Secret Shock Troops of the Gay Agenda

by Kieran Healy on August 24, 2005

Eugene Volokh has been “arguing”: that by pushing for a society where homosexuality isn’t illegal, repressed or stigmatized, gay people are out to convert those who might not have otherwise engaged in homosexual activity. In much the same way, I suppose, many 16 to 18 year olds are out to convert one another to various forms of heterosexual activity. The post is a good example of Volokh’s approach to the social scientific end of legal thinking: a bit of initial data followed by some big hypotheticals followed by a lot of speculation about the motives of some person or persons unknown. The end result is a very narrow argument (on one reading he’s just arguing that bisexuals are more likely to engage in homosexual sex if homosexual activity isn’t illegal or stigmatized), but one that’s nevertheless shot through with unpleasant undertones about the gay rights movement and its supposed efforts to “convert” ordinary decent people. The whole thing depends on equivocating between the narrow denotation of the word “convert” and its broad connotations.

Meanwhile, the NYT presents some doctor arguing that observing childbirth is “such a horrible experience”: that many men never recover from the trauma and lose their “romantic view of their wives.” Naturally this disgust and revulsion is the woman’s problem: “Women may want to consider the risks as they invite their partners to watch them…” Belle has already given this the “response it deserves”: (my advice: bring a bag of boiled sweets, lads, and you’ll be fine). But based on the reactions of “some people”:, the link to Volokh’s post becomes obvious. It’s not just gay people who are trying to recruit straight men to homosexuality, it’s also women, who entrap men in delivery rooms. By having sex with them 40 weeks or so earlier, and then putting them through this awful experience, they surely drive men away from a healthy heterosexuality. These heartless women may also be part-timing it as agents for secular Darwinism, as they show God-fearing men that while the Intelligent Designer might have done a nice job with the fine detail of mitochondria, He really was not paying attention in other departments.



Steve LaBonne 08.24.05 at 9:12 am

And if people who would not engage in gay sex in a repressive society do so in a more open society I should care why, exactly? Is Volokh auditioning for Ayatollah, or something?

I used to consider myself a moderate, but the large, powerful and vocal segment of the right that appears to urgently require institutionalization is starting to nudge me steadily to the left.


dsquared 08.24.05 at 9:16 am

my advice: bring a bag of boiled sweets, lads, and you’ll be fine

and comfortable shoes! seriously, this is the most important piece of advice. you will be standing up for hours on end and you get no joke; my request for an epidural to dull the pain in my feet received what I can only describe as short shrift.


No Matter 08.24.05 at 9:16 am

On my reading, it wasn’t women to blame for entrapping men in delivery rooms. Rather it was the social norm that husbands MUST accompany wives into the delivery room.


Cryptic Ned 08.24.05 at 9:24 am

What’s the American word for “boiled sweets”? I’ve always wondered what exactly that phrase refers to.


dp 08.24.05 at 9:31 am

Kieran, have you considered a career in right-wing senasationalism? Seems like you’ve got the formula right.

On the wider question, I want to know how it is that the Volokh-ilk naturalise current sexual mores so absolutely. Is this some sort of neo-regressive social-anthro-apologism, where current standards are held forth as the epitome of human development? What happened to the idea that heterosexuality is a behavioural straitjacket that needs unwrapping? Hetero is absolute? I see. Gender is destiny. Then what are those men doing in delivery rooms?


David 08.24.05 at 9:34 am

so Volokh is worried about gayvangelicals?


Ray 08.24.05 at 9:38 am

Next on the Volokh Conspiracy – was Rosa Parks trying to ‘convert’ law-abiding negroes into criminals?
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Oh no. Just that she should have owned up to this incitement to criminal behaviour, instead of hiding behind her ‘right’ to sit where she liked.)
(Not that I’m questioning that right, you understand. Not me.)


P ONeill 08.24.05 at 9:45 am

We’re truly into Fafblog territory. The War on White Christian Heterosexual Men knows no bounds, having now enlisted the womenfolk and a fifth column of gay men. There was always something bizarre about the Taranto-Powerline-Brooks focus on George Bush’s manliness, indicating that this undercurrent has been circulating on the right for some time.

