Michael Hammon tells us in his essay titled, Against Heterosexuality, that the labels Heterosexual and Homosexual didn’t even exist until the 1860s. He goes further to argue that this contemporary binary categorization of humans was unheard of and unneeded until Western culture began abandoning natural order and Natural Law at the turn of the 20th century. It was only at this time that pathology replaced principle, sickness replaced sin, psychologists and psychiatrists replaced priests and pastors and the DSM replaced the Bible as a pretext for cultural-normativity, sexual or otherwise.
Prior to the early 1900s the cultural focus was on human behavior and human freedom and human responsibility. Sex was an issue of choice. A man or woman chose fidelity or infidelity, fornication or abstinence, adultery or faithfulness, polygamy, bigamy sodomy, incest, or bestiality, etc. Before the rise of the “heterosexual and homosexual” nomenclature, argues Hammon, it would have been unimaginable to conflate one’s identity with one’s inclinations to do or not do these things. It would have been laughable to grant civil rights and minority status to someone because they chose to have one kind, or another, of sex with someone or something. It would have been as absurd as giving someone “human rights” on the basis of the kind of food they ate, beverage they drank or clothes they wore – all which were obviously also personal BEHAVIORS and not unalienable aspects of a human’s BEING.
In submitting House Bill 1597 (which argued for the right of business owners to discriminate against “homosexuals” in the private business sector), Representative, Sally Kern was wrong. She was wrong because her bill labeled human beings. She was wrong because she succumbed to a desperately flawed political taxonomy that insults people and puts them into groups. She was wrong because she inadvertently acquiesced to the PC categories that even prominent “gay” activists have rejected as belittling and prone to prejudice. For example, before the philosopher Michael Foucault died of AIDS he bemoaned the fact that “the nineteenth-century homosexual [had become] a personage… a morphology… a life form… a kind of interior androgyny, a hermaphrodism of the soul” resulting in an unintended “homosexual species.” Adding to this, Gore Vidal made clear that his gay lifestyle was a behavioral choice and not his identity by saying, “Actually, there is no such thing as a homosexual person, any more than there is such a thing as a heterosexual person”
Sally Kern was wrong because she unwittingly fell into the trap of mushy language and of labels and their unintended consequences. She unknowingly ceded the argument to her political and cultural opponents when she started grouping human beings into unneeded and untoward categories; something that even unlikely bedfellows such as Foucault and Vidal agree is misguided and offensive.
We are not heterosexuals and we are not homosexuals. We are human beings! And as such we are free agents with free will and we can choose our sexual actions just like we can choose to smoke, drink or eat. There is nothing about your appearance or mine that tells anyone what our appetites are and, frankly, it would seem wise for us to stop speaking publically about such private matters. If others are unaware of our personal penchants and private tastes they can’t “discriminate” or label us one way or the other. You want your privacy in your bedroom? Fine! It would be wise to shut the door.
Sally Kern wasn’t wrong for defending a business owners’ right to discriminate. Such rights already exist and are implicit in signs that read “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” Representative Kern was wrong because she allowed herself to fall prey to the linguistic trap of letting others dumb down the definition of a person’s identity to nothing more than the sum total of sensual proclivities and sexual inclinations. When the Representative lost control of this basic definition of who we are, she lost the debate over what we have the right to do. In doing this, Sally Kern was wrong.
Talking Points With President Piper is a weekly column featured in the Examiner-Enterprise newspaper. In addition to serving as the Oklahoma Wesleyan President, Dr. Everett Piper is also a frequent guest commentator on a variety of talk radio programs across the nation, as well as a published author and essayist.