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Caru On October - 14 - 2011

Recently, the fact that gay people are born with their orientation has taken off in the media. It’s increased prominence can be seen in the popularity of the song “Born this Way” by the singer-songwriter, Lady Gaga, and the rise in the number of articles and blog-posts dealing with the subject. In many ways, this is a good thing. It can be seen as an affirmation of the fact that there’s nothing wrong with being gay and as a celebration of gay identity. However, as a defence against conservative attacks, I think that it is a rather weak argument.

Stating that gay people were born with their orientation seems like the perfect counter to the conservative argument that being gay is a choice, but this life-affirming rebuttal opens the door to other attacks. Following this exchange conservatives will rightly point out, though rarely eloquently, that paedophiles are most likely born with their “orientation”, but that being born so doesn’t make their behaviour justifiable. The most common response to this is that the the two orientations aren’t equatable. The problem is this: If you base your argument that being gay is perfectly acceptable on premise that gay people are born with their orientation, then these two orientations do become equatable. In fact, if you base your argument on such a premise, then heterosexuality and paedophilia also become equatable. After all, anyone of either orientation were born the way they are.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to eliminate this problem: Unlike paedophilia, neither being gay or being straight are intrinsically harmful. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with being either gay or straight as there is with engaging in paedophilia. I hope that this analogy will expand this line of thinking:

 Both baseball and war involve tactics and strategy. However, unlike war, baseball is not intrinsically harmful. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with playing baseball.

 The beauty of this argument is threefold. Firstly, it neatly side-steps any unfortunate comparisons. Secondly, it’s a rather libertarian argument, which conservatives purport to support in other matters. Thirdly, it eliminates the choice argument that conservatives put forward by making it irrelevant if being gay is a choice or not. It boils the whole think down into a debate about freedom. Something that conservatives, if they believe their own rhetoric, should support.

Frankly, I think that this is a far superior argument than simply stating that gay people are born that way.

Written by Caru

I don't really have anything of note to put in here... Oh, I won a bar of chocolate once.

21 Responses so far.

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  1. ADONAI says:

    Exactly why would you have to defend homosexuality against pedophilia?

    Pedophilia is a neurological disorder. Homosexuality is not.

    They are by no means comparable. One is a mental defect that could possibly be treated.

    The other is the total biological state of an organism. Something that no amount of drugs or therapy will ever “cure”.

    Straight people or gay people can be pedophiles. It’s like comparing schizophrenia to being black.

    I mean, if someone actually has to be told that there is a difference between pedophilia and homosexuality

    Maybe we shouldn’t be validating their ideas with a rebuttal at all.

    • Caru says:

      I’m not defending homosexuality against pedophilia, Adoniai. What I am doing is defending it against the conservative charge that the two are somehow deviantly linked.

      Nobody is quite sure what pedophilia is, and there is the possibility that it’s a genetic aberration. Nobody is quite sure what causes homosexuality either, though genetics or something to do with hormones in the womb are likely causes. Even if homosexuality and pedophilia where both gentic or both neurological, it doesn’t make them the same. One is intrinsically harmful and the other isn’t. That was my main point.

      No, you can’t “cure” genetics, but you can alter them. Gene therapy is up and coming in the research world. That’s a good thing, as a whole host of real genetic problems may soon have a solution. Being gay isn’t one of those problems, as it causes no harm by itself.

      I’m fairly certain that pedophilia is considered seperate from hetero- and homosexuality, and not a subset of both.

      Adonai, if we went around not telling people things because they were ignorant of them, what would that solve? If an ancient philosopher decided not to tell people that the world is round because he thinks that they’re dumb for not figuring it out, wouldn’t that be both stupid and counterproductive?

      Finally, arguing against an idea does not validate an idea. The very idea that it does is idiotic. Arguing against something may give it more airtime than it deserves, but that’s about the worst of it.

  2. lynettema says:

    Being hetero or homosexual is a way of being, not a preference. Pedophilia could just as easily be a preference as a way of being. Is there scientific evidence?

    Pedophiles are most often heterosexual, but can be either or bi. It’s often more about power than sex. Sorry I am not giving you a link.

    The problem with many Cons is that they don’t know the difference, don’t care about the differences because they like their prejudices. Perhaps younger people will get the “I’m Born this Way” message. Let’s hope so.

    I have often thought that only those that think being gay is a choice are the bisexual. Are lots of Cons bisexual?

    Forgive my ruminations. I’m no expert, just giving you my opinions based on observations and reading.

    • Caru says:

      Thanks for replying, lynettema. You bring up some interesting points.

