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‘F–k You, A–holes,’ Argued the Yale Philosopher

They don’t make Yale philosophy professors like they used to, I reckon. Jason Stanley [1] is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. He also deigned to offer his professional Ivy League philosopher’s opinion on reports of remarks that the distinguished Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne made last week at a Society of Christian Philosophers meeting — comments that offered a critical view of homosexuality, reportedly (I say “reportedly” because to my knowledge, no one has seen a transcript of his talk). The considered judgment of the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale, regarding Swinburne and those who defended his right to his opinion, is this: “F*ck you assholes. Seriously.”

Except without the asterisk.

I knew this because I saw it on this post [2] on a group blog by right-of-center philosophy professors. You should take a look at it, noting especially its tone. Most of the post is dedicated to rounding up reaction, for and against, to Swinburne’s speech, with particular attention paid to the hysterical nature of left-wing philosophers. The author of the blog entry took screenshots of a Facebook page, which is how Stanley’s judgment ended up on that site. (I saw it the other day, but did not know who Stanley was until a reader pointed it out to me that he’s very far from a nobody.) Stanley now writes, on his Facebook page:

I am really mortified about this. My comment “F*ck those assholes”, posted on a friend’s private FB page about homophobes, was *photographed*. Even *worse*, it made it into *the right-wing hateosphere*, where it is being linked and relinked. I really wish now I hadn’t said that!! I PROFOUNDLY regret not using much harsher language and saying what I really think of anyone who uses their religion to promote homophobia, you know that sickness that has led people for thousands of years to kill my fellow human beings for their sexual preferences. Like you know, pink triangles and the Holocaust. I am really, truly, embarrassed by the fact that my mild comment “F*ck those assholes” is being spread. This wildly understates my actual sentiments towards homophobic religious proponents of evil like Richard Swinburne, who use their status as professional philosophers to oppress others with less power. I am SO SORRY for using such mild language. I am posting this on “public” so that there will be no need for anyone to violate any religious code of ethics and take pictures of private FB pages to share my views about such matters.

The Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, everybody.

I urge you to go to the linked post from the conservative philosophers’ blog and judge for yourself if it can remotely be described as part of any such “hateosphere”. If anything, the reckless judgment, vulgar language, and unhinged nature of Prof. Stanley’s remarks are far closer to hatred than anything on the conservative philosophers’ page. But as is par for the course for the academic left, extremism in the attack on homophobia is never, ever a vice.

Philosopher Ryszard Legutko, in his book The Demon In Democracy, understands what’s going on here. For the progressive, as for the communist, achieving the egalitarian utopia requires demonizing and extirpating the enemies of Equality and Freedom:

So at a certain moment the spirit of mistrust turns to human minds and human thoughts, which are believed to be the fountainhead from which acceptance of the inequalities springs. It is thus a matter of time before the sting of egalitarian ideology is directed against education, where the minds are shaped, against family life and community life, through which human thoughts acquire social durability, against art, language, and science, where they find more refined expression.

Legutko continues: “The spirit of suspicion will not disappear because there are always newer areas to conquer and deeper sources of inequality to discover.”

More:

Both sides — communist and liberal-democratic — share their dislike, sometimes bordering on hatred, toward the same enemies: the Church and religion, the nation, classical metaphysics, moral conservatism, and the family. Both are unable to mitigate their arrogance toward everything that their ideology despises, and which, in their revolutionary ardor, the seek to remove from the public space and from private lives.

Both are fixated on one or two things that they refer to ad nauseam because those things delineated the unbreachable boundaries of their limited horizon. In every sentence from the Leninist and Stalinist catechisms one can replace “proletariat” with “women” or with “homosexuals,” make a few other minor adjustments, and no one will recognize the original source. Both sides desire a better world so badly that in order to have it, they do not hesitate to control the totality of human life — including these aspects that are most personal or intimate. Both, unfortunately, have been successful politically and have taken over the ideological power of institutions, laws, and even something as elusive, but nonetheless important, as political atmosphere.

Let’s try that Leninist and Stalinist catechism trick:

We are on the eve of decisive events. Progressives in academia must not pin their faith on the general language of “freedom of expression” and “freedom of inquiry,” but must contrapose that language in their own progressive-democratic terms in their full scope. Free speech must never mean the right to make hurtful, bigoted remarks that make the university an unsafe place for marginalized communities. History shows that kind of thing leads to things like pink triangles and the Holocaust. Only a force guided by this understanding of can really ensure the complete eradication of homophobia, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and all bigotries from the university.

I bet Prof. Stanley could sign on to that. I bet a lot of university professors could, and would. It is inspired by this passage from a 1906 speech of Lenin’s [3], in which he told revolutionaries not to reject the ordinary meaning of democratic terms, and start using their own language instead. Otherwise, the bourgeoisie might gain a foothold in the coming post-Czarist political order:

We are on the eve of decisive events. The proletariat must not pin its faith in general democratic slogans but must contrapose to them its own proletarian-democratic slogans in their full scope. Only a force guided by these slogans can really ensure the complete victory of the revolution.

Or take this one. First, the Stanleyfied version:

This means replacing what in fact are structures of oppression (structures hypocritically cloaked as “freedom of expression”) with a more just way of governing academia, one that empowers the marginalized. This means replacing democracy for the oppressors by democracy for the oppressed. This means replacing freedom of speech and inquiry for the white, male, heterosexists, for the exploiters, by freedom of speech and inquiry for those who have long been excluded from power. This means a gigantic, world historic extension of freedom, its transformation from falsehood into truth, the liberation of humanity from the shackles of heterosexist, white-supremacist patriarchy, which distorts and truncates any, even the most “open” university.

The original, from Lenin’s 1918 speech on “‘Democracy’ and Dictatorship” [4]:

This means replacing what in fact is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (a dictatorship hypocritically cloaked in the forms of the democratic bourgeois republic) by the dictatorship of the proletariat. This means replacing democracy for the rich by democracy for the poor. This means replacing freedom of assembly and the press for the minority, for the exploiters, by freedom of assembly and the press for the majority of the population, for the working people. This means a gigantic, world historic extension of democracy, its transformation from falsehood into truth, the liberation of humanity from the shackles of capital, which distorts and truncates any, even the most “democratic” and republican, bourgeois democracy. This means replacing the bourgeois state with the proletarian state, a replacement that is the sole way the state can eventually wither away altogether.

And so on. The fact that a Yale philosophy professor not only holds such vicious opinions towards another professor who apparently only stated a historically standard Christian philosophical view of homosexuality, but who also did not hesitate to publicly denounce that professor in the most vulgar possible terms, is a striking sign of the revolutionary times. To give you a sense of the ideas that are considered so vile as to be unutterable, even in a Christian philosophers’ conference, I searched in Swinburne’s 2007 book Revelation [5] to see what his view on homosexuality is. To my knowledge, there has been no transcript provided of his SCP talk, but numerous online comments by philosophers who were there said that there was nothing in it that Swinburne had not already said in Revelation (which was published by Oxford University Press, not known for being a purveyor of National Socialist tracts) It’s possible to search on Amazon and find the relevant pages in the Swinburne book. It starts on p. 304. As best I can tell, here is his argument:

  1. Children need two parents. The inability to beget children is a “disability.”

  2. Homosexuality, by this definition, is a disability.

  3. Disabilities need to be prevented and cured.

  4. What causes homosexuality? We don’t know, but it’s likely some combination of genetics and environment.

  5. We can change the environmental conditions by discouraging people from homosexual acts, and embracing a homosexual identity.

  6. There is always a possibility that the disability called homosexuality might be cured, so therapy should be considered. But as of now, we have no reason to think that it will be successful, except in a slight number of cases.

  7. In any case, homosexuals should be encouraged to be chaste, just as heterosexuals should be encouraged to be chaste in the face of their own disordered sexual impulses.

  8. We must show love and compassion to homosexuals (and others with disordered impulses), but real love and compassion implies wanting not what they want, but what is best for them.

  9. Therefore, to love gays (and everybody else) is to desire that all who live outside the bounds of normative heterosexual marriage live in chastity.

This is a very common Christian argument from Scripture and the natural law. For a more detailed version of this argument, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the meaning of sex and sexuality. [6] The Catholic Church teaches that all sexual acts and all sexual desire outside of heterosexual marriage (including masturbation,  and use of pornography) are disordered, because they disrupt the purpose of sex (= the unity of the couple, open to the possibility of the conception of new life). This is why the Church condemns contraception as a deformation of the right use of sex. The Catechism calls homosexuality “intrinsically disordered” because it is a state of sexual desire that can in no way be rightly ordered.

One can easily see why contemporary philosophers would object to this, and they should object to it, philosophically, if it violates their principles. But the idea that what Swinburne said is some sort of crazy right-wing blast from the bowels of Hitleriana, not fit to be stated in philosophical company, is insane.

But I don’t think Stanley and his academic confreres are insane, not in the least. I think they are radical progressive ideologues. I think they deliberately want to demonize any philosophers who hold to the traditional Christian teaching on the meaning of sexuality, particularly homosexuality. One of the most prominent contemporary philosophers is Princeton’s Peter Singer, who has advocated bestiality (under certain conditions) and the extermination of handicapped newborns. Singer is welcome within contemporary philosophical circles … but Richard Swinburne is now to be anathematized?

Anybody with eyes can see what’s going on here. There is a cleansing underway. The fact that the Society of Christian Philosophers is allowing itself to be bullied by these people is deeply depressing. Christian philosophers ought to be defending Swinburne’s right to state his opinion, even if they disagree with that opinion.

(I should add here that one of the handful of reasons I would even consider voting for Trump is the certain knowledge that a Hillary Clinton administration would only further the cultural hegemony of cutthroat revolutionaries like Stanley and his fellow travelers.)

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144 Comments To "‘F–k You, A–holes,’ Argued the Yale Philosopher"

#1 Comment By Brendan from Oz On September 29, 2016 @ 12:42 am

“From what I gather from this quote, the couple becomes “one flesh” whether a child is conceived or not. Absent the church’s own religious standards which it is of course entitled to defend, I find no objective basis to determine how two becomes “one flesh” unless it is specifically obtained through (a) the conception which Manning does not consider a prerequisite or (b) the physical union of two people during a sexual act (which would necessarily include the sexual acts which the Catholic Church prohibits).”

Try thinking of another context, such as the Taoist yin-yang symbol, a whole formed from two opposites (male and female, yin and yang) that does not exist separately.

A sacred union in is that with the mysterious “other”, whether the Other sex or God. Nuns are Brides of Christ thanks to the mystical union found in prayer, meditation and contemplation, if celibate.

Legal and man-made social constructions defy such human relations that arose world-wide in every religion and culture, if with variations.

Civil Unions make much more sense to me: have a legal arrangement called whatever you want.

#2 Comment By Catholic Passerby On September 29, 2016 @ 1:14 am

“I find no objective basis to determine how two becomes “one flesh” unless it is specifically obtained through (a) the conception which Manning does not consider a prerequisite or (b) the physical union of two people during a sexual act (which would necessarily include the sexual acts which the Catholic Church prohibits).”

