Ben Carson’s Apology

Prison rapeOn “New Day” yesterday, Dr. Ben Carson, who is inexplicably favored by some as a 2016 Presidential nominee (perhaps because electing someone with virtually no leadership experience has worked out so well), was asked by host Chris Cuomo whether being gay was a choice, Carson replied: “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.

This, as anyone who has been conscious over the past 20 years or so should have been able to predict, caused great consternation among the gay community and thoughtful people generally. It was approximately as ignorant as Mets’ infielder Daniel Murphy’s comments yesterday about Billy Bean, a former major league baseball player who is the sport’s “ambassador for inclusion.”  Murphy said,

“I disagree with his lifestyle.I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

The difference is that Carson may be running for President, whereas all Murphy has to do is get on base and turn double plays, so Murphy saying utterly stupid things like claiming that being gay is a “lifestyle”isn’t all that relevant to his career choice. Actually, I’m not certain Carson’s statement isn’t worse, especially since he’s an educated man. I haven’t seen any surveys in which former prisoners say they have been “turned gay” in prison. We know that a lot of prisoners are raped, and we know that mane confined for long periods with other men and no women may resort to homosexual sex, but no research has suggested that this experience turns such men gay. Perhaps Carson believes that engaging in homosexual sex means a man is gay, which is like believing that a man stranded in the wilderness who survives on mushrooms and nuts is a vegan.

Carson, or whoever is trying to make this sow’s ear of a candidate into a Presidential purse, quickly decided that a retraction was in order, so Carson issued, on Facebook, a long apology, saying in part:

In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues. I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.

I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality.

He concluded,

I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses. I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again, but unlike politicians when I make an error I will take full responsibility and never hide or parse words. As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.

Carson may not be a politician, but he knows how to make a non-apology apology. He apologized only to those who were offended. He needed to apologize to every gay individual in the nation for claiming that they are “sinners,” which is what the statement that being gay is “absolutely” a choice means to devout Christians. He needed to apologize for abusing his status as a doctor by asserting as fact a position that the vast, vast number of researchers in the field do not believe is true—and this is not Carson’s field. He needed to apologize for conflating the very serious problem of prison rape with homosexuality, cleverly associating gays with criminals and rapists, and making, on national TV, an ignorant, insulting, irresponsible statement that pandered to anti-gay bias.

Carson is parsing words. How is “absolutely” a word choice issue? Does he mean that he should have said, “Indubitably”?  If he means that he should have said “no” or “I don’t know,” why doesn’t he have the courage to say that, and disappoint all his anti-gay supporters? He hasn’t said he was wrong, or that he made a ridiculous argument, or that he expressed an incompetent opinion about something he knows little about as if he had some special expertise. His apology is itself misleading, saying that “there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality.” Most researchers believe the issue is settled: what Carson means is that that he, and those who are committed to the idea that homosexuality is sinful conduct, not nature, do not choose to accept the research.

What I find definitive is gays themselves, who presumably know whether they mad a choice or not. As a college student, I questioned the very first gay man I ever knew, a wonderful, brilliant human being named Jeff Davies, on this matter, well before gay rights were widely accepted.  He told me the story of his life in Wales as a boy who knew he was gay by the time he was eight. I have had similar conversations with over 40 gay friends and colleagues, and their stories were remarkably similar.

Does Carson’s statement to Cuomo disqualify him to be President, as some are saying? No, not by itself. If he were to recognize how foolish and irresponsible his statement was and come to sincerely reject his absurd assertion, that would enhance my opinion of him. Carson, however, isn’t qualified to be President even if he had given CNN a brilliant dissertation on the biology of sexual orientation. His apology, moreover, parsing words while grandstanding about how he was not, using the “I’m not a politician” excuse as if MDs are less accountable for on-air stupidity than pols, and generally speaking code to his anti-gay supporters while pretending to humble himself to the people he “offended,” is more disqualifying than the statement he was apologizing for.

I’d vote for Hillary over this guy.

______________________

Sources: CNN, NBC, Slate

Graphic: Canonsalute

 

90 thoughts on “Ben Carson’s Apology

  1. This may disqualify him as your analysis demonstrates.

    But he was already disqualified: I don’t want Mr. Rogers at the trigger of our nuclear arsenal. Or at the trigger of any of military forces.

    • Jack, I don’t want Carson to be elected President either. But given the choice (we ARE talking about choices and non-choices here, aren’t we?), I would “absolutely” choose Carson and vote for him over T. Regina.

  2. Sloppy phrasing on his part. Technically you can say that ACTS are sinful, since ever act involves a choice, but not that ORIENTATION is sinful, since that’s not what the Baltimore Catechism teaches. A closer reading of that has led me to slightly change my views and decide my main problem is not with gay people or even gay marriage. My main problems are with coercion (i.e. you will be MADE to care) and public /in your face bizarre behavior (i.e. cross-dressing to get attention, exhibitionism, public nudity or near-nudity, etc., basically anything that screams “attention whore”).

      • Part of it is the pragmatic knowledge that this is not the hill to die on. The best bet is to fall back to the defensible redoubts of the First Amendment.

