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

A Conversation on Pinkdot, Sexual Orientation, Discrimination and Marriage

The following was a conversation which I had with an LGBT advocate on the facebook group “We are against Pinkdot”

[…]

Me: To speak of whether sexual orientation, and by extension, homosexuality “causes” venereal diseases, is to admit that “sexual orientation” is a coherent enough concept possessing of sufficient substance to be a “cause” of anything. This, I deny and continue to maintain that “sexual orientation” is a recent social construct [see here for more]. I can only observe empirically determinable behaviour and compare it statistically with other phenomena. To speak of “causes” or sexual orientation as possessing some deeper and more fundamental reality, it needs to be much more concrete and coherent, and so far as far as I can tell, it is still an unintelligible mesh of various ideas from romanticism, postmodernism and pseudo-psychology clumsily glued together.

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LGBT: whether one argues tendencies or behaviour of any population, oer even whether it is socially constructed, you still cannot discount their rights of humanity. pink dot is about that. the right for everyone to live normal lives. help shift the balance for the “tendencies” to be reduced, not antagonizing a gathering that wants nothing but to be human. youth supported when bullied. adults maintaining their bread and butter. and of course, love.
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Me: No one is discounting the rights of humanity. The alleged category of “gays” as much as “straights” both equally possess the right to contract marriage with the opposite sex and both are equally forbidden from engaging in homosexual acts. The the self-identified “homosexuals” are not deprived of any rights which are given to the rest of the populace, and they are forbidden from the same things which the rest of the populace are. A “straight” person caught in a homosexual acts is as liable to be charged under 377A as a “gay” person, and a “gay” person has as much right to contract a marriage with the opposite sex as a “straight” person. sexual orientation has no relevance to the law [see more here].

But Pinkdot does not only advocates for rights of humanity and for everyone to live a normal life of entering a heterosexual marriage and starting a family, etc, which homosexuals already do. They are alledging something more than that, and I quote,

…From a young age, many LGBT Singaporeans struggle with self-acceptance. They know that they are *INHERENTLY *different from others, but they do not understand why. It doesn’t help that most of them have been told only one viewpoint by their parents, educators and society – that what they feel is wrong. Most LGBT Singaporeans are afraid to come out of the closet. This stems from a fear that the simple act of telling the truth can potentially pull them apart from the people that they love. As such, many of them live their lives dodging questions about their romantic life, hiding their *TRUE *selves from concerned family members and friends…

(Caps are mine)

It’s this idea that “sexual orientation” is some fundamental and absolute reality which is what is objectionable. Inherent where? True selves? Says who? And as long as Pinkdot continues to maintain that this as yet unsubstantiated “sexual orientation” is some absolute reality which we are all supposed to accept, as opposed to merely many discrete phenomenon and acts, then I must respectfully maintain my disagreement with Pinkdot.

LGBT: you would know heterosexuality is as unsubstantiated as homosexuality when it comes to “sexual orientation”. we are only coming to terms of defining it as recent as the early 19th century.

however, the message here is intended for lgbts, for what is inherent only in us, in ways only we can understand, in times where we are heavily pressured in a heterosexist society to normalize who WE ARE NOT. i wish there was pink dot for me when i was young. you do not want it. but many need it.

Me: I accept that “heterosexual” orientation is as much as [a] construct as “homosexual” orientation by deduction of rejecting the entire category [of sexual orientation] altogether. That’s why I keep emphasizing on discrete experiences and actions, not some mysterious hidden and unsubstantiated quality[,] empirically indiscernible somewhere within us.

As long as the concept of sexual orientation has yet to be “defined”, then there is no point discussing this concept, and even less exalting it as some “inherent” “truth”, etc. That which is yet to be defined cannot very well be used to define who we “are” or “are not”, etc.

As for sexual orientation being something only “we” can understand, this is of course absurd. If we cannot define what a sexual orientation is, then we can’t define the group of those within the categories of the sexual orientation, and we can’t tell who is this “we”, who’s in and who’s out. Otherwise if the “we” can expand anyway we please, we can simply expand the definition of “homosexuals” so broadly that they can engage in normal heterosexual sex and heterosexual marriage, etc.

