October 14, 2010

Valerie Jarrett has to apologize for the heresy of calling homosexuality a "lifestyle choice."

Oh, life is so unfair!
“I meant no disrespect to the LGBT community, and I apologize to any who have taken offense at my poor choice of words,” Jarrett said. “Sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice, and anyone who knows me and my work over the years knows that I am a firm believer and supporter in the rights of LGBT Americans.”
I remember back in the 1980s, in the radical enclaves of the University of Wisconsin Law School and similar places, when it was heresy to say that sexual orientation was inborn. I remember getting snapped at by a very prominent left-wing lawprof for referring without scorn to research that showed some evidence that sexual orientation was innate. It was all about choice back then, and the choice model was deemed to be the framework upon which gay rights would be built.

(If it was inborn, I was told, then it will be perceived as a disease that might be cured, and therefore there can be no talk among decent people about the possibility that it is inborn. But what about science? What about discovering what is true? The official left-wing answer to that question, I learned, is: shut up.)

By the way, are you aware that Justice Kennedy spoke of the "homosexual lifestyle" in his opinion for the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas?
The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle.
Oops!

108 comments:

TRO said...

Eh, like everything else with the left, the definition changes depending on what does them the most good at that particular moment.

1jpb said...

The Kennedy quote seems to be coming from a different angle. It's like he's looking for a euphemism for sodomy.

Triangle Man said...

I wonder if your prominent left-wing colleague was a proponent of campus speech codes.

For a while in PC circles it wasn't OK to use the term "homosexual" at all, because it sounds like clinical diagnosis that needed to be cured.

former law student said...

For teens in particular: Being out is a lifestyle choice; being closeted is a lifestyle choice; being gay is not a lifestyle choice.

Scott M said...

Pardon if I offend, (or if you don't pardon, stfu), but there are clearly markers for a gay male lifestyle that have zero to do with acts of sex.

Similarly, there are some that exist for lesbians, but they are far more low-key about it. Lower mileage too, for that matter.

At the core of every stereotype is a kernel of truth. As I've always said in the past, the worst thing that ever happened to gay people is the gay man.

MayBee said...

I understand the LBGT activists want desperately for it not to be called a choice so they can push the civil rights angle on things like gay marriage.

It's so unimportant though, and they make themselves ridiculous for insisting it is. Popular culture sends out mixed messages. Reality sends out mixed messages. Didn't Melissa Etheridge's first wife decide she really wasn't gay, after all? Love can be so confusing!

I support gay marriage because I believe gay people in love should be able to get married to each other. Period.

Now let's stop making people feel like they can't talk about it because if they use the wrong words, they'll be harangued.

Sigivald said...

Brings to mind the distinction the Catholic Church makes:

Being homosexual (attracted to the same sex, sexually) is innate.

Performing homosexual acts (the "homosexual lifestyle") is a choice.

(One naturally very closely related to the innate attraction to the same sex, but a choice nonetheless.

Much as is the choice to have sex with anyone at all, ever is a choice, despite the natural desire for it.)

I'm glad I don't care what the Academy requires, myself.

(I also sympathise with Scott M's position. Being Gay is one thing. Gay Culture is another.

They're, again, naturally intertwined, at least in one direction - but most of Western Gay Culture actually has nothing at all to do, as such, with homosexual attraction.)

Bob_R said...

Having sex of any kind is a lifestyle choice.

Montagne Montaigne said...

What did you learn from the right wing about homosexuality in the 80s? That gays should be jailed for sodomy? Awesome.

traditionalguy said...

The nature/nurture opposite view points are a tricky conundrum. If DNA rules all, then the helpless victims need our help and funding for their disability, like being a man in a woman's body. If not, then they are just free people who may have to pay for their own play time. When did it quit being classified as a mental illness by the Psychiatric Cabal? I was too busy working and raising children to notice. Whatever we say about homosexuals, they have to live like everyone else and deserve our love and respect.

LoafingOaf said...

One law prof who snapped at you represented the entire left of the '80s? Is that like if one lefty blogger dissed you it proves the whole left blogosphere is filled with mean people?

Ann Althouse said...

"What did you learn from the right wing about homosexuality in the 80s?"

Nothing. Didn't hear from such folks. Where were they? Nowhere I went.

c3 said...

Boy this is a moving target.

If I were advising Gay Rights groups I'd recommend caution with the "genetic route". Genetic implies abnormal biology which begs the question regarding "treatment".

By way of example I cite compulsive gambling:

from Mayo Clinic regarding causes:

It's not known exactly what drives people to engage in compulsive gambling, but like many problems, it may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Studies show that problems with certain naturally occurring chemicals in the brain may play a role, especially the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and dopamine. Some of these problems may be genetically determined.

And from the same site under treatment:

Medications. Antidepressants and mood stabilizers may help emotional issues that often go along with compulsive gambling, but not necessarily compulsive gambling itself. Medications called narcotic antagonists, which have been found useful in treating substance abuse, may help treat compulsive gambling.

