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Deconstructing the Majority

Posted by theonlinecitizen on October 24, 2007

By Benjamin Cheah

The ‘silent majority’ has finally spoken. Its representative is ‘The Majority’, a group that intends to prevent the repeal of Section 377A.

The Majority argues that the retention of Section 377A is necessary, to preserve moral values.

It is a reaction to the ongoing efforts to abolish Section 377A; therefore, the burden of proof is on the Majority to show why Section 377A must be retained, and its arguments must prove superior to the ones cited by the abolishment movement.

Yet, when held up to the light of critical analysis, the Majority’s case falls apart. It is a meshwork of logical fallacies, underpinned by a single nonexistent argument: repealing S377A is somehow in the interests of the majority.

For the purposes of this essay, I shall refer to the material at www.keep377a.com, and approach each section as it appears.

The first fallacy

The first fallacy is the bandwagon fallacy. This can be seen in the statistics the site quotes. That statistic is from a Nanyang Technological University study, which states that nearly 70% of Singaporeans have ‘expressed negative attitudes’ towards the homosexual community. This, then, is the ‘majority’ the Majority appeals to, and the ‘majority’ it gets its name from. This is wrapped up in a series of fallacies, which I shall examine in sequence.

The first is appeal to belief. These statistics suggest that the majority of the people believe that there is something wrong about homosexuality, expressing it as ‘negative attitudes’. Thus, this moral conservatism is justified. Therefore, Section 377A must be preserved to maintain such moralities.

This is a fallacy, because popular belief does not lead to something being right or wrong. It merely means that so many people, in this case, expressing ‘negative attitudes’ towards homosexuality. Popular support does not strengthen or undermine an argument, because the argument in itself is not analyzed. The Majority has not analyzed the arguments behind abolishing Section 377A; using statistics as a bludgeon cannot logically scratch that case.

Moral high ground

The Majority has claimed the moral high ground, through the use of statistics. Common moral values do not support an argument, as ‘morality’ is not objective or logical.

Consider this example: many people view prostitution as immoral, yet prostitution is legalized in many countries, including Singapore, Denmark and Australia. This is because such an act would, among other things, ensure the protection of prostitutes by exposing their trade to the light, making it more difficult for unscrupulous pimps and gangsters to operate, and offering ways of legal redress for victimised prostitutes.

The protection of prostitutes from harm is rooted in reality, because of the tangible benefits of reducing the exploitation of women and men, and therefore injury of whatever sort. The claim that prostitution is seen as immoral, and is not supported by the majority, does not affect this one iota, because it does not address the issue.

In the same vein, claiming that homosexuality is immoral does not address the fact that a portion of the population is facing discrimination under Section 377A, simply for not having the same sexual orientation as anyone else. The Majority needs to present concrete arguments to keep S377A, but it has not.

Statistics in and of themselves cannot be projected to mean something. Saying that 70% of people do not approve of homosexuality simply means that 70% of the people do not approve of homosexuality. It does not follow that it must mean Section 377A must be retained.

It is like saying that God must exist, because 90% of Americans believe in God. God can only possibly exist if He were proven to exist; He cannot be brought into existence just because so many people think so. For that matter, statistics cannot be indicative of the population, because they do not cover everybody.

NTU’s survey tried to simulate the population of Singapore, but it only covers 1000 people, which is 0.025% of the population of Singapore. It is little more than an incomplete picture of society, which is then extrapolated to mean that everybody possesses the same properties of the statistical sample. This, clearly, is illogical.

Hasty generalisation

This brings me to the second logical fallacy: the hasty generalisation. This means that the sample size of any given survey is too small to represent the whole. The statistics show that 0.0175% of the population has negative sentiments towards homosexuality. Therefore, the report concludes, 70% of the entire population of Singapore must have the same characteristics.

I do not see how 0.025%, much less 0.0175%, of the people must represent the entire population.

The statistics simply show that 70% of 1000 people have expressed ‘negative attitudes’ towards homosexuality. That is all there is to it. Statistics should therefore not be the basis of any argument; they are, at best, supporting actors.

“Appeal to tradition”

The third logical fallacy is known as ‘appeal to tradition’. It states that as something is traditional or old, it must automatically be correct. Here, the Majority argues that the current moral values are conservative, meaning that these values are inherited from the past and are resistant to change, so the people cannot accept the abolishment of Section 377A.

It further postulates that the population is not ready for it. Conservative moral values do not matter, because they do not affect whether Section 377A needs to go. Repealing Section 377A is an act aimed against tradition; it logically extends to an act against traditional morality itself. Citing conservative morality to support the maintenance of conservative morality is not an argument.

The Majority’s argument that the people are not ready for, and cannot accept, change is flawed. It is not that the people cannot accept change, rather that the Majority would not accept it. They would not accept it, because of their moral values. It assumes and asserts that their moral values trump all others, including the principle of non-discrimination of homosexuals.

The Majority, in fact, would not even specify what ‘traditional’ and ‘conservative’ moral values are, providing no reference for their argument.

The population would never be ready for the acceptance of alternative sexualities by themselves, because they would not change their moral values so easily. They need an impetus to change, in this case knowledge of action in favour of this, before they can be ready, if ever. Repealing Section 377A is that impetus. There is no legitimate reason that the Majority cannot accept the abolishment of Section 377A, because no harm would come from the abolishment of Section 377A, which I shall move on to next.

Appeal to fear

The fourth logical fallacy is termed ad baculum, meaningappeal to fear’. In this context, this can be seen in the claim that repealing Section 377A is bad, because doing so would harm our children and erode ‘wholesome family values’, and lead to all sorts of other unpleasant effects. This is illogical, because of the subjectivity and vagueness of ‘wholesome family values’, because it is implicitly designed to appeal to a personal belief that one must protect one’s children against harmful influences, and because it does not affect the argument for repealing Section 377A.

‘Wholesome family values’ are centred on the assumption that a ‘good’ family is the traditional stereotype of, among other things, two heterosexual couples, a few children, and adherence to the ‘conservative morality’ matrix. This is not ‘wholesome’; this is bigotry. It refuses to see other alternatives to this family model, like single parenting or single-sex homosexual parents, by decrying them as ‘immoral’.

It is also predicated on the belief that there is something wrong with mainstreaming the homosexual lifestyle. This is manifested in the Majority’s claim that repealing Section 377A would erode ‘family values’, without elaborating why this would be so.

It is simply an attempt to impose a pre-defined version of sexuality on the broad categories of sexuality. This leads to discrimination and oppression, because it refuses to accept that there are other versions of sexuality, such as homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality, and is used to justify actions to oppress people who exist outside this definition, like imprisonment for homosexual sex acts between men. That is evident in the existence of Section 377A.

Furthermore, there are no negative tangible consequences to begin with. The site argues that repealing Section 377A must mean that there would be “calls to specify the minimum age for consensual homosexual sex; a public education system that teaches acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle under the banner of ‘tolerance’; the redefinition of marriage to include (gay) civil unions and same-sex marriages, and to extend marriage and parenthood benefits to them; and adoption by same-sex parents”. I do not see anything negative in this.

Minimum age for consensual sex leads to the protection of minors from sexual predators through coercion or temptation, as minors are deemed as too immature to decide on consent for sexual intercourse, so it is the duty of the State to protect them from criminals.

That either or both of the parties involved happens to be homosexual is irrelevant, because sexual orientation is not the point of having a minimum age. Teaching acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle does, in fact, encourage tolerance. It encourages students to broaden their minds and accept people for who and what they are, in the field of sexuality, thereby reducing the social stigma of having a different sexual orientation and any justification of oppression based on sexual bigotry.

The redefinition of marriage and the extension of benefits is simply a logical extension of the recognition that sexuality, and therefore love, exists in separate categories, and not in binary opposition between heterosexuality and homosexuality. It sends a message that the State is recognizing such people as citizens, with the right to marriage, regardless of sexuality, because marriage is essentially a commitment to human beings to love and support each other for their lives. Sexuality is a side issue.

Adoption by same-sex parents poses no harm, because there is no documented proof that doing so leads to significant deficiencies. The issue behind adoption is not same-sex parents, but simply parenthood. If the adoptive parents are loving and caring, then one can reasonably expect the child to fare better than if the child were to live under abusive foster parents, regardless of sex. If this were the end result of mainstreaming the homosexual lifestyle, then there is all the more reason to push for it.

The end result of the above consequences, the Majority argues, is “the modification of core family values and the family unit as we know it”. This argument is founded on the belief that traditional moral values are superior, and should be therefore upheld, never mind that there is no justification of it to begin with. There are no moral phenomena, only moral judgments.

The above-described effect merely signals a change in moral judgment, and therefore moral values, with no further effects. This is, again, an appeal to tradition, in addition to this appeal to fear. The burden of proof is on the Majority to show why there is something wrong with this. That the Majority has not provided that burden means that it has just committed the fallacy of appealing to fear.

The slippery slope

The fifth logical fallacy is the slippery slope fallacy. The Majority argues that repealing Section 377A would automatically lead to the above-mentioned changes. I have already dealt with those changes; so I shall deal with this assumption.

Repealing Section 377A does not automatically lead to so many actions. They require a push from the gay rights movement, and ultimately a Parliamentary decision, before this can happen in Singapore. Each step is linked to each other, insofar as they are about the same issue, but occur independently: the repeal of Section 377A does not automatically lead to so many things happening, or even just one of them occurring.

An agent must first take action; removing that agent would stop the action. It is akin to saying that allowing bar-top dancing would lead to jealousy and then assaults, never mind that you need a jealous boyfriend or man who may not be around, and who is aggressive and foolhardy enough to start a fight. Even if the slippery slope fallacy were an argument, then it is an argument in favour of repealing S377A, because it is the first step to the positive effects I have described above.

