Ethics Dunces: LGTB White House Guests

“While the White House does not control the conduct of guests at receptions, we certainly expect that all attendees conduct themselves in a respectful manner. Most all do. These individuals clearly did not. Behavior like this doesn’t belong anywhere, least of all in the White House.”

Thus did a White House spokesman properly rebuke the crude LGTB activists who reciprocated the hospitality of the President in inviting them to a LGTB pride reception at his home by taking photos of themselves flipping their middle finger to the portrait of Ronald Reagan and posting them on Facebook with such clever captions as “FUCK YOU!”

This is one more marker in the continuing degradation of American manners, etiquette and respect for institutions, but it also displays such a void of gratitude and common sense that one is led to despair. “These photographs have hurt our community and make advocating for inclusion and equality more difficult. The participants should be ashamed,” the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP supporters, said in their response. Correct on both counts. It is hard to see anything positive that could come from such a juvenile display of raw vulgarity and self-indulgence, either for the activists’ social agenda or anyone else. They embarrassed the White House, breached basic standards of guest conduct, displayed wonton incivility and rudeness, showed disrespect for an American landmark and the institution of the Presidency, insulted the memory of a past leader, and crowed about it on Facebook like the ill-bred teenagers.

How proud of them the Lesbian Gay Transgendered Bi-sexual community must be!

Actually, I doubt it. There isn’t a single person in the country, not one, beginning with the President, through Nancy Reagan, to every patriotic American and every member of the LBTB community that these boors don’t owe an apology to.

______________________________________

Sources:

Graphic: The Blaze

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

42 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces: LGTB White House Guests

      • No. THEY are, Jack. It’s just inherent in what they are. I didn’t quite expect them to carry on like Dan Savage, but I can’t be surprised that they did. Of course, homosexuals have a particular venom for President Reagan because he wouldn’t knuckle under to them.

        • Seriously—no gay-bashing here. Arguing morality is legitimate, and what constitutes ethical policy. But I know, work, play with and care about many, many, many gay, lesbian, and bi- Americans, and their sexual orientation is the only aspect of their lives and values that vary from the non-GLTB friends, relatives and colleagues I also know. Many of them read this blog, and I want them to feel as comfortable and welcome here as you are. Denigrating classes of people is not productive.

          • I understand, Jack. It’s just that I don’t beleive in granting these people (or any, for that matter) the destinction of a protected class. I’ll amend my remarks in pointing out that these individuals were activists.

            • But dumb activists. Insulting dead Presidents—I believe I can name a group which has a historical grievance against any President in history: blacks may hate the slave-owning presidents; Southerners may detest Lincoln; Mexicans Polk; Native Americans Jackson. TR wronged the Philippines; Germans should hate Wilson. Japanese have reasons to detest Truman and FDR. Feminists don’t care for Cleveland, and so on—I might make a complete list some day. The point is, you show respect for the office and the people’s house, or you don’t accept the invitation.

              • Very true. But these are people who have a long history of public “misbehavior” that makes this sort of thing minor in comparison. I remember how, back in the 1980’s in Houston, you could always spot one of the Montrose Raiders (from the neighborhood where they clustered) by a car sticker reading, “Who hates ya, baby? REAGAN hates me!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag when I saw one of those.

                    • I’m sure a lot of Southerners didn’t care much for Lincoln during and just after the war. However, upon hearing of his assassination, a Southern leader responded that “the South has just lost its best friend”. The only hope for a fair peace and reconciliation died with Abe. Wilson, too, was the only one of the Big Four at Versailles who pushed for equitable peace terms with the Central Powers at Versailles. Clemenceau, George and Orlando overrruled him. Heck, that’s about the only thing Wilson did that I admire him for! As for Mexico, they ought to blame El Caudillo (Santa Anna) for their misfortunes. He started it. Polk finished it!

                • Do these specific people people have a long history of public misbehavior? Do you have a citation for that?

                  It looks like you’re claiming that LGBT activists have been known to act badly, so all LGBT activists should be banned from the White House. That makes as much sense as saying that all activists of any kind should be banned from the White House.

                  Did you really just call that perfectly innocuous bumpersticker misbehavior?

                  • Welcome back from your long sojourn on Mars, TGT. YES- deviant demonstrators and activists have a long and ongoing history of public misbehavior! Nor is it limited to the crazed antics of Queer Nation and ACT UP. I included that “innocuous” bumper sticker to illustrate the particular (and, again, ongoing) hatred that perverts have for Ronald Reagan. There were others too odious to mention.

                    • The bumpersticker is innocuous (despite your scare quotes), and doesn’t represent a hatred of Reagan. There’s you not understanding the difference between hate and pointing out hate again.

