Homosexuality: Morals and Ethics Catch-All Thread

LarryC wrote:

This:

You can discourage multiple partners by citing the real-world data showing the risks and dangers associated with that free-wheeling approach. Why try and add something into the discussion that will only get the 'unethical' people to disregard and ignore you?

says that the ethical question is irrelevant, and that we ought to push that position from a public health standpoint. I don't generally agree with tactics that push ethical agendas behind selective data mining. If we have an ethical question and an ethical agenda, I think it's best that that sort of thing is disclosed openly.

EDIT: Note also that you're pushing for the pointlessness of ethical discussion in a thread that's centered on ethical discussion. It's just a little bit too meta, maybe.

I can appreciate the standpoint that you're trying to be something of a statesman in listening to a constituency and representing them as they are. However, not all ethical considerations are created equal. Let's examine one based on its own merits:

Statement to examine: Homosexuality is immoral.

Points in this statement's favor:

  • Traditionally supported by a culture that generally does not accept it.
  • Condemned in the holy books of majority religions (Christianity, Islam)
  • Voters in the U.S. would likely vote to ban both the practice of gay marriage and make gay relationships illegal

Points against this statement:

  • Traditions are subject to change, and are not law
  • Religious condemnation is not sufficient grounds for a national law against a practice (otherwise, many other things, such as adultery, would be illegal and punishable under the law)
  • Voter positions are not good metrics for ethical considerations (see desegregation of schools, interracial marriage, etc.)
  • Homosexuality does no measurable, scientific harm to society at large.

The hypothetical Christian Scientist's views deserve representation, but only in the sense that such representation does not come down upon the populace as a whole from a local, state, or federal institution where it would impinge upon the rights of others.

NSMike:

Frankly, NSMike, the ethical question of whether or not homosexuality is immoral is worth considering based simply on the fact that it's incredibly commonplace where you live, and as far as I can understand it, it has caused you considerable pain in your life. By "considering," I mean that it's an important piece of conversation to have, and we need to suss out all the talking points relative to that ethical viewpoint, not that it should be enforced on the population at large. Discussion is not enforcement.

If nothing else, if that viewpoint is something that you consider antithetical, it's worth something to know your enemy intimately, and to disseminate all its nuances in concrete and fair terms to those who may not be familiar with its specifics.

I understand that this sort of specific detailing is part of the point of this thread.

All I was really doing there, LarryC, was showing that all moral and ethical considerations are not created equal. I used homosexuality as an example because It's cogent to this thread. That's a very basic example, and it wasn't really deeply considered or thought out. I was just throwing it together. But I can change a few things and show similar results.[quote=NSMike][quote=LarryC]This:

Statement to examine: Slavery is moral.

Points in this statement's favor:

  • Traditionally supported by a culture that generally accepts it. (The early U.S., up to the 1860's)
  • Supported in the holy books of majority religions (Christianity, Islam)
  • Voters in the U.S. would likely vote to keep both the practice of slavery and define slaves as non-persons

Points against this statement:

  • Traditions are subject to change, and are not law
  • Religious affirmation is not sufficient grounds for the subversion of the rights of an entire group of people based on skin color alone
  • Voter positions are not good metrics for ethical considerations
  • Slavery does measurable harm to society at large

I think what you're actually doing there, NSMike, is that you're judging an ethical position from your own ethical position. This is necessary to have a personal opinion, but less useful in discussion, and especially useless in persuasion. It goes without saying that an ethical position will view incompatible other ethical propositions unfavorably. Is that point worthy of elaboration?

Oh, Larry. We've already had this argument in another thread and in PMs, and I'm not interested in having it again. We both think the other is wrong. I still stand by the idea that, "It comes from a really old book that a lot of people have followed for a long time," is not a valid, rational position on which to base a moral position that affects a larger population as a whole.

What's more, the pre-dominant holy book of the country I am living in compells me to forcibly "enlighten" the indigenous population of various Southern Asia countries. Historically, the population is supportive of such endeavors, and there is a well established body of scripture-based tradition for doing so. Now, where does that take us?

Is it not completely and absolutely, and perfectly clear that I am NOT saying that all ethical positions will be equally acceptable to everyone?

If it's not, I'm taking this post to highlight that particular content in my messages.

Larry

Homosexuality has not caused NSMike pain. Homophobes have caused him pain. Even by the Christian measure of 'don't do anything sexual', gays are still mistreated. It's possible for gay children - before they are sexually active, just acting 'gay' - to be beaten for who they are.

ANd your assertion that 'it's incredibly common where you live' is nonsense. All you can say about the Philipines is how many out homosexuals you can see. If they won't own up to it through fear - see the first line - then they won't appear in your worldview, or on records.