The cells of a human body are “one flesh” because they work coordinately for the good of the whole organism. Having the same DNA code is not the point, because a transplanted heart has different DNA code but has become “one flesh” with the receiver.

There is one biological function that an isolated living organism cannot fulfill: reproduction. For that function, the organism must become “one flesh” with another organism of the opposite sex. The only kind of act whereby they become “one flesh” is the kind of act which can lead – in so far as the act itself is concerned – to the conception of a new living organism.

And yes, unmarried people and people committing adultery do become one flesh when they engage in a potentially reproductive sexual act.

#3 Comment By DR84 On September 29, 2016 @ 2:14 am

“Sunshine’s point is correct. Gay people have only recently won the right to marry, and they had to fight traditionalists who wanted to continue to use the power of the state to impose their own beliefs on what marriage is on everyone. That doesn’t excuse Stanley– why would it? You should stop reacting defensively when people point out the lack of charity traditionalists have shown towards gays. Sin is not a zero sum game, where one side is guilty only if the other side is completely innocent.”

This is nuts. People who identify as gays have always had the same right to marry as everyone else. It just is reality that two people of the same sex cannot form the type of union that a man and woman can. This is not an imposition, and certainly not something traditionalists were trying to force on anyone. Traditionalists did not invent human beings, and make us male and female, and make it so only a male and female can unite together.

#4 Comment By DR84 On September 29, 2016 @ 2:37 am

John-

Conception is not a willed act. A man and woman can have sex together, but they cannot choose whether or not they will conceive. Conception is, instead, a result of that sexual union. That union is the completion of the human reproductive system. No sex act apart from the marital act involves the male half and female half of the human reproductive system being combined.

It is logical and consistent to affirm that the marital act (aka consummation) is necessary for marriage without believing that conception must also be. This is even more true because if the marital act is not necessary, then neither is commitment and fidelity. It would be morally permissible for a man to have children with other women. The traditional position on this is not just logically consistent, it also conforms to what we know to be right. We know it is wrong for a married man to have sexual relations and children with other women.

#5 Comment By relstprof On September 29, 2016 @ 3:34 am

From Michael Rae’s FB thread. A statement by Eleonore Stump, the Robert J. Henle Chair in Philosophy at Saint Louis University:

“I was not at Prof. Swinburne’s talk, and my knowledge of what he said is derived from the comments about it by others. But it is clear from those comments that he took a strong stand on a highly controversial topic, which is divisive even among Christians, and that he expressed his views in an inflammatory way, so that those who disagreed with him were hurt and angry and even some of those who agreed with him were dismayed.

The Society of Christian Philosophers is not a church. It does not have a creed. Its only conditions on membership are self-assessment as a Christian and as a philosopher. But a number of the outraged comments after Prof. Swinburne’s talk attributed his views to Christians in general or to the Society of Christian Philosophers in particular.

In these circumstances, it was incumbent on the President of the SCP, Mike Rea, to clarify the position of the SCP. He did not express any opinion on Prof. Swinburne’s conclusions or anything else about Prof. Swinburne’s talk. He expressed regret only over the pain Prof. Swinburne’s talk caused. And he reminded people that the SCP was conceived as an organization that would be inclusive of all those who consider themselves Christian.

Since it is clear that anything said in the aftermath of Prof. Swinburne’s talk will itself be the subject of more controversy, I am grateful to Mike Rea for his courage in being willing to make the statement he did.

As for Prof. Swinburne, I share with him a commitment to orthodox Christianity, and I admire greatly the luminous courage he has shown over the years on many occasions, even those occasions where I have disagreed strongly either with his views or his manner of expressing them.”

A university guild, and its conventions, is not the church, nor organs of its body. If people in the public are offended by a guild’s self examination, then let them be offended.

#6 Comment By DobermanBoston On September 29, 2016 @ 5:31 am

I’ve quietly observed this for the last 3 decades or more, and as quietly took the pessimistic view as we raised our children to survive in a world where courtesy is an oddity instead of a social norm.

You are not alone. The laxity of parenting on display in public places, compared even to the norms of fifteen years ago, is the most dramatic example of this.

#7 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On September 29, 2016 @ 5:57 am

[NFR: … I’m saying that we live in a pop culture obsessed with homosexuality and transgressive sexuality of all kinds. — RD]

I think the pop culture’s obsession is the equivalent of click bait. Media makes money when eyeballs are viewing it, so it seeks out subjects that gain attention above the din. Sex and violence are primal and hard to tune out.

Meanwhile in their daily lives most people don’t behave like the Kardashians. If they did people wouldn’t bother to tune in on their antics.

My solution is not having cable TV or a subscription to People Magazine. It cuts out a huge chunk of the noise.

#8 Comment By Andrew Smethurst On September 29, 2016 @ 7:58 am

Legutko said,
“Both are unable to mitigate their arrogance toward everything that their ideology despises, and which, in their revolutionary ardor, the seek to remove from the public space and from private lives.”

to those who fear organised religions the above applies equally to most of them. The Roman Catholic Church has been particularly guilty of this and has perpetrated uncountable atrocities on people who did not agree with them. This is,”The pot calling the kettle black”.
Having said that, I think anyone holding a chair in philosophy should be able to express their selves better than using the “F bomb”

#9 Comment By Rechill On September 29, 2016 @ 8:01 am

Right, the visceral disgust reaction of a man entering another man’s digestive system is the real sickness here. And hasn’t anal sex itself killed more homosexuals than pink triangles?

#10 Comment By Robert Marvin On September 29, 2016 @ 8:13 am

I think they are radical progressive ideologues.

