Saturday, February 21, 2015

Challenging the immutability argument (or at least over-dependence on it) again


I recall having dinner at a restaurant in Dallas in early 1984 with a fellow chess player, having drawn him in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader, when I told him I was gay, after he challenged me.  Then he retorted that I must have chosen it.  But he wasn’t “prejudiced”.
  
The Washington Post today has an op-ed by Brooklyn (Park Slope) writer Sally Kohn, “I’m gay, and I want my kid to be gay, too”, link here. The speaker challenges the hegemony of immutability, the “born that way” argument, or at least relying on it, even now as the Supreme Court considers one of its most critical cases ever (at least since 2003).
  
I can remember, back at the Ninth Street Center, back in the 1970s, that it was sometimes said, in the Paul Rosenfels Community, as it has since come to be called, that it one could rightfully choose to be gay.
  
  
I’ve never been very comfortable with depending on it.  It sounds too much like race, joining up with a group to claim victimhood.  Also, there are (other) “behavior inclinations” (there’s no nice way to say it) that do indeed have directly negative consequences, like a proclivity toward drug and alcohol dependence, where there is pretty clearly some genetic influence, but that doesn’t change the pressure to treat it.  So we won’t to see that applied to sexual orientation.  We don’t want to see a prenatal genetic test for sexual orientation (“Twilight of the Golds”).  At least I don’t.  Conservatives reach their own wall on that one.
  
For all those years where what we wanted was privacy and to be left alone, we did depend on the victimless crime argument.  HIV gave social conservatives some ammunition for a while in the 1980s (until their medical speculations were debunked), but what I always wondered was, back at the time of my William and May expulsion and NIH “hospitalization”, why did you make my private life your business? 
  
It’s true that I’m an only child, so there is lineage death, and that’s one thing. But the main concern seemed to be not so much my direct “conduct” but what the effect on others would be if my propensities (the military debate of 1993, again) were viewed as morally legitimate (in any religion).  While the drive for intercourse might be inborn in most men, the capability “stay with it” – one partner – and raise kids for decade, given the cost and risks, and distractions as partners get older and face random calamities (or maybe sacrifices, like from war or hostility) could be jeopardized if other (“people like me”) were allowed to “get out of things.”  That is very much the idea I grew up with.
  
Metro Weekly reports that Erik Erickson, conservative blogger for “Red State News” and Fox, compared gay activists to ISIS, in this story. No debate on fundamental postulates allowed.  Immutability became the equivalent of the “Axiom of Choice” in mathematics, and that is ironic.  

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