The Thing About Bigotry.

From Ta-Nehisi, and worth quoting in its entirety:

I thought this was worth pulling out:

“I really don’t think homophobia can stand against reality. Mine couldn’t.

It couldn’t stand against the reality of my cousin, sixty years old, works for the Port of Seattle, married to her partner, good head for business, great laugh.

It couldn’t stand against the reality of Martin and Andrew, who worked so hard for those twin baby girls. If you saw them with those girls, it would melt your heart.

My homophobia was challenged once again when I had lunch with Greg on his last day of work. I mentioned how, at first, his gayness was a little bit difficult for me. He said, “me too”. I said that once, he was looking at the monitor and put his hand on my shoulder and it made me a little uncomfortable. He looked me right in the eye and said, “Jay, if only you weren’t married.” And then we laughed hysterically.

I really think that comes down to this: drink deeply from the world, it will enrich you.”

As you guys know, I’m mixed in my feelings on integration as a kind of end all be all strategy to solve “The Negro Problem.” But I’m not mixed on integration as a value. I think we should stop defining bigots as evil people. Half the problem with the “I can’t believe you called me racist” is the belief that racist kill puppies, and beat their wives. But bigotry, at its core, is nothing but a kind of entrenched, willful ignorance.

I had almost the exact same experience as Jay. It was very easy to use the word “fag” around my friends–until I started working with gay people. Part of it was youth. (I was just coming into my college years) But a larger part was living in Washington D.C., hanging out in Dupont Circle (it used to be different), working in Adams Morgan, and being forced to see gay cats as actual human beings. “Gay” was no longer an abstract thing–it was, like, my editor who saved my sorry-ass copy–repeatedly.

I think it’s pretty easy to deny a civil right to a dark stranger. But denying it to you children, to your friends, to your cousins is a lot harder. To bring it back to seemingly the only reason for this blog to exist, I think this is why that can’t make the terrorist thing stick to Barack. They’ve seen this guys kids. Everything is harder then.

33 thoughts on “The Thing About Bigotry.

  1. universeexpanding October 19, 2008 at 10:31 am Reply

    Damn you G.D., you beat me to the punch!
    I just got done sharing this on google reader too!

    Like I mentioned in my note there, I had an awakening similar to that of TNC so this piece really resonated with me. I was one of those vaguely “tolerant” people, but before I actually *knew* someone gay it was easy for me to say they shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, or marry or to ignore someone telling a homophobic joke. Last week I was at a dancehall concert and after a string of gay colleagues and friends I couldn’t see homophobic lyrics for anything other than what they are: hate speech. I was cringing the whole time 😦

    I think before I went to college it wasn’t that I was bad, or evil in my half-hearted tolerance of gay people but I was definitely woefully ignorant. Once faced with people who challenged my secretly held assumptions and provided a focus for my thoughts on who a homosexual is (a person!!!) I couldn’t not maintain my stupid reservations about what they should or shouldn’t be allowed to do or be.

    If we could get to this place with people who have bigoted ideas about race it would be wonderful, although, I think there’s an issue of openness. There’s a quote a read somewhere, I can’t remember by who, that said, “Man occasionally stumbles over the truth…but he usually picks himself up and keeps going.” Many people find it hard to change their minds about something even in the face of information to the contrary, preferring to categorize what they are experiencing as some kind of anomaly. That’s when you get stuff like “But, you’re different from the rest of them” coming out of people’s mouths. I’m not quite sure how we get past that. I do wonder what will happen to people who have deeply held racist beliefs come November 5th. How will they handle their cognitive dissonance? I don’t know whether to be frightened or hopeful.

  2. verdeluz October 19, 2008 at 12:24 pm Reply

    “I think we should stop defining bigots as evil people. Half the problem with the “I can’t believe you called me racist” is the belief that racist [sic] kill puppies, and beat their wives.”

    Exactly.. The idea that bigotry is always extreme- violent and bitterly hateful- is inaccurate and impedes real progress. If people can accept that harboring some degree of racial prejudice is actually the status quo in this country, it becomes less scary to begin to examine it.

    Unable to cite my source, but I remember reading a book once in which the narrator’s father had a very simple approach to generalizations: “Name five.” When his kids made an “all x are y” statement, that was his response- name five people that you know personally that fit that pattern. It’s amazing how that kind of thinking fails to stand up to this very basic level of scrutiny.

  3. LH October 20, 2008 at 12:44 pm Reply

    “But bigotry, at its core, is nothing but a kind of entrenched, willful ignorance.”