I see this to an extent within the Christian church. At the parish which my family attends, the progressive ideologues (who I am pretty sure are a vocal minority although in positions of leadership with plenty of influence) are firmly in charge. I do not mean people shouting profanity and pointing guns. These people are generally very kind and pleasant. When it comes to ideology they can be aggressive and relentless. They already know the conclusion. They already know what is true and right. It is just a matter of how they persuade or pressure everyone else to get with their program. It has reached the point where it feels like a hostile environment and traditionalists are constantly on the defensive. I was dreading a meeting yesterday and sure enough what I was afraid would happen did happen and I “lost” a brief exchange with one of our most radical members. She drew blood, metaphorically speaking.

Both sides — communist and liberal-democratic — share their dislike, sometimes bordering on hatred, toward the same enemies: the Church and religion, the nation, classical metaphysics, moral conservatism, and the family.

It is sad when that key sentence describes fellow Christians. Although somewhat difficult to prove, I am convinced the ultimate goal of all this sexual revolution battling is the marginalization and eradication of religion.

I half agree with the Yale professor. I don’t like when people take pictures or videos and spread them all over the internet. Granted, Facebook is more public than not, so in a sense “what did he expect?”

#11 Comment By John Protevi On September 29, 2016 @ 8:24 am

I found this to be a sober, clear, and scientifically informed critique of Swinburne: [7]

[NFR: Note well that I allow you to post on my blog, which is not a courtesy you extended to people who wished to post to your blog links to things I’ve written. — RD]

#12 Comment By Bill M On September 29, 2016 @ 9:13 am

Who is Jacob Urowsky? Stanley holds a chair named for a guy that doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Some chair!

#13 Comment By KD On September 29, 2016 @ 9:21 am

The idiocy of modern philosophers is a priori method.

The reality is “sexual orientation” is a myth. Some people have very strong preferences for heterosex, some for homosex, but many can adapt to their environment (say prison). Posner has discussed this issue in his writings.

Sociologically, groups that have strong antihomosex attitudes have drastically higher fertility rates than the prohomosex. Further, I don’t know any prohomosex group that has even a replacement fertility.

Since values are primarily passed from parents to children, any cultural group that adopts a prohomosex ideology is doomed to demographic suicide in no more than 2-3 generations.

Obviously, the Church, understanding itself as the Body of Christ and seeking to preserve the Body of Christ throughout history, cannot flirt with demographic extinction, no matter how good the a priori reasons and no matter how sentimental we may feel about Alan Turing’s fate.

Likewise, any historically constituted nation cannot flirt with demographic extinction if it wants to provide collective security to its people and preserve its way of life.

As far as the deracinated individual, who does not care about their historically derived identity or their inherited religious tradition, it is pretty clear what the public health consequences of homosexuality are, and demographic research on homosexual couples reveals both gay and lesbian couples die much younger than straight couples.

Of course, if you are an autonomous individual, you may not care about your health or longevity, but many “good citizens” might contend that the government promotion of an objectively unhealthy lifestyle is an abuse of state power. Most of our enlightened moralists seem to support State campaigns to discourage tobacco use, for example.

The above assertions are not based on the a priori method, simply things anyone can discover who look at the relevant demographic and public health studies.

From the standpoint of individual and group survival, homosexuality should be discouraged by society and the Church. On the other hand, the question of the degree to which it should be discouraged is an open question from my perspective, and I can be accused of being overly lenient here.

I would point out that this whole conflict in America could have been avoided if the Supreme Court was willing to acknowledge a distinction between a heterosexual sacramental marriage (conducive to fertility, economy, and national security) and a homosexual union. In a couple generations, the LGBT would all mostly disappear, healthy families would again predominate, and society would right itself.

It is clear that the LGBT agenda is no longer about tolerance but about the destruction of enduring groups such as religions and nations.

As a result, I expect we are only beginning to see a backlash from enduring groups who recognize that the LGBT agenda poses a direct existential threat to their existence, different tactically from a pogrom, but aiming at the same result. It is also clear that the people pushing LGBT are not pushing it out of love of LGBT’s, but out of hatred of enduring groups.

#14 Comment By mrscracker On September 29, 2016 @ 9:30 am

How did the use of the word “homophobia” come about & what’s the origin? I’ve always wondered about that. Is the concept that people are actually afraid of homosexual individuals or just homosexual acts?
You have words like anti-Semitic ,misogynist, racist, etc but they don’t have a “phobia” associated with them.
Just wondering.

#15 Comment By Mario Diana On September 29, 2016 @ 10:19 am

Mr. Dreher, you can rest assured that a Hillary Clinton administration would only further the cultural hegemony of cutthroat revolutionaries like Stanley and his fellow travelers. How can you not be certain?

#16 Comment By KD On September 29, 2016 @ 10:30 am

But “overpopulation”!

“Overpopulation” people should address their efforts to sub-Saharan Africa, with its off-the-scales tfr’s.

Most of Europe, the Americas and East Asia has a problem of aging populations and increasing dependency ratios. Even if you succeed in completely wiping out all these peoples and cultures, you are still looking at an ever expanding multitude of billions in Africa.

If the concern is “over-population”, why isn’t the left interested in pushing population controls in those regions of the world that are most overpopulated?

#17 Comment By KD On September 29, 2016 @ 10:49 am

More analysis:

[8]

#18 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 29, 2016 @ 11:03 am

How did the use of the word “homophobia” come about & what’s the origin? I’ve always wondered about that. Is the concept that people are actually afraid of homosexual individuals or just homosexual acts?

The “-phobia” suffix was used in chemistry long before the modern PC revolution, to indicate a sort of repulsion. Oils and other nonpolar substances are ‘repulsed’ from water (more exactly, molecules of water attract each other more strongly than they are attracted to oil, and vice versa) so we describe oil as ‘hydrophobic’).

