Homosexuality and Natural Law
By Harry V. Jaffa, Claremont Institute
This is the premier publication of the Center for the Study of the Natural Law. The Center's purpose is to help revive an effective understanding of the principles or conditions of freedom. The need for this is manifest.
A few years ago, a book called Cultural Literacy held that fellow citizens require a common cultural vocabulary. Americans alluding to Tom Sawyer, for example—or to Job or to Teapot Dome or to Jolting Joe DiMaggio—need to be understood by their countrymen if our nation is to get on. All the more so do fellow citizens require a common moral vocabulary, perhaps especially in a regime founded on "self-evident truths." The self-evidence of such truths is contingent, of course, on our understanding the definitions of their terms. An elephant is self-evidently stronger than a mouse, only when we know what is an elephant, and what a mouse. All men are self-evidently created equal in their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, only when we grasp the definitions of "men," "life," "liberty," and "happiness." The abortion controversy is but one of many indications that we Americans no longer agree about these terms at the heart of our nation's charter. And as our newspapers come increasingly to read like the histories of Suetonius, the task of rectifying this grows more urgent.
The attack on traditional morality is no longer confined to the academy. Just recently, Anglican Bishop Alexander Muge of Kenya was barred by a parish priest from the pulpit of an Episcopal church in California, when it became known that the visiting prelate meant to deliver a homily condemning rectal intercourse. This on the heels of the President of the United States—and let us here recall that Mr. Bush's party was founded in 1856 on a platform of unambiguous moral opposition to "the twin relics of Barbarism," polygamy and slavery—entertaining leaders of the homosexual community (thereby symbolically sanctioning that community's "interest") at a White House bill-signing ceremony. This in turn might remind us that even influential segments of the modern American conservative movement abjure the natural law tradition embodied in the Declaration of Independence. The "paleo-conservatives" exalt John C. Calhoun—who stood foursquare against what one of his contemporaries, Senator Pettit of Indiana, called the Declaration's "self-evident lies''—out of a romantic longing for the way of life of the antebellum South. Libertarians, on the other hand, reject the idea that legitimate consent must be enlightened; that "free to choose" precludes not only the enslavement of others (as by dealing drugs or confiscating property) but the enslavement of self (as by taking drugs or voting for communists). Leo Strauss noted the irony of the fact that one of the most reactionary organizations in the post-New Deal era was called the Daughters of the American Revolution. Perhaps it is equally ironic today that the Center for the Study of the Natural Law—which after all will do little more than draw upon the collected wisdom of the likes of Lincoln, Sidney, Aquinas, Cicero, and Aristotle—is less conservative than radical in the ordinary senses of the terms.
As a practical matter, the Center exists to defend the family, which James Wilson—one of six in America's founding generation to sign both the Declaration and the Constitution—called "that seminary on which the commonwealth, for its manners as well as for its numbers, must ultimately depend, as its establishment is the source, so its happiness is the end, of every institution of government which is wise and good." This publication addresses perhaps the most radical threat posed to our besieged seminary in America today, that by the organized homosexual movement.
Douglas A. Jeffrey
Executive Vice President
The Claremont Institute
1. "The Great Sodomy Debate"
Harry V. Jaffa, the Henry Salvatori Research Professor of Political Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont Graduate School, wrote a letter to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times in response to Ronald Gold's "Morality and Homosexuality: Gays Must Take Up the Affirmative Argument," an op-ed piece published in the Times on January 14, 1989. In doing so, he touched off a heated public debate of nearly a year's duration at the Claremont Colleges.
Jaffa argued in his letter that "sodomy is to be condemned because the rational ground of all morality is nature, and sodomy is against nature." To regard "the generative distinction between male and female" as arbitrary, he continued,
is to regard all the distinctions upon which all morality rests—e. g., those which condemn slavery and genocide—as arbitrary. It implies that we are free to choose whether there are objective limitations upon human action, objective standards of right and wrong.
Following the publication of his letter on January 28, Jaffa was lambasted in Claremont by students and his colleagues on the college faculties alike. He was charged with "intolerance," "bigotry," "anti-intellectualism," and "homophobia." He was compared to Jimmy Swaggart. He was the subject of an emergency meeting of a student group called the Committee for Diversity and Awareness.
In response to one published attack on his views, Jaffa wrote the following article, which appeared in Collage, the weekly news magazine of the Claremont Colleges, on April 5.
Whose Rights Are the Right Rights?1
Alison R. Embler, writing in the March 1, 1989, issue of Collage, declares that "Jaffa would deny homosexuals the right to live their lives the way they choose." To this she adds:
Jaffa wishes to establish an ethical standard, but in doing so is actually denying some people their rights. Now how ethical is that?
I wonder if Miss Embler would find an answer to her question in the following transcript of a recently discovered conversation with one of his "victims" that Ted Bundy had taped. We will call her "Laura," although that was not her real name.2
Laura: Where have you taken me, Ted?
Bundy: To a place where no one can follow us—or find you—at least not until long after I have disappeared—and you are dead.
Laura: What do you mean?
Bundy: What I mean is that I intend to rape and murder you.
Laura: Oh, my God, my God, why?
Bundy: Because, my dear, it will give me the greatest possible pleasure to do so.
Laura: Please, please, spare me. Send for ransom, ask anything. I know my parents and their families and friends will do anything to save my life.
Bundy: But you fail to understand me. I don't want anything from anyone else. It is raping and murdering you that I want, and nothing can substitute for it. By the way, unless I have lost count, you will be the 89th young woman—person I should say—who has been good enough to gratify me in this way. Believe it or not, I am very grateful to my victims—although I do not think of them as victims, but rather as those making the sacrifices necessary for my freedom—the freedom to live my life the way I choose to live it. Nations praise those who sacrifice their lives for the freedom of others, as you will shortly be doing. I would be glad to erect a monument to your memory—and to that of all the others, past and future, who have made and will make the same sacrifice—although I do not think it is practicable for me to try to do so.
Laura: But Ted, how can you possibly call raping and murdering your "freedom"? What about my life and freedom?
Bundy: I recognize that your life and your freedom are very valuable to you, but you must recognize that they are not so valuable to me. And if I must sacrifice your life and freedom to mine, why should I not do so? The unexamined life was not worth living to Socrates. And a life without raping and murdering is not worth living to me. What right do you—or does anyone—have, to deny this to me?
Laura: But rape and murder are wrong. The Bible says they are wrong, and the law says they are wrong.
Bundy: What do you mean by wrong? What you call wrong, I call attempts to limit my freedom. The Bible punished both sodomy and murder with death. Sodomy is no longer regarded as a crime, or even as immoral. Why then should murder—or rape? But, you say, rape and murder are against the law, and if the law catches me, it will punish me. Very well, and if it does not catch me, what then? After so many highly successful and immensely gratifying rapes and murders, I do not think the law has much to say to me. In any case, it can hardly punish me any more for what I am about to do, than for what I have already done. So I see little benefit for you in this argument.
Laura: But surely, surely, Ted, you must see that killing an innocent human being is wrong. Did you, or do you not have a mother and a father, or a sister or a brother, or friends, in whom you recognize a life like your own, that should be as precious to you as your own life? Is there not something within you—a conscience—that tells you that to be a human being is to recognize that everything is not permitted? And that your own happiness—indeed your own freedom—depends upon living within the bounds prescribed either by God or the moral law?