AJ Lynch said...

How come they never never say "I apologize" period. It's always "I apologize to all who may have been offended / hurt/".

BTW, to me, Jarrett appears to be a dim bulb- anyone else get that vibe?

c3 said...

And another example of the difficulty of "acculturation" of a "condition" noted here

Key quote:

"The deaf community is a culture. They're much like the culture of the Hispanic community, for example, where parents who are Hispanic, or shall we say deaf, would naturally want to retain their family ties by their common language, their primary language, which is either Spanish or in our case its American Sign Language," Cerf says.

"It's difficult to accept something that would take someone's entire culture into question."

Maguro said...

Of course you're right. Back then homosexuality was an alternate lifestyle and to think otherwise was a thoughtcrime. Now it's genetic and to think otherwise is a thoughtcrime.

The more things change, etc.

Methadras said...

former law student said...

For teens in particular: Being out is a lifestyle choice; being closeted is a lifestyle choice; being gay is not a lifestyle choice.


Homosexuality is a choice and one shouldn't have to be forced to apologize for holding that opinion. Until someone can present irrefutable proof that it isn't a choice, then I suggest you, people like you, and frankly homosexuals everywhere stop pretending that if you classify homosexuality as an innate genetic deviation that a well of new rights will spring forth from someones legislative or judicial tyranny to find it.

Tell me again why you think lisping is genetic? Better yet tell me how blacks can go from ebonics to standard english. Why are you defending a lie? What indicator have you witnessed that led you to the conclusion that homosexuality is genetic?

Big Mike said...

Considering what a POS Valerie Jarrett is, I should be feeling schadenfreude. But I'm not. What I think I'm seeing is yet another group running around with antennae twitching, looking for something -- anything!!! -- that can be misconstrued as insulting. Enough already! For those of us who work for a living, life has enough challenges without worrying about the politically correct terminology du jour.

seattleWa said...

yeah....I get the dim bulb vibe as well!

I heard her trying to make a distinction between 2 views on TV, and...she failed.

LarsPorsena said...

@c3:

Thanks for the link. As soon as I started reading this thread the same
question popped into my head.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Being homosexual and having a homosexual lifestyle are two completely different things. I would think.

You can do both or not.

This brings us back to the point we are always trying to make (futilely) to Downtownlad. The Church (Catholic anyway) considers the act to be sinful, but not the person for merely being without the act. Personally, I don't care or presume to know what God thinks either.

You can be a homosexual celibate monk. That would not be what popular culture thinks of as a homosexual lifestyle.

What IS the definition of a homosexual lifestyle, other than sexual practices/preferences, anyway??? Nice decor? Attention to shoes? What?

Original Mike said...

Yes, it's hard to keep track of what right thinking people are allowed to believe. It's a moving target.

former law student said...

I remember back in the 1980s, in the radical enclaves of the University of Wisconsin Law School and similar places, when it was heresy to say that sexual orientation was inborn. I remember getting snapped at by a very prominent left-wing lawprof for referring without scorn to research that showed some evidence that sexual orientation was innate. It was all about choice back then, and the choice model was deemed to be the framework upon which gay rights would be built.

Back then the "immutability" argument was a non-starter, according to 73 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 921 (1998) "Choose or Lose: Embracing Theories of Choice in Gay Rights Litigation Strategies;" by Jonathan Pickhardt. Why waste time on an unpersuasive argument? We don't argue that being Christian is immutable; does that mean it's OK to discriminate against them?

MadisonMan said...

I had to look up who Valerie Jarrett was.

I apologize if that offends her.

ricpic said...

If you must bow down to the homo make sure you're facing him...problems that way too...surprise yourself, don't bow down to the homo...it will be a great weight being lifted, an unenslavement, a liberation in the true sense of that misused word. It will be the first step on the road back to FREEDOM!!!

former law student said...

stop pretending that if you classify homosexuality as an innate genetic deviation that a well of new rights will spring forth from someones legislative or judicial tyranny to find it.

Frankly I think this attitude is why the prof snapped at Althouse. Arguing that homosexuality is not a choice wastes time and effort that could be better used to achieve the goals of non-discrimination.

SteveR said...

Valerie Jarrett: some of my best friends are members of the LBGT community.

LarsPorsena said...

This is like Mad Magazine's Spy vs. Spy. Instead it's Victim Group A versus Victim Group B. Who are we rooting for?

HT said...

Surely Kennedy's quote and Jarrett's are different? Jarrett used the word choice.x

former law student said...

What indicator have you witnessed that led you to the conclusion that homosexuality is genetic?


Did I use the word "genetic"? I don't think so.

Going back as far as kindergarten, I've always been attracted to female human beings. Therefore I believe that heterosexuality is not a choice. And if heterosexuality is not a choice, then its opposite, homosexuality cannot be either. (Assuming the sexual orientation world is divided into homos and hets.)

