In response to Beryte’s piece on “Atheism and Homosexuality”

Originally published on Hummus For Thought on June 16th 2012.

This is a response to Michael Farchakh’s article “Atheism and homosexuality: allies of thought or of opportunity?” that was published in Beryte, USJ’s Faculty of Law’s newspaper. Link.

Farchakh starts by telling us that “most atheists have taken up homosexuality’s cause as a reason to slander organized faith”. Farchakh would do well to remember that homosexuality is a sexual orientation, not a cause. The cause is called Gay Rights, meaning inherent Human Rights of men and women who are Homosexuals (Bisexuals are usually also put in that category). Slandering an organized faith would mean to make a “false spoken statement damaging that organize faith’s reputation”. This is not applicable as the accusations that are made against many organized religious bodies such as the Catholic Church or the many Evangelical Institutions in the USA are based on facts. These include rape, corruption and pedophilia. Organized Religious Bodies’ obsession with homophobia and how to use our penises doesn’t require slandering, only ridicule.

He then tells us that “as an atheist” he is “constantly deceived” in seeing his fellow unbelievers defending a cause for “opportunistic reasons than for their actual belief in it”. “Nobody is ever completely wrong”, he says and that being irreligious doesn’t qualify you to contradict religious teachings. Both statements are false. Of course one can be completely wrong. If I tell you that I have seventeen fingers, then you better check. If I don’t, then I’m wrong. And being irreligious doesn’t qualify you to contradict religious teachings. Nothing would ever “qualify you” to do that except if you have well-reasoned arguments which, as a fellow atheist, I daresay I have many.

He then continues by stating that religion is against homosexuality for “all the wrong reasons” and that this topic is “one of the very few subjects” he can agree on with most of his religious friends. He tells us how he would like to “highlight how the pro-gay rights movement likes to use the word ‘homophobic’ as if all opposition to alternate sexuality is based on fear, and people who adhere to that line of thought are on the same line as racists and misogynists. Coining the word ‘homophobic’ does not make homosexuality normal”.

Farchakh would do the world a service by realizing that what makes homosexuality ‘normal’ is the fact that it is normal. Heterophobia does not make Heterosexuality normal, nor does it make it abnormal. It doesn’t do anything. Opposition to ‘alternate sexuality’ is usually based on fear. And he has just proved it by calling homosexuality ‘alternate sexuality’. He means ‘alternative’ but we’ll let that pass. It is only because people do not know it exists that they would consider it ‘alternate’ as if it is somehow just another way of life that people can choose. Homosexuality is not an alternative way of life. It’s just another one. In the same way as bisexuality and heterosexuality aren’t alternative ways of life, just other ways of life.

He then tells us that he is not an expert in the fields of psychology and biology but he does know that “there is still not enough scientific basis to confirm or refute homosexuality as either pathology or normality”. Farchakh shouldn’t have used the word scientific. First of all, there is no such thing as confirming or refuting facts. Facts simply are whether you like it or not. You cannot confirm homosexuality because homosexuality’s existence is not in doubt. And you cannot ‘refute’ it. It would be indeed absurd to find a 60-year-old gay couple with children suddenly discovering that they’re not really gay after all because homosexuality doesn’t exist. It is very nice of him to admit that he is not an expert in the fields of psychology and biology. What would be slightly more intellectually respectful is for him to look up what psychology and biology do say about it. He would do well to read the countless scientific studies of homosexuality among different animal species, including ours. He could also learn about heterosexuality and bisexuality among different species. The topic is interesting enough. Somehow people seem to forget that we’re not the only species on this planet.

He says that “in the absence of any certainty, the last thing governments and society should be doing is institutionalizing homosexuality, whether it is through civic unions, gay marriage or in the extreme cases gay parenting”. He doesn’t seem to know what institutionalizing means. You institutionalize a practice or an activity. You can’t institutionalize what simply is. Gay Rights are Human Rights because Sexual Orientation is not a valid discriminating factor. Civic unions, gay marriages and gay parenting are the complete and utter equal in terms of human rights as straight civic unions, straight marriages and straight parenting. Men and women like Farchakh seem to not be aware that Gay couples who have children already exist and have existed for a very long time. The fact that they haven’t existed throughout human history is simply due to the fact that marriage wasn’t always about two people in love wanting to share a life together and that what is considered good was very much related to what is written in some old books, a feature unlikely to be found in atheists like Farchakh. I’m sorry if I’m bursting your bubble here but marriages were and are sometimes arranged for economical or religious reasons. One would marry his daughter off to some rich man to increase the status of his family. That’s a very old practice. That it is about two people in love wanting to share a life together is a relatively recent phenomenon and we should be grateful for it. We certainly shouldn’t go out of our ways to deny some people the right to love.

