Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bringing gay porn into our children's schools

I am a hypocrite.


How so?


The purpose of OTA is not self-revelation. I’m not St. Augustine; I’m not even Odd Thomas. However, I can’t discuss the following breaking news without publicly confessing that I am a porn addict and have been for some years. I don’t say this with any pride; I say it with deep shame.


Now, I invite you to read Gateway Pundit’s blog in the First Things website. (I warn you, first: If you’re easily offended, or if graphic descriptions of gay sex disturb you, it’s probably best to take my word for it.) What Jim Hoft, the author, cites from are eleven books on a list of over 100 listed by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a group founded and formerly presided over by Pres. Obama’s “safe school czar” Kevin Jennings, as materials supposedly meant to raise the self-esteem of young people struggling with homosexual urges, as well as to raise awareness and tolerance among straight kids. The books are specifically marketed to teachers to use as required classroom assignments, although students can order them directly. The citations come with scans of the pages in question, so there’s no issue of “you made this up”.


The fact of the matter is, the “materials” are little better than smut. Moreover, it’s homoerotic smut without any balancing by heteroerotic smut, let alone chastity advocacy. Worse, much of it is little more than retrojected adult rationalizations into a preteen/young adult context … when it isn’t barely-disguised pedophile/ephebophile fantasy.


When I read it, I divested myself of every bit of porn I have, and reset my Internet restrictions. I have no guarantee that I won’t ever relapse, just as basic honestly won’t let me promise that I will never smoke again. For both of these outcomes, I place my trust in God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


So how did this revelation connect itself to a personal addiction that I’ve been more or less struggling with—considerably more of “less” and less of “more”—for several years in such a way that it caused me to pitch my porn and break my silence?


Very simple: The problem is not just that a site supposedly dedicated to furthering love and understanding is in fact pitching soft-core gay porn both directly to young people and indirectly through their teachers (whom the colleges of education are now doing their best to proselytize into questioning “heteronormativity”, which is a fancy way of apostrophizing the traditional family as the cornerstone of civilization). After all, what’s so wrong about soft-core gay porn that isn’t wrong with hard-core straight porn? And, by the way, what is wrong with porn?


Well, for starters, as art 99.999999% of porn is garbage. (I would say “100%” but there’s always the slight chance that I could be missing something.) Gloria Leonard, the sometime publisher of High Society, once said that the only difference between pornography and erotica was lighting. Let’s face it, though: even most “erotica” fails to make it into the “work of art” category because it fails to say anything beyond “Wow, s/he’s hot!” You could do that with women who are fully clothed and holding nothing sexier than a crescent wrench.


For another, anybody who believes that sex necessarily equals love ought to spend at least twenty-four hours watching the misogynistic behavior implicit—and usually explicit as well—in most straight and lesbian porn. Male gay porn isn’t explicitly misogynistic because women simply don’t appear … they don’t matter even as sex objects. But even when the participants are all happiness and light, there’s nothing there to give you the impression that they love each other in any useful, meaningful sense of the word. Often enough, due to the miracle of the Internet which allows morons with cameras to (badly) shoot flesh epics and stream them to millions of people worldwide, they’ve only known each other for an hour or less.


Third, no matter how “real” the sex portrayed is, the sexual values portrayed are unrealistic, dehumanizing and degrading precisely because sex pursued as an end in itself is unrealistic, dehumanizing and depersonalizing. Sex only meets its full potential within the context of the traditional understanding of marriage—a lifelong commitment that is radically open to children and where both partners love and respect each other—because only such a context allows both the unitive and procreative aspects of sex full scope. In 99.999999% of the cases (again, allowing for the slight possibility that I overlooked a critical exception), what porn displays isn’t even worthy of the clinical detachment implied in the word “copulation” … there is no more apposite or more complimentary word for it than “f**king”, with all the scorn and contempt that overused participle can freight.