False causation

The sixth logical fallacy is false causation. The Majority states, “S377A is a reflection of the sentiments of the majority of society”. This is not true. Section 377 was implemented in Singapore in 1872 by the British colonial administration. Section 377A, in particular, was implemented in 1938. Both sections were absorbed into the Singapore Penal Code in 1955 unchanged. If it were a reflection of something, it is the reflection of the sentiments of the British colonial masters.

The laws were written by the British, and implemented by the British colonial powers. It was absorbed into the Penal Code while Singapore was still a British colony, and under the influence of the British.

S377A is not a reflection of the majority of society; therefore, the Singaporean people’s opinions on homosexuality did not lead to the implementation of S377A. It merely agrees with the so-called majority view. This ‘reason’, then, is clearly not a reason. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, Section 377A must actually be repealed. Section 377A was a reflection of British opinion at that time. From 1967 to 2003, the British took measures to liberalise their sexual offences laws, culminating in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which is gender-neutral. The British have let go of this bigotry; since S377A was a reflection of British opinion, then by the Majority’s logic, S377A should go.

The “Straw Man”

The seventh logical fallacy is the straw man fallacy. The Majority insists, “Sexual preference is not about civil rights and has nothing to do with equality or tolerance.” It implicitly argues that the whole issue is simply about mainstreaming the homosexual lifestyle. The Majority has, in that one sentence, dismissed the arguments put forth for the repeal of Section 377A.

Section 377A justifies discrimination and intolerance of homosexuals, among others, based on a morality that is being overturned. There exists no reason to lawfully punish people just because they are attracted to the same sex. Repealing S377A returns to homosexuals the right to non-discrimination on any grounds, and is the first step to acceptance and tolerance of homosexuals as citizens and human beings.

The Majority does not see that, instead framing it as a matter of ‘mainstreaming the homosexual lifestyle’, which clearly has no relevance to the real issues behind repealing S377A. Further, S377A does not merely affect male homosexuals. It affects male bisexuals as well; who are people who are attracted to members of the same sex, and who just happen to be male. In essence, S377A proscribes punishment for any male who has sex with another man, which is how bisexuals may choose to have sex. Again, the Majority has distorted the issue, and calls that distortion an argument.

Deep-rooted moral and sexual bigotry

These seven logical fallacies conceal a deep-rooted moral and sexual bigotry. From analysis of the above, it can be inferred that the Majority refuses to see that ‘conservative morals’ are simply personal subjective beliefs that no man or state has the right to impose on another.

It does not see that majority conservative moral opinion alone has no impact on something concerning equality and tolerance. It has provided no conclusive arguments to support the status quo, apart from saying that the status quo is the status quo, and something inarticulately horrible would happen if it were changed.

It refuses to acknowledge that sexuality is not a binary opposition of heterosexuality and homosexuality, with a logocentrism favouring the former. It cannot see that sexuality is merely a blanket term describing categories of sexual behaviour, which can only be broadly covered in the words ‘homosexuality’, ‘bisexuality’, ‘heterosexuality’, and ‘asexuality’, each with markedly different sexual preferences.

Instead, the Majority has coated over ‘sexuality’ and insists on imposing its simplistic view of sexuality on the people, through calling for the retention of Section 377A. The Majority, most of all, does not seem to accept that other interpretations of morality and sexuality exist, instead insisting that its view must be the right one. It argues that Section 377A must be preserved for the future of their children and country, yet the only real reason that they support S377A is because it preserves and justifies their logocentrism.

This is not morality; this is bigotry.

The Majority opinion has fallen. Outside its bigotry, it never had a real reason to oppose the repeal of Section 377A. Therefore, I see no reason to support its cause.

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53 Responses to “Deconstructing the Majority”

  1. retro said

    A well written article. But it sounds too much like “debate” materials.

    You mentioned that legalizing homosexuality would not harm family values. Sounds ok, until one sits down to ponder over how you would really feel if your parents are both men, and sharing the same bedroom.

    Of course you would say that having 2 fathers would not be a problem for you, but do you really think that most children in that situation would not feel a sense of shame and regret ? So much for family values.

  2. a kentang said

    personally, i find that invoking the whole gay marriage/gay adoption issues is colluding the debate because, put simply, those aren’t the issues at hand. so the argument you provide against the appeal to fear seems alittle flawed. (plus, while it is speculation to take Retro’s side and claim that a child would necessarily feel shame/regret, it is also speculation to say that it’ll all be fine). I’m more inclined to agree with your analysis of these arguments as “slippery slope” reasoning.

    Also for the false causation: saying that the law reflected the colonial administration then doesn’t necessarily, unfortunately, mean that it isn’t the attitude now, at least of a *possible* majority of the population.

    As a friend pointed out to me: in ethics, majority and minority arguments are really besides the point. Which makes it a problem really, since both sides are arguing from different ethical frameworks (Homosexuality as inherently wrong and harmful and to be suppressed; Homosexuality as not wrong and thus to be treated equally). Still, here it might be helpful to remember a stunningly wonderful piece of logic i read on an online pdf of a talk by Thio Su-Mien: “It is intolerant to call someone else intolerant”, and to both err on the side of kindness.

    the talk is accessible at:

    http://www.oursafehaven.com/events/Homosexuality-Myths_And_Truths.pdf

    i quoted her comment from page nine.

  3. MadHatter said

    Debating the issue of majority vs Majority aside, does anyone find it funny that, on one hand, while we’re hardly getting any public opposition to abolishing the article, it’s being decided that the “majority” prefers things this way while, in the recent furore over the casino, sorry, integrated resort, there was significantly much public outcry but never once was the “majority” view ever part of the discussion?

  4. Andrew Loh said

    Madhatter,

    My own belief is that the whole foundation of the anti-gay camp using the so-called “majority” line of defence is just a lot of smokescreen. I, like many others, have not seen any substantive arguments from their side – except a lot of slippery slope arguments which themselves stand on very wobbly grounds.

    The Penal Code is a set of laws which we all live by. Thus, to me, it cannot be used as just “signpost” and worst, for the govt to declare quite publicly that they will not enforce it.

    I think it makes an ass of the laws – laws which we live by.

    As even PAP MP Hri Kumar, Baey Yam Keng, the Law Society and Prof Michael Hor have said, section 377A is inconsistent with the law.

    As such, the govt must repeal it.

    If they want to adopt “signposting” they should use other means – as they do in many other instances, prostitution for example.

    It is really sad that despite being shown to be totally incompatible with our laws, the govt is retaining S377A.

    To me, it is a cop-out. Taking the easy way out.

    That “inclusive society” declaration has just been shown to be nothing but hot air. “Based on justice and equality” is nothing but just mere words.

    But there is one hope for pro-gay campaigners, however. As Lee Kuan Yew said not too long ago, if there is an economic imperative to change the law, the govt will.

    That means, if legalising homosexuality can bring in the money, the govt will do it.

    It’s been proven – especially with the casinos, strip dancing and F1 Races.

    Money talks – that’s how low we have sunk.

    Morality? Don’t kid ourselves.

  5. sick of all this shit said

    Retro says
    “Of course you would say that having 2 fathers would not be a problem for you, but do you really think that most children in that situation would not feel a sense of shame and regret ? So much for family values.”

    This kind of mindset is exactly what the article addresses- the type that is created by religiousity and not based on reality and rights of the individual.That sense of shame will only occur if the person is indoctrinated in Judeo Christian traditions and its inherent condemnation of homsexulaity. If society is accepting of such a same sex family then no discrimination would occur and thus no sense of shame. That sense of shame is created and foisted on such a family unit by people with a narrow view of the world.

  6. Dr Koh said

    Hello all,

    This is certainly a derisive and controversial topic. All I can say is this: both parties have tried to debate on merit, but
    they have missed the point by a good 10 miles.

    The only people who wrote very competently abt the subject was that chappy darkness from the brotherhood press. I dont know where the 377A, they wrote disappeared too or even what happened to the website. But I am sure, if you go to the Singapore Daily or the Intelligent Singaporean, you will definitely find it.

    Many thanks and its good to see there is a healthy and robust ventilation of issues – however, pls keep the mood light and cordial.

    Do have a pleasant day.

  7. Dr Koh said

    Hello,

    I am sorry, I feel the need to state that I do not agree with Mr Siew Kum Hong position, who tabled a petition asking for the law’s repeal, as much as I like to believe he thought the matter through, I dont think he really appreciates the corner stone issues. Thanks.

  8. Dr Koh said

    If post (5) is blocked pls delete all my post as a matter of principle, I do not condone selective censorship. I hope you will understand, this remains my right, many thanks for respecting it.

  9. cc said

    Comment (6) is so whatever! Its not as if you made a controversial point in comment (5), so please don’t think too highly of your posts.

  10. Joel said

    Turds.

    The cornerstone issues in this matter are about discrimination and stupidity. I’d rather sit at and appreciate the other side of the table, not much thinking through required, thanks.

    I firmly believe that the Penal Code doesn’t exist to tell us what the majority of Singaporeans believe or feel is right. Majority-minority issues shouldn’t be relevant here but are, simply because they are convenient for those who know they’re on the lame side of things. And maybe most people are hesistant about gay rights because of a collusion of issues- the issues at hand are never at hand.

  11. Dr Koh,

    Your post was not blocked by us. It was caught in the spam control mechanism which WordPress employs in all its blogs. This happens sometimes.

    You were not censored.

    Calm down. 🙂

    Regards.