The strangest of all these terms is ‘Islamophobic’. I mean, when did that become a bad thing, exactly? If you’re not a Muslim, don’t you by definition disapprove of it, as a false religion? Shouldn’t you?

#19 Comment By Roldrik Mavo On September 29, 2016 @ 11:07 am

Where’s the philosophical discourse and discontent with the practice of beheading homosexuals in Muslim countries?

I guess that is outside the bounds of progressive philosophers these days.

#20 Comment By Jim the First On September 29, 2016 @ 11:22 am

BTW, RD, I have to compliment you on the headline. Fantastic stuff. (I presume you determine your own headlines, anyway. If not, then whoever is responsible get a heart ‘Hail, Fellow, Well Met’ from me.)

#21 Comment By Jerry On September 29, 2016 @ 11:23 am

To mrscracker: “Phobia” can mean “hate” as well as “fear,” and expressions with “-phobia” were used long before “homophobia” was coined. “Judeophobia” is an old-fashioned name for antisemitism, for example. “Phobia” is often used with “Philia” to indicate contrasting attitudes to a people, as in Anglophilia vs. Anglophobia. An old-time word for a homosexual person was “homophile,” which may have suggested “homophobe” as a term for a hater of homosexuals.

#22 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On September 29, 2016 @ 11:40 am

Have you ever heard of the Jacobins or the Communists? The level of violence they, and this especially goes for the Communists, inflicted on dissenters to their rule while in power, including orthodox Christians, makes what orthodox Christians did to dissenters and heretics look like a Sunday school picnic. The fact that a fanatical Progressive such as Stanley sounds a lot like Lenin is definitely cause for alarm. It’s really not a giant step of the imagination to see the likes of Stanley supporting oppression and outright violence against orthodox Christians in the near future.

The analogy here is much closer than a lot of people think. For the most part, and with some exceptions, the consequences in the post-1956 Warsaw Pact countries (well, outside Albania and Romania, I guess) involved losing your job, not your life. Likewise, the consequences of being gay in pre-Lawrence America were usually social rather than legal in nature: some states did have laws against sodomy but they weren’t enforced all that often. This isn’t to suggest the way we treated gay people or that Brezhnev treated Christians was good, it’s to suggest that the threat of professional and social ostracism is in fact extremely powerful in a social species, and can be an extremely effective mode of censorship and repression, all the better for being a bloodless one. And this is the mode of censorship which is in the process of being applied (and will be applied more and more broadly in the near futures) towards today’s dissenters from the LGBT revolution.

#23 Comment By melanerpes On September 29, 2016 @ 11:56 am

Jason Stanley’s Facebook posts are an example of one of the most salutary effects of social media: the exposure of most of our elites as abject mediocrities.

#24 Comment By JV On September 29, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

KD – “If the concern is “over-population”, why isn’t the left interested in pushing population controls in those regions of the world that are most overpopulated?”

Us on the left have been advocating for greater access to and education on contraception and family planning in developing nations for years. It ain’t easy when local customs and religions, as well as the Catholic Church and conservative politicians here at home advocate against such policies, either verbally or by denying funding. We’ll keep trying, though, thanks.

#25 Comment By Clint On September 29, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

Phobia” is often used with “Philia” to indicate contrasting attitudes to a people, as in Anglophilia vs. Anglophobia

Christian heterophiles should not allow the homophiles to bully dictate the wordsmithing of the issue and it’s argumentation.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 29, 2016 @ 2:15 pm

The strangest of all these terms is ‘Islamophobic’. I mean, when did that become a bad thing, exactly? If you’re not a Muslim, don’t you by definition disapprove of it, as a false religion? Shouldn’t you?

Islamophobia is indeed a strange term, borrowed, most likely, from the use of homophobia, another strange term, by agnostic leftists whose convenient choice of term was picked up gleefully enough by the likes of CAIR.

But, while it is true that adherents of another religion might well reject Islam as a false religion, the real controversy is about full exercise of civil rights regardless of which true or false faith your fellow citizens believe in. After all, Catholics of certain philosophical ilks have been known to advocate civil disabilities for Protestants, but nobody has called this Protestantophobia.

Mr. Dreher, you can rest assured that a Hillary Clinton administration would only further the cultural hegemony of cutthroat revolutionaries like Stanley and his fellow travelers. How can you not be certain?

Hillary Clinton is a sheer political opportunist, capable of saying anything to get elected, and doing whatever suits her purposes later. She will further the cultural hegemony of Stanley et al. as long as she thinks it will keep her in power longer, and only so long as that. She’s perfectly capable of turning on them later if she finds it convenient.

Also in the Catholic understanding, a man and a woman do not have to be capable of conceiving a child in order to marry, but they MUST be physically capable of engaging in the act of sexual intercourse, the only natural act by which new humans can ever be made

Or, you can just read Dear Abby and other advice columns… which are full of women and men whose husband or wife just aren’t fulfilling sexually, and wonder about the propriety of having someone on the side to handle the physical desires. It is civilly a valid basis to annul a marriage, because entering into a marriage does include some semblance of commitment to sexual fidelity, and you can’t expect to be faithful to someone who can’t meet you half way after you forsake all others. It doesn’t take Roman Catholic theology to get to that point.

FWIW, Jacobins and Communists do not have a record of being kind to homosexuality.

Swinburne might have been using a standard, and classic Christian argument, but that doesn’t change the fact that he at worst is advocating the loss of liberty by queer people to exist.

