angrybisexual said: Very few people actually believe it would be okay to oppress LBGT people if it weren't for "gay penguins". It is an argument that is used in the context of accusations of unnaturalness being thrown at queer people, nothing more.
I cited it as an example of the attitude I see a lot of relying on empiricism as a means of determining morality. I totally agree that that sort of statement is usually used in reaction to the queerness-is-a-choice attitude held by many. But it is frustrating that the anti-gay-rights side has dictated the terms of the entire argument: obviously it’s NOT a choice, but for either side to focus exclusively on whether it’s a choice or not pathologizes queerness and we should avoid it.
TLDR the penguin thing is a limited simplistic example (twitter) but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be mindful of the ways we are framing this argument. give no ground and don’t let the bad guys dictate the terms.
I am writing this on my phone and watching soccer at a bar maybe not in best spot to have this sort of conversation. anyway I hope I make sense
Regardless of what the intention was to show, the tweets are no less guilty of vilification. I’ll quickly get out of the way that I’m rather tired of the term ‘new atheist’ as if it’s anything more than a vaguely defined bogeyman to make moderate religious people less sympathetic towards atheists.
I could easily say it bothers me when people argue that queerness is 100% not a choice because it implies that it would be a sin or crime against nature if it was a choice (and for many people who consider themselves sexually fluid, it can certainly feel like a choice that is in no way anyone else’s business). But I know that when arguing against the fundamentalist you can’t convince them that homosexuality isn’t a sin, because sin is an abstract concept and a matter of belief. Homosexuality in nature is a fact that can be presented as clear evidence of the fault in belief that queerness is unnatural, whether it comes from a fundamentalist point of view or that of an atheist with anti gay sentiments. I don’t believe that by countering the arguments on their ground we’re allowing them to dictate the terms of the argument. I think we’re pulling that ground from under their feet and telling them to come up with a better argument or back off the court.
I believe your assertion on the arguments of science based morality and empiricism is a false interpretation of the methods within. To say that acceptance of queerness in this model requires evidence of gay relations in other animals is to misunderstand the burden of proof. The absence of evidence in this case would not be a concession to the claim that homosexuality is unnatural. The claim bears the burden of proof, and without evidence we must assume that gay sex is neither good nor bad, but simply existent, and therefore natural (or at least natural to humans, which makes it no more unnatural).
What I just want to say here is please continue to help allies understand their arguments and how they should be framed, but without putting a wedge between us. I don’t appreciate you adopting the straw man our mutual opponents constructed of me.
I am an atheist by definition, whatever issues I might have with the word or identifying as such. Anyway in light of this I kind of resent being told I’m marginalizing/silencing non-religious people; my condemnation of a particular kind of new atheist is in the interest of making a space for the non-religious that is broad and not pigeonholed. I used ‘new atheism’ to refer to a certain current of thought that i have serious problems with, and there are many individuals who fully exemplify it so I don’t think it’s a strawman.
that nitpick aside,
I do like the ‘pulling the ground out from under their feet’ idea regarding the Penguin Tweet and that’s important… But I think the misunderstanding of the burden of proof that you say I have (I may very well have it I don’t know) is an extremely widely-held misunderstanding, right? I just really think it’s important to move ethical questions like this into a space that isn’t solely involved with empiricism, because science doesn’t really say anything and can be made to say a lot of things. My critique of the penguin tactic is in the interest of moving the context elsewhere.