Monday, May 2, 2011

Vatican Notices Trend Of Some Mysterious Unspecified Attacks on Anti-Gays. Somewhere. Sometimes.

[TW: Sexual abuse, child abuse]

In condemning a UN resolution expressing concern at sexual orientation-based violence, the Holy Mothers expressed their concern that opposition to LGBT rights is increasingly recognized as bigotry.

From Vatican Radio, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi first stated that:

"A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings. But states can, and must, regulate behaviours, including various sexual behaviours. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviours must be forbidden by law. Paedophilia and incest are two examples."

First, let's note the irony of a Catholic leadership that appointed a known child abuser to one of its Sexual Abuse Advisory Boards lecturing us on the forbiddenness of pedophilia. In a logical world this particular institution would have already exhausted its moral capital regarding sexual morality. But sadly, no.

Then, let's note that Tomasi is telling us that a state should not punish people who harbor homosexual feelings but that it should punish "certain kinds of sexual behaviours." In the context of a debate of a resolution pertaining to sexual orientation, it is clear that the Vatican is implying that nations are free to punish homosexual behavior. Yet, perhaps fearful of the bigot label, the Vatican seems to lack the courage to make that statement explicit.

Tomasi continues:

"Third, the Holy See wishes to affirm its deeply held belief that human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage. Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension : it is an activity which puts the individual will at the service of a finality; it is not an 'identity'. In other words, it comes from the action and not from the being, even though some tendencies or 'sexual orientations' may have deep roots in the personality. Denying the moral dimension of sexuality leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter, and undermines ultimately his/her ontological dignity. This belief about human nature is also shared by many other faith communities, and by other persons of conscience."

So a few things are going on here. First, just because they and "many other faith communities" say so, it is apparently an objective truth that human sexuality is only "genuinely expressed" within a lifelong heterosexual marriage.

Secondly, notice how the Vatican says that some "tendencies" or "'sexual orientations"' might have "deep roots in the personality." One is led to wonder if the Vatican considers heterosexual desire to be a "tendency" in this sense, or if Tomasi is, without explicitly saying so, only referring to homosexual desire as a "tendency."

This matters because isn't it true that it is more than just "some" tendencies that are deeply rooted? As in, most people, even those who are primarily attracted to the other sex, also have "tendencies"- tendencies that are deeply rooted and not chosen.

Yet, if the Vatican is suggesting that it is only "some" tendencies that are "deeply rooted," the Vatican implies that for most people, sexual attraction is a choice and that people are basically born without an orientation and then become heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual via their actions.

My point here is that the Vatican, without perhaps even realizing it, invisibilizes the heterosexual sexual orientation by conflating it with an non-sexual "blank slate" sexual orientation. In this way, while appearing to concede that "some" "tendencies" "might" be "deeply rooted" in one's personality, heterosexual attraction is presented as genuine, natural, moral, and not a tendency at all.

Both that and the notion that heterosexuality-within-marriage is the only genuine expression of sexuality are heterosexism. But don't tell that to the Vatican. That would be persecution:

"And finally, Mr. President, we wish to call attention to a disturbing trend in some of these social debates: People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex. When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatised, and worse -- they are vilified, and prosecuted. These attacks contradict the fundamental principles announced in three of the Council’s resolutions of this session. The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances."

I guess, when Tomasi claims that "people are being attacked," I want to know what exactly he means by that. Are states enacting laws where those who do not support "sexual behaviour between people of the same sex" are subject to execution? Are equality opponents being stoned? Are mobs of people with homosexual "tendencies" lynching opponents of LGBT equality?

Or, are LGBT people and supporters being rude to equality opponents? Are we criticizing them for their complicity in an unfair legal regime? Are we telling them that their religiously-motivated denial of our human dignity is hurtful?

I'm not naive to the fact that some LGBT advocates are abusive and mean, but because Tomasi fails to note specific events, I'm wary of any general sweeping claim about how people are supposedly being "stigmatised," "vilified," "prosecuted," and denied their "fundamental human rights."

I mean, those are pretty grave charges to make without presenting evidence, right?

So, on that note, I'd like to call attention to a disturbing trend I've noticed in these debates. On the one hand, some Christians can't tell us enough how awesome and courageous they are for opposing same-sex marriage in this era of "hyper-political-correctness." But on the other hand, they also can't tell us enough how receipt of criticism, or being called a bigot, is a ginormous violation of their human rights, religious freedom, and/or First Amendment rights.

Yet, what they fail to understand is that human bigotry, like any voluntary activity, is not an identity. In other words, it comes from the action, not the being, even though some bigoted tendencies have deep roots in religion. Denying the chosen aspect of bigotry, leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter.

It's simple really. If you don't like being told that you're a bigot, stop choosing to be one.

No comments: