Are Anti-Gay Christians Responsible for the Suicide Trend?

For a moment, I almost agreed with Laurie Higgins.

I know. It freaked me out, too.

She was writing about the recent, awful trend of young gay men committing suicide and mentioned Tyler Clementi, the teenager who jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death after his roommate secretly broadcast Tyler hooking up with another guy in their dorm room.

Laurie writes:

Despite what homosexualists immediately pronounced, there is no indication that the taping was motivated by anti-homosexual animus. It seems at least possible that the students who engaged in this unconscionable act would have done likewise even if it had been a heterosexual act.

Perhaps it wasn’t the moral views about homosexuality of the students who filmed Tyler that were the problem, but rather that they have grown up in an invasive, obscene culture that has turned sexuality into a public spectator sport and kids into exhibitionists. Just look at the television shows and films that our children watch and the photos that teens post on their Facebook pages to understand better how they view sexuality and modesty.

Based on everything I’ve read, there’s something to that. I haven’t read anything that said the roommate, Dharun Ravi, had a “gay people are evil sinners” mentality so much as he just wanted to embarrass the shit out of his roommate — and Tyler making out with a guy would have accomplished that. I’m obviously not condoning what the roommate did, but I also think it’s possible he would’ve done the same thing if there was a woman in Tyler’s room.

So there you go. I agree with Laurie. My world has been flipped upside-do—–oh, wait. Wait. She didn’t stop there. Apparently, she has more to say about Tyler:

Perhaps if Tyler had not been taught the bleakly deterministic view that he was “born” homosexual, he would have had more hope for the future and would have been more likely to resist homosexual temptation.

Perhaps if the culture had not filled Tyler’s head with titillating homosexual images and fallacious ideas, his conscience would have been stronger than his impulses.

Perhaps if university life were not so decadent and hedonistic, students would not be engaging in sexual acts — heterosexual or homosexual — with the ease and frequency with which they do.

*facepalm*

Perhaps if Christians pulled their heads out of their asses and realized that some people are simply gay and there’s nothing wrong with that regardless of what their despicable holy book says, there would be more gay teenagers alive today.

Welcome back, Laurie.

She wants to make the case that “bullying” gay people (which she says she doesn’t partake in) is different from moral disapproval of homosexuality (which she supports).

What’s the difference, you ask?

Here’s what people who share her Christian faith have said about gay people — expressing their disapproval, of course, not bullying:

“[Homosexuals are] brute beasts…part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven.” — Jerry Falwell

“‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” — The Bible

“God hates fags” — You know damn well who.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Those are the extremists. The Bible quotation is “out of context.” That’s not very nice of me.

I should really use statements made by reasonable people in modern times:

“[T]he rainbow colors of the homosexual movement [point] to the substitution of the worship of man for the worship of God and leads to depravity and destruction.”

No sane person would ever argue that homosexuals have contributed nothing to society. That’s as absurd as claiming that adulterers, porn users, or gossips have contributed nothing to society… Those who experience, for example, selfish, vain, greedy, gluttonous, deceitful, promiscuous, incestuous, sadistic, pederastic, gossipy, philandering, or polyamorous impulses and engage in behaviors impelled by such impulses have also contributed to society.

Those who self-identify as homosexual are no different from those who are selfish, greedy, envious, prideful, fornicators, gossips, or gluttons. All of us come to the cross as sinners, and none will be fully sanctified until Christ’s return, but retreat from or obfuscation of what the Bible teaches about selfishness, greed, envy, pride, fornication, gossip, gluttony, homosexuality, or any other of the myriad manifestations of sin is simply not scriptural-and therefore not good.

Those are all from Laurie.

See? She’s not a bully. Just expressing her disapproval.

You know the sad part about this? I don’t think for a second that Laurie hates gay people. I think she genuinely wants the best for gays and lesbians. I think she’d be among the first in line to say they shouldn’t be bullied.

The problem is that she thinks her “moral disapproval” is somehow better than formal bullying. She’s on “God’s side” and therefore she can say things that those of us not deluded by Christianity see as offensive and untrue.

(Sorry, was I being a bully to Christians right there? I was just expressing my disapproval…)

That’s what Christians like her don’t understand.

When you have to go through life being told you don’t deserve the same rights everyone else has, that you’re somehow broken, that the only thing that will “save” you is a life devoid of physical intimacy and a dose of Jesus, that the feelings you’ve always had for certain people of the same sex are corrupt and in need of a cure… of course you’re going to be more depressed than the rest of the population. Of course you’re going to be more likely to commit suicide.

Conservative Christians love to argue that homosexuality is just one of many sins and they’re all equal. But how often do you hear pastors talking about envy, gluttony, and the lottery? They single out homosexuality as something far worse than everything else.

