Deus Ex Machina

"This is the generation of the great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we own under the immortal God, our peace and defense." -Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan

An Online Discussion on 377A Turns to Theology

This was an online exchange I just had on publichouse.sg, I thought it was going to be the typical endless argumentum ad hominem about bigotry and what not which later took a surprising theological and better turn. This gives me a little tiny hope for online discussions yet.

Internet Commenter: It [377A] criminalises something that has no effect on anyone except people that just want to hate on others.

Me: If it is something of no effect on others, then criminalising it would also have no effect on others since the act itself is completely inconsequential and of no effect, therefore it is of no consequence or effect to criminalise it. But if the act of criminalising something does have an effect, then that something isn’t really of no effect but has an effect, which makes the criminalisation or non-criminalisation of that something have an effect because that something does make a difference and have an effect.

IC: Wow. Obviously I went too fast for you. Let me slow down and explain in simpler terms for a simpler mind. What two adults choose to do behind closed doors, is up to them. Are they trying to rape you? Because you’re behaving as if they are banging down your doors. With a face like yours. I highly doubt it.

I wonder if your refusal to accept others is religiously motivated. My bet would be that it is!

Religion. The great divider of humanity.

Me: By the way, there is a fallacy called “argumentum ad hominem”, check it out before continuing this argument.

You can only explain something in “simpler terms” if you have explained it in the first place to now simplify it. But this is the first time you mentioned the argument of “What two adults choose to do behind closed doors, is up to them.” Therefore since it is only now you mentioned it, it is not a simplEr explanation, but an explanation. There is no prior explanation for it to be “simpler”.

I’m sorry for lowering the level of discourse, let me up it then to cope with the complexities of the issues.

https://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/marriage-as-a-social-institution-i-the-heterosexual-essence-of-the-order-of-marriage/

IC: Cool story bro. Keep on hating on people. Great way to live your life. I love that title. Rationality of Faith. That’s just gold.

Me: There is a principle of the courts, that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. It would be nice if I could have the presumption of innocence before being condemned, judged and accused of hatred. It is common courtesy and charity to not judge or condemn a friend whom you know well without determining the circumstance, how odd that you should rush to judgement of people online whom you barely know.

And by the way, so far I’ve answered your arguments with reasons and analysis while you’ve been freely tossing about fallacious argumentum ad homiens and simply refusing to engage the points. I don’t see what’s so ironic about “Rationality of Faith”.

IC: Of course you do not. How could you? You’ve been brought up indoctrinated within it! Ok. You say I judged you too quick. I ask you this. Do you think it is inherently wrong for a “Man to lie with another man as a woman”?

Me: This is precisely what I’m talking about. You know nothing of my background, my home or my family, how on earth would you know how I was brought up? Maybe you would like to ask me and get to know me first before passing all kinds of judgements and making all kinds of prejudicial assumptions about my background?

And by the way, I wasn’t brought up “indoctrinated” in any religion.

As to your question, I don’t understand what you mean by “inherently wrong”, inherent where?

IC: You have written multiple notes openly available on your FaceBook page pointing to exactly which doctrine you subscribe to. You have written notes with titles like “Ye (Somewhat) Comprehensive Guide to Marriage as a Social Institution (I): The Heterosexual Essence of the Order of Marriage” – “Does God run a Democracy? A Conversation about the Will of God and Good and Evil”. You post links tohttps://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/. From the information there, do you expect me to think you are Muslim? And inherent within your self. I asked the question if YOU felt that it was inherently wrong. Do you?

I understand I might be coming across a little like….. An asshole. Bit I am so tired of people putting down gay couples. So tired.

Me: You didn’t ask if I was a Christian, you said and I quote, “You’ve been brought up indoctrinated within it!” And I was not brought up “indoctrinated” into the Christian faith as my family wasn’t Christian. I read and studied it on my own as a young adult, thus I wasn’t “indoctrinated”, I reasoned my way into it, thus I am not refuting your point that I am a Christian versus Muslim (not that you explicitly made that point), but the point that I was “brought up indoctrinated within it”.

I cannot answer a question which I don’t understand. What does it mean to say that something is “inherently wrong”? where does this wrongness “inhere”?

Besides, this questioning of my character is a distraction and a fallacy, as I said, look up “argumentum ad hominen”

IC: Absolutely fair. It was an assumption. And I have been proven wrong. And I apologize for jumping to the conclusion. Ok let me rephrase the question. Two men who sleep together. Would they go to hell?  Or even, are they considered doing something that is wrong?

Me:  *Shrug*, it is not for me to say who goes to hell. God alone judges who is saved, and obviously God does not judge based on a single contextualess act.

Who or what determines that something is “wrong”? These words only acquire a meaning within a concrete context, outside of which they exists merely as bare abstractions.

IC: Ok. “Who or what determines that something is “wrong”?” So can assume then, that sin within the Bible is not concrete? Or do are they “words only acquire a meaning within a concrete context,”

Me: Well, if you’re asking me if it is a “sin”, then yes I do believe it is. But “wrongness” and “sinfulness” isn’t the same thing. It is a sin to deny God or to refused to be baptised, etc, but that isn’t the same as to say that it is “wrong”, or at least, in many context they don’t converge. So you need to clarify what you mean by “wrong”.

In short, the word “sin” is determined by the concrete context of salvation history as witnessed by the Bible, but since I’m assuming we are not operating within that context, I am puzzled by what you mean by “wrong”.

IC: Ok. So from what you just said I can conclude that you believe it is a sin. And that you agree with the Bible’s description of it as a sin? Fair?

