November 20, 2004
The homosexual choice
By NICHOLAS STRAKON
Editor-in-chief, The Last Ditch
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I'm old enough to remember it, though of course I'm not supposed to. How about you? Are you grizzled enough to recall that once upon a time homosexuals had a choice? It was called "sexual preference."
That was back when tyrannosaurs still roamed Central Park and primeval volcanoes erupted out of Lake Michigan. But as the anticultural planetoids continued to smite the Earth, advancing our extinction, those in charge of writing and rewriting the System's party line rectified "sexual preference" to "sexual orientation," and suddenly homosexuals no longer had a choice.
True, you may still see references to "sexual preference." I found many while Googling; but I found also that returns for "sexual orientation" outnumber returns for "sexual preference" by a ratio of 10 to 1. The product of an immature ideology, "sexual preference" was always a sloppy formulation, and it's my recollection that the vanguard moved to the harder line, pretty much dropping the implication of free choice, as long ago as the mid '80s. (I must try harder to recognize and record these crucial revisions in the Zeitgeist. Nowadays history recedes into prehistory at a moment's notice.) The rectification to "sexual orientation" was probably intended to soften popular revulsion toward AIDS and homosexual AIDS sufferers: homosexuals, all of whom were born that way, were just looking for "love" in the places they had to look; and in the days before the whole "safe sex" apparatus was set up and the bath houses were shut down, those tended to be spectacularly risky places. What! would you have denied homosexuals the chance to find "love"? Counseling abstinence wasn't just "unrealistic"; when directed at homosexuals, it was positively oppressive.
More important, the rectification made it easier for homosexualists to drive homosexuality into the mainstream, and especially into the schools and mass entertainment, because it enabled them to claim that no rational, benevolent person could dispute or resist such mainstreaming. If "gays" were all just born that way, and no one could be influenced to become "gay," the only effects the mainstreaming could have were positive and utterly unthreatening to the non-"gay." Mainstreaming would merely serve "gays" better and win them overdue respect from "straight" people.
At the same time though this breakthrough was never mentioned in the same sentence the mainstreaming afforded homosexualists more opportunities to help poor confused victims of gender oppression to "discover" and liberate their inner "gayness." Under the no-choice ideology, all such "discoveries" are to be considered valid and unchallengeable. Millions of soccerite parents have surrendered accordingly. You've seen them on TV, smiling their practiced, patient smiles and assuring viewers that "we love our son for who he is." The idea that those sons could or should be something else is nothing short of thoughtcrime.
Anti-homosexualist conservatives, for their part, insist that homosexuals do have a choice, and most cultural rightists argue that it goes beyond merely choosing whether or not to act up that, in short, homosexuals have a choice whether to be so or not. Zeitgeist fans enjoy howling that down, and I think their critique connects with many normal men, with respect to male homosexuality. A "straight" man's attraction to women so permeates his very being that he may well conclude it must have a solely genetic basis; to those who rashly throw around the concept of instinct, it may appear "instinctual." A normal man, therefore, seeing that homosexuals find men attractive instead of women, may well decide that the homosexual's hard wiring must be defective, or at least radically different: in short, that homosexuality is indeed purely congenital.
In the service of discretion I will confine myself to the elocution of a hundred and some years ago: so please think in terms of petticoats and button shoes. For a normal man, the glimpse of a "trim ankle" as a lady furls her parasol and enters a hansom cab does not actually provoke sexual desire through some mechanical neurological agency; his response depends instead on a long series of mental connections that he has become accustomed to making throughout his life, by living the moments of that life. It is useful to recall that among primitive Pacific tribes whose women are accustomed to promenading sans blouse, so to speak, the sight of that particular variety of "trim ankle" provokes no erotic response in the men of the tribe.
That the brief sighting of a "trim ankle" produces a hormonal response in a split second from a Western man may obscure the fact that an elaborate act of cognition has occurred, creating a complex array of second-order and third-order generalizations, conditioned by the cultural assumptions the man has accepted. Whether it is good thinking or bad thinking, habitual thinking is speedy thinking. We ought not to be misled by that speed.
The conservative might be more successful in reaching "straight" mainstreamers if he handled the question of choice with more finesse. It does seem unlikely that the homosexual wakes up every morning and asks himself, Well, today shall I continue to be a homosexual, or shall I change and become a heterosexual? in the same way that we might wake up and ask ourselves, Well, today shall I have eggs or cereal for breakfast?
Introspection has helped me grasp some of this. In terms of character, I know that I am not the man my father is. How have I found myself in that place? I don't wake up every morning deciding to be a lesser man that day; at least it is not a conscious reflection; and it does not seem to be a discrete, deliberate choice on that day. The man I am is actually the result of a lifetime of choices, big, small, and medium-sized; some made hastily, some upon longer consideration; and all made in the circumstances of scarcity with respect to time, strength, and knowledge that is our common lot.
For a metaphor I fall back on that of the path, which my Christian readers may find familiar. A man may consciously decide to follow a certain path. (One of the services a strong, coherent culture provides is keeping the main path smooth and well-marked.) He may consciously decide, early on, to abandon the path entirely and blaze a new trail or just go stumbling, hopefully or hopelessly, through the mud and rocks. But many of us stray from the path only a little, surrendering without much reflection to little temptations, little moments of weakness. We may find our way back. But if we persist in our little diversions, soon enough they add up to a distant and irrevocable detour; and we are lost. As a result of our ten thousand choices in the past, the range of our future choice is narrowed almost to the point of vanishing.