Now certain people may wake up every morning wondering if they will be attracted to men that day, or to women. But I've never met any.

Sixty Grit said...

Is her race a lifestyle choice? Her IQ? Is she culturally required to hate gay people as her beloved president does? Is she a muslim? A communist?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I believe that heterosexuality is not a choice. And if heterosexuality is not a choice, then its opposite, homosexuality cannot be either

However, having sex IS a choice.

HT said...

Now certain people may wake up every morning wondering if they will be attracted to men that day, or to women. But I've never met any.



__

I have.

themightypuck said...

Was it ever really thoughtcrime to think of homosexuality as innate? I never hung out with the political crowd and wasn't trying to get tenure in a University, but I did hang out with quite a few gay people in the early 80s and onward and ever single one of them said they knew from a very young age that they were gay. They never expressed the idea that they were exercising some choice to be gay.

TMink said...

Since there is no choice involved, homosexual people are puppets of their sexuality? Are hetereosexual people also enslaved in this manner? Is this a defense for rape and child abuse?

Trey

roesch-voltaire said...

Perhaps Ann Althouse you didn't "hear" much from the conservative voices because their views were the dominate discourse at the time. Focus on the Family has long taught its followers that homosexuality can be warded off with strict teaching of gender roles, so I guess they are part of the PC women's study group? What complicates the issue is the amount of switching that some, true a small number, of folks manage, it seems like it can be "genetic" and choice-depends on the player.

Rialby said...

What about bisexuals? Do they make a choice?

AGAIN, the Left claims that they're the nuanced ones but then run around foisting their black and white belief systems on everyone.

tim maguire said...

There's no real disagreement that there is such thing as a "homosexual lifestyle," the problem comes in using homosexual lifestyle as a euphemism for homosexual. On its own, it is a strange euphemism because it includes the term it euphemizes, its only contribution is that it includes the hint that homosexuality is a choice.

I always laugh when I read someone asserting that it's a choice, not because of the obvious rejoinder, "given how gays, especially gay teens, suffer for their sexuality, who would make such a choice?" but because it necessarily implies that heterosexuality is also a choice.

Who but a bisexual could make the claim that sexuality is a choice?

LarsPorsena said...

What about men in prison? Do they make a choice?

Michael said...

Most of the conservatives I knew in the 80s were doing their best to keep up with the various ways in which gay people could be offended. During the period I lived in the Bay area the actuaries in the major insurance companies had doomsday scenarios concerning the collapse of civilization as HIV spread through the heterosexual population. It did not, of course, and we know why. But we cannot, of course, say why. Even now in these times when even Valerie Jarrett cannot get it right.

jr565 said...

If you don't speak the vernacular EXACTLY the snares of racism and bigotry await you. Even if your heart is in the right place you have to say just the right words. Any divergence from strict orthodoxy and you will be branded.
Don't you know that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice?! BiGOT! Don't you know that homosexuality is not THE human rights issue of the century if not ever?! Don't you know that if you vear one iota off course and dare suggest anything but that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality and completely devoid of any negative connotations, and cannot even be looked upon in anything but favorable and even canonical lights that you will be branded as the bigot that you are!
You have been warned. What? YOu think that people who want to change genders and go to doctors to have their dicks lobbd off are probably crazy and in need of psychological help? Don't you know that you must not view transgendered people as anything other than normal. What, you think that children should ideally have influence from both a mother and a father as gender is different and matters? Don't you know that gender is irrelevant and the two sexes are indistinguishable you dolt?
Why are people trying to change genders if gender doesn't matter? How can you ask that? IRRELEVANT!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

garage mahal said...

What about bisexuals? Do they make a choice?

I think it's just the way they are wired. Like you probably don't wake up every day choosing to be straight.

Scott M said...

I think it's just the way they are wired. Like you probably don't wake up every day choosing to be straight.

Interesting point, Garage. Given that, do pedophiles make a choice as to what does and doesn't turn them on?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What about men in prison? Do they make a choice?

Yes. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

* This isn't to excuse prison rape which is a horrible despicable practice that the prison authorities are responsible for preventing.

However, Yes. You are in prison because you committed a crime. Yeah yeah. There are exceptions but the majority of people in jail....did it to themselves.

former law student said...

What about men in prison? Do they make a choice?

"Making do" is not a choice. I think that's why Ahmadinejad claimed there were no gays in Iran. Casual sex with a woman being almost impossible (you have to get one alone, first), everybody bends a young man over a desk from time to time -- that doesn't constitute a sexual orientation does it?

John said...

So if it is inborn, perhaps we can identify the gene.

Pregnant mothers (dads don't really get a voice) who found that they were carrying a gay blob of protoplasm would then be free to abort it.

Right?

It is not like it is an actual human life, right?

Woman's choice and all that.

Right?

Or is it one of those deals where it is only a woman's choice to remove that lifeless piece of flesh if she does it for the right reasons?

