If you follow Speak Out Though Not Spoken To on Facebook, then you’ve noticed that recently I went on a mission to squeeze every last bit of talent out of my comrades by brow-beating them into being guest writers for this site! Now, the fruits of my labor have admittedly been few and far between. However, you honestly can’t beat the quality that I’ve juiced thus far!
Okay, enough fruit puns!
Links are provided below for Mr. Brown’s music website, as well as Facebook fan page. If you have the time then I highly suggest sitting down with a warm glass of tea and slipping not only into the beauty of this man’s jams, but his words.
(This was originally a speech I gave during Open Week on behalf of the Socialist Student Union. I am greatly indebted to the ideas of Bertrand Russell, whose writings have been a great help to my development, and his progressive ideas provide the backbone for this paper.)
The good life is life inspired by love and guided by knowledge. I believe we all have a conception of what it means to love, to show benevolence towards our fellows, but what do we mean by knowledge?
Knowledge, it seems to me, is the guidepost for love. How can we properly care for one another if we have no knowledge of what is best? We all know of mothers who love their children to the point of smothering them, and that this parenting style does not lend itself to producing adults capable of independence necessary for happiness. Misdiagnoses of disease, no matter how loving the physician giving care, leads to the unintended suffering of the patient. Examples of misguided love are plenty, and perhaps no greater than in religious or political fanaticism.
How can we continually, in the name of love, hurt those who we wish to help? I believe first and foremost it is because of certainty. We only move swiftly when we are certain, but when we are tentative our steps are slowed. Thus when our beliefs are both certain and fallacious we have the potential to do the utmost harm. This is clearly the case in the issue at hand. To claim that homosexuality or homosexual marriage is wrong is a claim made with fallacious certainty. For the Religious Right the infallibility of their religious revelations and traditional teachings make them overly cocksure of the indubitable harm of the homosexual lifestyle. For them, God Himself has spoken, and it is in their certain knowledge of the coming judgement that inspires them to save homosexuals from their “wicked” desires.
We must ask the Religious Right and the Homophobic population in general to evaluate the foundation of their beliefs. If there is a good moral reason to abstain from homosexuality then we must concede, if we are to be reasonable, to the position of the Right. So let us evaluate their position.
First I will attempt to deal with the Religious Right and then the beliefs of the non religious homophobic community. I do not wish to single out only one religious group, and as such I will speak generally. The first and most common argument is that their convictions are based on the written revelation of God. This position is very definitely unsupportable by reason. First of all, the question of God’s existence is a very difficult question, and there is no demonstrative proof for his existence. Of course there have been attempts to ground this belief in reason, but they have all been muddleheaded and unclear, and are usually based on causality, which is a concept that is shrouded in vagueness. Second, even if we can be persuaded that God exists, has moral expectations for us, and reveals his expectations in Holy texts, then how can we know which religious text to accept as the Revealed Word of God? There are several proclaimed inspired works of God, and so how would we ever know which book to accept as True? Some would point to history, but most would turn to personal revelation of truth. If God reveals which text to accept as Truth through private religious experience then it is clearly beyond demonstration, and secondly, if it is a private revelation how does one infer from the specific personal revelation that the text in question is to be accepted by all? The members of the Religious Right who look to history will find themselves even more perplexed. With each individual author, from Paul to Muhammad, we come back to the aforementioned difficulties of revelation, and new difficulties are introduced because the experience must be evaluated from an impersonal perspective. Therefore, there are no clear and distinct grounds for the acceptance of the ethical precepts found in religious texts.
Without the revelation of God to back up the precepts of the Religious Right we must evaluate their beliefs in accordance with pure practical reason to determine if their concerns can be justified.
We should then turn our attention to the effects of homosexual activity within the homosexual community and then within society as a whole. In my personal experience, the homophobic community and the Religious Right would maintain that homosexual sex is unsafe. The brunt of their argument is misdirected. All sexual activity is unsafe to a degree, and to some extent all activities in general are unsafe (any speed you drive can be dangerous). The solution to the health risks in all sexual activity is education. Being tested regularly for venereal diseases and infections and proper use of condoms can render many sexual risks obsolete. Furthermore moral maxims cannot be based on the safety of those who concede to them. For instance, all self sacrificial altruism would be condemned by such a maxim. Are our firefighters, soldiers, and policemen immoral because they engage in risky behavior on a regular basis? It is clear that riskiness is not a reason to perpetuate intolerance towards the homosexual community. As to the effects on the whole of society, it is supposed by the homophobic community that homosexuals are perverting our youth and eroding moral foundations. This belief is based on the ignorant assumption that homosexuals are lawless and immoral, and at bottom it is a mere stereotype, and like all stereotypes it must be disregarded by those who wish to make informed decisions. One last argument is that homosexual relationships cannot result in reproduction. I should think that this would be a good thing with teenage pregnancy rates being sky high, and the world’s population rocketing quickly beyond the carrying capacity of our planet. If one believes that sex is only good for reproduction, as the Catholic doctrines proclaim, then they will be hard pressed to find sufficient reasons to impress their personal convictions on humanity in general.
It is clear at this point, that there is no indubitable reason to consider homosexuality immoral. So why should we as a society place barriers in the way of the affections of individuals? If people find happiness in the romantic sexual love of someone of the same sex, then there can be no rational justification for keeping them apart.
It would be a great benefit if each of us could realize our commonalities instead of ostracizing one another for our differences. A great deal of our cultural norms are arbitrary, and therefore we should hope to find with us the capacity to love one another. Out of concern for the future citizens of our world, I believe we should seek to produce a society without arbitrary dogmas and fanatical beliefs.