As for the delivery room issues, remember the words of Homer Simpson. Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.


chris y 08.24.05 at 9:51 am

Ned, “Hard candy”, I think.


C.J.Colucci 08.24.05 at 9:54 am

In pushing for a world where inter-racial sex and marriage is not illegal, repressed, or stigmatized, negroes (and some more degraded white sex fiends) are out to convert those who might not otherwise have engaged in miscegenation. Decent, God- and Klan-fearing folks who would normally stay on their respective sides of the color line will be more likely in a world where anti-miscegenation laws are unenforceable and social disapproval of such grotesque practices less potent to experiment.


Ray 08.24.05 at 9:55 am

Actually, much better analogies appear in the VC comments. For example, most male teachers deny that they are child molesters. But the definition of ‘molest’ says it means to annoy or disturb, and most teacher annoy some of their students. So its perfectly accurate to say that most teachers are regular, frequent child molesters, that they molest children on public property, with the connivance of their superiors, and that, even when forced to admit what they are doing, they will remain unashamed and will deny that they are doing anything wrong.


pjs 08.24.05 at 9:58 am

I find Eugene Volokh hard to get a read on. Generally, I take the view of him that most do – namely, that he’s a super smart guy who is about as intellectually honest as can be expected from someone who’s also a relentless partisan. (That is to say, I consider him no more and no less intellectually honest than I consider myself.) But he seems constitutionally incapable of understanding the cultural connotations associated with certain words or lines of argument. So, in this case, he absolutely insists that “conversion” is the appropriate term, even though the phenomenon he’s describing in no way resembles what cultural conservatives are referring to when they talk about homosexuals “converting” people to their side. The same thing was evident in his approving quotation of James Taranto’s slur about those in the West who root for the insurgents in Iraq. Any competent reader of political rhetoric could see that Taranto was implying, albeit in a coy way, that that description applies to a non-trivial segment of those opposed to the war. And yet, he denied it over and over again.

Is he being deliberately dense in these instances out of partisan loyalty? Or is he really an incorrigible hyper-literalist?


Steve LaBonne 08.24.05 at 10:02 am

Why can’t he simply be a dishonest hack? Occam’s razor, and so forth.


Hiram Hover 08.24.05 at 10:04 am

I’d been reading Volokh’s posts too, and was struck both by how little of importance he has to say, and how utterly tenacious he is in posting about it again and again and again.

But Kieran hits the main point–these posts are less enlightening about their nominal topic than about Volokh’s method. He takes a tidbit of data, sweeps it up in a tornado of speculation, and then reaps the cyber whirlwind.


Seth Finkelstein 08.24.05 at 10:20 am

I’ve seen a similar style of argument from some other lawyers and propagandists:

1) Take English word which has many meanings
2) Insist particular meaning is OK because it is *a* meaning.
3) Alternately, insist particular meaning is not OK because of a *different* meaning.
4) Attack opponent on the basis of #2 or #3, repeat.

The example with “molest” is excellent.

I’ve called this particular strategy the “dictionary attack”.

I wonder what goes on in these people minds. I’ve sometimes wanted to ask them: “Are you really so dense as to not understand the inflammatory aspects here?” But the obvious reply is that the effects are purely the problem of readers, and not the responsibility of the dictionary-attacker.

I suppose there’s a logical problem in that a malicious manipulator is unlikely to own up to their mendacity.


apthorp 08.24.05 at 10:38 am

Thanks for putting your finger on why Volokh seems occasionally reasonable but is so annoying. It seems to be characteristic of the whole “right wing” approach of constructing personal realities out of fragments of deconstructed meaning. Clearly a product of his good postmodernist education. But since the “left wing” postmodernists in charge of the edcuation need displacing and handwringing about the lack of shared meaning doesn’t get that job done, there is just enough objective reality tossed in to universalize the personal reality, declare the “other” wrong and take over. It’s a stunningly Marxist approach (once the early inconvienence of Marx’s Materialist contra German Idealism claims became ignorable).


james 08.24.05 at 10:46 am

Your initial assumptions are incorrect. Volokh is discussing the claim (from other groups/sources) that there exists a gay agenda to “convert” individuals to a gay lifestyle. This is specifically why the word “convert” was chosen. This is stated in the post.

