[lit-ideas] on the case of sexual beahvior (mostly to M SHERWOOD

  • From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "palma@xxxxxxxx" <palma@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2015 10:00:37 +0000

Dear dr/mrs Sherwood, is there anyone who seriously think that homosexuality is 
a trait outcome of inheritance?. You quoted twice Mendelian genetics and 
Darwinian style backward evolutionary explanations. I am unsure since I never 
saw it in print or elsewhere, generally the humanities people dwell in 
confusion so they claim strange things (gender is a performance, or some such) 
but did anybody say that Cary Grant *had* the traits he had (pick the one you 
like, eye color, e.g.) & his homosexuality?
I may see why for people obsessed by strange ideas (right wrong sin etc.) it 
may emerge as a simple answer to why Cary Grant had no no choice or no 
alternative. It has no basis in reality, my question is: is there an actual 
statement of such a view?



To: adriano paolo shaul gershom palma
Subject: Re: Xenophobia (part of Heidigger thread)



On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 10:15 PM, Martha Sherwood 
<masherwood48@xxxxxxxxx<mailto:masherwood48@xxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
Adriano wrote:   "what I find fascinating is the almost Orwellian obsession 
with turning people in what the dominant unique thinking requires (at one stage 
it was applied to Turing, poor soul, now it is applied to veterans and 
children, to-morrow the politically correct will target those who eat 
prohibited food, smoke prohibited vegetables, and so forth.)
More seriously it is amazing how the, perchance few, insighst by Basaglia, 
Cooper, Laing, even Biswanger, are quickly forgotten by these disciplinarian 
approaches.
The long standing tradition of american behaviorism in the guise of Watson & 
Skinner never died, despite valiant attempt by left wingers."
For once I am more or less in agreement with Adriano Palma, and with Dr. 
Hawkins (who by the way is a she)- that the current political and social 
climate in the United States particularly can be very intolerant of diversity 
of opinion and selectively applies heavy-handed compulsion, in the name of 
science, to behavior that other cultures and other ages relegated to the "no 
big deal" category, and ignore(d).
Xenophobia - a negative reaction to individuals who are very different from you 
in appearance or behavior - is a universal human trait. It isn't even confined 
to humans, but is found in a great variety of social vertebrates, and at a 
rudimentary level, even in some invertebrates. Furthermore, it's highly 
adaptive in tribal and village societies. Survival depends on trusting that the 
people you are interacting with - mating partners, trading partners, team-mates 
- are playing by the same rules. Similarity of appearance and behavior is the 
most obvious marker for buying into the rules and assumptions necessary for 
engaging in collective enterprise under ambient conditions.

I’m going to use marriage as an example of a collective enterprise in which it 
is important that both parties are operating on the same terms. Those terms are 
usually tied to religious belief systems, and all traditional religious 
practices include elements that our current American mindset finds 
objectionable – for example, it is rather common to refuse to solemnize 
marriages of people who adhere to different religions, or who are of markedly 
different ethnic background.

There is, at present, a court case in the US involving a bakery refusing on 
religious grounds to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Our society has gone, 
within my lifetime, from a mindset that labelled consensual male homosexuality 
as a grave and dangerous mental illness and forced men to choose between prison 
and coercive medical treatment with powerful drugs if they were caught in 
homosexual acts (the Turing episode, among many), through “it’s an aberration 
but no big deal, don’t ask, don’t tell” to “it’s an innate characteristic over 
which people have no choice and deserves full protection under Civil rights 
legislation” to, “and furthermore those rights completely trump the rights of 
people to follow their own religious scruples, even when the relative harm done 
to the parties (not being able to use one bakery rather than another versus 
being financially ruined by a lawsuit) is quite asymmetrical.

     I happen to be studying marriage law in the Siete Partidas which is a 
thirteenth century Spanish Roman Catholic law code dealing with a society with 
substantial numbers of Jews, Muslims and Christians, and the whole principle of 
the law was, that within your own community, your religious laws applied. A 
person did not have the right under the law code to go into a Jewish bakery and 
demand that the baker write Ave Maria in pink icing on it. The law was 
asymmetrical, granting more privileges to the dominant religion (Catholicism) 
and it broke down and became less tolerant with time, but in theory at least, 
people were free to follow their own religious scruples within their own 
communities.

     The dominant mindset in the US treats homosexual proclivities as an 
inherited trait on a par with biological race, when the scientific evidence, 
for the most part, does not support this. While most of the evidence points to 
the trait being present at a very early age, and the proclivity itself not 
being the result of a conscious decision in adulthood, the decision to actively 
engage in a homosexual relationship, rather than remaining celibate or entering 
into a less satisfying heterosexual relationship, is a conscious choice. Any 
geneticist can tell you that a genetic trait that profoundly negatively affects 
reproductive success, even if it conveys other advantages on the individual, 
cannot be maintained at a high frequency in a population. No assumption based 
on classical Mendelian genetics and Darwinian natural selection will produce 
the observed circa 10% frequency of the trait in the American population at the 
present time.

     The study purporting to show differences in brain structure in male 
homosexuals involved small sample size and value judgments on the part of the 
researchers, and has never been replicated. Even if genetic differences do 
exist, only demonstration of a specific genetic pathway, or a very clear cut 
pattern of inheritance over multiple generations, will distinguish between an 
inherited trait and one subject to early developmental influences.

     Religious affiliation is clearly subject to early childhood influence, not 
limited to direct teaching. Historically, people have clung to their religious 
beliefs, in the face of severe persecution, with at least the same tenacity as 
male homosexuals cling to their partner preference. I don’t know of any 
structural findings, but there are some differences in brain wave patterns in 
response to stimuli based on religious practice. Scientifically, there’s about 
as much justification to allow a fundamentalist Christian to refuse to bake a 
cake under circumstances she finds morally repugnant, as there is for allowing 
her customer the right to purchase and publicly consume a cake as part of a 
rite solemnizing his union to the man he loves. Anything else is ideology.

Martha Sherwood

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