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Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.

You probably heard that Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson is getting a lot of heat for his anti-gay remarks. His interpretation of the Bible is that gayness is a sin. As you might imagine, the gay community and its many supporters are not pleased with Phil.

Before I continue I should confess my biases. I'm pro-gay-marriage and pro-gay in general. I also like Duck Dynasty. And while I am not a believer in the supernatural, my observation is that religion is a good force in the world, give or take the occasional terrorist act, genocide, Spanish Inquisition, bigotry, and oppressive boot-on-the-throat of personal freedom. The bad stuff gets a lot of attention, and should, but for the average person experiencing an average day, I think religion has real-world benefits. That's my unscientific observation anyway.

Most well-educated adults in the year 2013 understand that sexual orientation is something you are born with. Society's sense of fairness demands that we not judge people for genetic differences. So it is easy to understand why folks become righteously indignant when one group criticizes the genetic composition of another. That's not a world we want to live in.

Unfortunately, I have a problem with the intellectual consistency of the folks on my side of this debate. And I hate when that happens.

It seems to me that Phil Robertson was born with the brain he has. He didn't have a choice in the matter. And science is starting to understand that religious folks have different brain structure than non-believers. So how is it fair to belittle Phil for acting in the only way he could, given the brain he has?

One might say Phil has free will and therefore he chooses to be an evil bigot. But as I have argued here before, free will is an illusion. Our brains are every bit as subject to cause and effect as your lawnmower. Your lawnmower can't choose to be a toaster any more than a guy with Phil's brain and Phil's experience can choose to not be Phil.

So here we have two camps accusing each other of the same crime against decency. Phil and his crowd believe gays can use their free will to become straight if they choose to do so. Gays and their supporters believe Phil can use his free will to be tolerant if he chooses. Both sides are wrong. People don't control brains; brains control people.

Having said all of that, for practical reasons I'm in favor of the public outcry against Phil's views, although I don't support personalizing it and making Phil the one scapegoat in a universe that has produced a few billion people like him. The intellectual dysfunction of targeting Phil for shame bothers me, but not as much as the prospect of living in a world dominated by Phil's anti-gay views. So I'm glad my side is fighting back, and nudging society toward enlightenment, but I'm not happy to be associated with defective thinking.

 
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Dec 24, 2013
This is all a crock - the pros and cons both.

Phil may be misguided, uncouth, and unsanitary, but he's not a hater.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2013
@language
I don't understand what point you're trying to make or project on to me. Near as I can tell free will does not exist, not that that makes any difference in the scheme of things.
 
 
Dec 24, 2013

Dil_doh
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2013
The religious believe in magic. They propose supernatural forces that account for our existence and that have a "purpose" for us. There is no evidence for any of it except tradition.
However in this case I infer that the magic that Scott is referring to is free will. Again there is no evidence for free will except tradition. But it doesn't matter, it is a useful illusion. Our environment influences our behavior and the belief in free will is part of that environment. We have a desire to influence the behavior of others and our responses to their behavior includes responding as if they have free will. Those responses change the environment and do end up influencing others.
---------------------
free will is magic.

either universal laws make all the rules or they dont. there is no middle ground. if they do, then all biological functions are complex aggregations of universal law, applied to large !$%*!$%*!$ of matter. no mystery.

your willingness to abandon your belief is cute. anything for the cause, amiright?
 
 
Dec 24, 2013
@ geldhart

the civil rights act is immoral, but if you wanna support the law go for it. that means you must apply it equally.

if you can fire a man for being 'anti-gay' you can fire a man for being 'pro-gay'. that is equality.

unless you want a govt that makes claims about the validity of homosexuality? you want that?

what really torques me off is the 'public support' exemption. if public support is a loophole, why was jackie robinson allowed to play baseball (against wishes of public), yet MLB and NFL and NBA routinely punish players for controversial speech?

its an inconsistent morality. all you really need to know is that its pro-gay, and the rules are cosmetic. was there any question if anderson cooper would be fired for being pro-gay, on air, of his own program? phil robertson is 'sidelined' for speech outside his employment on the same subject.

