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08/14/2008

Disrespect us all you want -- just don't disrespect civil liberty!

by Jeremy Hooper

In maroon, you will find a piece written by Thorin Anderson, a Chicago area pastor who is affiliated with the fervently anti-gay Illinois Family Institute. Along with it (in standard text), you will find our running commentary. Enjoy:

Respecting Homosexuals

Whenever there is conflict between homosexual activists and conservatives regarding the issues such as the acceptance of same sex marriage, we on the right are accused of a lack of respect for homosexuals.

But, I would like to make one thing clear. The debate is not about respecting people, but about accepting bad behavior. There are many human behaviors which we conservatives believe to be unacceptable. They range from lying and cheating to promiscuity before or during marriage. They include murder and rape and a host of other deeds, criminal or otherwise. To say that we don't respect someone when we disagree with their conduct is to suggest that confronting any bad behavior is inherently disrespectful. Are we to stop speaking about all wrong conduct? Should we stop confronting lying, stealing, or murder? Such a suggestion would be ludicrous.

Okay, let's stop here. So Pastor Anderson is taking that ever-so-popular "pro-family" stance of disconnecting gay people's sexual orientations -- ORIENTATIONS! -- from their bodies, so as to make our biological desires look like "chosen behaviors." And he's using the sweeping straw man argument that everyone who challenges anti-gay activism considers their opposition to be personally disrespectful. But the former view is scientifically and medically unsound, and the latter is pointlessly self-centered. For most gay activists, the anti-gay side's "respect" for us on a personal level is not at all the important thing. What's important is that these folks (a) acknowledge actual information rather than just the rhetoric that supports that foregone conclusions, (b) respect that our civil equality should not be crushed by personal religious viewpoints, and (c) help us foster a society where LGBT peoples' personal freedoms and personal safety are protected rather than threatened!

By refusing to compare homosexuality to its logical counterpart, heterosexuality, and to instead compare it to lying, stealing, murder, cheating, promiscuity, rape, and other criminal deeds, pastor Anderson is demonstrating a wanton disregard for the vast body of reasoned information that exists on the subject. It is that disrespect that we wish to challenge, and only because he and his cronies are using these unsound views to challenge us on a civil level. If he wanted to simply to shoot spit balls at the TV every time he stumbled upon an "L Word" rerun, than more power to him. But when the "L word" he is challenging is our "legality," than we have no choice but to respond.

Moving on:

All humans are worthy of respect as humans, period. But it is utter folly to imagine that behaviors people engage in are automatically respectable simply because a certain number of people are involved in them. Sad to say, many things we human beings do are not only unworthy of respect, but are destructive and dangerous. There is a reason why no one writes in any detail, in public, regarding the activities of homosexuals. And there is a reason why homosexuals have significantly shorter than average life expectancies. There is not a newspaper in the country that would detail their private conduct, and most of our stomachs could not handle it. Yet, we are told we MUST accept such conduct as perfectly normal. Get out your Websters and look up "normal." Homosexuality in no way fits the definition of "normal." And, it requires no special genius to understand that!

Hmm. Well we just so happen to have a proper Webster's (with an apostrophe) right here. So we'll now refer you numbers 3 & 4b:

Picture 12-62
Picture 9-95

"Occurring naturally" -- Yes. Gayness does, and always has, occur naturally within a sizable portion of humans (and all animal populations). It also happens quite naturally, with few of us needing an instruction manual to understand the desires, actions, feelings, and climatic outbursts associated with gay sex lives.

"Free from a mental disorder" -- Well that definition in general seems a little dangerous, since we'd want to be careful about referring to one with some sort of mental messiness going on as "abnormal." But if we are to accept this definition at face value, then homosexuality totally qualifies. It was never a "mental disorder," regardless of what the hand of bias successfully inscribed into documents. And it officially hasn't been considered a mental mess-up for several decades.

Pressing forward:

No doubt many practitioners have found themselves harassed or worse by those who don't respect homosexuals and have taken it upon themselves to mock or injure them. Such actions are wrong. It is legitimate to demand respect as people, but it is absolutely illegitimate to demand respect for conduct that is simply disgusting on its face. And, consider the homosexual's attitude toward such virtues of fidelity and loyalty. No self-respecting woman would tolerate infidelity in her husband, but in the homosexual community, infidelity is not only allowed, it is a given. It is ironic that homosexuals demand such respect from the general community when they quite obviously have little respect for themselves or one another. Such proclivities reveal that, in fact, the homosexual lifestyle really is much less about deep abiding relationships than satisfying inappropriate sexual desires.

Alright, so the idea that our "conduct" is disgusting on its face" is another ridiculous bit of illogic. Obviously said "conduct" is not disgusting to the millions upon millions of people who find it, well -- hot. And this doesn't just include gay-identified folks. In college, this writer learned lots about lots of different things. Among those things? That Many straight women are into, bordering on obsessed with, watching two guys make out (or more). And let's not even begin to talk about the straight male's fascination with lesbians. Such "Ah dude, lesbians are hot" mindsets have become a 21st century pop culture cliché!