  12. Linus said

    “It is a reaction to the ongoing efforts to abolish Section 377A; therefore, the burden of proof is on the Majority to show why Section 377A must be retained…”

    Section 377A is currently part of the Penal Code. Shouldn’t the burden of proof be on those calling for the section to be repealed, i.e. those challenging the status quo?

  13. Alan Wong said

    Simply put, those passionately advocating for the retention of 377A were just plain DISHONEST and UNPROFESSIONAL by masquerading behind our “majority conservative” society to achieve their hidden agenda.

  14. xpy said

    The statistic part is wrong. Explaining statistic is going to be a chore, but as a student from that school in question, taught by the lecturers in question, i assure you that my entire school is fuming mad at how the statistic is misquoted.

    It is indeed a majority and the sample is representative of the singapore population. the issue at hand is that the report which is cited is suppose to demonstrate how religiosity is an indicator of negative attitudes. that part was of course conveniently left out.

    the main focus was also on media portrayal.

    I will be writing a piece on understanding scientific research, so do look out for that on TOC.

  15. sick of all this shit said

    Linus Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 10:19 pm
    “It is a reaction to the ongoing efforts to abolish Section 377A; therefore, the burden of proof is on the Majority to show why Section 377A must be retained…”

    Section 377A is currently part of the Penal Code. Shouldn’t the burden of proof be on those calling for the section to be repealed, i.e. those challenging the status quo?

    The reason why the onus of proof is on the opponents of repeal is because S377 has been repealed but not S377A- that it is criminal for a man to anally penetrate another man but it is not wrong for a man to anally penetrate a woman or for that matter for a woman to anally penetrate a man.What’s the difference- besides arguments couched in religious edicts. The opponents of repeal have to prove that removal of this clause will result in the cataclysmic changes to society that so loudly proclaim- so far they have not done that- they have only screamed hysterically about the evils of homosexuality as viewed thro their myopic and bigotted eyes

  16. WeiHan said

    Even more simply put, those that advocate moral values are unable to put forth any argument of the harm of repealing 377a. The only “harm” is that they put forth is that they want their values enshrined in the law, in the expense of more fundamental values such as justice and equality, all just for the sake of making them feel good.

  17. Xpy,

    That sounds interesting…:) It’d be good to take a closer look at the statistics which have been quoted. We look forward to your piece.. 🙂

  18. f man said

    I know we will quickly evolve and accept 337A soon – when the IOC says that Youth olympic is not coming to Singapore because the country’s laws are regressive towards the world homosexual atheletes and officials (reminds me of Greg Louganis), when other MICE organisers say they prefer Dubai / Taiwan / Hongkong etc because they have a better contitutional law. Then overnight PAP will embrace 377A. That is how our rules are constituted, based on the caSINo experience 🙂

  19. abao said

    I blogged about Thio Li-Ann’s speech, but this article is more concise than mine.

    Still, if this not curbed, I fear religion will get more and more involved in politics, and that is not a good trend.

  20. macabresg said

    It’s money. Many people protested against the building of casinos but the government went ahead. Did they care about surveys and this majority-minority issue? If suddenly, as what F Man said, the Youth Olympics for example decides this issue to be a determining factor for Singapore’s bid, the government would then embrace the homosexuals and let them have more freedom. “No money no talk”

  21. WeiHan said

    I’ll throw out a wold idea here.

    Since the government took measures such as counseling to ameliorate public worries on the possible unwanted effects of our IR casino resort. Then why don’t they just repeal 377a and set up counseling services to prevent “intangible” (psychological?) harms that may be done to the majorites? haha

  22. Sorry it took so long for me to show up. I was busy with schoolwork.

    Retro,

    it sounds like a ‘debate’ of sorts, because I felt that that would be the best way to approach the issue put forth by the minority. I read the passage, then analysed it step by step as I went along. To disprove something, you need to prove that it is not true, hence the explanations. Admittedly, I’ve been trained as a debater for four years under three of the best debaters I’ve encountered, so that probably influenced by writing.

    As for the second part, here’s another perspective. Let’s assume that there will be shame and guilt. But that is because there’s a social stigma against having two single-sex parents. This stigma comes from a closed-minded ‘conservative’ mindset. To remove this, we need to convince the people to open their minds to new perspectives and ideas. The first step, in the form of gay activism and dissemination of information, is well underway. But that is not enough, because they might not listen to activists as they are (not necessarily) gay (which is the ad hominem logical fallacy). So another step needs to be taken: the State needs to decriminalise homosexuality, to send a signal to the people that there’s nothing wrong about being gay.

    A Kentang,

    I’ve read that intolerance argument. It doesn’t strike me as particularly logical. But for the sake of charity, I shall just analyse that part, without touching on the rest of the substantive. Observe:

    “It is intolerant to call one intolerant.”

    This is meant to be the conclusion of the argument. This sounds all fine and well, since it appeals to one’s noble sentiments. However, this argument means that it is intolerant to call A PERSON intolerant without cause. It does not mean that it is wrong to call a person intolerant BECAUSE his moral values are intolerant of other people. All you are doing by calling him intolerant is drawing attention to the fact that his brand of morality is intolerant of other people, or other moralities. I see no harm in this.

    “The view that all morals are equal and immune from judgment is intolerant of the view that moral judgments can be made.”

    This is moral relativism. Moral relativism is not intolerant of the view that moral judgments can be made, rather that it posits that there are no grounds for objective criticism of moral values, because there are no objective moral standards. It is the latter that allows moral relativism to make its claim. Going by this argument, moral relativism forbids criticism of other people on moral grounds, because there is no basis of doing so. This prohibition must extend even to its opposite, moral absolutism, because moral relativists would argue that there are no grounds to criticise moral absolutism. The only real clash between the two is on whether or no there are objective moral stnadards, and it is on this ground that the moral philosophers argue upon. This may look contradictory, but by definition, both sides fundamentally contradict each other, so it is a non-issue. Moral relativism frowns upon being intolerant of others, which links back to the first statement of not calling other people intolerant. So this can be seen as an argument for moral relativism, i.e. do not condemn gays because they are immoral.

    “In the culture war, there is necessarily a clash between values and to speak from one’s conscience and convictions, which flows from free speech and religious freedom, and is not itsself bigotry.”

    This reminds me of the American political party National Socialist Movement (www.nsm88.org). They believe in one nation under God. They believe in National Socialism, in its fullest sense. They call for active discrimination against Jews, non-Aryans, and foreigners; and incite hatred against them through computer games and music. They speak from their conscience and their convictions. They are allowed to do this under America’s free speech and religious freedom laws. It does not wash away the fact that they are, in fact, bigots who are intolerant of everybody who is not an Aryan. This argument only applies when the speaker is not promoting intolerance of something or other; if he does, then all he is doing is abusing freedom of speech to perpetuate intolerance.

    Both sides may be arguing from different ethical frameworks. But one promotes equality, non-discrimination, and acceptance. The other insists that homosexuality is wrong and must therefore be suppressed. The latter is intolerant of homosexuality by expressing this view.

    So who’s being intolerant, now?

    (As a side note, the only reason NSM-88 exists is because the police have found no links between the NSM-88 leadership and criminal activity. Until NSM-88 as an entity becomes recognised as a criminal in the eyes of the law, the police can’t do anything. Not that NSM-88 is a potent political force to begin with, because the people either have not heard of them, or are not Nazis.)

    Andrew, WeiHan, F Man, and Macabresg,

    that seems to be the political reality in Singapore. I’m willing to bet that the government is keeping Section 377A to satisfy the Religious Right (the leaders and politicians motivated by what they think are religious teachings), whose conscience has been insulted in the casino and bar-top dancing issues, and because the benefits to the economy has been calculated as marginal, at best. When the latter proves to be more weighty than the voice of the Right, then S377A would go. But since there are no economic benefits, the government has probably decided to give in to the Religious Right, as a form of give and take after the bar-top dancing and casino issues.

    Dr. Koh,

    why do you think Siew Kum Hong did not appreciate the ‘corner stone issues’? For that matter, what are the ‘corner stone issues’? As I see them, this issue is about tolerance, equality, and official non-discriminations. The rheteroric of the Religious Right, as discussed above, is just hot air.

    Joel,

    I agree. The Penal Code is not meant to be a political or ethical issue, unless there is something terribly wrong with it. The law is supposed to provide a guiding light for people to live their lives as lawful citizens of a state, in the times that they live in. When the times change, the law should change, to remain relevant. It is not a matter of who is in the majority or minority, because that is a logical fallacy. The real concern here is equality and intolerance, which have become very important principles in our times. If the law doesn’t change to reflect this, then it runs the risk of being irrelevant.

    Linus and Sick,

    what I meant to say was that the burden of proof is NOW on the pro-S377A camp. The pro-repeal camp has already made its arguments (equality, non-discrimination, tolerance), which are logically consistent and valid as far as I can tell. The pro-retention camp has not. That is why the burden of proof is now on them. That being said, Sick, you’ve also answered the question for me, so thanks.

    Xpy,

    thanks for that information. But where statistics are concerned, I’ve always held the belief that 70% of statistics are false (as any school debater can tell you). I don’t believe that arguments should be based on statistics alone, because they don’t really mean anything apart from what people feel about a particular issue. A set of numbers is not an argument. All it can do is to support your stance, by serving as a barometer of sorts. Arguing from personal conviction is fine — but you need an argument. That was that I was trying to say.

    Abao,

    I share that sentiment. The Religious Right appears to be growing more and more vocal and powerful. That being said, I think the government as it stands would block them if they stand in the way of economic progress. But where morality and ethics (and non-issues) are concerned, there is a very real danger that it would dominate the political space, and press for the implmentation of their views, at the cost of others.

    Finally, WeiHan:

    that’s because it’s impossible to counsel the Majority. It costs too much.