John Henry

WV-eratio

Allowing a gay fetus to be born would be eratio.

AJ Lynch said...

The average American is sick of all these special victim groups which have conspired to make the average American feel like a villain.

The lastest is a gender identity victim group which is for men who live as women and women who live as men. I know business has dried up in the legal industry but enough already!

John said...

Porsena:

What about men in prison?

Are they homosexual?

Or do they just engage in homosexual activity for lack of other alternatives?

I think the test would be what they do when they get out. Do they still prefer men? Do they go back to being heterosexual?

If the latter, I don't think they were ever homosexual to begin with. Just engaging in homosexual sex. That is a choice.

John Henry

To carry a bit further what several others said:

One can be homosexual and not engage in homosexual sex

But one can also not be homosexual and engage in homosexual sex.

LarsPorsena said...

What about the Afghan tribes where every man likes to snuggle with young boys in the Hindu Kush while still fulfilling their marital duties? I heard one describe heaven as being filled with beautiful boys and girls.

former law student said...

So if it is inborn, perhaps we can identify the gene.

No, "inborn" != "genetic". For example, babies are born with cleft lips and palates, but they are not genetic, according to the Smile Train brochure I just received. The thought is that the mother smoked, or drank, or took certain medications during a critical period early in pregnancy.

c3 said...

OK, I pursued the links and listened to the clip. What's amazing is that Jonathan Capehart, who Mr. Petrelis calls the Washington Post's gay kapo, went out of his way in an interview about the economy and jobs, to highlight Valerie Jarrett's public pronouncement of great concern for the rash of suicides among gay teens at the Human Right's campaign's annual dinner.

And so here's someone who's trying to be supportive and she get a public (well at least on the Internet) whipping for using the wrong words.

They used to talk about the unreported, underneath-the-surface animosity between blacks and hispanics. Can we now talk about the tensions between the black community and the gay community?

JAL said...

Didn't Melissa Etheridge's first wife decide she really wasn't gay....

Then there was Anne Heche ....

If it's inborn (and some of it may very well be) why the "recruit recruit recruit!!" chants?

Have wondered about that for a few years.

Now there is a problem equating "calling homosexuality a 'lifetyle choice'" with "homeosexual lifestyle."

I thought most of us here have English as our primary language.

jr565 said...

John wrote:
So if it is inborn, perhaps we can identify the gene.

Pregnant mothers (dads don't really get a voice) who found that they were carrying a gay blob of protoplasm would then be free to abort it.

Right?

It is not like it is an actual human life, right?

Woman's choice and all that.


That's a good point. If they can determine that certain genes cause homosexuality then what is the stance of pro choicers towards aborting babies who have those genes. Are you bigoted if you don't want a baby who grows up to be a fag? If you view gayness as a negative trait, then you could simply eradicate gayness by aborting babies who are gay. And as gays say, if it were a choice why would they choose to be ostracized for their non normal lifestyle. Well, parents could make that choice too. Gays are going to be stigmatized for their lifestyle, so abort the babies before they're born. (Besides, it's not likely that a gay baby is going to carry on the family name). You could eradicate gayness in a few lifetimes with proper gene recognition.
By the same token, if there is a gene, there might be a way to modify said gene so that it would go back to being "normal". It might be something as simple as a slight reduction in estrogen and an increase in testosterone in the right balance. Then the questioin would be is it moral to say that it's a cure for gayness. Is gayness a disease. Would gays in general then choose to be gay if they had a choice to not be?

traditionalguy said...

I will boldly hazard a guess about the nature/nurture debate as to Gayness. We all have more power to affect our body's functions within our minds than we like to admit. The Yoga fad gives a small hint of that power by mentally focusing upon body control to release energy "chakras" resulting in self control of the soul. So what if Gayness is made to happen inside of the body by the mind, or whatever controls the mind. Add a few female or male hormone shots and surround yourelf with like minded men and women, and voila, a Gay person is born. But for whatever the need that is met by gay love, we do not need to condemn it, but to love and respect the humans it happens to.

Quaestor said...

TRO and FLS have jointly nailed it. But I'm stumped as to whether Scott's "markers of the gay male lifestyle" are cultural or innate, or to what degree.

Judging from history exclusively homosexual behavior appears to be a modern development. Most of the identifiably "gay" figures from antiquity would have to classified as bisexual. This would suggest a cultural change.

Thomas said...

It wasn't just the 1980s in Wisconsin. I was at a law school in the late 90s, and had a course taught jointly by a prominent libertarian judge and a famous liberal and feminist philosopher. The libertarian judge insisted that homosexuality was genetically linked, and the philosopher disagreed. She had a grander project in mind than gay rights.

edutcher said...

There is a "gay" lifestyle, apparently, but not all homosexuals live it. So, technically, Ms Jarrett wasn't out of line. That said, for an election year, this administration seems to have a real talent for alienating some of the Demos' most loyal constituencies.

