In Making Gay Okay, Robert Reilly says the ascendancy of men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) started with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s victory over Aristotle and that once philosophy fell the triumphant march through the institutions was quick and maybe even inevitable.
Reilly explains that the debate centers on the question of what is natural and not, and how to distinguish between right and wrong. He describes how the Greeks fell in love with reality when they discovered nature and that the purpose of things was knowable and unchangeable even by the whim of gods.
The author writes, “A dog wagged his tail because that was the way of a dog. Egyptians painted their funeral caskets in bright colors because that was the way of Egyptians.” In the pre-philosophical world the word nature did not exist so it was not possible to distinguish between the nature of a dog and the custom of an Egyptian. Customs change. Nature never does. Aristotle “taught that the essence, or Nature, of a thing is what makes it what it is and not something else.”
This is, well, naturally constraining to many who would strain against their nature or who see such nature as imposed by society, the family, or the Church.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau “turned Aristotle’s notion of Nature on its head. Aristotle said that Nature defined not only what man is but what he should be. Rousseau countered that Nature is not an end—a telos—but a beginning: man’s end is his beginning, or, as Allan Bloom expressed it, “there are not ends, only possibilities.”
Rousseau had a particular hatred for that most constraining of institutions, the family that he considered artificially constructed. He called for the education of children to be taken from the family and given to the state. As Reilly puts it, “Once society is atomized, once the family ceases to interpose itself between the individual and the state, the state is free to transform the isolated individual by force into whatever version of ‘new man’ the revolutionary visionaries espouse.”
Reilly says the influence of Rousseau is all around us today, from the unusable unkempt forest near his home to the Obama campaign ads featuring “Julia” who from cradle to grave was nothing more than a ward of the state and the family is no where present, not even when she wants to have a baby.
A noted music critic, Reilly shows Rousseau’s influence in the music of composer John Cage whose compositions “were based on the irregularities in the composition paper he used, selected by tossing dice, or written with the help of charts derived from the Chinese I Ching.” Reilly says the “purpose” of all this is precisely to show there is no purpose.
All of this is to show how the purpose of sex was undermined first by an undermining of philosophy and the understanding of Nature. As Reilly puts it, “As seen through Rousseau’s influence, the case for homosexuality is a vulgarization of a philosophical anarchism that denies the existence of teleological Nature and therefore the ability to discriminate between the use and abuse of things.”
But old nature is a powerful thing, and nature tied to conscience is practically unassailable, certainly unassailable without powerful justifications, rationalizations, and as it turns out, the embrace and celebration of society. Aristotle wrote, “Men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives.” One thing you notice in the MSM debates is how immediately it becomes personal and this is precisely because it is so personal.
Reilly says the insistent voice of conscience must be muffled in favor of persistent sinning. The sinner does this through internal justification and rationalization and the further insistence that the sin be accepted and even celebrated by society at large.
Reilly tells us “Rationalizations for moral misbehavior work like this. Anyone who chooses an evil act must present it to himself as good; otherwise, as Aristotle taught, he would be incapable of choosing it. When we rationalize, we convince ourselves that heretofore forbidden desires are permissible. In short, we assert that bad is good.” Conscience may struggle to the fore and repentance follows. “The temporary rationalization crumbles, and moral reality is restored.” What of habitual moral failure? Conscience must be “obliterated.”
We see this in the claims that abortion is a positive good. Killing the elderly sick is good for them and for society.
Reilly shows how the acceptance of sodomy is tied to the larger sexual chaos in society. How can a porn addict, who regularly views explicit sex acts of all kinds, object in any way to homosexual behavior between two men who supposedly love each other and supposedly want a lifelong commitment of marriage? I’ll accept your proclivity if you accept mine.
Write this large and you see “As a moral act, sodomy should be normative. If it is normative, it should be taught in our schools as a standard. If it is a standard, it should be enforced. In fact, homosexuality should be hieratic: active homosexuals should be ordained as priests and bishops. Sodomy should be sacramentalized.”
Most of Reilly’s book describes in great detail how the MSM ethos marched through the institutions; science, parenting, education, Boy Scouts, the Military, and even U.S. foreign policy.
He writes, “There are two fundamentally different conceptions of science—one that is scientific and one that is not.” One deals with reality. The other seeks a false reality. Unscientific science “is an endeavor not so much to understand what exists and how to bring it to fruition, but to gain power over and fundamentally transform it. Man becomes the ultimate master through the exercise of his will by the instrument of science; he makes all things new according to his desires.”
He looks at two political campaigns within the scientific establishment that sought not the truth but to advance a cause.
Getting homosexuality as a sickness out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was essential to moving acceptance of MSM forward. Noted activist Frank Kameny said, “I feel that the entire homophile movement is going to stand or fall upon the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sickness, and upon our taking a firm stand on it.”