Bundy: Well, Laura, I am glad we are having this talk. None of my other victims ever asked me to justify myself as you are doing. And so I must tell you—and hope it will afford you some satisfaction—that you are if possible increasing the pleasure I am having from our acquaintance, short as it must be.
I want you to know then that once upon a time I too believed that God and the moral law prescribed boundaries within which my life had to be lived. That was before I took my first college courses in philosophy. Then it was that I discovered how unsophisticated—nay, primitive—my earlier beliefs had been. Then I learned that all moral judgments are "value judgments," that all value judgments are subjective, and that none can be proved to be either "right" or "wrong." I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written that the American Constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself—what apparently the Chief Justice couldn't figure out for himself—that if the rationality of one value judgment was zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one whit more rational. Nor is there any "reason" to obey the law for anyone, like myself, who has the boldness and daring—the strength of character—to throw off its shackles. And I was assured, by what I regarded as the highest possible authority—a Harvard-trained philosophy professor—that,
The root notion of [true] freedom is . . . the spontaneous, uninhibited expression of the integrated self . . . [and that] the absence of freedom means . . . the presence of blocks or limitations that prevent unfettered expressions of the self.
I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. And I quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation to it, consisted in the insupportable "value judgment" that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, who were these "others"? Other human beings, with human rights? Why is it more wrong to kill a human animal than any other animal, a pig or a sheep or a steer? Is our life more to you than a hog's life to a hog? Why should I be willing to sacrifice my pleasures more for the one than for the other? Surely, you would not, in this age of scientific enlightenment, declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as "moral" or "good" and others as "immoral" or "bad? In any case, let me assure you, my dear young lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I might take in eating ham, and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has led me—after the most conscientious examination of my spontaneous and uninhibited self.
At this point in the tape there was a sharp scream, followed by a click, indicating that the tape recorder had been turned off.
May I suggest that Ted Bundy is a true existentialist hero, who displayed a resolution worthy of the nihilist's truth that morality has no other support than what we will it to have. Since Bundy lived the doctrine that most philosophy professors only talk, it seems proper to suggest that there be established a Theodore Bundy Chair in Applied Ethics. I would estimate the cost of such a chair as no more than $300,000 (without the batteries). I would hope that successive incumbents of the chair would piously memorialize, i.e. reenact (on the appropriate date), the apotheosis of the original incumbent.
* * * * *
Also in April, as it had for several years, the Lesbian and Gay Student Union at the Claremont Colleges sponsored a "consciousness-raising" week of rallies, lectures, and films called "Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days," or GLAD week. This event is officially supported by Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Pomona College, and Scripps College, as well as by the Claremont Graduate School, the Chicano Student Affairs Center, and the Office of Black Student Affairs. This year, however, a group calling itself "Students for Awareness, Diversity, Peace, Freedom, and Justice for All Present" posted flyers resembling those of GLAD's sponsors, but touting "Bestiality and Incest Awareness Days," or BAD week. A rally in reaction against this protest was held on April 14, and the Student Deans Committee of the Claremont Colleges issued the following public letter.
April 14, 1989
To the Claremont Community:
The celebration of Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days (GLAD) has become an annual event on the Claremont Colleges campuses. Each year students, faculty, and staff have taken time to think about gay rights and to examine their own beliefs and feelings about this sensitive and very personal subject. This year's celebration has been marred by the action of a few who sought to discredit the event with a phony agenda formatted in the same fashion as the GLAD week poster put out by the gay and lesbian students. The Deans of Students of the Claremont Colleges deplore the behavior of those who authored and distributed this disgusting parody. It compromises the integrity of the Colleges, who assert mutual respect as a hallmark of our cooperative existence. We are all hurt and diminished by this violation of respect.
We call on all members of the Claremont community to examine their personal attitudes and to reaffirm our commitment to make Claremont a place where all people are able to live and learn with dignity, and where all people are accepted for their common humanity.
Student Deans Committee
of the Claremont Colleges
* * * * *
Jaffa responded as follows, in a letter mailed to each of the Trustees of the Claremont Colleges.
To the Trustees of the Claremont Colleges:
On April 14, 1989, the Student Deans Committee of the Claremont Colleges addressed the Claremont Community, observing that "[t]he celebration of Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days (GLAD) has become an annual event on the Claremont Colleges campuses." The Deans thereupon denounced those who "marred" this year's "'celebration" by seeking to "discredit" it. We believe that the Trustees of these colleges ought to be made aware of what is implied by the official endorsement and sanction given herein to the "celebration" of sodomy and lesbianism. And we believe further that the Trustees should consider the implications of the official rebuke given to those who, in the exercise of their right to free speech—not to mention academic freedom—have dared to question the morality and the wisdom of such a celebration.
Let us be clear that "gay" is a neologism, a euphemism of recent origin, and refers to sodomy or, to be precise, anal sexual intercourse. There is nothing gay about it, in the proper meaning of the word. From ancient—and biblical—times, this practice has been regarded by the greatest legislators and moralists as a vicious sexual perversion. It is condemned equally by the Old and the New Testaments, and by Plato in his Laws. Thomas Jefferson, in a criminal code written during the American Revolution, made it a felony in the same class as rape. In this he only followed the common law.
Whether we today should continue to regard sodomy—or any other form of sexual deviancy—with the same abhorrencewith which it was held in former ages, is certainly open to question. What we find utterly unacceptable is the assumption, by the Deans, that the approval of sodomy and lesbianism is not open to question, and that those who have the temerity to disapprove should be denounced for "compromising the integrity of the colleges."
To the best of our knowledge, the first cases of AIDS were diagnosed in the United States about 1981. That is about ten years after the "Gay Rights Movement" became a political movement to transform the moral foundations of society, a crusade featuring parades, rallies, and what only a short time ago would have been considered indecent exhibitionism. That the outbreak of this new and deadly disease followed so closely upon the rapid spread and social acceptance of sodomy should not escape anyone's notice. The connection between anal intercourse and AIDS is as evident as that between smoking and lung cancer. Nor can one overlook the fact that every single case of AIDS is traceable directly or indirectly to such intercourse. Much is made today of the fact that nonsodomites are also at risk. That is because bisexuals can transmit the AIDS virus to women, and infected women can transmit it to heterosexual men, as well as to their unborn infants. Anyone can contract the disease from contaminated blood, or from the needles of sodomites who are intravenous drug users. Nevertheless, the ultimate point of origin of every single case, however transmitted, is anal intercourse by sodomites. It seems to us therefore that, faced with the spreading menace of this deadly disease—including on our college campuses, where according to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta the incidence of the AIDS virus (standing currently at two per 1,000 students) continues to rise—the last thing in the world that Student Deans should do is to celebrate sodomy. This is institutionalized madness.
We find it incredible that the Student Deans Committee of the Claremont Colleges, which sees nothing repugnant in anal intercourse, nonetheless finds "disgusting" a protesting poster by dissenting students—a copy of which we attach. This poster only mirrored "Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days" by calling for "Bestiality and Incest Awareness Days." It may interest the Trustees to know that under the common law—as cited by Thomas Jefferson—
Buggery is twofold. (1) With mankind, (2) with beasts. Buggery is the genus, of which sodomy and bestiality are the species.