this is not equality of thought. this is not civil rights. its a cover to inflict a new normalcy via govt power.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2013
The religious believe in magic. They propose supernatural forces that account for our existence and that have a "purpose" for us. There is no evidence for any of it except tradition.
However in this case I infer that the magic that Scott is referring to is free will. Again there is no evidence for free will except tradition. But it doesn't matter, it is a useful illusion. Our environment influences our behavior and the belief in free will is part of that environment. We have a desire to influence the behavior of others and our responses to their behavior includes responding as if they have free will. Those responses change the environment and do end up influencing others.
 
 
Dec 24, 2013
Being pro-gay and being anti-gay are supposed to be ideologically even.

That means when a church guy says he disagrees with homosexuality and a homosexual says he disagrees with that position...they are even-steven.

the problem is when govt steps in and starts punishing ppl. if govt is going to have laws on the books that say you must follow their code book in hiring, then it needs to protect both sides of the equation.

currently in USA the govt only enforces their cutesy little 'play nice' laws in favor of gays, minorities, women. everyone else get f#$í over when they get discriminated against. and YES, they do get discriminated against. rednecks constantly.

its gross hypocrisy to be in favor of gays but against 'the right of' opponents to express their views. however much you support gays you gotta support 'the right of' opponents with the same legally binding stuff.

if its off limits for ppl to say anti-gay comments, then its offlimits for ppl to say progay comments.

if duck dynasty cant say he thinks gay is wrong, anderson cooper cant say he thinks gay is right.

most ppl innately sense homosexuality has no direct bearing on their own life. the strong reaction you see for duck dynasty isnt about the culture war content, but about how its being waged.

anderson cooper coming out is the ideological equivalent of phil robertson being honest about what he believes about homosexuality. indefinitely firing phil robertson is not being responsive to audience. its inflicting a (supposedly subjective) worldview on business that has negative consequence to an individual (discrimination) and the bottom line.

I'm beginning to wonder if ppl can even agree pro-homosexuality is a subjective belief/value. Once you abandon that premise you are on your way to becoming Hitler.
 
 
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2013
A&E is not so upset with Robertson that they are cancelling the Xmas Duck Dynasty Marathon. Possibly cynicism on my part, but A&E and GQ are in the business of selling ads. Xmas is largely defined by tense semi-voluntary family gatherings. Wise people don't discuss religion or politics, making weather so very safe ... until the global warming political cult borged weather, so now we turn on the boob tube and try not to be the one who RUINS THE HOLIDAYS. To be forever reminded of said episode - at least until somebody else tops the most recent egregious breach of protocol.

So a Robertson PR interview "spontaneously" generates massive media buzz - just before mandatory family gatherings and a scheduled DD Marathon? Coincidence? Jethro Gibbs would not think so (Rule #39). Neither do I. IMO, this is basically a corporate Twerk and I will not tune in DD because I dislike being blatantly manipulated, and - subject to how much blood is in my alcohol system - I'll probably state my opinion regarding DD Twerking and leave the room should I lose control of the remote. I prefer to be fooled just a little more. Maybe even bought dinner. A movie would be nice. No doubt the balance of the family will watch DD even more intently ... after I ruin xmas. At least until they figure out it's just another dumb-ass "reality" show. In camo.

On the gay/anti-gay/gayness-next-to-godliness/gayness-by-choice perpetual kerfuffle: I've got a fam member doing the gay thing so I've reflected on it a little more than I intended to. At the moment, both the anti-gay religious nuts, as well as the born-again-pro-glbtxyz activists appear to me both as cults and very much into the twerk as a path to free promotion.

Personally, as long as you are not forcing me or anyone else to the back of your opinion bus, do what makes sense to you and believe what makes sense to you. I'll respect your beliefs and personal relationship structure - or lack thereof - to the same extent that you respect mine.