          • Well, the religious right thinks it’s a hill to die on. I am a believer, but not a bible-thumping member of the religious right. Let me also emphasize this is about civil marriage. I believe individual denominations need to make their own decisions as to what unions they will and won’t bless, and those decisions need to be respected. Alvin York reconciled war with the Bible by “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” I think that’s a way for everyone to save face. BTW, I am still not showing up on 5th avenue on the 17th with a rainbow pin in my lapel.

            • “I believe individual denominations need to make their own decisions as to what unions they will and won’t bless, and those decisions need to be respected.”

              Steve-O, I go with you there – and I am not being sarcastic at all – yet.

              After all, resolution of the controversy about blessing of unions lies in part with “ethics” of exaltation of “diversity” and “inclusiveness,” right? And what better reflection of exaltation of such could there be, than to respect the needs of denominations to make their own decisions? That would be a reflection of further exaltation of freedom and equality, right?

              But of course, we – you and I, Steve-O – are on to the enemy’s power-tripping little games. “There cannot be one God – but there MUST be only one government, only one head of that government, and one and ONLY one path on which everyone MUST march in obedience to that head and government, in order to be correct, and included, and ‘blessed.'”

              Yeah, leave it to sex perverts to try and re-invent God.

    • Even the Catholic church doesn’t teach that the orientation is sinful. In fact, I once heard a priest state that, while the church believes the act is sinful, it believes that they are BORN with this trait, much like most men are usually born wanting to copulate with anything with estrogen and a pulse, and should be loved, supported, and accepted as members of the church bearing an extraordinary burden.

      • Believe me, I know. I was privileged to briefly know Mychal Judge, who was oriented but not active (since he was a celibate priest). Had he survived and not become the first catalogued victim of 9/11, his stature MIGHT have given a dignified way forward for the Church.

        • He was a remarkable and good man. While I think there’s nothing at all wrong with a non-practicing gay man serving as a priest, I’m glad his Dignity movement was thwarted. There has been far too many special interests tearing away at the fabric of the church, in an effort to secularize and socialize it, to make it more “accessible” to everyone. Bullshit. This is the house of God. All are welcome and will be received with love, but you have no business going into God’s house and dictating the terms of your occupancy.

          • The movement wasn’t his, he was only a member. I agree to some degree, a lot of the churches that have liberalized have found themselves losing members surprisingly quickly.

            • Oops – clicked prematurely. Well said, Joe, about God’s house. Same goes for individuals’ consciences. Would-be thought-controllers WILL be nuked.

              • Both are sacred and must be defended. It’s not a matter of being exclusive or afraid of change, as it is not allowing ourselves to be conditioned to always yield to group-think, and to remember that discrimination isn’t actually a bad word. We have to cling to our ability to discriminate between positive and pernicious influences, to recognize the fact that many things stand the test of time because they work,and we shouldn’t have a reckless attitude about tinkering with them,. to not be manipulated by our emotions, or even to just be able to say “because I sincerely believe it to be so, and that’s all the reason I need”, without being overly concerned with disapproval. Sometimes, you need to dig in your heels now and then, just to remind yourselves and the people around you that you can, and it’s supposed to be okay to do so. I find it amazing that so many people think of themselves as bold pioneers; individuals who see themselves as not afraid to break ranks with convention, tear down time-proven institutions, and pave the way for “progress”. They are the worst sort of conformists, servile people that aren’t even aware that they’re really meek slaves and appeasers deep down, more concerned with their own comfort and immediate gratification, selling their children’s birthrights in the vain hope of willing the approval of their fellow dupes, all serving the will of the vultures who are picking through the dead, withering corpse of what was once our promised land while promising the rest of us a brighter future. That’s what all of this recent “change” and “progress” really is; just a clever ruse designed to upset our equilibrium, appeal to insecurities,and dull our God-given sense that alerts us to massive sociological and economic shifts that we would ordinarily recognize as threats. I see the insanity of otherwise intelligent people under the spell of group-think as essentially the same as the lunatics walking around the wheel in “Midnight Express”. No idea why we’re doing this actually, but it feels good and soothing, and, being intelligent, I can think of lots of intelligent-sounding reasons for doing it. Hey, you’re walking the wrong way !!!

                • Sorry, that ended up being a stream of consciousness tangential semi-rant. I wish I had more time for proof-reading.

                  • Keep that stream flowing, Joe! It is GREAT, as-is. I will say (only once!) what probably annoys Jack as much as “LOL” and “Dude:” OMG! You surely have been touched by Vulcan healing hands, Joe. I am copying your rant for keeps. (I must have missed the episode where Spock showed how the mind-melds or other touches cured loss of short-term memory.)

                  • Another “OMG!” Joe: You NAILED the allegory of the prison with the room for conformist marching-in-a-circle, the “good machines” vs. “bad machine,” in the movie “Midnight Express.” That IS the prison of so-called progressivism too many Americans are allowing themselves to be de-humanized and mechanized to tolerate living in.

        • There’s been a lot going on in this country that has been cloaked in language like “forward progress”. Much of it looks like destruction for its own sake.

          • Perhaps a “way past” would be a better expression, since “forward” and “progress” have, regrettably become loaded words because of their overuse by the left.