The substance of Volokh’s argument is that there exists an effort to make those who are gay comfortable with that choice. There is a subset of individuals who theoretically could go either way. There is an effort from the gay community to convince those individuals whose sexual preference is both/either to give the gay lifestyle a chance. Volokh goes on to say that these individuals, especially men (health reasons), are better off with being heterosexual. Take it for what you will.


Steve LaBonne 08.24.05 at 10:56 am

I have a personal reason to be enraged at that “argument”. I will soon be un-married from a wife who turned out to be gay and who never should have married (well, not a man at any rate.) Straights, as well as gays, suffer when intolerance forces people into the closet. Volokh and his apologists can osculate my posterior.


Ray 08.24.05 at 10:57 am

“There is an effort from the gay community to convince those individuals whose sexual preference is both/either to give the gay lifestyle a chance. ”

This is the bollocks bit. There are no secret meetings in the gay community where they target possible bisexuals for conversion. There are no gay missionaries, and seriously, no prizes for the most conversions.

What there are are
1) Gay people who don’t like being discriminated against, and in fighting against their own oppression make it easier for others to adopt a gay lifestyle. Note the sequence of cause and effect.
2) Some gay people who might, if they know that a friend of theirs is bi but unhappy with hetero relationships, might suggest that they try a gay relationship.

The two do not add up to “a gay agenda to “convert” individuals to a gay lifestyle”, to claim otherwise is to stretch the meanings of the words beyond reason, and far, far beyond honest inquiry.


KCinDC 08.24.05 at 11:05 am

Volokh is not condemning homosexuality (not surprisingly, since he’s a libertarian), and he doesn’t deserve the smears he’s getting from Atrios and others (including Steve Labonne in the first comment here). It seems pretty obvious to me that bisexuals (and homosexuals, for that matter) are more likely to engage in homosexual activity in a society where such activity is more accepted. Saying that doesn’t mean that one is opposed to a more accepting society, or to homosexual activity.

Perhaps Volokh was tone deaf in his use of language, but the frenzied smears in response are just as insane as any similar frenzy from the religious right. I’m a member of the left, but this sort of thing reveals its most irrational and unpleasant side.


Seth Finkelstein 08.24.05 at 11:08 am

I think this is veering to the territory of Republicans who drink puppy blood. There’s probably someone, somewhere, who has The First Church Of Gay Jesus. But as far as I know, it’s not a big part of the political landscape.


Lorna 08.24.05 at 11:11 am

Does Eugene Volokh know what bisexuality is? A bisexual involved in a same-sex relationship is no more ‘homosexual’ than a bisexual involved in a different-sex relationship is ‘heterosexual’. They’re still bisexual, they’re still gonna be attracted to members of both sexes, they’re still likely to fall for members of both sexes. Making it easier for them to express one part of their sexuality isn’t going to ‘convert’ them either way, beause they’re bisexual.

Ah well. At least he acknowledges the health argument doesn’t work for female-female sex, though he doesn’t go so far as to accuse heterosexuals of trying to convert female bisexuals.

(It would make me happy to hear that last bit from people who are oh-so-concerned about the health risks of a ‘gay lifestyle’. I spent my young and vulnerable years with social pressure trying to convert me into an omg dangerous sexual lifestyle. *Hand tragically pressed to forehead*, woe is me, etc.)


Lorna 08.24.05 at 11:12 am

Oops. That wasn’t meant to go bold. They were supposed to be the action-asterisks.


Steve LaBonne 08.24.05 at 11:12 am

When somebody says “tone deaf” (lovely special pleading there) things which demonstrate that he’s an intellectually dishonest twit, then pointing this out can only be construed as a “frenzied smear” by another twit.


Glenn Bridgman 08.24.05 at 11:21 am

Volokh definately gives of an autistic vibe to me. His argument is entirely correct, as far as it goes, but it so completely misses the larger picture as to be irrelevent. Yes, in the specific sense he names, gays are trying to “convert” people, but that sense has nothing to do with the original claim that “Gays are trying to recruit straight people.”