                      So your answer is, no, these specific people don’t have a history of misbehavior. You just can’t differentiate among people in groups that you hate (this is a proper usage of the word). Christians have a long and ongoing history of public misbehavior, but that doesn’t mean I should assume any given christian is going to misbehave.

          • All Steven does when it comes to homosexuals is bash them. What do you expect from someone boasted he tolerated Nazi’s and members of the KKK?

      • I’ve seen a few pictures of events such as the infamous Folsom Street Festival in San Francisco. Even then, no one could print the pictures of the worst of it. One of the most nauseating things I’ve seen are images of the “implements” gathered by the sponsors of a gay rights convention in Washington. When the pictures leaked out, the hotel had to cancel the event due to popular revulsion.

  1. It’s infuriating to see people behave in such a manner, especially when they should have recognized the fact that they were representatives of a larger group of individuals and been on their best behavior. I can’t imagine any of my gay or lesbian friends acting so inappropriately, especially if they had been given such a prestigious invitation.

  2. Whenever I see something like this I think to myself: “Well, this must be some of that tolerance that I’ve heard so much about….”

    –Dwayne

  3. For whatever it may be worth, it took more Googling than I am used to, but I finally found something that may be relevant here, once I entered “Ronald Reagan anti-gay:”

    http://wthrockmorton.com/2010/09/24/was-ronald-reagan-anti-gay/

    Reading there makes me wonder what specifically (if anything) compelled the activists to give the finger to Reagan’s portrait. Like I inferred earlier, though, I don’t see much more background to this incident than rabid partisanship, condemnation-by-association, and voter-recruiting.

    • I think the view of Reagan by the gay community is substantially based on his passiveness during the AIDS crisis. Senior officials on his staff are documented as saying that AIDS was retribution for being gay and that gays deserved to die from the disease. His support for funding was considered, forgive the pun, limp-wristed. You can find arguments on the other side, but this is the predominant view that, I think, explains but does not excuse the behavior of those guests at the White House.

      • There was an HBO docudrama to that effect. The truth is more complex…clearly the Reagan administration didn’t see how bad the epidemic was, or understand it, but they weren’t alone. The response was slow, but this is hindsight bias. Reagan was not a homophobe, by any means…but some of his aids and supporters were.

  4. The behavior of these PARTICULAR activists was deplorable. There is no excusing it. It will, unfortunately, be used by homophobes/anti-gay crusaders to further bash the LGTB community as a whole – and that is unfair. Just as it is unfair to bash all Christians who are pro-life for the actions of a few zealots who think it’s a great idea to shoot doctors who perform abortions. I personally believe that Reagan’s deliberate inaction in addressing the AIDS crisis caused an escalation that cost the lives of countless men, women and children that could have been saved. Most were gay. Some were not. But homophobia was clearly behind the policy decisions that were made. So I understand the anger in the LGTB community. That it is still NO excuse for the behavior in the White House.

    • Just as it is unfair to bash all Christians who are pro-life for the actions of a few zealots who think it’s a great idea to shoot doctors who perform abortions.

      Careful. While the actions of the zealots don’t reflect on the other Christians, the other Christians can be blamed for justifying the faith the zealots rely on.

      • Huh?? What??? Is that a serious comment or are you trying to out-troll SMP? Let’s try reversing the situation and see how the logic holds up…

        Careful. While the actions of these activists don’t reflect on other members of the LGBT community, the other members of the LGBT community can be blamed for justifying the sexual identity these activists rely on.

        For that matter, you could insert literally any variable: While the actions of people who riot after the loss of their favorite team don’t reflect on all fans of that team, all fans can be blamed for justifying the sports fandom that some people use as an excuse for rioting.

        It is nobody’s responsibility to adjust their own attitudes or beliefs in order to account for all the various ways those beliefs might be co-opted and misused by other parties.

        That was the first irrational comment I’ve ever read from you, tgt.

        • My comment is fine. Your examples are not parallel. The key is that when someone claims that their faith is enough reason to believe X, they are really creating a logic rule: If X based on faith, then X is true. They are justifying the results of anybody that follows that rule.

          For gender/sexual identity and sports fans, no rule is being created. “I am gay” does not create a rule that gay people can’t be questioned. “I back the Sox” does not mean the Sox can be used to justify behavior.

          Your examples are of preferences and realities inside existing logic; the faithful are creating separate logic. For the religious, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

          • P.S. Thanks for the kind words. I also understand that this is a concept that many people have trouble with. When written down in formal logic, the differences between the situations are clear, but when explained in English, the similar grammatical structures can hide the important structural differences.