PS Advocates like Eve Ensler (think Vagina Monologues) would tend to lead to the indication nobody really believes it's inborn, although I can imagine certain hormonal imbalances could create a disposition that way. The other choice is some offshoot of Freud which makes it a mental condition and therefore reversible.

MadisonMan said...

To carry a bit further what several others said:

One can be homosexual and not engage in homosexual sex

But one can also not be homosexual and engage in homosexual sex.

I always assume that it's not my business what two consenting adults are doing behind closed doors.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

This is a topic not to be discussed, because any discussion can lead to uncomfortable conclusions.

If homosexuality is a choice, then it can be "unchosen". That weakens equal rights arguments (though it by no means completely refutes them). It's also an insult to those who have struggled with their sexual identity, because it implies they chose the struggle. And it allows others to say, "Oh, you just want to be different. You want to draw attention to yourself."

If homosexuality is innate, then eventually we will find a genetic determinant; and in a culture with legal abortion, that creates a real problem. Some parents will preferentially abort children who are "destined" to be homosexual. Not all -- pro-life parents won't, and parents who strongly accept homosexuality won't -- but it will happen.

If homosexuality is neither a choice nor innate, the next likely answer is that it's a result of upbringing; and suddenly we're in the "blame the parents" mentality that was so common in the sixties and seventies (and still seen today, in some cases). That drove a lot of families to distress.

Any discussion of the cause of homosexuality leads to unintended and undesirable consequences. I can understand why scientific curiosity can lead one to look for a cause; but for society, I don't see a lot of good that results from the question.

And as former law student has suggested: I've never looked for a cause for my heterosexuality, so why do I care about the cause of someone's homosexuality? Aside from scientific curiosity, we generally look for causes for something when we want to predict it or prevent it or promote it. I'm not interested in any of these, so the cause isn't of interest to me.

For the record: as always in any nature vs. nurture debate, I believe the answer to be "All of the above", in a complex and unpredictable mix that makes it difficult -- and often pointless -- to identify the dominant factors in a given case.

Salamandyr said...

I would hazard that attraction to the same sex can arise either through inclination or habituation. Someone who regularly engaged in gay sex in, say, prison, might continue to see other men as sexual partners when he gets out.

Skyler said...

Ann, I'm glad someone else remembers that it used to be a choice, not innate.

Truth is, there is most likely more than one reason for being homosexual, and a big factor is choice for many.

It would be nice if there were fewer political agendas and more science when we talk about things, but that would be expecting too much, I suppose.

peter hoh said...

I would scoff at the PC speak if she had been talking about an adult. She was talking about a child. I don't think a child's sexual orientation, or perceived orientation counts as a "lifestyle choice."

t-man said...

For the radical left, particulary radical feminists (not gay activists, though) I would suspect that it is still heresy to point out a genetic or inborn basis for homosexuality. Their worldview is centered on the fiction that everything is a social construct. If you admit that there is a biologic basis for homosexuality, that leads down the slippery slope that there might be a biologic basis for observed gender differences.

David said...

There's not a gay lifestyle? Please, someone tell the gay people. Not me. I don't want to disappoint them like that.

Scott M said...

Anyone that's raised both male and female children, has half a brain, and an ounce of honesty will tell you that there are sharp differences between the two even at less than a year old. I've raised/raising two of each and the contrast is stark.

Truth be told, though, while I had a great time with my oldest son's teenage years and look forward to my youngest son's, I'm NOT looking forward to their sisters' teen years.

peter hoh said...

Some targets of anti-gay bullying are not gay.

The orientation of the target does not matter. The threats, the taunts, and the violence that constitute bullying behavior are the problem, along with the failure of adults (teachers, coaches, administrators) to do anything about it.

I realize that adults in a school can't be everywhere and can't see every infraction. But if a little old lady calls the police to tell them she was mugged, the police don't shrug their shoulders and tell her that they can't do anything because they didn't see it happen.

William said...

It is fair to say that Anne Heche made a lifestyle choice, and that there was something innate about Liberace's sexuality. A great deal about human sexuality is simply a mystery.... Our sex drives are innate but the way in which we express those drives is determined by the culture in which we live and, for that matter, the money and free time with which we have to pursue those drives. I feel that the fullest, most honest expression of my sexuality would be having group sex with Victoria Secret models. But I shall go to my death without ever acting out these innocent desires. Gays are not the only ones who have to be circumspect and frustrated in their pursuit of sexual fulfillment.

sean said...

Prof. Althouse, like me, probably remembers that "feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice." The 1980s plan, in certain radical corners of the women's studies department, was to convert our students to lesbianism and feminism as a package.

It would have been considered an example of hopelessly bourgeois "liberal legalism" to subsume homosexuality into the "immutable characteristics" shoebox of Carolene Products.

garage mahal said...

Interesting point, Garage. Given that, do pedophiles make a choice as to what does and doesn't turn them on?

I think pedo perverts really struggle with it, and are never really cured.

ndspinelli said...