Reilly posits, “One would suppose that this would first require the scientific examination of evidence. Only afterward could a conclusion be drawn on whether homosexuality is a psychological problem. This is not what happened.”
What did happen was a political campaign, one that included invading meetings, clandestine conspiracies, and threats.
Reilly quotes activist Donn Teal, “On May 14, 1970, psychiatrists became the hunted. An invasion by the coalition of ‘gay’ and women’s liberationists interrupted the national convention of the American Psychiatric Association in San Francisco…” to protest the reading of a paper on “aversion therapy.” Activists invaded many such meetings.
“But why would members of the APA give in to this pressure, particularly since there was no scientific basis to justify the change in classification,” Reilly asks. The answer is that many of the psychiatrists were themselves men who have sex with men and were therefore “heavily invested in the rationalization for reasons of their personal lives.”
President elect of the APA in 1973 was Dr. John P. Spiegel who was at the time a closeted gay man. According to Spiegal’s granddaughter, Alix, now a journalist with National Public Radio, her grandfather began meeting surreptitiously in his office with a group of young psychiatrists, some of them closeted by necessity because homosexuality was not allowed within the profession, who were interested in the same kind of change as the outside agitators.
In a radio program Alix Spiegel tells the story of the night during the APA annual convention in Honolulu when everything changed.
The key guy to make the change was Dr. Robert Spitzer, head of the nomenclature committee of the APA. Ron Gold, a member of the Gay Activist Alliance, had been hectoring Spitzer. Spitzer told him he doubted there were any homosexual psychiatrists. As it happened, there was a meeting that night of the gay psychiatric insurgency called GayPA—one presumes a play on APA—in a garish Tiki bar and he invited Spitzer along. Spitzer was shocked to see who was there; “the head of the Transaction Analysis Association and the guy who handed out all the training money in the United States, and the head of various prestigious psychiatry departments at various universities were all there.” A veritable who’s who of Spitzer’s powerful colleagues.
Spitzer’s presence unnerved the men of GayPA and they tried to get him out but Gold insisted that Spitzer be allowed to stay. And then something notable happened. A young man walked into the bar and he recognized Spitzer and Gold and the head of GayPA. He was an army psychiatrist who had heard Gold speak and was inspired to visit a gay bar for the very first time. He was so moved to see obvious acceptance of homosexuality by the psychiatric elite that he collapsed in tears.
That evening at the garish gay bar, Robert Spitzer sat down and changed the 81 offending words in the DMV. Such is science done in the age of non-science, anti-science, scientism.
Reilly knows he will come under attack and most of it will be unfair and none focused on the case he is making but will be more along the Alinsky line of name, shame, and isolate; no real engagement, only mockery and plenty of it.
Reilly performed the required kabuki, the required minuet for critics of the gay ethos. He wrote, quite sincerely, “It should be emphasized that this critique of the homosexual cause is not an attack upon homosexuals, nor is it generated by any animus against them.” But that won’t help. It never does.
In fact, the boys have already gone after him. Right Wing Watch accused him of saying on radio that gay sex is worse than murder. He said nothing of the kind. He said that a murderer or a porn user will feel remorse and seek forgiveness while someone habituated to their sin, like many MSM, will seek justification and rationalization.
How fast did all this happen? Fifty years ago, Frank Kameny was arrested in Lafayette Park, then a notorious homosexual trysting place across from the White House. Kameny lost his government job, sued and lost all the way to the Supreme Court but in the process became a gay icon.
In 2008 this hero of the gay movement wrote a public letter in which he said, “Let us have more and better enjoyment of more and better sexual perversions, by whatever definition, by more and more consenting adults…. If bestiality with consenting animals provides happiness to some people, let hem pursue their happiness. This is Americanism in action.”
In 2009 Barack Obama gave Frank Kameny an award in the White House.
Kameny’s home in Washington DC is actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places and his papers are archived in the Library of Congress.
And yet there are pictures of Kameny as a keynote speaker at meetings of the North American Man/Boy Love Association. None of this makes sense.
Robert Reilly has written a very lucid and learned book about an age in rapid transition. He has told a portion of what happened, and a good portion of why, but questions remain.
Rousseau’s ideas have been circulating for 200 years. How is it they have all of a sudden won the day? What is it about us that we in our age have surrendered? How did the world go sideways in the space of a few decades? How did we move from relative calm to chaos so fast?
These are questions for a book 100 years from now. Only a look back will tell that tale and then, only maybe. Sadly Reilly won’t be here to tell it. Yet another reason to look forward to the General Judgment.
Editor’s note: The photo of President Obama and gay activist Frank Kameny in the Oval Office was taken June 17, 2009. (Photo credit: Reuters / Larry Downing)