Then they put their fingers in their ears and deny they they have anything to do with gay teens committing suicide.

I know they’re not directly encouraging the suicides. But they are promoting a false idea that heterosexuality is right and homosexuality is wrong.

They don’t call that bullying.

But they are on the wrong side of the issue and they’ll stay there as long as their holy books and pastors tell them to do so.

At what point does “moral disapproval” turn into “bullying”?

A couple other thoughts on the issue.

Melissa McEwan said it very well at Shakesville:

You can argue all you want that the solution is Christian compassion despite a belief that being gay is sinful, but as long as you believe and preach and teach that gay kids are inherently abominable to God, you’re always going to be part of the problem.

And no, the philosophical contortions in which many Christians like to engage, claiming God only hates homosexuality but doesn’t hate homosexual people, does not absolve you of your responsibility. Treating people as though their humanity is somehow separate from their intrinsic characteristics is not merely absurd bullshit; when you seek to wrench apart the components of people’s whole selves and throw away pieces of their identities, it’s just eliminationist rhetoric dressed up in its Sunday best.

Andrew Marin straddles the Christian world and the LGBT community, but he misses the mark entirely by trying to blame both sides for not doing enough to “save” Tyler:

To me, both [Dan] Savage and [Albert] Mohler — who represent the mainstream in both of their worlds — are doing nothing more than passing the buck once again. It’s always someone else’s deal.

Savage doesn’t think he had anything to do with these suicides – he blames social conservatives. Mohler doesn’t think he has anything to do with these suicides either — he’s still questioning how someone else’s church should have intervened, asking, “was there no one who could have stood between that boy and that bridge?”

Dan Savage had nothing to do with the suicides. That’s obvious. Albert Mohler, on the other hand, still pushes the slander that homosexuality is sinful. Don’t even try to equate the two.

One is on the morally acceptable path. The other is Albert Mohler.

  • Steve

    Basing anything on the Rutgers case alone is a bad idea. And it’s especially disingenuous coming from the religious right.

    The causes are arguable. Was he embarrassed about being publicly outed? Yes, probably. What he also have been embarrassed about straight sex? Maybe. Was he massively bullied by others? Probably not.

    But you can’t compare this to the suicide of 12-16 year old kids in high school, who are called named and beaten up every single day. Completely different situations. And those cases can definitely be blamed mostly on the atmosphere churches create. Doesn’t matter that they may take place in California or Massachusetts, where you’d think this wouldn’t happen.

  • Christophe Thill

    “Titillating homosexual images” ? I don’t find this kind of stuff titillating at all. But of course, if I was gay myself, I would. So it all depends on what you are.

    Hey, you really can’t escape this “bleakly deterministic view”, can you ?

  • Jude

    So they’re sorry Tyler’s dead, but they’re starting with the wrong premise–that homosexuality is a “choice.” This inability to accept reality makes an understanding Christian no better than that idiot Fred Phelps. They’re all equally complicit in the deaths.

  • Robert

    I have a friend who’s both deeply Christian and bisexual. I have no idea how that happened, but if there were more people like him speaking up for the homosexual/bisexual community while being on the side of the Christians who tolerate such things, perhaps the religion would change its views. Not approving of religion (I still dislike it), but just saying that since Christians of a more radical bent are unlikely to listen to atheists for now, the best the homosexual community can do is find enough supporters of their rights within the religious community.

    If enough moderate Christians put aside their differences with non-Christians and atheists and come together to support homosexual rights, perhaps something might change. I don’t live in America, though, so the situation there might be way different since where I come from the government frowns on religious intolerance and extremism despite officially disproving of homosexuality, and simply lets homosexuals be unless they do obscene stuff like having sex in public (there are laws banning male-on-male sex but they are not enforced and are just symbolic, unless such acts of gross indecency (i.e. public sex, applies to heterosexuals too) occur).

  • Karmakin

    Yup, the Rutgers case is different, although there are larger points in common, namely that people like Laurie try their best to make sure that homosexuality is something that one needs to be embarrassed about.

    I don’t think she thinks of it as bullying either. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It IS bullying. Quick bullying primer:

    There are two types of bullying. First, you have individual bullying. This is where you have an individual/group of people who target others for abuse. This bullying is usually pretty easy to deal with, is perpetrated often by people who are dealing with their own personal issues as a form of coping.

    The second type of bullying is much harder to deal with. Generally referred to as social bullying, it’s about the generalized scapegoating/abuse of people lower on the social spectrum. In this case, the bullies are usually successful, or people in power. They have the power, and they are “winners”, so the losers have to really lose for the winning to be worth anything.

