Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Loose Ends (1)

I don't think that "having false beliefs about" and "hating" are necessarily the same thing.

Er. that's it, basically.

I mean, I could say some other things if I felt like it. I could arbitrarily decide that I was going to spend 2013 referring to Richard Dawkins as "Christophobic". I could speculate about whether the use of the same word to describe "having false beliefs about" and "hating" is inadvertent, or tactical or sometimes one or sometimes the other and sometimes both. I could play around a bit with with words like "antisemitic" and "islamophobic" and wonder if everyone who is bothered by (say) ladies wearing face masks is "islamophobic", and whether that means they are wrong, necessary  But I don't think I will. 

Having false beliefs and hatred are not necessarily the same thing. But sometimes they are. Really, that's it.


  1. And "phobia", strictly, describes neither; it means simply "fear". In a clinical sense, "irrational fear".

    As far as I can tell, this was stolen to mean "anybody opposed to any manifestation of homosexuality, because they can't possibly dislike us for any reason other than fear" and has since been further abused to mean any case in which Those People express disapproval something that Good People (such as the speaker) think is OK. I don't find it helpful in promoting rational discussion - it's always used in a disapproving way and by only one side, like "bible basher" or "racist" - but it seems to be the term we've been lumbered with.

  2. The hatred of and the fear of homosexuals is always and can only be founded on false beliefs. There is no other way that homophobia comes about except as the result of false beliefs.

    All negative false beliefs about homosexuals publically stated can give rise to homophobia, even if the person stating them isn't homophobic themselves.

    Anyone publically stating negative false beliefs about homosexuals - and there are no negative true beliefs whatsoever - is part of the movement towards homophobia.

    As to the sliperiness of the word homophobic, it's no more slippery than the word game. The English language is shambolic.

  3. I.J.C: I think that is very clearly and helpfully put. I would have the greatest difficulty in refuting it.

    I may have some "Yes...but"s later on, but I'd rather not voice them straight away.

    Thank you very much.

  4. This is why I prefer the term "heterosexist", which describes a prejudice without assuming any particular motivation behind it.

  5. (At one point in history, "homophobic" did specifically mean "hostile to gays, and by the way, I thin the reason you are hostile to gays is that you are scared and revolted by them, in the way that some people are scared and revolted by spiders". But very quickly, it just became what "hostile to gays" was called, and only tedious pedants bothered to say "oh, you think I have an irrational fear of things being the same, do you". I have also known Quakers who are as steady as a rock, and some very disorganized Methodists. And some very, very unfunny comic books.)

  6. Although all hatred and fear might arise from false beliefs, not all false beliefs necessarily involve hatred or fear. Take an elderly lady that i was talking to recently for instance. She neither hates nor fears homosexuals as far as I can tell but does think that gay couples shouldn't really bring up children because the child might get confused and bullied and in the case of men wouldn't have a nurturing mother. Undoubtedly false beliefs that could lead to discrimination but arising more from a belief in fixed gender roles than hostility to anyone. Is she homophobic? I'm honestly not sure.

  7. The question about parenting is one that I wanted to tentatively raise at some point. "All things being equal, a child is better raised by a Mummy and a Daddy, than by one mummy or one daddy or two mummies or two daddies or a state institution or a village" may be right and it may be wrong, but it isn't obviously nonsense: it's up for debate in a way than "lesbians are like, yuck!" really isn't.

    I don't think we can decide in advance that it must be wrong because it's homophobic; and it would be patently untrue to say to the person putting it forward "You only believe that because you hate gays." (In every case and by definition, I mean: clearly, as a matter of fact, some people who hate gays will put that forward as an argument, in the same way that some people who hate Jews will disagree with everything the state of Israel does on general principles. But not everyone who doesn't think Israel has a point any more is necessarily anti-Semitic, whatever Melanie Phillips says.)

    Rather boringly, my starting point would be "well, it depends what you mean by 'better' and 'well, all things are so rarely equal...'" which would probably get me accused of playing word-games with people's lives...

  8. Mr. Rilstone: The word "homophobia" was coined in your lifetime. Surely it is not surprising that people exist who are not yet reconciled to its use. I say this only because you speak as if the word is an ancient one such as "Quaker" or "Methodist." Even "comic book" is must older (and a not inaccurate description when it was actually coined).

  9. Rather boringly, my starting point would be "well, it depends what you mean by 'better' and 'well, all things are so rarely equal...'" which would probably get me accused of playing word-games with people's lives...

    There would be a sensible argument to be made that women, on average, are better equipped to be parents than are men--brain chemistry and all that. A hypothesis worth testing in any case.

    This leading, perhaps, to the conclusion that in cases of adoption, a child is, on average and all other things being equal, better off going to a home with a mother, whatever sexual preference she and her partner might exhibit.

    I suspect the difference is small enough as makes no odds. But that is not to say that there is no difference.