Seems like the cults at both extremes have completely and entirely lost sight of that respect concept. They demand it for themselves, but won't grant it to their opposites. An example. Although it's pretty clear that I was constructed in such a manner that I cannot seriously believe the whole big-bearded-man-in-the-sky stuff, I've been holding the theory that religious people are generally very nice folks who wouldn't force their views down anybody else's throats. I currently have that view on hold pending further review. Recently a very nice grandmother I know and volunteer with and whom I would have thought was the poster child for well-educated inoffensiveness posted a cartoon and caption on facebook that was engineered to portray atheists as creepy old men who seek to sleazily convert young unaccompanied girls on airplanes away from pious christianity into the evil clutches of atheism. Not only could I not find that funny, but it got worse over time. Then another xtian on my friend list posted the same thing - so I had a hard time even ignoring it, which was my first (and probably best) impulse. Neither of them had a clue how obnoxious that was or that people on their lists might be offended and seemed to be shocked that not everybody on their lists believed exactly as they did down to their personal portfolio of dysfunctional intolerance. Their willful, joyful ignorance and smug self-righteous bigotry was a real eye-opener for me. And I'm still not talking to my sister-in-law... who is now busy trying to pretend she didn't totally flip out on me because she was an ass. Oy vey!

Merry Saturnalia, everybody! ;) (He said with fond feelings for a era when many many gods and sexual orientations were mainstream and meant about as much as which newspaper/blog you read. If it wasn't for the lead-lined water delivery system, slavery and primitive medicine, it would have been such a swell point in history...)
 
 
+23 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2013
As usual, Scott, your argument is both ignorant and logically incoherent. Let's evaluate it, shall we?

[You probably heard that Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson is getting a lot of heat for his anti-gay remarks.]

Phil is getting a lot of heat for expressing the tenets of his religion as it has been interpreted and communicated for (literally) thousands of years. They weren't "anti-gay remarks". They were Christian remarks.

[Most well-educated adults in the year 2013 understand that sexual orientation is something you are born with.]

Really? So, you didn't spend 5 seconds searching on Google to see if this is something that "most well-educated adults" would have reason to believe?

From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation

"A simple and singular determinant for sexual orientation has not been conclusively demonstrated—various studies point to different, even conflicting positions—but scientists hypothesize that a combination of genetic, hormonal and social factors determine sexual orientation."

A "well-educated adult" would understand that we don't know what causes it, but that it is possibly a combination of biological and environmental factors. That's what a "well-educated adult" would understand. But it's good to see that your pro-gay bias leads you to ignorantly assume what the evidence actually says about the topic.

[Society's sense of fairness demands that we not judge people for genetic differences. So it is easy to understand why folks become righteously indignant when one group criticizes the genetic composition of another. That's not a world we want to live in.]

That's not a world YOU want to live in. Many people have no problem judging people based on their behavior, even if it is partially influenced by their genes. In fact, even you have admitted that you have no problem jailing certain elements even though free will doesn't exist. So, in reality, you have no problem judging people for their biology. It's only when they're judged for CERTAIN behaviors which you think are OK that you start to speak up. This means (logically) that you have a basis for judging right or wrong other than "biological influence". You might wanna figure out what that basis is so you can starting making rational arguments.

[Unfortunately, I have a problem with the intellectual consistency of the folks on my side of this debate.]

You should have a problem with your own intellectual consistency.

[One might say Phil has free will and therefore he chooses to be an evil bigot.]

"Evil"? What "evil"? According to you, there's no such thing as "evil". Only biology. How can you declare one biological act "evil" and another "good"?

As for "bigot"... here's the definition of "bigot". Which group in this particular scenario most closely resembles it?

big·ot·ed
ˈbigətid/
adjective
adjective: bigoted
1. having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one's own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others.

Phil followed his comments up with a general statement to the effect of, "But we should love everyone, no matter what they think". Those opposing Phil condemned his very existence, spoke on behalf of Phil's religion (even though they don't belong to it), and demanded he be fired.