  23. […] zach wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptMoral relativism frowns upon being intolerant of others, which links back to the first statement of not calling other people intolerant. So this can be seen as an argument for moral relativism, ie do not condemn gays because they are … […]

  24. WeiHan said

    Maybe the government should ban conservative majority from going overseas to protect them, otherwise, they may see two man kissing each other at a nude beach or park and return back psychological harm like scared little lamb.

  25. Daniel Ho said

    Seems like somebody has been doing their AS homework. Well done.

    But I think you forgot “Argument from Yahweh”.

  26. Daniel Ho…

    …I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What is this ‘AS’? And what is this “Argument from Yahweh”?

    If the latter is about religion, I did not include it simply because there are no explicit religious claims. In the absence of anything pertaining to religion, I am not justified in assuming that the writer must be religious just because he is conservative. There is simply no evidence.

  27. Dr Alan Lee said

    aiyoh, sorli lah, I will stick to bro press la. I think a bit drama mama la.

  28. I’m sorry…I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Care to explain?

  29. pollock said

    Ben,

    Great article. I believe (pls correct me if I am wrong) Dr Lee, what he is trying to say is, you have too many points, when all you need is one good bullet and one good shot to bring down one good game.

    The is how the bro do it – the hit one point – one shot one kill.

  30. perm sec said

    Hello Mr Cheah,

    Very interesting article. However, even I will have to agree with Alan and the rest, too many points and most of them are not really relevant. Lets all get a few things clear:

    (1) 377A has nothing to do with right and wrong and everything to do with setting the parameters of acceptability for the greater good.

    (2) Dr Thio is not the govt, neither does she represent the majority who are against the repeal of 377A. She certainly doesnt represent me or anyone who I know that doesnt want to see 377A repeal. Maybe she represents the federation of clowns in Singapore?

    I believe, if I had to find a rep, it would certainly have to be the position taken by the BH press only bc in this case, it got so complicated even they had to call in their team of professionals and when they came, they saw, they measured and hammered only ONE and ONLY one point. That I believe may have been Dr Lee’s point.

    If I may be allowed to say this will all humility Mr Cheach, I think that is what Alan may be trying to say, your points are good, but they lack the punch followed by the stopping power.

    I think most academics will agree, there has been plenty of debate concerning 377A, but very little of it remains pertinent to the whole subject in discussion.

    I am very sorry for being so cheong hei, thank you and do have a very nice day.

  31. Pollock,

    that’s right. Note that the Majority’s case rests entirely on ‘public morals’. Normally, I’d just disprove it and let the whole thing collapse under its own weight. But, I wanted to practice debating and essay-writing; the former because I haven’t done it in a while, the latter because I’m going to have to write at least fifteen essays for the A levels and I need the practice. I approached it from a logical perspective because my first two papers involve logic and critical thinking, both the formal and informal variants if I’m unlucky. I wrote so much because I was practicing what’s known in the debating trade as a ‘matter dump’: throw down so much information, logic and arguments that the other side won’t have time to break through all of them.

    Perm sec,

    While you’re at it, let me ask three questions. Why do you think the whole issue on S377A is about ‘setting the parameters of acceptability for the greater good’? Why do you think most of the debate about S377A is ‘not pertinent to the whole subject in discussion’? And just what is the ‘BH press’?

    Where Thio is concerned, I’d rather see her as an individual whose views happen to coincide with the anti-repeal crowd and that of the Religious Right. Any more would be a grave injustice, without any further evidence.

  32. ahxing said

    Benjamin Cheah Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    As for the second part, here’s another perspective. Let’s assume that there will be shame and guilt. But that is because there’s a social stigma against having two single-sex parents. This stigma comes from a closed-minded ‘conservative’ mindset. To remove this, we need to convince the people to open their minds to new perspectives and ideas. The first step, in the form of gay activism and dissemination of information, is well underway. But that is not enough, because they might not listen to activists as they are (not necessarily) gay (which is the ad hominem logical fallacy). So another step needs to be taken: the State needs to decriminalise homosexuality, to send a signal to the people that there’s nothing wrong about being gay.

    Ben,

    You’ve made a huge unwarranted leap in this debate without addressing all issues at the heart of the debate. A credible debate is based on substance, not assumptions. Yes, it is an undeniable fact that there is a social stigma attached to being gay, but you failed to address how this social stigma came about, instead you merely call for the abolishment of 377A without exploring the consequences, choosing to base on assumptions that any social stigma attached to this societal aberration are unwarranted and should not be in existence.

    In actual fact, there is always a social stigma attached to any social anomaly in which what differs are only the magnitudes of resistance. Yes, there might be nothing wrong with being gay, but it is something different and is not exposed to mainstream on a regular basis. If there is nothing wrong with being gay, what is wrong with same sex marriages? Why not rewrite the constitution to embrace homosexuality in its entirety? In fact, in one statement you’re justifying all the slippery slope arguments which the anti-repealing377A camp espouses!

    To gain acceptance, gay activist should firstly push for forums to address and clarify all public misconception. individual/private preference/choice or not, homosexuals represent a imbalance of nature, of which most people could not easily find reasons to approve of their lifestyle. In general, there is and will be a sense of apprehension amongst the populace regarding any issues which goes against the course of nature and this isn’t unusual.

    I’m not homophobic and have engaged a number of gays and lesbians myself. Differing sexual preferences aside, I do not descriminate against them per se nor do I fear them, but that does not mean that I condone their practices. I find it repulsive and counter productive that instead of engaging the public, activists chose to push desperately for the abolishment of a law which mainstream considers to be the bedrock of the society and threatens the building units of a wholesome family. Naturally, this sudden push out of the conventional zone does not sit well with the majority.

    Ignoring the majority opinion by nullifying 377A will further polarise the pro-repeal377A and anti-repeal377A camps in an already contentious and divisive topic. I believe that ultimate goal of gay activists should be greater acceptance by the society instead of repealing a inactive law merely to reflect the cultural direction and perception of a conservative majority(in which gays are already given much breathing space) and facing a backlash(as in what we’re seeing right now). We’re opening up as a society, and this can be done step by step. As the public widens their understanding or knowledge on gay issues, all the pieces will start to fall in the right places.

    Engage, instead of forcing the issue to gain greater acceptance. Decriminalising homosexuality is a step towards wilderness to many and does more then sending a signal that there is nothing wrong being gay. In my opinion, that should be one of the last few steps instead of the first step, after we cleared up with the cloudiness of the many complex issues. As repeated so often, the general public is not ready and activist can either help hasten the process of acceptance or continue to push vigorously for the repealing of 377A, and in the process increasing the general populace anxiety, intensifying the hatred and repulsion for homosexuality.

    Until then, most of my peers and me do not see a reason to support the pro-repealing377A cause either.

    Regards.

  33. ahxing said

    # MadHatter Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Debating the issue of majority vs Majority aside, does anyone find it funny that, on one hand, while we’re hardly getting any public opposition to abolishing the article, it’s being decided that the “majority” prefers things this way while, in the recent furore over the casino, sorry, integrated resort, there was significantly much public outcry but never once was the “majority” view ever part of the discussion?

    MH,

    It has something to do with the government weighing the pros and cons. Let us be clear about this unnecessary confusion. There is something fundamentally different when you place these 2 issues vis-a-vis. Casino helps bring in economical advancement and is of tangible benefits to Singapore, while the cause and effect regarding repealing/keeping 377A are cultural, intangible and debatable.

    By your synopsis, the government ought to be reflecting/omitting public opinions all the time?

    The perplexity of “choice of majority” is thus irrelevant and a spurious query to attempt to draw parallels which do/need not exist.

    Regards

  34. WeiHan said

    Ahxing,

    From what you wrote, it seems that you don’t understand the problem that the gay community faced with 377a. You said they should try to engage to clear up misconception. But you don’t understand that this very act of positive engagement has always been branded as “promoting the homosexual lifestyle”.

    Further, there is rule that homosexuality must always be depicted negatively otherwise it is seen as “promoting a homosexual lifestyle”. I am not sure you know why there is the term called “coming out”. One of the purpose is to dispel misconception. But the very act itself is often branded as “promoting homosexual lifestyle”.

    It seems that certain faction in our community has the intention to perpetuating the negative image of homosexuality and thus justify discrimination. I’ll give an example, if teacher such as Otto Fong come out, that particular sinister faction that wish to perpetuate misconception of the gay community will immediately slash out complaining that the teacher should not “promote a homosexual lifestyle”, “what is does in private is his own business but he should not come out”.

    The only intention that has is to perpetuate misconception and fear that it will one day be cleared and people will really understand that gay people are really people like you and me. Moreover, if they chose to engage, it doesn’t mean the so called “majority” will like to engage.

    In short, I see this effort to push repeal of 377a is a big advancement because after it is discussed in the parliament, what is stopping it from being discussed in other avenues? All of a sudden, it is no longer a taboo topic it once was.

  35. Ahxing,

    your post strikes me as odd. You accuse me of not addressing the issues in this debate and basing my arguments on assumptions without exploring the consequences, but you do the same yourself.

    You’ve been harping on and on about social stigmas and acceptance. But you have not addressed the issues. The issues are equality, tolerance, and justice; in the face of majority opinion, closed-mindedness, and conservative moralities. What you have done is to talk about the effects of this antagonism, and how to address them. But what you are doing is simply dealing with the branches of the tree of the problem; you need to attack the roots, which are the underlying principles driving this debate. You have not done so, but I have. So, you have not addressed the issues at the heart of the debate in an adequate fashion. Likewise, you have not talked about the consequences of the actions you proposed. By making the above statement, you signal that you are going to adress the issues at the heart of an issue, and explore its consequences. You have not.