Why then, if sodomy and bestiality are but two species of the same genus, is it disgusting to increase "awareness" of the one but not of the other? That certainly was one of the points made by the poster. Jefferson, moreover, observed that of the two, bestiality is the less offensive, because "[b]estiality can never make any progress; it cannot therefore be injurious to society in any great degree. . . ."
What of incest? Homosexuality and incest have ever been condemned by civilized mankind, not only as sexually perverse, but as striking directly at the dignity and the integrity of the family. As such, they strike not only at sexual morality, but at all morality, because the family is the most fundamental of all human institutions in the moral instruction of mankind. It is common, moreover, for defenders of sodomy and lesbianism—who are without exception moral relativists—to insist that there is no rational ground upon which anyone can criticize anything that is done by consenting persons. But suppose the persons are father and daughter, or mother and son. Can the Trustees—can any responsible human being—accept this kind of reasoning?
The poster condemned by the Deans Committee—whether a parody or not—raises the most serious of questions. It is because the Deans Committee—and those whom it has come to represent—fear these questions, and fear the consequences of free argument and debate, that they hide behind (and under) the affected authority of snide and pejorative epithets. The Deans Committee of the Claremont Colleges has shown itself to be both morally and intellectually bankrupt. We believe that its members should be asked to resign. We believe that the Trustees should establish a Committee of Inquiry, to ask why homosexuality should have a "preferred status" on these campuses, to be protected from criticism, while the moral, intellectual, and physical health of our students is placed at risk.
Harry V. Jaffa
Claremont McKenna College
Claremont Graduate School
* * * * *
When the Trustees did not respond one way or the other to this letter over the course of the summer, Dr. Jaffa—now Professor Emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Natural Law—submitted it to Collage. It appeared in the first issue of the fall semester and sparked a flurry of responses, which were published in turn on September 27. Jaffa selected four representative articles and letters—one (by the editor of Collage) apologetic, one (by the managing editor) friendly but condescending, one (by the director of Student Health Services) virulent, one (by a philosophy major at Claremont McKenna College) philosophic in tone—and answered them in the following article, published on October 25.
Diversity for Whom and for What?
Collage of September 27, 1989, devoted three full pages to letters, editorials, and editorial essays replying to my Letter to the Trustees of the Claremont Colleges. I cannot recall anyone else ever having received such concentrated attention on these campuses. While I trust that I am not ungrateful, I cannot help feeling some resemblance to the man who, being tarred and feathered and ridden on a rail, said "If it wasn't for the honor of the thing, I'd rather walk."
Although there was a great deal of difference in the temper and tone of the different pieces, they were unanimous in regarding it as little less than crazy (if that) for anyone to question the moral acceptability of sodomy and of an openly sodomite lifestyle. I cannot remember a time—in a teaching career of forty-five years—when opinion on college campuses was so nearly unanimous. Not even when the junior senator from Wisconsin stalked the land. Not even when the Vietnam War was at its most unpopular. Had I been contending on behalf of the Flat Earth Society, I could not have defended a position that my interlocutors believed more anachronistic. They have, however, reacted not with arguments as to why I am wrong, but (except for the few who were merely amused) with amazement, anger, and sheer disbelief that anyone with my opinions could actually exist. Like the little boy who blurted out the truth about the emperor's new clothes, I have, it seems, committed lèse majesté, the blunder that is worse than a crime. Above all, I am (like the late Sidney Hook) out of step.
In "From the Editor's Desk," Erik Espe admits that he too was once "a hard-core conservative." It sounds almost as if he had belonged to a drug-dealing street gang. Now reformed—but stuck at Claremont McKenna College—he "can only sulk, silently wishing for some kind of Bohemian revolution to overwhelm [his] campus." "Ideas which are totally unacceptable at the other four colleges are tolerated at CMC," he writes. But then what can you expect of "one of the few colleges in the nation which had a majority of its student body vote for George Bush"? How goofy things can get in this loony bin is indicated when Espe mentions that there was "once . . . a professor at CMC [who told his] class [that] the U.S. could win a nuclear war." Espe evidently thinks that merely to utter this proposition (like Jaffa's views on sodomy) is sufficient to condemn it. I would only like to comment at this point that the professor in question was almost certainly responding to Richard Pipes' famous Commentary article of a few years back, "Why the Soviet Union Believes It Can Fight and Win a Nuclear War," an article based almost entirely on Soviet sources. For the record, Richard Pipes is a professor of Russian history at Harvard, a former member of the National Security Council, and one of the world's most respected scholars. I believe it was three years ago that he spoke in Pomona College's most prestigious lecture series. It is, however, altogether to Espe's credit that he says, concerning nuclear war and other matters, "these conservative viewpoints have a right to be heard." Unfortunately, his education has apparently immunized him against any possible benefit he might gain from the actual hearing. But one can never be certain in these matters. Sometimes seeds that you were sure were dead, suddenly sprout.
When he gets to "Harry Jaffa, CMC'S most famous political science professor," he makes the best of a bad bargain by saying that "most CMCers disagree with much of what Jaffa has to say"—a very modest understatement, since most CMCers (like himself) haven't the least idea of what it is that I do say (or write). But Espe is indulgent towards my foibles: "I take his writings with a grain of salt," he says, "viewing them in the same light I would a lecture by a grandfather about the evils of sex before marriage."
Now Espe is quite perceptive in ascribing grandfatherly status to me. And any time that he has four or five hours to spare, and would like to hear about my two grandsons, he is welcome to stop by. But it is a mistake on his part to prejudge grandfatherly lectures—whether on sex or on any other topic—on the assumption that their content would be "totally unacceptable at the other four campuses. . . . "
As to the likelihood of my lecturing him on the evils of sex before marriage, let me reassure him. Over the years, the complaint I have noted most frequently in the agony columns of the daily papers concerns this very matter. None of them has, I think, risen to the level of the occasion. So I have (with Espe's assistance) imagined myself in the business of receiving and answering these letters, one of which might run like this:
Dear Professor Grandpa:
Before Bill and I were married, we had WONDERFUL sex. But now everything is BLAH. What went wrong? What can we do about it?
To this I would reply:
If you were having WONDERFUL sex before you were married, why in hell did you ever get married? Don't you know that in sex as in sports, the first rule is never to change a winning combination?
Can't you see what happened? Before you were married you saved up your quarters all week for the one-armed bandit of love, and week after week you hit the jackpot. Now Friday night rolls around, and you begin to think of playing bridge with the girls, while he bowls or shoots pool with the boys. You're going to grab his paycheck as he comes through the door anyway, and he knows you're going to iron his shirts and cook his dinner no matter. And so it goes on. And then there's the matter of kids. Did you ever know anyone who could make love with a squalling infant nearby? It's a natural impossibility.
So you see, the poor shlemiels who have never beaten the odds in the Palace of Passion (as you did) never know what it is that they are missing. Someone might say that they're better off that way. But who wants to be stupid in order to be happy? My advice: Stick with the memories.
So you see, Erik Espe, there is none of the fuddy-duddy about this Grandpa. What he warns against is not sex before marriage. It's marriage after sex.
