Friday, January 7, 2011

Lucia Why homosexuality is incompatible with conservatism

A very succinct explanation on why homosexuality is incompatible with conservatism.
Biologically, physiologically, males and females are clearly counterparts to one another. The male sexual and reproductive anatomy is obviously designed for a relationship with a female, and vice versa.

Homosexual practice thus requires individuals to contradict their own biology. It disconnects a person’s sexuality from his or her biological identity as male or female — which exerts a self-alienating and fragmenting effect on the human personality.

And the logic of alienation will not stop there. Already the acceptance of same-sex relationships is metastasizing into a postmodern notion of sexuality as fluid and changing over time.

For example, an article in the Utne Reader highlights individuals who came out of the closet as homosexual, but were later attracted to heterosexual relationships again. The article quotes psychotherapist Bret Johnson explaining that people today “don’t want to fit into any boxes — not gay, straight, lesbian, or bisexual ones.” Instead “they want to be free to change their minds.”

What we’re seeing, Johnson concludes, is “a challenge to the old, modernist way of thinking ‘This is who I am, period’ and a movement toward a postmodern version, ‘This is who I am right now.’”

In other words, yesterday I was straight, today I may be homosexual, and tomorrow I could be bisexual. One’s psychosexual identity is said to be in constant flux.

In the past, homosexuals employed the defense that they were born that way. But now they are beginning to embrace the postmodern idea that you can be anything you want to be along a sexual continuum.

This contradicts conservatism at its philosophical core. Conservatism bases human rights on the recognition that there are certain non-negotiable givens in human nature, prior to the state, which the state is obligated to respect.

As political scientist Philippe Beneton explains, in conservatism, equality “is grounded in the recognition of what is human.” By contrast, in liberalism, equality “is founded on the claim that nothing is specifically human” — that human nature itself is a social construction, something we make up as we go along, including our psychosexual identity.

In that case, however, there is nothing in the individual that is given, which the state is therefore obligated to respect. Liberalism undermines the basis for inalienable human rights.

And why what goes on in the privacy of someone's bedroom does affect all of us.
Every social practice is the expression of fundamental assumptions about what it means to be human. When a society accepts and approves the practice, it implicitly commits itself to the worldview that supports it — all the more so if the practice is enshrined in law.

If America accepts practices such as same-sex “marriage,” in the process it will absorb the accompanying worldview — the redefinition of human personhood as a purely social construction — which opens the door to unlimited statism, because there is no human nature that an oppressive state could possibly offend.
Related link: CPAC, homosexuality, and the crack-up of conservatism

11 comment(s):

ZenTiger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZenTiger said...

This view is interesting, and I do not quite follow its logic at the moment.

My initial thoughts are:

I would think human rights needs to be grounded in being human, full stop.

You are either human or not, and that is different than whether you are gay or straight, born or unborn, blue or brown eyed.

The State respecting non-negotiable givens (or not) seems to me to be a different issue to defining humanity, and the move from respecting non-negotiable givens to not respecting negotiable givens is not clear to me.

If equality is grounded in the recognition of what is human, what exactly is the list of things that qualifies people as "inhuman" and what does that imply in terms of the state respecting human rights such as "freedom of association"?

Lucia Maria said...

Being human means having a sex/gender. If we treat men and women exactly the same, we then deny that which is uniquely male and uniquely female.

For instance, treating everyone the same means marriage is between two persons, treating men and women as different, but equal, means marriage is between a man and a woman.

It's important to distinguish between that which is unchangeable and that which is a behaviour.

Yes, biology can be changed, but that change needs something external to be applied to the person, thereby a man can simulate being a woman. But he can never be a woman.

Those men that choose to have sex with other men are not being denied the right to marry - they already have that right. However, to take advantage of that right, they have to give up all extra-marital affairs and give their life to a woman. They don't want to do that, they want to pretend that marriage can be between two of the same sex - which is ridiculous.

Human rights that ignore the differences between the sexes are those that end up being redefined into meaninglessness. Rights that expand to the absurd, eventually themselves will be suborned to the state, rather than protected by the state. Liberalism leads to totalitarianism because it goes against what is right, needs to be enforced, and thereby conditions everyone to accept enforcement.

The State respecting non-negotiable givens (or not) seems to me to be a different issue to defining humanity, and the move from respecting non-negotiable givens to not respecting negotiable givens is not clear to me.

I don't know what that statement means.

If equality is grounded in the recognition of what is human ...

What it means to be human, is to have a sex.

...what exactly is the list of things that qualifies people as "inhuman" ...

Whatever people define it to be. Right now, it's being unborn. Soon it will be old and "suffering".

...and what does that imply in terms of the state respecting human rights such as "freedom of association"?

Don't get the association between the ideas.

Psycho Milt said...

You beat me to it, Zen. There's a big problem with "equality grounded in the recognition of what is human," in that there follows from it a requirement to define what is to be recognised as human, and what is not. Agreement on that is unlikely.

And even if we were all to accept "contradiction of our biology" as something to be ruled out, and to accept that homosexual activity is such a contradiction (its ubiquity in human societies suggests human biology isn't as straightforward as the quoted author thinks), I still can't see many of us rejecting clothing, vaccinations, motorised transport etc, which are also contradictions of our biology.

Lucia Maria said...

PM,

...I still can't see many of us rejecting clothing, vaccinations, motorised transport etc, which are also contradictions of our biology.

Not the same thing. Your sex is connected with who you are.

libertyscott said...

