Sunday Morning Philosophizin’

Dear readers who don’t like reading: be aware that this isn’t the post for you :)

I want to thank the person who pointed me to this article (in Romanian) from Andrei Plesu. It’s a rather stupid piece, written in very dense and semi-academic, semi-religious language so I won’t translate it but it is an analysis of a subject I’ve written about before, the Gay Baby Panic in Timisoara.

The first third of Mr. Pleisu’s argument is that the pro-tolerance camp caused a backlash with the billboards and so hurt their own stance. The last third of his article is that he knows a few gay people and they’re intelligent. And the middle third is a mediocre use of the dialectic to analyze homosexuality. As I said, it’s not worth translating so read it on your own time.

The reason I’m mentioning all of this is because it illustrates something I’m continuously writing about – the failure to understand the inherent logic of complex systems, and this has ramifications far beyond a few posters or billboards.

The “cause” of (homo)sexuality is usually divided into two possibilities:

  • “Environment” – This means that something or someone has an influence on the individual human being and “turns” them gay, or influences them to be gay, or tempts them into being gay, etc.

    In other words, nobody is born with a desire to drink Pepsi-Cola. It’s only after being influenced by advertisements, peer pressure, society, the encouragement of a friend or Satan that a person begins to drink Pepsi-Cola and continues to do so until one day they can be considered a “Pepsi drinker”.

    If you think Pepsi drinking is wrong, and believe that the environment is responsible, then all potential sources of influence to drink Pepsi must be eliminated or repressed. This is the official position of the Romanian Orthodox Church as well as many politicians, etc, as mentioned in my original article.

  • “Genes” – This means that an individual is hard-wired through some unalterable biological principle, usually referred to in pseudo-scientific shorthand as “genes”, and that the individual human being is locked into being gay. In other words, they are destined from birth to be a Pepsi drinker and the advertisements and influences and societal pressures, etc. have no say in the matter.

    This is usually the position of the pro-tolerance camp, and certainly the authors of the billboard in question, that babies are “born gay” and that’s just how it is. It’s literally no different than being born with blue eyes.

I cannot even begin to count the number of problems I have with this kind of false dichotomy because I don’t think reality is reflected in either one.

For starters, while every baby certainly is born with an eye color (as determined by the “genes”), I’ve yet to meet a sexual baby. That is to say, I’ve seen and worked with hundreds if not thousands of babies and not one was homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or any other kind of sexual.

One can argue about future sexuality but not about the present sexuality of a baby, which is always none. A baby is born with brown eyes. A baby is not born with a sexuality of any kind. A human being must undergo physical changes known as puberty before any sexuality is possible.

Not all babies are going to survive long enough to go through puberty. Some of them may live 10 or 11 years, never go through puberty, and die without ever having been sexual in any way. Therefore they died without being homosexual or heterosexual or anything else. I hate to be morbid but the very selfsame baby in the poster, wearing a “homosexual” bracelet, may die before ever being sexual in any way.

Is that a little pedantic? Perhaps. But I see this kind of thinking all of the time in finance, even on the national government level and amongst economists and other people who should know better. It’s apparently some kind of inherent trait in humanity to misunderstand probability.

But remaining on the topic of sexuality, let’s skip ahead to a post-pubescent human being, aka an adult, who is definitely sexual. And we interview this person and he says, “Yep, I’m gay.” Perhaps now we can argue whether his genes “compelled” him to be gay or whether some influences in his environment “tempted” him to be gay, right?

No. There are not just multiple books but a Hollywood movie on the life and research of a man named Alfred Kinsey and yet people still cannot seemingly grasp the basic conclusions of what his research discovered. In his own words:

Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats.

In fact, Kinsey’s own scale on sexuality had eight positions, not two (homosexual or heterosexual). To continue my Pepsi-Cola metaphor, according to Kinsey, the post-pubescent population of humans can be delimited as follows:

  1. Exclusively a Pepsi drinker
  2. Predominately a Pepsi drinker, only incidentally a Coca-Cola drinker
  3. Predominately a Pepsi drinker, but more than incidentally a Coca-Cola drinker
  4. Equally a Pepsi and Coca-Cola drinker
  5. Predominately a Coca-Cola drinker but more than incidentally a Pepsi drinker
  6. Predominately a Coca-Cola drinker, only incidentally a Pepsi drinker
  7. Exclusively a Coca-Cola drinker
  8. Never drank a cola in their life

Think about both yourself and the people in your life and their beverage choices and you’ll realize that these positions are quite applicable. I personally rarely drink sodas but when I do it’s almost exclusively Coca-Cola. But goodness knows, I’m sure on a few occasions when I was in the mood for a carbonated sugar beverage and Pepsi was all they had, I must’ve drank a Pepsi. So it goes.