I second Rod’s refutation of this. One can denounce the immorality of gambling, without putting people in prison for playing poker or frequenting casinos. One can denounce demon rum, without advocating Prohibition as state policy. One can vociferously object to Chinese, Koreans, Thai, or Lakota eating dog flesh, without demanding that those who favor such recipes be executed. (Its called diversity).

#27 Comment By Matt On September 29, 2016 @ 2:27 pm

If the concern is “over-population”, why isn’t the left interested in pushing population controls in those regions of the world that are most overpopulated?

The left doesn’t really focus much on overpopulation even here. The commitment to population growth via immigration overrides it. The main function of overpopulation is to buttress the disgust reaction towards people, usually if not always white and religious, who have lots of kids.

#28 Comment By mrscracker On September 29, 2016 @ 2:33 pm

Thank you all for the explanations re the origins of the word “homophobia.” I appreciate you taking the time.
🙂

#29 Comment By mrscracker On September 29, 2016 @ 4:22 pm

If the concern is “over-population”, why isn’t the left interested in pushing population controls in those regions of the world that are most overpopulated?”
**************
They are actually.
The Gates Foundation, among others, has been very active in this. To be fair, they also do much good in malaria & tropical disease prevention.

#30 Comment By Irenist On September 29, 2016 @ 4:42 pm

@Benjamin:

Swinburne might have been using a standard, and classic Christian argument, but that doesn’t change the fact that he at worst is advocating the loss of liberty by queer people to exist.

Is he advocating State-enforced conversion therapy? Or just voluntarily chosen therapy for those (and they do exist) who want it?

I’m bisexual, and I certainly don’t want any part of the “love and compassion” described by Swinburne.

As you wish. Of course, it should be obvious that Christians see sharing the Gospel (including its sexual ethic) with others as an act of love and compassion, just as LGBT organizations tend to see it as an act of love and compassion to enlighten public middle and high school students about the whole possible panorama of gender fluidity, contracepted “safe sex,” masturbation techniques, fisting, etc. The differences lie not in the sincere goodwill of the trads and the sex-ed advocates, but in the fact that it is the latter ideology that is increasingly state-enforced in the public schools—whether we or our kids want THAT kind of “love and compassion” or not.

That’s a horrible way to relate to queer people. It’s rather hard to expect that us and our allies would be polite toward these views in a private setting, or even a public one. It dehumanizes us. It might be from Christianity, but we don’t care. It could be from anything. It’s simply unacceptable.

I presume (perhaps falsely) that you don’t realize how much you take for granted that your view is normal, and ours is distressing. Below, I will use strong words to illustrate how it looks from the other side:

We feel the same way about attempts by Washington, Wall Street, and Hollywood to erase Christian sexual mores and corrupt our children. But we have out of charity been and indeed are constrained on pain of job loss to continue to be polite to you. Whereas one may mock and denigrate us with impunity, and keep that plum job at Yale, or win the Presidency.

It’s not a case of The Law of Merited Impossibility, it’s just that you can only expect so much politeness in the face of such unacceptable and destructive ideology.

I know how you feel. I strive to be irenic, even when dealing with those whose ideology is so unacceptable and destructive that they hold up sodomy and trangender self-mutiliation as laudable rather than (as they have been for all prior Christian history) debased, degraded decadence.

For you Rod, the war might be over and classically orthodox (and Orthodox) Christians lost. For us, the war continues.

And I imagine the war will continue for you until the last non-contracepting couple is strangled with the entrails of the last orthodox Christian priest? Or when? When is your cultural hegemony enough for you?

@Erin Manning

I just sort of want to chime in here and say that in the Catholic Church’s view of human sexuality, homosexual attraction is the manifestation of a disordered sexual desire, not some sort of disability.

Indeed. I see the logic of Swinburne’s position, but it is not precisely the Catholic position.

@John:

why must a couple who cannot conceive have the capacity to engage in the only act that leads to procreation? If you can’t conceive there is no reason why you would need the capacity to engage in the only act that can lead to procreation since the end result is already off the table – there will be no procreating.

You don’t have to find gold to be a prospector. You do have to look for gold, though—you can’t just sit in an armchair and announce that you’re a prospector. (Well, nowadays I suppose you could announce that “prospector” is your preferred pronoun and force people to call you that, but that’s another matter.)

The sine qua non of marriage is the “procreative act.” Barring impotence, even infertile couples can engage in this act. Now, whether the procreative act will result in actual procreation in any case is no more certain than that panning a river will result in gold in any given case. But taking the definitive action (copulating, panning) is what defines one as a spouse or a prospector.

From what I gather from this quote, the couple becomes “one flesh” whether a child is conceived or not.

Yes, provided the act is “procreative in kind.” Oral sex wouldn’t be a constitutively marital act, for example. And the key is not whether procreation occurs, but whether the act is of the procreative sort. The focus is on the joining together inherent in the marital act, not on the results of the act. But it must be joining together precisely through that act—regardless of its results—not some other act like oral sodomy, anal sodomy, becoming blood brothers, French kissing, holding hands, etc. (You could use a river to run a waterwheel for a mill instead of panning it for gold. But that makes you a miller, not a prospector. It’s not that other acts aren’t possible. It’s that other acts aren’t definitive of “marriage,” specifically.)

Absent the church’s own religious standards which it is of course entitled to defend,

The Church’s standards are also those of pre-Christian Greco-Roman natural law. They are philosophical rather than strictly religious, even if Christians happen to be natural law’s only defenders nowadays due to the secular embrace of a kind of materialist nominalism that is no more a neutral stance vis-à-vis the public square than the old Scholastic metaphysics, even though a special “neutral” status is nowadays ubiquitously usurped for it.

