The Insulting Accusation of ‘Ignorance’

So, they had a “Women’s March” that turned into a gay pride event, apparently, or maybe this protester was just … well, confused.

Earlier this month, my Medium account was suspended because someone complained about the content, and it’s probably not a wise idea for me to get too sarcastic here. However, I do wish to point out the insulting quality of this particular poster, touching as it does on a subject I wrote about this morning:

One of the most predictable insults that liberals direct at their critics is “ignorance.” Liberals consider themselves intellectually superior, and so the fact that you disagree with them is interpreted as proof of your inferiority. Never does a liberal consider the possibility that his antagonist has examined the arguments for liberalism and rejected them.
No, it is only
ignorant prejudice that can explain the conservative’s opposition, the liberal believes. Convinced that they are both intellectually and morally superior to others, liberals think of themselves as qualified to tutor the rest of us, as if we are simple-minded children.

Ask yourself why a bisexual protester would brandish a sign expressing the presumption that everyone else is simply ignorant of what bisexuality is?

Is it not likely that many people have considered bisexuality — considered it as a potential choice — and, after weighing their options, have decided that being bisexual is just a bad idea? Or are we required to believe that “bisexual” describes some sort of inner essence, a core aspect of personality? Having read a great deal on the subject, including Closer to Home: Bisexuality and Feminism, edited by Elizabeth Reba Weise (1992) and Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire by Lisa M. Diamond (2008), I think anyone accusing me of “ignorance” is unfairly insulting me. On the other hand, given my conservative Christian beliefs, it might be fair to say I’m biased against bisexuality, much as an Orthodox Jew is biased against lobster. Alas, I’ve only got two hands, but if I had a third hand, I’d say, on the other hand, that bisexuality must be judged separately from lesbian or gay identity.

Here’s the point: If someone tells me they’re gay, I presume this to mean that they have such an overwhelming attraction to the same sex, and such an absolutely lack of desire toward the opposite sex, that they are psychologically incapable of engaging in heterosexual relationships. And I have actually had homosexual acquaintances — both gay men and lesbians — say this to me in blunt terms. Based on such conversations, as well as on personal observation and extensive research, I have come to think of homosexuality as a sort of emotional disability, a sexual equivalent of obsessive/compulsive disorder.

This is merely my personal opinion, of course, and I am neither a psychiatrist nor a politician, so no one is obliged to pay any attention to what I say on the subject (or any other subject, for that matter), but I do resent that form of argument which condemns my opinion as “ignorant,” as if anyone who disapproves of homosexuality couldn’t possibly know anything about it. Considering it a cheap tactic to play the “some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay” card (which proves nothing, anyway), I nevertheless wish to convey that (a) I’m not someone who has led a sheltered life, hiding away in homophobic horror from any contact with the LGBT community, and (b) I have not formed my opinions without examining the facts and arguments involved.

We are not living in Eisenhower-era America, where the word “homosexual” is whispered lest someone might overhear us speak. And if you pay attention to the personal “coming out” narratives told in memoirs, etc., there is an abundant quantity of evidence in view, from which the astute observer might draw certain conclusions of a general nature about the phenomenon of homosexuality. Or perhaps I should use the plural phenomena, because it is obvious to me (if to no one else) that the etiology of homosexuality varies greatly between individuals, and we must first note that what makes a man gay is a very different set of factors than what makes a woman a lesbian.

Men and women are different, and therefore homosexuality manifests itself differently among gay men than among lesbians, so that lumping them together in the LGBT acronym obscures important distinctions. Many lesbians, for example, have great disdain for this LGBT acronym-coalition, especially when it comes to the T part of that label, a conflict that has erupted in public feuds in recent years. However, rather than stir up the “transphobia” controversy, the point I wish to make here is about the profound importance of the distinction between bisexuality and homosexuality.

As I say, if we are to accept at face-value what gay men and lesbians say about their orientation, we must consider them as afflicted with an overwhelming compulsion toward same-sex relations, a desire so profound as to make it effectively impossible for them to participate in heterosexual relations. And, as I have also said, this has been expressed to me in blunt terms, i.e., gay men avowing not only their helpless need for sex with men, but also their inability to experience any sort of sexual impulse toward woman. While it is not necessary for me to repeat the specific language used to convey these ideas, trust me when I say the terms were quite emphatic, and although lesbians are generally more discreet when discussing such subjects, they similarly aver that they could never imagine themselves feeling desire toward a male.