Jarrett is a black, woman; she has a get out of jail free card

El Pollo Real said...

Martin Shoemaker wrote: Aside from scientific curiosity, we generally look for causes for something when we want to predict it or prevent it or promote it.

That's an astute distillation of the difference between science and engineering as I suspect you know. In the context of today's topic you must also know that science is curious about practically everything.

Trooper York said...

"It is fair to say that Anne Heche made a lifestyle choice, and that there was something innate about Liberace's sexuality."

This is very true. Liberace had no choice but to tickle the ivory. You see he was great on the piano but he sucked on the organ.

Trooper York said...

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

El Pollo Real said...

You see he was great on the piano but he sucked on the organ.

Especially the upright organ?

Trooper York said...

But not the uptight one.

c3 said...

Trooper;
This is very true. Liberace had no choice but to tickle the ivory....

Did you have a file of these somewhere?

(And when you wrote you comment was there the sound of a rim shot on your end?)

Trooper York said...

That's a real old one c3.

There was no rimshot but at the end of the joke I grab my necktie and tell everyone that I don't get any respect.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

El Pollo Real said...

That's an astute distillation of the difference between science and engineering as I suspect you know. In the context of today's topic you must also know that science is curious about practically everything.

I would broaden that: it's a difference between science and policy (with engineering then being a tool for implementing policy). And as I think further, I think it's really almost universally true in policy discussions. Why do we seek the cause of poverty? To try to alleviate it. Why do we seek the cause of disease? To try to prevent it. Why do we seek the cause of storms? To try to predict them. In policy, "cause" has value only in terms of what it empowers us to do. The knowledge for its own sake has little value for policy makers.

And it's a hard question for scientists, because they are curious about practically everything, and pursue knowledge for its own sake (or at least in part). Even a hypothetical scientist with no ideology nor agenda (and I'm not sure such exists, what with them being human and all) has to wonder how the knowledge they gain may be used to advance a policy.

As far as Valerie Jarrett's statement? Gimme a break! Can we please stick to criticizing politicians and their hangers-on for their policies and actions, not for trivia like this?

wv: huggen. Nope, that one's too easy.

somefeller said...

"What did you learn from the right wing about homosexuality in the 80s?"

Nothing. Didn't hear from such folks. Where were they? Nowhere I went.

Maybe they weren't anywhere you hung out, but doesn't Bowers v. Hardwick ring a bell?

Stephen A. Meigs said...

There's very little in the way of thought being used by the so-called elites. Perhaps the tendency to want to sodomize is mostly genetic, while the tendency to want to be sodomized is not genetic, but an addiction. And perhaps females being sexually attracted to females has to do with attitudes about future sex with males. Females tend to be very particular about sex with males. Perhaps females who consider themselves lesbians largely think themselves such because they have succumbed to prevailing social stereotype that a female with healthy sexual desires wants sex or sexual fantasy with males even when her present situation is so bad that by waiting she can quite likely meet a much better male or available male.

If sodomy is about abuse and obtaining control, perhaps the vast majority of abuse against gays is just sodomizers being abusive. When a rapist or forcible sodomizer tries to commit his act on a female, would it really seem weird for him to say "bitch!", "slut!", etc? Should we conclude from these cursings that the would-be rapist or forcible sodomizer is actually a puritanical fanatic carried away into heterosexophobia by having read Leviticus or whatever? Of course not. Likely one who behaves thus indeed is the sort of person who sordidly tries to force females to become (his) bitches or sluts, and his criticisms should more plausibly be interpreted as attempts to make the would-be victim feel like she deserved it because some part of her wanted it, than as any sort of antipathy on his part for her (quite possibly non-existent) sluttishness. More particularly, it would be stupid to think that secretly he does not like the behaviors he is trying to force her to engage in. Sometimes the female beats him back or the struggle is such the female dies, or the male is just throwing his member about in a way to make it more plausible to his future victims that he really only abuses people who somehow want and thus require it, in which case I suppose it might not be quite as crystal clear what the motive is. But somehow homosexual sodomy is treated differently than heterosexual sodomy.

If violence against male homosexuals really were from fear (sometimes it is appropriate to defend oneself when one is afraid), as the word homophobia suggests, it would be directed against sodomizer types, not effeminate types. The well-publicized media cases don't seem to fit that, and so presumably are caused by people of a sodomizing nature. It's a pathetic absurdity that presumable sodomizers beating up on those they claim want to be sodomized is interpreted by the media as illustrating the danger of fearing or hating sodomy. This creates an attitude that puts people at dire risk. Consider the 14-year-old kid, Konerak Sinthasomphone, who was killed and dismembered in Milwaukee because Jeffrey Dahmer convinced a naive policeman that this drugged kid wandering the streets naked with bleeding rectum was just a confused gay lover.

Kurt said...