    This definition is wonderful, as stereotypes sometimes are. It’s also presumptuous and sophistic. (I’m attacking your definition, not you.)

    First, boiling bigotry down to ignorance ignores or at least marginalises the influence and impact of one’s environment on his feelings about people.

    Second, it’s presumptuous unless you’ve harboured the revulsion you’re dismissing as ignorance. You and like-minded people don’t like that there are those who find homosexuality repulsive, so we’re ignorant or, as you once described me, “uninformed.” It’s your view that is uninformed and, ironically, intolerant. How did we get from being repulsed to being a bigot, anyway?

    On a philosophical level, I have a deep seated problem with defining and categorising feelings, which can’t be legislated or intellectualised. My feelings about homosexuality have nothing to do bigotry and everything to do with disgust (because of what it entails) and bemusement (gratuitous and over-the-top public campiness).

    My best friend in college was a funny, smart, generous, talented, well-dressed, out of the closet homosexual (who is now dying of AIDS). I loved him like a brother, but hated his lifestyle. That dichotomy is often mocked, wrongly so I think. It’s real and it isn’t always rooted in bigotry.

  4. shani-o October 20, 2008 at 1:01 pm Reply

    “First, boiling bigotry down to ignorance ignores or at least marginalises the influence and impact of one’s environment on his feelings about people.”

    But LH, doesn’t environment play a defining role in how ignorant a person is? Ta-Nehisi talks about two environments: the one he grew up in where homophobia was as casual as breathing, and the one he entered as an adult, where homosexuality was as normal as heterosexuality. One could choose to reconcile the two, or pick one experience over the other, but each experience lends itself to ignorance of the other.

    The difference is, homosexuality doesn’t hurt straight people, and homophobia doesn’t help anyone.

  5. G.D. October 20, 2008 at 1:08 pm Reply

    LH: this is from Ta-Nehisi’s blog, not us.

    Still, this is worth discussing: “My feelings about homosexuality have nothing to do bigotry and everything to do with disgust (because of what it entails) and bemusement (gratuitous and over-the-top public campiness).”

    I don’t think anyone here would argue that you’re not entitled to your disgust or contempt for whatever you feel deserves them. What ‘me and like-minded people’ take issue with is the presumption that your disgust and contempt should be codified into law.

    I would also like to know how or why you’re differentiating between bigotry and ‘disgust.’ As has been said repeatedly, you can call it whatever you want, but the net effects are the same.

    And this parsing of ‘intent’ seems to be motivated by an aversion to being labeled a ‘bigot.’ It’s not bigotry if you’re personally disgusted? Word? Really?

  6. G.D. October 20, 2008 at 1:39 pm Reply

    LH: “First, boiling bigotry down to ignorance ignores or at least marginalises the influence and impact of one’s environment on his feelings about people.”

    Huh? I don’t follow at all. Aren’t all social prejudices learned?

  7. LH October 20, 2008 at 2:10 pm Reply

    “But LH, doesn’t environment play a defining role in how ignorant a person is?”

    Would you clarify how you’re defining the term “ignorant,” please? I ask because the presumption appears to be that, but for one’s lack of enlightenment, he’d be okay with homosexuality.

    Here’s what I think: homosexuals and their apologists need a new lexicon, because words like “bigot,” “ignorance” and “homophobia” are too imprecise (and distracting) to be effective or even productive.

    As it is, my feelings about homosexuality don’t hurt anyone. Practically speaking I’m indifferent toward homosexuality. Theory is another discussion altogether.

    For whatever it’s worth, I grew up in an environment in which the smorgasbord approach to sexual preference seemed to be requisite for entrée into society.

  8. LH October 20, 2008 at 2:29 pm Reply

    “I don’t think anyone here would argue that you’re entitled to your disgust or contempt for whatever you feel deserves them. What ‘me and like-minded people’ take issue with is that the presumption that your disgust and contempt should be codified into law.”

    Thank you for clarifying this, G.D., because for a second there, I thought the post was about peoples’ supposedly bigoted feelings about homosexuality.

    Oh, and a fist pound for the late revision to your assertion about parsing words, but alas, words have meaning–as you, of all people, should appreciate.

    Bigotry goes to intolerance, versus disgust, which goes to aversion. You can’t just invent synonyms at your whim and then tell people what they mean when they use terms that you’ve taken it upon yourself to redefine.

    Word. Really.

  9. shani-o October 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm Reply

    Here’s what I think: homosexuals and their apologists need a new lexicon, because words like “bigot,” “ignorance” and “homophobia” are too imprecise (and distracting) to be effective or even productive.

    The fact that you call people who support gay rights homosexual “apologists” tells me this conversation isn’t going to go anywhere productive.

    What word would you use to describe yourself and people like you who think homosexuality is a gross lifestyle choice?

  10. G.D. October 20, 2008 at 3:04 pm Reply

    “Thank you for clarifying this, G.D., because for a second there, I thought the post was about peoples’ supposedly bigoted feelings about homosexuality.”

    Um, what late revision?

    Ta-Nehisi’s original post was in regards to Prop 8. We could go round and round on this, but is there a reason not rooted in homophobia/heterosexism for which one could be in favor of Prop 8 — the repealing of rights to an entire swath of people?

    “Oh, and a fist pound for the late revision to your assertion about parsing words, but alas, words have meaning–as you, of all people, should appreciate. You can’t just invent synonyms at your whim and then tell people what they mean when they use terms that you’ve taken it upon yourself to redefine.”

    Whose inventing synonyms? You’ve decided that there is a functional difference between the way ‘bigotry’ and ‘disgust’ play out in real life, without clarifying or elaborating on what that difference might be.

    The difference, it seems, is that to be labeled a ‘bigot’ carries some less-than-desireable social connotations. That’s why on CNN’s roundtable on race, a member of a white supremacist group demurred on referring to himself as a ‘racist,’ instead opting to refer to himself as ‘a European American who is proud of his heritage.’ The latter descritption, one guess, was the racist’s way of making his position sound reasonable.

    It’s becoming clear that opposition to homosexuality, which you’ve posted about on more than one occasion. But hey, you can call your queasiness about gay people by whatever name you want.

  11. LH October 20, 2008 at 3:04 pm Reply

    shani-o: I said homosexuals AND their apologists, NOT homosexual apologists. I would never and have never once approached implying that anyone who advocates on behalf of gays/lesbians is gay/lesbian.

    And you do appreciate -yes?- that apologist refers to one who defends.

    In response to your question: honest.

  12. LH October 20, 2008 at 3:27 pm Reply

    “WWould [sic] you mind clarifying the functional difference between, say, an aversion to black people and bigotry against black people?”

    Assuming that this is, in fact, a serious question, I’ll attempt to clarify the difference by way of personal example.

    When I came to the States and enrolled in school, it didn’t take long for racial tension to surface between my classmates and me. No one physically accosted me or hurled an epithet in my direction, but my relationship with my peers, who had a definite aversion to me, was strained to say the least.

    Intolerance, to my way of thinking, would have included circumstances that made my matriculation practically impossible, e.g., being asked to leave the school (or not admitted to begin with), physically accosted or provoked, or being labeled using epithets.

    Did my peers (and their parents) want me around? No. Did they make it so that I couldn’t be there? No. The difference between the two reifies the distinction between aversion and intolerance.

  13. G.D. October 20, 2008 at 3:41 pm Reply

    Oh, it was absolutely a serious question.

    “Intolerance, to my way of thinking, would have included circumstances that made my matriculation practically impossible, e.g., being asked to leave the school (or not admitted to begin with), physically accosted or provoked, or being labeled using epithets.”

    So let me make sure I follow. One of the ways your ‘aversion’ to homosexuality manifests is an opposition to gay marriage. One of the way a person’s ‘intolerance’ of homosexuality would manifest itself would be an opposition to gay marriage.

    Again, if we’re talking about a ballot measure that will enshrine a ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution, is there a difference between the net political effects by the ‘averse’ and the ‘intolerant’ of voting ‘Yes on Prop 8’ ?

  14. LH October 20, 2008 at 3:55 pm Reply

    Oh, I guess I should have mentioned –this being about homnosexuality and all– that I’m no longer opposed to gay marriage. As hard as love is to come by, I wish them nothing but happiness. Beyond that, their being married has no impact on me or my life.

    That’s not to be taken to mean that I’m cool with homosexuality. I’m not.

  15. G.D. October 20, 2008 at 3:59 pm Reply

    “Oh, I guess I should have mentioned –this being about homnosexuality and all– that I’m no longer opposed to gay marriage. As hard as love is to come by, I wish them nothing but happiness. Beyond that, their being married has no impact on me or my life.”

    Congratulations. So what changed your opinion? and what does “being cool with homosexuality” entail, in your mind?

