Friday, December 19, 2003

Re-Defining Sex

My friend Jenny Roback Morse is pretty cool: she's an economist, a good Catholic, a mom, a writer, and all-around smart lady.

She has a pair of articles at NRO, the first of which is "Love and...Marriage and the Meaning of Sex".

A revolution in the definition of sex has been going on for the last generation or so. Until recently, sex was understood, at least implicitly, as having a communal function, and society had an interest in defining the proper boundaries of sexual behavior. But, Morse argues, that has changed:
...For many people in modern America, sex has little or nothing to do with building community of any kind. Sex is a purely private matter, in the narrowest sense of private. Sex is a recreational activity, and a consumer good. My consumption of this good, my enjoyment of this activity, is a completely private matter that should be viewed analogously with other goods and activities.

This redifinition is having repercussions throughout society, and is at the heart of the debate over such issues as Gay "marriage". Jenny's article is right on mark, as far as I'm concerned. Read it and see why!

Having a Blog is Funny, Sometimes

You can encounter all sorts of different people.

Commenter Don is certainly that. And at first, his comments were kind of interesting and amusing. He reminds me of the "Jack" character from "Will & Grace": Someone who goes through life in a state of perpetual ferment and drama, utterly unaware of how insubstantial and ludicrous he is.

When Don started up with the all-but-inevitable name-calling (more on that in a moment), I was tempted to ban him. But I decided not to, for two reasons: (1) I didn't want to provide him with an excuse to pose as The Grievously Suffering Martyr, silenced for being a Prophet of the Gay cause. (2) Don is a lightweight. Banning him would be like using a shotgun to get rid of a pesky fly.

See, in Monday's post "Ideology as History", I quoted actual statements from important figures in Greek history which give the lie to the gay activists' contention that the ancient Greeks thought, like the fashionable parrots of the Zeitgeist, that homosexuality was the Most Wonderful Thing in The Universe. In fact, they didn't, as yet one more quote, from Plato's Laws, will illustrate:
[636c]...One certainly should not fail to observe that when male unites with female for procreation the pleasure experienced is held to be due to nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female with female, and that those first guilty of such enormities were impelled by their slavery to pleasure.

Here, the gay activist's ideology, that is to say, his mythos, runs up against the brick wall of fact. And so he can either (a) refute the facts adduced, (b) ignore the facts and proceed as thought they didn't exist, or (c) attempt to shout down the person adducing the facts.

Don (nor the other gay advocate who commented), I will note, did not adduce a single actual argument challenging my demonstration that the ancient Greeks did not accept homosexual behavior as "normal". Instead, he chose options b and c.

Don illustrated the truth of Ann Coulter's dictum (from her book, Slander) that Leftists (and homosexual activists are simply a species of Leftist), when confronted with facts inconvenient to them, don't argue. They attempt to shout down the opposition and resort to name calling.

And in the 40 or so comments Don posted over a couple of threads, we certainly get a lot of name calling. Unfortunately, most of it is rather derivative, consisting of worn out and unimaginative calumnies such as:

I am a "hater". (Anyone who disagrees with a Leftist must be doing so out of hate.)

The Church, and people who advocate moral standards and accountability, want to "control" people.

The Church is engaging in "Nazism" against gays. (It is an established rule of Internet discourse that the person who introduces comparisons of "nazis" or "fascists" to his opponent at that moment has lost the argument).

The Church has abused women and continues to do so.

God "made" people gay.

The Church, which is powerful and evil and wicked enough to do all those bad things, is nonetheless about to crumble into oblivion.

And so on, ad nauseam. And of, course, those of us who embrace the traditional standards of Christian morality are "bigots", and "fools", and "brainwashed".

Of course, he is saying all these things, including telling one commenter to "burn in hell, dear", because he is filled with Jesus' LOVE: "L.O.V.E. YOU IDIOTS ! LOVE !"

Of course, the more shrill his screams are, the more absurd he becomes. That's why I don't ban him.

Don, in short, is a troll. It is always a capital mistake to engage a troll in rational argument, as you would a reasonable person. The troll is not interested in rational argument: he is usually a monomaniac intent only on shouting his mania to all around him. So I will ask my readers to please observe the common-sense rule applied to trolls: Don't feed him. I'm confident that sooner or later, he will say something so abusive or outrageous that I'll have to ban him. But let's not hand him the opportunity.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Hooray for Me!

Sometime last night or early this morning I turned over 100,000 hits on my blog counter!

Thank you for your support!

Blug

That's my neologism for plugging a blog. Blog + Plug = Blug.

Or perhaps, a better neologism might be Plog. Plug + Blog = Plog.

Although I seem to recall that Victor Lams already used Plog for something else. If you read this, Victor, or if anyone else remembers, let me know.

At any rate, the Blog I wish to Blug is that of my good friend and classmate, Fr. Dave Hudgins.

Dave's a good guy and great priest, and you can read his thoughts over at The Great Commandment. Go pay him a visit!

Monday, December 15, 2003

Ideology as History

I wasn't going to post anything today. Monday is my day off, and I had planned on indulging myself in relative idleness in view of the fact that last week was very busy and that I will get even busier as we near Christmas.

But sometimes a piece of nonsense comes along so egregious that comment, correction, and debunking is necessary.