I am way late to this discussion, but to the "innate" vs. choice debate, I'd add that in the 80s and 90s, some "queer theorists" employed the vocabulary of postmodernism and poststructuralism which was very opposed to "essentialism" in any variety. One of the implications of that was that to say that someone was "essentially" gay (because of their genes or some innate quality) was to be rejected as being at odds with the larger philosophical project. That's also one reason that they insisted on using the word "queer" in "queer theory"--in some respects, being gay was seen as a subversive political and cultural act, and they were embracing that subversion. By the mid-90s, one could go to panels at the annual MLA convention which made all sorts of puns out of "queer," such as "queerying Jane Austin's heroines."

Although some have already raised the matter of bisexuality as something that further complicates the discussion, another complicating factor is people who come out late in their lives--sometimes after having gotten married and having children in a heterosexual marriage. In the gay community, one reason that bisexuality is sometimes dismissed is that it is often code for someone who is married (or at least in a heterosexual relationship) who is looking for a same-sex affair on the side.

Moose said...

So then - to follow the logic - sexuality is innate, for want of a better word. "Hardwired" as some put it.

If this is so, then people can be either profoundly attracted or repulsed by either gender - due to factors beyond their control.

If then this is so, then someone can be so repulsed by either gay or straight people that they cannot tolerate them in their presence - again by factors beyond their control.

Yes/no? If so why?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

So in other words, you resent society for maturing to the point where innate predispositions can be discussed without giving them the stigma carried by words like "disease".

Thanks for clarifying the cause of your frustration. I will personally see to it that social norms comply with your permission before they are allowed to exist, ok?

Moose said...

Ritmo - you might want to clarify to whom you are speaking.

MayBee said...

What does Pop Culture tell us?

That guys are forever trying to get straight girls to make out with each other (in front of him). That guys are frequently successful in getting straight girls to make out with each other (in front of him).

How sacred is the idea of "not a choice", really?

Geoff Matthews said...

my understanding of the research is that, while there is some reason to believe that biology plays a role with homosexuality, there has not been found traits that absolutely predict it. Heck, no study has found a perfect concordance of sexual orientation among identical twins (raised together or apart).

In other words, no evidence that people are born gay.

wv - dingrats. no comment

The Monster said...

We have always been at war with Eurasia.

The Monster said...

We have always been at war with East Asia.

Dangerous Dan said...

Lifestyle... innate... who cares? I mean really, aren't there more pressing issues before us than this?

Wacky Hermit said...

Ritmo Brasileiro: "So in other words, you resent society for maturing to the point where innate predispositions can be discussed without giving them the stigma carried by words like 'disease'. "

Kindly inform all the people who have trouble tolerating my sons' Asperger's Syndrome (high functioning autism) that society has matured to the point where innate predispositions shouldn't carry the stigma of being called "diseases."

Dr.T said...

Homosexuality was first concocted as a lifestyle choice in order to reverse the psychiatry DSM medical definition that it was actually a disease thereby casting it as a manifestation of personal liberty.

This purposeful strategy lasted until the onset of AIDS, in the 1980's, when the gay community had to quickly change the course of this argument in order not to be damned for spreading death via a lifestyle choice.

That was the societal moment that reversed the strategy, which is all the argument ever was.

Mr. D said...

For example, babies are born with cleft lips and palates, but they are not genetic, according to the Smile Train brochure I just received. The thought is that the mother smoked, or drank, or took certain medications during a critical period early in pregnancy.

Nope. My daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate. My wife did none of those things during her pregnancy. Her father, however, had a cleft lip and palate.

Side issue, but wanted you to know your example is a poor one.

JAY said...

Well it is a choice and this is just continued proof that the left can't deal with facts and reality.

JAY said...

This is a topic not to be discussed, because any discussion can lead to uncomfortable conclusions.

Indeed as homosexuality is abnormal, immoral, and unhealthy.

AllenS said...

I'm old enough to remember that if you called someone who was (oh, boy, here we go) African-Anerican (that is someone who had slave blood) black, you were also in trouble. Colored or Negro was accepted, but try and say that now. What's this gay shit? Homosexuals usually are not gay (which was a word that used to mean having a merry lively mood).

SDN said...

If it was inborn, I was told, then it will be perceived as a disease that might be cured

Actually, what's going to happen if they ever find the gene(s) that determine orientation is that 15 seconds later, there will be a genetic test to find it.... and Planned Parenthood will be doing a land-office business in abortions. Will this lead the Left to re-think its' support for unlimited abortion?

I can see the Islamic countries performing mass screenings of their entire populations, with firing squads for the lucky holders. Then Ahmadinnerjacket can accurately say there are no gays in Iran. Be very careful what you wish for; you might just get it, good and hard.

Michael said...

SDN: In the ideological deck the abortion card trumps the gay card. The abortion card trumps the feminist card but does not trump the race card. The race and abortion cards have equivalent value and therefore are rarely played together as it is generally unnecessary. The gay card trumps the religion card as do most other cards in the deck.

Skipper50 said...

Keeping up is hard to do.

