While opposed to any discrimination against homosexuals today, he retains characteristically unfashionable attitudes. ‘What I say in my book Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation (1986), I still think. But it’s much more dangerous to say it now. My view then was that first of all – oh why not say it, you know, I’m old now – homosexuality is not one thing. Lesbianism is usually an attempt by a woman to find that committed love that she can’t get from men any more. Because men exploit women and move on. So it’s very often a reaction to that sort of disappointment. Whereas male homosexuality, because it’s not constrained by a woman’s need to fix a man down, is hugely promiscuous – the statistics are quite horrifying. And there’s also the obsession with the sexual organs rather than the relationship, this vector towards phallicism, the obsession with the young, all kinds of things like that, which mean that, as I see it, homosexual desire, especially between men, is not the same kind of thing as heterosexual desire, even though it’s not a perversion.
‘This doesn’t mean you’re condemning people or that they should be discriminated against. But nor should we old-fashioned, sad heterosexuals, minority interest though we might be, be deprived of those institutions that we have built out of our self-sacrificing forms of love. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say now between you and me, but it isn’t a perfectly reasonable thing to say or a possible thing to say in public any more.’ You do realise Roger, I remind him with a nod at my voice recorder, that you are saying it in public? ‘Yeah yeah, I don’t care any more.’
How refreshing is that? And how liberating? It’s not that I agree with Scruton’s theories on homosexuality (which sound very dated, at the least), but that I appreciate his willingness to say something controversial that he really believes, but that the rules of bien-pensant social discourse have ruled out of bounds. It’s the one and only thing I like about Donald Trump: that he just doesn’t give a rat’s rear end what anybody thinks.
Mind you, I believe that everyone ought to care to some degree about the good opinion of their neighbors. It’s part of being civilized. But we have gotten to the point now where far too many people are willing to see their institutions destroyed rather than speak up, for fear of causing offense.
The other day I heard from a friend who told a story about something outrageous happening at his church. Many in the congregation were upset about it, as well they ought to have been. This was the kind of thing that causes people to lose their faith.
“Did anybody speak out about it?” I asked my friend.
“No,” he said. “Nobody wanted to hurt the pastor’s feelings.” Not even my friend. They are willing to see their church slip away from them, bit by bit, rather than take the risk of speaking out.
Increasingly, I have no patience for this kind of thing. “Yeah, yeah, I don’t care anymore.” Good on you, Roger Scruton. Last year, I posted a blog entry on an interview with Scruton, an excerpt of which is here:
So much of modern political conservatism—and you see this in America, which has a quite articulate conservative movement compared with us—is phrased in elegiac terms. [It’s about] what we’ve lost—we’ve lost the traditional working-class family, the black family or whatever it might be. Now, all that is perfectly reasonable. But the most important question is what have we got, rather than what we’ve lost, and how do we keep it?
You have to start by speaking up in defense of what we have got. If we don’t — if you don’t — we won’t get to keep it.