1Dgaf:

Er, isn't that what I said? I didn't say that homosexuality was incredibly common where NSMike lived. The moral position that it's wrong is, and it is that ethical position which has caused him pain, right? It is worth knowing the processes behind that intimately in order to do something about it, for or against; and especially against.

Is an ethical position that does harm by its very nature even remotely worthy of being considered an ethical position?

Larry

Apologies, you are correct. The sentence can be read two ways. (THough my points, in general, are still accurate.)

If it's considered an ethical position by a major portion of the stakeholder population, then yes. Not to do so would be to deny reality. This is not me being a statesman. I'm just using the lingo. That's me keeping it real. I would love to wear a sundress, but social mores in my locality have significant penalties for it. I have to take that into account in my decision making and planning.

I feel further clarification is necessary. By "ethical position," I don't mean that that position should be considered morally correct by you, NSMike, or by anyone in particular; only that it is respected as such by a substantial number of significant people.

This discussion I'm talking about isn't about whether it's okay to do homosexual actions. It's about which people consider it right and which people consider it wrong, and the whys and wherefores of each stance; considered from its own position, without negative bias.

We could pretend to talk about whether we consider homosexual action to be right or wrong, but let's not. You're not going to change your mind on that NSMike, and I'm not sure I would want you to.

LarryC wrote:

If it's considered an ethical position by a major portion of the stakeholder population, then yes. Not to do so would be to deny reality. This is not me being a statesman. I'm just using the lingo. That's me keeping it real. I would love to wear a sundress, but social mores in my locality have significant penalties for it. I have to take that into account in my decision making and planning.

I feel further clarification is necessary. By "ethical position," I don't mean that that position should be considered morally correct by you, NSMike, or by anyone in particular; only that it is respected as such by a substantial number of significant people.

This discussion I'm talking about isn't about whether it's okay to do homosexual actions. It's about which people consider it right and which people consider it wrong, and the whys and wherefores of each stance; considered from its own position, without negative bias.

This is where we differ. "Majority rules" is invalid precisely because there is precedent in plenty of history that the majority is wrong. Whether or not national trends or general practice agrees with that assessment of an ethical position has no real bearing on whether or not a position is actually ethical.

We could pretend to talk about whether we consider homosexual action to be right or wrong, but let's not. You're not going to change your mind on that NSMike, and I'm not sure I would want you to.

No, we don't have to have this discussion at all, at least between the two of us. Your posts in my coming-out thread were supportive and wise, and the question of your thoughts on the issue of homosexuality do not need to be explored here.

NSMike:

I'm fairly sure I'm keeping my own thoughts about homosexuality clearly out. The one position I talked about, I clearly indicated as Catholic, not personal.

I also didn't say that "majority rules." I get that that's a common rhetorical object in your culture. Put it firmly out of your mind when you read what I'm saying on this point. That is not what I mean. Read the words literally, without idiom or cultural rhetoric.

Further, please reread my clarification about what I meant by "ethical." Some people think it's ethical to allow rider without helmets. Others feel it's ethical to restrict riding to people who will use helmets. Both of those are ethical position, by virtue of the reasons people are valuing them.

Contrast to Atomic Theory which is a scientific position, and Wealth of Nations, which is a financial stance.

LarryC wrote:

NSMike:

I'm fairly sure I'm keeping my own thoughts about homosexuality clearly out. The one position I talked about, I clearly indicated as Catholic, not personal.

I also didn't say that "majority rules." I get that that's a common rhetorical object in your culture. Put it firmly out of your mind when you read what I'm saying on this point. That is not what I mean. Read the words literally, without idiom or cultural rhetoric.

Further, please reread my clarification about what I meant by "ethical." Some people think it's ethical to allow rider without helmets. Others feel it's ethical to restrict riding to people who will use helmets. Both of those are ethical position, by virtue of the reasons people are valuing them.

Contrast to Atomic Theory which is a scientific position, and Wealth of Nations, which is a financial stance.

Buddy, he is backing away from the argument and giving you respect while he does it. Why don't you give him the same respect and not force him back in?

SallyNasty:

Nor forcing anyone. It's a free thread. Anyone can just stop posting. I've done that on occasion.

NSMike is restating my messages in ways I do not mean. I am clarifying them, and not for his sake but for mine. I do not wish to be misunderstood.

"Majority rules" was, perhaps, an oversimplification, but your position, as I read it, was essentially, "A lot of people think this way, therefore it should be considered." That's fair. Unfortunately, when we consider it, in the case of homosexuality, the position boils down to, "An old book said so, and a lot of us like that old book, so we deserve to be represented in law." That's invalid. Even if that book was perfectly clear and being properly interpreted (there's plenty to show it isn't), that's still invalid.

Also, I'm not the only one misunderstanding things. It seemed that you personalized things when you added, "I'm not sure I would want you to," to the end of one of your statements. I was simply saying, in that context, we don't need to explore your positions on homosexuality at all.