Carolyn said...

As I recall, political lesbianism was sometimes accompanied by the idea that sex with men was inevitably rape. And wasn't political lesbianism followed by a "lesbian while in college" movement for a while? The "lifestyle choice" philosophy has not disappeared from college campuses.

In 2005, Dennis Prager interviewed a young woman who wrote the following:

It's hard to go through four years of a Humanities B.A. reading Foucault and Butler and watching 'The L Word' and keep your rigid heterosexuality intact. I don't know when it happened exactly, but it seems I no longer have the easy certainty of pinning my sexual desire to one gender and never the other.

(Michel Foucault is a major French "postmodern" philosopher; Judith Butler is a prominent "gender theorist" at UC Berkeley; and "The L-Word" is a popular TV drama about glamorous lesbians.).

While homosexuality is clearly not a choice for some people, it may be for others.

JAL said...

Going back to yesterday --
MadisonMan said...
I had to look up who Valerie Jarrett was.

I apologize if that offends her.
10/14/10 1:20 PM


It's hard to believe MM missed Blagoivich's Obama Senate Seat Special Auction. Ding ding ding -- The Prez-elect wanted the seat to go to Valerie Jarrett, his Chicago political buddess but Blagoivich got greedy.

The PC tripwires surround us on all sides. Some of us don't care too much, but VJ is supposed to be in the know. Poor thang.

Tully said...

***But what about science? What about discovering what is true? The official left-wing answer to that question, I learned, is: shut up.***

The right-wing answer is often the same; it all depends on what the question is.

Ring Lardner nailed it in 1920. Shut up," he explained.

I don't recall ever "choosing" to be straight, it just happened that way, long before I ever hit puberty.

former law student said...

Actually, what's going to happen if they ever find the gene(s) that determine orientation is that 15 seconds later, there will be a genetic test to find it.... and Planned Parenthood will be doing a land-office business in abortions.

This assumes mothers would rather not have a kid at all than have a gay kid. Do mothers reject their gay children?

But consider this -- a child's gender is determined by its father's genetic contribution. Does it not seem also likely that a child's sexual orientation would also come from the father? So shouldn't Dick Cheney have gotten himself sterilized once he produced a gay daughter?

Gabriel Hanna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

a child's gender is determined by its father's genetic contribution. Does it not seem also likely that a child's sexual orientation would also come from the father?

Why would one have to do with the other? This is your typical argument by making shit up. Y and X are determined by one chromosome. You have no idea how many genes and chromosomes might be involved in orientation, if genes are primarily responsible. By your argument a gay father should produce gay male children, but since you don't know anything about genetics you didn't realize that. A lesbian doesn't have a Y chromosome at all, women are XX.

If you want to argue that men being attracted to men is genetic, you have to explain why the Greeks and Romans had apparently entirely different genetics from us, since homosexual behavior was far more prevalent then.

The fact is that what we call "gay" now is about our culture. In other cultures, past and present, men could have sex with men and not be thought different from men who didn't. In Greek and Roman times homosexuality was VERY different from what it is in our culture.

DWPittelli said...

There is of course at least a fourth factor in creating a homosexual orientation (vs. genetic, prenatal, and choice): that adolescent (homo-)sexual experiences may be self-reinforcing. This is today the most un-PC of the factors, because it means conservatives might put some blame on gay men for seducing and converting people into the "gay lifestyle." But in the 1950s, sexual researchers found that gay men said that this was the most important factor in their own sexual orientation. Personally, I would be very surprised if any of these 4 factors were ruled out.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@DWPatelli:

Personally, I would be very surprised if any of these 4 factors were ruled out.

Not to pick on you, but what you say is so obvious as to be trite. This is the most irritating thing when people talk about genetics--most people think that if you "have a gene for X" then you are going to have X, come hell or high water. This is totally false. Whether the effects of a gene are expressed is determined by so many factors.

To say that "there is a gene for X" is to say that, all else being equal, having the gene for X makes you more likely to have X than not.

For example, it doesn't matter what genes you have, if you are chronically malnourished as a child you will not be tall or smart when you are an adult.

Your "genetically determined" characteristics depend on your genes, your development in the womb (this is why pregnant women aren't supposed to drink and smoke), and your environment in childhood.

That's what biologists have been saying for over fifty years now, and the general public can't get beyond a cartoon understanding.

DWPittelli said...

@ Gabriel Hanna

When making a trite point, I try to be succinct. What ironic surprise to see criticism coming in the form of a verbose expression of similar triteness!

Gabriel Hanna said...

@DWP:

What ironic surprise to see criticism coming in the form of a verbose expression of similar triteness!

The criticism and the verbosity weren't aimed at you, sir--you seem to know perfectly well what's going on. What you said is trite to people with more than a cartoon understanding of biology.

It takes much less space for fls or a creationist to say something absurd about genetics, than it does to explain what's wrong with they said--look up the "Gish gallop", if you don't know what it is.