And on that note, you might find this article interesting.

LGBT: i will read it later. however, your last paragraph is myopic in its view, it becomes that absurdity, especially when homosexuals are capable of having heterosexual sex and marriage. in fact, we are pressured to do so. my experiences are different than yours, whether you choose to define it or not. all i am asking from you is to focus on the individual experience, instead of the people of “empirical tendency”. hence, my statement that there is good and bad in everyone. just because there are pride marches, it does not mean all agree with them. good day.

Me: I would be happy to have a one-to-one chat and discussion about your individual experience if you decide to invite me for a cup of coffee. But we are not discussing your individual personal experience, we are talking about public policy and public statements, which is what Pinkdot is about. And as long as we are discussing on a *public* forum, obviously we are discussing *public* issues of common interest, not individual and personal experiences.

LGBT: But we should talk to the individuals. Public policy and statements affects individuals. And the personal individual experiences one goes through being lesbian or with gender identity disorder is impacted by such public sentiments.

Me: Well, I did offer to talk to you individually 🙂

Again, as for what are these “identities” as an abstraction, it is hard to say in vacuo, even less judge “order” or “disorder”, indeed many do alledge that homosexual acts are intrinsically “disordered”. But public laws and policies by definition are concerned with the whole, not the individual, which the individuals are to obey and conform to.

LGBT: FYI, same sex attraction and gender identity disorders are two distinct matters. And public law and policies are supposed to treat citizens equally and to protect them against discrimination, right? Perhaps you are closer to what we truly need as human beings than you think. 🙂

Me: As I’ve already pointed out, all citizens are already treated equally and possess all the same rights. There is no discrimination with regards to charging “straights” for homosexual acts or preventing gays from contracting marriage with the opposite sex, etc.

LGBT: The idea that law favours equality is itself a fraud. Laws are passed through politics and public sentiments. It is such, that even you realize, sodomy is now legal for straights, and not gays in Singapore. Though many gay men do no sodomy, the fact that these archaic laws were designed to persecute gays is in itself, discrimination. What more suggesting homosexual people to marry the opposite sex in a loveless marriage for a lifetime with someone they are not attracted to, while straights get to marry without any burden of explaining lack of procreation the way gay couples do. That is discrimination. I would even call it emotional victimization. And it is wrong and bad. 😦

Me: First, the idea that sodomy is legal for straights but illegal for gays is a confusion. As the Attoney General has already clarified with respect to 377a, the persecution is likewise applicable for straights who engage in the act as well, there is no discrimination as the law is consistently applicable to both groups.

Secondly, it might surprise you that marriage has nothing to do with being

in love. The marital contract or promise creates objective duties which

obliges the parties who adopt the promises unto certain actions or

performance. In short, it is the difference between vowing *to* love and promising to be “in” love. To love is an action, a performance, to be “in

love” is an internal subjective experience. Marriage as a legal and social institution is not concerned with your subjective experience of being “in

love” or “attraction”, etc. It is concerned with creating a system of obligations and duties based upon the promises so adopted. The marital

promises and duties continue to hold regardless of our internal state or experience, it continues to oblige us to fidelity and even, love each other

long after the couples have ceased to be *in* love or attracted to each

other. Thus, married couples may not sleep with anyone else except each

other, even if they are strongly attracted to someone outside of their

marriage or has ceased to be attracted to each other.

In short, marriage has nothing to do with being in love, it has to do with promises, obligations and duties. To love is an action, a duty, to be in love is a subjective experience.