It isn’t hackish, just autistic.


Barry 08.24.05 at 11:27 am

No, it’s quite possible that Eugene is tone deaf to the language he uses. It’s pretty common among computer programmers and engineers.

Now, if he were a writer, or politician, or a lawyer, for whom language was a primary tool, it’d be a different story :)


C.J.Colucci 08.24.05 at 11:41 am

Ah, the “all he is saying…” argument. You know how it goes: “All X is saying is ‘Y’. ‘Y’ is true, indeed, it is (trivially/demonstrably/uncontrovertably/obviously) true. Ergo, you are wrong to criticize X.”
I suppose it is (t/d/u/o) true that in a world where you don’t get thrown into jail or beaten to death for same-sex activity, some modest number of people is more likely to engage in it. That this is so plainly true raises the real point — why bother to say it? If there is an explanation that doesn’t call into question EV’s self-awareness, good faith, decency, or sanity, I have yet to hear it.


Uncle Kvetch 08.24.05 at 11:46 am

Volokh is not condemning homosexuality (not surprisingly, since he’s a libertarian), and he doesn’t deserve the smears he’s getting from Atrios and others (including Steve Labonne in the first comment here). It seems pretty obvious to me that bisexuals (and homosexuals, for that matter) are more likely to engage in homosexual activity in a society where such activity is more accepted.

All of which begs the question that’s first and foremost on everybody’s mind: so what? If this is, in fact, Volokh’s “point,” what are we supposed to do with it? More to the point, exactly what business is it of this ostensible “libertarian” to even care about what other people are doing with their genitals? About all we have to go on in this regard is his insistence on the “dangerousness” of [male] gay sex, which kind of weakens all those protestations of “I’ve got no problems with gay rights.”

Does Eugene Volokh know what bisexuality is?

Lorna, in all of the countless paragraphs Volokh has emitted on this topic in the last few days, there is no indication that he knows a single gay or bisexual person, much less that he has ever discussed his “speculations” with one of them. I started counting the hedges and qualifiers in his posts–“almost certainly,” “it seems likely,” “probably,” “one would suspect,” “if I’m right”–and gave up out of sheer exhaustion.

People upthread have referred to him as a “partisan hack,” but I have to wonder if Volokh didn’t fancy himself some sort of maverick centrist/contrarian with this stuff: “Social conservatives think gay people are disgusting perverts who seek to drag all good, right-thinking people into their twisted, disease-ridden pit of depravity. Gay people say that’s not true. Here, as in all things, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.”

In our age of drink-soaked Trotskyist popinjays and GayCatholicTories, I guess this is what passes for intellectual courage. Very sad.


KCinDC 08.24.05 at 12:07 pm

I’m sorry, but I still haven’t seen anything justifying comparing Volokh to an ayatollah. When he came out in favor of cruel and unusual punishment, the outcry was absolutely deserved, but this seems as irrational as the uproar about Senator Durbin’s statement on prisoner abuse.

It’s easy for people to pick apart the writings of academics and find things to get outraged about because the discussion is logical rather than emotional. The right does it all the time, but so does the left. It smacks of anti-intellectualism. Since we’re supposed to be the reality-based community, I think we should avoid it. Apparently that makes me a bigot.


Steve LaBonne 08.24.05 at 12:16 pm

Wanting people not to engage in private behavior that doesn’t concern you, just because you don’t happen to like it, is the fons et origo of ayatollah-think. The punishments are merely the logical consequence. And it’s especially rich coming from a hypocrite who pretends to be a “libertarian”. Just as rich, in fact, as the defense of this Rethuglican idiot by a self-prclimed person of the left.


KCinDC 08.24.05 at 12:25 pm

Where has Volokh said anything about wanting people not to engage in homosexual activity?


Steve LaBonne 08.24.05 at 12:31 pm

What exactly did you think his whole post was about?


Uncle Kvetch 08.24.05 at 12:38 pm

kcindc, again, you’re dodging the issue here. Steve & I are merely asking: What exactly is Volokh seeking to achieve with this “discussion”? Doesn’t the fact that it’s veered into an insistence on the “dangerousness” of male homosex suggest anything to you? And if it doesn’t, what do you think the real purpose of the original post was, anyway?


