AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Sunday, May 16

An Interesting Defense of Homophobia

From John Derbyshire, in National Review Online:
My personal bet is that homosexuality will disappear before homophobia does — possibly quite soon, in a generation or so. Here's my logic: One of the least controversial things you can say about homosexuality is this: Practically nobody wants his kids to grow up homosexual. Some people mind the prospect more than others, but practically nobody welcomes it — not even, I should think, homosexuals. (One of the rare exceptions is Sharon Osbourne, who recently remarked: "My only regret in life is that none of my children are gay." I doubt any very large number of Americans take Mrs. Osbourne as a parenting role model, though.)

Now, the trend in current research on homosexuality, if I have understood it correctly, suggests that the homosexual orientation is indeed mostly congenital — the result of events in the mother's womb, or in early infancy, with perhaps some slight genetic predisposition. The thing is, in short, mainly biochemical — part of a person's physical make-up.

Supposing this is true, let us conduct a wee thought experiment — admittedly a fanciful one. A young woman in the late stages of pregnancy, or carrying a small infant, shows up at her doctor's office. "Doctor," she asks, "is there some kind of test you can do to tell me if my child is likely to become a homosexual adult?" The doctor says yes, there is. "And," the woman continues, "suppose the test is positive — would that be something we can fix? I mean, is there some sort of medical, or genetic, or biochemical intervention we can do at this stage, to prevent that happening?" The doctor says yes, there is. "How much does the test cost? And supposing it's positive, how much does the fix cost?" The doctor says $50, and $500. The woman takes out her checkbook.
In any event, it is an interesting hypothesis. I've never heard a similar argument, but this seems at least somewhat plausible.


  • A couple of comments on this very strange argument: First, the author understands that the genetic factors influencing homosexuality lie somewhere between "mostly congenital" and "slight genetic disposition."¹ He states, intentionally or not, that other factors may be developmental. Although a genetic test could be very sensitive (100% of positive tests do indeed describe individuals likely to be homosexual), because developmental factors are involved, the test could never be very specific (some individuals test negative, yet, because of developmental or other factors, will be homosexual). In other words, the test would never be perfect.

    Second, "genetic intervention" isn't necessary to change the outcome of a pregnancy. For example, the incidence of trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) has decreased since prenatal tests became available. Not because a treatment or intervention is available, but because of the number of mothers who choose to terminate the pregnancy if a trisomy 21 test is positive. However, the incidence hasn't dropped (and won't) to zero, because 1) a test isn't performed for every pregnancy and 2) not every mother chooses abortion.

    Short of it is like it or not, homosexuality is here to stay.

    ¹In fact, the range would be more appropriately classified "somewhat" to "slight." Entirely congenital traits are shown by monozygous (identical) twins studies; because these individuals have identical genomes, traits can be identified as congenital or developmental, or a mixture of the two. Monozygous twins do not always share the same sexual orientation, so homosexuality is not entirely congenital.

    By Blogger Eric, at 5/17/2004 2:23 PM  

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