          • “Much of it looks like destruction for its own sake.”

            Joe, you and I are having (or, have had) a mind-meld somewhere.

  3. I like Carson, but I have no idea why people would take him seriously as a presidential candidate.

    He seems to be a nice man.
    He seems to be a good man.
    He is clearly a very smart man.
    His story is very inspiring.
    His views and principles seem to align well with the conservatives.

    But, as he said, he is not a politician. There is no indication that he has significant executive experience to bring to the office. Obama had better credentials when he first ran than Carson does.

    Make him Surgeon General if you want, but let’s not put another unqualified person in the White House.

    -Jut

      • Maybe Carson is not executive-experienced enough to be president, but I for the life of me, continue to be astounded that the majority of Americans could think that a “community organizer” not experienced or qualified to be elected chief dogcatcher in his hometown of Chicago, should be elected president of the greatest nation in the world. Unfathomable, excpt to believe that the MIT professor was correct: American voters are stupid.

        • Oh, I understand how it happened. He talked a good game. He was a Senator, though not for long, and a legislator, though not with distinction. He was a very good campaigner. His real personality was masked. He made no unforced errors. He got to run against one loathsome candidate (HC) and one inept one (poor, old, awkward John McCain–“my friends”..ugh.). His great appeal was to groups that usually don’t follow politics, and that are activated by single issues and emotion. In the abstract, he looked wonderful. The US electing a black President had appeal to liberals and conservatives (who stupidly thought it would put Democratic race-baiting and affirmative action to bed for all time. How naive THAT looks today). The news media crossed all previous lines by openly campaigning for his election, and setting out to destroy the one aspect of the opposing ticket that had potential to generate some excitement, Palin, who assisted the process of her own destruction greatly. Most important, the country was in a mess, with the Bush years crashing just before the finish line. The reasons for the economic meltdown were complex and bi-partisan, but the blame always falls on the party in the White House, and, again, the media wasn’t interested in telling the story. Obama caught not just one wave, but about 8.
          And there’s this: experience and demonstrated leadership success is obviously better than none, but as I kep saying while Palin was being slimed, there is no ideal preparation for the Presidency. Did you read my 14,000 word overview last month? (which, by the way, I just put on one page, above.) Who were the most prepared POTUSes? Among them: Buchanan, Wilson, Hoover, Nixon, Bush 1. Who were among the least? Washington, Lincoln, Arthur, Truman. Nothing prevented Obama being an effective President except his own character, and the events he had to deal with that required skills he couldn’t find or develop.

      • Hang on a minute. Strictly speaking the “Founders” wrote the Constitution with the sense that this will be a Citizen Led Republic. That people would take time out from their “real jobs” and serve for a few years in various political positions in order to move the country forward. It’s a recent bastardization of the original intent for there to be “Professional Politicians”. The current resident of the White House is not awful because of his lack of experience. It’s exactly because of his Ideology, Marxist in nature, and his selection of fellow Ideologues to staff his Government that makes this era awfully bad for the Country. So let’s stop bashing “inexperience” as a condition for service in Politics. Frankly if the guy, Obama, had ever had to hold a real job outside education, manage a business, meet a payroll and be responsible for his actions to his employees and investors, he would be miles ahead of any Professional Politician in existence.

        • Yes, they also assumed a mostly agrarian, homogenous society, wars fought with guns not bombs, no TV or mass media, and an entire government you could fit in an assembly hall. I don’t think such ancient assumptions about the job of President are very useful today. A minimum of experience in management is obviously essential if someone is going to officially oversee gigantic agencies with billion dollar budgets and hundreds of thousands of employees. An incompetent manager with the best ideologies imaginable would still be a disaster, given that this 1s 2015, and not 1796.

        • “That people would take time out from their “real jobs” and serve for a few years in various political positions in order to move the country forward.”

          Can you find in the Federalist Papers or any of the Constitutional Convention / Ratification notes that indicates the Founders had that objective as a driving force during the Founding?

          “The current resident of the White House is not awful because of his lack of experience. It’s exactly because of his Ideology, Marxist in nature, and his selection of fellow Ideologues to staff his Government that makes this era awfully bad for the Country.”

          I think it is because of both…

  4. Agree with you almost completely, Jack. Exception: I would vote for my dog, Rand Paul, and my pharmacist over Hillary Clinton. Carson won’t be in the race,and likely neither will Rand Paul be, so perhaps it will really be between my dog and my dentist (good write-ins, don’t you think?).

  5. “I’d vote for Hillary over this guy.” Are you being hyperbolic, like “I’d vote for a rotting goat carcass over this guy”?

    • I’ve been watching “House of Cards,” which I almost swore off after last season. Frank Underwood is a liar, a sociopath, and a murderer, but you know what? He’s a pretty good President…very good, actually. His speech in Episode speech is the best presidential speech I’ve heard in my lifetime. He’s a much, much, much better President than Obama, or either Bush, or Carter. I’m fascinated by this: I didn’t expect it, but it makes sense: he’s smart, he makes deals, he compromises, he gets even, he doesn’t lose his cool, he solves problems, he’s not an ideologue.