And no marriage vows or promises can possibly oblige one another to be “in” love because it is not an action. No civil registrar or pastor ever asks whether you are “in” love or requires as a condition of the validity of the marriage that one be in love. What makes a marriage a marriage is the consent and assent to the marital promise and the obligations so entail, that is, a promise *to* love. But there is no vow or promise to be “in” love. I’ve explained this in further detail here.
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LGBT: i stand corrected if that is the case for 377A. however, i find your statement on marriage spot on, as you would realize now why marriage for gays is important, in addition to the performance of being in love, rather than being stuck in a loveless marriage. i am sure many are prepared for the responsibilities, and of course the protection marriage brings to spouses in the event of death or disability. i am saying that it has everything to do with being in love, because without that experience, finding the right partner to settle into the institution of marriage would be impossible. so i will have to part ways with you on that. as for a marriage duty, it is subjective, as when equality of gender is concerned, the journey is done together.
it is also troubling to find that you meant pastors would not ask couples to swear before God and His company that you will love, honor, cherish… i wonder where do you draw the line between what is “in” love when therein lies the promise. and as a woman who espouses every value of love according to the scriptures,as a person who sees her parents loving each other at 70 plus years old, i admit to feeling insulted that you reduce marriage to such lesser degree of value but just a contract of promises. but then again, that is another topic. for now, i am just happy that you understate marriage to the point that gays should also take up that responsibility and duty in marriage in fidelity and promise.
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Me: Well, it is not important whether you believe marriage to be about being “in love” or “to love”. The question is a very simple one. Is marriage a public, obligation, promise which entails concrete obligations or duties? If it is not, then the law is simply not concerned with it. The law by definition is only concerned with public and objectively determinable actions, but it simply has no ability to intrude into internal subjectivity which does not have any public test or meaning.

Here is another way of looking at it. In contract law, a promise which goes, “I promise to grant you such and such goods and services, provided I feel like it”, is not a real promise. The legal term is that it is a[n] “illusory promise”, a promise which does not contain any real obligations or duties, and which as such, has no meaning and which the courts cannot enforce and will simply ignore, because the promise goes not oblige but leaves the choice of performance to the person making the promise. It is on par to saying, “I promise to meet you at five o’clock, provided I feel like it” or “I promise to pay you $500 for this good, provided I am happy.” These are all illusionary promises and do not contain any real promises.

Now, recently Britain has passed legislation for same-sex marriage has encountered a problem. They have no definition of adultery or consummation. Thus, in the past, only objectively determinable “faults” are a proper grounds for a divorce and dissolution of the marital obligations, and courts cannot dissolve a marriage without proof of such “faults”, the most obvious one being adultery which action objectively offends against the promise to marital fidelity.

But a same-sex marriage simply has no definition of adultery, [thus rendering monogamy a meaningless idea. If you have no means of legally determining adultery, then you have no way of legally enforcing monogamy, effectively writing it out of the legal meaning of marriage]. [This] has lead to two problems. One, this means that same-sex couples can simply divorce upon a say-so, if I am simply not happy with my partner. As should be obvious, this collapses into the problem the illusory promise. A same-sex marriage effectively becomes a promise to be married, provided I feel like it or am happy. It is a promise which has no real obligations, which duties can simply be dissolved upon a say-so or “feel like it”. The second problem is simply that the promise to sexual fidelity has no legal or public meaning, because there is no legal or public meaning as to when is this promise violated. The law has a very explicit empirical definition of adultery (penetration is penetration is penetration…), but there is simply no such definition for same-sex couples. As such, the promise of sexual fidelity for same-sex couple simply has no public meaning or contents, and as such, is actually legally and socially meaningless. [You can read more about it here.]

The long and short of it is simply, as far as marriage as a promise and contract is concerned, it is technically impossible with same-sex relationships, and is nothing more than an illusory contract, because a same-sex marriage does not contain any objective promises or obligations, by virtue of the fact that it has no objective meaning to adultery. You can read more about it here.

And I didn’t say that pastors will not make married couples take an oath TO love, I only say that pastors do not make them take an oath to be IN love.

And I’ve no idea why you say that saying that promises constitutes the essence of a marriage is “reducing” it. The promise is it’s glory, the obligation which binds transcending the various conditions which the couples could suffer, even that of their affections growing cold, is a glorious and wondrous thing. That’s what being faithful and keeping fidelity means, sticking to your word and honouring it, even if you don’t feel like it or even if it causes you much unhappiness and suffering.

LGBT: Machina, I already stated that TO love, one needs to be IN love first. And I already stated that I must part ways with you because you did in fact reduce marriage to a mere paper of promises, duties and obligations, instead of focusing on the values that come before marriage itself.

Again, that is insulting to me.

I part ways with you also because you already come from a bias position of implying gays need to justify marriage via ability to “penetrate” and to commit adultery to have the marriage, and this proves your intentions of appealing to the negative instead of the positive when it comes to gay marriages.

Yet, marriage and divorce is very much a heterosexual issue.

“The promise is it’s glory, the obligation which binds transcending the various conditions which the couples could suffer, even that of their affections growing cold, is a glorious and wondrous thing. That’s what being faithful and keeping fidelity means, sticking to your word and honouring it, even if you don’t feel like it or even if it causes you much unhappiness and suffering.”

Your paragraph here calls this “glory”. In human terms, it is called heading for divorce.

Yet I have no doubt that you would give heterosexuals the same stick when it comes to divorce. However, your constructed views on marriage, while very much objective, does not appeal to the masses.

Especially when people can get married and null it within days even though they met each other for one day. Some gay couples have been together for more than 50 years and will never have the chance to be married… because they died waiting.

So marriage to you is an objective legality to bind a promise TO love. I get it. Just do not expect much people to agree with it.

Again, I part ways with you on this, simply because you view marriage to a lesser degree than the relationship that comes with it. Allow me to express some disturbance with your opinion. But alas, it is yours and I respect your stand anyways.

PS – Though I feel sickened by some of your views, you kept this conversation objective and logical. I just feel I need to thank you for that, because in a wider society, people just do not know how to discuss issues with critical thinking anymore. So I do really appreciate your reasoning and intellectual discourse. Thanks. 🙂

Me: Well, I do flatly deny that you need to be “in love” “to love”. For centuries people have been married by arranged marriages, even to people whom they have never met until their wedding day, which practice continues to this day in many cultures. Such marriages have been for the most part contented, and in some cases, happy, although admittedly there are some which are unhappy, but then again, compared to our “romance-based” model of marriages, I can’t say that there is any empirical evidence that romance-formed marriages are superior to arranged marriages even in terms of “happiness”. While we may feel reticent about arranged marriages for ourselves simply because we’ve adapted and adopted to our Western “romantic” ideas, but we should not confuse a lack of historical imagination for an insight into a social institution. As our Minister Mentor once said on when his wife died, In the West, you marry those whom you love, in the East, you love those whom you marry.

Again I fail to see why noting the facts about the social and legal institution of marriage should be “insulting”. I make no value judgements here, I did not say which one is superior or inferior or whatever, I simply speak of empirical facts and entailments. From this point, I fail to see what does being “negative” or “positive” have to do about my argument against gay marriages. It is a simple social, legal and empirical fact that adultery do constitute an offense against the promises of marriage (unless of course, you want to talk about classical antiquity where married men are allowed to sleep with prostitutes and that is not considered a ground for divorce!) The point is not about focusing on the good or bad, but simply asking what does a marital promise to sexual fidelity mean in the context of a same-sex marriage, and does it have the same promises, duties and obligations as a heterosexual marriage? The answer is simply, no. We are speaking about an empirical institution with empirical effects, that is all. Nothing to do with positives or negatives or whatever.

Well, I do not know what the masses think as I haven’t conducted any surveys on their views of divorce, marriage, and what love is, etc, but now THIS is a true case of argumentum ad populum, trying to validate or invalidate something by an appeal to the opinions of the masses. The empirical effects and consequences of a policy, unfortunately, isn’t subject to a democratic vote. No amount of democratic will can ever produce a definition of adultery for same-sex marriages, nor can they provide any empirical substance to the promises of marital fidelity in same-sex marriage. The demos, are constrained by empirical reality.