I find no objective basis to determine how two becomes “one flesh” unless it is specifically obtained through (a) the conception which Manning does not consider a prerequisite or (b) the physical union of two people during a sexual act (which would necessarily include the sexual acts which the Catholic Church prohibits).

The logical distinction is that only an act that is “procreative in kind” IS a sexual act, sensu stricto. Kissing and caressing and various forms of sodomy are acts that many people associate with sex (some licitly, some not), but they are not sex itself. We speak colloquially nowadays of “gay sex” but there is really no such thing. The “sexual” act is the theoretically (although not practically in the case of the infertile) potentially procreative consummation of the difference between the “sexes.” Precisely speaking, a man can no more “have sex” with another man than with a sock or a vacuum cleaner. He can attain illicit gratification with all three, and may have a loving emotional relationship with the other man, but none of his pleasures will amount to the sexual (i.e. procreative in kind) act. Now, you may find this view just as absurd and repugnant as almost all of humanity would have traditionally considered the idea that there was no logical or ethical distinction between a wife and a catamite. So be it. But it should be obvious that this view need not be rooted in any particular religious Revelation. It may be a philosophical view, philosophically arrived at—just as are the views of today’s secular homophiles. The only difference is that, post-Obergefell, we have established the homophiles’ view, and marginalized the other. But that is a difference in social power, not in philosophical rigor.

#31 Comment By Art Deco On September 29, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

Jason Stanley has spent his entire adult life on university campuses. He has almost no history of any other sort of employment. What that breeds is arrested development.

#32 Comment By Anne On September 29, 2016 @ 6:31 pm

“Hillary Clinton as President won’t make this situation better.”

Since the “this situation” referred to is today’s climate of uncivil discourse, I wouldn’t speculate one way or the other on the effect, if any, of a President Hilliary Clinton. On the other hand, electing a President Trump could easily mean F-bomb tweets originating daily from the Oval Office.

#33 Comment By seven sleepers On September 29, 2016 @ 7:17 pm

Legutko continues: “The spirit of suspicion will not disappear because there are always newer areas to conquer and deeper sources of inequality to discover.”

Exactly. So obvious. You cannot have equality as a goal. It will never be satisfied. “I am the MOST equal”

And for all the endless “equality” people love to celebrate, I sure see a lot of folks trying their best to get ahead and stand out.

ah, its pointless

[NFR: Yes. People who thought that once we had achieved same-sex marriage, that would be enough, were always naive. It is in the nature of progressivism that there is always something to be liberated and made equal. This won’t stop until it burns out or is made to stop. — RD]

#34 Comment By Anne On September 29, 2016 @ 7:57 pm

Thanks to relsprof for putting Michael Rae’s conciliatory comments, and for that matter, the whole brouhaha, into better perspective. Apparently, Swinburne offended even a few more than the usual suspects, which makes me curious, but so far no one seems eager to release a transcript.

As for Jason Stanley, I have to agree with the commenter who blames his F word-studded meltdown on the surrendering of privacy Facebook and social media in general encourage. He was clearly caught off guard having posted private comments in a public forum, and then, royally PO’d, proceeded to make matters worse by doubling down instead of fessing up to the inappropriateness of what he’d written.

As for his distinguished defenders and their copycat prose, let’s just say I wish it were more shocking than such language has come to seem, thanks to the stream of f-bombs and weaponized vulgarities so routinely emerging from Twitter, even, lest we forget, from a certain impulse control-challenged Presidential candidate.

Blaming all this, as usual, on the Left, from Communism (?) to liberalism and even liberal democracy (??) is about as fair as blaming all homophobia on the political philosophies of the Right. As one commenter pointed out, homosexuals hardly fared better under Communist systems, where they were rounded and shipped off to re-education camps than they did under Hitler or name-a-rightwing regime, and liberal philosophers are just as often yelled at, mistreated and f-bombed in parts of the internet, not to mention the real world, where the Right holds sway.

It would be nice if liberals would just live up to their ideal of tolerance and conservatives would practice good, old-fashioned manners. In the meantime, can we hope for perhaps a simple cease-fire?

#35 Comment By Anne On September 29, 2016 @ 7:59 pm

Edit: “…rounded UP and shipped off…”
Then again, an edit function might be all it takes to make everybody happy again.

#36 Comment By Harriet Taylor On September 29, 2016 @ 9:17 pm

Long time reader (who first arrived here years ago via SullyDish), first time commenter.

Though I disagree with many (most?) of your positions expressed here over the years, Rod, including gay marriage and the moral value of homosexuality and related acts–as one would expect of a liberal democrat and nontheist apostate from a Catholic upbringing–I’ve long appreciated your blog and political thought and have followed along in the spirit of John Stuart Mill’s “he who knows only his own side of the case knows little even of that”.

There is a lot I could say on this particular controversy as well as on the general phenomenon that really seems to have become more common of late, and of which this is only a particular instance, but I’ll just add one thing; my apologies if another commenter has already brought this to your attention.

Peter Singer has been subjected to the same sorts of efforts at censure and academic abridgment:

from 1999: [9]

from 2015: [10]

#37 Comment By Ken’ichi On September 30, 2016 @ 8:33 am

@Mr. Dreher

This won’t stop until it burns out or is made to stop.

But can it “burn out” without first burning down the whole world? Or made to stop by who?

