Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beating the horse dead

From the aforementioned social media foray. One commenter to whom I posed the question, were able to choose, would he opt for his son to be gay or straight, answered thusly:
Your question to me doesn't need an answer since it is out of my control. There are of course less opportunities for homosexuals overall right now but that should continue to evolve by the time my child is older. So hopefully my child will have equal access to becoming successful regardless of their biological makeup. 
... Nurture is required to bring out the best that nature has to offer. Sure, Tiger Woods has supreme innate talent, but he still practices more than anyone else. There are countless athletes that didn't have the raw talent as others do in their field, but they work their butts off even more and are able to be just as successful in many cases. So just because you may be born into poverty and on paper you are likely to fail, given adequate developmental opportunities all people have a right to improve their socioeconomic status, and can become successful. (Or would you rather the American dream not exist?)
My respond to this dodge, which was prompted by the cheap questioning of whether or not I'd love my son if he turns out to be homosexual:
There is a real chance that it will be within your control during your lifetime. Even if it is momentarily hypothetical, it an eye-opening thought experiment. 
Regarding putative reduced opportunities, that's certainly open to argument. Diversity is the value academia, the corporate world, the political establishment, and the entertainment industries all hold up as more noble than any other, and they're all overly eager to promote those who have the right characteristics, to such an extent that people do whatever they can to look like they're members of the supposedly downtrodden group(s). Wendy Davis, Elizabeth Warren, and Barack Obama, just to name a few of the most well known recent examples of people who emphasize their minority traits when they could just as easily emphasize their more mainstream characteristics if those actually paid dividends for them. But it's hardly controversial to say if Obama was (perceived) as a white guy, he wouldn't be President. 
Nature is like an anchor, nurture like the ship's sails. The boat can move a moderate amount on the surface in this direction or that one depending on how well the sails are manned, but one can only sail the boat so far in this direction or the other before it hits its outward range and is restrained by an incorrigible, immovable weight. There are lots of people who practice things relentlessly without amounting to much of anything. And then there's Mozart.
To another approvingly noting that this was the first discussion of homosexual he could remember that didn't involve religion, I wrote:
Don't think the same hardware isn't in play, though. Morality and religion are historically quite difficult to disentangle, and contemporary Western liberal democracies--what Jonathan Haidt cleverly terms "WEIRD" societies--are definitely the exception. Guys like Richard Dawkins who hyperbolically claim that religion is akin to a virus, insinuating that it's evolutionarily harmful, could hardly be farther off the mark. As NYT science reporter Nicholas Wade has argued in The Faith Instinct, and Haidt confirms from a different angle in The Righteous Mind, religion carries with it a strong evolutionary advantage in terms of ensuring moral rectitude and social cohesion among its adherents.

They may lack supernatural elements, but there are lots of sacred precepts that exist in modern America. To figure out what a society holds sacred, consider what people are forbidden to challenge without risk to their careers, reputations, and even their lives (ie, James Watson's comments regarding Western solutions for sub-Saharan Africa, Lawrence Summers tumultuous time as Harvard's president, Jason Richwine's dissertation, John Derbyshire's realtalk version of "the talk", etc etc). Mock Christianity all you want in the most vile ways possible and no one really cares, especially among the Cathedral's inner party members, but suggest that IQ differences are why non-Asian minorities consistently underperform whites and Asians on virtually every sort of cognitive test ever comprised (from ASVAB to Raven's Matrices to Firefighter exams) or that the far higher rates of venereal diseases among gays than among heterosexuals is evidence of how biologically ill-adapted the human body is for engaging in homosexual behavior, and you'd better be prepared for a serious two minutes hate followed by blacklisting.