LGBT: I already rest my case against your need to demonstrate an empirical reality that excludes gays from marriage instead if helping them solve the problems of definition they have.
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Me: Well, not all problems are solvable by virtue of the conditions of empirical reality, which you seem to despise so much. Not all desires or human fantasies can be fulfilled,  no matter how much we want it. I can no more defy the laws of gravitation than can any society come up with a stable and objectively determinable definition of gay adultery.
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LGBT: well, you can parade your “empirical” reality speech all you wish. society is progressing, the sun no longer empirically move around the earth, indigenous people exist, blood of jewish people are as normal as you and me, and more people in the world are seeing gays as just people with emotional needs to love and to be love in equivalence to straights, not a social construct made out of desires and fantasies. you can stay looking for your definition of gay adultery as society slowly progresses to define just that, so that when given marriage, gays can have the responsibility to be faithful, and prove they are not just in for the fun of it.

you will continue this conversation so long as you find absolution in yourself. i gave up on this conversation when you mentioned that part about how ‘in the west, you marry those whom

you love, in the east, you love those whom you marry.”

there are no contracts in the east until the idea came out from the west. and there were no gay marriages then, but now more countries are affording couples in relationships the respect they deserve. i take back my kind words. empirical reality for you.

Me: The concept of “progress” of course depends upon the destination which we are supposed to be “progressing” towards. Needless to say, we are not going to agree on the destination, a movement from the point of view of one’s destination maybe considered to be progress would be from the point of view of another destination may be considered to be regress. And you do not know that history is linear, it could be cyclical for all you know and we maybe “progressing” towards a future which has already occurred before. After all homosexuality had already existed in classical Greek and Roman times before they collapse and fall before the hordes which crushed them, and history cycles back unto itself…

You speak much of this vague generic “progress”, conflating changes in scientific advancements (which ironically is firmly based on empirical reality and observation you despise so much) with changes in legal and social norms, but yet you still have no engaged the actual point which I’ve raised, merely proclaiming your faith in an some vague and unsubstantiated and undefined hope with the same air and certainty which a religious oracle would prophesy about some unseen or unverified future.

If indeed sexual orientation isn’t a mere “social construct”, then that’s up to you to define and demonstrate its substance, of which you have so far made very little attempt to do so.
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And it is very odd that you would conflate being able to marry with “respecting” people, when LGBT advocates in previous decades have rejected the institution of marriage as merely an oppressive bourgeois institution which restrains the free flow of their desires and love, etc. Odd also in that you think that the married state is somehow more respectable than the single state, etc.
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As for gays can have the responsibility to be faithful and just want the opportunity to be married, maybe you need to keep up with what they are saying about marriage here.
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And the east has no contracts? You need to read some history, not make wild postulate about ancient cultures. Furthermore, you may disagree with the words of LKY, but you haven’t refuted it, and it is rather narrow to dismiss a form of culture and marriage whih has sustained some of the greatest civilisations for centuries. If it is narrow to despise other cultures separated merely by space, it is also likewise as bigoted to simply dismiss cultures separated by time in favour of some chronological superiority. The past, as it is said, is a foreign land.
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It may actually surprise you, but I really do not care for your “kind words” or otherwise. I am concerned with the truth and the facts, and shockingly, reality and I am happy to engage your points and your arguments. But if you aren’t interested in actually engaging my points and rather spend your time speaking prophesies and venting your emotions, I simply have nothing more to add.
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LGBT: i already have nothing more to add. i rest my case since yesterday when it was obvious you intended to argue from an absolutist position and you are not willing to engage in any factual discussions with anyone unless it falls back to your “empirical reality” that conforms to your ill-view of people with a sexual orientation differing than yours. perhaps a little more reading instead of cheery-picking sentences and news clippings would suit more for you; alas you already have subject bias to discussions about gay people, you would push for every negative you could muster, even tacitly implying rome and greece fell because of homosexuality, even though history says otherwise. again, you can stay in your empirical reality. lgbts know who they are. the question is whether you really want to know them or not. chances are you do not wish to. good day. 🙂
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Me: It is strange that you would accuse me of arguing from an absolutist position when you are the one who maintains the concept of “sexual orientation” as some absolute reality rather an a fluid and ambiguous concept and social construct subjected to shifting ideas, etc. And when I refute this absolute concept I am accused of being absolute.