Everybody who indulges in porn, no matter how well-adjusted they are sexually (and I’m not about to throw stones in this glass house), fosters and indulges this socially destructive industry. Even exercising restraint in indulgence isn’t enough—we need to drive this crap out of our midst. NOW. If we want to protect kids, we can’t even afford to allow porn that only exploits consenting adults (and no, full adult consent doesn’t mean you’re not exploited).


Now, as I’ve said before, the truth or falsehood of an argument ought to be examined independently of the apologist’s own behavior. I also admitted that it doesn’t. The classic definition of “giving scandal” means that a person is driven away from the truth because those who promote it fail to live up to its demands. Saint Francis of Assisi, my confirmation patron, said, “Evangelize always. When necessary, use words.” We ought to live in our own persons the morality we want others to live by, whether or not that morality is religiously derived.


Nevertheless, just as we can be blackmailed through our compassion into supporting evil, we can also be coerced into supporting evil through appeals to our sense of fair play (which in some ways is another form of the ad misericordiam attack).[1] Having let X in, and having indulged in forms of X ourselves, we really ought to allow group p to also engage in X1, shouldn’t we? Anything less is hypocrisy.


This is precisely the tack I expect some defenders of Kevin Jennings and GLSEN to take. Heterosexual equivalents to this stuff are already available in some school libraries; why shouldn’t homoerotic literature be equally accessible? But even where it isn’t, straight kids can get it by reading their parents’ books or getting around the often-pathetic blocks parents put up around their own porn. Since kids are gonna experiment with their sexualities anyway (ah yes, sooner or later the Futility Fallacy[2] will make an entrance), we might as well give them the material they need to feel good about their sexuality.


I’ll agree that children can engage in explicitly sexual behavior. I’ll also agree that some children start doing so before puberty, without any coercion or persuasion from adults. But I’m not convinced that children do so naturally, i.e. independently of social context, in consistent numbers. Prepubescent kids may stumble upon sexual acts through sheer curiosity, and do them because they feel good. But it’s far more usual, I’ll bet, that they’ve heard of or witnessed sexual acts between adults and are experimenting with the acts without knowing or experiencing the emotional or biological imperatives that drive the adults. And more children are participating in these exploratory acts because they’re exposed to far more explicit sexual behavior today than they were fifty years ago.


Moreover, I am convinced that the social sciences have been corrupted by people who have hijacked them in the name of political agendas, and (as the recent hullabaloo about “Climategate” has illustrated) the hard sciences are showing themselves equally vulnerable to politicization. I fully expect that, within the next 5-10 years, the exposure of scientific corruption will have progressed so far that it will no longer be possible for ordinary people to trust scientific arguments in discussions of public policy; not only will it not be possible to sell child sexualization as healthy, the argument for homosexuality as normal and non-threatening will be lost as well.


It’s obvious that Kevin Jennings needs to go. NOW. Even if he had no direct way himself to force teachers to peddle this obscene tripe, his very presence in the Obama Administration gives us reason to question the President’s motives in bringing him on board. If throwing him under the bus means that we risk being called “hypocrite”, then I submit that we should answer: “Yeah. And your point would be …?”


But more than that—and I think I’ll need another post to consider this—we’re going to have to take a long, hard, serious look as a nation at the First Amendment. It’s obvious that the Amendment, as written and interpreted, is not only not working out as the founders intended, it’s on its way to becoming a nightmare.




[1] Argumentum ad misericordiam = “appeal to pity”; in informal logic, a material fallacy of relevance.
[2] Futility Fallacy is what I call the “people are gonna do it anyway” argument, since you have to have a clumsy, polysyllabic name for it in order for it to be taken seriously. Laws and policies do not by their very existence stop anyone from doing X; otherwise, we wouldn’t need police to arrest people for Xing. Therefore, that “people are gonna do X anyway” is irrelevant to whether people should do X or whether the government should penalize people for doing X.