As a justification of the homosexual practice of "fisting" as well as "other forms of sexual acts," a recent letter-writer to the Imprint set forth the following maxim: "If someone enjoys something different, accept it, and get on with your life" (Sarah Nicol, "Against Ken again," Imprint, June 14, 1996). It seems to me, however, that in a secular, liberal society such as ours, a few questions need to be asked before we accept this maxim.
(Note: I suspect that at this juncture some individuals will be all too eager to label me a "bigot" or "homophobe" for even countenancing the possibility of questioning homosexual acts. With the hope of avoiding any misunderstanding that might arise out of such a labelling, I suggest to these persons that they take a look at my third postscript before reading further. Ok. Now let's get back to thinking about the above maxim as an alleged justification of variant sexual behaviours.)
We need to ask: "Does the behaviour in question unjustly infringe on the interests of others?" The maxim, in other words, ignores the fact that the "something different" that someone else enjoys might be something that adversely affects me, my family, and others, thereby making it difficult or impossible for us to "get on" with our lives.
In the case of that sexual activity characteristic of homosexual males, i.e. anal intercourse, there is harm that is caused to another person. Physical damage occurs to the rectum (since the tissue of the anal passage is weaker than that of the vagina, and, unlike the vagina, the tissue of the anal passage lacks protection against abrasion). Also, disfunction of the anal sphincter muscle may occur (which may lead to incontinence). In addition, increased infections and sexually-transmitted diseases occur. (For a substantiation of the previous points see Thomas E. Schmidt's Straight & Narrow? Compassion & Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate (1995); see especially his chapter "The Price of Love.")
But of course, if the partners are consenting to the intercourse and if they are affecting the interests of no innocent third party in any seriously adverse manner, then it seems that a secular liberal society should allow the behaviour in question.
Presumably, homosexual partners are consenting to the intercourse. But, we should ask: "Is it really the case that the interests of no innocent third parties are affected by such intercourse in any seriously adverse manner?"
According to Schmidt (on page 128 of the above-mentioned book), "the evidence [concerning homosexual-related health problems, especially that of homosexual males] indicates a health crisis of multiple facets and epidemic proportions." As far as I can tell, the evidence to which Schmidt appeals is solid (of course, the sceptical reader should check this out for him/herself). There arises then, some reasonable-to-ask questions concerning the predominantly male homosexual activities of anal intercourse, fisting, etc.
Question 1: In terms of health care dollars and the effects of redirected health care resources, what is the cost of these activities to Canada's larger population (which does not indulge in such sexual activities)?
Question 2: Does this cost seriously infringe upon the interests of the larger population?
Question 3: Is this cost fair or unfair to the larger population?
It seems to me, then, that these sorts of questions should be carefully addressed in the discussion of homosexual as well as other variant sexual behaviour before we blindly accept the maxim "If someone enjoys something different, accept it, and get on with your life."--Hendrik van der Breggen, Philosophy
P.S. For the record, I think it is WRONG to hate and/or hurt people because they are homosexuals. My intention in writing this letter is not to hate or hurt anyone. Rather, my intention is to obtain and encourage an accurate understanding of homosexual and other statistically deviant sexual behaviours in terms of their impact on society.
P.P.S. I must admit that my writing of this letter is partly motivated by my sense of justice being somewhat disturbed by the following fact: in 1992 heart disease killed 83 times as many Canadians as did AIDS, yet in 1994 cardiovascular research received less than half the public health dollars that AIDS research received (for substantiation, see Susan Martinuk's article in Citizen, III:4, April 25, 1994, p. 3). Interestingly (as Martinuk also points out), 94% of all AIDS victims in Canada are males and homosexuality is related to 87% of these cases.
(PLEASE NOTE: My pointing out that this distribution of public health care dollars strikes me as possibly unjust is not an attempt to incite hatred toward homosexuals; rather, it is an attempt to encourage fairness, and this fairness hopefully will diffuse any anger arising out of the apparent injustice of having a loved one suffer and die from heart disease because medical resources were very disproportionately allocated to take care of diseases which stem from anal intercourse, fisting, etc. Also, my pointing out this apparent injustice will hopefully encourage someone to make public any good reasons that might exists for this disproportionate allocation of funds, thereby diffusing possible anger in this way too.)
P.P.P.S. I also think it is WRONG to call people "bigots" or "homophobes" when they are attempting to understand homosexual and other statistically deviant behaviour from a rational point of view. The attempt to reason with care and to examine evidence (regardless of the direction it points) is not usually a characteristic of bigots; but name-calling is. Also, the Greek word "phobia" denotes an irrational fear; but, we should all realize, it's very possible to have a rational fear or concern. Rationally-grounded fears or concerns are usually extremely important aids to individual as well as corporate survival, good health, and longevity. Therefore, even if one (such as myself) mistakenly thinks his/her concerns are rationally-grounded, it is important to tolerate as well as encourage reasoned discussion of these concerns. Hopefully, the view that will win at the end of the day will do so not because it appeals merely to prejudices (mine or yours), but because it appeals to the best reasons.
Name-calling, then, is an impediment to the achievement of this end. (In other words, my data and my reasoning may be mistaken; if they are, don't call me names, rather, please share accurate data and good reasons to the contrary. If my data and reasoning are not mistaken, perhaps that's significant.)
P.P.P.P.S. For some further data and reasoning concerning homosexuality, see Larry Burtoft's Setting the Record Straight (1994) and Jeffrey Satinover's Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (1996).
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