Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Homosexuality and bigotry

Right. General Pace says homosexual acts are immoral. Now everybody and their dog hates him.

It happened overnight, when everybody was asleep. Nobody announced it; there was never a constitutional amendment; it simply happened. There once was a time when one may have been able to believe that homosexual acts are immoral without being a bigot. Now, this is no longer true.

"Bigotry" as a vague and sentimentally super-charged notion, is one of the only things that western society can agree is inherently evil, though it knows not really why. Even the barest intimation of bigotry sets off a an involuntary reaction on a national scale, a bit like how I collapse choking after the smallest sip of spoiled coffee. In fact, in a society long enamored yet still afraid of her captor--modernity--it is not difficult to see how bigotry has come to be not only a sub-category of evil but its very essence. Let me lay it out.

When good and evil are judged only by the scientifically measurable scale of sociology, they are aligned no longer with the analogues of "order" and "chaos" as in antiquity, but rather with "less harm" and "more harm"--a happily quantifiable standard. Science knows nothing of violating a "nature"; it only knows of violating an "other".

Yet in spite of brute quantifiability of this new standard, the modern sense of violation is not primarily any physical violence (for after all, the willingness of Armin Meiwes' victim initially turned "murder" into "manslaughter", nevermind the calculated willingness of Meiwes nor the measurable deadness of the victim). More heinous than contradicting another's vital organs is contradicting their conscious will (while they are conscious, anyway).

How to reconcile the modern need for a scientifically measurable standard of good vs. evil and the quintessential modern value of self-determination, which itself cannot really be seen or measured?

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