So who is demonstrating an "obstinate belief in the superiority of one's own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others"?

Words mean things, Scott.

[Phil and his crowd believe gays can use their free will to become straight if they choose to do so.]

You might wanna actually talk to people in "Phil's crowd" before you go assuming this. First, many Christians (including Christians who struggle with homosexuality) don't take the position that gay people can "choose to be straight". Only that they can choose not to fulfill the desires of their flesh (i.e. their biology). Christian doctrine is built upon the idea that ALL humans (not just gay people) have fleshly desires which they must resist. One of the central Christian themes is the idea of "fallen man". So not only is your argument incorrect that Christianity teaches how people can "choose to be straight", but it's also irrelevant, because what it does teach is that ALL mankind (gay, straight, or otherwise) is in the same boat when it comes to their biology.

Think of a married man. Christianity teaches that he must be faithful to his wife for as long as they live. Now, does that man have biological desires to have sex with women other than his wife? Of course he does. Is he supposed to indulge those desires? No. Is he "choosing not to be straight"? Of course not. He's still straight. He just has to choose to control his biology. And millions of married men do this every day.

[Gays and their supporters believe Phil can use his free will to be tolerant if he chooses.]

Uh oh... more words that need to be defined.

tol·er·ance
ˈtäl(ə)rəns/
noun
noun: tolerance

1. the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

Now... which side is exhibiting "tolerance" right now? The guy who says something is wrong but that we have to love everyone regardless, or the people who want someone fired because he disagrees with them?

[Having said all of that, for practical reasons I'm in favor of the public outcry against Phil's views]

What "practical reasons" would those be?

I think you mean "emotional reasons". :Op

[The intellectual dysfunction of targeting Phil for shame bothers me, but not as much as the prospect of living in a world dominated by Phil's anti-gay views. So I'm glad my side is fighting back, and nudging society toward enlightenment]

hahaha... all the talk about biology and how everyone is a machine, and yet you completely invalidate your own argument by using value judgements such as "enlightenment".

Why is the pro-gay position "enlightened"? How can EITHER side be "enlightened" if they're just acting according to their biology?

What about all the people who would prefer to live in a world where homosexuality isn't encouraged? Are they "wrong"? If so, why? Aren't they just acting upon their biology as well? How can your view be "right" and their view be "wrong" if there is nothing more than "biology"?

[...but I'm not happy to be associated with defective thinking.]

Your entire view is defective, Scott. You argue against free will and claim biology determines everything, and then you make value judgements which aren't based on biology.

WATYF
 
 
Dec 24, 2013
[Your arguments would be more persuasive if they didn't start with, in effect, "Assume magic is real." -- Scott]

OK. Looked at Kingdinosaurs post. Not seeing the 'magic is real' part. Unless you are saying, in effect, a belief in free will is a beleif in magic and, therefore, not worth considering. For reasons I have expressed in past blogs that is not an opinion I agree with and even if I did I wouldnt agree with you dismissing Kingdinosaurs argument so cavalierly. A lot of folks still believe in free will. Until that changes we have not reached the point that it can be dismissed.

Unless you are OK with your argument being dismissed by large numbers of people.
 
