If you were following yesterday’s developments, you probably read some of Keefer’s comments. Keefer is a Christian. A superficial analysis would lead us to believe he’s not just a Christian, but the thumping kind. One of the arrogant types who feels he has the right to disregard the law and impose his vision of his religion on everyone else in society. Keefer gives the impression he believes his right to freedom of religion denotes the right to take away everyone else’s freedom of religion. He seems to feel he is special, he is right. It appears he has come to believe his own sophisms.His argumentation is entirely divorced from logic and science; As his arguments are debunked he sticks his hand into a hat and pulls out another illogical argument and ad-hocs it into the discussion pretending that nothing has happened as he continues to feed his delusions of righteousness. This happens on a wheel without Keefer ever considering the validity of anything he says. He just bides his time, spins the wheel again and keeps bringing back debunked arguments making the rest of the world feel as if trapped in a Kafkaesque fantasy debate. Keefer spent many hours of his Sunday writing comments on this blog, I considered simply blocking him, but I decided to let him keep going so today we could analyze the irrational thought processes that derive from the anti-gay propaganda promulgated by the Christian Right.
There are psychological factors we should keep in mind in this analysis (before we examine his actual arguments) and they relate to the underlying characteristics of Keefer’s mindset and emotional needs. The whole episode might not have had anything to do with religion at all. Firstly we have to consider Keefer (not a wordpress blogger), through search engines sought out this blog. On a weekend, time people usually spend with family or friends, relaxing or enjoying themselves, Keefer was searching for gay-related issues online. Once he found them and received a response to his initial message he was evidently enthralled. So much so that it inspired him to write many comments to the same post over a span of nearly twelve hours. Every so often I would check back and there he was again. For a while I wondered why anyone would put themselves in such a position. To seek out an inhospitable environment is by any measure counter-productive to the self, so we’re not left with many hypotheses to mull over. The most common in my experience is a combination of exploration and self-justification. Many gay men, mostly of my generation and back (the under thirties have grown up with Will & Grace), went through a period of latent homophobia which develops into something more aggressive and can eventually reach the point of being externalized. It’s a natural, snowball-like process that occurs when one is oppressed and doesn’t see a way out. It’s a trick the mind plays on itself, a defence mechanism. One tries (desperately) to embrace anti-gay arguments in an effort to change, erase or re-program one’s self. Others use this as a mechanism to justify the suffering and self-loathing of the realization of differentness in the self: “I feel terrible, but I deserve to feel terrible because I’m evil. If I keep repeating that, at least I can comprehend my pain and solitude.”- I mentioned these options first because I experienced them first hand. I was a teen homophobe who was somehow always inserting myself into the LGBT world. The rational reaction of someone who doesn’t like football is to not go to football games or watch football. If you don’t like sushi, you don’t go to Sushi restaurants- but there I was, again and again surrounding myself with The Gays, even if it was to belittle them/myself- hoping to convince myself and confirm there was something bad about The Gays. The problem (or advantage) of the rational mind is that one doesn’t allow one’s self to substitute science and fact for mysticism and baseless or illogical information; So unlike Ted Haggard or many a Republican politician, by the time I was 21, reason overtook fear, self-loathing and internalized homophobia and I was able to admit to myself that I was gay. Suddenly everything that lay behind me made sense and although I don’t know enough of Keefer to form a concrete conclusion, his dedication to his responses yesterday certainly opens the door to repressed homosexuality being a strong possibility.
The Workings of an Irrational Mind
Keefer’s arguments are easy to debunk. They’re not even really his arguments. They’re the regurgitation of the information on standard anti-gay worksheets that have been distributed by anti-gay groups for decades. They have been thoroughly discredited from every perspective, logic, science and the law- yet every once in a while we meet another Keefer, who for his own personal/psychological reasons resurrects the same fallacies and junk-science of years past.
He began with the most puerile of tactics: “Homosexuality IS unnatural. Things don’t “fit” as intended.
