Back to homosexuality! Another possible dialogue:
Alter: So what’s your problem with gays?
Ego: “Gay” covers a variety of situations.
I have something of a problem with someone habitually engaging in homosexual acts. I have more of a problem if he claims that engaging in homosexual acts is basic to what he is. And if he expects public acceptance of what he does I have a big problem.
Alter: But why should you care at all what someone does sexually?
Ego: Sex is basic to our emotional life and our relationships to others. Why shouldn’t someone’s relation to sex affect how I feel about him? Also, we’re social, so we care what other people are like.
Suppose it were racism or pedophilia instead of homosexuality. Would you feel a little queasy if someone were a racist pedophile? If he thought that was central to what he is? If he proclaimed it openly and demanded that others accept it?
Alter: You can’t be serious. Racism and pedophilia are sick, and they hurt people. Homosexuality is just an orientation, no sicker than any other, and it hurts no-one.
Ego: There are people who say the same about racism and pedophilia. They’re just orientations, after all, and whether they’re sick or hurt people depends on how they fit into the general scheme of human life.
Racism by itself doesn’t affect anyone other than the racist. Someone might use the N word or be obsessed with Nazi memorabilia and never hurt anybody. There are reputable scholars who claim pedophilia can be good for you. And there was a recent play, The Vagina Monologues, that showed the statutory rape of a 13 year old girl as a good thing, and everyone thought it was great.
Alter: So how does homosexulity hurt the “general scheme of human life,” as you call it?
Ego: Basically, it’s radical rejection of the whole system of habit and feeling that defines what men and women are and what their relations should be. That system is necessary for life in society to be tolerable. It follows that to reject it is wrong, and we should respond to it as we respond to something wrong. Read my questions and answers on sexual morality if you want a more extended argument.
Alter: I think you’re sick.
Ego: Fine, you feel about homophobia the way I feel about homosexuality. Who has the right attitude depends on who has the better understanding of human nature and society. Most people and most serious thinkers have agreed with me. If you respect other people you’ll consider our arguments seriously. That’s all I ask.