Yes. I agreed with that. I was illustrating how pointless it would be to discuss whether or not homosexual activity is morally correct in this thread. No useful discussion can be had on that score.

I do not believe that the position about the immorality of homosexuality is as simple as you're making it out to be. It isn't that simple, at least in Catholic doctrine, and morality in Catholic theology actually rarely is. I would not characterize your presentation of it as accurate, fair, or representative. Even the staunchest well minded conservative isn't so simple minded as to just point to nonexistent Bible passages to claim legal power. Perhaps some simpler minded folk might; but that's hardly a fair sampling.

Let's move discussion out of the legality of legislating homophobic sentiments. That has its own explicit thread. I would like to focus on ethical positions, fairly presented, and their prevalence amongst your people.

"My people" aren't solely Catholic, either. The simplistic representation of the ethical position of a great many of those who oppose homosexuality in the United States can be easily boiled down to the fact that many of them have memorized Leviticus 18:22, and throw it around in opposition of homosexuality as freely as they throw around John 3:16 for their salvation message. Lots of fundamentalists also want to turn it into law. It is, quite simply, that simple here. Bigotry does not need doctrine, rational thought, or anything even remotely as well-considered and thought out as the Catechism. In fact, platitudes spouted from the pulpit are often all that is necessary.

I contest that characterization. It is more likely that they were looking for something easy to throw around to express an already present aversion for homosexual activity, and found both rationale and rhetorical weapon in their religion. The stated popular ethical construct is often just the tip of the iceberg in the process. Refuting it with logic will do nothing as it does not address the underlying processes.

I've had some success in modifying popular sentiment about certain things on a local level. Ethical positions are rarely as simple as they seem. It does not serve us in any capacity other than self-justification and demonization of others to characterize it in the fashion you have NSMike.

With the proper lever, you can move the world. What you want to do, NSMike, is to find that lever.

I contest that characterization.

You have more faith in the intellectual character of those who oppose homosexuality in the U.S. than I do. If you hit up YouTube and look for Tony Perkins or Maggie Gallagher, these are the mental giants and representatives of the most vocal and organized groups and individuals in the U.S. in opposition of homosexuality. I am not responsible for the 15 or so minutes of your life you will never get back from watching these videos.

Actually, Tony Perkins is kind-of in the news cycle at the moment, so you might have to dig through some more recent news due to a shooting at his organization's headquarters a few days ago.

NSMike wrote:
I contest that characterization.

You have more faith in the intellectual character of those who oppose homosexuality in the U.S. than I do. If you hit up YouTube and look for Tony Perkins or Maggie Gallagher, these are the mental giants and representatives of the most vocal and organized groups and individuals in the U.S. in opposition of homosexuality. I am not responsible for the 15 or so minutes of your life you will never get back from watching these videos.

For the record, I am a fan of neither of those people. Characterizing the people who disagree with you as inferior intellectually may help one sleep better at night, but it is seldom accurate.

Moving back to the ethics discussion a bit, I have seen the sentiment posted several times that pain inflicted is the measure for the ethicality (not sure if that's even a word, but you know what I mean). Can you see the major flaws in that line of thought?

Nomad wrote:
NSMike wrote:
I contest that characterization.

You have more faith in the intellectual character of those who oppose homosexuality in the U.S. than I do. If you hit up YouTube and look for Tony Perkins or Maggie Gallagher, these are the mental giants and representatives of the most vocal and organized groups and individuals in the U.S. in opposition of homosexuality. I am not responsible for the 15 or so minutes of your life you will never get back from watching these videos.

For the record, I am a fan of neither of those people. Characterizing the people who disagree with you as inferior intellectually may help one sleep better at night, but it is seldom accurate.

Moving back to the ethics discussion a bit, I have seen the sentiment posted several times that pain inflicted is the measure for the ethicality (not sure if that's even a word, but you know what I mean). Can you see the major flaws in that line of thought?

Can we save some time and you actually say what you're thinking instead of asking that question?

NSMike:

My reasons for doubting your characterization have less to do with faith in the intellect of anyone, and more to do with historical precedent and logic. For background reference, see Behavioral Theory in Psychology and Sam Harris' excellent talk on the illusion of free will on TED talk.

It is tempting and all too human to jump past reasoning and conclude that people who do us harm are the worst possible humans (subhumans really) in the world, but it is not logical, and it only helps you if you have a club and clubbing them to death is an acceptable option.

People who hold strong ethical views holding that homosexual relations are immoral do so for very definite reasons, and their behavior should reflect any plausible reason we advance to explain that behavior.