    Now, let me show you what your assumptions are. First, you assume that homosexuality is not natural. Second, you assume that gay activists can do a lot. Third, you assume that majority opinion matters. Fourth, you assume that there is a slippery slope.

    On your first point, that homosexuality is not natural. I will argue that it is, in fact, perfectly natural to be homosexual. Being homosexual in a heterosexual society is the same as being autistic in a community full of neurotypicals. There is no explanation as to how and why you are autistic. You just are, and there is no way to deny that fact. There is no way to change it either, because it is in your nature. We can let the scientists figure out why we are autistic, or gay, or whatever; but the fact remains that there is no ‘natural’. That is because there are no criteria to judge ‘natural’ in this case.

    What is natural? What people think is natural. This subjectivity makes it very difficult to logically argue along this line, because there are no standards to judge what is natural or not. In this case, what is natural to a layman is what the person knows, and infers from there. A person first gathers knowledge about the people around him, in this case about their sexual preferences. The layman then learns that most, if not all, of the people he knows are heterosexual. Therefore, he assumes, a human being ought to be heterosexual, because it is ‘natural’. Why is it natural? Because most or all of the people he knows are heterosexual. It is that simple.

    But, we must understand two issues. One, homosexuality is a sexual minority. Two, people are mostly irrational when it comes to such core beliefs. On the first count, homosexuals are minorities, because not everybody has their sexual orientation. Statistically, it would mean that only a minority of heterosexuals would know of homosexuals, personally and otherwise. This would mean that the majority of heterosexuals would still assume that being natural means being heterosexual, because they have little knowledge of homosexuals. This leads to the second count: people being irrational about their initial beliefs. A heterosexual, after forming his impressions of the world, would not easily surrender it. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that he does, in fact, know of this assumption: to be natural is to be heterosexual. People tend to not release these opinions even in the face of arguments because of many reasons: because the arguer is homosexual (and it is then assumed that there is an agenda), because their religion says that homosexuality is a sin (and therefore homosexuality is unnatural), because of self-righteousness (and the inevitable closed-mindedness that follows), because of a desire for stability in emotions and ideals (so the person would not listen to anything that attacks his or her basic beliefs), and so on. All these can be expressed as a ‘conservative mindset’: the person in question does not want to change his perspective in spite of arguments because of underlying beliefs. Therefore, to these people, homosexuality is unnatural. But, this is fallacious, because there are no criteria to judge homosexuality on grounds of its naturalness.

    The result of the above process is a social stigma, arising from a conservative mindset. You have accused me of not explaining how this social stigma came about. It is ironic, given that you quoted the paragraph in which I provided that explanation: it came about because of a conservative mindset, as people are unwilling to look at what is different from them. There is no such thing as ‘natural’, because there are no criteria to guage what ‘natural’ means apart from personal beliefs. Homosexuality is not unnatural, because there is no ‘natural’. Homosexuals just are, in the same way that heterosexuals are. Therefore, homosexuality can be considered ‘natural’.

    Now, the second assumption: gay activism can achieve a lot without having to repeal a law. This is not true on three counts. One, the government refuses to allow gay activism to reach out to the public. Two, people are unwilling to release their assumptions. Three, engagement can only go so far.

    So, let me address the first. The government has consistently refused gay activists from reaching out to the people. The Media Development Authority, as part of its guidelines, refuses to air anything that promotes a homosexual lifestyle, so we won’t see any pro-gay messages on TV or radio. The government has banned open-air events organised by gay activists, the latest being the Pink Picnic affair, so that it would not promote a ‘homosexual lifestyle’. The government has gone out of its way to paint homosexuality as an offense, by arresting gays in the 1980s to early 1990s and charging them under various laws — and I am not surprised if S377A were one of them. Given such a hostile environment, the odds are stacked against gay activists. They have to resort to the Internet and indoor forums. In the former case, not very many people would be interested in going to gay activism websites because of lack of interest, underlyig prejudices, or lack of knowledge. In the latter case, activists would not achieve very much, because invitation to such forums are usually through e-mail and are closed to select people (people who sign up on some website, for example), so not very many people would know about them. There is little freedom for activists to spread their word. The government’s actions outweigh the activists’ actions, because the former dominates the mass media organs, allowing its views to be spread more freely to the population. Therefore, gay activists cannot do very much.

    Even if they could, they cannot persuade the majority, bringing me to my second point. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that the people of Singapore are by and large conservative and homosexual. They gained their knowledge of ‘natural’ from the above-described process. They are held down by their underlying assumptions, which they use to reinforce their ideas and perceptions. Humans are not logical creations; that is the only reason I can find to explain their holding on to such assumptions and relying on the logical fallacies I have written about in my original post. They would be unwilling to release these assumptions, probably because they don’t even know about them. Because of this, the conservative majority would reject the arguments and efforts of the gay activists, no matter what they do. The gay activists can only hope to convince a critical mass of the population, and gain enough support to subvert the majority opinion to push for official acceptance.

    This leads me to my third point: why engagement as you have defined it is not enough. The pro-repeal camp and the gay activists have done an admirable job of engaging the conservative majority and the anti-repeal side. As I understand it, the activists are willing to engage the arguments put forth by the latter; that they tend to shred the latter’s ‘arguments’ is happenstance, largely because the latter would not bring up logical arguments. But, the latter is unwilling to take the former’s arguments head-on. The former has been arguing on the grounds of equality, justice and tolerance; but the latter insists on dismissing these arguments. This can be seen in the pro-repeal side publishing letters and articles written by people on both sides of the debate on their website, while the anti-repeal camp linking only to people who support their stand on their site. This illustration is starker when one considers the speeches made in Parliament on this website. This is because the conservative majority is still unwilling to accept the activists’ message, as the people that comprise them are still unwilling to release their assumptions. There can be no proper engagement, if the anti-repeal side refuses to engage. In order to decide the issue, there must be an outside impetus: repealing S377A.

    Because of these three factors, gay activists cannot achieve very much. They cannot hope to persuade the majority and clarify their misconceptions. All they can do is to persuade a critical mass to support them.

    Now, I shall move on to the third point: why the majority opinion does not matter. I have already explained why the majority opinion does not matter at least three times on The Online Citizen, so let me just recap it in two points. One, it is illogical. Two, it is expected that the majority opinion would be attacked, until things change. I have already explained why it is illogical in this article, so there’s no need for me to repeat myself. I’ll therefore take the second point, especially since it is the crux of this issue.

    That the repeal of S377A attacks the majority opinion is not in doubt. The majority sees homosexuality as unnatural and immoral, and now banks on this law to support that view, and uses that view to support that law. The very existence of S377A can be ascribed to majority opinion, as is the perception that homosexuality is taboo. But, in every situation that involves going against the social norm, this is to be expected. Gay activists cannot hope to convert the majority to their side in Singapore, because of the above-described measures and events. They can, however, persuade a critical mass to support their side. That critical mass refers to the people with sufficient information, arguments, conviction, and reasoning to defeat any argument the majority throws at them. It has always been the critical mass that decides matters in any country, anywhere in the world. For instance, of the millions of people in Hong Kong, only 500,000 demonstrators took to the streets in 2003 in support of democracy. But those 500,000 people, a clear minority, managed to convince one of the major pro-government parties from voting for Basic Law Article 23, which among other things defines a ‘traitor’ as someone who opposes the government, even if legitimately and peacefully. In the same way, the majority opinion does not matter in the end. What really matters is the effects of repealing S377A.

    That action would have two implications that I would discuss here. One, it prevents future discrimination of gays. Two, it sends a strong message to the majority. On the first count, we must first examine Section 377A. As recently as 2006, S377A was used to prosecute males for sodomy. In that year, 7 convictions fell under that law. The government has promised that S377A would not be enforced now. But, by retaining the law, there is no guarantee that future governments would not use S377A to crack down on male homosexuals and bisexuals. Repealing S377A would therefore prevent the unwarranted oppression of male gays and bisexuals just for having sex, even if it were in a private place.

    On the second count, repealing S377A would send a strong message to the majority. As I have described above, the majority’s morality and assumptions are circular. They believe that homosexuality is wrong, and look to S377A for support, saying that the government reflects their views; then they support their views based on that law, by saying that homosexuality is officially condemned, so their views must be justified and retained in the interest of the greater good, never mind that the law was interpreted based on their views. This is the circle of assumptions that must be broken before the issue can be decided. To break it, one must attack the circle in two points: the belief and the law. The activists are attacking the belief as vigorously as they can, with support from people. But they are hindered by government suppression, by human irrationality, and by human nature: the population would turn to the government for advice and to guide their lives. By repealing the law, the government is sending a message to the people: there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. Its status as a figure of authority reinforces that message, because of its influence over the people. Yes, there will be fallout: the conservatives would no doubt decry the state’s actions. But that is immaterial, as they would die out when people see that there is, in fact, no harm in repealing the law. This is akin to the repeal of a law prohibiting mixed-race marriages in the United States. Conservatives and white supremacists protested against this action, saying that it would be the end of the USA. They are not very vocal these days, because the United States is still around, and because there is no harm is mixed-race marriage or mixed-race children.

    The whole point is to illustrate this fact: the majority opinion is not a decisive argument in any debate. The real issues are principles, consequences, drawbacks and benefits, rooted in the real world. Talking about morality and the like would not get one very far, and neither would getting majority opinion, because morality is fluid, and people are fundamentally rooted in these beliefs, and would not let them go.