    This type of bullying is very difficult to deal with because we’re talking about completely broken communities. Any sort of authority figure is either going to stay “neutral” or side with the bullies. The only thing that can realistically be done is to well..survive. And yes survive. This is the bullying that kills.

  • http://s2solutions.us/wordpress Seth Strong

    Of the list of sins mentioned, only homosexuality and fornication are sexy. If we could bind selfish, greedy, envious, prideful, gossips, and gluttons to such a fun topic as sex, I’m sure they would compete with the subject of homosexuals.

    I for one would be interested to hear more talk about fornicators. Some of my best friends are fornicators and I won’t tell you why I think I’m biased. But also, I’ve got pretty good friends that aren’t fornicators.

    I guess the difference between fornicators and Christians is fornicators don’t mind if you have hetero vanilla sex or not…

    I’m being tongue in cheek. But the most interesting sins in my opinion are definitely the sexy ones.

  • Beardo

    I love Christians, I just hate Christianity.

  • http://cousinavi.wordpress.com cousinavi

    It is NOT a trend. It is media seizing on a few coincidental events and making a massive story where there was none. Well…not none…there are elements here that DESERVE sane and sober treatment. But the “story” that there is just now some spike is the number of gays killing themselves due to the ignorant, hateful homophobia expressed by the children of the blessed is itself a disgusting lie.
    The sad truth is that bullying is common, gay teen suicide is far too common, and it has all been going on for a very, very long time. Calling it a “Trend” is only playing into the sensational media fuckwit circus that can ONLY result in copycats. It is not recent. It is not a trend. It is deplorable…but it has been so for a much longer period of time than this yammering newscast vulture feed.
    Tyler was not the first victim of bullying to take his own life. Neither was he the first homosexual to take his own life. It’s NOT a trend…it’s the direct result of the homophobic culture WE PERMIT.
    This goes rather directly to the argument over whether atheists / progressives ought to accommodate / tolerate / reach out to theists in this ongoing struggle over how we go about constructing the society that lets EVERYONE seek and find their best life. It is becoming increasingly clear that even those who disguise themselves behind, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” are obstacles that cannot be accommodated.

  • TychaBrahe

    Melissa McEwan has lots of interesting things to say about the Rutgers incident:

    “But He’s Such a Nice Guy”
    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-09-30T10%3A55%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=20

    Naturally, the phrase “if it had been a girl in the room it wouldn’t have been any different” is absurd for another reason: It might not have been any different for Ravi (a dubious claim in the first place, frankly), but it certainly made a world of difference to his victim, by virtue of the fact that we live in an institutionally homophobic culture where straight people generally needn’t worry about violent retribution or familial ostracization or any of the other potential consequences many gay/bi men and women might face after evidence of their sexuality is broadcast to the world.

  • John

    How would a straight male be embarrassed by being spied on while making out with a female? I highly doubt any straight male would commit suicide after being spied on while making out with a female. That is something most young males would be proud of. His peers would treat him better for getting lucky. While the homosexual is looked at with disgust.

    If homosexuality wasn’t portrayed so much as something sick and perverted, we wouldn’t be talking about some young mans life.

    Its apples and oranges really.

  • Ashlyn

    Normally I can at least figure out the twisted logic of these arguments, but what in the WORLD could Dan Savage have had to do with these suicides?!

  • http://www.bigmama247.com Alise

    This is kind of my go-to response to the “love the sinner, hate the sin” ideology. I think it addresses it better than anything else I’ve read (though Savage’s piece comes close).

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/04/02/21575

  • Sue D. Nymme

    I think that gay people, and those who support them, do a disservice when they go with the “born this way” line.
    Yeah, maybe gay people were born that way. Maybe not. The point is that it should be irrelevant.

    EVEN IF homosexuality is a choice freely made, they should have the right to do so, they should have equal rights with heteros, they should not be subject to the abuse, the ridicule, the oppression.
    I like brunettes. Is that an inborn trait in me, or is it a choice? Answer: IT DOESN’T MATTER.

    Saying “I can’t help it, I was born this way” plays into the victim mentality. It may be true, it may not — so what. Don’t let the other side control the debate. They think that homosexuality is a sin? FINE, let them. They think that LOTS of things I do are sins, too. But I stand up and proudly do them.

  • Valhar2000

    “Titillating homosexual images” ? I don’t find this kind of stuff titillating at all. But of course, if I was gay myself, I would. So it all depends on what you are.

    Exactl! I have watched gay porn on a couple of occassions, to test this very premise, and I have found it to be utter bullshit. When you are straight, gay porn does not titillate in the least. In fact, it’s cheap, silly and formulaic*.

    * This happens with pretty much any kind of porn if you watch when you are not aroused.

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Hermant,

    You wrongly equate moral disapproval with bullying, suggesting that if bullying should be off-limits – as it should be – then too moral disapproval!