Read about the hell Galileo was given by the Establishment of his day for picking up Copernicus' torch and proving that our solar system is heliocentric rather than geocentric. Epicycles then, institutional racism today.
From a girl responding to the predictable mix of consternation and censure I received for putatively addressing such a sensitive issue in such a callous, clinical manner:
I feel the perspective from [those upset with assertions] is falling flat here because it's an emotional one. It's very hard to argue logic with emotion, but here goes. You have never had the terrible burden of watching disapproval and disgust enter the eyes of a loved one upon revealing who you really are. Whom you've come to find out, you can't help but be. As if you've pulled the wool over their eyes or it's somehow a cruel joke on them. You haven't grown up being told you are wrong, sick, unnatural, albeit inadvertently, by most of society and more importantly, loved ones. You haven't lost friends or family members in your life because of a simple variable of human chemistry. You haven't felt the terror or shame of hoping certain people won't find out because you know they will never see, accept, or love you in quite the same way. Keep in mind also that this is different than race or sex, it's not something that outwardly presents itself. In many cases you are left dealing with the fallout of a supposed betrayal. The majority of the time this is being processed and dealt with at tender ages and while the frontal lobe is still developing.

The desire by most leftist ( if you could get them to simply articulate their angst) is not to say sexuality cannot be changed while others can: Rather, to lift all oppressive forces, to grant understanding and allowance for one's desire to live their full potential without fear or judgement, and to create a world where this is the normal. It's hard because on one hand there is the ideal that all must be allowed their own rainbow of opinions, but when those opinions rear their ugly intolerant heads, the knee jerk reaction is to say "shut up a$$hole, I'm trying to create a better world over here."
And my rejoinder, employing a thought experiment I'm pretty confident Jonathan Haidt would approve of:
Well put, especially regarding the lifting of all oppressive forces (I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but I highly, highly recommend Haidt's Righteous Mind; parenthetically, Haidt is a moderate liberal, in case you're worried I'm trying to push personally amenable propaganda here).

The argument is, at essence, a moral one, not an airtight logical one. Take your same thought experiment, but instead of someone dealing with coming out of the closet as a homosexual, imagine it's a pederast or someone who is into bestiality struggling with his urges. Principally, there isn't much difference, other than the fact that homosexuality now enjoys around 45% moral approval among the American public while support for the other deviant lifestyles enjoys less than a tenth of that. Moral parameters can change quickly, though, as shifting societal feelings about same-sex marriage illustrate.

Presuming you're among the vast majority who find sex between an adult and an adolescent or a man and his pet to be morally wrong, how would you feel seeing it pushed on all media fronts with the insinuation that if you have a problem with it, there's something wrong with you? Well, now you have an idea of how traditionalist Americans feel about homosexuality and its persistent and conspicuous celebration in popular culture.

As an interesting aside, in ancient Greece and Rome, homosexuality between two grown men was considered scandalous and frowned upon, while sex between a man and a boy was considered acceptable and even encouraged among many affluent Hellenes. The emperor Hadrian (of Hardrian's Wall fame) deified his boy lover after the young man died. Tellingly, rumors swirled that Hadrian had lost interest in the boy after he entered puberty and had been looking for an opportunity to be rid of him so he could pursue riper pre-pubescents. And Hadrian was no Caligula--he is considered one of ancient Rome's better rulers.


5 comments:

staffanspersonalityblog said...

"Presuming you're among the vast majority who find sex between an adult and an adolescent or a man and his pet to be morally wrong, how would you feel seeing it pushed on all media fronts with the insinuation that if you have a problem with it, there's something wrong with you? Well, now you have an idea of how traditionalist Americans feel about homosexuality and its persistent and conspicuous celebration in popular culture."

Here is psychologist David Pizarro from his TED talk,

"...across three studies we kept finding that people who reported that they were easily disgusted also reported that they were more politically conservative. Another way to say this, though, is that people who are very liberal are very hard to disgust. (Laughter)

But they're not impossible to disgust. When you confront liberals with their disgust they make those peculiar post-hoc explanations that Haidt mentions - how you can't have sex with a dead chicken because you might hurt it. Given how the food industry works anyone should be allowed to have sex with living animals - if we exclude disgust from our moral considerations.

But when that guy from Duck Dynasty (boring show btw) compared homosexuality with bestiality there was an outrage - because the liberal media are disgusted by bestiality.

They simply don't have a leg to stand on.





TangoMan said...

I am enjoying these accounts that you're sharing. Keep 'em coming.

If people are willing to engage in such free-for-all discussions, then why do they bother with their dodges, as illustrated in the first encounter? He won't answer your question likely because an honest answer would conflict with his stated preference. The inability to design sexual orientation into a fetus gives people the luxury to peacock their "enlightenment" at no cost.