Here's a similar metaphor. A navigator who misses his course by only half a degree, and never corrects that error, or corrects it halfway but then errs again, will soon enough find his ship hundreds of miles from where it ought to be. If he persists in his error, he may not be able to recover his true course before his ship founders on a fatal reef.
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes, "The safest road to Hell is the gradual one the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." Lewis's image, you may note, doesn't include any mud or rocks to stumble over, which obstacles might otherwise bring us up short and prompt us to recover our bearings.
Even if you haven't yet tired of my homiletics exclaiming, You have some nerve, Pagan Strakon! you may think I've gone too far with this choice business. Actually I haven't gone quite far enough yet. Though in this essay I'm looking mostly at male homosexuality, I have to repeat what I've suggested before about the current "college lesbianism": it isn't just a choice, it's a fad, a fashion (though one that may endure, like rock "music"). Most people surely understand the elective nature of college lesbianism, even if they can't talk about it for fear of being fired, expelled, or sued.
That said, I do accept the evidence assembled by investigators such as Philippe Rushton for inborn differences in temperament and ability among the races. It's not because of choice and environmental influences alone, for example, that a Chinese man is more likely to be a mathematician than a stick-up artist, and that a Negro man is more likely to be a stick-up artist than a mathematician. It would be odd if similar inborn differences, among individuals, did not more strongly predispose some of us toward homosexuality than toward heterosexuality. In terms of predisposition, it's possible that we should look on male heterosexuals and male homosexuals as representing different sexual "races."
Scientists haven't yet succeeded in identifying a "violence gene," though individual violence is expressed more characteristically among some races than among others; and it may be a long time before investigators identify a "homosexual gene" among the "homosexual race," assuming any such gene exists. I'm a scientific ignoramus, but common sense leads me to speculate that the biologically conditioned differences in typical behavior among great categories of men result from a synthesis of a whole complex of biological differences and not from a single determinative gene.
Having granted the possibility of a biological predisposition, though, I insist that each of us is responsible for interposing our mind between our inborn tendencies and our behavior. Choice perdures, which means that the moral import of our conduct perdures. That includes the moral import of our choice to narrow our practical range of choice. (You may find a more extensive discussion of this issue in my 1996 article "Sweeping Rand's barnyard: Racism and individualism," especially the section titled "Prisoners of race?".) If that were not the case, determinism would rule, and as a species we would be distinguishable from the ambæ only in gross morphology.
Friends of the sodomist movement will accuse me of begging the question of the badness of homosexuality. Now, as a disbeliever in revealed religion, I actually have little to say, in the sin department, to individual homosexuals who mind their own business. (Even orthodox Randians sometimes wrangle over whether or not the practice of homosexuality necessarily undermines one's rational self-esteem.) Many of my readers would have more to say on the matter of sin. But I do propose that homosexualism the practice and promotion of homosexuality as a popular movement is bad. It is bad for our civilization.
Unquestionably, homosexuality is a deformation from a civilizational standpoint: if everyone were homosexual, as homosexualists sometimes pretend to assume, the race and the civilization it bears would perish. When homosexualists are not pretending that everyone is secretly "gay," they are often eager to advertise their loathing and contempt for those they call "breeders." The implication is that heterosexuals who "breed" are no better than dumb farm animals, if they are not indeed some repulsive alien life form. This attitude seems to reach beyond the sentiment of "different strokes for different folks": it appears that the more forthright of the homosexualists actually favor racial and civilizational suicide.
In any case, the fewer families there are bound by ties of blood and history the fewer bricks there are for any civilizational edifice we could recognize. (Whatever our position on abortion rights, the same is true of abortion insofar as it is widely practiced among the bearers of a civilization.)
Homosexualism is more dangerous to the extent that the state promotes it. The state is well on the way to criminalizing "anti-gay discrimination" by private people. Politically connected homosexualists push unrelentingly to enact, under the rubric of "hate crime" law, more penalties for assaulting homosexuals than are on the books for assaulting normal people. The state schools, from grammar school through college, tolerate and even reward homosexualists, as do the state-licensed electronic media. In those jurisdictions that encourage homosexuals to adopt babies born to "straight" people, the state's regulation of adoption results in an official imprimatur for homosexual "families" that include children. (According to the pro-homosexualist About Adoption Website, "Nine states California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin as well as D.C. allow for openly gay and lesbian couples to adopt jointly.") Even the state definition and licensing of marriage (unfortunate by-products of the Protestant Reformation) have now, in some jurisdictions, fallen under the sway of the homosexualists.
The modern leviathan pretends to widen the scope of choice among "lifestyles," and it pretends to "liberate" ever more classes of the "oppressed," but the state cannot really administer free choice. It can only destroy freedom overall. For Americans, clear thinking on this point is sabotaged by their attachment to the Lincolnite Fallacy, under which some people were freed from the subjugation of local governments ("that which is seen") by subjugating all the people under the rule of a newly empowered Central Government ("that which is not seen"). We need to be careful in formulating the precise nature of the homosexual choice for individual men and women, but whatever the nature of that choice, the state remains the great enemy of choice itself.
November 20, 2004
Published in 2004 by WTM Enterprises.
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