Use of homophobe
mae.kuykendall at law.msu.edu
Sun May 10 15:14:36 PDT 2009
I looked around a bit on the "phobe" part and found references to fear,
hate, and aversion. It seems easy enough to conclude that a strongly
negative view of gayness is also an aversion, whether it arises from a
religious dogma or belief, an emotional state bordering on fear, a sense
of superiority arising from sexual snobbery, the usual distaste in some
groups for groups that are seen as quite different, or a relatively
bloodless theory that society is more stable if gayness is penalized.
The latter concept seems the least phobic, to the extent that the term
"phobia" always carries some charge of intensity. Prof. Pinello's
empirical documentation of Justice Scalia's singular insistence on using
a reference to gay litigants that has faded from use by the litigants
involved or other justices suggests a phobia, which is expressed by
Justice Scalia through an unyielding and invariant refusal to accord the
respect to the litigants of using their own preferred reference, as do
other justices. One might argue he is right to use the term
"homosexual" to express his disdain, or moral disapproval, or resistance
to the colonization of the language by gay identity speech, but it's
hard to argue his stylized approach to the language in connection with
gay people does not express, with some intensity, an aversion to gay
people as visible citizens. Now, of course, you could say that does not
prove a comparable aversion to a closeted gay person who has never
expressed any feature of gay identity, to an "ex-gay," or to a baby in
whom the "gay gene" is lurking, but not much is left of the claim there
is no aversion to gayness if one's defense is a lack of disdain for
unexpressed, disavowed, or hidden difference.
In addition, referring to a gay marriage, as I saw in a posting, as a
sin suggests aversion. Presumably, even if there are still some
religious sentiments disfavoring interracial marriage, such a reference
on this list serve is quite unlikely. So there seems to be something
special about the religious view of gay marriage, as compared with
interracial marriage or the remarriage of divorced people. (I once saw
on C-Span what seemed like a real but very polite distaste shown by
David Rockefeller for the marital conduct of his brother.) Of course,
I am suggesting all three forms of aversion--against gay, interracial,
or divorcee marriage--might be called phobic.
I don't talk much in terms of sin, but I guess I'd say murder is a sin,
and I have an aversion to murder. Perhaps the problem is that phobia
suggests an obsession. I'm not sure I have a phobia about murder.
Perhaps I have no need to have a phobia about murder, since there is so
much consensus it's bad. But if there were a movement in support of
murder, then I'd probably develop a phobia, in the sense of a fairly
strongly charged and intensely expressed and often articulated rejection
of murder. And I don't suppose I'd see the reference to my phobia as an
insult, since I'd be very sure of my ground. Admittedly, that is a
fanciful state of affairs.
>>> "Mark Graber" <mgraber at gvpt.umd.edu> 5/10/2009 5:25 PM >>>
I suspect our "homophobe" debate is going to go nowhere, in part
because the issue is really one of argument, not of emotional state.
Or, rather, the issue is sufficiently mixed as to complicate debate.
The first question is do good normative reasons exist for thinking
persons have reasons to object to gay conduct or gay marriage.
Increasingly, persons from my spectrum of the political universe are
coming to the conclusion that a) not only consent adults have the right
to marry the person of their choice, but b) there are no very good
arguments to the contrary. In this vein, we do see discrimination
against gays as equivalent to discrimination against persons of color,
because no good rational reasons exist for either. In this respect, I
should add, most people from my spectrum of the political universe think
b) is wrong with respect to abortion, that while most think abortion is
a right, most also think a reasonable person might think otherwise. If
this is right, then the question whether someone is a homophobe, racist,
child-murderer, or otherwise depends on good arguments can be made in
support of their position (even if we think those arguments, at the end
of the da!
y are wrong).
The second question is whether people are making distinctions between
immoral conduct that make sense within a certain moral code. Whether,
for example, the Catholic church can be censured for homophobia for
denying communion to a politician who supports gay marriage (no idea
whether this has occurred), but not politicians who support capital
punishment depends on whether within the Catholic faith, a plausible
distinction exists between the two. Again, we can only determine
whether people are acting on emotion if we first discredit their
A third consideration is a burden of proof. In my contacts with
members of the list who exist on the other side of the political
spectrum, I have always found them to be intelligent decent human
beings. Maybe have beliefs I find bizarre (some have said this of me as
well!). I don't understand why it is not obvious that people should not
marry who they please. Maybe that is a limit of my intelligence. But
may I suggest that, for purposes of keeping this list valuable we should
simply claim not to agree or understand arguments, rather than assume
they are rooted in deep--rooted emotional needs. This may mean I
require the Christian couple to rent to a gay couple and others will
disagree strongly. But it will keep a conversation going, which seems
>>> Rick Duncan <nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com> 05/10/09 4:54 PM >>>
It seems that Paul is the one who needs to overcome his fear and hatred
of a person (the Christian photographer) who conscientiously is opposed
to participating in a gay wedding.
I don't know of any religious restaurant owner who refuses to serve
homosexual diners. It seems that Paul is the one who can not grasp the
difference between taking an active part in a sinful action (a
photographer at a homosexual wedding) and merely serving a hamburger to
And even here, what about the religious animal rights activist who owns
a vegetarian restaurant and refuses to serve a hamburger to a
meat-eating customer. Is she an intolerant person, or merely one who
wishes to serve only the products she believes are morally acceptable?
Just as she serves only morally acceptable products (vegetarian food),
the Christian photographer provides only morally acceptable services
(traditional weddings only).
What about a Quaker landlord who refuses to rent a commercial building
to a gun dealer? Bigot? Or conscientious objector?
I think Mark was right--gay rights supporters use the word homophobe as
a weapon to try to discredit those who have a different view about human
sexual morality and marriage.
The Christian photographer who refuses to participate in a homosexual
marriage has done nothing shameful or wrong; and any law that makes it
unlawful for a religious objector to decline to participate in a
homosexual wedding is an unjust and intolerant law.
Welpton Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
"And against the constitution I have never raised a storm,It's the
scoundrels who've corrupted it that I want to reform" --Dick Gaughan
(from the song, Thomas Muir of Huntershill)
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