Now just switch the terms Pepsi and Cola for “homosexual” and “heterosexual” and that’s the Kinsey scale. I just used the cola brands to avoid all of the excessive religious and cultural baggage associated with sexuality. My point, however, is that exclusivity is on the outer limits of the spectrum, whether referring to cola drinking or sexuality or any other human practices. It really is.

Furthermore, the “joker in the deck” so to speak, is that some people never drink a cola in their entire lives and never have sexual contact either. Therefore they are not homosexual or heterosexual and all the arguments about whether it’s the “genes” or the “environment” are null because neither biological imperatives nor environmental factors ever caused them to be sexual at all.

Kinsey wasn’t the greatest scientist that ever lived and there are certainly flaws in many of his statistical methods but there just haven’t been any equally comprehensive analyses conducted after his death to refer to. But the gist of what he was saying is right, that there aren’t only two “flavors” of humans, either exclusively Pepsi or Coca-Cola, but that people fall into a wide spectrum that ranges between the two. I’d argue that the spectrum is even more diffuse than seven (plus one) positions.

When I was 13, a male friend of mine kissed me. Does that make me gay? What if after that I was sexual exclusively with women? The more you bore down on the details the more quickly you see that there are no hard and fast delineations between these “two and only two” categories of sexuality. Excluding people who have never had any sexual contact in their entire lives, how many people have never, ever had any sexual contact with people of the same gender? Very few.

And let’s say we build a time machine and go back to when I was 13 and hadn’t had any sexual contact with women yet but had just been kissed by this guy. Was I gay at this particular moment in time? Technically speaking you’d have to say I was – at that moment.

A far better metaphor would be like a voltmeter, showing a needle that sweeps back and forth between the two poles, changing in real time based on what’s happening. As odd as it may sound, a 90-year-old woman who hasn’t had sexual contact in ten years is not homosexual or heterosexual regardless of their past history. Sorry to say this but sexuality is not cumulative.

Let’s review what we have so far:

  • No baby is sexual
  • Some post-pubescent adults are never sexual
  • A person’s position on the spectrum between homosexuality and heterosexuality changes in real time.
  • Very few people are on the extreme fringe of that spectrum and exclusively one or the other.

This is why I loathe both the “genes” and the “environment” camps. I hate the “genes” camp because it’s used as some kind of scientific justification for the normality of homosexuality, as if it were pre-destined by unalterable forces and therefore should be tolerated and accepted. Such a small percentage of human beings grow up to be exclusively homosexual (or heterosexual) that to argue that it is compelled by “genes” (which of course, have never been identified and never will be) is poor science and opens the door to attack from people who hate homosexuality for cultural and religious reasons.

And I hate the “environment” camp because it’s generally used by people who fear and loathe homosexuality, who then proceed to blame societal factors for influencing people to engage in homosexual contact, which they consider something wrong and/or evil.

I hate both these camps because they are taking a position first (homosexuality is wrong/normal) and then trying to fit the facts in order to justify their position.

Managing my own sexuality is quite enough, thank you, and I really do not care what other people do, including all the other kinds of sexuality I haven’t even mentioned yet, from various fetishes to necrophilia. I’ve known people who have practiced every form of sexuality in existence, including the latter. Speaking of which, if you’re heterosexual with living women but homosexual with dead men, are you gay? See what I mean? I used to work with a guy who dressed in women’s clothes but had no sexual interest in men. Saying people are exclusively “one or the other” is absurd.

Post-pubescent humans engage in sexual contact for thousands, if not millions, of reasons, the various expressions thereof being so varied that there is no way they can be delimited into two and only two categories, homosexual or heterosexual. Doing so is just ridiculous. And as I also described in great detail, trying to parse out what types of sexual contact are wrong (or right) based on the Bible is also sublimely ridiculous.

The only acceptable form of modern societal cohesion is that any consensual sexual contact between post-pubescent humans shall be permitted. Otherwise you’re repressing the rights of your fellow citizens at the risk of they one day repressing your own.

You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to want to see it, or praise it, or want to hear about it. But then again nobody really wants to hear about your sexuality either, do they? :)


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