Monday, March 3, 2014

Homophobic Slurs? Why Race and Sexual Identity Are Not Analogous

In recent weeks there have been several new stories that left my head spinning, and yet in some mysterious way brought greater clarity to it. First, there was the story of Michael Sams who came out of the closet as the first (future) openly gay NFL player. Whatever happened to the idea that we should "stay out of people's bedrooms"? Well, apparently no one made any provision for what we should do if people wanted us in there.

Then there was the infamous Ted Wells Report, which attempted to highlight all of the apparent ugliness that took place in the Miami Dolphins locker room last year. Apart from the repugnant language and the racially insensitive comments, the public was introduced to a relatively new category of verbal assault: the "homophobic slur". Mind you, this taboo did not exist ten years ago, and one might even wonder from whence precisely this terminology came. Formerly calling another man a homosexual would have been considered offensive to the individual himself. Now it is practically an honor to be regarded as such (as can be seen in the Michael Sams case). By contrast, if one should elect to use such language in a derogatory fashion, one will likely be accused of something akin to racism.

The Civil Rights movement is based on the notion that every human being has infinite value and worth, regardless of any superficial characteristic, whereas the LGBTQI movement argues that individuals have value precisely because of the way that they define themselves sexually. The real question is: can these two issues be regarded as fundamentally equivalent, and if they can, what does that suggest for the civil rights movement going forward? Perhaps the best place to start is by examining the expression itself. In other words, what exactly is a "homophobic slur", and does this phrase accurately reflect the nature of the offense? The word slur usually refers to some kind of insult based on race, religion, or ethnicity, while the word phobia suggests some extreme form of paranoia and/or psychological disorder, whereby one exhibits bizarre behavior on account of an irrational fear (i.e. an agoraphobic never leaves their home for fear of all the menacing crowds that may accost them). What we have here (at best) is a marginal connection between these two words, a cobbling together of a phrase in order to stigmatize anyone who might disagree with it. Indeed, I cannot think of another example of a phrase which simultaneously seeks to accuse an individual of both a psychological disorder and racism at the same time… while exhibiting neither one trait nor the other.  

Alec Baldwin (featured above) was recently dismissed from MSNBC for directing a "homophobic slur" at someone in the media during his wife's recent trial. Interestingly, host Martin Bashir on that same network was permitted to resign of his own accord after suggesting that he would like to "defecate on Sarah Palin". 

What is equally suspect about the purported connection between race and sexuality is just how little the analogy works once all of the implications are played out. For example, if sexual behavior were really anything like race or ethnicity, wouldn't that suggest that all forms of sexual behavior would need to be treated as equally valid? Furthermore, if the analogy really fit, wouldn't it stand to reason that there would be some sort of nasty equivalent on the other side of the issue? Yet who has ever felt themselves to be the victim of a "heterosexual slur", and if they were, who among them would feel the need to defend themselves from it? That is not to say that it cannot be done, only that in order to accomplish such a feat, it would require an exorbitant amount of effort.

To be clear, I am not saying that individuals haven't been treated terribly on this account, or even that it is acceptable to denigrate anyone based on their differences (it is not acceptable). What I am attempting to point out is the distinction between protecting individuals based on their humanity, as opposed to protecting them based on a sub-category rooted primarily in their sexual preferences and/or moral outlook. To put it another way, if any one of these individuals no longer chose to associate themselves with the LGBTQI community, they would immediately forfeit any right to the aforementioned special treatment. Hence, it is their behavior and/or self-styled identity that gives them special clearance, and not their humanity.

Do not question the veracity of the great and powerful OZ, for though he lacks any real substance, his voice is booming and threatening! 

Also in the news recently were several other stories which further highlight the dangers of conflating race with sexual identity. One of those stories involved Facebook working with the LGBTQI community in an attempt to come up with fifty-four new possibilities for defining one's gender on the social network (androgyne, Cisgender, Gender Fluid, Bi-gender, Neither, Pan-gender, Two Spirit, Male to Female, MTF, etc.). Another story involved a woman suing for over $500, 000 because her fellow co-workers would not call her "they" as was her preference (this brings new meaning to referring yourself in third person). And finally there was the story about a lesbian couple who thought it wise to give their twelve year old son hormone blockers in order to prevent the onset of puberty (they did this so that Tammy/Tommy would have more time to decide his gender).

Consider how fast and how far we've come in such a short period of time, and ask yourself if this is really where we want to go. Indeed, how morally confused do we have to be to look upon a situation like this one and regard it as little more than a "controversial" issue (as a FoxNews article described it). A child is raised by a lesbian couple and grows up a little confused about his sexual identity, and so what is the solution? Pump him full of puberty repressing drugs so that he doesn't develop naturally. This is a blatant form of child abuse/Munchhausen by proxy, but since it involves a matter of sexual identity you can apparently get away with anything.

12 year old  Tammy/Tommy speaking on CNN with his two mothers about his "controversial" treatment

It is fundamentally arbitrary to treat someone poorly based on their skin color, freckles, hair style, or some other superficial quality. But to discriminate among the many desires that flood the human heart during one's lifetime seems to me to be the very definition of what it means to be human (as opposed to an animal). Simply being black, ginger, freckled, white, albino (or whatever else) in itself cannot be the source of immorality; but what we do with our bodies, can, and always has been, a source of judgment. Why? Because misusing our bodies can result in great harm to ourselves, to others, and now as you can see, to the subsequent life that results from it. Freckles cannot sexually assault you, but persons acting with a skewed sense of morality can.

By opening the Pandora's box of gender identity, we are now able to define ourselves in any way, shape, or fashion... and then win a lawsuit if anyone challenges it. "You say I can't go into a woman's bathroom? Let's ask my lawyer what he thinks about that!" In this brave new world of moral subjectivism, we are no longer defined by our nature as men and women anymore, but rather by our own  private fantasies. Some will always be confused about their sexual identity, and I do not doubt that for them it is a great trial, but now out of a misplaced sense of compassion for the few, we have opened the door to a far greater confusion for the many. If I were to witness a transgendered man or woman being treated poorly, I would defend them, but not because they were transgendered per se, but because they are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore worthy of respect regardless.

When African Americans fought for equal rights in the 1960's and Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech, he was not trying to create a new humanity- he was trying to restore an old one. Yet according to Facebook, California, Virginia, and a mounting number of other states, this original identity (viz. man) has become outdated and obsolete, and anyone not on board with this cultural shift may as well be an anachronism. But whatever your position on this issue, one thing is certain: if we continue to go down this road of gender proliferation, our destiny can hardly be all that different from the disintegrating Marty McFly at the Under the Sea Dance. For humanity is literally disappearing right before our eyes- and all because we have come to deny the very two people who first gave us birth.


1 comment:

  1. I have heard this basic premise before, but your explanation was the clearest I've seen.