Homosexual Bigotry: deeper than religion

In both his 1907 novel,  “The Secret Agent” and his 1899 novel “The Heart of Darkness” (1899), Joseph  Conrad criticizes the human animal.  Concerning “The Secret Agent”, John Gray (see my prev. post), tells us that Conrad conveys his belief that:

“… not only government is tainted by criminality.  All human institutions – families and churches, police forces and anarchists — are stained by crime.  Explaining human nastiness by reference to corrupt institutions leaves a question:  why are humans so attached to corruption?  Clearly, the answer is in the human animal itself.”– Silence of Animals, John Gray

Homosexual Bigotry: religious & secular

GayWedA few years ago, a refreshingly vocal lesbian colleague of mine (an emergency medicine physician), was ranting against religious gay bigotry — she has had the same -sex partner for the last 15 years.

This physician did not know me well at that time, so I shocked her by apparently defending religion.  Well, it seemed like a defense when I started my reply to her rant.  You could see the righteous fire in her eyes when I replied:

“Communist atheist China has a huge code of hatred against homosexuals.  It ain’t just religion that hates homosexuals, it is far deeper than that:  All of humanity reflexively hates gays.  It is, dishearteningly, a worse battle than you portray.”

Gray’s comment about Conrad reminded me of the point I was try making to make to my colleague back then.  Fortunately, she understood my point, and smiled in relief but shook her head saying, “Damn, you are right.”

Indeed, recently we see atheist Russia making anti-gay legislation again (see this conservative site’s eval).  Some atheists claim this Russian law is due to the pernicious presistent influence of Orthodox Christian bigotry in Russian culture, but I think Orthodoxy simply gave a stamp of approval to a bigotry that existed even before the church.  The  anti-gay bigotry exists at a non-religious level.

Why Religious Bigotry is Worse

Bigotry is horrible where ever it lives, but when re-enforced by religion it gains a new dimension of horror using “sanctimony” (see this post).  When you call something sacred, you do so to shut down communication by capitalizing on nasty taboo modules in the human mind.  “Sanctimony” is one of  the aspects of religion worth fighting.


It is my hope that pointing to deeper causes may help all people concerned in this issue.  May the human animal’s danger be addressed from all angles.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “Homosexual Bigotry: deeper than religion

  1. practiceofzen

    Sabio – Your astute comments bring to mind “The Heart of Darkness,” particularly Kurtz’s “The horror, the horror!” If I understand him correctly, Conrad is a direct descendent of Jonathan Swift, whose benevolent Brobdingnagian king describes the bulk of humankind as “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” For Swift, religious bigotry was little more than a pretext for an underlying evil. Do you share his “savage indignation”?

  2. You had me at the Joseph Conrad references.

    You raise an interesting point: I must confess I was not aware of the state of gay rights in China, but it seems depressingly similar to the state a lot of places are. It’s that instinctive, gut-instinct we’ve been trying so unsuccessfully to shake off for centuries. Religious institutions that demonise homosexuals do indeed present a bigger issue in this debate, though, you are quite right.

    One fight at a time, I guess. Gay rights is one of those things that will become more and more accepted as generations go on. People my age (early 20’s) tend not to be nearly as bothered about it as generations in the past have, and I suspect that by the time people my age have kids of their own that have grown up, it won’t really be something people glance twice at.

  3. rautakyy

    Gods seem to allways share the morals of their adherents. All gods. If people feel homosexuality is ikky, then for sure their gods agree, with them about the issue. If people feel eating shellfish is ikky, then for sure their gods agree on that issue as well.

    Gods, dictatorships and other authoritarian forms of governing masses provide arbitrary justification to misstreat other people, who have strange habits. And in doing so, they gain favour from people who do not have ethical justification to malltreat different people, but would rather have something to soothe their conscience, when they have primitive reactions about different people, or what ever strange and new. It is not so much, that people want to be nasty, rather that they seek safety from what they think they know and fear the unknown, different and strange. It manifests in feelings of ikky. Quite natural, but not necessarily unavoidable.

    People fear different people and are all too often willing to sacrifice their own freedom and ethics to form social morals, that gives excuses to segragate different people, because they believe segragation provides protection. Even when the difference does not present any actual threat.

    I expect only way out of this wicious circle is through education of ethics, why some action or inaction is right or wrong. Instead of pushing arbitrary commands (from gods or any other sources) on people. That has been allready tested out, and it really did not serve us as humanity very well…

  4. @ practice of zen,
    I don’t know if I share the “savage indignation” of Swift or Conrad — not being studied in them — but I do view humans like all other animals”: dangerous, wonderful, amazing, deadly, inspiring, and all those thing. Thus, neither good nor bad.

    Does that answer your question?

    @ Razorboy,
    Interestingly, Gray’s book criticizes “progress” — and perhaps exactly the progress assumption you optimistically assume when suspecting that homosexual bigotry will naturally disappear. You may find his writings interesting in this way.

    @ rautakyy,
    Yes, well said: gods are the voice of our preferences using the taboo of sacredness to suppress dialogue/debate.

    However, I am not as optimistic as you about “ethic education”.

  5. CRL

    While I share your skepticism about progress in general, I do not know that skepticism about progress in general applies to progress on specific issue. While I may be biased by my birthplace, greater acceptance of gays has been evident even in my lifetime, and things appear to still be improving. While hate/fear of the “other” does seem to be inborn, hate/fear of any specific other does not appear to be. An assumption that progress will just happen on any issue, however, may be dangerous in that it may replace a commitment to work for progress.

  6. @CRL,
    Gray feels that science obviously progresses. We know that “progress” in evolution is a myth held by many. And though there are many cultural evolutionists, I am highly skeptical of such directional mechanisms. Indeed there is local, temporary progress, but it takes very little time for ‘backtracking” — history within 2 generations, the “progress” of any culture can be wiped out. This is because any progress is not as stable as human nature which can flip easily.

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