      Hillary is nowhere near as evil, as bad as she is. She could do the job. Carson would be eaten alive.

      • “She could do the job.”
        Only for as long as her health holds up – which will not be for long.
        I think you underestimate T. Regina’s evil, too.

  6. Well now, after reading Carson’s apology attempt several times, I have concluded that either he is lying – or is unaware – that he has now, in fact, become a politician.

    I am tempted to become a kind of modern-day Diogenes, roaming the world with a kind of lamp designed to find a SECOND politician who makes NO apology, EVER. We already know well of one such politician. Yes, we do.

    And Jack would vote for her. He just said so, today, above.

    When, on her road to the top, has T. Regina EVER said she regrets anything – ANYTHING! – she has said or done, especially in an attempt to show contrition for anyone who was or may have been “offended?”

    Commence digging, politician fans!

  7. Having “gay feelings” is quite a bit different over “gay activity”. Probably Carson is a dead duck as far as a presidential candidate at this point. I would orobably vote for a rotten corpse over Hillary though.

  8. I like Dr. Carson. I think he is an inspiring individual. I don’t think he should be running for president, though. He should be head of Health and Human Services or the VA. He doesn’t have a track record on leadership issues to convince me that he is the proper candidate.

    Having written that, I see a couple of ethics issues. First, is Dr. Carson’s response in his discussion with Cuomo. He should have been prepared for that question. He should have had a response ready that was something other than ‘gay is a choice, just ask gay ex-prisoners’. Dumb. Dr. Carson is a brilliant surgeon. He is a brilliant man with an impressive story coming from a difficult environment to graduating from an Ivy League medical school. He has gifted hands and has done marvelous things. He is not a politician, though. As such, his mindset is somewhere else; he needs better handlers to tell him to respond to those questions with nuance or non-answers.

    Secondly, as the esteemed Jack Marshall pointed out, his apology was terrible and should go down in history as one of the greatest non-apology apologies in the history of non-apology apologies.

    Thirdly, he should have been prepared for Cuomo’s gotcha question. Cuomo set that entire line of questioning up to discredit him as s viable Republican presidential candidate. He was unprepared and his response clearly showed it. A nuanced answer should have been: “That better is being debated by the Supreme Court. Let’s wait and see what the Court does and see where we go from the there. If the Court affirms the right to same-sex marriage, we will work through; our republic is strong. We have worked through other difficulties and we will continue to do so.” By allowing himself to be boxed into a corner by Cuomo showed that he is not ready to be president.

    Fourth, how about the issues of Cuomo’s gotcha question? He set him up to look like a fool (and Dr. Carson took the bait). Cuomo had no intention of ferreting out information about him. That doesn’t seem very objective to me.

    jvb

  9. “I’d vote for Hillary over this guy.”

    If it was between Hillary or this guy, I wouldn’t vote. I’d withdraw from public life and invest in bullets, guns, provisions, an underground bunker in a nondisclosed location and friendships with likeminded people.

    I can’t predict good things for America if we don’t get grown ups in charge after the shambles Obama has left our nation.

  10. “In a recent interview on CNN, I realized
    (when huge backlash occurred)

    that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues.
    (what people usually know “in their heart” is usually a lie. Example: Sandusky knows “in his heart” that he is not guilty)

    I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation.
    (He only knows how some individuals came to their sexual orientation. Prison made them gay )

    I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive.
    (Don’t worry about that! We need to get these prisons shut down before more people become gay!)

    For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.
    (If you only apologize to those who are offended, wouldn’t that be more of a reserved apology?)

    I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality.
    (Huh? But there have been studies that show people come out of prison gay?)

    I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses.

    (I think your previous statement about not being a politican was an excuse which also makes you a politician)

    I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again,

    (That doesn’t give me much confidence)

    but unlike politicians

    (See above. Welcome to politics)

    when I make an error I will take full responsibility and never hide or parse words.
    (You haven’t even taken full responsibility for the stupid comment you are currently trying to apologize for)

    As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.
    (Then get all those people out of prison so they don’t go to hell!)

  11. “saying utterly stupid things like claiming that being gay is a “lifestyle”…”, which was the official line of the liberal academic establishment in California schools in the 1970’s. “Lifestyle choice” was the preferred term. Interesting how the extremely politically correct term of 40 years ago, is now considered insulting and stupid. Surely this is at least partially due to the better understanding we, as a society have about gay people.

    However, there is a point where those of us who have been through multiple changes in ‘correct’ terminology begin to suspect that the changes are less about some sort of cultural evolution, and more about redefining language and terms in order to control the (often political) argument, by continually wrong-footing those who disagree with them. Perhaps I should ask the NAACP what they think. Or some undocumented workers. Or the ‘rich’.

    Any successful negotiator knows that defining the terms is critical. Why then do certain groups seem to keep changing the terms by which they define themselves? Maybe I should just ask George Orwell: is he still a ‘dead-white-guy’, or is he OK now?