Dear Anne Elsberry:
Thank you for the various expressions of goodwill toward myself expressed in your September 27 column in Collage. Much of what you wrote was to rebuke the author of an indecent poster which was directed against me (and Thomas Jefferson). Unfortunately, you equivocated on the very matter at issue.
If we are supposed to be outraged by the insinuation that some, presently and throughout history, have seen homosexuality as equivalent to incest and rape, should we not also be incensed by the mere suggestion that there exists some sort of moral equivalence between a founder of our nation, the scribe of our freedoms, and Hitler?
But my dear young lady, why do you suppose it is an outrage to say that homosexuality, like rape and incest, strikes at the integrity of the human family? Do you not think that a real family, a family "according to nature," has a man and woman, a father and mother, at its core? Do you not see that the integrity of any family depends upon confining sexual friendship to husband and wife, and that whatever dilutes—or pollutes—this friendship, weakens the entire family structure and deprives the family—and thereby free society—of its natural moral authority? The typical justification of homosexuality is that the sexual behavior of consenting adults is not subject to any just criticism from anyone else. But suppose the ones consenting are brother and sister, father and daughter, or mother and son? You will find no argument against incest in the homosexual literature. But why is consent made the authorizing ground of behavior? In the Declaration of Independence, the "just powers of government" are derived from "the consent of the governed." Not any powers, but only just powers. Consent as such does not authorize anything intrinsically immoral. The community of Jonestown—all 900 souls—committed suicide by unanimous consent. Did that make it right? Particularly since the several hundred children were beneath the age of consent. Much as I appreciate your goodwill, I can see no consistent ground for objecting to the equation of Jefferson and Hitler, for someone who does not see that sodomy is, in the decisive respect, as morally offensive as incest and rape. To abandon the morality that is intrinsic to the family is to abandon the ground for distinguishing a Hitler from a Jefferson.
Of the seven epistles directly attacking me, the letter from Michael M. Brady, M.D., Director of Student Health Services, is distinctive and extraordinary.
In response to my Letter to the Trustees, Dr. Brady declares:
It is regrettable that a professor emeritus . . . would disseminate inaccurate information about medicine and human behavior. . . . The facts are that rectal intercourse is a behavior that is found in all human cultures and all historical eras. . . . It is widely practiced by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. . . .
Would it interest the good doctor to know that murder, theft, adultery, incest, rape, and embezzlement of public funds are "found in all human cultures and all historical eras?" Human sacrifice, polygamy, suttee, and cannibalism are also "widely practiced" in one or another human culture. Slavery was virtually universal in the ancient world, and it was of course abolished in the United States only in 1865. Dr. Brady is totally unable to distinguish what "is" in the world from what "ought to be." He cannot recognize any basis for distinguishing moral from immoral behavior, whether yesterday or today, whether here or elsewhere. Yet he is—altogether inconsistently—filled with moral indignation at my criticism of sodomy and sodomite practices, which criticism he finds "scientifically and morally indefensible."
It is "clearly fallacious," writes Dr. Brady, to assess "guilt and blame for the AIDS epidemic on any group of people or on a single set of behaviors." To this day, however, in the United States (I know nothing about Africa), over 85 percent of the AIDS victims have been sodomites. Of the remaining 15 percent, some are victims of contaminated blood donated by sodomites; some are intravenous drug users who shared needles with sodomites, some are women who were infected by bisexual sodomites; others are children born to women who have been infected (directly or indirectly) by sodomites. To say, in the face of such facts, that it is unscientific to identify any one group for responsibility is simply to fly in the face of all empirical reality.
"As a physician," Dr. Brady writes,
. . . I submit that any attempt to make this viral illness [viz., AIDS] an issue of morality is uninformed, unscientific, ethnocentric, and racist in the extreme.
One thing I must say in Dr. Brady's favor is that I know exactly where I stand with him. However, I can't for the life of me understand why he didn't add "narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant, and prejudiced"; or "fanatic, psychotic, and schizoid." He really did not even begin to plumb the depths of his Roget.
AIDS is a venereal disease. But there are other venereal diseases; e.g., syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes. If Dr. Brady can be persuaded to stop calling names, we might ask him why it happens that those who lead chaste lives, whether in or out of marriage, rarely if ever contract such diseases, while the promiscuous do. Does Dr. Brady refuse to counsel his patients to avoid sexual promiscuity (whether homosexual or heterosexual) on the ground that it is immoral and unscientific to link any kind of human behavior with any kind of disease? If so, then it is time that the Colleges begin looking for a different Director of Student Health Services.
Dr. Brady's polemics reach a breathtaking climax in the following sentence:
To say that rectal intercourse causes AIDS is as valid as to say that breathing causes influenza.
There it is, in mathematical (i.e., scientific) proportion: As breathing is to influenza, rectal intercourse is to AIDS! Since breathing is involuntary, rectal intercourse is involuntary! And since no one can be blamed for breathing, no one can be blamed for rectal intercourse (or its consequences)! Nice work if you can get away with it, doctor!
Now what we call morality refers only to voluntary human activity. We do not praise or blame anyone for doing something over which he had no control. In the whole history of the world, all sexual activity (except for victims of forcible rape) has always been regarded as voluntary. Indeed, there is no sphere of human activity where men (and women) are more severely held to account for what they do. If sexual activity of any kind is no more voluntary than breathing., then there are no human actions that are more voluntary than breathing. All morality is an illusion. But then neither can anyone be blamed for being "unscientific, ethnocentric, and racist." Nobody in here but us breathers, doctor!
In his essay, "The Abyss, the Inferno, and the Academy," Michael D. Chan has made a sincere and commendable effort to move from denunciation to argument. But he made no real effort to understand the position he was trying to refute, before attempting the refutation. As it is, he has for the most part grappled with a straw man.
He asks, "Is it impossible to hold to absolute moral principles while denying that homosexuality is immoral?" His answer is in the affirmative, because, he says, "A Kantian . . .could easily argue that homosexuality in no way conflicts with the categorical imperative." He is uneasy with this answer since it envisages the extinction of the species, although he insists that it "produces no conflict in the will."
Chan seems unaware that Kant's ethics completely divorces man's humanity from his rationality. It is indifferent to the claims of humanity as such. This is shown by the categorical denial of any right to lie. But who would refuse to lie to a Ted Bundy pursuing his victim, in order to fulfill the demands of the categorical imperative? In any event, Chan has chosen a bad test for "absolute moral principles." There is nothing that says there cannot be an internally consistent Nazi ethics, or an internally consistent Stalinist ethics, or cannibal ethics, or slavery ethics. What is wrong with these systems is not their internal consistency but their premises and conclusions.
Both Nazis and Marxist Communists take as their foundations a view of history derived from nineteenth-century neo-Darwinian biology. The Nazis saw history as a competition of races, with the struggle for power (ultimately by means of war) determining who was the fittest and who deserved to survive and rule. The "master" race stood in the same relationship to the "inferior" races that the human race had stood in relationship to the lower order of animals in the "old" view of things. Hence these inferior races could— logically and consistently—be enslaved or exterminated, or used for their hides and tallow the same way we use cattle. The Holocaust was no more to them than the shambles of the Kansas City stockyards to us. In the case of the Communists, they substitute the words "class struggle" for the race struggle of the Nazis. But the human consequences are the same. Anything denominated "counterrevolutionary" in a Stalinist regime suffers the same fate as anything called "dysgenic" (i.e., racially harmful) in the other. That is why I say the abandonment of human nature is the abandonment of the ground of all morality.