          • Even if Christians are creating an erroneous rule regarding truth, there is no direct connection to the justification of specific behaviors. I’m sure you know as well as anyone the difficult of deriving an “ought” from an “is.” Saying “the Bible is the infallible word of God” is by no means the same as saying “anyone who contravenes the truth of the Bible ought to be killed.”

            Creating a separate perception of truth is not the same as creating a separate logic. Who ever gave you the idea that Christians, as a rule, think that sentential logic doesn’t work? Saying “the Bible is true” or “Christ is the redeemer of mankind” is fundamentally the same as saying “the Red Sox are the best baseball team on the planet.” They’re each overreaching statements of identity, and none of them implicitly advocates anything other than that other people agree.

            If the issue is logic rules, let’s once again substitute variables into the example you gave: “If X is based on faith, then X is true.” I’m just not clear on how we get from there to “it’s okay to kill abortion doctors.”

            I could say by contrast, “If X is based on sound science, then X is true.” Well, global warming is based on sound science. Does that mean that by believing in science, people automatically accept that it’s okay to bomb carbon-emitting factories?

            • Edward,

              Your post is a series of non sequiturs, strawmen, and mistakes in logic…the mistakes that I mentioned are easy to make in English grammar, but our clearly wrong.

              Even if Christians are creating an erroneous rule regarding truth, there is no direct connection to the justification of specific behaviors.

              This is patently false. If I claim that “It’s okay to slander your opponent”, then I have created justification for anybody who slanders any opponent. It doesn’t matter if I agree with their specific slander or not. I justified the rule that they properly applied.

              I’m sure you know as well as anyone the difficult of deriving an “ought” from an “is.” Saying “the Bible is the infallible word of God” is by no means the same as saying “anyone who contravenes the truth of the Bible ought to be killed.”

              You’re saying that conclusion 1 does not imply conclusion 2. I agree, but it’s irrelevant. I’m not trying to go from is to ought. The logic that is necessary to get to Conclusion 1 can be used to get to Conclusion 2. What is the reasoning that “the Bible is the infallible word of God”? Faith. If it’s good enough for the former, it can’t be contravened when arguing for the latter.

              In brief, I’m not saying “1 implies 2.” I’m saying that you got to 1 by “faith in X => X” + “X = 1” + “faith in X”. You can get to 2 simply by saying X is 2.

              Creating a separate perception of truth is not the same as creating a separate logic. Who ever gave you the idea that Christians, as a rule, think that sentential logic doesn’t work? Saying “the Bible is true” or “Christ is the redeemer of mankind” is fundamentally the same as saying “the Red Sox are the best baseball team on the planet.” They’re each overreaching statements of identity, and none of them implicitly advocates anything other than that other people agree.

              There may be some Christians that deny the validity of faith. My comments do not apply to them, but that’s such a vanishingly small group that it wasn’t worth separating them out formally. My original comment to IB did implicitly excuse them.

              Nowhere have claimed that different perceptions imply different logic. I have simple said that calling faith valid is directly introducing a new logic rule. Do you deny this straight statement?

              The rest of this paragraph seems to be intentionally ignoring my point. “The Bible is true” is a truth claim (mostly likely, and only relevant to our discussion if its) based on faith. “The Red Sox are the best baseball team on the planet” is a statement of opinion. Even without that difference, the second claim does not preclude using evidence and formal logic to get to truth of the matter.

              If the issue is logic rules, let’s once again substitute variables into the example you gave: “If X is based on faith, then X is true.” I’m just not clear on how we get from there to “it’s okay to kill abortion doctors.”

              The X in this case is “God told me to kill abortion doctors” and “God’s command is appropriate behavior.” Honestly, if we take that prepositional statement is valid, any possible truth statement or behavior can be validly backed by claiming that you believe it.

              I could say by contrast, “If X is based on sound science, then X is true.” Well, global warming is based on sound science. Does that mean that by believing in science, people automatically accept that it’s okay to bomb carbon-emitting factories?

              No, but of course you did not parallel my situation. Your X is “it’s okay to bomb carbon-emitting factories”. That specific X is not based on sound science, so it fails your hypothetical. That X would work in the faith hypothetical though, because faith can’t be questioned.

              • I made a mistake in accepting and utilizing your description of Christian logic. I did not realize that you were of the opinion that religious thinking allowed absolutely anything to be substituted for X in “If X is based on faith, then X is true.” This is where the problem of going from “is” to “ought” comes in. You’re assuming that there is no separation between the two for Christians, because Christians don’t believe in logic, right? But just as sound science does not provide proof for normative judgments, faith also fails to easily cross the border between what people believe to be true and what they believe to be right.

