Monday, April 13, 2009

Ick. QED.

Is anything essential missing from John Holbo's summation of the arguments against gay equality? I say no:

The ick argument, I’ll wager. They want to stop same-sex marriage as a way of sending a message of ‘ick’ to gays, and about gays. But they also don’t want to be labeled homophobes. That is, although saying ‘gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed because I believe gay sex is icky’ is actually a less terrible argument than anything they’ve got – hey, it’s not flagrantly internally incoherent, it’s basically honest (I’ll wager), and who doesn’t believe that on some level people steer, morally, by emotional attraction-repulsion drive? – it’s considered embarrassing. (Homophobia: the yuck that dare not speak its name.) And, even if it weren’t embarrassing, it’s obviously not strong enough in the current environment. So what do you do? You end up thoughtlessly backing into something that’s frankly orders of magnitude worse than just saying gay sex is icky. Namely, gays are un-persons, so far as the state is concerned.
Holbo was speaking to a couple of recent anti-gay screeds in the National Review online (one, two) but the characterization fits more broadly.

Meanwhile, it would seem that people with an overdeveloped sense of 'ick' -- and, correspondingly, an underdeveloped capacity to think past that impulsive 'ick' response -- have persuaded to start removing gay-themed materials from their sales rankings.

A brief spot check of the reputedly de-listed books shows mixed results -- as of this writing, Heather Has Two Mommies still shows ranking information, while a biography of Ellen DeGeneres does not -- so the situation bears watching.*
Update: this was apparently a mistake, not ill-will.

'Ick' is an impulse, not an argument. Those in its thrall should face it squarely and take the time to reconsider it in the light of reason, compassion, and common sense.

* If nothing else, this can be a good enough prompting to do all your online book purchasing from Powell's -- they ship everything (new and used) to everywhere (near and far), and yes, they will even buy your used books online.

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