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My Facebook Conversation with Another Progressive

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Last week, IFI published a Facebook conversation I had with two “progressives” in the hope that it may be helpful to IFI readers in their discussions with “progressive” neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family members.

Over the weekend another “progressive” Facebook dissenter, Zach Petersohn, picked up where Melanie Silver left off (well, she did find a moment to post a homosexual emoji).

Petersohn employed arguments different from those Silver employed though equally commonplace and weak:

Zach Petersohn:
To answer your question: the “LGBTQ agenda” is harmful because it destigmatizes LGBTQ people, basically. That’s their position—that’s the position Laurie described in the rant she composed addressing these comments.

Laurie Higgins:
How do my points constitute a rant while Melanie’s do not?

As is common with most “progressives,” you have conflated volitional acts with people.

Yes, I think it’s problematic for societies to destigmatize homoerotic activity, just as I think it’s problematic for societies to destigmatize consensual incestuous activity, zoophiliac activity (bestiality), adultery, BDSM (i.e., bondage, discipline or domination, sadism, masochism)  activity, and polyamory. But arguing that a healthy society maintains sexual boundaries is not an argument for vilifying or mistreating those who choose to violate those boundaries.

Zach Petersohn:
And those are exactly the kind of false equivalencies typical of hateful right-wing nutjobs.

Laurie:
Hateful? How so? What specifically did I say that’s hateful? It’s no more intrinsically hateful to claim that homoerotic activity is immoral than it is to claim that those other forms of love or erotic activity are immoral. I don’t hate people because of the beliefs they hold about sexual morality or because of the choices they make about the types of relationships they pursue or erotic acts they engage in. By the way, it sounds very much like you are judging—and judging harshly—consensual adult incestuous love, polyamory, adultery, zoophilia, BDSM—and conservatives. I thought “progressives” vigorously opposed “judgmentalism” and name-calling.

Zach Petersohn:
Right, right—it’s not the people, it’s the activity. Except, the people engaged in the activity say it’s not a choice, it’s not a lifestyle, and it’s not just an activity—it’s an orientation, as natural to them as yours is to you. I know, I know, you don’t believe that, and you have lots of funny little anecdotes about people who choose to stop doing gay and the lack of a “gay gene.” Great, pat yourself on the back, you earned it. But, if sexual intercourse between same-sex partners is an unnatural perversion, why is it so common in non-human species? And why, from a rational, genetic, non-faith perspective, would it not follow that it’s a naturally-occurring phenomenon in humans as well?

See, Laurie, you’re proposing a false dichotomy in order to claim that you “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” which is patronizing and arrogant in its own right, but I digress. In reality, there’s no neat separation – there is, however, an abundance of scientific evidence that indicates it isn’t a choice. So, vilifying the act is, in fact, vilifying the person, which makes you just another hateful old bigot.

So, no, I’m not juding incestuous zoophilic polyamorous BDSM harshly; I’m juding the mean-spirited fake Christians who would equate homosexual love with sexual deviance.

Laurie:

1.) Homosexuals do not choose their attractions/feelings, but they most certainly do choose their behavioral responses to those unchosen feelings. What do you mean when you use the word “natural”? If you mean powerful, persistent, and unchosen, is it your claim that any and all attractions/feelings are automatically moral to act upon if they’re powerful, persistent, and unchosen?

2.) I have never used the word “lifestyle.”

3.) I do know people who have chosen to remain celibate because they know that it’s immoral to act on their unchosen homoerotic attractions. I know people who have identified as homosexual and been involved in homoerotic relationships with persons they loved deeply, but subsequently left those relationships and now are in happy heterosexual relationships (e.g., Rosaria Butterfield). I know people who identify as homosexual and generally are attracted to persons of their same sex but have fallen in love with one person of the opposite sex and that love has generated erotic attraction to that one person.

4.) Of course, you and I both know there is no “gay gene.” And you likely know that homosexual scholars increasingly believe that “sexual orientation” is not fixed but fluid. Leftist scholars now argue that though “sexual orientation” is fluid, persons have no agency in affecting its direction. We’ll see how long “progressives” will be able to cling to that dogmatic claim. How long will it take before this claim is refuted just as the claims that homosexuals constitute 10% of the population and that homosexuality is in all cases fixed have been refuted?

5.) You take your morality cues from the animal kingdom? Yikes. Animals eat their poop, eat their sexual partners, are promiscuous, engage in polygyny, engage in incest, kill the babies of sexual competitors, and excrete publicly. I guess from your perspective all these should be naturally-occurring phenomena in humans as well.

Humans experience all sorts of powerful, persistent, unchosen feelings. Our task as moral beings is to figure out which of these myriad unchosen feelings are morally legitimate to act upon. Since we’re not animals, we ought not take our cues from the animal kingdom. Science can tell us what is—what exists. Science, however, tells us nothing about the morality of volitional behavior. Even if a feeling, impulse, or desire may be influenced by biochemistry does not mean that behavior impelled by such feelings is automatically moral behavior.

6.) What you call a false dichotomy between moral assessments of behavior and feelings toward people is a real dichotomy—a distinction that most people are able to and do make every day. In this wildly diverse world, it is entirely possible to hate beliefs and volitional behaviors without hating people. Most humans do it regularly. We have friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues who believe things we find wrong, and destructive. They do things we believe are wrong and destructive. And yet, we love them deeply. Perhaps you are unable to love those who believe and do things of which you disapprove, but you ought not project onto others your habits of mind.

It is my hope that these conversations may help IFI readers feel better equipped and, therefore, more willing to engage in this kind of debate with the “progressives” in their lives. For now, our First Amendment right to speak freely is protected. We should use it while we can.



 

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