Me: Yup, homosexual acts is a sin, like refusing to be baptised, divorce, adultery, stealing, murder, desecrating the sacraments, etc. But again, this isn’t the same as something being “wrong”.

IC: Ok. Now you need to help me here. It is a sin. But it’ not the same as something being wrong? But are sins not wrong things to do? In the eyes of God?

Me:  Well, in the context of “in the eyes of God”, obviously whatever is a sin is “wrong”, but this isn’t the same as whatever is wrong is a sin. It may not be wrong, for example, to not believe in Christ, as I think you don’t think it is wrong to not believe in Christ, while I do, but that’s because we are not using the word “wrong” in the same sense and in the same context. And since we aren’t invoking the context of “in the eyes of God”, therefore I don’t really see how would invoking the concept of “sin” be helpful in clarifying “wrongness”.

IC: Ok then. Let’s get back to the topic of homosexuality as a sin. So eating Lobster is fine. Wearing t-shirts that are not 100% cotton is fine. But homosexuality is a sin? How come other sins that most christians do everyday are not condemned half as much as being gay? Understand I’m actually asking these questions to know what you think about them. Not to shut down the conversation.

Me: All right. There is such a thing as salvation history and the development of what it means to be a people of God.

It is easy to point to the many laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy and just say why don’t we do that as well. But here is commonly know example. Why don’t you ask, why don’t we continue to offer animal sacrifices and burnt offerings as commanded in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, etc? The answer here is obvious, that Christ’s sacrifice has “fulfilled” all the sacrifices of the Old Testament which is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ, and so once Christ performed his sacrifice, the OT sacrifices were abolished.

Therefore we have to understand the OT laws in their context in the development of salvation history. Now obviously many laws in those books concern the governance of Israel as a political commonwealth, regulating how the Jews dealt with the non-Jews, drawing a visible empirical boundary and distinction between those who are God’s chosen people, the Jews, and those who are not, thus the many laws regulating dietary, clothing, etc, are mean to distinguish God’s particular people from the Gentiles who ate such things.

But obviously after Christ, the barrier between Jews and Gentiles were broken down, and God’s Kingdom as a visible political nation is fulfilled in Christ as a spiritual Kingdom living within the hearts of the faithful, not as a political kingdom with visible boundaries. Thus one of the first acts of the Apostles is to abolish the food laws for the Jewish Christians.

However, certain forms of behavioour have to do with the order which God imposes upon the world in general, not merely that having to do with the governance of Israel, but which God imposes upon mankind in general, and those sexual norms are part of the order of the world in general which St Paul continues to speak about in the New Testament, etc.

IC: I find this incredible. I really do. That if need be there can be concessions made. And when it’s about a minority of people who are easily bullied. It’s a unchangeable sin. I really do. It sound’s incredibly unfair and unjust to me.

Me: I think first we need to ask ourselves the question as to what is sexual orientation and what does it mean, etc. Obviously actions are not “unchangeable”, you can do or don’t do something. A pedophile may have an “orientation” for young boys (if there is such an orientation), but he doesn’t have to act upon it.

So the pertinent question is what is this sexual orientation and what does it mean. https://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/why-all-sexual-desires-have-a-homoerotic-element-or-what-is-a-homosexual/

IC: I’m going out for awhile. I’ll be back late or tmr. We continue this then. Cheers.

Me:  All right, pm me when you want to continue. 🙂

Dare I hope in the possibility of an online civil discourse sans all the name calling?

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67 comments on “An Online Discussion on 377A Turns to Theology

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 10 May 2013 | The Singapore Daily

  2. CY
    May 10, 2013

    It appears that your definition of wrong is different from that of sin. I understand many treat religion add a moral compass. What do you therefore derive from religion? I’m curiously to know your views

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    • Rubati
      May 10, 2013

      Well, the long and short of my answer will be that I don’t derive anything from religion. To draw an analogy, is virtue to be done because I derive some benefit, or is it not to be done, even if I must sacrifice something of myself in order to be virtuous? If not, may I therefore be vicious as long as I derive something from it?

      If the logic of “derived benefit” does not apply to virtue, how much less should it be applied to God himself! God is to be obeyed because he is God and divine, to use God as a means to a further end is simply sacrilege.

      Therefore no calculations of “derived benefits” enter into the question of obedience to the divine, God is by definition to be obeyed because he is God, it’s something which you either accept or you don’t, but not something which you calculate yourself into, to do so is sacrilegious and destroys the very meaning of worship.

      Like

      • CY
        May 10, 2013

        So I’m still not understanding you. Your definition of right and wrong is different from sin but you have to obey God’s will. Therefore if you have a choice between doing something that is right but is a sin, vs something that is wrong but not a sin, you would choose the latter?

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      • Rubati
        May 10, 2013

        Yup, God’s will takes precedence over right and wrong. To cite an example, Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac, in many societies, infanticide would be considered “wrong”, but obedience to God overwrites morality and ethics, and Abraham proceeded to perform the sacrifice.

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  3. Jeremy Chen
    May 10, 2013

    I find the concept of reasoning ones’s way into religion to be both logically unsound (for lack of any foundations) and intellectually arrogant (also misguided based on the point on logic). Also, it is impossible to prove the consistency of Christian thought within the Christian system logically.

    In Christianity we have no firm foothold on which to assure ourselves of correctness. It has been and always will be a multilevel gamble though one may be able to change the odds to a point. Salvation through grace. Not intellectualism.

    On the point of S377A, Christians who promulgate hate and pretend not to do so, (with lines like “hate the sin, not the sinner”) though their seething rabid contempt is clearly visible through the lie that veneer is, are plainly not following the teachings of Christ. The most important commandment is that God is one. The second is to love thy neighbour. Plain simple and in context.

