Saturday, May 26, 2012

Propaganda and Lies: You Homophobe!


The term homophobia is a popular one to use when confronting people who believe that homosexual acts are intrinsically wrong (wrong by their very nature).  Whether the confrontation is with the continuous teaching of the Catholic Church, or with an individual, the response is the same: “You’re a Homophobe!”

Since the term is used so broadly, I thought it would be helpful to study what the term means.  Since the term is based on “phobia” (an extreme or irrational fear of something that causes someone to want to avoid it at all costs) it is clear that it must have a medical definition, like claustrophobia or agoraphobia, which we can look up, to see whether it is applied accurately.

No Medical Definition

The problem is, it doesn’t have a medical definition.  “Homophobia” is not any sort of a medical term to be found in a medical dictionary.  It is nothing more than a pejorative label which covers any person or group which rejects homosexual acts as wrong.

In other words, the Westboro Baptist Church, with their reprehensible “God Hates F*gs” signs (I think this kid had the right response) is classified in the same way as Catholic teaching, which holds:

This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2358)

So the term “homophobia” is so broad that it lumps together people who have actual irrational hatred with those who condemn such hatred.

That sounds fishy, doesn’t it?

The Assumed Principles of the “Homophobia” Label

It should sound fishy.  It indicates that the label of “homophobia” is based on certain assumptions that cannot be questioned.

First of all, it assumes that there are no moral problems with homosexual acts.  Either they are morally neutral or just as morally acceptable as heterosexual acts.

Second, it assumes that any person or group who does have a moral problem with certain sexual acts is doing so out of bigotry – even if the person or group deny such a motive or condemn such motives.

In other words, the term argues: If you don’t agree with us, you’re a bigot!

That’s nothing more than propaganda and an ad hominem attack.  It demonstrates a mindset which is fixated on a certain point of view with the inability to consider any other points of view or motives for that point of view.

The Sinister Tactic

What we have is a label which is used to vilify all persons who disagrees with any other view.  Such behavior has happened many times in American history by one faction to attempt to shame or otherwise silence people who think differently.  The right winger who called a liberal a “Communist;” the Southern racist who labels a supporter of civil rights as “a N*gger Lover” and so on, are examples of this tactic.  Today, these terms seem archaic and offensive.  But back in those days, they were seen as acceptable – or at least by those who used the terms.

It argues, “Either you agree with us or you are a vile person!”  It tries to make people accept their view as right, and the opposing view as being held out of malice.  Actually, it is the person who is using this tactic is doing nothing more than name calling.

The Term is a Lie and a Stereotype

The term homophobia is not a phobia as recognized by any credible medical source.  It merely assumes all opposition is irrational, refusing to hear any arguments.  It points to a group of extremists and tries to paint all who believe homosexuality is wrong as if they shared the extremist view.

That’s remarkably similar to assuming all Muslims are terrorists, just because some are.  Or similar to those who assume all Blacks or Hispanics must be criminals just because some are.

We call that a stereotype, assuming the whole must be this way based on the behavior of a few.

It is certainly a lie to label all people as having a hatred of homosexual persons simply on the grounds that they believe that certain sexual acts are always wrong and that people who have an inclination towards such acts need to practice chastity.

The Dilemma: Who’s Really Intolerant?

Let’s look at the two views – the Catholic view that says homosexual acts are wrong and the pro-homosexual view which says people morally opposed to homophobia are “homophobes.” 

The Catholic view says that even though the homosexual act and inclination is disordered, persons with this affliction must be treated with love and respect on account of the fact that they are still persons.  Any Catholic who does not treat the homosexual person with love and compassion, while opposing such acts against what the Church requires of the faithful.

Now let’s assume that homophobia is a real phobia.  That would make those who display hostility to those with homophobia as reprehensible as those who display hostility to other phobias.

The late comedian, Mitch Hedberg, once said:

Alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only one you can get yelled at for having. Goddamn it Otto, you are an alcoholic. Goddamn it Otto, you have Lupis... one of those two doesn't sound right.”

It’s a good point.  If alcoholism is a disease, then to abuse people for having the disease is wrong.  Likewise, if “homophobia” is truly a “an intense aversion to homosexuality and homosexuals” (according to the OED), then to abuse people for having the “condition” would also be wrong.

I think we can rephrase it this way to demonstrate the point.

If Homophobia is a mental illness, it’s the only one they can hate you for having.  “You claustrophobics disgust me.”  “You homophobes disgust me!”  Something doesn’t sound right.

The problem is, if homophobia was truly a mental illness (as opposed to a derogatory term) like other phobias then the person who was abusive to the “homophobic” would be just as reprehensible as the person who was abusive to the claustrophobic – it would be discrimination.

That leads us to the dilemma.  If “homophobia” is a real illness, then the person who is hostile to the “homophobic” is a bigot.  If “homophobia” is nothing more than a label used to attack people who think differently, then the person who labels his opponents “homophobic” is a bigot.

The only way to avoid the bigot label is not to behave in a bigoted manner.  That means ending the abuse and hatred towards those who believe homosexuality is wrong.  Yes, there are people who do wrong in their opposition (violence, verbal abuse) and they can be opposed civilly and in a law abiding manner because of the wrong behavior, and they should be opposed – especially by Christians who recognize homosexuality is wrong.

However, to abuse and harass people simply because they recognize homosexual acts are always wrong is not a defense of tolerance.  It is the practice of intolerance.