And now let's look at the argument that does offend this writer personally: The idea that with gays, "infidelity is not only allowed, it is a given" This is deeply offensive to me, someone who would be more likely to shoot rainbows out of my ass than so much as kiss another man! My partner of many years (and husband-to-be) is not only my lover and best friend, but the person with whom I share every one of life's steps, When we are apart even just during the workday, I crave him. We are the butts of many good-natured jokes within our circles, because we rarely even run to the grocery store without the other. Infidelity is not only something that never crosses our minds: It is as if our minds have been deprived of the capacity to even look at another with such eyes. Our focus on each other is undeniably unwavering, and I would challenge any heterosexual couple on the face of the planet to stack their own bond up against our love and monogamous commitment!

Let's move on:

Let us be clear about something: Christian conservatives oppose the wanton satisfying of inappropriate sexual desires in anyone whether straight or homosexual.

Those of us who disagree with homosexual conduct based upon the principles of the Bible and nature can do nothing to stop homosexuals from practicing their chosen lifestyle. But it is an egregious violation of our freedoms, principles, and character to demand that we accept it as normal.

Let's be clear about something: Evangelical America has no right to define "inappropriate sexual desires" for the whole of society! In fact, evangelical America's wanton disregard for any other factual viewpoint on this subject has pretty much destroyed every shred of credibility that this community, in general, has to speak on this subject! They have demonstrated an inability to speak on these subjects without bias. Whereas we on the pro-gay side are constantly having to accept that we live in a world with varying views about our "immorality," evangelicals simply refuse to accept any possibility that maybe, just maybe, we are PERFECTLY MORAL!

These self-professed "pro-family" types long ago declared a culture war, the crux of which involved denying "freedoms, principles, and character" to anyone or anything that does not fit their societal ideal. Those who've resisted their attempts have not pushed back by trying to deny these socially conservative opponents ANYTHING (other than the right to discriminate)! In fact, most liberals and progressives are far more passionate about TRUE religious freedom than are most social conservatives! But they don't want to hear that. They want to demonize.

What is truly "egregious"? That these folks have chosen to stick their fingers in their ears, wrapped layers of stone around their minds, and put blinders on their eyes, so as to not be bothered by basic truths.

Fin.

Respecting Homosexuals [IFI]

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Your thoughts

Jeremy-

What a great response. I like your breakdown.

Out of all the things I found most offensive (mind you, I'm a straight woman), the bit about infidelity being rampant in the homosexual community is so frustrating. I've come to the conclusion that so many Christian right loonies like this guy seem to think that heterosexuals are immune to infidelity, immune to "abnormal sexual behavior" (not that I consider ANY sex abnormal, but these guys do...you know what I mean)...it's so untrue. Being gay doesn't make someone more prone to promiscuity (or infidelity). And heterosexuals all don't just have post-marital sex in the missionary position (if we did, I would stop having sex all together...maybe not but it just wouldn't be as cool). This guy needs a reality check. But then again, it's men (and women) like this, who have such swiss cheese arguments spoken with such pompous rhetoric and speak so vehemently about the "immorals" of pre-marital sex and gay sex, that end up diddling 6 year old boys in bathrooms of their ministries and taking lines of coke off some dude's penis while his wife is home with 7 kids cooking dinner. I always found it so funny that these people really believe down to earth, every day, normal gay people are the ones who are "hurting" the rest of us, when in fact, it's these people who end up ruining lives, ruining families, causing emotional distress and loathing, etc.

Well said. And I hope when you and your hubby get married you post pictures! I would love to see them :)

Posted by: Stef | Aug 14, 2008 9:52:29 AM

I don't see the Fundamentalists proposing laws to punish other adulterers, all liars (even white lies are a sin, you know), and those who have sex pre-marriage.

If they really did not have a bigoted view towards homosexuality, we would see them enacting laws such as: "Prop: 69> "Any married person who commits adultery on his/her spouse is subject to imprisonment" (Hey, it's better than the biblically-mandated punishment by stoning!).

Why don't they try to enact other laws barring "sinful" behavior? The main issue is that so many of their "faithful" brothers and sisters commit many of the sins he mentions in his article frequently and secretly. How often do we read in the news about a religious figurehead's immoral behavior being uncovered?

Perhaps the Fundamentalist Christian groups should first sort our their own congregants before they come after others who do not, necessarily, share their viewpoints. But no, they would much rather just step in and control what you and I can do because "HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN!" It's easy because the ones pushing their agenda aren't homosexual (or atleast keep it deep in the closet.) It's very easy to try to enact "morality laws" that do not pertain to you and only limit the rights of others.