  16. universeexpanding October 20, 2008 at 4:05 pm Reply

    “On a philosophical level, I have a deep seated problem with defining and categorising feelings, which can’t be legislated or intellectualised. My feelings about homosexuality have nothing to do bigotry and everything to do with disgust (because of what it entails) and bemusement (gratuitous and over-the-top public campiness).”

    “As it is, my feelings about homosexuality don’t hurt anyone. Practically speaking I’m indifferent toward homosexuality. Theory is another discussion altogether.”

    LH: You seem certain of your abilities to completely compartmentalize what you feel and what you do and as a result you say that you’re feelings about homosexuals are “practically” harmless. But consider this. does your friend know that you love him “in spite of” who he is. If someone offered you that kind of love, say, love “in spite of” your being black, would you want it? Would you find it hurtful? Given your self professed inveterate revulsion of homosexuals, what would you teach a child if you had one? If you *taught* them (because as said in the passage above , bigotry is LEARNED) to be similarly disgusted, would you still not be hurting anyone?

    Does your friend know that you appropriate his suffering in this self serving way to 1) show that you are so tolerant of gay people that you can even love a diseased one! and 2) provide what reads like a veiled cautionary tale on the wages of homosexuality? That’s not “practically” hurtful?

    Enlightenment is shedding intellectual light on something – developing insight. You said yourself that you are unwilling to “intellectualize feelings” and as a result you don’t even know why you are so repulsed. You not interested in *knowing* why you feel what you feel and this makes you ignorant. As I said in my first reply, simply being presented with contradictory evidence isn’t enough, you have to be willing to assimilate it and alter your previously held schema to accommodate it. You haven’t.

  17. LH October 20, 2008 at 4:16 pm Reply

    G.D., I thought about my opposition in the following terms:

    1) Who am I to tell two people who want to be married that they shouldn’t be?
    2) In what way does gay marriage impact me?
    3) What would I tell my son or daughter who told me s/he wanted to marry the love of her/his life if it so happened that s/he was the same sex?

    A good friend swears that I’m tacking left (which presumes that I was on the right), but I think I’m tacking toward pragmatism more than anything.

    In my estimation, being cool with homosexuality means approving of it as a lifestyle. I don’t understand it, which precludes me from being cool with it. What I understand, though, is that my not being cool with it doesn’t mean anything. Amplified, what that means is that those of us who are disgusted by homosexuality shouldn’t get to dictate to homosexuals how to live their lives.

  18. LH October 20, 2008 at 4:20 pm Reply

    UE: Give me a minute. Got some deadlines I have to meet, but I will respond.

  19. LH October 20, 2008 at 5:30 pm Reply

    LH: You seem certain of your abilities to completely compartmentalize what you feel and what you do and as a result you say that you’re feelings about homosexuals are “practically” harmless. But consider this. does your friend know that you love him “in spite of” who he is. If someone offered you that kind of love, say, love “in spite of” your being black, would you want it? Would you find it hurtful?

    Your statement suggests that you believe I’m somehow unable to compartmentalise as you described. But do know that I made it clear to my friend that I thought his behaviour disgusting. We disagreed, which friends are known to do from time to time.

    Your thinly veiled attempt to trivialise my affection for him is insulting. If feelings can’t be intellectualised (and they can’t be), is it reasonable to expect that they will always make sense? I gave up on trying to catch that train many years ago.

    Given your self professed inveterate revulsion of homosexuals, what would you teach a child if you had one? If you *taught* them (because as said in the passage above , bigotry is LEARNED) to be similarly disgusted, would you still not be hurting anyone?

    I will teach my child to resist measuring what he thinks and feels against what others would presume to tell him he should think and feel. He may be wrong, but he’ll be true to himself. If he’s my child, he’ll value that above most things.

    Does your friend know that you appropriate his suffering in this self serving way to 1) show that you are so tolerant of gay people that you can even love a diseased one! and 2) provide what reads like a veiled cautionary tale on the wages of homosexuality? That’s not “practically” hurtful?

    Enlightenment is shedding intellectual light on something – developing insight. You said yourself that you are unwilling to “intellectualize feelings” and as a result you don’t even know why you are so repulsed. You not interested in *knowing* why you feel what you feel and this makes you ignorant.

    When I met my friend he was healthy and, obviously, his sexuality wasn’t an obstacle. It was after we left university and had been making our way for some years that I learnt he took ill. I mentioned that he’s suffering from AIDS because he is, not to weave some “cautionary tale.”