    Now, finally, the last assumption: the slippery slope. In this article, I have already stated why there is no slippery slope, and that even if there were one, it would prove beneficial in the long run, in the form of greater tolerance and equality. You, however, make it look as though there were somehow something wrong here. Therefore, the onus is now on you to show that there is, in fact, some form of harm. All of the consequences you talk about show greater official acceptance of homosexuality: linking it back to the above point on the law, it can only mean that society would be moved towards releasing the assumption that being gay is unnatural.

    In conclusion, Ahxing, you have to show me why the majority opinion counts, why being gay is unnatural, how the anti-repeal side is engaging their opposite side, and why striking off the law is not an effective measure just because it polarises the public. Please follow your own advice, and engage the arguments I have put forth.

  36. Baga said

    Benjamin,

    Common: “why being gay is unnatural”?

    Even if I do not want to use any religious or moral arguments for that this is the case… how about a biological one… Do you think there is any reason why gay couples do not have children?

  37. WeiHan said

    Since when have producing offsprings a criteria to judge what is natural or unnatural?

  38. Baga,

    I fail to understand why that must mean that gays are unnatural. Could you please elaborate?

  39. noone said

    You people should watch avenue Q which will definitely be banned in Singapore:

    If You were Gay (http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/avenueq/ifyouweregay.htm)

  40. TODAY 20071029: Gay Debate Crying Out For The Majority Voice

    Aside from the latest repartee to the HDB Pet Rules debate, this article, “Gay Debate Crying Out For The Majority Voice” (*) caught my eye too. A lot has been said about the brouhaha, from both camps, but what about the ones in the between …

  41. Baga said

    WeiHan/Benjamin,

    If I were to go the extreme in this argument I would say that if all people on earth were gay or lesbian there would be no more people and mankind would be no more. That makes it the natural order that a man and woman makes up a family and have children.
    I would make the point that producing offspring (and that we are biologically built so that a man and a woman is needed to produce one) is a very valid argument to substantiate what is natural.

  42. ET said

    My two cents,

    Benjamin consistently claims that the issues are about “equality, tolerance and justice.” In the first place, the homosexual sexual orientation is not something fixed, unlike ethnicity.

    How then can society argue against the legalization of other sexual preferences such as consensual incest between adults (without pregnancy), bestiality and necrophilia?

    Other activists for such sexual preferences can similarly fight for “equality, tolerance and justice.” Will Benjamin accept such sexual preferences too and lobby for their legalization?

  43. WeiHan said

    Baga,

    I am not very willing to discuss this naturalness thingy at length.

    Firstly, as you admit yourselves, your argument is too extreme. Everything in the world will not work out smoothly if everybody is like this or like that. It will not be OK if everybody are artist. It will not be OK if everybody are musician. It will not be OK if everybody are scientist. The list goes on. You need all kind of people for the world to function properly. Does it means that, by your logic, people that are born with inherent artistic talent, are then unnatural?

    That is why I say, homosexuality is one narrow band of a natural spectrum of sexuality. If I wee to quote some scientific evidence here, it may be that the same gay gene is related to certain capabilities of man-kind. It is like the sickle cell disease gene. It is bad, right? But the scientist discovered that the same gene is responsible for the resistance against malaria. So, I half-suspect that even if one day, a group of genes are discovered to be responsible for homosexuality, we may not be able to eradicate them because doing so will mean sacrificing certain innate ability of man-kind.

    Furthermore, you logic lies on the assumption that sex has only the sole purpose of reproduction. I can give an analogy. It is like our ear. It aid in our hearing by biological function. So does it mean that it is unnatural to use it for a ear-ring? One purpose for sex is for reproduction. But can’t it for the purpose of cementing human relationship or even just recreation? is sex that does not lead direction to reproduction but fulfilling some other functions unnatural in your opinion?

  44. Baga,

    I will raise two objections to your argument. First, there is a massive leap in thinking that invalidates your argument. Second, homosexuality is not unnatural.

    So, on the first point: To quote you, “…all people on earth were gay or lesbian there would be no more people and mankind would be no more. That makes it the natural order that a man and woman makes up a family and have children.” Your first statement is an assertion that if all people were homosexuals, there would be no human race in the future. Your second statement is another assertion that it is natural for a man and woman to have a family. There is no connection between both statements. The first is a proposition rooted in fantasy, because the probability of the human race becoming homosexual is impossible. I suspect that the possibility of lead spontaneously turning to gold is higher than that. Even if it would one day come through, it has no link to the second statement, because the second one is about families, not about homosexuality. Your argument therefore fails.

    Let’s assume that your argument still stands for my second point. You asser that homosexuality is unnatural. Now, we must make some technical definitions. ‘Natural’ includes every living organism that exists on Earth. Animals are organisms that are multicellular, responsive to the environment, capable of motion in at least some stages of their lives, have no cell walls, and digest food internally. Humans, fulfilling these criteria, are thus animals. Homosexuality has been observed in animals. In Germany, the director of Bremerhaven Zoo discovered that there are gay penguins in the zoo. He attempted to rectify this by importing female penguins from Sweden, but discovered that the males ignored the females. It has been asserted that other animals are incapable of rational thought the way humans understand the term; ergo, animals are driven by their base instincts: food, shelter, etc. That there is homosexuality in animals suggests that homosexuality is part of the base instincts for particular animals. Therefore, it is not a matter of choice. Humans, being part of the animal kingdom, are not exempt. Even though we have the capacity for rational thought, it does not mean that we must use it, and thereby change our sexual preferences. In the same light, homosexuals cannot be heterosexual or bisexual if it is against their nature, because it is inbuilt. Thus, homosexuality is natural. Therefore, your argument is dead.

    Baga, you need to show me that homosexuality is unnatural. You need to show me that there is a natural order in things. You need to show me that that there is a possibility that the human race would become homosexual, and that makes the existence of a natural order possible. But you have not. Therefore, you do not have a point.

    ET,

    your argument is in two parts. One, homosexuality is ‘not something fixed’. Two, how to argue against alternative sexual practices. I’ll take your post in two parts.

    First, you state that homosexuality is ‘not something fixed’. You need to prove to me that it is ‘not something fixed’. You have not. That is why I keep talking about ‘equality, tolerance and justice’: it is not a matter of choice, and it harms no one in principle.

    Now, the second half. I would not reply to how society can argue against something. That is because arguments are made by individuals, but society is not an individual. Almost all the arguments you have seen bandied about by the Religious Right are not their arguments; rather, they are repetitions of what the people have been told by their leaders. In this case, it means people of inluence. What really happens is that these leaders debate on an issue, and everybody else follows whichever leader they prefer. So, the question is not about society. Society is a non-issue, because I believe that one should stay true to oneself, and not take one somebody else’s argument without examining it.

    As for the legalisation of alternative sexual preferences, I actually would. I would lobby for the acceptance and decriminalisation, and possible legalisation, of alternative sexual practices if I agree with the arguments, or if I see no reason in doing so. Let me illustrate this by going after your examples.

    First, consensual incest between adults with no pregnancy. I do not see anything wrong with this. First, consent is given, so there is no rape. Second, they are adults, so they are mature enough to judge their actions and give consent. Third, there is no pregnancy, so there is no harm to any potential children. Given these parameters, what really happens is an act of sexual intercourse; that the actors are related by blood is happenstance. Since we do not outlaw consensual sex, there is no reason to outlaw incest. Therefore, I would press for its legalisation if pressed.

    Second, bestiality. I do not wish to press for its legalisation, because it violates a principle of justice. That principle is consent. Animals are deemed incapable of giving consent to sex, at least to a human being. There is no evidence to disprove that that I know of. Therefore, bestiality is akin to rape, and a violation of animal rights. Thus, it is wrong to me, and should be left illegal.

    Third, necrophilia. On one side, the dead cannot give consent. Therefore, sex with a corpse is akin to raping the corpse, and thereby showing disrespect to it. On the other hand, the dead cannot give consent because it is no longer a living thing. Sex with a non-living thing cannot be outlawed, because it does not violate any principles of justice. Where respect is concerned, respect is simply a matter of opinion. Criminalising necrophilia does not serve public interest, because almost everybody would not perform it. If the living relations of the dead were offended by the necrophiliac, then they may persue justice under civil law. Remember that criminal law is simply a code that says what you may not do; therefore, what is not covered in it is permitted. Since there is no reason to criminalise it, I see no reason to let it remain a criminal act.

    Therefore, depending on the nature of the act, and considerations of justice, I would act accordingly. Activists may argue on grounds of ‘equality, tolerance and justice’. But they must prove it before I am convinced. Otherwise, I would not support them.

    Ultimately, it’s a question of belief. I believe in being true to myself. I believe that human beings have certain unalienable rights. I believe that these rights, and other principles, form the foundation for a sort of universal ethics. I believe that there is no reason to follow someone else unless I accept his arguments and his stance — which entails a critical examination. If you want to convince me, then prove your point to me. If I can tear your arguments apart so easily, then I would not support you. It is that simple.

  45. Wang said

    Benjamin

    The jury is still out that homosexuality is a fixed immutable trait from my perspective after reviewing evidences on both sides.
    Please do note that even the sources cited by those who argue for immutability had their initial pioneer reversing his opinion.
    He did state that it may be likely that a significant portion may be as such orientated but he did find significant cases of non-immutability and was shunned accordingly by those who cited him earlier.
    He did not argue for discrimination but just raised the statistical evidence but was still shouted down.

    Further, what is there to be proofed, you would argue that the alternative studies used are biased etc.
    The real issue would be that would be your deemed acceptable standard of reversing your arguments and what are your so called convincing studies.
    Please do not cite Yawning bread’s sources which do not have what would be deemed scientifically repeatable studies or adequate sample size even from social science POV. The issues still remain.