Posted by: PMW | Aug 14, 2008 10:00:58 AM

Well, number 1, there is not a sexual practice engaged in by gay men or lesbians, including infidelity, that is not also engaged in by a large number of heterosexuals, and no I would not want my local paper to detail the sex lives of hets any more than I would homos. But more importantly, the very conduct of groups like the Illinois Family Institute demonstrate this lie:

"There are many human behaviors which we conservatives believe to be unacceptable. They range from lying and cheating to promiscuity before or during marriage. They include murder and rape and a host of other deeds, criminal or otherwise. To say that we don't respect someone when we disagree with their conduct is to suggest that confronting any bad behavior is inherently disrespectful. Are we to stop speaking about all wrong conduct? Should we stop confronting lying, stealing, or murder? Such a suggestion would be ludicrous."

Because the truth is, I don't see "Christians" attacking liars (George Bush, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libbey, Karl Rove, Condi Rice, etc. etc. ), cheaters (the entire management structure of Enron) or adulterers (John and Cindy McCain) with anything like the same fervor they attack gays and lesbians. And every single person in this country is required to "accept as [a] normal" lifestyle choice every fly-by-night psuedo-religion that crops up in this country, no matter how outlandish their theology (Scientologists, Mormons, etc.).

When I was taught my Roman Catholic religion, I was taught that people like Mr. Anderson were members of psuedo-Christian cults who had rejected God, because they were not Roman Catholic. Such heretical behavior was considered a grave sin, one worthy of immediate damnation. One wonders whether Mr. Anderson would welcome the same treatment of his "lifestyle choice" by Roman Catholics as he advocates for gays and lesbians.

Posted by: CPT_Doom | Aug 14, 2008 10:05:58 AM

This morning I've had peter on my mind- Peter LaBarbera, that is. Yesterday, One News Now "journalist", Jeff Johnson, posted an interview with him concerning a legislative candidate from my home state, Mike Colona, who is openly gay and running unopposed in November. In the interview, Peter blasts Colona (wow, couldn't pass on that one) for previous work experiences including "something as nasty as being the lawyer for a homosexual porn outfit." According to the protesters at the video store on my drive home from work, "Porn hurts families." However, in just 214 short words, the article thrice mentions that Colona represented "homosexual" pornographers. I fail to see how heterosexual porn is any less immoral than homosexual porn. So why make that an issue unless you're Peter and just can't help but throw yourself against the gays?

Posted by: Timm | Aug 14, 2008 10:43:45 AM

A little off topic, but from what I've read, Colona worked to ensure that underage actors were not used in porn. He was protecting children, but to the LaBarberas of the world, this is worse than showing pictures of two men 'rimming' on your own ant-gay website. Who's the pornographer here?

Posted by: chris | Aug 14, 2008 11:23:53 AM

What's all the "bad behavior" and "private conduct" that this guy keeps alluding to? Does this mean that "private conduct" is bad?

If anything, his rant suggests that he needs more than a little outside help (and maybe a big dose of "private conduct"). It's just too bad that he has a forum to spread his vile lies.

Posted by: | Aug 14, 2008 12:32:16 PM

"These self-professed "pro-family" types long ago declared a culture war, the crux of which involved denying "freedoms, principles, and character" to anyone or anything that does not fit their societal ideal."

If those guys were really pro-family, they would use their resources to see that no child ever goes to bed hungry and all families have a decent place to live. I guess talking about gays is a lot cheaper than helping the poor.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Aug 14, 2008 2:17:33 PM

Mike: That's actually one of the saddest things to me about this "culture war." For the past three decades o so, we could have all been working together to fight true social ills. However, the social conservatives' war has prevented us from coming together.

Even if I agree with people like James Dobson 100% on certain issues, most of us are still not going to work with him because of the affronts he's dealt towards our lives and loves. They've cut us so many of us so deeply, it's going to take years and years of healing to ever repair the damage.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 14, 2008 2:57:11 PM

There are soooooo many turd-gems in there, it is hard to pick a favorite! But this one, I think, speaks volumes:

"but it is absolutely illegitimate to demand respect for conduct that is simply disgusting on its face."

And, I think it really sums up the crux of their entire case. And, to be honest, the thought of Pat Robertson fucking some skank is certainly enough to get me to toss my cookies. How about Matt Barber backdooring Phyllis Schlafly doggy-style - eeeewww! And all the time Phyllis would have that helmet haired face turned toward the camera smiling, those boobies dangling to the ground. . . Well, you get my point.

But the fact of the matter is that while it might be disgusting, whatever gets Matt or Phyllis off is really none of my business. As long as they do it with another consenting adult (or alone, Matty) and no (live) animals are harmed in the process, it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS!

Phyllis can run up thousands of dollars in credit card debt purchasing her sex toys or surfing for porn and it is absolutely none of my business. Even if she shows up on Faux News wearing a leather teddy and cracking whips, more power to her.

It would be disgusting, and small children might be frightened (not that Phyllis doesn't have that effect on children anyway), but that is no reason to lock her up, or to deny to her any of her civil rights. As long as the couter, the pooper and the nippies are appropriately concealed in public, she has every right to pursue her (twisted as it may be) version of happiness.

JUST LIKE I DO! And it doesn't matter one bit that someone finds it DISGUSTING.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 14, 2008 8:34:01 PM

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