I liked Sailer's tactic of highlighting Saletin's neighborhood demographics and contrasting that against his stated positions on the joys of diversity.

The what-if scenario you employed with regard to some future tech gives people an out, but Steve's tactic of highlighting existing hypocrisy catches them and exposes them.

Audacious Epigone said...

Staffan,

Latter on in the exchange, which I didn't rehash here, the same girl focused on consent. In so doing, she dismissed the bestiality comparison out of hand. I responded:

Re: animals, many of the people reading this will have just sat down to a dinner comprised in part by the flesh of a creature that was stuck in a holding cell living on cheap corn byproduct for all of its short, miserable existence before finally being relieved of its perpetual suffering by having its spine severed, killing it instantly if it's lucky. No consent, there, either. Gentle sex would, I presume, be the less objectionable of the two if the animal had any say in the matter.

---

When I see that my line of reasoning was the same as yours, I know I've got the right approach! Great minds and all that.

TangoMan,

Yes, there's also a lot of the "I don't have time for an argument/discussion" after the initial reaction (and response) is challenged.

Anonymous said...

Probably too late to keep the post going, but...

Every argument regarding the acceptance of homosexuality avoids the most important one, which is as follows:

people are not either homosexual or heterosexual at birth. They are on a spectrum, and could, with proper nudging, end up, as adults, as either homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual. By 'on a spectrum,' I mean (to put numbers to it to illustrate the point): some of us are 100 gay, 0 straight (the little boys who like to dress as girls at age two, for instance). Some of us (probably far more of us) are 0-100. But many are somewhere in between: 25-75, 50-50, 75-25, and so on. Our adult sexual orientation will be partiall defined by experiences, and attitudes throughout childhood. (note: we know this to be true: we know sexual experiences in youth and adolescence can go a long way towards defining our sexual maturity, whether that experience is with pornography, with child abuse, with too-early sexual activity, and so on. The mere fact that homosexuality was more prevalent in ancient Greece suggests that sexuality is, in part, societally defined).

Note that this was the prevailing belief towards homosexuality until not very long ago. Similar to the 'everybody is racist' meme, the 'everybody is slightly gay' meme was around, presumably, to force us all to empathize with the clear homosexuals ('there's a little bit of him in all of us'...).

But this leads to a logical problem, which causes a complete reversal of belief (to the belief that homosexuality is innate in all cases). Specifically, if homosexuality is partially societally constructed, then it is perfectly reasonable to select what kind of society, and thus how many homosexuals, one wants to create.

To again put numbers to the argument: if we know society A will create a population that is 2% homosexual, and society B will create a population that is 20% homosexual, then we, as members of that society, are entirely justified in choosing one society over the other. Do you want your kids to have a 2% chance, or a 20% chance of ending up homosexual as adults? A reasonable question, and a legitimate political question.

Thus, the 'scientific' theory of homosexuality has to be switched: homosexuality is entirely innate: therefore, the difference between society A and society B is not one of 'creating' homosexuals (the number of homosexuals in a population is established at birth). Rather, it is difference between being nice or being cruel to a group of people who have no control over what they are (like mocking mentally retarded, or shunning schizophrenics or manic depressives).

But since this second argument is not true, it delegitimizes the most powerful argument against the gay rights movement, which isn't religious or 'moral' or based solely on an 'ick' factor.

Specifically: gay friendly societies are worse because they create more gays. More children will grow up to be gay in such societies (that wouldn't grow up gay in other less gay friendly societies).

anonymousse

Anonymous said...

anonymousse,("people are not either homosexual or heterosexual at birth."

Wrong.

You're confusing homosexual behavior (think prison sex because of the lack of women, or think prep school sex) when you speak of a "spectrum" and social circumstances with sexual attraction.

It's not unusual some horny guys to find something or someone that will get him off. He might screw a hole in a rock or an orange, or a chicken if a woman isn't available. In short, it's about friction.

Gay men are actually not attracted to a woman's form, even though they occasionally will screw a woman if that's what's available.
That's the evolutionary anomaly, that these men are NOT attracted to the female form. Further, they ARE attracted to the male form and also are attached to men emotionally.