    As you have stated your principles, likewise to you there is no such items as moral harm since it is based on consent, in that case consensual polyandry/polygamous/bigamous/bigandry or let’s use the term short term contracts of intimate contracts should be allowed.

    Fair enough, since those are your stated principles, but likewise do not force other to accept that those are only principles.

    Please note that your principle could give rise to even further horrors once biological AI’s are involved or certain “humans” are marked with certain animal genes to allow deemed consent or even certain clones could be made without brain function purposes so as to satisfy such urges. Since they are just things from your perspective principles.

    Hence in a demos population, what the demos would want to perceive as their societal benchmarks is upto the demos. Frankly, to me the whole arguments is more of a political exercise as it is similar to the symbolic censorship. I look at the meat which is the practice rather than the theory.

    Regards

  46. Wang,

    you have misunderstood and misrepresented me several times. That is the only conclusion I can draw, after reading your post several times. I’ll take you on the issues of homosexuality, my standards of proof, my principles and the consequences, and what the people think.

    I did not say that homosexuality is something fixed. I simply asked ET why homosexuality is ‘not something fixed’. That is because he has provided no studies, no quotes, no evidence at all. In my opinion, we can let the scientists and lawyers decide what homosexuality means and what it is all about. The real question is whether or not we can accept it. And I say that we should accept it, on the principles of equality, justice and tolerance. Homosexuals will always be with us; the question is whether or not we are going to treat them as human beings. Before we can understand them, we must first accept them.

    Now, the standards of proof. I have never argued that any study is biased in any way. The only source I have cited from Yawning Bread so far is his quotation of a Parliamentary report, outlining the number of prosecutions under Section 377A. That report is open source: it’s a reponse to a question from NMP Siew Kum Hong in May 2007. The sources Yawning Bread cites are reports, newspaper articles, websites, and other sources that he deems appropriate, and which i find no reason to disagree with. Show me which sources from Yawning Bread do not fit your scientific criteria, whatever they may be, before you make those statements. Until then, I will argue that you have misrepresented me, and have misrepresented Alex Au. The issues remain, because you have not addressed them. I have addressed the issues from my perspective a half-dozen times and counting. The ball is on your court; it has not moved.

    My standards are very simple. First, state your point. Then, show me evidence. After that, show me why that evidence is relevant. Finally, show me that your entire point is relevant based on that evidence. You, and so many others, have not. That is why I have consistently rebutted against so many points on the basis of logic and evidence alone. Don’t tell me that I’m asking for too much: our teachers demand at least the same, if not more, for schoolwork. If we’re going to have a reasoned discussion, I believe that our arguments must make sense. If you’re so interested in the practice, the ‘meat’ you speak of, then give me proof.

    Now, my principles and their extensions. I’ll take you on three counts: whether or not I have imposed my principles on anyone; why that is irrelevant even if I have; and the extensions of my principles.

    Firstly, I have not forced my principles on anyone. I have not said that person X should follow principle Y, in any manner. What I have done is to expose the underlying beliefs within an argument, then, where applicable, criticise that belief on legitimate grounds. That is if I have even gone that far. All I have done so far is to show why I cannot accept somebody’s argument. I mean that in the literal sense. This does not qualify as imposition; if anything, it is a defence against imposition.

    Secondly, even if I have imposed my views on someone, I urge you to read again. The imposition of one’s views upon another is condemned because it violates that person’s right to conscience, and is often enforced by threat of harm. After stating my arguments, I have not urged anyone to take them up. If someone believes that they should adopt my stance, then all is well and good. If not, so be it; I actually cannot care less either way, so long as I remain true to myself. People are free to take up or reject my arguments any time they like, for any reason whatsoever. Therefore, I have not violated anybody’s freedom of conscience. Similarly, I have not called for harm against anybody who disagrees with me. I will not sue anyone just for having a different opinion. I do not believe that that is just. I will not take any sort of action against anybody for rebutting me. I have not argued for anybody to be deprived of anything; if anything, I have argued that gays, being human beings, deserve the same rights as ordinary humans. I address arguments, not people, where discussions and debates like these are concerned. Therefore, I have not harmed anybody, or threatened to harm anybody, through my words.

    Why do I make this qualification? Because without that, everybody would be imposing something on everybody else, and then this principle would cease to make sense. Consider the law. The law imposes codes of behaviour on society, cautioning people against taking somebody’s property, virtue or life even though they might wish to do so. This is because the law is designed to prevent harm, or redress it; and I see no wrong in that. But if the law were to impose something on somebody without just cause, like stripping Jews of their citizenship, then that is considered imposition. I take issue here because the law is imposing a particular view of morality on homosexuals. I do not see why there is a need for that law. Therefore, the law should go. It is so simple.

    Thirdly, the extensions of my principles. You have performed three logical fallacies. The first is the slippery slope; the second is the ad hominem tu quoque; the third is the straw man fallacy. On the first count, you say that my principles could give rise to so many things. I’d like to remind you that the technology for biological AIs, implanting animal genes to create consent, and the production of clones for sexual purposes does not exist. Before they are approved, the scientists involved must satisfy a national ethics board, and explore the consequences of that technology. Even if such a board does not exist, a functioning Parliament of any sort, and a thinking population, would examine the technology and determine what, exactly, it would lead to. Final adoption of that technology, and legal authorisation for the above, is not a guaranteed. Therefore, your argument fails here.

    The second is the ‘you too’ fallacy: I cannot disagree with something just because my past claims may be inconsistent with it. It is a fallacy because I could very well turn around and disagree with that something, either because I am convinced that I should disagree with it, or because it violates my principles.

    The third fallacy: you say that all those things can arise from my principles. That is not true. As stated above, there is a long and complicated process involved before they can even begin to be conceptualised. Even if they were accepted, we are left with a straw man. The competancy of a biological AI to make decisions is up to its programmers and legalists, much less the question of whether or not it is alive. Marking humans with animal genes to ‘allow deemed consent’ does not give consent: as I have said above, animals are deemed unable to give consent anyway. Even if they were, marking humans with animal genes does not turn that person into an animal, unless he or she fully becomes that animal — in which case, he or she is no longer a human being. If clones were made without certain brain functions, but is otherwise stable, then we need to decide what, exactly, is it. If it were deemed human, then it should be considered as a sort of autistic person — who is deemed worthy of legal protection. If it were a ‘thing’, meaning an organic robot, we then have to decide if they have such rights. What you are proposing are fantastical examples based on technology that does not exist; if the technology appears, then we can debate on ethics and humanism. Until then, this section is completely irrelevant.

    Finally, your statement on the ‘demos’ is flawed. The use of the word ‘Hence’ suggests that tehre is a connection to everything you have said above. Specifically, the above points must lead to that conclusion. I see no connection. Trivial, maybe, but it underscores the lack of logic you have employed in your arguments. Without this logical reasoning, I cannot accept your arguments.

    Wang, you want to look at the meat. Fine. Don’t misrepresent or misunderstand it, too.

  47. Wang said

    Benjamin

    To you, this are straw arguments, fine and well. I was just taking up from your last comments to ET and Baga

    However, you are asking people to accept only those principles which you have enunciated so as to allow the abve positions.
    So please if that is not an intended imposition of the principles on those who may not agree at this time, what is.

    Apologies if I seemed to have misrepresented or misunderstood you. However, I would not deemed to be such as stated above.

    Please note that I did not state that you have refused my right of reply which anyway is a given.

    Regards

  48. Wang,

    I am sorry to say, I have no idea what you’re talking about. As I see it, you don’t seem to understand what’s really happening.

    It’s very simple. I think of my stance, based on my principles. I argue from that stance. From this point, I am communicating to the world what I think. Likewise, other people who make arguments are doing the same thing. To engage people, I will naturally have to consider their arguments, evaluate them against my stance and my principles, and determine whether or not I can accept them. The whole point of this exercise is to persuade people, not just inform them. I will naturally have to ask people to accept my principles alongside my arguments. To not do so would be illogical, because the reasons and the principles behind them are too tightly intertwined to ignore the latter. Everybody is asking somebody to accept something they say every day; I see no reason why I am somehow different from them, nor why there is something wrong. You, too, are doing the same thing: think of your arguments, then think of the reasons underlying those arguments, and the paradigms employed to create those arguments. I could have very well decided to accuse you of imposing your views on me, too. But I have not. Because you have not.

    What is imposition? Answer: forcing people to accept your beliefs. I have not forced anyone to accept what I believe. I do not believe in denying people a right to reply — in any event, I do not even have that ability on TOC, nor have I stated that I have refused your right of reply. I merely tell the world what I think, and if they believe me, good. If not, so be it. Therefore, I am not imposing my views on anyone. I have no wish to repeat myself, Wang. If you think that I am, then prove it to me.

    I say something for what it is. If I think your arguments are just straw men fallacies, then I’ll say it. I’ve given you my evidence and my logic; it’s up to you to defend your points, if you will. If you don’t say accept what I say, fine; but don’t expect me to be convinced unless you explain why.

  49. Daniel Ho said

    Hi Benjamin,

    I would like to point out that the argument revolving around whether Homosexuality is a fixed trait is quite irrelevant to the debate surrounding the repeal 377A. By itself, it is an unnecessary argument for or against the repeal.

    To illustrate, some people are pathological murderers, thieves, rapists. But I don’t think any member of society would argue that these are moral acts. Hence we have laws against them.

    On the flip-side, the Christian faith is hardly a fixed trait, yet if we were to outlaw it, and even if the majority supports a legal ban on the Christian faith, it would still not be morally correct. Hence we do not have a law against practising the Christian faith.

    In other words, the question of immutability is not relevant when it comes to deciding the morality of homosexuality. And it is hardly key in the pro-repeal’s case. The key point is harm.