Homosexuality has been documented in 1500 species, it occurs naturally in both sexual and affectionate forms (as in Penguins). Sex in primates is actually more about socialization than reproduction, only 3% of human sexual activity ends in reproduction, the other 97% are interactions for emotional and sexual pleasure.
That argument didn’t work, so then Keefer tries to thump us with his bible: “Rights come from God, not government.”
Maybe Keefer wasn’t aware of the concept of separation of church and state (or maybe he just prefers to ignore it when it’s convenient) which is present in the Western civilized world. In the civilized world it’s governments who decide what rights its citizens have. It’s governments and the people therein who create the framework for what can and cannot be done, what is legal and what is illegal.
Okay, two arguments down, neither worked, so he jumps to the third, one which is actually very common: “Notice your own words: “We live under elected governments in societies where we have freedom of religion.” I see you said “freedom OF religion,” not “freedom FROM religion.” My beliefs are my own, as are yours. I am entitled to my beliefs just as much as you are entitled to yours. When that is denied me or you, this once great country is DONE.
In saying this Keefer evidently doesn’t comprehend the absurdity of his own words, freedom of religion and freedom from religion are interchangeable. The freedom to choose to be a Christian is the freedom from being forced to be a Muslim or a Jew. The freedom to be a Buddhist is the freedom from being a Christian.
Three arguments down, is there still anywhere to go? He backs off a little bit, I feel I may have been rather unkind. He says: “Just because YOU don’t follow God’s word doesn’t mean you are right, and just because I believe in God doesn’t make ME right either. It just means we disagree. So there is no point in insulting me just because I believe in God.”- Unfortunately he doesn’t believe what he just said because here he is, trying to make everyone else adopt the tenets of his religion. In his second comment he even implied we don’t have rights except those afforded to us by his god.
Again I feel a bit cruel, somewhere along the line I made a joke about Cretin deriving from Christian. If you’re a French speaker you know that’s true, but still it was unnecessary. Keefer says :“Liberals are supposed to be “accepting” type of people<sic>. Accept conservatives as you accept the poor, the African-Americans, the immigrants, etc…”- A bell rings in my head. Is this someone looking for acceptance? I’m too wound up citing scientific studies and explaining logic 101. I don’t consider the implications of his plea for acceptance. In hindsight I wonder if perhaps I was pushing him further away? Feeding whatever sense of differentness and alienation he feels already? I steam-roll on. I’m used to it. In the old days when I was a real activist I used to write serious things that required a proper format, style and word limit. I was regularly op-ed-ing on gay issues and they called me El Niño. Not because of my boyish good looks but because of the winds… I wreaked havoc and left devastation behind me. I began articles with phrases like “I find myself scandalized…” and tore people to shreds. Even today whole speeches just roll off my tongue even though I’ve turned into a lazy suburbanite who prefers to write fragmented blog posts with a total disregard for grammar and the rules.
In my defence, my bluntness was that of a passionate 26 year old. It was 2004, we were fighting for gay marriage. We got it. It exists here on a Federal level although it had existed in various provinces years before then. Keefer tries the semantic argument and fails again, I explain to him that words evolve. He’s getting irritated. I suppose I failed to engage him on a human level, I think that’s what he was looking for. Squirrel & Moose jumps in, he’s tough, sounds like El Niño. No playing around, cut-throat, direct to the point. I think to myself, great, this must be what if feels like to have a co-pilot, I can just get up and pour myself another drink, light a cigarette and he’ll handle it. This started at 7:15PM, it’s now 1AM Paris time, that’s 6 hours of Keefer’s Sunday. Occasionally Karen also jumps in, she’s the mother of a trans boy. She’s firm, but gentle as one would expect from a mother. It’s nearly 1:30 here. I turn off the computer, Keefer stays and continues to engage with Karen. She does her best to rationally explain things to him, he seems to get more bitter as the discussion continues. Today I get up and see his last comment came at 6:21AM Paris time- which means nearly 12 hours of back and forth and Keefer visiting this blog. I finally realize there must be more to this than meets the eye…