Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Homophobia and Fascism

The word "homophobia" has now entered the English language and is widely used. However, I reject the word and refuse to use it voluntarily and I recommend that no one use it without questioning its suitability. It certainly has no place in academic discourse in which the goal is to describe Christian or traditional attitudes toward homosexuality.

It is more of a political weapon than an accurate description of anything or anybody. Its purpose is to marginalize, exclude and shame rather than to describe. (It might be described as a term with a passive-aggressive personality!). Let me explain why I think this word is so problematic.

Christians (along with many other religions and people of no religion who accept traditional sexual morality) believe that homosexual acts are immoral and that homosexuality is a vice. But homophobia means something like "bias, accompanied by extreme dislike or hatred." This demotes a considered moral position based on tradition, reason, exegesis and a long and complex moral debate to the level of an unreflective, emotional prejudice.

A prejudice is an opinion without facts. It is to judge before one knows the facts of the matter. Let's say you are Irish and I think all Irish people are lazy, drunken, lying, cheaters. I notice that my pen is missing and, knowing that you are Irish, immediately accuse you of stealing it. That is prejudice and I could be said to be biased against you. But suppose I notice my pen sticking out from under your notebook and I accuse you. That is not an act of prejudice; it is based on evidence. The evidence may be iron clad or tenuous but to accuse on the basis of evidence is a fundamentally different thing - considered from a moral point of view - from accusing you because you happen to be Irish.

Now substitute "homosexual" for Irish. If homophobia (defined as "bias or prejudice" rather than literally as "fear of sameness") means anything, it means that I think of homosexuals as people of bad character and am likely to blame them for things they are not guilty of doing. It means I'm prejudiced toward them. But this is not how "homophobia" is typically used. Christians do not think homosexual people are bad in every way in general; they are specifically condemning the morality of specific behaviors. The term "homophobia" deliberately obscures this fact. Christians are said to be "homophobic" any time they show that they think that homosexual acts are immoral and homosexuality a vice. But that Christian (and traditional) belief is not an unreasoning, emotional prejudice; it is a considered moral position based on a long and complex debate.

Ironically, to call anyone who condemns homosexual acts as immoral a "homophobe" is literally to prejudge that person. It is to redefine a considered moral position into an unreflective, emotional prejudice. Why do pro-sexual revolution people do this? They are saying that there is no rational basis for condemning homosexuality, so the only possible reason why someone might do so is unreasoning, emotional prejudice. To do this is to marginalize, exclude and shame a person and prepare the way for persecution. After all, while a liberal society must tolerate divergent points of view on morality, it need not tolerate prejudice.

In a liberal society divergent moral perspectives must be tolerated in order for social peace to be maintained. If we disagree about a highly emotionally charged moral issue, we must find a way to tolerate each other without resorting to violence. Otherwise, it is war to the death. But if I can find a way to rule your point of view out of bounds by redefining it as raw prejudice, I can relieve myself of the need to tolerate your point of view. This is how the term "homophobia" is used today in the media, in education, in law and everywhere else. It is illiberal and intolerant and even, it must be admitted, fascist in its usage.

That is why I urge Christians not to use the term without challenging its meaning. The battle over language is crucial to social debate. The pro-sexual revolution side has a strong anti-liberal, fascist, element and it wishes to impose what Pope Benedict XVI called the "dictatorship of relativism." If you don't surrender to a relativistic view of sexual morality then you must be marginalized, excluded, shamed and eventually eliminated.

We see court cases in the UK, in Canada and in the US in which this dynamic is being played out. It is no hypothetical danger but a clear and present one. I'm all for toleration in a liberal society but we need to be aware that not all pro-homosexual activists are for either toleration or liberalism. Their attitude renders this term extremely problematic and, in worst cases, fascist.


CraigC1958 said...

The author here is intellectually offensive and completely disingenuous. Nice use of language though...even if it has been perverted to make a fallacious argument at every available opportunity.

Craig Carter said...

"Intellectually offensive" must be the criterion people use to evaluate arguments once logic and facts have been rejected and left behind.

CraigC1958 said...

I thought it was a rather polite way of calling the author a liar and a bigot.

Anonymous said...

The very same twisting of words & use of language was use when the church spoke of women, witches & even blacks prior to the end of slavery. Interesting when the wicked act as tho they have the morality of the world to defend against the real truth of humanity. Thank you St. Cyril.

bleusmon said...

Craig, I see the caliber of retort by your critics is far lower than the usual tripe posted by "pro-sexual revolution trolls." These guys have no clue how to make an argument against your well-crafted and easily supportable post.

The first offered no detailed, point by point refutation, for none is possible. He simply played with words like putty and utlimately delivered nothing more than a rather polite way of calling attention to his own lack of intellectual heft.

The other one makes a claim which can't be verified but typically gets a lot of play in combox threads at HuffPo, Daily Kos, and not just a few pro-homosexual sites, I'm sure.

It's worth noting that the black community seriously resents any claims linking their genuine struggle with this phony farce of a human rights movement. In fact, by uniting with the black churches in Maryland we defeated both the gay marriage bill and the transgender bill which would have delivered pretty much what the gay marriage bill had, plus far more.

Black Christians seem to be a lot less morally ambiguous about homosexuality than many other Christians. We'll be looking to crush them again next year.

BTW, Craig, try using the phrase "pelvic left" instead of the "pro-sexual revolution side" - it's a more apt description.

Gordonhackman said...

Thank you Dr. Carter. An excellent post with a clear and comprehensible argument. I agree with bleusmon concerning your critics here, who have nothing of substance to say in response, but must resort to ugliness and unfounded assertions.

Craig Carter said...

The reason I post things like this is to show people that the traditional arguments for the sexual restraint advocated by the Judeo-Christian tradition are powerful, clear and compelling to anyone who is not biased and anti-intellectual.

Sometimes I think people innocently assume that the Left has better arguments, but they don't.

If we keep our heads, pursue education, build up our families and churches and don't lose our nerve - then our communities will still be here long after the Left has declined into insignificance due to the fact that they are too materialistic, hedonistic, and narcissistic even to reproduce themselves.