Homophobic gospel gets back to “nature” (revised)

[I discovered this video on Joshua Stewart’s fb. Thanks, man!]

This song is meant to be humorous, but not merely so. People really do make this kind of argument all the time: “You don’t see animals mating with the same sex.” (Ergo, it would be “unnatural” for us to do so.)

One problem is the premise is wrong; the same broad spectrum of sexuality—going from strict heterosexuality, to all permutations of bisexuality, to strict homosexuality—is found in the animal and human kingdoms alike. Using “nature” as our standard, then, does not tell us which segment of nature to mimic—whether “the farm,” as the song says, or maybe the Congolese forests where the pan-sexual bonobo ape dwells. Simply put, “nature” supplies no unambiguous prescription for human behavior. Anything we pick is arbitrary. (If we go for genetic similarity, the bonobo beats the chicken by a long shot.)

[Update: Homosexuality has been documented in chickens! You can “see two roosters walking hand in hand!” See this book, page 83.]

A more pressing problem is what impersonating animals should have to do with ethical behavior anyhow. Act like chicken, they are telling us? Who came up with this shit? The most the Mystery Men (and other homophobes) give us is is the argument that homosexual sex is “unnatural” because it can’t produce offspring:

Two mares can’t make a stallion/And two bulls can’t make a cow/It takes a male and female for the species to go on/[T]here’ll be no reproduction if the plumbing is all wrong

First, it isn’t clear what the farm analogy illuminates here; they may as well have said, “It takes a male and female human for the species to go on.” But no matter.

I can only repeat: Why is non-reproductive sex “unnatural”? The vast uncountable majority of elective human activities (e.g., baseball, fishing, shopping) are non-reproductive; if we can accept these as “natural,” despite this limitation, why do we balk at sexual behavior that lacks a reproductive component? (And do we oppose all the heterosexual sex that is non-reproductive?–Oral sex? Contraception? If the lead singer’s wife became sterile, would they be wrong to keep sleeping together?)

Even if we assume a moral imperative to ensure the “species to go on,” the world’s millions of homosexuals have yet to threaten population growth; and it is unlikely everyone will become homosexual. (Even if they do, this is unlikely to knock off the species; plenty of homosexuals have biological children, who in turn have children, etc.)

This whole business of using “natural” as a normative term—as in, “natural” behavior is good, and “unnatural” behavior is wrong—is screwy. Humans are every bit as “natural” as animals. (What else could we be—supernatural?) Homosexuality could be dead fucking wrong, but it would be as “natural” as any other orientation. Indeed, there is no conceivable human behavior which isn’t “natural.” It makes as much sense to judge animal behavior by our own as the reverse.

Finally, if we can’t be homosexual because chickens aren’t, then we can’t be monogamous, much less get married, because chickens don’t do that either. (Roosters mate with as many as 20 hens at once.) Much less do they wear clothes, build hospitals, or sing gospel music. On the other hand, there is no vile thing which some animals do not routinely do to others, or to each other. (The term “pecking order” is inspired by the propensity of chickens to bite and stab weaker specimens.) If we get our morals from this realm, we are subject to become rapists, baby-killers, and cannibals.[1]

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If you want religious music in a country vein, try this instead (hats off to Eric Fields for turning me on to this):

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[1] By animals doing “vile things” I mean “things which would be vile if a human did them to another human.” I am not sure it is “vile” when animals do it.


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