Hiram Hover 08.24.05 at 12:38 pm

kcindc – he regards “converting” people to homosexual activity as a “life and death” matter (life=straight, death=gay); as he makes obvious that he prefers life, it seems pretty clear he doesn’t want people to engage in homosexual activity (not, mind you, that he wants you to think they’re anything wrong with it).


Steve LaBonne 08.24.05 at 12:48 pm

Perhaps some people need to imagine how they would react to similar soft bigotry of the “not that there’s anything wrong with it” variety directed at other groups, Jews for example, in order to understand what the problem is.


ben alpers 08.24.05 at 12:51 pm

The reason people are upset about Volokh’s ridiculous gay conversion post is that it is in the service of one of the core homophobic myths of our culture. And, indeed, Volokh is explicit about this. Here’s how the post linked to above begins: “I’ve seen lots of assertions that it’s a ‘myth’ that gays and lesbians try to recruit others into homosexuality. …Yet it seems to me that this assertion of ‘myth’ is likely itself something of a myth, or at least quite incomplete.”

People are upset for the same reason that they would be if someone were to write a post claiming to prove that a conspiracy of Jewish financiers was, in fact, trying to control the world and had been for centuries.

The fact that what Volokh goes on to argue is trivial, based on idle speculation, and built on a tortured definition of “conversion” doesn’t make the project he proclaims in the first paragraph any less vicious.

Volokh deserves what he’s getting on this one.


rilkefan 08.24.05 at 12:57 pm

As clearly shown in the comments in the unfogged thread, Kieran Healy is following Belle‘s lead in taking a surprisingly thoughtless stance on the NYT article.

To me the Volokh articles on unclean proselytizing gays are creepy but I don’t think he’s gone into crazyland. Why he likes to get that near the border is a mystery to me.


Glenn Bridgman 08.24.05 at 1:07 pm

Ben, I think you are being way too conspiratorial about this. There is a genuine cluelessness about Volokh’s post that is, I think, more than just a fig leaf. He isn’t serving the subtext, merely ignoring it in an unthinking fashion.


Seth Finkelstein 08.24.05 at 1:15 pm

glenn: My question – if someone – to whom he’d listen! – said “Here is the subtext, and here is why your post is very inflammatory – what would happen?

I don’t think he’s being a deliberate hack. But I do think there’s some aspect of “bad influence” in that he associates with many people who are deliberate hacks.


Luc 08.24.05 at 1:23 pm

I’m still waiting for the Iraqi politician who says to his American collegue “Hey, we’ll put equal rights for women in our constitution, when you do the same for homosexuals”.

But beside my unfunny jokes, the thing that doesn’t fit with me is the following:

If it weren’t for the disproportionate and grave health danger from male homosexual activity, I’d think such encouragement to explore which relationships give people the most happiness would be positively quite good.

That’s quite a strange balance between happiness and risk that Mr. Volokh makes.

I would think that a libertarian would argue that the law should treat all sexual orientations equal, and let people make their own choices.

Next thing, the Pope will be accused of trying to “convert” men towards lifelong abstinence.


Glenn Bridgman 08.24.05 at 1:26 pm

Seth, I actually emailed him a short essay positing that exact question about the “Westerners that support the insurgency” brouhaha. His response essentially confirmed my theory; he couldn’t seperate himself from the specifics of his own argument and look at the broader picture. He, and many like him, seem unaware that his comments exist as part of a political ecosystem that contextualize each statement beyond face value.

I think there is also an aspect of understandable defensivness about this whole thing. Whatever his various sins, he isn’t being a bigot and when people jump on you with unfair accusations there is a natural response to retreat and become defensive about what you said even if there are seperate issues with your comment.


theorajones 08.24.05 at 1:36 pm

Pah! Volokh is a hack. When a post talking about the desire of gays to “convert” others is followed shortly by another talking about how gay sex = death, it’s immediately apparent there’s no new thinking going on here, just the “compassionate” spin on gay-bashing. Seriously, is there anyone who’s listened to conservatives talk about why gay sex is bad who hasn’t heard this argument ad nauseam?