He then quotes his “two favorite pro-homo activists’ statements”. The first is “you do not choose to be gay or not, you are born that way”. He tells us that while that might very well be true, a lot of people don’t choose to be pedophiles, necrophiles or zoophiles, indicating that there is some sort of accurate analogy here. He confessed that the comparison “might be harsh” but we should suck it up because “it is accurate”. “You cannot accept the normality of one without accepting the normality of the others”, he says. Again, I’m sorry to burst your bubble but that’s a pathetic analogy. He told us himself that he is not an expert in psychology but he doesn’t need a PhD to look up the facts. Pedophilia and Necrophilia are both paraphilia. Paraphilia are “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving Non-human objects, The suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, Children or Non-consenting persons”. Amazing what you would get by simply Googling stuff before making pathetic analogies. Homosexuality was on that list until 1973. That’s almost 40 years of information that is now easily accessible to Farchakh, making his ignorance inexcusable. I won’t comment on the zoophilia analogy because I find its present usage disgusting. If Mr. Farchakh has any self-respect, he would make a heartfelt apology to all homosexual and bisexual men and women. Do you see, Farchakh, how I just showed why one should be ‘accepted’ (whatever that means) while the others not? It doesn’t take a great deal of intellectual balls to do so.

His second favorite pro-homo activists’ statement is: “they are not hurting anyone. As long as there is consent, let it be.” You’d think that would be a valid moral thing to say but no, Farchakh tells us absolutely not. Why not? because if one were to use that, one would have to accept polygamy as well. Well…. Yes. If everything is based on consent and is not harmful then you certainly have no right to deny them that right. We really should stop spending so much time deciding what’s best for other people. If I want to live with two women, or a man and a women, or two men or 3 women, that’s none of your business. It would be our business. You would have a right to interfere if you had reasonable doubts that I was an abusive person. It would be your civic duty to stop an evil from continuing. If I was hitting my wife, you’d do well to stop me. If a gay man was hitting his husband, you’d do well to do the same. I hope you wouldn’t modify your moral duties because of one’s sexual orientation.

On the issue of parenting, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that supports heterosexual parents as being the only valid form of parenting. First of all, it is not sufficient in itself. We all know that in many cases a drunk abusive father or a hardcore junkie mother wouldn’t exactly make the perfect parents, whether they are straight or gay. We all also know cases of divorced couples or single parents. My own parents are not together and I had a great childhood. I certainly don’t think people who ‘reason’ – and I use the word reason quite loosely – like Farchakh would have the right to take them away from me and put me in a stable couple’s care. That’s none of his business. Farchakh’s second analogy is therefore also invalid.

He concluded by telling us that “these are the main reasons” he doesn’t “adopt the same logic” as most of his fellow atheists when it comes to gay rights. He ends by warning us that although it is fine that people do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, the ‘normalization’ and ‘institutionalization’ of homosexuality are “steps that, if taken, can lead us to much more dangerous acceptances in the future. I have already demonstrated why his use of the words ‘normalization’ and ‘institutionalization’ are petty at best and need not explain why his warning is anything more than a paranoid delusion by an uninformed person.

In his defense, he is slightly more elaborate than Mohamad Sibai whose pseudo-arguments I’ve destroyed a while ago. But I’m not too sure that’s a good thing.

Michael’s Response:

I won’t dignify that article with a proper response Mr.Ayoub, your level of debating is pathetic; dissecting and distorting your debater’s text is not a way I would ever adopt. I don’t have the time nor the will to counter every contradiction and false-statement you have made in your “piece”, I will only tackle one grossly inaccurate statement. I thing my fellow jurists will agree that it is you who has not a clue of what “Institutionalization” means, the term is used to define the provision of a legal context for a certain phenomena or practice, hence legalizing gay marriage, gay parenting, everything that relates to their personal statute, etc… Your individualist view of the world is a dangerous thing, society always has to have a say about how people conduct their lives, the notions of law and order are based on this idea, I can understand you not grasping that, most Lebanese don’t. Mr. Ayoub, you should cut down on the arrogance before labeling yourself as an intellectual and labeling others as ignorant, and try to “Play the ball, not the man” when you are debating, also you will hopefully stop telling people to “Google it” or look it up on Wikipedia, and actually reference some plausible sources to your arguments. I sincerely hope you can one day liberate yourself from this sad American idealist culture the media has indoctrinated you in, and realize the general interest is a lot more important than individual liberties

My Response:

That’s okay. I don’t claim to be a great debater. I prefer sticking to facts.
It should be acknowledged though, in the spirit of so-called honest discussion, that societies change with time and people do become more open-minded. Formal slavery would indeed still be acceptable today if it weren’t for the minority that started opposing it against all odds.
The ‘phenomenon’ in question here deserves no more nor less recognition than the ‘phenomenon’ that was, and still is in many countries such as Lebanon, interracial marriage.  Yes society did, and sometimes still do, have something to say about interracial marriage but, I hope, you would see how society, meaning the majority of people, were and are wrong to view a European marrying an Asian as being a degrading ‘phenomenon’. I have no real source on the matter. I don’t know which intellectual or which scientific study would back me up on saying that interracial marriage should not be viewed any differently than ‘same-race’ marriage. I just happen to have met human beings who are non-Arabs or ‘non-white’ and have come to the obvious conclusion, accessible to any thinking man or woman, that human beings do not differ in their worth by their skin color. I have also, through my meeting and befriending of many gay men and women, come to the equally obvious conclusion that love between two consenting adults should not, and indeed is not, be that complicated to understand. I don’t know how America got into this and as someone who doesn’t remember the last time he watched TV and who views Chomsky’s and Herman’s Propaganda Model as being very accurate in describing the media’s present influence, I should safely discard your accusation as being one of a paranoid individual. You can disagree with me on that. After all, we are claiming to be two civilized individuals. However, I think it is safe to say that I have responded to your article, while you have not.