    We are not talking about a religious issue, but a civil issue. Christianity is a religion of love. Or perhaps it was until Christians become politically dominant. Much like “democratic” leaders have one set of values when in opposition, and another when in power. Yet if we want to talk about advocating Christian values in the public sphere, it is un-reason-able to do so while sweeping the main teachings of Jesus, which are simple and unambiguous, under the rug.

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  4. Rubati
    May 10, 2013

    I find the concept of reasoning ones’s way into religion to be both logically unsound (for lack of any foundations) and intellectually arrogant (also misguided based on the point on logic). Also, it is impossible to prove the consistency of Christian thought within the Christian system logically.

    You can find whatever you want, but the fact that you find it to be so isn’t the same as it being so, it would be nice if you could prove such “arrogance” and “logical unsoundness” and impossibility.

    In Christianity we have no firm foothold on which to assure ourselves of correctness. It has been and always will be a multilevel gamble though one may be able to change the odds to a point. Salvation through grace. Not intellectualism.

    Well, you can of course assert a form of Pascal Wager on steroids, but it would be nice if you could justify this claim too.

    On the point of S377A, Christians who promulgate hate and pretend not to do so, (with lines like “hate the sin, not the sinner”) though their seething rabid contempt is clearly visible through the lie that veneer is, are plainly not following the teachings of Christ. The most important commandment is that God is one. The second is to love thy neighbour. Plain simple and in context.

    If it is so “clearly visible” then you should have no trouble proving such intentional “rabid contempt”, like what I told this guy, there is such a thing as the presumption of innocence before being proven guilty of something. Unless of course, once more you are merely speaking generally and not making any specific accusations, which of course then it is merely a rather pointless and idle speculation. And interesting the way you redacted the most important commandment. Maybe if you actually spelt it out in full, that we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, soul, etc, then it would lead to this rather unsavoury corollary, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

    We are not talking about a religious issue, but a civil issue. Christianity is a religion of love. Or perhaps it was until Christians become politically dominant. Much like “democratic” leaders have one set of values when in opposition, and another when in power. Yet if we want to talk about advocating Christian values in the public sphere, it is un-reason-able to do so while sweeping the main teachings of Jesus, which are simple and unambiguous, under the rug.

    I don’t know who this “we” is, but you were the one commenting on the religious aspects, not the civil aspects. If you want to comment on the religious aspects, keep to it, if you want to discuss the civil aspects, that is another discussion and another topic.

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  5. Jeremy Chen
    May 10, 2013

    If you write about things on a blog, be open to comments.

    Salvation as mercy by God: Standard doctrine. Which is why the idea of the rationality of faith is sort of… silly to me and anyone who believes that “salvation is by God’s grace alone”.

    Impossibility of proving internal consistency: Goedel.

    And the way you quote scripture is after the fashion of one who would twist the words of the Bible… Why do such a thing? To look smart?

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    • Rubati
      May 10, 2013

      I dont see how i am not open to your comments, i have neither censored nor ignored your points but have addressed them.

      And i dont see how does salvation by grace alone contradict the rationality of faith. I didnt say we are saved by grace and reason, i said that faith is rational, which is a completely different claim.

      And i cant “twist” Scripture if i didnt give it an interpretation, i merely quoted it, but i’m not sure how i used it in a “twisting” manner. It would be good if you could prove that it is a wrong use instead of merely asserting it along with an ad homenien attack on my motives.

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    • Rubati
      May 10, 2013

      And seriously? You’re treating the Christian faith as a mathematical system?

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      • Jeremy Chen
        May 10, 2013

        Are you conflating “rational” with something else? If you mean “enlightened” or “non-unthinking and dark agey” then it is is just an attitude towards the past that “values the pursuit of truth”. But what does that even mean?

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      • Rubati
        May 10, 2013

        I do not postulate your proposed meaning, you did, so i dont see why i should explain the meaning of your own postulates. If you want a full discussion on rationality, i refer you to my section on Faith and Philosophy at the top of my blogs which contains my essays on the topic.

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  6. Jeremy Chen
    May 10, 2013

    … I can only congratulate your for being well read within this domain, and bid you good luck.

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  7. passerby
    May 13, 2013

    Interesting how you derailed the argument away from the original comment’s main point (however imprecisely expressed it may have been): 377A criminalises something that has no effect on anyone ELSE (i.e. apart from men involved in consensual sex with each other) except for bigots. In other words, it criminalises an act that does not affect anyone but the people involved in the act itself (and those people are not harmed by the act, anyway).

    Your reply to that comment was impossibly pedantic. I don’t believe that anyone could read that first comment and miss the point it was trying to make.

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      If the original comment’s “main point” which you alleged was “imprecisely expressed” as you put it, how would you actually know it was actually the main point? Did he clarify it with you? And when he did clarify what he meant to me, I responded to it.

      And the same advice I gave him applies to you. Before you condemn people as bigots, it would be nice for you to prove such an accusation. Remember, innocent until proven guilty.

      And there is an implicit contradiction you’re positing. You said that it is “imprecisely expressed”, then now you say that you “don’t believe that *anyone* could read that first comment and miss the point it was trying to make.” It cannot be both. If it is imprecisely expressed, then there necessarily is the possibility of misreading. The only way no one can mistake its reading is if it were clearly and precisely expressed, which you deny from the start.

      So which is it?

      I guess I’m just being pedantic now huh?

      And by the way you should read the link I linked to him which precisely spells out the public consequences of such homosexuality in public laws.

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  8. passerby
    May 13, 2013

    Because there are things such as context and inference, which are ignored only by those arguing in bad faith. Such as you.