 
Dec 24, 2013
Scott, I've been reading since the DNRC days and generally love the ways you bring topics from all across the spectrum. I don't know what good can come of this, online conversations are rarely civil (this blog is a rare exception) or for that matter, rarely stay on topic in the face of a difficult to surmount point, but here goes. Do you realize how slanted and ill informed your bias against God is? Notice I didn't say religion, as that is another topic.
Kingdinosaur had a well thought out and delivered post to which you discredited or devalue with your statement
[Your arguments would be more persuasive if they didn't start with, in effect, "Assume magic is real." -- Scott]
Your belief or non belief has no direct impact on me, but some intellectual honesty would be nice. You claim the equivalency of God to magic, but do you know what science is? Science by definition is knowledge. Our knowledge of the world around us has grown and must meet standards of veracity to continue to be accepted.
With that foundation as a starting point tell me how believing in God is equal to believing in "Magic". If there is a God (as I believe) Then God is not magical, but the creator of the universe and the author of science. He created the laws of the universe (or did he program this "hologram" we live in) and set it all in motion and we are simply exploring and learning about this world we inhabit.
Just because we can't see God and the Bible records miraculous events does not give grounds to dismiss it. After all, do you dismiss atomic particles or string theory? We cannot see those with our eyes but we have other ways. Scientist have performed experiments which have provided evidence that these particles exist. There are still unanswered questions but that does not mean we toss out the scientist or what we have learned, we know more now than we did 100 years ago, right? Are there ways to see if God exists? Only if you don't have a closed mind and exclude it.
To address from another direction, you play tennis and follow a vegetarian diet, generally try for a healthy life style. When you suffered from your speaking problem you found a cure (Happy that worked, btw). A surgeon stepped in and did something to your body that was not natural, would not have happened on its own no matter how healthy your life style is. The miracles listed in the Bible are scoffed, mocked and dismissed, then used to discredit the Bible. Everyone knows that when your heart stops you die. Could it be that what you claim as "magic" is simply the Creator giving the heart a "jolt"?
Anyway, just because you don't believe does not make it magic.
It would be magical if you made the DNRC newsletters available again, though.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2013
You are appealing to my sense of fairness, which is against my religion.

The Book of Adams clearly states:

"As I've said far too often, fairness isn't an objective feature of the universe. It's a concept that was invented so children and idiots can participate in arguments." Oct 26, 2011

 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 24, 2013
Interestingly, research shows that believers and atheists are not all that different. Atheists hesitate about as much as believers e.g. to pronounce a curse on their loved ones, or to “officcially" sell their soul to the devil. Religion and superstition are common human traits, not only of the believers. (You may well be an exception, your brain is proven to be different).
For research, see Marjaana Lindeman, or Eugene Subbotsky.
 
 
Dec 24, 2013
Although the level of religiosity may be somewhat influenced by genes, the specific believes and opinions that a person holds can change through discussion. Many religious people change their opinions and beliefs, or even change religions. But you cannot convince someone to turn gay or straight based on words.

So the two sides are not equal. Phil Robertson's brain which holds his opinion can be altered to change his beliefs, but it cannot be altered to change his (or anyone's) sexual orientation.
 
 
Dec 23, 2013
Without free will I'm not sure what you're trying to do with your posts here -- simply manipulate the behavior of a few of us "moist robots" to align a little better with your own? If I had your world view I'd just take up heroin, I hear it's incredible.

I take a different view perhaps -- that every moment you exist, your choices determine the rest of your future, including how honorable you are in your dealings with others, the skills you acquire, and to what extent you love and serve those around you. You will always be the integral of your choices. The best part about joining a group of people that also feels this way? They're pretty awesome people to be around.

In the meantime, those with rational belief in God believe we have a blueprint for happy living, and given a fair amount of evidence that it's working, it's hard to watch other people decry it as bigotry. Why is it bigotry to teach our children that homosexuality is an inferior approach to life any more than we teach them to avoid drug addiction? Both can have serious health consequences. And given that celibacy is a choice many make, choosing to not live a homosexual lifestyle is by extension also a possible option.

I know several who were socially engineered into homosexuality, it's not all genetic. And I'd love to hear more about how homosexuality is hereditary.

And of course I expect full sympathy/understanding from you since you believe I'm hardwired to feel this way. =)
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 23, 2013
Bringing 'free will' into any discussion always leaves me thinking I should avoid having an opinion, let alone leave a comment.

Free will, as I see it, is the mythical ability to 'choose to do otherwise'. It probably doesn't exist.

Instead, Dianne's son 'turns out Gay', Dianne reacts and becomes an activist, Fred grows up 'in the faith' and believes 'gay is wrong'. Dianne speaks out for gay rights, Fred speaks out for God, people begin frenzy, society keeps moving towards a 'social entropy' where, maybe, everyone is equal.