Taking them at their word, then, and having no motive to persuade them that they are mistaken about their own erotic impulses, nor any wish to promote some kind of “conversion therapy” approach to the matter, my purpose here is simply to describe what is, rather than what I think should be. When we are talking about adult gay people — 6 on the “Kinsey Scale” — the phenomenon under discussion is not merely a tendency, but rather a type of compulsion. Whatever our political opinion or religious belief may be, or whatever our theories about the etiology of homosexuality, we still must recognize the basic reality of the phenomenon we are talking about. So, then: Bisexuality.

Recent research indicates a remarkable increase in bisexuality or, to put it another way, more people who don’t identify as gay tell researchers they have actually had sex with same-sex partners:

The percentage of men who have had sex with at least one man increased from 4.5 percent to 8.2 percent between 1990 and 2014. Women reporting at least one female sexual partner increased from 3.6 percent to 8.7 percent of the population during the same period. But [San Diego State University Professor Jean] Twenge and her colleagues say that bisexual behavior drove this change: The percentage of survey respondents who had all same-sex partners didn’t increase significantly during that time, but the percentage of adults with both male and female partners increased from 3.1 percent to 7.7 percent.

According to this study, then, more than 90% of adults in 2014 say they have never had a same-sex partner, and the percentage of gay and lesbians didn’t change significantly, but “bisexuality” more than doubled. Why? Politics.

“The acceptance of gays and lesbians has really been the civil rights issue of the last few decades. . . . It’s been a social change that’s happened relatively quickly,” Professor Twenge says. In other words, the political campaign for “acceptance” of homsexuality as a “civil rights issue” has had the cultural effect of persuading more people to actually engage in such behavior. Whatever label you apply to this activity — “experimentation”? — shouldn’t we regard it as a phenomenon distinct from the homosexual compulsions of those who would score 6 on the Kinsey Scale? Otherwise, we would be required to doubt the orientation-as-innate-identity “born that way” argument which was the basis on which the gay civil-rights campaign succeeded.

That is to say, if we view an increase in recreational part-time “bisexuality” as a behavioral phenomenon attributed to greater “acceptance,” produced by a “social change” in attitudes toward same-sex activity, we must either regard this as something different from Kinsey 6 homosexuality, or else we must question what has widely been believed about the nature of homosexuality. And because public belief about what homosexuality is, in terms of defining gay and lesbian identity, has become the basis of major changes in our laws and governmental policies, the increase in “bisexuality” is not a trivial matter.

Readers will note that I place the word “bisexuality” inside quote marks, indicating the difficulty in defining the term. Does this word refer to behavior? Does it constitute an identity? Or can someone call themselves “bisexual” simply to acknowledge, in a more or less theoretical way, their willingness to consider potential partners of both sexes? This is not trivial, as say, because this may influence the way the Supreme Court’s Windsor and Obergefell decisions are interpreted, and could affect many other matters of law and policy in the future. From a strictly libertarian perspective, the distinction between gay and “bisexual” might not be so important, but the Windsor and Obergefell rulings involved Fourteenth Amendment interpretations that went far beyond a simple live-and-let-live libertarianism.

Radical-egalitarian ideas of “social justice” are quite a different thing from a simple idea of liberty, and I perceive that the trend toward more “bisexual” behavior will consequently bring this distinction into clearer view. Having made a certain concept of homosexual identity the basis of law, we are likely to find that a continued shift in our understanding of such concepts will give rise to new controversies. It is not “ignorance” to discern this, although I suspect that many people will soon admit to being confused by it.

As for my opinion of bisexuality, you can read what I’ve written about the prominent bisexual activist Robyn Ochs. If anyone wishes to accuse me of “ignorance,” I must remind you that I have the right to my opinion — and I also have the right to remain silent as to the extent of my knowledge.

Shucks, ma’am, I don’t know nothing about bisexuality, as far as you know.

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