    As regards intellectualising feelings, I should have been more precise here. What I mean is that I tend to avoid becoming bogged down in whether or not they “make sense.” They are what they are for reasons various and many; I go with it unless and until I feel a need to visit/revisit them.

    I think homosexuality (and bisexuality) is disgusting in a tactile sense, and I’ve witnessed it all but destroy two families for at least a generation by way of a slow motion trainwreck. I don’t need anyone’s approval to feel as I do.

    As I said in my first reply, simply being presented with contradictory evidence isn’t enough, you have to be willing to assimilate it and alter your previously held schema to accommodate it. You haven’t.

    I’m always leery whenever someone suggests to me what I have to do or altering my schema. I do both at my leisure as I see fit. Doing either according to someone else’s timetable sounds a bit too much like groupthink for my liking.

  20. universeexpanding October 20, 2008 at 5:58 pm Reply

    LH: You didn’t answer my question about someone loving you supposedly in spite of yourself though and whether you would find that hurtful in a “practical” sense…interesting.

    “I think homosexuality (and bisexuality) is disgusting in a tactile sense, and I’ve witnessed it all but destroy two families for at least a generation by way of a slow motion trainwreck. I don’t need anyone’s approval to feel as I do.”

    The above is a heuristic. A learned one. And there’s plenty of evidence refuting the validity of said heuristic.

    As for your friend, you didn’t *need* to mention that he has AIDS – it didn’t add to the story. You did it because of how it would make you look – supposedly more tolerant. It read as self-serving and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

    You pretty much replied as I expected. As far as I can see this conversation is just another version of the one that occurred about the use of the word “bitch”. You want things to be okay for you to do because you *say* they are okay and because they work for you.

  21. universeexpanding October 20, 2008 at 6:02 pm Reply

    On and I forgot about this: “I’m always leery whenever someone suggests to me what I have to do or altering my schema. I do both at my leisure as I see fit. Doing either according to someone else’s timetable sounds a bit too much like groupthink for my liking.”

    So your bigotry is some kind of principled stand in defense of your individuality? Which somehow differentiates you from the people who are bigoted because of actual ignorance?
    Riiiiiight.
    Thanks for making that distinction.

  22. G.D. October 20, 2008 at 6:07 pm Reply

    Dammit, UE. You beat me to that.

    LH, it’s like he posits that your own homophobia is not just conventional, garden-variety bigotry but instead informed by some kind of principled, Randian non-conformity. um, okay, playboy.

    *finger guns*

    (Meanwhile, in the shift to making this conversation about LH, a bunch of questions posed to him have gone unanswered. hmph.)

  23. bitchphd October 20, 2008 at 6:24 pm Reply

    Absolutely. *The* best thing about my K-8 education is that my parents refused to participate in white flight. Having actual friends, not just acquaintances, whose class and ethnic backgrounds were different from mine has had more benefits in my life than whatever it was I “missed” by not going to the “better” school district. Even if the only benefit were “not being afraid of poor brown neighborhoods,” that’s worth a hell of a lot, and it always frustrates me when I talk to fellow educated white parents who refuse to even let their kids try public schools. You’d think that parents would want schools to provide the things they, the parents, *can’t* rather than just reinforce the privileges they already provide.

    Anyway, so my point is that it bugs the crap out of me that integration is always talked about as if it were a benefit for people of color, without much acknowledgment of the benefits for middle- to upper-middle-class whites.

    I should do another post on this sometime.

  24. LH October 20, 2008 at 7:14 pm Reply

    UE: A heuristic, you say? Brilliant … but please do upack this trial and error that I’ve used to educate myself. I’m curious–so to speak.

    As for my mentioning that my friend is dying of AIDS, what, precisely, would’ve been my reason for omitting that fact? What did that fact take away from what I said of him? It’s as if it makes you uncomfortable that he’s dying of AIDS. Interesting, indeed.

    You’re still not over our conversation about my usage of the word “bitch,” I see. It’s coloured each of the exchanges we’ve had since then. That, too, is interesting.

    As for this … “You want things to be okay for you to do because you *say* they are okay and because they work for you,” if the alternative is you, G.D., or anyone else telling me that I’m wrong because, well, you think I’m wrong, and me being wrongminded because I disagree, well, I’m willing to call it a wash. The fact is, though, that I don’t need to be told that I’m right in order to be okay with the way I see things. Being “right,” if there even is such a thing, is often a footnote anyway.