    • Well, we know the process whereby some terms go out of favor. A group that is marginalized eventually regards its label while it was in a denigrated posture as associated with that denigration, and tries to turn the page with a new label that theoretically expresses new status.It makes sense from their perspective, and annoys everyone else, as it is, to some extent, a manufactured power play.“So you call yourself girls–queers—negroes—coloreds—Indians all this time and just switch the rules on us so you can bitch about it?” The process also gets ugly when the term chosen is pompous (“people of color”), is just a new version of a banned label (“people of color”), is silly and obnoxious (“womyn”), or when use of the old, now rejected term in is a different context and benign (Washington Redskins).

      But this doesn’t apply to “gay lifestyle,” which is a term genuinely born of ignorance, and never used by gays to describe themselves. It essentially says that gays are stereotypically gay as well as gay by choice, that one day a man wakes up, and says “I’m going to get thin and fit, wear eye shadow, start lisping, swishing, mincing and go limp at the wrist, listening to Sondheim musicals, weeping every time I hear “Over the Rainbow” or “I am what I am,” become a Lady Gaga fan, develop an interest in interior decorating, hair dressing, ballet, and poodle grooming, buy a Bichon and dye it pink, move to Fire Island, buy a gerbil and start having promiscuous sex with men in the back rooms of gay bars…and, as a result, become reviled by about 40% of the population, permanently disadvantaged as a potential employee, at risk for AIDS, socially marginalized, insulted daily, discriminated against, rejected by family members, get written out of wills, attacked, and maybe killed!”

      Sure, happens every day. The phrase is an insult on its face, encourages hate and stereotyping, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the individual using it has no idea what the hell he’s talking about. And yet—AND YET!—I think that phrase is less ignorant, hateful and stupid than what Carson said.

  12. I’m going to try and be completely dispassionate about this. Hope it works out.

    Ben Carson’s prison example is only fine if he’s just making the point that it’s possible for sexual orientation to change. Everyone knows that, though. It’s a conceded point that one’s sexual orientation behavior can change via abuse/trauma, a lack of the opposite sex (as in prison), TOO MUCH of the opposite sex (aka boredom), or just because all the cool Thebes are doing it. I have two friends who started into homosexuality by degrees, beginning with looking at heterosexual porn.

    Of course, the counter-argument is that none of those people are actually gay, because “gay” is a subset of people acting gay. In which case, who cares if Cynthia Nixon decided to be a lesbian by choice? She’s not a REAL lesbian. As long as “real” homosexuals exist, Carson’s argument doesn’t do enough to answer his opinion that “homosexuality is a choice.”

    Of course, most people disgusted by Carson wouldn’t care if he had iron-clad scientific proof that homosexuality is a choice for everyone, co-signed by Stephen Hawking and God. They’re angry because OHMYGOSHHOMOPHOBE! And that’s a separate problem.

    The “anti-gay” side of the debate is guilty of oversimplifying, by refusing to acknowledge that there are clearly people who are not attracted to the opposite gender. According to some, every homosexual is just a pervert who could easily flip a switch to a committed heterosexual relationship if they were only willing. They are wrong about that. There do exist people, who, if not “born that way” technically, might as well have been, because their homosexual desires were present as soon as their earliest sexual desires were. These people exist, and they are not attracted to the opposite sex. (There also exist people who feel no sexual attraction at all, but no one cares about them because they can’t be manipulated into a political wedge issue. And they aren’t sexy to anyone.)

    On the other hand, “true gays” can’t possibly exist in the quantities that the “pro-gay” side claims. There’s just too much fence-hopping going on. The “spectrum” visualization of sexual orientation is far more practical than the idea of two distinct “orientations,” because in real life, people hop from gay to straight to bi in every order, very often. There exists no biological or other predictor for this. So far as anyone knows, a bisexual is someone who says they are, and a homosexual is someone who says they are, unless they are revealed to be lying/change their mind, at which point they were bisexual the whole time. And then there are so many variations on sexual partnerships, all of whom want equal validation, so that instead of two halves or a spectrum, sexual orientation charts end up looking more like a honeycomb, or become unchartable, just like…human behavior.

    If the Gay-Straight Alliance Club in your high school has to get you to take a quiz to decide “Am I Gay?”, then what they really mean is, “Might you be bisexual? Try it!” My logic-brain won’t let them have it both ways. The quiz should be, “If you aren’t sure, then no, you aren’t gay. But we’d like to recruit you, after which be sure to tell everyone that you were never confused about it and were always totally gay the whole time. It helps the cause.”

    If you are a Christian whose Biblical default setting is to believe that homosexuality is a sinful behavior, what SHOULD change your mind? All of the data, anecdotal or otherwise, says that homosexuality is closer to what you think it is (a very common sexual fetish that some people have had with them since childhood), than what society wants you to say it is (an actual race of people whom you hate and fear, asshole, even if you don’t.)

    An actual gay gene should change your mind about his, but geneticists tell us that this does not exist. At best, there is what can be called a genetic “predisposition,” and these also exist for such problems as obesity, kleptomania, alcoholism, and pedophilia (which is on the way to being classified in the EMD as an “orientation” itself: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/pessimism-about-pedophilia.) The Bible describes sin as a biologically inherited as well as a spiritual problem, and so the science is matching up just fine.