Really, it is time for people to recognize that this term is nothing more than a slur, and shows intolerance for those with a different point of view.  People of good will, even if they should disagree with the Catholic teachings on the subject should not use such terms, but rather engage in civil dialogue with those they disagree.

We should recognize that the term “homophobic” is as repugnant as the term “f*g” or “n*gger” or any other intolerant slur.  It should no longer be used, and we should recognize that the person who uses it is intolerant, behaving hypocritically – using intolerance while claiming to champion tolerance.

(edited 7/6/12 to make a point more clear)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TFTD: Thoughts on One Modern Rejection of Moral Obligations

Once upon a time people asked, "What ought I to do to live rightly?"  Today, many people angrily ask, "What right do you have to tell me how I ought to live?"  The difference between the two questions is stark and demonstrates the moral corruption of the West.

The first question recognizes that there is a way to live which is right which we ought to do.  The second question rejects anything that puts limits on personal hedonism.  The first recognizes that all people have moral obligations.  The second denies that.

The end result is that in the first case, one could recognize the difference between the principled person and the scoundrel.  Today, many people cannot.

About here, many people will miss the point.  The accusations come out pointing to some reprehensible behavior in the past and accusing people of wanting to return to those times.  These accusations are false, because it confuses the recognition of truth with the wanting to turn the whole of society back to a certain time when things were "perfect" (but overlooking serious societal faults).

Basically, that kind of argument employs a sort of chronological snobbery which wrongly assumes that:

  1. In the past, People believed in moral obligations (In the past, people believed [A])
  2. They also practiced slavery (They also believed [B])
  3. They were wrong on slavery (They were wrong on [B])
  4. Therefore they were wrong on moral obligations (Therefore they were wrong on [A])

The problem with such an argument is that just because a people were wrong on [B] does not mean they were wrong on [A] unless it can be shown that the acceptance of [B] was directly linked to the acceptance of [A].

For example, we can look at the Nazis and see that their treatment of non-Germanic people was directly related to their view that non-Germanic people were subhuman.  In this case we can say that the rejection of one necessarily requires the rejection of the second.

However, if we were to try to argue that:

  1. in 19th century America people believed all men were created equal. 
  2. But they also kept slaves.
  3. They were wrong on slavery
  4. Therefore they were also wrong to believe all men were created equal

…most people would recognize the claim was garbage.  They were certainly in error to believe 1 and not recognize that 2 contradicted it.  Yet the existence of 2 did not disprove the truth of 1.

Yet this is the reasoning that some people try to use to claim that because past times were repugnant in some ways, nothing they have to say is true.

Back in 2010, I wrote:

Let's envision a time in the 23rd century, where society has changed, and the world is a meritocracy.  Those with genetic advantages in the mental field are given positions of authority and power.  Those who lack are relegated to doing menial jobs, essentially the property of those who have.  Now, lets assume that a person comes forward, and brings up writings against slavery from the 19th century as showing arguments as to why the current system ought not to be tolerated.

Would it be valid to negate his arguments on the grounds that "people back in the 20th century believed [X], therefore they had no idea what they were talking about on slavery"?

The bottom line is claims need to be investigated as to whether or not they are true and then accepted or rejected on that principle.  To reject a thing from the past simply because it is "old" is not a valid reason.  The Pythagorean Theorem (A2 + B2 = C2) is  at least 2500 years old.  We don't reject it on account of its age, or because people from his time practiced slavery.  We accept it because it is true.

This certainly gives us something to consider. When people reject the concept of living rightly, and argue that this rejection is justified because of the moral flaws at the time of people who held this belief, we can be sure that they are merely making excuses, and not actually justified in their response.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Propaganda and Lies: Jesus Didn't Say Anything About X

Just an early morning post.  This one isn't particularly in depth.

On a recent Facebook discussion on homosexuality, a person offered the argument that Christ did not say anything against homosexuality, therefore homosexuality was not wrong.

This is the fallacy of the Argument from Silence.  To argue there is no evidence against [X], therefore [X] must be true.

We can demonstrate the problem with such an argument by pointing out Bestiality, Necrophilia and Pedophilia are not condemned by Christ either, so they must be morally acceptable.

And before you send hate mail, claiming that I am saying that homosexuality is the same as pedophilia, see THIS article.

Christ was not some hippy type saying "It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you love each other."  Rather Christ has said:

"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Matt 7:21)

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15)

"Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt 16:19)

"If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." (Matt 18:17)

Moreover, Christ had this to say:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 5:17-19)

This is the problem with people taking the Scriptures in whatever sense pleases them without considering context.  Jesus did for example, command people to love one another as He loved them (John 13:34 and John 15:12), but He also commanded people to do what is right and reject evil.

Christianity recognizes that we are to love others – even sinners.  However, it does not follow from this that all sin must be accepted as good.  Christ telling us not to judge (Matt 7:1-5) does not mean there is no sin.  It means we are not to write people off as being irredeemable.  The parallel passage in Luke (6:37) shows that this is about forgiveness, not tolerance.

But forgiveness presumes wrongdoing.  If a person washes my car and gives me fifty dollars, he hasn't done something that requires forgiveness.  If he damages my car and steals fifty dollars from me, he has done something which requires forgiveness and in this, Christ has said that the measure I use will be used against me.

Taking Bible verses out of context to justify a political stance is a distortion just as ridiculous as citing the Declaration of Independence to support being a colony of Britain.