Don’t you think a truly libertarian original thinker with no axe to grind against homosexuality would have made the observation that while gay male sex is very dangerous, lesbian sex is in fact far physically safer for women than heterosexual sex? And since he’d traveled in conservative circles long enough to realize that the “gay sex makes you die” story is kind of played out, he would have posted this less-frequently-told tale. He would have wondered why we don’t tell women this fact, and speculated as to why we don’t encourage women to be in gay relationships, and why this fact is utterly ignored by the mainstream discussions of gayness. That’s actually something people don’t talk about, and if he was such a bang-up honest intellectual, he’d be interested in it.

But that’s not in the conservative playbook. So he isn’t saying it. Because he’s not about abstractly speculating about the second and third order effects of various large scale social choices (tolerating gays, encouraging gayness, or persecuting gayness). He’s about finding new ways to make it acceptable to hate the gay.

He sucks. And FWIW, I’m straight.


Ted 08.24.05 at 1:49 pm

Isn’t it possible that he’s got it exactly backwards for some people – that is, that there are people who will be *more* attracted to the gay lifestyle if it’s condemned and seen as evil? (Assuming of course that sexual orientation is affected by society’s approval or disapproval, which IMO is an unproven assumption). Who among us has never found a particular type of sexual activity more attractive or interesting because it’s seen as wicked and perverted?

And the colored girls sing doo, da doo, da doo, etc. etc.


jasmindad 08.24.05 at 1:49 pm

James: The substance of Volokh’s argument is that (i) there exists an effort to make those who are gay comfortable with that choice. (ii) There is a subset of individuals who theoretically could go either way. (iii) There is an effort from the gay community to convince those individuals whose sexual preference is both/either to give the gay lifestyle a chance. (iv) Volokh goes on to say that these individuals, especially men (health reasons), are better off with being heterosexual. (I have numbered them for ease of commenting.)

(i) might be true (I wish it were truer). To the extent it is true, it is the result of all people of good will trying to change the culture, and has nothing to do with attempts by gay people to convert. (ii) as stated is incorrect, I think. Bisexuals are people who can go either way, not in the sense that there is a choice point before which they could be either, but once the choice is made, their sexual orientation is stuck. But it can be taken to mean that, on any given day, they could be attracted to, or engage in sex with, persons of the same or opposite sex. In this interpretation, there is no conversion involved either. It is like any hetero sexual transaction — no need to use the language of conversion. (iii) is a strange way of stating a general phenomenon. For example, you might replace it with, “There is an an effort from the het community to convince those individuals whose sexual preference is both/either to give the het lifestyle a chance.” The problem with either of this formulation is that it takes a natural phenomenon of trying to get laid into the activity of some community. Try the following, “There is an effort on the part of the female cat community to have sex with tomcats and lure the latter into sex.” I think it is true that individual female cats get in heat and tomcats rush to them, but it is an unnecessary and useless generalization to state it in “community” terms. To the extent there is a community-wide movement to let people be comfortable in their sexuality, again, all people of good will support it. (iv) is a red rag, since he starts off by merely, as an academic, questioning some myths, but ends with a statement that raises questions about his motive. If any community effort is going on, it is an effort by the community at large to encourage safe sex, so if that is done right, (iv) should be a non-issue.

So all Volokh has succeeded in doing is to associate a perfectly normal phenomenon of people trying to get laid according to their predilections into “conversion,” and introduced a fearful element of disease into the discussion in an irrelevant way.


Bruce Baugh 08.24.05 at 2:22 pm

I used to cut Prof. Volokh more slack, but…

He passed up on commenting on the early Abu Graihb revelations because (I’m paraphrasing) the subject was just too icky to think about. Then later he rather enthusiastically endorsed torture as a goal, impractical only because of fuzzy-headed wimps who’d interfere with its reliable application. Now he’s using the same language and concepts as people who quite explicitly want to suppress homosexual sex and those who engage in it. He’s used up my benefit of the doubt – if he wants not to be seen as a lackey of would-be theocrat totalitarians, someone who’s written as much about good usage as he has [1] can by golly do it.