    What I do take exception to is the moral and intellecutal snobbishness that’s necessarily part and parcel of your shtick. Who are you to deem that which doesn’t jibe with your philosophical bent as “wrong”? Wielding words such as “homophobia” and “bigot” like blunt instruments when you disagree with someone doesn’t make you right, informed or enlightened.

    The disconnect here is rooted in the fact that our realities don’t mesh. That makes them different, not intrinsically right or wrong.

  25. LH October 20, 2008 at 7:28 pm Reply

    “LH, it’s like he posits that your own homophobia is not just conventional, garden-variety bigotry but instead informed by some kind of principled non-conformity. um, okay, playboy.”

    And here, again, is an example of you framing what I’ve said in your terms and then pronouncing it improper.

    Homophobia? Um, outmoded much? I mean … in 2008 that’s still the go-to play when someone says he thinks homosexuality is disgusting? It’s as if anyone who isn’t of the ‘homosexuality is normal because, you know, lots of people are gay’ school of thought is, by definition, a bigot, a homophobe, hatful, etc.

    I didn’t wait to see what other people thought about homosexuality before I stated what I believe, so, no, this, for me, isn’t about principled non-conformity.

    As to all of these questions I’ve not answered, seriously? I’ve divulged more here than I have to some people who’ve known me since 1983. Now, if it’s that I’m not saying what you want me to say so that my position makes sense to you, say that.

  26. LH October 20, 2008 at 7:29 pm Reply

    “On and I forgot about this: “I’m always leery whenever someone suggests to me what I have to do or altering my schema. I do both at my leisure as I see fit. Doing either according to someone else’s timetable sounds a bit too much like groupthink for my liking.”

    So your bigotry is some kind of principled stand in defense of your individuality? Which somehow differentiates you from the people who are bigoted because of actual ignorance?
    Riiiiiight.

    Thanks for making that distinction.”

    Hey, don’t mention it.

  27. G.D. October 20, 2008 at 8:18 pm Reply

    Really?

    “Homophobia? Um, outmoded much? I mean … in 2008 that’s still the go-to play when someone says he thinks homosexuality is disgusting?”

    Also:

    Practically speaking I’m indifferent toward homosexuality.

    Except for this.

    And this.

    oh, and also this.

    and this.

    and let’s not forget this.

    But yeah. Other than all those screeds about homosexuality, you’re pretty indifferent about homosexuality.

  28. universeexpanding October 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm Reply

    “ A heuristic, you say? Brilliant … but please do upack this trial and error that I’ve used to educate myself. I’m curious–so to speak.”

    You were the one who said you had seen bisexuality and homosexuality destroy 2 families. This is part of the evidence that you are using to support or views. What is there to unpack exactly?

    “As for my mentioning that my friend is dying of AIDS, what, precisely, would’ve been my reason for omitting that fact? What did that fact take away from what I said of him? It’s as if it makes you uncomfortable that he’s dying of AIDS. Interesting, indeed.”
    Don’t try to deflect by talking about me – I’m not uncomfortable with the knowledge that your friend is sick, I just do not feel you should be *using* it because that’s what you’re doing.Your reason for omitting it would be that it is not germane to the conversation we’re having ie. your tolerance of gay people. You mentioned it so you could look good. I stand by that.

    “You’re still not over our conversation about my usage of the word “bitch,” I see. It’s coloured each of the exchanges we’ve had since then. That, too, is interesting.”

    Tell you what – you stop being sexist/homophobic/reductive and I’ll stop being irritated by it.
    Deal?

    “ The fact is, though, that I don’t need to be told that I’m right in order to be okay with the way I see things. Being “right,” if there even is such a thing, is often a footnote anyway.”

    This explains a LOT.

    “What I do take exception to is the moral and intellecutal snobbishness that’s necessarily part and parcel of your shtick. Who are you to deem that which doesn’t jibe with your philosophical bent as “wrong”? Wielding words such as “homophobia” and “bigot” like blunt instruments when you disagree with someone doesn’t make you right, informed or enlightened.”

    Goodness LH have I hurt your feelings? Now I’m a snob? However will I live with myself? Maybe you should take *your* schtick back over to your blog…after all in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. You have *just* enough vocabulary and plain pig-headedness to throw your weight around over there and have them listen to you I’m sure.

    “The disconnect here is rooted in the fact that our realities don’t mesh. That makes them different, not intrinsically right or wrong.”

    I would advise you to refrain from speaking in absolutes and hiding in relativisms. But…then you wouldn’t be speaking at all.