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We all argue from a point of view, and whether my point of view is “ill” is precisely the point of contention, you cannot take as your premise what is supposed to be your conclusion, you are supposed to prove that my point of view is indeed “ill” formed, not merely assert it. Of course I think your point of view is wrong and you think mine is, why else would we be disagreeing, the point is to demonstrate why it is so, not merely assert it. Of course we are all biased towards our own points of view, why else would we believe in our views unless we already believe it to be true? Do you know of anyone who willfully believes in what they think is false?
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And furthermore, I cannot differ from people whose sexual orientation is not the same as mine if sexual orientation is an unyet undefined and fluid concept. And if you persist in refusing to define it, then I will do it for you and in such an open way that I would be also “gay” and therefore refute your claim that I have a different sexual orientation.
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You can check out anytime you like, but as long as you respond, I will likewise. 🙂
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[And that’s all folks. If you want to read more you can always go to this segment on my blog]
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[Update: Throughout this conversation, I’ve denied that sexual orientation is a substantive coherent concept and that instead it is rather fluid and ambiguous. I would like to give an example of this ambiguity which I’ve cited in one of my posts, to get us thinking about this concept.
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…there is an interesting class of gay pornography known as “Straight Guys for Gay eyes”, which consists exclusively of heterosexual sex, but catered for a gay audience. Thus the videos mostly focus upon the guy instead of the girl in these types of pornography and are recorded for the pleasure of gay audiences. But herein is the curious thing, according to my friend definition, if being gay means to want or desire to have sexual intercourse with a person of one’s own gender, or even to take sexual pleasure in it, then technically, there can be no such pornography. That is, technically it is impossible for there to be “Straight Guys for Gay Eyes” because by definition no gay will ever want to watch a guy have straight sex. But that there does exists such porn would force this either-or:

(1) Having a “gay” sexual orientation is compatible with desiring, appreciating and even taking pleasure in a straight sexual intercourse and relationship. Therefore “sexual orientation” merely defines the bodily form or physique which one appreciates or takes pleasure in [that is, one’s own], but does not by itself define the sort of sexual relationship one desires.

(2) Homosexuality by definition must be restricted and confined to those who desire gay relationships AND gay intercourse, not merely take sexual pleasure or appreciation for the bodily form or physique of one’s own sex. Thus, there cannot possibly be such a thing as gays who want to watch guys have heterosexual sex! Those people are not gay!

I am not interested one way or another in wrangling over the meaning of the word “gay” or “homosexuality”. The point is simply to note that the category and concept of “sexual orientation”, especially in relation to “sexual desire”, is in fact more ambiguous then we think, denoting more of a range of attitudes and mindset rather than a “fixed” course or “desire”, and might actually be more fluid than we imagine it to be.

You can read the rest of the argument here.]

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8 comments on “A Conversation on Pinkdot, Sexual Orientation, Discrimination and Marriage

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 24 Jul 2013 | The Singapore Daily

  2. God
    July 24, 2013

    Seemingly-polished pompous Bigotry. Please use social media responsibly. There are significantly more worthy causes to fight for. Can’t believe such nonsense still exist in this day & age. Social media is not the right medium for such conversations.

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 24, 2013

      Using “social media responsibly” would be to justify your claims and your condemnations, rather than to simply assert that you disagree with them in such “colourful” terms.

      It is one thing to disagree, it is another thing to provide reasons and evidence, you’re so far long on opinions and short on arguments and justifications.

      Like

    • God
      July 24, 2013

      Not worth my time getting into such a conversation that was quite pointless and would only spread more hate in the first place.

      Like

  3. God
    July 24, 2013

    I didn’t even finish reading the whole thing becos barely mid-way, I realized this is just rubbish

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 24, 2013

      Haha, you must be truly God to know that something is rubbish before you’ve finished reading it. You can judge something before learning what it is. 🙂

      Like

  4. God
    July 24, 2013

    No thanks, better things to focus on, pls stop spreading hate, I’m sure God wouldnt be too proud of that

    Like

    • Dominic
      July 24, 2013

      I would rather let God speak for himself, He doesn’t need you to help him tell me what he feels. Unless of course, you really do claim to be God. 🙂

      As for spreading “hate”, your description of my writings is no doubt the epitome of charity, grace and love. Good job on stemming the tide on hate. 🙂

      Like

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This entry was posted on July 24, 2013 by in Philosophy of Marriage, Sexuality, The Civics of Marriage and tagged .
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