[1] The odd thing is, some of his advice on writing clearly in law reviews and such genuinely is good, and does actually take up questions of context and subtext. At that point, it no longer matters to me whether he’s too blind to apply his own advice or consciously refusing to. The fact is that the instructions he needs to heed are right there, on his site, in his words, and he’s dodging it with extended attacks on those who dare to point it out.


J. Cornell 08.24.05 at 2:33 pm

Sorry to bring this up out of left field, but Maria has seen fit to shut down comments on the earlier post about the NYT column, and it seemed wrong to let that pass without comment. Maria’s justification for shutting the discussion down was that the “sheer narcissism of some comments” and the “turn toward personal attacks on a fellow blogger.” I’ll leave it to you to decide if there’s anything especially narcissistic about the comments (and it does seem a peculiar criticism given the fact that Belle’s original post was in large part about her own experience of giving birth), but the latter criticism seems to be especially feeble, and unworthy of CT. Belle’s original post consisted in large part of righteous indignation and name-calling: “Boo-fucking hoo . . . Most Annoying Guy Ever . . . oddly-easily-quenched future sexual desires” and, of course, “total asshole.” She entered the thread late to engage with the posters, and ended her post with the ever-so-impersonal “kiss my grits.” But apparently Maria has decided that Belle’s sensibilities are just too fragile to handle . . . well, frankly, I don’t know what, since if you look at the thread there are no personal attacks on her, just questions and arguments.

I realize that, like Reagan, you pay for the microphone. But it’s still bullshit to shut the discussion down.


ben alpers 08.24.05 at 2:54 pm

glenn (in #38 above),

I’m actually pretty agnostic on whether Volokh is cluefully engaging in homophobic attacks posing as moderate truth seeking, or whether he is, as you suggest, simply clueless about the larger implications of his post.

The point I was making is that whether or not Volokh knows it, his post is quite designed to reaffirm a myth that plays a crucial role in homophobic discourse. Given all that Volokh says explicitly, however, the only thing that he might in fact be clueless about is the role that the myth about which he writes plays. And I guess I have a hard time entirely believing he’s that clueless.


james 08.24.05 at 4:24 pm

jasmindad: I am only clarifying an inaccuracy concerning information directly related to the topic. Volokh’s position is not mine.

I will say this. In the process of courting, there is logical step in which one attempts convince the other party that you represent someone they want to be physically involved with. Picking up a stranger involves this step without first knowing the sexual orientation of the other party. It is pretty easy to see how an aggressive suitor could be seen as attempting to convert or cajole the other party. Especially if that suitor ignores the “no” type answers.


Bruce Baugh 08.24.05 at 4:28 pm

But James, the overwhelming majority of gay and lesbian people are more careful about the context of pickups precisely because a wrong guess can end in harassment and violence. They are much less likely to assume compatibility in the first place, and much more likely to check for clues – the proverbial “gaydar” – before making any real move. Some of that would be true even in the most protective of environments simply by virtue of being a minority orientation, along with being a John Waters fan or whatever, but much is a response to the real risks posed by private and public homophobia.


Urinated State of America 08.24.05 at 6:24 pm

“By having sex with them 40 weeks or so earlier, and then putting them through this awful experience, they surely drive men away from a healthy heterosexuality.”

Not heterosexuality, but certainly seeing the loved one get a C-section after 20 hours of drug-free labor killed any womb envy I had.

If I’m reincarnated as a woman and get pregnant, fuck the “living the beautiful experience of childbirth” – it’s epidural all the way.


james 08.24.05 at 8:01 pm

Bruce Baugh – As with most things, it only takes a few to tarnish the reputation of the whole.


Ted 08.24.05 at 8:07 pm

I would have to say that all the gay people I know, both couples and singles, just want to be left alone.

They aren’t out to convert ‘straights’ to their ‘life style’. They simply don’t want to be persecuted.

Volokh, for all his smarts, is wrong on this one.