  29. quadmoniker October 20, 2008 at 9:00 pm Reply

    “The disconnect here is rooted in the fact that our realities don’t mesh. That makes them different, not intrinsically right or wrong.”

    “It’s as if anyone who isn’t of the ‘homosexuality is normal because, you know, lots of people are gay’ school of thought is, by definition, a bigot, a homophobe, hatful, etc.”

    L.H.:
    The biggest problem with your argument is that you’re defining homosexuality as something separate and apart from every other type of human experience. It’s not. It’s common in every human culture, through all time, and extends into the animal kingdom to animals with which we are only distantly related. That’s the reality. You’re implying that homosexuality isn’t normal, when a review of all of our experience would show that it is. That’s ignorant.

  30. LH October 20, 2008 at 11:25 pm Reply

    G.D.: Funny. Seriously. I mean, “practically” is just, you know, a word, right?

    UE: Look … from time to time we’re all lost our bearing in a debate. Today you gave it a whirl and wound up on spin cycle. It happens, yanno? But your lack of grace and tact, as demonstrated by your blithering about my vocabulary and my blog, flies in the face of the sophistication and enlightenment your argument affects. You made me laugh, and not with you.

    quadmoniker: I’ve heard that argument before, that homosexuality is normal. I don’t believe it is and that I’m aware, no research supports that assertion.

    The research I’ve seen strongly suggests that homosexuality isn’t normal if by “normal” you mean “common.”

    To wit: http://www.urban.org/publications/1000491.html

    “Studies on the total number of gay and lesbian people in the United States show a range from 2 percent to 10 percent of the total population. In the last three elections, the Voter News Service exit poll registered the gay vote between 4 percent and 5 percent. While concluding that the Census 2000 undercounted the total number of gay or lesbian households, for the purposes of this study, we estimate the gay and lesbian population at 5 percent of the total U.S. population over 18 years of age, (209,128,094). This results in an estimated total gay and lesbian population of 10,456,405. A recent study of gay and lesbian voting habits conducted by Harris Interactive1 determined that 30 percent of gay and lesbian people are living in a committed relationship in the same residence. Black, Gates, et. al2 find a similar figure in their study recently published in “Demography.” Using that figure, we suggest that 3,136,921 gay or lesbian people are living in the United States in committed relationships in the same residence. Census 2000 counted 1,202,418 gay and lesbian people in committed relationships. Under the assumptions stated above, this represents an undercount of 62 percent

    … Gay and lesbian families live in 99.3 percent of all counties in the United States. This is in stark contrast to 1990 when the U.S. Census Bureau counted gay and lesbian families living in only 52 percent of U.S. counties. Again, we believe this rise is due to more gay and lesbian families willing to come forward and identify themselves in a federal survey.”

    I recognise that the U.S. is home to roughly five percent of the total global population, but if, in 2000, the total estimated gay population in the United States was between two and 10 per cent of the total population, that would argur against the assertion that homosexuality is normal either in the States or throughout the world.

    Perhaps it’s because there are gays throughout the country that you, G.D., Jay Smooth and others argue that it’s normal, but the total numbers tell a completely different story.

    I haven’t implied that homosexuality is abnormal. I’ve said as much straight away and, from what I can tell, the numbers support my assertion. Even if I’m wrong, my assertion is not ignorant.

    Where is the research that makes the case that homosexuality is normnal in either the U.S. or throughout the world? Even if we factor undercounting or underreporting, it’s a leap to say that homosexuality is normal. Take a look at what the Independent Gay Forum, a pro-gay site, had to say about it (http://www.indegayforum.org/news/show/31407.html):

    “So how many gay couples are there really? Two million? Three million? Four million? No one knows. As social tolerance and acceptance increase, the number of gay couples reporting themselves—and perhaps the number of gays forming couples and living together—is bound to increase with each census and ACS report. You want a complete guess? I’d guess there are 2.5 million to 3 million gay couples. Check back in a few years and we’ll see if I’m right.”

    If there were 3 million gay couples in the U.S., that would add up to 6 million people, or two per cent of the total population. I’m just not seeing “normnal” in those numbers.

    It’s true that homosexuality has existed as long as humans have, but it bares mentioning that most societies considered homosexuality to be a crime. This includes the Greeks. And though I don’t want to tack toward Christian Right territory, there is the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Today, more than 30 African governments consider homosexuality a crime. Closer to home, the governments of Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago consider homosexuality a crime. Throughout the Middle East, homosexuality is a crime. Throughout Asia, homosexuality is a crime, including in India, home to more than one billion people. Still closer to home, sodomy was a crime in Canada until the 1960s and much closer to home, it wasn’t until 2003 that the SCOTUS declared laws against sodomy unconstitutional.