    I don’t see you engaging with his point that “What two adults choose to do behind closed doors, is up to them”, apart from acknowledging that that point exists.

    Sure, let’s drop the term “bigot” then. Let’s go with the formulation: 377A criminalises something that has no effect on anyone ELSE (i.e. apart from men involved in consensual sex with each other) except for people who feel uncomfortable about its existence. There’s still no direct effect on anyone else.

    There is no contradiction, because just because something is imprecise doesn’t mean it is difficult to understand. Imprecision comes in degrees. Someone can say “That person doesn’t care about anyone” without having pedants jump in to say “Are you saying that that person doesn’t even care about their own well-being????”

    And yes, I think you’re still being a pedant. Your approach to discussion seems to be to quibble on questions of definition and phrasing until your opponents rightly tire of this practice. So if my comment had said ” I don’t believe that anyone making a genuine effort to understand this debate could read that first comment and miss the point it was trying to make”, what then?

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    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      I don’t see you engaging with his point that “What two adults choose to do behind closed doors, is up to them”, apart from acknowledging that that point exists.

      Sure, let’s drop the term “bigot” then. Let’s go with the formulation: 377A criminalises something that has no effect on anyone ELSE (i.e. apart from men involved in consensual sex with each other) except for people who feel uncomfortable about its existence. There’s still no direct effect on anyone else.

      I have engaged the point by providing my link which precisely engages the point. Read it and then we can continue the discussion.

      There is no contradiction, because just because something is imprecise doesn’t mean it is difficult to understand. Imprecision comes in degrees. Someone can say “That person doesn’t care about anyone” without having pedants jump in to say “Are you saying that that person doesn’t even care about their own well-being????”

      Just because something is imprecise doesn’t mean it is difficult to understand? But if it is imprecise, how are we to determine, erm, precisely what is it we are supposed to be able to understand?

      And by the way, I do think we can jump in and say that. There are many people who have no regard for their own health or well being, etc. So it isn’t an unreasonable clarification.

      And yes, I think you’re still being a pedant. Your approach to discussion seems to be to quibble on questions of definition and phrasing until your opponents rightly tire of this practice. So if my comment had said ” I don’t believe that anyone making a genuine effort to understand this debate could read that first comment and miss the point it was trying to make”, what then?

      Well, it is only by asking for a clarification, proposing a plurality of possible interpretations and the process of engagement, whereby I can understand where an opponent is clearly coming from. You don’t believe that anyone making a genuine effort to understand an imprecise statement could miss the point, this I continue to maintain, is still an implicit contradiction.

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      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        Your linked post is about marriage, not 377A, and hence irrelevant.

        To most people, “That person doesn’t care about anyone” is easily understood as “That person doesn’t care about anyone BESIDES THEMSELVES.” Because most people understand the context in which such statements tend to be made, common uses of elision, etc. Most people also don’t take metaphors and analogies literally.

        On how imprecise something has to be before it is hard to understand, perhaps you simply have a much lower estimation of someone’s ability to comprehend things than I do.

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      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        Your linked post is about marriage, not 377A, and hence irrelevant.

        I’m not sure if you’ve actually read through it as the discussion in that link does lead to 377A.

        To most people, “That person doesn’t care about anyone” is easily understood as “That person doesn’t care about anyone BESIDES THEMSELVES.” Because most people understand the context in which such statements tend to be made, common uses of elision, etc. Most people also don’t take metaphors and analogies literally.

        I don’t know who this “most people” is as you haven’t specified a context wherein this statement is being spoken. If the statement was made by someone working at a suicide helpline, then your interpretation isn’t the obvious one. But since you’ve merely thrown out a completely bare, hypothetical and abstract statement, thus my reading is an entirely plausible one given certain contexts.

        On how imprecise something has to be before it is hard to understand, perhaps you simply have a much lower estimation of someone’s ability to comprehend things than I do.

        I certainly have a very low estimation of mine, that’s why I keep asking for clarifications. 🙂

        Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      And by the way, you still can’t resist the ad hominem of accusing me of arguing in bad faith. Only *after* you have demonstrated this, then may you legitimately condemn me for it.

      Like

  9. passerby
    May 13, 2013

    These are the only relevant paragraphs I saw in “that discussion”, which are from a separate post altogether:

    “As with adultery and premarital sex, it is simply not practically possible for the government to in fact enforce 377A, nor would there be much social gains to be had in this enforcement. If there is any justification for 377A, it has to be external to the text of the law itself.”

    – Nothing here on the original commenter’s point.

    “Because of the centralisation of much civic institutions and social functions into the government hands, 377A sets standards and norms for governing how these other institutions should function, one of the most important ones being that of education. 377A would mean that public schools cannot promote homosexuality nor frame their sex education towards those ends for they cannot promote what is technically illegal.”

    – Nothing here either on how anyone would be affected if 377A were to be abolished.

    “Should the Singapore government begin to decentralise the management of civic institutions and take a lesser role in defining social norms, then 377A would become redundant which abolition would be justified. But until then, as long as the state continues to police many civic institutions, and as long as it upholds the norm of the institution of marriage, 377A exists precisely to discourage the use of sexuality outside of the marital ends of uniting the relationship building significance of sexual acts with that of procreation and care for the offspring of such relationship.”

    – Hmm, I still don’t see anything here.

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      They are not separate, how can you know that they are separate until you have read them? In university, we are taught that we should ideally present our opponent’s case in the strongest form possible before criticising it. I admit I often fall short of this ideal, but you can’t even present your opponent’s case in its strongest possible form if you haven’t even at least read through it once.