Your comments, and our comments on those comments, are part of the pathway to that entropy, I'm not going to say anything new, I'll just post my reaction. But what entropy are you playing for?
 
 
Dec 23, 2013
I have no concern about Phil or this matter. BUT, I don't understand "pro-gay". I don't mean as opposed to anti-gay, I just don't understand why anyone has the "need" to be pro-gay (or anti-gay). I am not interested in trying to control what people do that doesn't effect others.
 
 
Dec 23, 2013
My thought on this are likely to be attacked from both sides since my thought is entirely reasonable.

1. Phil indeed has a constitutional right to say what he did. His rights have not been affected in any way by his suspension by A&E. Constitutional rights relate to your relation with the government -- he cannot be ARRESTED for his (IMHO distasteful) comments.

2. A&E has the right not to be associated with Phil. A&E states they are supportive of gay rights, and to be associated with Phil puts that assertion into question. They are not denying him is rights, they are simply exercising their own rights of free speech and freedom of association.

At most, this is a business dispute. A&E doesn't want to do the show with Phil, the rest of the clan doesn't want to do the show without Phil. Lawyers will get involved, but only to the extent there is a "Breach of Contract".
 
 
Dec 23, 2013
I respect vegetarians for the most part. I can even be nice with those who piously assert the immorality of my sliced beef sandwich.

The qualifier comes when I encounter one who insists on detailing how cattle are killed, expressing his professed disgust in terms that suggest dwelling on the thought arouses him -- and not to political action. For that matter, I'm equally put off by fellow carnivores who insist on connecting organic foods with unhygienic practices in unappetizing and factually suspect terms. Again, it speaks more to their obsessions than any rational discourse.

They certainly has the right to speak. As I have the right not to provide a platform for what I believe is less an expression of personal conviction, or an attempt to persuade by reason, than pure arrogant jerkishness.

Robertson could have gotten away with expressing irrational bigotry. Many have built public careers on it, knowing the ground rules of punditry and methods for sugar-coating the reprehensible. Robertson's mistake was making two specific orifices the core of his argument, speaking as if he'd had experience of both before deciding one disgusted him, and his disgust is what rendered it evil. For a man self-identified as a preacher, it was a singularly bad way to go.
 
 
Dec 23, 2013
I have to laugh when an "enlightened" person comments on the "intolerance" of another.

And you're absolutely right (I would have said "your" but I'm feeling enlightened today!) -- people generally are wired a certain way. That's what deviant behavior is: It's neither good nor bad, just behavior that falls outside whatever standard deviations society feels is good for it. Which means it changes as society changes.

The reason prohibition didn't work isn't because drinking is actually good for society, it's because too many people wanted to do it and therefore the cost to prohibit it outweighed the damage it did. The same can be said for many currently illegal drugs that probably should for the same reason be legal.

Is homosexuality deviant? Probably not according to the above by the apparent percentage of people who are gay. Is gay marriage bad? I personally think any family structure is better for society than not having one. Who are the most intolerant of opposite views? I would say the gay community from recent experience.

Your welcome
 
 
+24 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 23, 2013
Scott - I'm not sure that Phil said anything bigoted. He equated homosexual behavior with promiscuity and !$%*!$%*!$% All three of those behaviors are mentioned as prohibited in the bible. He didn't say he hated the people who engaged in those behaviors. In fact, in the very next sentence said he didn't judge anyone, he loved them all as Jesus directed. So in that regard is he any different than the current Time Man of the Year who said the very same thing, although much less crudely?

I think that in order for a charge of bigotry to exist you need to have some level of proof that the man acts differently towards those whose behavior he finds as against his religious views. And I don't think you can make it stick in this particular case.

Oh, and I just love that A&E, Like Captain Renault, is "shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on in here". I'm sure they never expected to find out that a redneck Sunday School teacher in the bible belt quotes scripture and believes it.

[Laughing out loud at your last paragraph. Nicely said. -- Scott]
 
 
 
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