Mr. Chan declares that "Professor Jaffa's definition of nature is purely arbitrary." Then so is my condemnation of Nazi and Communist tyranny. This is the same definition as Jefferson's and Lincoln's. It was the abandonment of their definition that led to the "positive good" school of pro-slavery thought in antebellum America, and ultimately to the Nazis and the Communists. Nature and reason tell us that a Negro is a human being, and is not to be treated like a horse or an ox or a dog, just as they tell us that a Jew is a human being, and is not to be treated as a plague-bearing bacillus. But with the very same voice, nature and reason tell us that a man is not a woman, and that sexual friendship is properly between members of opposite sexes, not the same sex. It also tells us that the right ordering of this relationship is the ground of all morality, the ground of all resistance to tyranny.
Mr. Chan attributes all kinds of things to me that I never said. He writes:
Eating or drinking too much would be in violation of the natural law. Yet does Professor Jaffa suggest that we throw people in jail for obesity as he would for sodomy?
But where did I ever suggest throwing people in jail for sodomy? Yet the analogy Chan draws is an apt one. Once upon a time, gluttony was called one of the seven deadly sins. If sodomy were once again condemned by the same standard as gluttony, all I contend for would be realized.
Chan writes that "contraception would be just as immoral as homosexuality since it frustrates the natural purpose of sex." I believe this view to be mistaken, although it is one easy to make, because it is how the Catholic Church has interpreted the natural law. According to Aristotle—the fons et origo of all natural law teaching—all the moral virtues must be exercised according to the dictates of prudence. A brave man does not rush into danger, except for good and sufficient reasons. He does not go into a burning house to rescue a canary or a kitten as he would a child. Mr. Chan attributes to me the absurd opinion that "the most important thing about man's nature is his ability to perpetuate the species." Other species may fulfill their natural destiny by generation alone, but mankind seeks his end in and by the soul no less than by the body. One's duty to one's progeny only begins with the circumstances of birth. It is the nurture and, above all, the education of the young, that parents must undertake when they bring children into the world. If the resources available to the parents are such that they have to choose between failing in their duty to many, or fulfilling their duty to a few, choosing the latter course may indeed be prudent. And whatever is prudent is moral, because, unlike Kant, Aristotle does not recognize such a thing as an imprudent (or foolish) morality. The aptness—or morality—of the means must be judged in the light of man's highest end, which is not life, but the good life. What Mr. Chan calls "the natural purpose of sex" must be seen in the light of the highest end of generation—which is education, the training of the soul in the moral and the intellectual virtues—and not merely biological replication.
* * * * *
The November 1 issue of Collage contained four responses to this article, including letters by Messrs. Brady and Chan. Jaffa answered these in the following letter, published on November 8.
To the Editor:
In "Brady Disputes Jaffa," Dr. Michael Brady delivers a somewhat more sententious version of his previous diatribe. However, Dr. Brady concedes everything in dispute between us when he writes, "Though some sexual behaviors are efficient transmitters of the [AIDS] virus, in the absence of the virus neither rectal intercourse nor being stuck with a dirty needle will cause the disease."
How can "rectal intercourse" have nothing to do with the spread of AIDS, if it is "an efficient transmitter of the virus?" So efficient, in fact, that 85 percent of all AIDS victims in the United States have engaged in precisely this kind of behavior. Clearly, in its absence, the transmission of the virus, pro tanto, would not take place.
Dr. Brady writes: "It is racist to insist that millions afflicted in Africa and Asia are less important than the few (100,000) Americans who now harbor the virus." But who suggested that the lives of Africans or Asians are less important than Americans? What I did suggest was that anyone—Asian, African, or American—would be less likely to become infected with AIDS, if he did not engage in behavior that is an "efficient transmitter of the virus."
The passion that carries Dr. Brady into these wild contradictions is revealed when he declares that "the real danger . . . lies in the overwhelming attitude prevalent in the United States that Christian heterosexuals don't get AIDS."
Well, doctor, Christian and non-Christian heterosexuals don't get AIDS by homosexual anal intercourse. This certainly reduces their risk. Also, Christian or non-Christian nonsmokers don't get lung cancer or emphysema from smoking, although they may contract these diseases in some other way. Do you tell your patients it's all right to go on smoking, because the afflictions might get them one way if not the other?
Pursuing his anti-religious theme, Dr. Brady then makes the extraordinary assertion that "the Book of Job puts to rest the idea that only the immoral suffer God's punishment."
I'm sorry to contradict an epidemiological expert concerning the Bible, but Job does not suffer God's punishment. God permits Job to suffer, which is a very different thing from punishing him.
That the just and the innocent suffer is a universal experience of the human race. It constitutes a problem to which Plato's Republic is directed no less than the Book of Job. The teaching of the Bible, and of Plato, is that it is better to suffer than to do injustice, whatever external rewards or punishments befall us. In the case of the Bible, we are invited to believe that God's power and goodness are such that whatever our fate we ought to obey His law, having faith that in "the final proportions of eternal justice" goodness is always vindicated.
And for the record, my "academic specialty" is not "Civil War history," as Dr. Brady suggests, but moral and political philosophy.
Michael Chan writes:
Professor Jaffa's dismissal of Kant is too easy. While Kant did in fact make the error Professor Jaffa points out in his article [viz., that the categorical imperative forbids us to lie to a murderer seeking his victim], subsequent thought has corrected it.
According to Chan, this correction consists in holding that "an action is wrong if it uses another person as a mere means to an external end. Not murdering is an end internal to all creatures capable of reason." To this he adds that "Nazis, advocates of slavery, etc., incorrectly deny that all men are capable of reason."
Chan concludes that "absolute moral principles are possible" while denying the immorality of homosexuality. But Chan has not merely corrected Kant. To speak of "another person" as an end-in-himself is to claim to know that person both as a noumenon and a phenomenon. This, according to Kant, is impossible.
Once one identifies a human person as possessed of his own ends—that is to say, as having a free will—one sees him as a rational being. But rational, he is also social and political, since reason, speech, and society are different aspects of a single reality. If man's rationality is rooted in society, and if society is itself rooted in the family, then the morality of the family is an aspect of human rationality. The entire argument which sees homosexuality as unnatural and wrong follows from Chan's "correction" of Kant.
As a footnote: The Nazis did not deny that inferior races were capable of reason. What they denied was that reason was the essential feature of man's humanity. They elevated will over reason, as in the great Nazi propaganda film, "Triumph of the Will."
Fred Mulder has discovered a book by Robertson Davies, published in 1981, which asks, somewhat diffidently, whether "there's anything gay about Oscar Wilde having been a sodomite." From that he asks rather rudely whether "it could be that [Jaffa, in denying the gaiety of rectal intercourse] doesn't even have the guts to cite his sources." I can only say, quite truthfully, that I never read the book in question, and that my discussion of the word "gay" is entirely my own. Perhaps it will comfort Mr. Mulder to know that there are those who still ascribe Barry Goldwater's famous 1964 aphorism concerning "extremism in defense of liberty" to Cicero. I can assure him that these words—which are now immortalized in Bartlett's—originated solely in my draft of the Senator's speech. However, confusing my words with Cicero's is certainly the most flattering thing that has ever happened to me, and I only hope that it will not end.
Harry V, JaffaCenter for the Study of the Natural Law
* * * * *
The editorial staff of Collage appended a note to this letter, insisting that what was now being widely referred to as "the great sodomy debate" be considered closed. But elsewhere in the same issue was an article entitled "Homophobia Can Lead to Suicide." Citing a letter of a homosexual suicide, it argued that such "lofty ravings" as Jaffa's can, and have, led to the "needless deaths" of homosexuals, The following is Jaffa's unpublished reply to this charge.
To the Editor:
In "Homophobia Can Lead to Suicide" (Collage, November 8), Stephen Chan writes of a "16-year-old gay youth" who committed suicide because of "the mental abuse he received at home and at church."
Suicides—particularly of the young—are always occasions of great sadness. The pain of bereavement becomes even greater when parents, relatives, or friends believe that if somehow they had acted differently, this terrible thing would not have happened.
This is not the first time that I have heard anti-homosexual opinion condemned as morally responsible for suicides. I think, however, that those who make this charge are under a fundamental misapprehension as to the nature of moral responsibility. The distinction between right and wrong is not affected by the fact that some people commit suicide because of it. No doubt some men and women have been driven to suicide out of shame for having committed adultery, and others because the barrier of illicit love kept them from the object of their passion. The wrongness of adultery is not affected in any way by whether it agrees with anyone's passions.
In truth, all normal people have within themselves, at one time or another, desires which they know they ought not to gratify. The difference—by and large—between those who live moral and those who live immoral lives, is that the former refuse to indulge their passions merely because they have them. By habitually doing what is right, and by habitually abstaining from what is wrong, the bad passions gradually lose their power, and the good ones become increasingly pleasant. This is what moral education is all about.
Today we are told that freedom consists in the "liberation" of something called the "self." Whatever the "self" desires is said to be good for it. But what is called the "self" is in truth a human soul, endowed by its Creator with reason, and with the ability to know right from wrong. The human soul is able therefore to learn to find its good—and indeed its pleasure—in what is right. This is indeed not always an easy doctrine to live by, and is certainly not popular on these campuses. But it is nonetheless the only ground upon which the different pleasures can be in harmony with each other, and the only ground upon which genuine happiness is possible. One cannot imagine anyone possessed of such truth ever considering suicide.
Harry V. JaffaCenter for the Study of the Natural Law
2. Sodomy and the Dissolution of Free Society
Gays-Justice: A Study of Ethics, Society, and Law
Richard D. Mohr
New York: Columbia University Press, 1988
357 pp., $25.00
Reviewed by Harry V. Jaffa
The author of Gays-Justice, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois-Urbana, is—we are told by the dust jacket—an "openly gay professor" who has turned his attention "to the lives of gay people in America and to the ethical issues raised by society's perception and treatment of gays." This "timely book," it is said,
will prompt Americans to consider whether they have consistently applied their basic values to lesbians and gays.
It is precisely such an "application" that we propose herewith. We begin by rejecting the appropriation by sodomites of the ancient and honorable English word "gay." I do not know any dictionary that defines "gay" as a synonym for homosexual. (There may be a recent one that I do not know.) The word "gay," properly an adjective and not a noun, refers to something "festive," "merry," or "joyous." "Don we now our gay apparel . . ." trolls one of our most popular Christmas carols. Shall we allow this perversion of our language to queer the spirit of Christmas? There is assuredly nothing gay about sodomy, the traditional word for anal intercourse between males.
Mohr invites us to recognize sodomy as belonging to that sphere of privacy recognized in the Griswold case as deserving of constitutional protection. There the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a Connecticut statute that made it a felony for a physician to prescribe birth-control devices to a married couple. Mohr would have us place the innocent privacy of married couples on the same level as a homosexual relationship. He argues that homosexual liaisons ought to be offered the same legal footing as the marriage of a man and a woman. Throughout his book Mohr rejects the morality inherent in those "laws of nature and of nature's God" which were the ground of the American Revolution, and are the moral foundation of our constitutional tradition. In fact, he denies that nature supplies any basis for distinguishing right and wrong. Yet he claims not to be a moral relativist. "[O]ne of our principles," he writes,
is that simply a lot of people saying something is good [or bad!] . . . does not make it so. Our rejection of the long history of socially approved and state-enforced slavery is a good example of this principle at work. Slavery would be wrong even if nearly everyone liked it. So consistency and fairness requires that the culture abandon the belief that gays [sic] are immoral simply because most people dislike or disapprove of gays or gay acts, or even because gay sex acts are illegal. (p. 32)
What Mohr says here about morality being independent of opinion is common ground between us. In particular, we agree that slavery would be wrong even if everyone liked it. Unfortunately, Mohr never says why slavery is wrong. Had he ever examined the great historic arguments as to whether slavery was an evil—necessary or otherwise—or a "positive good," he would have concluded that there is no argument by which one can condemn slavery, that does not at the same time condemn homosexuality. The reason is that nature is the only ground upon which one can consistently condemn slavery. As we shall see, consistency and fairness require that Mohr either abandon the argument against slavery or the argument for homosexuality.
Lincoln at Gettysburg—with the Emancipation Proclamation in mind—said that the nation, at its birth, had been dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal." According to Lincoln, that proposition had been "the father of all moral principle" among us. Human equality was the foundation of morality, because the recognition of other human beings was a recognition of the nature that was common to us all, the nature in which all our rights and all our duties were grounded. The Gospel injunction to "do unto others what we would have others do unto us" refers to other human beings, but not to hogs or cattle. But it refers to all human beings, all those belonging to the human species, not Jews only, or white or black human beings. It is a self-evident truth that blacks and Jews and Moslems and Orientals and Arabs and Protestants and Catholics do not differ in respect to being human beings, and that the prohibitions against murder, theft, adultery and perjury a priori apply equally to them all. Morality is ineluctably grounded in the idea of species, of the distinction in nature between the human and the nonhuman. Morality depends upon distinguishing all nonessential intra-human differences from those that distinguish men from beasts on the one hand, and man from God on the other.
Why do we regard the slaughter by the Nazis of Jews and other "inferior" humans in the Holocaust as genocide, but not the slaughter of cattle? Why do we turn with horror from cannibalism—the eating of human flesh by human beings—but not the eating of beef or pork? Mohr notes the variety of human customs, as if that was an argument against identifying any moral customs as being more—or less—natural than any others. He mentions "Melanesia today" as a place where homosexual behavior is "socially mandatory" (p. 37). He might have mentioned other places where cannibalism was equally mandatory. (The late Michael Rockefeller is believed to have been eaten on an anthropological expedition.) But we remind him of what he himself said about slavery—its acceptance or nonacceptance by any particular culture or society in no way decides whether it is right or wrong. The reason slavery is wrong is that the slaves are members of the same species as ourselves. As rational, social, and political animals—for such are the identifying characteristics of homo sapiens—we see in every human being at least a potential friend and fellow-citizen. It is our natural interest to make potential friends into actual friends; it is against that same interest to make potential friends into actual enemies.
