, I’m not talking about what is, I’m talking about what might be if people would only stop persecuting the minority who come out.

It’s speculative, of course, but we’ll never know until we all relax about this one.”

So what you are saying is that heterosexuality is a social construct? That’s a good one.

So where are all the gay dogs? There’s no religious nutbags telling dogs what they can and can’t fuck, yet male dogs still seem to overwhelmingly prefer to fuck female dogs and fight other male dogs.

The same is true in most of the animal kingdom.

Why would humans be so incredibly different to every other species on Earth? We reproduce sexually like most other mammals.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“As I understand it, new HIV/AIDS infections are largely outside the gay community now, so you would expect mortality statistics to shift accordingly over time.”

New notifications continue to be predominantly amongst gay men – we’re the only developed country that has largely contained it’s HIV epidemic to the intial risk group – but overall, our seroprevalence rate is very low compared to the US and Europe.

Kim (the commenter formally known as yellowvinyl)

“So what you are saying is that heterosexuality is a social construct? That’s a good one.”

go read the post, Yobbo.

re – animals – the difference of course is that animals don’t have culture. humans do, and the way that we interpret our sexuality is culturally and historically changeable.

if you thought about it, you’d realise that “gay dogs” is anthropomorphising.

marriage, for instance, is something humans do because it’s a cultural institution. dogs don’t feel the need to dress up in morning suits and white dresses and have a dog in robes bless them.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

“Ken, I’m afraid you still don’t get it.”

Brian, I thought for a fleeting moment that you actually DID get it from your thoughtful and nuanced comment earlier in this thread, but apparently not. You can’t change people’s minds by dogmatic assertion or coerced values re-education. That just gets people’s backs up. Attitudes towards homosexuality ARE gradually changing over time in a liberal direction anyway, and that’s a good thing IMO. But people are entitled to (and inevitably will) object to their children being coercively re-educated into holding values they strongly oppose. Although your own comments were moderate and nuanced, the same isn’t true of many other contributors. I was quite astounded by the number of people who see nothing wrong with aggressively imposing their own cultural and moral values on others (and their kids), rather than accepting that there are good faith differences in moral and cultural values that will only be exacerbated by preaching dogmatically at people. That in no sense means that lower key discussions between teachers and students, and providing living role models of values of tolerance and acceptance, are impermissible. In fact they’re essential, and it’s these approaches that are contributing to a gradual progressive shift in community attitudes.

The “stereotypical left” line no doubt WAS self-indulgent, but I DO think this discussion has broken down largely along a left-right divide and, as I’ve already said, I DO find it remarkable how many people on the left side quite happily embrace the coercive imposition of their own values on others. I dislike it intensely, and so do many others. And as I’ve also said before, it’s exactly why John Howard is so successful at whipping up community fear and loathing of PC “elites”.

Anyway, I’ve broken my resolution of silence (so much for self-discipline), but I’d better get back to the lecture preparation.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2021 years ago

“the difference of course is that animals don’t have culture.”

That’s exactly what I was saying, Kim. Brian is asserting that heterosexuality is prominent because of culture, and that without cultural pressure that ambiguous sexuality would be the norm.

“marriage, for instance, is something humans do because it’s a cultural institution. dogs don’t feel the need to dress up in morning suits and white dresses and have a dog in robes bless them.”

They do feel the need to have sex with each other though, and they overwhelmingly prefer the heterosexual version of it.

Which was the point of my comment. You tell me to “go read the post”, yet you’re the one who is having obvious problems comprehending the argument.

Perhaps you should stick to patronising those stupider than you. Like your toaster.

Evil Pundit
2021 years ago

Well said, Ken.

Lefties get upset when people impose “heterosexist” values on others by force.

Righties get upset when people impose politically correct values on others by force.

The conspicuous blindness of the lefties to the second part of this equation is frightening. Such people should not be allowed to hold positions of power or influence.

Kim
Kim
2021 years ago

on left and right – interesting company yr keeping, Ken – observa, Yobbo, EP. I agree with Tim Dunlop – there really isn’t a centrist position on this one, and you’ve tried to articulate one in good faith, but it’s ended up being one that’s not easily distinguishable from ppl who argue in simplistic right terms on a complex issue (though you see the complexity and I think have good intentions).

Yobbo, yr still not getting my point.

“Heterosexual” doesn’t just mean sex, sex with someone of the opposite gender. It means a whole personal identity – which dogs don’t have. Otherwise, if it was not tied to a perception of self, you wouldn’t care whether people chose to have sex with their own gender. it’s a cultural category, and yr anthropomorphising by applying it to animals.

mind you, I’m having all sorts of weird images of cats getting married now. cats do have culture, btw. what we need for the next vigorous interchange on Troppo is a dog ppl vs. cat ppl argument. that one wouldn’t break left/right either…

Alex
Alex
2021 years ago

Yobbo, re the animal question – I think you will find that homosexual behaviour (both male-male and female-female) is very common among other species of apes. Apparently with cows also – if one cow in a herd is on heat, the other cows get excited and try to mount her. So such behaviour, if it is a social construct, is part of society in other species also.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2021 years ago

“what we need for the next vigorous interchange on Troppo is a dog ppl vs. cat ppl argument. that one wouldn’t break left/right either…”

well, both Yobbo and Tim Blair hate cats. I think it’d be fair to say RWDBs are generally cat haters and dog lovers.