My first point is that the biology is not as simple as it appears on face (or rather naked) value. Human beings who may have either set of genitalia may have variable levels of the relevant sex hormones, which does blur how people are.

Without being rude, women with high levels of testosterone have a range of secondary physical and behavioural characteristics that make them closer to being male, and there are men who are quite the opposite. It is little coincidence that sexuality of these people is more likely to resemble that of the opposite sex because such people seek the "counterpart" of that identity.

There is no evidence that this "contradicts their biology", when patently they respond emotionally and sexually to their own sex. You cannot choose the people you are attracted to, though you can choose your response to that.

Similarly there is abundant anecdotal evidence that some young people engage in sexual behaviour (typically not intercourse) with peers of either sex and once they reach adulthood establish their preference one way or another.

So to argue biology is a bit farcical. After all a small number of people have lives of apparent asexuality, not just for religious reasons. They show little interest in such bonding nor in reproducing.

libertyscott said...

Secondly, the comments about where rights come from are valid.

A classically liberal view is that the state exists to protect individual rights, which are inherent to being autonomous adult humans. These are universal regardless of sex, gender, race, personal beliefs, food preferences or whatever.

The rights do not vary because of such characteristics. The rights themselves are all part of being able to live ones life peacefully, to create, destroy, earn and trade one's property, enter into consenting arrangements with other adults, and to be free of the initiation of force from others.

Marriage is simply one of those consenting agreements with another adult. The state's role in this should be to treat it as a contract, which can be severed with certain consequences for property (and children if relevant). It is nobody else's business if it is between two men, two women or whatever, since it is not your contract.

To claim that treating people on this basis "opens the door to unlimited statism" seems quite absurd when the argument is simply that the state should exist to protect people from force being initiated by fellow citizens and from outsiders (states waging war, terrorists, criminals).

By contrast, unlimited statism can be readily justified by claiming human beings are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Every totalitarian has justified bloodshed on the basis of seeking some glorious future based on some mythical entity (race,class,god) achieving utopia, none have ever seen the individual lives of human beings as being an end in themselves.

ZenTiger said...

OK, I think I'm beginning to understand the argument now.

The author is talking about the principles of Conservatism, and is suggesting we all have fundamental human rights.

These are indeed much easier to define and agree upon if we don't start redefining every single core principle.

It would still mean people are entitled to receive their human rights, irrespective of race, colour, creed, sex, sexual preference, or even the stage of life they are born (killing an unborn human, or a comatose human or an old and infirm human would still be killing a human).

However, if one is going to invent new rights or redefine old rights, then everything is negotiable, and nothing is sacred.

If we declare people have a right to work, then there may be an implied need to provide that person a job.

Right to marry a goldfish? Then there is a need for the State to redefine marrying goldfish as a valid union, which would change the view of the purpose of marriage and the nature of marriage. As would presumably, marrying 8 people together, as would, presumably, gay marriage.

Therefore, any Conservative who adopts some conservative values, but retains liberal values, should be called a Liberal.

Is that the gist of the argument?

ZenTiger said...

Human rights that ignore the differences between the sexes are those that end up being redefined into meaninglessness.

I was recently reading some ardently feminist literature that suggested that the more we acknowledge that men and women are different, the more it implies that men and women are not equal, so they were very keen to reject any suggestion that men and women have any differences at all, other than a couple of obvious physical differences they couldn't quite explain away. However, all other aspects of being a women (emotional, instinctual, intellectual, social, sociological) were only different due to social conditioning.

That sounds similar to this argument from the above post:

By contrast, in liberalism, equality “is founded on the claim that nothing is specifically human” — that human nature itself is a social construction, something we make up as we go along, including our psychosexual identity.

Seems to me to be a mistake in thinking that human nature is purely a social construction.

I would have thought human nature is what it is, and social construction becomes something added to it.

Essentially, the culture we live in can either support of natures, or attempt to change them.

As far as I can tell, there are clear differences between men and women (not withstanding the natural variations) and those differences are to be celebrated and protected, not conditioned out of us, and those differences have no impact on whether or not we (all of us) are entitled to basic human rights. Of course we are.

I guess what is at stake here though is that (for example) women lose their human right to be mothers (which is different to their freedom not to become a mother) because it's a job for any person who says "yeah, I'll take that shift". If we lose motherhood to surrogacy or technology creating baby factories, then we are helping to wither away a basic human right that is particular to women.

In that sense, it becomes demeaning to treat people as identical, rather than as individuals, in the name of equality. But to recognise individuals, we also need to recognise our natures and our roles in society and to cherish those.

Those roles are not barriers or constraints though, because people have the freedom to move outside them, and can do so. However, what the argument seems to be is that moving outside of those shouldn't redefine the meaning of the core values.

There are some complexities to this, which we've covered above, but I think my first assumption, that groups of people might "lose" human rights as a consequence of the above article are off the mark from what the author was actually suggesting.

So that's where I am up to in considering this. Now to take on board all the recent comments and continue my reading. So much for veging in the holidays :)

MK said...

"In other words, yesterday I was straight, today I may be homosexual, and tomorrow I could be bisexual."

Believe in nothing and you'll fall for anything.

Evan said...

I don't like conservatism being given such a bad name. Support for justice for homosexuals is now the conservative view, having been instituted in western democracies for 25 years or so.

OK, I will admit the Roman Catholic Church still has problems with homosexuality, but I think they have a difficult priesthood to keep in rein!!

The arguments put forward in this item are suspiciously like the "natural law" argument that popes have tried to spin. But people are wiser these days.

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