      At the moment, the jury is out on exactly what causes pedophilia, but there is a strong possibility of it being genetic or neurological.

      I’m fairly sure that pedophilia is not about power. As I recall, It’s rape that’s more about power, though the two do go hand in hand.

      As for conservatives being bisexual, that’s an interesting thought. It’s long been thought in some academic circles that the majority of humanity is bisexual to some degree, however slight.

      Thanks for your contribution.

  3. ScottyBob says:

    If the “born this way” fact is used by ignorant people to explain why pedophilia exists it can also be used to explain why conservatives are “born hate filled assholes”.

  4. Chernynkaya says:

    I have thought about the same issue, Caru--the argument that pedophilia is intrinsic to some and therefore no less acceptable than homosexuality. But of course, the correct retort to that is what you said: The difference is that one is consensual.

    I think certain kinds of sociopathy are also present at birth, e.g. fetal alcohol syndrome. Then there is that behavior which develops among babies given little human contact--they too become sociopaths through no fault of there own. And what about OCD or addictive behavior--there are probably genes contributing to those too. The main point it that homosexuality is in no way a danger to ANYONE. But what IS a danger to all of us is ignorance, bigotry and hate. There might be genes for those as well, but that doesn’t mean we should accept it.

  5. AdLib says:

    One of my favorite tactics is when a homophobic guest on a talk show is asked, “At what point did you decide to become heterosexual?”

    They always choke and stammer as their choice argument is blown apart.

    Any approach can have mud slung at it so there comes a point where one just has to accept that reason won’t stop certain people from hating “the other”.

    Whether it’s minorities, nationalities, sexual preference, etc., haters will be haters and can’t be reasoned out of a prejudice they didn’t use reason to acquire.

    By calling it a choice, the RW can demonize gays freely because they’re “only hating the choice, not the person”.

    It’s like saying that because some heterosexuals are born into being pedophiles, psychos and rapists, being heterosexual is an aberration.

    Anyone can point at anyone else who’s different and claim they’re not normal but trying to demonize someone who’s born to be different than another is simply unreasoning prejudice which can jump all bounds of reason to justify itself and assuage the insecurity of the one who feels the need to be bigoted.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Adlib, you wrote what I was thinking. When did any of us “choose” to be heterosexual, white, black, male, female, blonde, or blue-eyed?? We all are what we are. I don’t understand why some people just cannot accept this fact.

      It has become absolutely socially unacceptable to be racist, so the RW has turned its sites onto the gay community. It’s still perfectly OK to bash gays…kinda’ like bashing smokers and leaving the drunks to drive and kill people. It’s socially acceptable to trash the gays and you hear it everywhere. I am personally sick of it! I wish the “Rapture” would hurry up and take all these self-righteous bible-thumpers away already! Then we might have some sanity return to our politics!!

    • Caru says:

      Quote:
      “Whether it’s minorities, nationalities, sexual preference, etc., haters will be haters and can’t be reasoned out of a prejudice they didn’t use reason to acquire.”

      You’ve got a point there, but reason can persuade those who tolerate homophobia to not do so.

  6. Thanks for writing this Caru. It is a good debate to have. Scientists don’t know for sure that either being gay and being a pedophile are inherited. There hasn’t been a “gene,” found for either. But, homosexuality is no longer listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a mental illness. But, pedophilia is still in the book.
    Psychiatric researchers believe there is a combination of factors involved in the development of homosexuality. They include biological factors such as the structure of the brain, enviroment, such as the enviroment in which a child is raised, and social interactions.
    Pedophilia is still considered a mental health illness and the causes, like those for homosexuality are basically theoretical at this point in time.
    I think the RW in America tries to make an equivalent between the two for political purposes. They want their constituents to think homosexuality and pedophilia are the same, thus justifying their scare tactics concerning gay people. It’s an insidious and immoral claim.
    Gay people are not usually pedophiles, but the RW wants people to think they are the same, in their crusade to stamp out or make gay sex illegal and be seen as a sickness, rather than a part of the natural order.
    The likely causes for each don’t necessarily make the two behaviors equal. Far from it. Like you wisely point out, homosexuality is not harmful to individuals or society. Pedophilia, on the other hand is both harmful to the victim and in general, harmful to society.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Hi KT!

      When I was in nursing school in the 70’s, homosexuality was still in the DSM and that is what we were taught. I really never bought into it. I would disagree about the combination of factors that include environment and social interactions in the development of homosexuals. I happen to have two employees, brothers, whose upbringing was as close to identical as you could get. One is straight, and the other is gay. The structure of the family is sound, with both parents working in good jobs. I cannot see any environmental factors in this particular situation. I would lean more to accepting the biological explanation. I realize that this is just one situation and in no way could explain all. I also have a nephew who is gay. There is certainly nothing in his upbringing that I can attribute this to. Again, I would have to believe that biological factors are more important.