    Now I can write a book about how Christians collectively have blown it, in the way that they respond to sins that are “gross.” (Short version: if a guy in leather gets up in front of the church and says that he used to be a girl-sexing, alcoholic, murderous Hell’s Angel who repented yesterday, everyone cheers and can’t wait to hug him to death. If he says he used to be a guy-banging, ball-gagging furry who preferred younger guys but repented yesterday….well…)

    But it wouldn’t matter because everyone FORCEFULLY rejects the idea that Christians can be allowed to view certain sexual behaviors as a sin. They want positive validation of the behavior (not just the temptation) OR you’re scum. Pick one. And that’s a problem, because people don’t like to be pressured socially with bad, purely emotional arguments. It confirms their suspicions that they’re the ones in the right.

    • But it wouldn’t matter because everyone FORCEFULLY rejects the idea that Christians can be allowed to view certain sexual behaviors as a sin. They want positive validation of the behavior (not just the temptation) OR you’re scum.

      Everyone.

      that clearly is not true.

      • Presuming the existence of a rational and just God, such a God would not make gay people and then pronounce it sinful to be gay, or require, having made people who are only attracted to the opposite sex, a sin to behave consistently with such programming. The myth that gay sex is a volitional “crime” like beating someone, stealing or murder is central to the whole theory requiring oppression of gays. This attitude was reasonable in, say, 1066. It’s just stubbornness now.

        • I don’t see a theory requiring oppression of gays. I came into this world wanting to lie, gossip, rationalize, and fight as soon as I could talk and play. I was born that way. Christianity says that I must repent and change. I can do so, often with great difficulty, or I can reject that value system and choose another. No one oppresses me if I decide to do that which is considered sinful in Christianity (on the contrary, I get to be much more cool, and far more protected from real-life bullying. “Virgin” isn’t exactly a high-school compliment.)

          My issues with constant temptation don’t fall under the “proof God is unjust” category. In Christian theology, they’re evidence of a sinful nature, aka the reason Jesus is necessary in the frst place. Being born with biological urges to do wrong is the injustice for which Christ is the remedy (Buddhism, for one, also recognizes innate human “problem” though the Buddhist solution has more to do with monastic avoidance of physical and mental entanglements and temptations.) It’s something all Christians are called to be sympathetic towards one another about, regardless ofmthe type of temptation (“bearing one another’s weaknesses.”)

          Condemnation of homosexual sex isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be in practice) any more oppressive than Christian prohibitions of extramarital sex, porn, or gossip, all of which require daily self-control. If you sign up for that worldview, you accept the struggle, and many homosexuals do, and appear happier for it.

          • For completeness sake, you can wear girl pants, listen to musicals, design pretty curtains, talk with a lisp, and skip when you walk, etc., and still not be at all gay. I believe it’s called metrosexual.

          • Condemnation of homosexual sex isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be in practice) any more oppressive than Christian prohibitions of extramarital sex, porn, or gossip, all of which require daily self-control.

            Ridiculous. Sure, avoiding the temptation to gossip is no more difficult or unreasonable to demand that asking a human being to forgo intimacy, sexual contact and physical love as his or her nature demands.

            Absolutely false and again, absurd, unless by “many” you mean “three.” Closeted, fake heterosexuals are “happy” only in the sense that that the life of shame and abuse they feel they would face if they lived the way the wanted to would be unbearable. It is well documented that they are miserable. Or priests. Or miserable priests, and you know what I mean.

            The oppression of gays, and it is certainly oppression despite this “it’s not the worst thing” rationalization, is one of the greatest mass failings of the Golden Rule that I have ever seen or could imagine….as your jaw-dropping and fantastic comment illustrates.

            “Being born with biological urges to do wrong” is ethically indefensible. wrong how? To be wrong, conduct must be shown to do harm Gossip does harm. Extramarital sex can do harm. The fact that an authority, I don’t really care who or what, declares homosexuality to be “wrong” cuts no ice with me. Show me tangible, actual, measurable, verifiable harm of allowing same sex couples to love, or make this argument in church, where it belongs. From an ethics and legal standpoint, it is indefensible,and, ironically, unlike gay sex, unethical, as it does tangible, cruel harm.

            • If I take all of my wife’s jewelry, melt it down, cast it into a golden calf, and worship it, I’m not harming anybody. I could be a great person in every way, but I can’t demand to get this sanctioned by the church. I could probably tell the priest about it, and he’ll probably say “well, you’re not supposed to do that”, but he’s not likely to kick me out of the church. Or, I could decide that what I’m doing isn’t wrong, keep it to myself, and follow all the other rules I think are pertinent. What I wouldn’t want is to belong to a church that bends to every whim of its parishioners. That’s not a church at all, but a social club.

              • Irrelevant, however. As I said, churches can make all the silly and harmful and cruel rules and pronouncements they want to, but just because its a church doesn’t exclude them from consequences, or reasonable judgements about the character of individuals behind such treatment.

