Thursday, May 27, 2010

Homophobe-ophobia

Jonathan I. Katz is a professor of physics at Washington University - and a proud homophobe.  He is the author of an article titled In Defense of Homophobia and blames homosexuals (or "sodomites" as he likes to call us) for millions of innocent people dying from AIDS around the globe.

Jonathan I. Katz is also considered one of  best scientific minds and was invited to help figure out a way to stop the massive oil flow in the gulf of Mexico - that is until he was uninvited after an outcry because of his controversial writings on homosexuality.

I'm not really sure how I feel about this.  On one hand, there is a certain satisfaction in seeing an avowed homophobe get his comeuppance.  On the other hand, are his personal beliefs on homosexuality in any way relevant to the issue at hand - that is, the massive oil spill?    However, his extreme views on an unrelated topic - that is, homosexuality - does call into question his impartiality and logical mindset.  Would his personal beliefs color how he viewed any suggestions made by someone else that happened to be openly gay?  But, shouldn't we be using all of our available resources to find a solution to this environmental disaster?

I think what irks me most about this is the apparent willingness by some to capitalize on this tragic disaster for their own political gain.  It seems that whenever a public figure does or says something that is even mildly homophobic then the homophobe-ophobes start circling like sharks.

Is this homophobe-ophobia really any different than the homophobia they decry? Is trashing those with whom we have philosophical disagreement with the right approach?

While I admit that allowing ourselves to get all worked up in a tizzy over some issue does bring with it a certain self satisfaction - is that really the best way to gain the respect of society at large?  If we want people to respect us, even though they may disagree with us - shouldn't we give them the same consideration?  Seriously, do we really believe that name calling and righteous indignation is going to change the world view on homosexuality?

In my previous blog post I referenced the Golden Rule in the context of the Christian gospel; however, the golden rule has it roots in a wide range of world cultures and religions.  It implores us to treat one another with basic human dignity and respect.

I don't have a problem with arguing with philosophies and beliefs of others - but when we attack the person who has those philosophies and beliefs then we have crossed the line and gone too far IMOHO.  The only way we are going to gain respect is to give respect.

8 comments:

LDS Brother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LDS Brother said...

Indeed. It's not like he's only going to clean up the heterosexual parts of the Gulf. 2 wrongs don't make a right (only 3 lefts do).


However, homosexuality does not equal sodomy...and anybody who believes that needs to reconsider that thought.

TGD said...

I personally do not see homophobia as a "philosophical disagreement". I see it as an irrational fear. That's why I'm willing to "circle like a shark".

The statements and arguments by homophobes against homosexuals don't stand up to reason, are usually based on personal prejudice, egocentric, lack empathy, and demonize.

Now, if pointing out such behavior as stated above is demonizing the homophobe to the degree that the homophone is labeling us sodomites (and all the baggage that entails via Christian philosophy) and then accusing us of being responsible for killing millions of innocent people, then I'm a homophobe-ophobic bigot. :(

But, my fear of him is rational. He truly believes and says things that are misleading, anecdotal and not based on facts. Many things he says can result in damage to real lives and can potentially incite violence towards gay people. His "philosophies" are anti-social. Granted, they also have nothing to do with the scientific work at hand, but as you stated, it does call into question his impartiality when working with someone who happens to be openly gay. In that case I would hope that the rational minds refuse to employ him because of the possible risk his public statements pose for whatever reason, being bad for PR, business, a distraction in the work environment, peer conflict etc.

I actually deal with people at work like this all the time. They really do hold things up sometimes because they refuse to do certain things with certain people for no other reason than they don't liking their "freakishness".

Sean said...

I agree with your last statement completely Abe. It's sad that people are possibly making the oil spill crisis worse in order to push their political agenda. It shouldn't be that way. We should all work together to create peace and harmony, but I guess that is too idealistic of me.

alan said...

If you drop someone from a list because they're a self-described "proud racist," it's one of those things where people are like, "Well, you know, he probably should have kept that to himself." Or "The guy is pretty smart; too bad he can't get past that." We live in a torn America on the issue of homosexuality where Katz's comments would actually be welcomed in many sectors, so people do have to outcry to make their anti-homophobe stances heard. I don't think this outcrying is a matter of "punishing the person," it's a matter of creating a respectful society through basic negative reinforcement (because what else can you do other than personally contact people to have a chat, which most people don't the have the time or patience to do)? Your idea that people should simply "show others respect to gain respect" seems idealistic. Of course some people are working on the borders between gay/Mormon, gay/evangelical, or gay/homophobe. But to expect everyone to do this is in itself disrespectful, I think.

One question I'd ask you is whether you believe the Church's claim that deploring homosexual behavior should not be considered "homophobic" but merely a "philosophical difference of opinion" is okay? Would a person be a "homophobe-ophobe" if they stood up and said, "No, LDS Church, you're indeed homophobic. I'm not going to waver on that definition!" In other words, you have to take a stand at some point and silence the discussion. This insistence on silence to instill a moral truth is not wrong, IMO.

alan said...

I believe it is possible for someone to 'deplore' homosexual behavior yet be respectful of homosexuals as people (including those homosexuals engaging in that deplorable behavior). [from your email]

Of course this is possible and it would be expected of any Latter-day Saint. It's the famous "love the sinner, not the sin" policy. But what I am asking is whether homophobia can be present in a "core belief"? The "gay person" in Mormonism is said to be "misinformed about his/her eternal identity," although homophobia in this instance might be defined as "an avoidance of acknowledging the possibility of same-sex desire/intimacy in one's beliefs about the afterlife." The reason, I think, homophobia should broach this world of belief is because these beliefs are not personal and actually have to do with humanity as a whole. The argument has often been framed in terms of, "Is God gay?" but one might also ask, "Is God a woman? Is God black? Is God disabled?" The problem with not allowing homophobia, sexism, racism or ableism as concepts to broach the world of "core beliefs" is that it never allows critical inspection of these core beliefs, which is essential to a stable faith.

Abelard Enigma said...

what I am asking is whether homophobia can be present in a "core belief"?

A 'phobia' by definition is an irrational fear of something - in the case of homophobia, it is an irrational fear of homosexuality.

Can a phobia lead to a core belief? Certainly! For example, an irrational fear of snakes could lead one to believe that snakes are inherently evil and are an incarnation of the devil himself.

So yes, I believe homophobia could be the basis for a core belief.

Now this gets tricky in the LDS sense since we're supposed to have this direct line to God through a prophet. So, a corollary question might be: Is it possible that LDS church leaders, being imperfect humans, have interjected human based core beliefs into LDS theology?

Now, to the non-believer the answer to that question would be obvious - but to the true believer, that question could be a trial to their faith.

For myself personally, I believe the answer is "Yes" - LDS theology does include some human based core beliefs, some of which may have come from an irrational fear and lack of understanding of homosexuality. For example, statements by church leaders that we're going to be magically 'fixed' in the hereafter - a doctrine that cannot be backed up with scripture and, in fact, is contrary to scripture. (See Alma 34:34)

Did I answer your question?

alan said...

Yes, you did. Thx. =)