I am speaking of some of the assertions made in a recent New York Times book review, linked yesterday by Mark Shea.

Edward Rothstein, in his efforts to offer unconfined adulation to Louis Crompton's Homosexuality and Civilization, repeats uncritically Crompton's assertions regarding homosexuality in ancient Greece, and illustrates that the Manhattanite chattering classes owe their conception of history more to trends of pseudo-intellectual fashion than to actual reading.

Crompton, in his book, wants to posit that "homosexuality is associated with the inner workings of civilization itself". Since homosexuality is at the very core of what it means to be civlilized, it shouldn't surprise us to learn that homosexuals had things just peachy before that horrible old Christianity came on the scene; until just a few decades or so ago, when we finally began shaking those Christian bugaboos off our enlightened intellects.

And so, he trots out the now all-but-unquestioned canard that in ancient Greece "homosexuality had an 'honored place' for more than a millennium".

This. is. utter. nonsense.

I know you've heard from shows on the Discovery Channel and read in Cosmo that homosexuality was an accepted, "normal" part of Greek society, but that assertion is complete poppycock.

Anyone who asserts that the ancient Greeks looked at homosexuality as "normal" is either ignorant or is blinded by ideology. And any honest classical scholar will admit it.

I studied Classics and Patristics in graduate school at the Catholic University of America in Washinton, DC, whence I have an M.A. in Classics. I also studied the Classics in college at the University of Illinois. I labored for years reading Plato, Xenophon, Euripides, Plutarch, Homer, etc. in the original Greek. And I can tell you without equivocation that the ancient Greeks did not view homosexuality as "ok".

Now, it is true that they didn't look at homsexual behavior with the same degree of abomination as say, did ancient Israel. And they wouldn't have labelled it a "sin against nature", as would Thomas and the scholastics. At best, it was something they made jokes about. And the failure to abominate hardly constitutes approval. There's a wide ground between calling homosexuality an "objective disorder" and granting it an "honored place" in society.

But don't just take my word for it. Let's look at what some notable Greeks themselves said. This is how Xenophon, in his Memorobilia, describes Socrates' reaction to Critias' homosexual desire for Euthydemus:
Nevertheless, although he [Socrates] was himself free from vice, if he saw and approved of base conduct in them, he would be open to censure. Well, when he found that Critias loved Euthydemus and wanted to lead him astray, he tried to restrain him by saying that it was mean and unbecoming in a gentleman to sue like a beggar to the object of his affection, whose good opinion he coveted, stooping to ask a favour that it was wrong to grant. [30] As Critias paid no heed whatever to this protest, Socrates, it is said, exclaimed in the presence of Euthydemus and many others, “Critias seems to have the feelings of a pig: he can no more keep away from Euthydemus than pigs can help rubbing themselves against stones.”

It is important to note that Xenophon places this account in relation to describing Socrates moral rectitude and virtue, and in his reactions to "base" conduct. Secondly, Socrates points out that it would be "wrong" for Euthydemus to grant the favor Critias sought, and that it is "mean" for Critias to go mooning after him. Finally, even in ancient Greece one did not compare sentiments which have an "honored place" in society to the "feelings of a pig."

Xenophon also describes how the legendary Lawgiver of the Spartans, Lycurgus, dealt with the prospect of homosexual "recruitment" of boys in the ephebate [the training program for boys of about 15-19]:
If someone, being himself an honest man, admired a boy's soul and tried to make of him an ideal friend without reproach and to associate with him, he approved, and believed in the excellence of this kind of training. But if it was clear that the attraction lay in the boy's outward beauty, he banned the connexion as an abomination; and thus he caused lovers to abstain from boys no less than parents abstain from sexual intercourse with their children and brothers and sisters with each other.

Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians

Again, it is hard to reconcile the supposed "honored" place of homosexuality with its description as an "abomination" on par with incest.

Plutarch, in his Alexandros, relates that when Alexander was asked by the governor of one of his provinces in Asia Minor, in an attempt to curry favor, if he would like him to send "...a young man, the likes of whom for bloom and beauty did not exist." Alexander replied, "Why you vile man, what past deeds of mine have you witnessed that would make you think I would be interested in such pleasures?" Note that Alexander did not reply with a modern, "tolerant" response, like, "Well, "I'm not interested in that sort of thing, not that there's anything wrong with that."

Finally, Nikos Vrissimtzis, the author of a recent best-seller in Greece, Love, Sex and Marriage - a Guide to the Private Life of the Ancient Greeks, said in a BBC report:
"Contrary to popular opinion, that world was not a paradise for homosexuals, and paedaracy was held in such contempt that it was very heavily punished... Homosexuals were not, as many believed, openly accepted by society. They were marginalised and punished by law," Vrissimtzis says. "For example, they could not enter the ancient Agora [the business and government center of a Greek city] or participate in ranks and rituals involving the state.

He also said, "Ancient Greece was not a liberal society."

And in that last remark lies the crux of the issue. It is the typical tactic of sexual libertines, including homosexuals, to try to create a mythos of some ideal society which embraces the degeneracy that they want to establish here and now. Liberals want to be able to point to some utopia, and will make one up if necessary. Margaret Mead tried to do it with the Samoans and was eventually proven a fraud. The gay activists have been trying to do it with ancient Greece, and are also perpetrating a fraud.