                • I didn’t say it did, or should. My point is that it really shouldn’t matter whether they’re appealing to a wider audience at all. To me, it’s sort of like the constitution. I don’t see it as a “living document”, at least not in the sense that the term is being abused these days. In this case, the rules were set down by God, not the church. If I don’t believe that a just God would forbid me from following an innate tendency, then I might decide to leave the church. But, I personally don’t want to belong to a church that doesn’t hold me to a very high standard, maybe even standards I don’t feel I’m capable of, and I certainly don’t want to belong to one that comes to believe the bible is a living document, pandering for wider appeal. There may come a day when, like in Brave New World, we greet people with casual sex the way we greet people now with a handshake. If that day ever came, it would probably be very convincingly argued that such behavior does no harm, and is in keeping with our nature. I would hope that in such a time, there still exists a church that says “God says it’s wrong”. Even people that disagree with this, should want to see institutional memory preserved. It seems to me that a great, book burning purge is going on these days of sorts, and I have a feeling that it’s not taking us to a good place.

            • “Ridiculous. Sure, avoiding the temptation to gossip is no more difficult or unreasonable to demand that asking a human being to forgo intimacy, sexual contact and physical love as his or her nature demands”. What about pedophilia? What sort of God would create someone who’s only attracted to children and then ask them to forego intimacy, sexual contact, and physical love? Understand that I’m not trying to say that homosexuality is a degree or two removed from pedophilia, and I’m not addressing the issue of harm at all. I’m merely stating that God does, in fact, create people solely oriented to sexual behavior they’re expected to refrain from.

        • (Reply to Jack, Mar 6 11:45 am)
          In this thread, Isaac and I appear to have taken on a tag-team technique with Jack that is analogous to the “good cop/bad cop” police technique with suspects. That appearance is pure coincidence. (The preceding sentence MIGHT have been sarcasm.)

          Call the tag-teaming here “nice Christian/not-nice Christian.”

          Jack wrote:
          “The myth that gay sex is a volitional “crime” like beating someone, stealing or murder is central to the whole theory requiring oppression of gays. This attitude was reasonable in, say, 1066. It’s just stubbornness now.”

          Here, Jack, I fixed it for you:
          The myth that “gay sex” is NOT a volitional unethical behavior like beating someone, stealing or murder is central to the whole indulgence of the blind alley of pseudo-intellectualism requiring tolerance of crime, condoning of immorality, and exaltation of perversion. This attitude was reasonable in, say, late February 2015. It’s just stubbornness now.

          You haven’t done time in prison, have you, Jack?
          Oh, wait: You are. In prison, that is. In your mind. About this “choice of ‘gay sex’” lie-style.

          • “The myth that “gay sex” is NOT a volitional unethical behavior like beating someone, stealing or murder is central to the whole indulgence of the blind alley of pseudo-intellectualism requiring tolerance of crime, condoning of immorality, and exaltation of perversion.”

            Bad. I challenge you or anyone to back that assertion up with anything but myths, slander, disproven theories and fear-mongering. What consenting adults do in their own homes, and who they choose to love and make a family with is the equivalent of a crime of violence, and theft.

            Gutsy to be so bold as to put that in print, though. I appreciate the candor, if not the brain lesion that made you do it. But you made SMP smile, and that’s something.

            • I read that a bit differently. It seems that the central term is volitional, not an equivocation between homosexuality and murder.

              • Well, I wrote it, and you read it wrong: “a volitional unethical behavior like beating someone, stealing or murder” was intentional. If I meant a volitional ethical behavior like making funny faces, farting or pulling a tag off of mattresses, i would have said so.

                • The Catholic church teaches that contraception is wrong, believing that it goes against God’s will about procreation being the purpose of sex. I routinely violate this rule. I think it’s completely impractical to follow this rule, but I wouldn’t want it changed to suit me. In fact, I would be very distressed if it did. I would start to wonder if the rules I DID follow were ordained by God at all, or all just some fabrications that came to be to serve some practical end from long ago.(yes, I know that some are).

                  • “I think it’s completely impractical to follow this rule, but I wouldn’t want it changed to suit me. In fact, I would be very distressed if it did. I would start to wonder if the rules I DID follow were ordained by God at all, or all just some fabrications that came to be to serve some practical end from long ago.”

                    So you don’t want rules which you know are stupid to be changed, on the grounds that they might make you think?

                    Not exactly a ringing edorsement of religion there.

                    • I didn’t say they were stupid, just impractical for my family. I’m going against church teaching, and I have to accept that I may have to answer to God for it. Nor do I feel any need to “endorse” the church. It defeats the purpose of having a spiritual dogma to change it in order to appeal to “thinking” people like yourself, or anyone for that matter. By the way, this thread is about 8 months old.

                • Okay, I misinterpreted the order of comments/replies. This site can be confusing like that. Now I’ll say this; unless you’re just trying to illustrate a point, wouldn’t this be sort of a strawman? I can’t imagine a sizable portion of Catholics, for instance, believing that these are comparable in magnitude.