It is not murder or cannibalism to kill or eat cattle, and it is not theft to appropriate the labor of beasts, of horses or oxen, for example. Calling slaves chattels (which means cattle)—as they were in the antebellum United States—is unnatural, because the slaves were human beings, possessing rational wills, something that a chattel, properly so-called, cannot possess. As chattels, the slaves could not make contracts, especially that supremely important contract of marriage. Since there was no legal marriage among slaves, there was no ground in law for either chastity or fidelity. Intercourse between a master and his slave could not be rape, because by law (but not by nature) a chattel, having no power of consent, had no power to withhold consent. As a legal technicality, intercourse between a master and a slave was a form of bestiality rather than of fornication. This, notwithstanding the presence of many thousands of offspring of such liaisons, as biological proof of the equal humanity of the parents of these offspring. Hence slavery, by denying human equality, denied the slaves' nature as members of the human species, and therewith of their moral personality under "the laws of nature and of nature's God."
Although—as we have noted—Mohr says that slavery is wrong, he never says why. Had he done so he would have seen that sodomy is also wrong, no matter how many there are who (like himself) enjoy it and approve of it. Here we interject the observation that the condemnation of sodomy by the Bible is not—as Mohr supposes—to be compared with the prohibitions of the dietary laws (p. 33). No Jew, however orthodox, would say that the prohibition against eating pork is wrong for any reason other than that God has prohibited it. Nor would any Jew, however orthodox, say that murder, theft, and adultery were not wrong prior to and independently of being incorporated in the Laws of Moses. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob recognized these moral prohibitions (including that of sodomy) long before Moses brought the Law down from Mt. Sinai. The story of Sodom is itself contemporaneous with Abraham. (Mohr follows the absurd interpretation of John Boswell in his Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality [Chicago, 1980] in which it is claimed that the offense of the Sodomites is not sodomy, but inhospitality. Boswell—and Mohr—fail to see that what the men of Sodom attempted to do to the angels of the Lord was of the essence of inhospitality!) Later generations—both of Christians and Jews—would distinguish the divine law, which is binding only on those to whom it is promulgated, and the natural law, which is binding on man qua man. The prohibition upon sodomy, like that upon murder, theft, and adultery, belongs to the natural law. This is shown by the fact that Thomas Jefferson, in his "Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments" of 1779—three years after the Declaration of Independence—unhesitatingly followed the common law in making sodomy "with man or woman" a felony subject to the same punishment as rape. Clearly, these were violations of natural law and, as such, deserving to be prohibited by the criminal law of any civilized society.
Why then is sodomy against the natural law? First of all, because man is a species-being and, as we have said, the species to which he belongs—the species that defines his nature—is both rational and social. Men cannot live at all—much less live well—except by the mutual protection and mutual support of other human beings. Morality refers to those rules that mankind has learned, both from reason and experience, are necessary for surviving and prospering. The inclination of many men—what we might call the inclination of their lower nature—to take their sex where they find it (whether their partners consent to it or not) and ignore the consequences, must be subordinated to their higher nature, which includes the interest of society (and the interest of nature in the species). For in no other species are the young so helplessly dependent for so long. Hence the importance, even for survival, of both the moral and civil laws governing the institution of marriage and of the family. We know that the relaxation of these laws leads to disorder, disease, and death, no less surely in the most advanced cultures of modernity than in the most primitive. But the good of the family is not that only of self-preservation and survival, but of the higher good—the happiness—of all its members, including those whose original horizon may not have extended beyond immediate gratification.
Aristotle says that if a man had every good thing in the world, except friends, life would not be worth living. To be able to live without friends, one would have to be either a beast or a god. A friend is another self, someone one loves even as one loves one's self. Indeed, man is so constituted that he cannot know or love himself except by knowing and loving others. To understand that this is so, and why it is so, is the kernel of morality, as it is the kernel of humanity. This is the argument equally of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Nicomachean Ethics.
The foundation of all friendship, as it is the foundation of all community, is the first and most natural of all human associations, that beginning with a man and a woman, the family. The story of the Garden of Eden is not without its instruction here. When God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone, he provided him with a woman. As the Reverend Jerry Falwell put it, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. All friendship, all society, indeed all of human existence, arises from the physical difference of male and female human beings. From this physical difference arises the ground and purpose of human life, because it is the ground and purpose of nature.
Morality comes to sight therefore as the relationship, first of all, of husband and wife, then of parents and children, and of brothers and sisters. From this it expands to include the extended family, the clan, tribe, city, country, and at last mankind. Mankind as a whole is recognized by its generations, like a river which is one and the same while the ever-renewed cycles of birth and death flow on. But the generations are constituted—and can only be constituted—by the acts of generation arising from the conjunction of male and female. It cannot be emphasized too often, however, that the root of all human relationships, the root of all morality, is nature, which is itself grounded in the generative distinction of male and female. Equally with rape and incest, homosexuality strikes at the authority and dignity of the family. The distinction between a man and a woman is a distinction as fundamental as any in nature, because it is the very distinction by which nature itself is constituted. It is the ability of two members of the same species to generate a third, that confirms them as members of the same species. It thereby confirms male and female members of the human species in that equality of rights to which they are entitled as members of that species. Homosexuals like Mohr take the position that whatever is done by consenting adults is morally right. But why adults and why consent? We find this curious sentence in the book before us:
Incest used to be considered unnatural [sic!] but discourse now usually assimilates it to the moral machinery of rape and violated trust. (p.34)
Mohr seems reluctant to say candidly that the abhorrence of incest is just another superstition. But someone who cannot say that sodomy is unnatural cannot say that incest is unnatural. Mohr, like other sodomites, appears to make consent rather than nature the ground of morality, without regard to what is being consented to. But he forgets his own stricture against slavery. Is consent produced by force and fraud (or arising from mere ignorance) no different than the consent of a free and enlightened people? Could slavery have been legitimized by the consent of the slaves? Did the consent of the German people legitimize the regime of Adolf Hitler? Was the suicide of the 900 members of the Jonestown community—which included several hundred children—moral, because it had been agreed to in advance? And why should those who find forcible rape (whether homosexual or heterosexual) more gratifying than sex based upon consent, be denied their idiosyncratic pleasure? Why should violating trust—as for example, the ruses by which Ted Bundy lured his victims to their doom—be considered wrong? If Mohr were to think consistently about these questions, he would see that consent alone is no more a ground of morality than the doctrine of the right of the stronger. In the Declaration of Independence, the doctrine that the just powers of government arise from the consent of the governed is grounded in a series of truths held to be self-evident. Consent must then be rational and enlightened. It becomes part of morality only in the light of an intrinsic right and wrong. Rape, incest, adultery, and sodomy are wrong because they are inconsistent with the harmony and good order of the family, which is the foundation of all social harmony and social order, and thereby of all human happiness.