      In any case, let me explain this point

      Because of the centralisation of much civic institutions and social functions into the government hands, 377A sets standards and norms for governing how these other institutions should function, one of the most important ones being that of education. 377A would mean that public schools cannot promote homosexuality nor frame their sex education towards those ends for they cannot promote what is technically illegal.

      The irony of the AWARE flare up is that the homosexual activists may have won the battle, i.e. they took back AWARE. But they eventually lost the war when MOE realized that they were teaching stuff which are technically illegal and promptly had all AWARE sexuality talks in schools removed.

      So, even when homosexual acts have been outlawed, AWARE was already in schools promoting it, what is the betting that once 377A is removed, they’ll be flooding into practically every school?

      Unless you mean to contend that education has no “effect” on anyone, then I really have nothing to say.

      Like

      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        Err, they are separate because they are literally different webpages existing on the internet loh. Which is why I said “a separate post” and not “they are separate arguments”.

        Ah I see, so your argument is not about 377A itself, but one possible consequence you see coming from 377A, i.e. that pro-LGBT education will enter schools.

        So you still have not refuted the original commenter’s point that the actual act criminalised by 377A does not hurt anyone.

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      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        Erm, I don’t understand, at first you said, “Your linked post is about marriage, not 377A, and hence irrelevant”, thus I assumed that you were interested in 377A itself. Then now you are talking about the sexual acts itself.

        Read all the other posts then and you’ll see the “public significance” of “private sexual acts” which precisely address this.

        Read the second one in particular which deals specifically with how private sexual acts do have public consequences.

        Let me link it for you:

        https://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/marriage-as-a-social-institution-ii-premarital-and-extramarital-sex-and-the-enforcement-of-the-marital-ideal/

        Like

      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        Nope, that post still doesn’t say who will actually be affected by decriminalising homosexual sex. I just see a lot of worries about the point of the institution of marriage.

        Can you not sum up your argument simply? Can you not simply state an example of a person who will actually be affected if gay sex is no longer criminalised? (Apart from the people engaging in gay sex.)

        I also see that you are not addressing my point: your argument about norms and education and society is not about 377A itself, but one possible consequence you see coming from 377A, i.e. that pro-LGBT education will enter schools. You have not shown how 377A itself affects anyone except the people whose behaviour it criminalises.

        I don’t intend to reply to any more of your comments unless they offer more concrete arguments; I’m satisfied with having pointed out your failure to engage specifically with the point that began that whole internet thread.

        Like

      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        Okay, let me ask a completely converse question then. Who will be affected by retaining 377A and how? Does retaining it have any effects? I could then work backwards from that.

        As a guide, let me ask,

        (1) Does adultery affect people other than those who engage in it?
        (2) Does premarital sex affect people other than those who engage in it?

        According to your answer, you’ll see why gay sex does affect other people.

        Like

  10. passerby
    May 13, 2013

    It affects gay men. Retaining it makes them latent criminals, makes it hard for them to seek legal help in any situation in which the fact that they have sex with men might come up, etc.

    Like

    • passerby
      May 13, 2013

      (1) Does adultery affect people other than those who engage in it?
      It affects the other parties in the relationship who may be hurt by it. This argument does not apply to monogamous gay sex.

      (2) Does premarital sex affect people other than those who engage in it?
      Nope.

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      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        (1) Does adultery affect people other than those who engage in it?
        It affects the other parties in the relationship who may be hurt by it. This argument does not apply to monogamous gay sex.

        What other parties and in what relationship? Spousal, communal? Children? And so if they are not hurt, then the adultery doesn’t matter? Being hurt is after all, purely subjective, etc. Instead of adding adultery as a divorce clause, why not simply change our subjective attitudes towards adultery to accept it and not be hurt?

        In any case, we can simply ask a much more fundamental question. What is the point of criminalising anything? Simply to provide a mechanism for persecution? Or as a deterrence to others? If it does serve as a deterrence, then there you have your effect of criminalising homosexual acts upon others.

        Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      And what sort of legal help might these be? If a man was robbed of his money while committing adultery, should we abolish adultery clauses for divorce that he might be able to recover his money and retain his marriage at the same time?

      Like

      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        It makes it harder for them to report sexual assault and domestic violence.

        For other examples of harm, I refer you to paragraphs 110-143, on pages 66-86.
        http://yawningbread.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/pic_201302_21.pdf

        In short, 377A:
        1. Makes it harder for them to seek healthcare for HIV.
        2. Subjects them to psychological damage
        3. Makes it harder to report sexual assault and domestic violence
        4. May “cast a pall of illegality over otherwise perfectly innocent transactions and dealings.”

        Like

      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        Point (1) Can be addressed simply by changing the way healtcare is administered, like how the army can provide drug rehab without persecuting anyone.

        (2) ALL laws psychologically damage those who it affects, the only question is whether the punishment is justified. And since you are not talking about right or wrong but effects, this is really irrelevant.

        (3) In all rape cases, whether the victim has been attacked by a heterosexual or homosexual would not be persecuted. As for “domestic violence”, I can simply adapt the same scenario, if a married woman was staying with her lover secretly while lying that she is on an overseas business trip and gets abused by her lover, should we abolish adultery clauses in divorce so that she can report the crime and retain her marriage?

        (4) Well, the concept of innocence and right and wrong isn’t on the same plane of discussion as that of effects, and for that, my other posts stand as it is.

        Like

  11. passerby
    May 13, 2013

    Adultery:

    – Spousal, children, whoever has a stake in the relationship outside of which this adultery is happening. No idea what you mean by “communal”.

    – “If they are not hurt” — if, say, A and B are in an open relationship but legally married, and B doesn’t mind if A commits adultery with C, then yes, it doesn’t matter.