      When I was in school, we were also taught that the reason for schizophrenia was a combination of factors…the same as the ones you listed above. But as time and research have shown, the genetic, biological and chemical factors seem to be more important than social ones. I believed then, as I do now, that bio-chemical factors are responsible for many “mental illnesses”, including ADD and ADHD in our children as well as bi-polar disorders. Just my opinion…

      • Hi Em. I tend to agree with you. Your example of the twin brothers is hard to argue with. It used to be thought that overbearing mothers and meek fathers were the cause for male homosexuality. Of course that has long since been proven not to be the case.
        My daughter is gay, and neither I nor my ex, obviously, are gay. My daughter told me that she was always attracted to girls, now women. My ex and I split when my daughter was only three. I lived in another state altogether after we split. My daughter says she was always around females and rarely were men or boys hanging around. She is an only child and says she spent a lot of time, growing up, alone, because her mother and stepfather worked all the time.
        I saw a documentary that said a study was done on the hippocampus in the brain, and the gay people they studied had slightly smaller ones than the heterosexual ones.
        I have been diagnosed as bi-polar, technically it’s called schitzo-affective disorder. I don’t know if I was born that way or whether it is a result of years and years of drug use and alcohol consumption. Depression does run in my family and I remember serious periods of depression when I was in my early teens. Some addiction specialists say that is probably one reason for all my partying. I was self-medicating. I also took a lot of acid, on and off for over a period of nearly 20 years. That might have a little something to do with it! 😉

        • Emerald1943 says:

          KT, thanks for sharing a very personal story. There is not one of us who has not been affected by the “slings and arrows” of this world. Some of us do self-medicate, some go into depression, and some are able to circumvent their circumstances. In thinking back about my life, I wonder how I turned out as I did…relatively well-adjusted but with my share of skeletons in the closet. We all have those, I think. Perhaps it gets a little easier as we age. My “downs” are not as plentiful as my “ups” now. I am thankful for the mellowing. The only thing that truly gets my panties in a knot is politics!

          You are brave to share this. I have a great respect for your doing so, but just remember, all partying is not all bad! :-) Everything in moderation!

          You are an “old soul”…I know that from getting to know you on Planet. I am grateful for your friendship! :-)

          • Thank you very much Em, likewise. Yeah, there are several old souls here on the Planet. It’s one reason I like to come here.
            I too am somewhat amazed that I am relatively healthy and of a “somewhat,” sound mind! 😉 I must have some really good guardian angels. My mom once told me, “you better settle down, because those angels are going to get tired of all that overtime.”
            As I once said, you are the gem that really sparkles for us here at the Planet!

            • Emerald1943 says:

              KT, nothing would please me more! Let’s make it happen. I know that Kes lives up your way somewhere. I’m not sure about the others. Many like Sue and CL are out west. We would have to have a Planet Convention in some centralized location. But I think this is a project we should develop! I’m all about it! :-)

            • Em, it would be great for all of us to meet for an evening, somewhere in these United States. Maybe someday, before too long, we can make that happen. It would be a memorable occasion!

            • Emerald1943 says:

              KT, You are too kind! I must admit that I’ve had some “over-time angels” working on my behalf all my life!

              I would also say that you are incredibly sound of mind! You, too, are a gem!

              Wow! A true mutual admiration society we have here! You make my day! :-) Perhaps someday we can actually meet in person!

  7. Mightywoof says:

    Hi Caru -- thanks for this article -- it made me go and do a really quick search for facts with which to dispute your article ………. and I found out that I was incorrect!! I had long understood that paedophilia was a learned behaviour by people who had, themselves, been victims of paedophiles but apparently the verdict is not in! There is some evidence (it was a really, really, quick search :) ) for physical differences in brain scans. This doesn’t excuse the behaviour but it’s interesting to understand the causes (I don’t believe science will ever narrow it down to one specific cause for which they can invent a magic pill) and hopefully find a way of successfully treating this!

    So -- I agree with your conclusion -- and thanks again for making me work out my brain this morning!

    • lynettema says:

      I had the same understanding as you.

    • Caru says:

      Quote:
      “it made me go and do a really quick search for facts with which to dispute your article”

      Ha! I do that too!

      Thanks for reading. I wrote this when I was tired (I didn’t want to forget my line of thought, as that happens a lot to me) so I thought afterwards that it might have been a little confusing.


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