                If I claim that “It’s okay to slander your opponent”, then I have created justification for anybody who slanders any opponent.

                Yes, IF that is your claim. You misunderstood the comment to which you were replying. That’s at least partly my fault. I wasn’t saying that a Christian can make a general normative claim without justifying particular instances of that claim. I was saying that a Christian can make a descriptive claim, namely “the Bible is true based on faith,” without justifying any parallel normative claim, such as “killing abortion doctors is right based on faith.”

                If the Christian point of view did indeed say ‘Anything I claim is correct as long as I have faith in it,” then of course that would justify anything. Every argument, both factual and normative, would be a tautology. But that’s an outrageous assumption to make about religious thinking. Is it foolish to claim that the Bible is true simply because you believe it? Yes, of course. Does that foolishness necessarily infect every thought that a Christian person has? No.

                Essentially, their beliefs imply that the Bible has magic properties that evade the rules of logic. But once again, that is not the same as claiming that the rules of logic never apply. Such magical thinking will create logical inconsistencies when the content of the Bible comes into conflict with fact and reason, but these are no different from the logical inconsistencies created by any strong, ideological convictions. Do you think that irrationality is unique to religious people?

                My analogies remain relevant.

                “The Bible is true” is a truth claim (mostly likely, and only relevant to our discussion if its) based on faith. “The Red Sox are the best baseball team on the planet” is a statement of opinion. Even without that difference, the second claim does not preclude using evidence and formal logic to get to truth of the matter.

                An opinion frequently is a truth claim, just an unsubstantiated one. Do you really think that if you used evidence and formal logic to prove that the Red Sox are not the best baseball team on the planet, a die-hard Boston fan would graciously accept the argument and admit that he was wrong? Have you ever met one? He would retain his faith in the inevitable dominance of his team, and integrate that into his understanding of objective reality.

                A mainstream Christian would do the same, retaining his belief in the truth of his religion in spite of what he knew about the world, not instead of it. Have you ever spoken to a Christian other than Steven Mark Pilling? You might be surprised to find that they’re all around us, not holed-up in fact-suppressing, logic-defying compounds. Some of them are even doing science! Others use evidence, observation, and valid logical constructions to express positions on matters of policy or business. If you get them onto the topic of faith or the Bible, you may still find that they make an exception to logic, but that’s damned far away from the notion, “If I believe anything, it’s true!”

                I still don’t understand what it is that makes you think religious people use faith to supersede all other forms of argumentation in every circumstance. You claim:

                There may be some Christians that deny the validity of faith. My comments do not apply to them, but that’s such a vanishingly small group that it wasn’t worth separating them out formally.

                Do you have statistical data to back this up? Something along the lines of “98% of people who go to church say that science doesn’t work”? In absence of that, I can only conclude that this is an ideological assumption. Now, I know that you’ll probably see that as a straw man, but you’ve made it pretty clear that you think faith and logic can’t coexist, so I’m assuming that when you say “deny the validity of faith” you mean “accept the validity of logic.” But faith and logic can co-exist reasonably well as long as faith is subordinated to logic, as by being confined to specific topics or circumstances.

                I have simply said that calling faith valid is directly introducing a new logic rule. Do you deny this straight statement?

                No, I don’t. What I deny is the notion that ordinary Christians, or members of other religious groups, would make such a claim about the overall validity of faith. They might, however, claim that faith is valid under constraints. For some, faith could justify belief in the truth of the Bible, or the Vedas, or the Necronomicon. But the rule that is added thereby is only “these particular things are true in absence of evidence.” It is not “evidence is never needed.”

                As with general irrationality, the forfeiture of demands for direct evidence is not peculiar to religious people. It’s actually something that all people have to accept in order to have any reasonably coherent sense of reality. In absence of direct evidence, I assume the truth of the atomic model of the universe, and the historical existence of people such as Plato and Thomas Jefferson. A Bible-believing Christian assumes the truth of a burning bush and a man having been brought back from the dead. To be sure, the latter set of beliefs is less rational, but in neither case are there grounds for asserting that the same forfeiture of doubt applies to absolutely everything.

                • Your mistake is thinking that there could be a limited number of substitutions for X. That’s not how logic works. You’re slow playing faith to be something other than it actually is.

                  I don’t claim that religious people are completely a-logical or illogical. I don’t claim that religious people think “If I believe anything, it’s true!” What I do claim is that when someone claims faith is enough reason for situation X, they are inherently justifying faith as a reason in any situation. If X is a valid logical construct in situation Y, it must be a valid logical construct in situation Z.