    Unfortunately, very few in this extended nation-wide debate actually considered the harm to all members of society. The pro-retention camp points out the unsubtantiated possible degradation to the institute of the family and decry the liberal hedonistic left for thinking only about themselves.

    But oddly how so few point out the terrible harm of curtailing liberty to a section of the society, however small, to safeguard the unsubstantiated fears and ill-conceived morals of another group in society. I believe in 19th century America this would be slavery. And in early 20th century America this would be the emaciation of women’s rights. Let us also not forget the fear-mongering of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany.

    Daniel

  50. Daniel,

    that’s right. I won’t argue about the nature of homosexuality. To understand it, we must first accept it. Note that I haven’t said whether or not it is fixed, because it is indeed irrelevant. I don’t find it surprising that the pro-retention camp won’t talk about the harm to society, because they’re not affected by it, and they assume that there is no harm in retention to begin with. I think they see the debate as an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ proposition, with one side absolutely right and one side absolutely wrong, respectively, without considering all the issues in this matter. Further, because, I think, they tend to associate with people very much alike themselves and identify with them more than other people with differing beliefs, they would like to think of themselves in the majority. But that’s just a thought.

    Where curtailing liberty is concerned, I’m not surprised. We never had a tradition of liberty- and principle-based arguments in Singapore, apart from the odd issue championed by the Religious Right. The government has constantly de-emphasised individual rights and freedoms in the name of the greater good, seen in the ‘core values’, ‘Asian values’, and other what-have-you. Our academics and lawyers don’t talk about such things either, for some reason or another. With such a discourse in place, it’s natural that arguments concerning liberty are muffled, at best. But this does not mean that we can ignore these arguments, because of the harm inflicted on society, or a portion of it, should liberty be unjustifiably restricted.

  51. Baga said

    Benjamin,

    My first point were mainly pointing to the fact that “if” all of mankind were homosexual, mankind would cease to exist. I was not trying to prove that this could happen – I would agree it’s impossible. You have missed my point. The point is that results are important as they signify intent – intent of whichever creator you believe in. If your stance is based on total chaos to start out with – sorry, I cannot help or argue with you on the basis of “nothing”.

    As for your second point you stated that “You need to show me that there is a natural order in things”. It seems you are taking the stance that there is no natural order and because of that whatever people feel or do must be right. Maybe that also has it’s basis in your argument that “Even though we have the capacity for rational thought, it does not mean that we must use it”. I would argue that having the capacity for rational thought would give you a responsibility to use it. If you do not, you would probably be hit by a car crossing the road against a red light.

    I would make the final point that any valid argument should be able to be presented in a short and sharp manner. Based on your incredibly long sprouts of nonsense above it seems you are trying to make a point (or is it many by now?) based on no or twisted facts and much non-relevant gibberish. I can only interpret this as that you are trying to confuse the issue until it is unrecongizable or people are too confused (or tired) to argure with you.

    I do not even want to get started on your comment that there is nothing wrong (in your logic, I guess) with incest, bestiality or necrophilia. I find your comments and warped logic very disturbing. In my view comments like this (however off-topic they may be) just further undermines the position in your article.

  52. Daniel Ho said

    Hi Baga,

    Consider this statement: “If all mankind were celibate Benedictine Monks, Mankind would cease to exist.” This statement, like yours, is Categorically true. Conceptually nonsensical. Utterly irrelevant.

    Which creator Ben believes in? Why the presumption of a creator? Why the presumption that Ben believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (apologies if you indeed do, Ben)

    Interesting that you almost had a fleeting acknowledgement of moral non-cognitivism. People engage in moral arguments have to agree on certain value premises. Without them, debate is futile. Moral arguments are not absolutes like factual arguments.

    “Natural order of things” implies prescriptive derivation from nature where there is nothing to derive. Unless one presumes divine design, there can’t be a “natural order of things”. Humans perceive order when what we are really seeing is entropy.

    Going back to:
    “I would argue that having the capacity for rational thought would give you a responsibility to use it. If you do not, you would probably be hit by a car crossing the road against a red light.”
    Unfortunately, if you would just read up on moral non-cognitivism and the is-ought gap, you would realise it is true that even if the person is rational, you cannot compel him to not run into the path of a car because wanting to stay alive is a value statement that only the person can make. He may be completely rational and know that he will die. He may also know that he may not die and may instead lie on a hospital bed forever incapacitated. But he may actually want that. You can’t logically prove to him what he wants if he does not share your value principles.

    And last of all, if you would only read Ben’s argument, you would realise that he did not say that incest, bestiality and necrophillia are all well and good. What he did do is carefully examine the rational reasons why something like that could be wrong. Which is more than I can say about your “natural order of things” argument.

    Morality is grey with a lot of caveats, it is not at all black and white like some ancient books might suggest.

  53. Baga,

    I come from an approach best termed as logical and rationalist. That’s because I believe that rational thought and critical inquiry is the best approach to determine public policy, contentious issues, and the like. I keep talking about logic and reason because of that.

    Daniel Ho has already spoken on my behalf (thank you). But here is my perspective on your three points on global homosexuality, natural order, and presentation of an argument.

    Your first point on the entire world becoming homosexual is, regrettably, impossible. You have said as much. Therefore, there is no point worrying about such a scenario. Thus, this argument is irrelevant.

    Further, there is no need to think of Creator(s). That is a personal belief, which science has yet to prove, if it can be proven. Nor is it relevant to this discussion. Since there is no reason to include personal beliefs in the public sphere, especially since it is not relevant, I see no need to tell you what I believe in.

    Your second point is a misrepresentation on two counts. First, when I said that ‘you need to show me that there is a natural order in things’, I meant just that. As any teacher and student would know, you need to show me proof that there is such a thing as a ‘natural order’ before I can accept that it is an actual argument, not an assertion. Second, I do not see where I have argued that there is no need for us to use our capacity for rational thought. I said that there is no need for us to use it TO CHANGE OUR SEXUAL PREFERENCES. That is because there is no need to change, as it is inbuilt, natural, and not harmful. I am not asking people to suspend reason.

    Even if it were not a misrepresentation, it is still false. What you call ‘natural order’ may not be what I deem as a ‘natural order’. Removing the idea of divine creation, there is no reason to think that there is a ‘natural order’. What we call ‘order’ is what we think is ‘order’. Humans are hardwired to see order in chaos, or to create order from non-order by building structures (hierarchies in governments and militaries; cities and townships; and so on). What ‘order’ we know is merely the ‘order’ defined by the times. Thus, women were considered inferior to men in England during the Victorian era as part of the ‘natural order’, while today, women are considered as the equals of men. Similarly, in ancient Jewish households, it was ‘natural’ that men were supposed to listen to women, because their society was matriarchal. But today, this is less likely to be so. Therefore, as there is no ‘natural order’ but what we define it to be. Thus, it is irrelevant in this case.

    Presuming divine creation, there might yet be a natural order. But, since there is no proof that there is a divine being, and since there are theories to show that there may be no Creator or guiding hand in the Universe, I am more inclined to believe the latter. Since the former cannot be proven as yet, anything based on it is personal belief. It is not factual. Therefore, your argument is not factually sound.

    And now, your final point on the presentation of arguments. I acknowledge that my argumentation style is very dense. I recognise that it could be improved. I am also working on it. But, my current style was born out of efforts to make my arguments ‘short and sharp’. Every time I try to condense my arguments, I end up with assertions, assumptions, fallacies, and other failures of reason. So, I resort to reserving one sentence for a single thought. It may be long-winded to you, but that way, I know what I am talking about. Furthermore, after a series of consultations and discussions and reviews, it seems that quite a fair number of people think that I have a cogent writing and speaking style. These events suggest that what you think is clear or not is up to you. Thus, it is not even relevant.

    But since there are many people who want to know why I write like this, it’s time to make it clear. I write in such a fashion to stop myself from making all kinds of errors. I also take the opportunity to explore all the facets of a particular issue that I can see, and all perspectives that I can perceive. Contrary to what you think, I do include facts in my arguments — at any rate, more than you — to prove my points. I go into detail to understand the roots of something as deeply as I can go. I employ a logical perspective because of my beliefs regarding public discussion and communication. And I am still trying to improve my writing.

    Ultimately, there is no need for me to use ‘short and sharp’ arguments. I’ve seen entire debates won by ‘long-winded’ speeches that explore the crux of the issue at hand. Some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of our time — Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche — wrote in ways deemed long-winded by the people of their time. The original German is dense enough; when translated into English, you’ll find a stony mountain of words to summit, not a book. Other philosophers have made books out of a single argument or stance, like David Hume on skepticism or Abraham de Moivre’s Central Limit Theorem. Their works, despite being long-winded, have stood the test of time and shape human thinking. So, there is no practical need for me to be ‘short and sharp’.

    You may find my comments on alternative sexual practices disturbing. All I have done is to examine them and determine if there were a rational reason to criminalise or decriminalise them in the context of the law, on clearly defined principles. It is not as though I do not find any of them repulsive in any manner — but I recognise that other people see nothing wrong with it. So, I went to look for reasons to support and understand the latter, and found them consistent with my beliefs. They do not undermine my position in this article, because I was responding to another person on whether or not I would legalise alternative sexual practices. Since, by your admission, it is irrelevant to the article, there is no rightful link between this point and my article.

    You also find my logic ‘warped’. So prove to me that it is. I think your logics are warped, given that I am able to do so much to your arguments on a logical basis. You meld personal beliefs with cold logic, giving rise to illogic, as shown in your arguments.

    Baga, please read my arguments to the fullest, and actually understand them before anything else.

    Daniel,

    don’t worry. I don’t believe in the satire known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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