    – Being hurt is not purely subjective. And in any case, betrayal of trust is a phenomenon that can be ascertained with reference to facts, not feelings.

    – “If it does serve as a deterrence, then there you have your effect of criminalising homosexual acts upon others.” — er, yes… and this still doesn’t affect anyone except gay men.

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      – “If it does serve as a deterrence, then there you have your effect of criminalising homosexual acts upon others.” — er, yes… and this still doesn’t affect anyone except gay men.

      It affects other people by deterring them from homosexuality, that is how other people are affected.

      Like

      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        Errr, okay. Leaving aside the stupidity of the concept of being deterred from homosexuality, the people who will be deterred from having gay sex are… gay men. Similarly, those affected by removing 377A and hence its deterrent effect are… gay men. You have not shown how anyone else is affected either way by 377A.

        And I say again: You still have not refuted the original commenter’s point that the actual act criminalised by 377A does not hurt anyone else.

        Like

      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        First, not only gay man have homosexual sex. You can easily google the examples for yourself. Secondly, Then you are changing the terms of the discussion. First you said that the law only affects those who engage in the act, now you are talking about how it affects only gay man. Those are two very different things. We can agree that it does deter the act and thus have an affect upon other people, but that it affects only “gay man”, whatever sexual orientation is or means, is a highly contentious claim and a highly ambiguous category.

        Like

      • Jeremy Chen
        May 13, 2013

        I get an email notification flood… ‘Have a look at what the fuss is about and…

        Twisted and convoluted arguments to justify something that cannot otherwise be justified. Layering upon exceptions and amendments to straightforward laws serving no other purpose other than to reduce the damage of a questionable law with no real benefit.

        One strong indicator of this is that no one can reasonably claim damages should two (unmarried) men act consensually in contravention of S377A. We may also observe that no one can reasonably claim damages should two (unmarried) women act consensually in contravention of a female analogue of S377A.

        Your remarks are not philosophy but a poor attempt at sophistry.

        If you want to build a “rational” case for this do it without the convolutions. Suppose S377A did not exist, leaving the rest. Build a legal case for it. Good luck. Bonus points for not using the Torah.

        Like

      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        Well, you are entitled to your opinions on how my arguments are “twisted and convoluted”, etc and my remarks.

        But until you address the specific points, you aren’t really saying anything.

        Like

  12. passerby
    May 13, 2013

    (2) So you don’t think psychological damage is an effect?
    (3) But the victim in a case of gay rape is a latent criminal due to 377A. As for the married woman example, the difference is that adultery is not a crime. She faces the choice of reporting or risking her marriage; a gay man faces the choice of reporting or risking being prosecuted. There is a huge difference.

    Anyway, you’ve derailed the argument again. You still haven’t mentioned a single concrete example of how someone other than gay men can be affected by 377A. It’s rather sad how you resort to these diversionary tactics.

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      (2) As I said all crimes causes psychological damage, whether it is criminising homosexuality or murder. Should we therefore decriminalise murder simply because it psychologically affects or damages murders? The example is overkill and doesn’t specifically address the question of 377A in particular.

      (3) You are begging the question. If 377A is a legitimate deterrence then a gay man knowingly entered into a domestic gay relatonship knowing full well the consequences and choices which would be faced if he risked it, just as a married woman entering into an adulterous relationship knows full well the consequences and effects of it. That the effects are difference does not change the fact of the effects.

      I’m not sure how I’ve derailed the argument. If I have misunderstood you, it is up to you to clarify.

      Like

      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        (2) Yes, but in this case 377A causes psychological damage to people who are not themselves causing harm to others.
        (3) So you agree that 377A causes harm then, because it makes it harder for gay men to seek help.

        As for derailing:
        1. I commented here to point out that you did not address the point made by your interlocutor, on how the act criminalised by 377A hurts no one else.
        2. You have still not addressed this point. Instead, you want me to show what effects 377A’s continued existence has, go on tangents about adultery, etc.

        Like

    • passerby
      May 13, 2013

      L O L. That’s it, I’m done. You’re back to quibbling and pedantry. Sure, whatever, let’s rephrase your original interlocutor’s argument, as well as mine.

      “377A criminalises something that has no effect on anyone except men who want to have sex with men [and bigots].” In other words, it criminalises an act that does not affect anyone but the people involved in the act itself, and those thinking of committing the act.

      No harm is done to anyone.

      You still haven’t mentioned a single concrete example of how someone other than men who want to have sex with men can be affected by 377A.

      Like

      • Jeremy Chen
        May 13, 2013

        Hang around and see if he can build a rational case for S377A… I’d be interested to see if it’s possible… without assuming the Torah.

        Like

      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        First. What is harm?

        And I have already demonstrated how 377A affects other people, by deterrence. And then you perform a sleight of hand by saying that it wouldn’t affect anyone besides gay man, which is NOT the same claim. There is a difference between saying that,

        (1) 377A affects other people than those who actually have gay sex, (whether they are gay, bisexual or straight), they would all be equally persecuted under the law and thus they would be deterred from having gay sex

        (2) 377A affects only gay man.

        Those two claims are not the same and you are simply conflating them. I am still working with definition (1), that 377A does deter other people from having gay sex, which you don’t seem to deny, as you then slide into (2).

        How convenient to accuse me of pedantry when you are changing the terms of the debate halfway!

        Like

  13. Rubati
    May 13, 2013

    (2) Okay, so now you are changing the terms of the discussion from “effects” to “harm”. Who and what defines what harm is?

    (3) ALL criminal laws causes harm by definition, should we abolish all laws simply because it causes harm?