Bruce Baugh 08.24.05 at 9:26 pm

Another thing is that damn few of my gay or lesbian friends want bad sex, and sex with someone who isn’t really interested in sex with your type of person generally is bad. In all my years so far, I’ve run into one (1) gay man who took a perverse pleasure in manipulating generally straight men into having sex with hima nd he was ostracized from any gay group that came in contact with him.


Lorna 08.25.05 at 5:22 am

Picking up a stranger involves this step without first knowing the sexual orientation of the other party. It is pretty easy to see how an aggressive suitor could be seen as attempting to convert or cajole the other party. Especially if that suitor ignores the “no” type answers.

So where’s Eugene Volokh’s post on straight men trying to convert lesbians to a dangerous lifestyle, I wonder? Because that’s the combination I’ve most noticed this behaviour in.


soru 08.25.05 at 7:43 am

He, and many like him, seem unaware that his comments exist as part of a political ecosystem that contextualize each statement beyond face value.

That’s probably about true.

But applying that standard, doesn’t the blandest of anti-bush statements actually qualify as ‘supporting those killing american troops’?

Because, assuming the goal of at least some of the insurgents is to make the occupation politically unsustainable, then any telling criticism of Bush is, objectively speaking, advancing their aims. That’s the political ecosystem that provides context to any such statement.

Equally, of course, inneffective criticism, the type that makes some people dismiss war critics as ‘flakes’, counts as supporting the bombing of Fallujah

The point being that that way of thinking is unsupportable, soon leads to nonsense. So maybe it would be better to discuss statements on the basis of whether or not they are true, rather than which agenda they support.



Uncle Kvetch 08.25.05 at 8:14 am

As with most things, it only takes a few to tarnish the reputation of the whole.

Very true, James. I have to remind myself periodically that not all law professors are intellectually dishonest hacks, Volokh and Glenn Reynolds notwithstanding.


Glenn Bridgman 08.25.05 at 10:12 am

Soru, part of me agrees with you, but it doesn’t work like that, never has, and probably never will. So when the context does exist, it takes a foolish epistemalogical idealism to ignore it.

As for the “supporting the killing,” I suppose if you want to dig deep enough, probably. But we act as if it doesn’t, because that would silence dissent and much worse things happen then. By the same token, plenty of pro-war folks are probably happy that 9/11 happened, but they don’t get called on it, because polite society doesn’t work that way. It’s all about how far down the rabbit hole you want to go, and because the “Convert” context is so well established, I don’t see why it should be ignored.


Jake 08.25.05 at 2:04 pm

This is off-topic but I need to chill a bit from the paper I’m working on.

I have been playing the PC fantasy game Morrowind for an hour or so each evening for the last few weeks. There are many other characters in the game for your character to interact with. Frequently you need something from them, either information or an item, or to barter.

The stronger your personality and greater your speaking skills, the more likely you are to be successful or to get a good deal. Anyways, one of the ways you can try to improve your chances of success is via admiring the other character (as well as intimidation or the simple bribe). I’ve found that both male and female characters react the same way to admiration, with comments like “Why thank you. No one’s told me that for the longest time” if the admiration is successful, or “No thanks. I have plans tonight” if it isn’t. This suggests that your character is bisexual.

It seems that the gay agenda is everywhere . . . of course, considering that the wackier American churches have been crusading against fantasy for many years as anti-Christian, it only makes sense that the gay would be appearing there as well. After all, us hellbound anti-Jebusians need to work together in order to bring about the rise of the Beast.


Tulkinghon 08.25.05 at 9:43 pm

The meme of homosexuals ‘converting’ straights and bisexuals always struck me as an obvious example of projection on the part of anti-gay Christian activists. After all, these activists are are proudly trying to convert gays the other way. Like many extremists, they indulge in logical fallacy (based in moral vanity) that their opponents are no more than inverse copies of themselves.

Of course, there is a whole genre in gay pornography about seducing heretofore straight men and women, but it has been a long time since pornography has been considered agenda-setting.


Troutsky 08.26.05 at 12:04 am

I often find those on the right use “worried about the danger” as a pretext (often sub-consciously) for “worried about the moral implications”. As for attraction of the “gay lifestyle” ,what could possibly be more attractive than being feared and reviled, beat up ,cursed and abhored? And thats just by your parents.

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