                  Your attempts to confuse the matter with normative claims and descriptive claims is silly. The logical construct doesn’t care.

                  Your attempts to claim “Everybody does it”, also fail. Yes, pretty much everyone (if not actually everyone) is illogical at times, but not all illogic is created equally. Most people do not create a rule that insulates their beliefs from possible criticism. When they do, it tends to be based on faith… which is exactly the problem I’m attacking.

                  For your sports analogy, you are dead wrong. First, no matter how much you want to call it a truth claim, the Sox are the best is clearly opinion. Second, yes, the opinion being held in the face of evidence is illogical, but there is no attempt to insulate beliefs from attack based solely on the existence of the belief. A Sox fan doesn’t say: “I believe the Sox are the best, so it must be true”. Again, you are ignoring the underlying logic that gets to beliefs, and it’s the underlying “logic” of faith that is problematic.

                  I have to switch to quotes now for the next piece to be clear.

                  There may be some Christians that deny the validity of faith. My comments do not apply to them, but that’s such a vanishingly small group that it wasn’t worth separating them out formally.

                  Do you have statistical data to back this up? Something along the lines of “98% of people who go to church say that science doesn’t work”? In absence of that, I can only conclude that this is an ideological assumption. Now, I know that you’ll probably see that as a straw man, but you’ve made it pretty clear that you think faith and logic can’t coexist, so I’m assuming that when you say “deny the validity of faith” you mean “accept the validity of logic.” But faith and logic can co-exist reasonably well as long as faith is subordinated to logic, as by being confined to specific topics or circumstances.

                  In no place here have I claimed that religious people don’t back science (though he polling actually agrees with that). What I said was Christians claim the validity of faith. Caiming the validity of faith is incredible inconsistent with basic logic, but it doesn’t stop people from trying to have it both ways. They claim it’s logical to have faith, but then they try to differentiate when and what faith is okay for…just like you’re doing. They’re trying to save faith as logical by limitting it. The correct thing to do would be to deny faith as valid. Noone can ever say why their faith is special and someone else’s faith is invalid. It’s impossible.

                  Since you wanted numbers, The latest gallup poll has 78% of the U.S. choosing Faith over Science on the topic of evolution: http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx

                  Let me also quote from a pewresearch: “When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll”. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/578/how-the-public-resolves-conflicts-between-faith-and-science That last poll was run a year or two ago with similar results, but I’m having difficulty finding it now.

                  I have simply said that calling faith valid is directly introducing a new logic rule. Do you deny this straight statement?

                  No, I don’t. What I deny is the notion that ordinary Christians, or members of other religious groups, would make such a claim about the overall validity of faith.

                  I agree with your denial, again, but that’s actually been part of my point. Christians claim faith for themselves but not for people they disagree with. What I’ve been arguing is that once you take faith to be allowed for you, whether you like it or not, you are backing that same logic in other places.

                  In absence of direct evidence, I assume the truth of the atomic model of the universe, and the historical existence of people such as Plato and Thomas Jefferson. A Bible-believing Christian assumes the truth of a burning bush and a man having been brought back from the dead. To be sure, the latter set of beliefs is less rational, but in neither case are there grounds for asserting that the same forfeiture of doubt applies to absolutely everything.

                  You’re creating a false equivalence here. The atomic model of the universe is incredibly well supported. The historical existence of Plato and Thomas Jefferson is also supported beyond question. You aren’t simply assuming these truths without evidence and contrary to the evidence like the bible believing Christian does. You aren’t forfeiting doubt at all, while the Christian is claiming that his faith in the Bible is enough reason to believe it’s true. Honestly, that argument is pretty pathetic, but that’s what happens when people try to argue for faith.

                  • This is a terrific post, tgt, and if you would send me a version that clarified the context so someone could jump into the middle of your debate with Ed and know what’s going on, I’d love to make it a Comment of the Day.

                    • Honestly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that. To make sure I didn’t misrepresent Ed, I’d probably need 2500 words of set up. I could write a separate piece on the logic, faith, how people want to use them, and what is necessitated, but it’s really not something I have time to think out right now. That was pretty much stream of consciousness directed at specific arguments with a slight edit when I could not find the more recent version of the second poll.

  5. RE: The thugs who abused the Presidennt’s hospitality — some people are LOW class and some people are NO class.

    RE: Jack’s exchanges with Mr. PILLING — get used to it Jack, he’s never going to change — Mr. PILLING is scared spitless mof LGBT people — probably because he has no LGBT friends (so far as he knows) — and those he’s heard about he no doubt regards as threatening monsters from outer space — and he no doubt enjoys feeling superioor to them.

    Some people are low class, etc., etc.

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