Friday, February 1, 2013

LGBT 3: Inclusiveness

I don't really want to do it, but I guess I should address some Boy Scout stuff. I honestly don't know that much about the Boy Scouts, and truth be told, they were always really lame to me when I was a kid. This may have been my dad's influence, but they always, always looked goofy to me. They were also kind of touchy-feely Christian when I came across them. Not a real big fan of that. But this post isn't really about what I thought about the Boy Scouts as a little kid. It's about the Boy Scouts considering changing its policy on homosexual membership. More than that, though, it's about the concept of "inclusiveness" and how that concept is a means of subversion. 

I was going to sort of ignore the whole thing because, as I said, I don't really care that much about the Boy Scouts, but I came across this article, which kind of bugged me. Take a look at it, but I'll be pulling the stuff out I think is relevant to my point. I was going to originally sort of address it piece by piece, but I don't wanna be that guy.

In the article, the author, the Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, praises the Boy Scouts for considering changing its national policy on homosexual membership. But that's not really what the article is about. The author really tries to argue that the Boy Scouts are actually about inclusiveness, and that this homosexual ban is some strange inconsistent anomaly that is only finally being straightened out. In it, he cites the fact that the Boy Scouts vow to serve people of all faiths and includes people from all racial and socio-economic backgrounds. What he's taking into this argument is that homosexuals are just another type of those groups that are already included in the basic framework. This sort of ties in to what I said in the last post in this series about gay being the "new black." 

What the author miraculously fails to realize is that homosexuals are not just like any other group. They are a group that not only do things the Scouts consider immoral, but advocate and spread the doing of these immoral things. Or, to put it more accurately, he doesn't feel like that fact really matters in determining what the Boy Scouts should do. Of course, I genuinely doubt he'd extend this standard to other groups. That is, I truly wonder if he's as adamant about polygamists, people in incestuous relationships, or people who practice bestiality joining the Scouts. He'd probably consider those things immoral that shouldn't be spread to children. What he really means, then, is that he thinks there's nothing wrong with homosexuality. But that much should be obvious. What I want to really focus on is how he pulls off this argument. Because the article isn't really an argument trying to prove that homosexuality is moral. It's an article about inclusiveness.

The inclusiveness argument plays on some strange sense of equality that is ingrained in Western thought. It comes from Christianity, I think, but it's common among all Western people, even if (and especially if) they are atheists. It appeals to the same thing the "don't judge" mentality appeals to. But it perverts it. It goes an extra step. Traditional Christian concepts of inclusiveness are based on the idea that any person can be a member of the Church so long as he is willing to give himself to Christ and everything that comes along with that. What modern inclusiveness does is chop off the italicized part of that sentence---the most important part of the sentence. What's left is the idea that you should include everyone, period, no matter what. This is precisely what this author is playing on.

The trick here, I think, is to make it seem like "inclusiveness" is just a given. That it's some neutral moral value that we can all agree on, and that a group is just being mean by not going along with it. And what's really brilliant about the whole strategy is that people who preach "inclusiveness" always say things like "it's not our place to force our values on other people," willfully ignorant of the fact that they are forcing their value of inclusiveness on everyone else. Specifically, it is saying that inclusiveness is a value that supersedes all other values, including strong moral values that one might hold. In other words, you better put away your beliefs about right and wrong if they get in the way of inclusiveness. He even says as much when he writes: "While I have no doubt that some truly believe these claims [that homosexuality is immoral and condemned by Christianity] that does not mean that any one particular belief system should get to impose its views on others."

In reality, inclusiveness really means change. It is the means for the non-dominant group to get the dominant group to change by invoking some moral standard that no one can disagree with. They may say, "oh, you can believe whatever you want," but they really mean, "change, because we don't like what you're selling." It's weak and perverse and enormously successful.

What's more is that people who strive for this strange sort of all-inclusive message seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that they're destroying the thing they're trying to be part of in the first place. "Catholic" has a meaning; a Catholic thing is something upholds Catholic values. Not something that looks and sounds Catholic but really has the same values as everything else. (I have an upcoming post addressing this in more detail.) The same goes for Boy Scouts. If a person tries to change a group into something else, he is not elevating himself to it; he is instead pulling the thing down to him, ruining the thing in the process. What such a person should do when he doesn't like the values of a group is not be part of the group. He has no right to have the group change for him so that he feels better being a part of the group. I don't join PETA and tell them they need to change their position on eating animals. Because once I got them to change, they would no longer be PETA.

I think this desire to change the dominant group exists for a couple of reasons. Mainly, though, it's an attempt to be part of something valuable and traditional without having to give up anything to do it. For example, the Catholic Church is magnificent. Even if I weren't Catholic (and before I was) I would be ridiculous not to recognize this. If not just for its art and history. More than that, for the Catholic, it is the means of attaining lasting salvation. The Church is a mother who guides her children into the infinite. Awesome, sounds good. But what do you do if you want all that neat, good stuff but also want to have anal sex with your boyfriend, even though sexual morality is an enormous part of Catholicism? You invoke inclusiveness! Problem solved. Now you're justified, and the Church is the morally reprehensible group that has to constantly show that it's worthy to outsiders, instead of the other way around. The same thing's happening with the Boy Scouts, no doubt. And sadly, they'll probably give in (if not today, soon).