    As for derailing, you have subtlety changed the terms of the debate once more. Now you are changing from “effects” to “hurts” and “harms”, which isn’t the same thing.

    Like

    • Jeremy Chen
      May 13, 2013

      Since you want to be so pedantic…. Just propose a point of stasis and see if Mr/Ms Passerby agrees to it, then you may debate….

      Like

      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        The threading system here is strange and seems to prevent replies after a certain number in a row, so I can’t reply to your earlier comments. But thanks for commenting (and sorry you were flooded by notifications!).

        “Your remarks are not philosophy but a poor attempt at sophistry.” <- perfectly put. I don't think this Rubati guy is going to be able to build a "rational" case, alas…

        Like

  14. passerby
    May 13, 2013

    Let me put this as simply as possible.

    When people say “377A doesn’t affect anyone except gay men”, this is usually a reference to the idea that there is no good reason to criminalise something that does not cause harm.

    Thus, frankly, your point that it has a deterrent effect on men who want to have sex with other men is irrelevant.

    You need to show that gay sex causes harm.

    You have not done so.

    I am not obliged to show that the existence of 377A causes harm, though I have tried to do so above after you derailed the original discussion in that direction.

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      Good. At least now we are clear that when you say “effect”, you don’t actually literally mean “effects” or changes upon other people, but you mean “harmful” changes. Because this is how the OED actually defines “effects”, “a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause”.

      Unfortunately, harm is too vague a concept to deal with, (Physical harm? Medical harm? Social harm? Psychological harm?) and there is an entire philosophical discussion upon what exactly is harm. (Is harm whatever is not “good” or “right” for you? Do we then need a concept of the common good, etc? Flourishing perhaps in the Aristotelian sense? So are you harmed when you do something which is not good for you? Or is it just sensational pain, etc?)

      So, this might seem a cop out, but this discussion is sliding into another level altogether and we would be straying too far off topic to start discussing the questions of harm, utilitarianism, etc.

      I rather simply deal with the social realities directly than engage at such a meta-level.

      Like

  15. Jeremy Chen
    May 13, 2013

    Haha…

    So… How about we leave things at this until it is replied to?

    Q1. Suppose S377A did not exist, leaving the rest. Build a legal case for it. Good luck. (Revision…) Demerit points for using the Torah.

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      Read all the links i posted in this thread

      Like

  16. Jeremy Chen
    May 13, 2013

    Then it is not possible to do so in six sentences or less. And six is plenty.

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      I shudder at the thought of ANY legal case or judgement which is made in six sentences or less. I certainly hope no parliament or judge would ever make any decision on such shallow considerations.

      In any case where did you pull out the magic number six?

      Like

  17. Jeremy Chen
    May 13, 2013

    And you wonder why your claims are marked at attempts at sophistry.

    You reply to the challenge of building a reasonable case for S377A with “Read all the links i posted in this thread”.

    It may then be strongly inferred that you cannot do so in six sentences or less.

    That “six is plenty” is a statement that the majority of a reasonable case can be made in six lines or less. The rest is just dealing with special cases.

    So can it be done? (And clearly you can only truthfully reply “yes” with certainty if and only if you are able to retrieve the arguments from memory or some other source.)

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      Yes, I do still wonder as you haven’t demonstrated that it is an attempt at sophistry, and until you do, your comments don’t really mean much.

      That “six is plenty” is a statement that the majority of a reasonable case can be made in six lines or less. The rest is just dealing with special cases.
      So can it be done? (And clearly you can only truthfully reply “yes” with certainty if and only if you are able to retrieve the arguments from memory or some other source.)

      Excuse me, “six is a plenty” maybe such a statement of which you explained, but it does not follow that the statement is true. I flatly deny your statement that “the majority of a reasonable case can be made in six lines or less” and if you want to assert this, you prove it. And I also utterly reject your assertion that I can make a case in six lines or less IF AND ONLY IF I can retrieve the arguments from memory or some other source. I maybe able to retrieve the arguments from memory or from some other source, it does not entail that I can therefore make an argument in six lines or less. If you want to assert this IF AND ONLY IF, you prove this equivalence relation.

      Like

      • passerby
        May 13, 2013

        Translation:

        Jeremy Chen: Try to justify the existence of 377A

        Rubati: I can’t actually come up with a clear, coherent case in favour of having 377A, so I will refer you to my rambling posts about the meaning of marriage and nebulous ideas about what societal norms should be, instead of addressing your specific question. I will then latch onto some minor technical point about “six sentences” in an attempt to derail this thread with pointless quibbling.

        Like

      • Rubati
        May 13, 2013

        I have come up with a clear and coherent case in my links and “nebulous norms” and “meaning of marriage” does address the reason for 377A.

        The problem is that you only accept “harm” as the only rational justification for any law. But this is your *assumption* that the rationality of harm is the only form of public civic rationality.

        I can accept that you deny the significance of societal norms and the meaning of marriage, etc, but please, it is one thing to say you don’t accept societal norms and the meaning of marriage, it is another thing to reduce all public rationality to harm and reject other forms of rationality. There are more things in rationality than in the very narrow conceptual system of harm, which by the way, you yourself refuse to clarify.

        Perhaps “harm” is as nebulous as those societal norms you dismiss?

        Like

  18. Jeremy Chen
    May 13, 2013

    Please don’t waste time. You are only implicitly conceding the case. Zzzzzz…

    Like

    • Rubati
      May 13, 2013

      I guess it must be great comfort to simply assert that others are just conceding their cases without needing to prove it.

      Well, whatever works for you. 🙂

      Like

      • Colin
        July 11, 2013

        Hi, I came across your blog while doing research on 377a.