This means that your characterization that it's because of Leviticus doesn't pass the test. If they were misinformed, then informing them of their error should generally backfire on the person who originally misinformed them, and usually quite dramatically. Since the usual reaction is to ignore the information, it is more logical to conclude that this bit of information is not the cause but is the result of their ethical position. They selected that bit out of Leviticus because it was useful to them, in other words. Essentially, it is a rhetorical weapon; it is a soundbite they play over the air to sound pious and good, but is of little actual worth to their world view.

I have strong suspicions along these lines for another reason - this sort of behavior has a lot of historical precedent from pretty much the world over. People will interpret authority and passages of rules in the manner that is most favorable to their vested interests; but it is rarely the cause of these vested interests. From Crusaders reinterpreting the Bible to look favorably on their violent interests, to the Imperial Japanese Forces remaking Bushido into something it never was, this sort of activity is fairly commonplace. You can even find young children intentionally misunderstanding a parental rule if they think it'll benefit them.

I actually have heard Gallagher and Perkins. Being that they are the heads of their respective movements, they are doing something very very right, and it is in your best interest to watch them very closely and try to figure out what that is. Because whatever it is, it is working far too well for your own interests.

LarryC wrote:

It is tempting and all too human to jump past reasoning and conclude that people who do us harm are the worst possible humans (subhumans really) in the world...

Wow. Wow. No. Just, no. I didn't say any of that at all.

Their position is unenlightened and uneducated. Ignorant. Bigoted through laziness. I can't characterize them all as stupid. In fact, it takes some considerable mental gymnastics to come to the conclusions the leaders espouse. You're right in that people are flocking to Leviticus because it's probably the convenient shield for their otherwise fearful and ignorant aversions to homosexuality.

How, precisely, am I jumping past reasoning, when there are studies cited less than a page back in this thread that negative attitudes and shaming of homosexuals contributes to elevated occurrences of STIs? When statistics show that LGBT teens are at FAR higher risk of suicide because of these same attitudes? When the most valid argument people can make against homosexuality is a bible passage that acts as a shield for their own misunderstanding, fear, and unwillingness to consider that others might be different, and that difference, among consenting adults, does them no real harm?

NSMike:

Focusing on the wrong thing. It's not an important point. That was mainly, actually, a commentary on my own weaknesses; so of course, you didn't say that. I did. I'll just give you that freely if you want.

What I'm getting from your latest post is that your true perception of their actual ethical position is that it's grounded on ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding. That is more like it! I like this discussion better already.

I'm not familiar with these forces in your society, so perhaps others can chime in on the actual ethics and social forces driving homophobia that underlie the stated rationales?

-Outdated due to clarification post above.-

Outdatedhausered.

LarryC wrote:

I'm not familiar with these forces in your society, so perhaps others can chime in on the actual ethics and social forces driving homophobia that underlie the stated rationales?

I think you might be familiar with them, since I believe there's a high incidence of homophobia in the Philipines as well. However, let's delve (as best as I can) into the topic:

From a social standpoint, because the Abrahamic religions are the largest religious forces in the United States (with Christianity and its various denominations being the absolute largest), anything within their tenets as they understand it tends to be seen as what is morally correct. The italics are intentional, as there is a lot of variation on the understanding of what the tenets actually are, and there's been a lot of social pressure over the centuries to mold understanding in certain directions, as well as social pressures to edit the text of the holy books to reflect certain cultural norms of the times. And, let's be honest, human error in translations, leading to a very long-ranging game of Telephone dating back to the times of Christ and even further.

This manifests as a Christian (primarily) railing against homosexuality as immoral and/or deviant behavior, because their understanding of their religious tenets states this. However, more and more scholarly discussion has been coming to light indicating that there are nuances of the original texts that indicate the current understanding is not the accurate one, either because the original text has greater shades of meaning or because the current translation is flat-out incorrect.

However, there is a natural human tendency to dig in one's heels when told "you're wrong," as we've all seen (and probably done in this forum), and those who believe that homosexuality is wrong push back harder and harder against social forces that are gathering steam and stating "Homosexuality just is, it's not wrong or right." Unfortunately, many of those who are digging in their heels are our national leadership (both at the Federal and State levels), which is impeding progress towards a more egalitarian Union.

From an ethical standpoint, I question whether this pushback is ethically correct or not. As I've stated previously, I'm getting ready to take an Intro to Philosophy class soon, so I don't admit to knowing much about classical Ethics. Maybe someone who does have this background can answer this part better than I can.

Rubb Ed:

The source of homophobia in the Philippines is generally not religious, from what I've seen. In fact, the priests generally do the peace-making and such, though their strict stance on "homosexual sex is immoral" tends to make LGBT people feel conflicted about them. There is a strong and pervasive social pressure locally for men to behave in ways normally associated with machismo. As I understand it, that's where the chief conflict arises. The "it's immoral" angle doesn't really hold a whole lot of water because of the whole widespread political concubinage and cheating on the wife thing. People in glass houses don't throw stones, as it turns out.