#38 Comment By a commenter On September 30, 2016 @ 9:30 am

“Defining homosexuality as a disability is pretty horrifying,”

This statement is nothing more than a reflection of a basic progressive idea that there are lesser humans (the unborn, the disabled) and that those lesser humans have lesser personhood. This results from dispensing with the ideology that humans are made in the image of God and therefore all have intrinsic worth. Since your own philosophy claims that it is ok to abort or euthanise those whose lives you deem to have lesser worth, you find it horrifying to put your favorite class of people into that category. Only people you don’t care about, like those with Down syndrome, should be put into the class that gets to be aborted before birth because their existence you find too burdensome.

The progressive ideology is cruel and merciless at its root. That’s why I left.

Please, come back into the Light.

#39 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 30, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

“Us on the left have been advocating for greater access to and education on contraception and family planning in developing nations for years.”

Absolutely nothing prevents liberals from preventing having children – nothing. The only objection has been the murder of children. And that makes sense.

Blaming people of faith for one’s lack of self-control or planing in engaging in relational conduct shouldn’t fly on its face.

There’s

abstinence — 100% guaranteed to prevent

Contraception of every conceivable method that prevents conception

There are practices that even the Catholic Church seems to embrace that does permit husband and wife to engage in relations. Since liberals seem to think all relations anytime is a must — those Catholic methods can also be employed.

There’s no reason for anyone to become pregnant who doesn’t want to.

#40 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 1, 2016 @ 1:47 pm

That’s a horrible way to relate to queer people. It’s rather hard to expect that us and our allies would be polite toward these views in a private setting, or even a public one. It dehumanizes us.

No it does not. Stop being such a sensitive snowflake. For someone to say there is something wrong with a feeling you feel, when they have no authority to compel you to act as they might wish, does not dehumanize you. You are free to laugh at their concerns, which I suppose a sensitive snowflake on their side of the question might say dehumanizes THEM. But it doesn’t.

What WOULD dehumanize you is being told “You can’t shop at this store, you’re a queer.” THAT says you are less than a human being. To merely say, it is not natural to feel this way, you should resist such temptation, actually affirms your humanity… and again, you are free to ignore the advice.

Precisely speaking, a man can no more “have sex” with another man than with a sock or a vacuum cleaner. He can attain illicit gratification with all three, and may have a loving emotional relationship with the other man, but none of his pleasures will amount to the sexual (i.e. procreative in kind) act.

Removing any reference to procreation, I think that is probably close to accurate. Sex occurs between the two sexes. All else is gratification, and if shared with another human being, there may be genuine affection.

Try thinking of another context, such as the Taoist yin-yang symbol, a whole formed from two opposites (male and female, yin and yang) that does not exist separately.

A sacred union in is that with the mysterious “other”, whether the Other sex or God.

I think this makes some sense also. Two men or two women simply are not the gestalt that results from the union of complementary opposites. Individuals who are from the earliest age drawn to individuals of the same sex have to live the life they have with the cards they’ve been dealt, but it really doesn’t have quite the same significance.

#41 Comment By Fran Macadam On October 3, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

I don’t care to argue with these people, even in the abstract. They like to characterize all our views as the product of “hatred,” even as their would-be tribune Ms. Clinton echoes.

Personally, it might be that I “like” Mrs. Clinton more than Mr. Trump. I don’t know the woman personally, nor she me. The opposition to her is driven not by personal hatreds or emotions of grievance, but profound policy differences over war, pro-banker finance abuses, trade, jobs and even immigration policy. I am not against aiding refugees – but wouldn’t it make sense to stop the wars of choice she promotes in the Middle East and elsewhere that create the chaos, death and destruction that causes the refugee crisis? Inundating a current culture with millions of foreigners will only overwhelm and stress the domestic situation, and the wars will produce ever more crises rebounding upon a troubled America.

I do believe in a sense these radicals she champions are indeed insane. Madness can overtake large swathes of an entire nation, as history teaches us, to the severe detriment of those living there. The cognitive dissonance necessary to maintain a belief in the contrary and outlandish radical agenda, so dysfunctional, ruins good judgment in every area where such false views take hold, including in the matters of war, trade, finance and governance.

The ancients have known this about leadership and elites from antiquity, and it still holds:

“Those whom the gods would destroy, first make mad.”

#42 Comment By Steve McQueen On October 3, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

“The fact that the Society of Christian Philosophers is allowing itself to be bullied by these people is deeply depressing. Christian philosophers ought to be defending Swinburne’s right to state his opinion, even if they disagree with that opinion.”

Much of what goes by the name “Christian” these days is little different from that which characterizes liberals and progressives. Given the left’s disdain intellectual curiosity, honest inquiry and free expression, it is not all surprising that the Society of Christian Philosophers would choke over one of their own publicly defending biblical truth.

“I should add here that one of the handful of reasons I would even consider voting for Trump is the certain knowledge that a Hillary Clinton administration would only further the cultural hegemony of cutthroat revolutionaries like Stanley and his fellow travelers.”

So, after writing an article decrying the intolerance of the left, the author commits exactly the same sin by taking a shot at the only political candidate in recent memory to resist the radical form of political correctness that has silenced so many.

With friends like Rod Dreher, free speech doesn’t need enemies.

#43 Comment By Kyle Peterson On October 6, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

For context, watch Dr. Swinburn’s complete lecture: [11]

#44 Comment By Bill Smith On January 25, 2019 @ 1:46 am

The claim that homosexual are marginalized and powerless is pure nonsense. Yet this is the starting point of Jason Stanley’s line of “reasoning”. As a group, homosexuals earn on average more than heterosexuals do. I wonder if heterosexual activists would get anywhere if they pointed out that heterosexuals earn only 93 percents of what a homosexual earns.

Because not everyone agrees with the morality of homosexuality does make homosexuals oppressed. Just as Christians cannot claim oppression if some reject Christian truth claims. This should be obvious but apparently not so at Yale.