7 comments:

  1. You might find this thread on a local (to me) news blog interesting. It highlights a lot of what you talk about.

    http://www.katu.com/news/business/Did-a-baker-break-the-law-when-denying-service-to-same-sex-couple-189450071.html#lf_comment=54708269

    The comments show an almost rabid ferociouness of the 'tolerant' SSM advocates who are out to destroy a private businessman that dares to hold true to his religious principles. I can easily visualize pitchforks and torches. I tell you it is frightening how unable they are to see the hypocrisy of how they demand that one right (theirs) should destroy another.

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  2. I agree in pinning the false inclusiveness meme on christian heresy.
    Way too much involved for a comment section. Whew!

    But how about this for starters?

    I am sure you are aware that "it is the means for the non-dominant group to get the dominant group to change by invoking some moral standard that no one can disagree with" sounds like an echo of Nietzsche's critique of Judeo-Christian ethics as slave morality. I would suggest that he was quite keenly critiquing christian heresy rather than the ancient Tradition.

    Don't mean to open a can of worms; it really seems to be a matter of false egalitarianism, "immanentizing the eschaton" and all that.

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  3. Regarding how the group should change to fit the individual's preferences, I think there's more to it than that. I think a lot of it has to do with a democratic sensibility that no group is INHERENTLY for or against anything, and a group's beliefs are defined by the beliefs of the individuals in it. For instance, the Democratic Party didn't use to advocate for gay marriage. But once most of the people in the Democratic Party changed their minds on this issue, the Party simply updated their platform.

    It's a very different mentality from Catholicism (with its Magisterium, Tradition, papal infallibility, etc.) and to a lesser extent evangelical Protestantism (even though in practical terms biblical interpretation is often subject to personal biases, most evangelical Christians are at least theoretically okay with the idea of an objective authority that doesn't bend to fit their idiosyncratic preferences). I think it's hard for most secular people to get over the fact that it simply doesn't MATTER what 95% of Catholics think, Catholicism itself is not a democratic institution and so those 95% of Catholics simply think objectively un-Catholic things.

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    1. Well said. Although I would say that rather than secular folks it is the moral relativist that can't wrap their mind around objective Truth. There are plenty of Christians that fit that bill and plenty of secular folks that reject that thinking (they may even be un-religious) as I'm sure you know.

      Most relativists don't really think that either, they just can't (or won't) muster up enough reason and logic to see it. I'm always amused at the way they run away from an argument in frustration (often hurling insults) when you try and get them to follow their POV out to a logical conclusion. Their solution is to just go hang out with like-minded folks that won't challenge their thinking.

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  4. On a more general metaphysics note, I thought you might enjoy this:

    http://www.dominicanablog.com/2013/01/28/whether-st-thomas-is-boring/

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  5. What's more is that people who strive for this strange sort of all-inclusive message seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that they're destroying the thing they're trying to be part of in the first place.

    I'm too cynical, perhaps, but I think they quite often know that they're destroying things. In fact, I think that's the point - any institution which cannot, in principle, maintain itself while accepting their demands is an institution that cannot be allowed to exist. ("Their" not being specific to LGBT. Nowadays there's a host of groups that work with this mentality.) To allow it to exist is to concede that there exists a point of view under which criticism of certain behaviors and lifestyles is acceptable - and for someone obsessed with getting approval for those things, that's a frightening thought.

    I think this works in with your last post on this topic. It's not just that rational arguments against same-sex (and other kinds of) sexual acts are utterly opaque and unavailable to the people fighting for SSM and normalization of same-sex relationships. It's that conceding the very existence of such arguments would itself be harmful to what they want to achieve, so it's necessary to pretend it doesn't exist.

    That's one reason I think that arguments only work so much in with this topic: as near as I can tell, the cultural shift on the question of LGBT behavior had next to nothing to do with arguments or intellectual reflection, and a lot - an incredible amount - to do with emotion, PR, and mere rhetoric/framing. Not to mention general ineptitude on the anti-LGBT side, including hypocrisy. And not just the Ted Haggard variety, but a too-often unwillingness to address the problems in the non-LGBT community as well, not to mention the problems with modern 'hetero' marriage.

    What the author miraculously fails to realize is that homosexuals are not just like any other group. They are a group that not only do things the Scouts consider immoral, but advocate and spread the doing of these immoral things.

    This is another thing that's always hopelessly lost in the conversation. There's this kind of chameleon switching that goes on, where 'the person who has SSA' is treated as interchangeable with 'the person who identifies as gay and is a gay activist who wants a normalization of same sex behavior and a slew of other things'. One of the masterstrokes of the LGBT movement has been to effectively eradicate the position of the person who has SSA, but thinks that it is nevertheless immoral. In the public consciousness, it seems like such a person would be viewed either as a mythical creature or somehow hobbled ('Poor thing, they're not being true to themselves!') The idea of rationally rejecting a given appetite is just alien to so many now.

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