It is painful but unfortunately necessary to repeat the obvious. Adultery strikes at the good order of the family, because jealousy—properly understood—necessarily accompanies the passion by which and out of which the family is constituted. This jealousy is implanted by nature and serves the good ends of nature. It is acknowledged in the traditional marriage service, in which the partners promise to "renounce all others." A wife does not expect to be in sexual competition with other women, and a husband does not expect to be in such competition with other men. Nor does a wife expect to be in sexual competition with other men, or a man with other women. Where such competition exists, there can be no confidence and no love; in short, no family. Nor—odious as it is to say—does a wife expect to be in competition with her daughter, or a husband with his son. Sexual competition, whether from without or from within the family, destroys the friendship between man and wife, and thereby destroys the basis of all other forms of friendship. Confining sexual friendship to its proper sphere—between man and wife—is the very core of that morality by which civilization is constituted. It did not require Freud to instruct us in the fact that the sexual passion in its primal force is anarchic, and that the "discontents" of civilization may be traced to its imperfect sublimation. Nevertheless, without the control of the libido by the super ego, all the interests of civilized existence are at risk. Our contemporary moralists, whose categorical imperative is "If it feels good, do it," have forgotten the lessons of Freud no less than of Aristotle or Aquinas. In the training of infantry riflemen, the most intense male bonding is encouraged among members of a platoon. But if that bonding were to become homosexual, the discipline of the platoon would be disrupted, if not destroyed. The same observation would apply if a woman were substituted for a man among the members of that platoon. There are many forms of human sociality whose effectiveness and intensity of purpose are incompatible with sexual friendship. What would happen to a Supreme Court, some of whose members became involved—whether homosexually or heterosexually—with other of its members? (Would a husband and wife, however distinguished, ever be appointed to sit on the same Court?) Suppose a sexual relationship arose between a Speaker and on one (or more) committee (or subcommittee) chairmen (or chairwomen)? Indeed, we do not expect husband and wife to occupy any relationship outside the family in which honest diversity of interest or opinion may be expected. No wife can be compelled to testify against her husband in a criminal case. The interest of the family takes precedence over the criminal law. In despotic regimes, on the contrary, family members are both invited and compelled to spy on each other and to testify against each other. During the Civil War, President Lincoln was asked to approve a pass through Union lines for a Confederate wife. Lincoln said he would do so only on sufficient proof that she had already left her husband. He would not, he said, offer any wife an inducement to leave her husband.
The marriage bond is not only in the interest of marriage. It emancipates human friendship and love for their proper manifestations in the many other spheres of life. Where sexual love is so confined, or bounded, there is no confinement or boundary to the love of parents and children nor, indeed, to the lifelong attachments of relatives and friends or professional or political colleagues in all the walks of life, and throughout life.
The first cases of AIDS—and the first isolation of the HIV virus in the United States—occurred in 1981. In its origins it was entirely a disease of sodomites, generated in and by anal intercourse. At the present time, according to the latest statistics I have seen, more than 85 percent of AIDS cases are sodomites. AIDS can be contracted by women from bisexual men, and they in turn may spread it to other men and thereby to other women. Infected women may transmit it to their unborn children. Intravenous drug users may contract it by sharing needles with infected persons. Innocent persons may contract it by transfusions of infected blood. While the proximate cause of AIDS may not now in every case be sodomy, the etiology of every case leads back to sodomy as its point of origin.
Why AIDS now? That the first case was diagnosed a little over a decade after the so-called "Gay Rights" and "Gay Pride" movement gained momentum and force can hardly be coincidental. That movement resulted in a quantum increase in sodomite activity. It was as if the numbers of smokers had increased by a factor of four or five, and the per capita consumption of cigarettes per smoker had gone from one to three or four packs a day. The result would have been a sudden jump in the incidence in lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Homosexuality has always been with us. But in the last generation we have seen it "come out of the closet." We have seen growing public acceptance of the proposition that homosexuality and heterosexuality are simply alternative lifestyles. We have also seen growing acceptance of the doctrine that there is no moral distinction between promiscuity and chastity and that the only morality of sexual behavior is conformity with personal preference and personal choice. That nature itself seems to reward chastity with health, and punish promiscuity with disease, is seldom if ever mentioned. For AIDS is a venereal disease, and as much the result of promiscuity as ever were syphilis or gonorrhea. The reigning assumption is that it is the function of science to emancipate human behavior from the restraints of nature. But it is by no means clear that in such matters this is either possible or desirable.
In all the public discussion of AIDS, and the present book is no exception, the connection between the movement of "Gay Liberation" and AIDS is never mentioned. Yet that connection is as evident as that between smoking and lung cancer. Why the same public officials—e.g., former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop—who tell people to stop smoking (or to "Just Say No" to drugs), will not tell them to stop sodomizing, is incomprehensible.
There was a time in the 1960s when antibiotics appeared to have conquered syphilis. Together with the birth control pill, this seems to have promoted an increase in heterosexual promiscuity. It was only a short time, however, before a new venereal disease, herpes, made its appearance, a virus immune to antibiotics It would certainly seem that nature has an interest in the morality that is conducive to the family, and punishes behavior inimical to it. I would suggest therefore that the quest for a cure for AIDS, unaccompanied by any attempt to modify the behavior out of which AIDS was generated, is ultimately futile.
It is my impression, observing the propaganda of the homosexuals—and their gullible coadjutors—that their main reason for wanting a cure for AIDS, is to emancipate them for the unrestrained pursuit of sodomy and for the undiminished pleasures of what would now be called "unsafe sex." I would venture to suggest, however, that if a cure for AIDS was discovered tomorrow, it would not be very long before a new venereal disease would make its appearance, just as herpes did in the '60s and AIDS in the ‘80s. What is needed above all is not a medical miracle cure but a moral and behavioral change. Sodomites should be returned to the closet, where they were of relatively little danger to themselves or others.
We hear a great deal about how unfair it is to discriminate against sodomites and lesbians. But who in his right mind would put them in charge of troops of Boy Scouts or of Girl Scouts? Who in his right mind would put them in any positions within our educational system—from kindergarten to graduate school—where they might become role models of the young? Can anything destroy the possibility of happiness for a young person more than turning him or her away from traditional marriage and family life, to the dismal sewers of sodomy or lesbianism?
The dissolution of the family is at the root of nearly all the social problems afflicting contemporary American society. The high rate of divorce is making emotional cripples out of children at all levels of society. And the children of divorce become divorced themselves at much higher rates than others. Crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, venereal disease, low educational achievement, lack of job-related skills, inability to function well on jobs, all of these things—and many more—can have their causes traced to the disintegration of the traditional family. And at the root of the disability of the contemporary American family is the ethic that says that sexual preference is, and should be, only a matter of personal preference and personal choice. The traditional family, the embodiment and expression of "the laws of nature and of nature's God," as the foundation of a free society, has become merely one of many "alternative life-styles." But then a free society, as distinguished from a despotic one, itself becomes merely one of many "alternative lifestyles." A free people who succumbs to such a teaching cannot long endure. Those who choose sodomy are already choosing slavery, because whoever is an indiscriminate slave to his own unreasoning passions will sooner or later become a slave to the passions of others.
1The following letters and articles from the pages of Collage were accepted for publication by Mr. Seth Leibsohn of Pitzer College, the Opinion Editor in the fall semester of 1989. Leibsohn resisted tremendous pressure from the entire campus community, and especially from his peers, to provide a forum for my views. His moral courage in doing so was worthy of the best traditions of the civil rights movement. HVJ
2This transcript was composed on the same principle as the speeches in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, attributing to each speaker the words that fit his character and the circumstances in which he spoke.