    We can argue whether it’s just to outlaw homosexuality, but the fact that so many countries consider it a crime doesn’t square with the idea that it’s normal.

    What does?

  31. G.D. October 21, 2008 at 12:25 am Reply

    The research I’ve seen strongly suggests that homosexuality isn’t normal if by “normal” you mean “common.”

    Ah, so ‘practically indifferent’ but actively monitoring the population of gay people in America. Gotcha.

    Okay. So what constitutes ‘common’? A preponderance?

    If we look at the range you gave — 2% to 10% of the 300 million people in the U.S. are gay — that means the number of gay people in the U.S. is between 6 and 30 million. On the high end, that means there are nearly twice as many gay people in the United States as there are Asian Americans. (What of black people, who make up about 12% of the U.S. population?)

    By this logic, ‘common’ in the U.S. only refers to white, right-handed, heterosexual Christians. (The rest of us are just deviants, I suppose.)

    “It’s true that homosexuality has existed as long as humans have, but it bares mentioning that most societies considered homosexuality to be a crime. This includes the Greeks. And though I don’t want to tack toward Christian Right territory, there is the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Today, more than 30 African governments consider homosexuality a crime. Closer to home, the governments of Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago consider homosexuality a crime. Throughout the Middle East, homosexuality is a crime. Throughout Asia, homosexuality is a crime, including in India, home to more than one billion people. Still closer to home, sodomy was a crime in Canada until the 1960s and much closer to home, it wasn’t until 2003 that the SCOTUS declared laws against sodomy unconstitutional.”

    Uh, so?

    (Sodom and Gomorrah, fam? Really? You’re showing your hand here.)

    You seem to be using a bunch of different definitions here. You either mean ‘normal’ as in ‘not anomalous’ or ‘normal as in ‘normative’. Slavery, violence against women, monarchical rule, and illiteracy were are all staples of cultures all over the world at some point, enshrined into the laws of sovereign nations. So, you know, ‘normal.’ And I guess, by inference, preferable. Good look with that, guy.

    Look. You think homosexuality is icky, and you find it so icky that you spend a lot of time constructing justifications for that feeling. We get it! I’m not sure what purpose this back and forth serves, other than to give you space to make arguments wherein the definitions of words can change to your whim and you to awkwardly distance yourself from ‘homophobia.’

    Let’s all agree to disagree.

  32. quadmoniker October 21, 2008 at 8:43 am Reply

    L.H.:
    There are many different definitions of the word normal, but you seem to argue that it means “majority.” It also means naturally occurring, or a standard or type.

    The Greeks did not consider all homosexuality to be wrong. For young boys, being an older man’s lover was part of an entree into society. Their views on men who continued to play a passive sexual role were more complex. But the Greeks also thought that all women menstruated on a full moon, and that a woman’s uterus could wander through it’s body like an animal, wreaking havoc.

    If anything, that strengthens the argument that it’s normal. Homosexuality has persisted through many cultures and ages despite societal confusion about it. Just because it was rare, and because humans have never been good at handling minorities, doesn’t mean it’s not normal.

    Your numbers on the gay population in the U.S. could also lead us to note that the U.S. might be a safer place to come out than, say, Iran. And your assertion that there is a gay population of at least one in nearly every county I think also proves my point.

    On a bigger note, though, you can’t prove that bigotry is ok simply by finding the numbers that you want on the web. If you want me to sift through four years of notes as an anthropology major to show you the varied types of sexual activity that have persisted in almost all humans through time, let me know.

    In the meantime, hate people all you want. But don’t try to pretend like that’s some kind of noble stance. Of course you have a right to think whatever you like. But again, look through history and try to find any time that a group working to exclude people won in the end.

  33. ladyfresshh October 21, 2008 at 11:51 am Reply

    i took a day off and look at all the great content.
    =)

    Its extraordinarily difficult inversely as well to understand when someone is doing great harm with their ignorance because they are a relative or close friend. The ‘oh they seemed like such a nice person’ comments come to mind. When really they mean that person was just like me and only people who are not like me do wicked, evil or harmful things. The nuances and subtlety of bigotry is finally entering a second phase of recognition and i welcome this intelligent and personal approach to the issue(s).

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