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futilities

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 16, 2004

A friend remarked, à propos of the John Derbyshire column linked below, that the very word by which they choose to identify themselves underscores the fact that gays are constitutionally frivolous. He went on to say that no one could take a person's homosexuality seriously, unless it was something from which the afflicted person wanted to rid himself.

Tomorrow, same-sex marriages will be a fact in law in Massachusetts. Anyone who imagines that the homo-sex of the spouses will thereby be ennobled is deluded.

Look at it this way. In the realm of heterosexual eros, normal persons of whatever background or creed make a distinction between proper and improper acts. Different folks may set the bar in different places, but everyone recognizes and distinguishes above-the-line and below-the-line behaviors. Even ultra-liberated individuals who acknowledge few personal constraints, if required to picture the circumstances of their own conception, would admit a point beyond which their parents' imagined antics are cringe-making. However amorally or multiculturally we view the sexual relations of men and women, the proper/improper normal/abnormal distinction is inalienable.

Now try to think this way about homo-sex. It doesn't work. Not even Andrew Sullivan -- whether in his evangelizing persona of righteous fury or in his pseudo-casual "boyfriend and the beagle" mode -- has dared attempt it. "This homo-erotic activity is proper and decorous; that homo-erotic activity is improper and ignoble" -- it's a non-starter. We no sooner begin to cast about for a rational basis for a line of demarcation than the effort collapses into bad jokes.

An article I read some years ago (by Joe Sobran?) presented empirical evidence for the same argument. The author pointed out that the "personals" columns in gay newspapers make no attempt to segregate the kinky from the conventional. The "lonelyhearts" ads are intermingled with those in search of masochists, fetishists, etc. And the reason is plain: once you become an inhabitant of a world in which sodomy is acceptable, you do more than simply cross a mental frontier: in effect you renounce your prior citizenship, your belonging to a world in which right and wrong can be meaningfully applied to sexual acts. To the "reconciled" practicing gay, sexual morality has ceased to exist.

It's ludicrous to imagine a gay couple's vowing to preserve their virginity to their wedding night. And the flip side of the coin is that it's impossible to view their matrimony as other than a burlesque, a send-up, of the real thing. Where purity is meaningless, honor can only be a joke. With their new-found political power, gays may well succeed in compelling their fellow citizens to pretend something meaningful is effected by their marriage, but no one -- no matter how good willed toward gays -- can take it seriously; one can at best refrain from laughing. For essentially frivolous people, embarked on an essentially frivolous endeavor, that is not a good omen.

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  • Posted by: Coco - May. 17, 2004 6:47 PM ET USA

    We just finished reading The Jungle Books (for the umpteenth time) to our children. Kipling's Bandar Log (Monkey People) haunt me every time I read about the plight/victory of homosexuals: "They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people...They are very many evil, dirty, shameless, and they desire to be noticed by the Jungle-People. But we do not notice them, even when they throw nuts and filth on our heads." Why are the Bandar Log so dangerous? They recognize no law!

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