            • And it’s so amazing to me that people keep saying this. None of them, literally none, could ever imagine “switching sides” themselves, yet it seems perfectly logical that a gay man would. (This was Savage’s point, of course.) Why is it logical? Why, wouldn’t it be natural for someone to want to stop being “icky” and to begin being “natural”? Why is is so hard for intelligent people to understand that what is “icky” to them is natural to gays, and vice-versa? T

    • Sexual conduct may change. There is no evidence that sexual orientation changes—what gave you that idea? People don’t turn gay, and Michele Bachman notwithstanding, gays do not wake up straight,

      As for your last paragraph, Christians can continue to hold any damn, archaic, hurtful, willfully obtuse belief they insist on, and pay the just consequences, such as alienating potential followers and marginalizing their faith to the point of irrelevance. The Greek Orthodox Church longheld that the children of “mixed” marriages, like my parents’, since my Dad was a Methodist, were born in sin. My Dad led us out of that church when that was announced by a minsiter, and we never went back. But the church is ALLOWED to talk and act like a confederation of assholes, and Christian churches are allowed to call virtuous, honest, kind people living far more ethical and productive lives than many of the people condemning them sinners, too. And the churces are allowed, and deserve to, pay the inevitable price: a loss of respect, legitimacy, moral authority, influence and power.

      Good plan.

  13. As you note, being stupid, insensitive, and effectively homophobic may not disqualify him from being President.

    But the tendency to wave his MD around might do just that. I think he’s a pediatric neurosurgeon, right? Regardless of what highly specialized surgical skills he might have, cleverly cutting children hardly qualifies him to pontificate on subjects as far afield as sexual orientation.

    That alone suggests he is some combination of grandiose, self-deluding, obtuse, and cynical. Maybe all four, if that’s possible.

  14. Sincerely, to joed68 (and to Jack):
    I am yielding my space on the commenters’ floor to you. I am grateful beyond my ability to express that you have come along here. I am in need of taking a commenter’s sabbatical of sorts, possibly even of going into semi-retirement. I am convinced that you and I are so much of the same mind as to be virtually of single mind, and yet, you speak my mind so much better than I can speak my own. I look forward to following Ethics Alarms as best I can in the coming time, and hope that you will also continue to follow and comment as you have been doing.

    I do wish I could follow the blog more closely and make better comments. But until I can do that (if ever I can do that even better than the best I have been able to do so far over the past years), I am encouraged by your comments probably more than you’ll ever know. I like you, in part because you express a part of myself that I am at peace with and also like. But more: I sense that you are also at peace with parts of yourself that are also parts of me which perhaps I have never been, and possibly never will be, at peace with. I hope that “liking” will encourage you. There are other commenters whom I have grown to like for similar reasons. I won’t name them, but a few surely already know who I mean. It’s a diverse group, and there are some commenters who probably would be unexpectedly surprised to know how much I like them. I sense that Jack has the same “liking,” and I don’t begrudge that he holds more liking for many other commenters than he holds for me – and I certainly comprehend my own un-likeability. Bottom line for you: If we were running a relay race together, I would want to pass the baton to you.

    All that said, Jack is more than a national treasure. He is a guiding light to the whole world. He is one of the world’s kind and generous souls who is so awe-inspiringly generous, often it is hard to believe he is real. He is an impassioned guide to a neglected door and doorway that ought to be used far more often than they are – used by far more people than those who manage to stop neglecting them and start using them. It is a door and doorway to fresh air for humanity to enable itself to become better humanity. To Jack and fellow commenters: Thanks for illuminating my path to there.

    • Thank you so very much for such kind words. This really made my day, and means the world to me. I want very much to give a thoughtful reply to this, but I want to wait until later tonight, when the house is quiet and I can think, and the homework (hopefully) is done. A response to this deserves my undivided attention.

  15. Strangely enough, prison gaiety is a relatively rare phenomenon, at least in Connecticut. There was one at a max security lockup (2-man cells) in our block. No one wanted to be his cellie, so I told him he was welcome in my cell. Of course, this convinced everyone that I was also gay, because no one in their right mind gives up single-cell status if he doesn’t stand to gain something, but I didn’t care much. If I didn’t take him in, he would end up being forced on someone who was likely to give him a bad time. This lasted for a few weeks. What ended it had nothing to do with him being gay; it was the fact that he insisted on using the toilet and badly blowing up the cell while I was eating. I joked with him about needing to get the dead gerbils out of his ass (oh God he reeked!), but it started getting on my nerves after a while. I ended up getting a HUGE black dude, with dreadlocks and triceps as big as my thighs from doing literally thousands of pushups every day, as a cellie after he left. He was schizophrenic, and if he wasn’t doing pushups, he was talking to several entities in the ventilation system. I actually wasn’t real to him. I found myself wishing the gay dude with his rotting intestines was back. At the dorm, though (Webster), it was an entirely different matter. Anything went at this place, including massive quantities of drugs. We had three transvestites; Wednesday, BeBe, and Coco. You would have never guessed Wednesday or Bebe were ever male (Bebe was actually quite attractive, I must admit, being a dead ringer for Mila Kunis), but Coco looked like a tall Jamaican with a deep voice and massive tits. I once saw said tits when he was showering, and there is a scar somewhere in my brain that will never mend. He was a smart guy, and you could always count on him for a thoroughly enjoyable conversation. I never actually saw anything go down (so to speak), but it did happen in a very limited circle. They kept it discreet, mercifully. They had a term for it; “gay for the stay”. Whatever. If you have sex with a guy, in my opinion, you’ve crossed over.

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