        It seems kinda contradictory for someone who believes in faith to insist on proofs. Why is that? If I told you that 1+1=2, you’re going to question that and ask for proof, similarly if I gave you a false equation, you’re going to question that too.

        The question here is why are you not insisting on the proofs of faith? It is likely that you have already come to accept what you have learnt. Now why does this not apply to other matters too? Ask yourself (and your faith) the questions as if you would with everything else. Question your choices, find out the reasons, and explore the possibility of having alternative solutions.

        If you’re thinking of saying that you’ve done this before, don’t. Just do it again. Have a little faith in what I’m saying.

        Like

      • Dominic
        July 11, 2013

        Hi Colin,

        I have an entire segment on my blog dedicated precisely to the questions of reasonings, proofs and evidences in relation to faith.

        Contained in this segment is over a dozen such articles which I invite you to peruse.

        https://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/faith-and-philosophy/

        Like

  19. Colin
    July 12, 2013

    I’m not going to say I’ve read everything, but I’ve read enough to know that you turn to convenient self-rationalization. Turning to scriptures to prove the existence of God is akin to quoting a line from “Peter and Wendy” and saying Peter Pan is real. It really makes no sense to me, but hey, if that’s what you believe, that what you believe right? I would like to say that as soon as one quotes the bible to prove the existence of God, you lost me.

    Meanwhile, I would love to discuss the issue of 377a with you but I’m not sure if you can pull religion aside from this matter. Would love to hear an alternate view though.

    Like

  20. Colin
    July 12, 2013

    Why do I feel like I’m talking to an answering machine? Regardless, I have read some of your posts. It is not easy finishing them when I question the rationale that started them off. Some of them are right, some of them are not wrong, and others need a bit more convincing.

    That said, I do however find a lack of personal touch in your posts and that is perhaps the reason why I’m reaching out. How we see the world is based on how we live it. Well, there is no harm in seeking knowledge and playing things out in the head, but I find it more meaningful to go out there and experience it.

    I remember when I was younger I was told that flames were hot and to stay away from it. I didn’t of course, put my hand in and felt the singe. You can call it stupidity to heed into danger despite the warning, but you know, sometimes more often than not, you’ll find it worthwhile.

    So if you’re willing to learn about 377a and its impact, I urge you to get out there, make some right friends who’re willing to illuminate you on how they feel about it.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 12, 2013

      Colin,

      Let’s be perfectly honest. I have no idea who you are, and you have no idea who I am, there is nothing personal about a comment box exchange and discussion, and my posts are meant to discuss the issues from an objective point of view independently of how we feel about it.

      If you really wanted to make this personal, you would have invited me out for a drink and I would be glad to interact with you on a personal level and truly get to understand a personal perspective. As it is, this is simply an internet blog, which is set up to discuss issues precisely from behind the veil of a somewhat abstract and public internet space.

      In short, if you really want to make this personal, all my more personal contact details are available here, otherwise, such appeals to “personalised” approach is quite frankly humbug, especially when you are telling a complete stranger, whom you have not made any effort to get to know personally, to be personal.

      Therefore, either stay on and engage the issues itself objectively, independently of concerns of subjective personalities, or invite me out for a drink. But don’t presume to give “personal advice” to complete strangers.

      Like

      • Colin
        July 12, 2013

        All I need to know is that you’re a human being and that’s all I really need to know. I mean no malice but I question because I want to understand.

        There is nothing personal about a comment box exchange because you’re just throwing links around. If I needed those answers, would you really think I wouldn’t look around for it? Objectivity can be subjective and right now that difference is apparent here. Also, I’m sorry if me reaching you out here doesn’t fall under your expectations of being personal enough. But if you’re so hung up about this whole stranger thing, why do you not feel threatened to share your thoughts here?

        Clearly, I become a “stranger” only when you’ve decided I am one. And I’m quite disappointed that you don’t see that commenting here requires concise thought and time, thus making sufficient effort for a “stranger”. You being so defensive (with the “you don’t know me, you don’t tell me what to do”) is probably the reason why I will stop pursuing this.

        I hope you start seeing the good in people, until then, it’s likely no one is going to ask you out for a drink.

        Like

      • Dominic
        July 12, 2013

        To say that you have no interest in knowing anything about me beyond the fact that I am a human being is hardly my idea of reaching out to me. Yes, congrats, you know that I am a human being and not a bot, now that’s really considerate of my subjectivity and being real personal to dismiss all my personal history and characteristics as irrelevant.

        I am not sure of the link between being hung up about the stranger thing and sharing my thoughts. Ideas are objective propositions after all that can be shared and believed by more than one person, I dont see anything subjective about them.

        As one as you continue to hide behind the veil of anonymity and not reveal any personal details about yourself, you are by definition a stranger to me. I dont have any problems with interacting with strangers who come to my blog simply to discuss the ideas here and not my person, but it is sheer humbug to criticise me for not being personal enough when all you’ve done is make no effort to know me personally (beyond causally reducing me to a mere generic “human being”) and simply lecture me about being personal and make all kinds of wild conjectures about my mental state (which of course you believe you can know without knowing anything about me beyond the fact that I am a human being)

        I have no idea what does seeing the good in people have to do with the idea that people are more than just their generic types and do possess individual and particular histories and personalities, but my offer remains the same, you can either remain behind and comment on the topics and issues itself, or you can make an attempt to reach out to me personally and not just as a member of a generic type by asking me out for a drink, until then, do as you please.

        But I have no real interest in your instructions to me or your postulates about myself made from the vacuum of ignorance about myself personally.

        Like

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