    This is ludicrous, especially in a free society that values an open and a free exchange of ideas. Am I a bully if I disapprove of my friend main-lining heroin? Or express my displeasure with my friend joining the Nazis or the skinheads?

    Sometimes expressing moral disapproval is the highest expression of love. If I love my neighbor, I will censure him for cheating on his wife or sexually abusing his children or staying out all night drunk.

    The question then becomes is the gay lifestyle self-destructive? Is there something endemic about it that gives rise to depression, drug abuse or even suicide? I think that these are legitimate questions – questions that you would sensor out of existence!

  • http://nssphoenix.wordpress.com drdave

    One of the disturbing messages out of Christianities has always been the pervasive “…lord I am not worthy…”.

    This message is drummed into you from childhood. No wonder Christians can verbally bully, they have years and years of training. They do it so well.

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    Normally I can at least figure out the twisted logic of these arguments, but what in the WORLD could Dan Savage have had to do with these suicides?!

    I read the whole article and it wasn’t any clearer.

    Pardon me while I try to put myself in this mindset for a minute:

    If people like Dan Savage weren’t deluding people into thinking homosexuality is normal, maybe this young man would have gotten the help he needed to leave his unhealthy lifestyle.

    Ew. Now I need a shower. I bet that’s what he means, though.

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    OK, I read Marin’s blog, and that’s probably not what he meant, but damned if I can figure out what Savage is supposed to have to do with Clementi’s suicide.

  • AxeGrrl

    Alise wrote:

    This is kind of my go-to response to the “love the sinner, hate the sin” ideology. I think it addresses it better than anything else I’ve read (though Savage’s piece comes close).

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/04/02/21575

    That was a great piece, Alise. Thanks for posting it :) some of the comments are great too….

  • Valdyr

    Perhaps if the culture had not filled Tyler’s head with titillating homosexual images and fallacious ideas, his conscience would have been stronger than his impulses.

    I wonder what “titillating homosexual images” in our culture Laurie was thinking of when she wrote this. Does watching a scantily-clad Lady Gaga squirming and gyrating make her feel confused in her pants?

    Perhaps if university life were not so decadent and hedonistic, students would not be engaging in sexual acts — heterosexual or homosexual — with the ease and frequency with which they do.

    Wait, sex at university is supposed to be easy and frequent? I always suspected I was doing something wrong, but it still hurts to have it confirmed…

    Edit: I always find it funny when evangelicals talk about “homosexual temptations”. Like they think that to everybody, homosexual sex is just something objectively delicious that they have to try hard to resist engaging in. I don’t think I’ve ever really heard anyone talk like that who was 100% straight.

  • Steve

    @Sue D. Nymme
    You’re right. It shouldn’t really matter.

    But it’s an important point needed to counter some of the specific arguments raised by Christians. Maybe most seriously about curing homosexuality and any kind of therapy.

    It’s also very important in a legal sense. The courts haven’t been uniform on this so far in as far as gay rights are concerned, but having an immutable characteristic is a requirement to be considered a suspect class. Suspect classes are afforded immediate or strict scrutiny when having laws enacted against them. So far the states try to apply rational basis, which basically says “we think this law may have a point, so it’s ok”.

  • http://www.anotherdayinthebelt.blogspot.com K F

    Wait, wait, wait, wait…

    Where is this decadent and hedonistic university life I’m missing out on? Because I’m pretty sure working part time just to pay bills, eating a ridiculous amount of PB&J, and not drinking alcohol for lack of funds is pretty much the opposite of decadent.

    And hedonism? Granted, the view is that all us students have sex every day of the week, and twice on the weekends… but…. I’m pretty sure that’s not the status quo for most students. Sure isn’t for me.

    EDIT: @Valdyr – I just assumed it was the lack of drinking that was contributing to my lack of sexual conquests, orgies, and multiple girlfriends…. All along it was somewhere on campus, and I’m just missing it. Damn! =P

  • Samiimas

    You wrongly equate moral disapproval with bullying, suggesting that if bullying should be off-limits – as it should be – then too moral disapproval!

    If you ‘morally disapprove’ of homosexuality, think it’s a sin or think theirs anything whatsoever wrong with gay people or what they do YOU ARE A BIGOT AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SUICIDES LIKE THIS ONE!

    You know how I know you’re a pathetic, hateful bigot? Because we both know not a single person would be pretending you weren’t a bigot if it were racemixing you ‘morally disapprove’ of.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    Christians have thousands of “sins” in their little black book. But which one do they spend the most time and money demonizing? That’s right. After all, you don’t see any nationwide demands to ban divorce, calls for lying to be a death penalty offense or adultery to be a felony. No, they go after gay people with a vitriol that exceeds anything, while claiming they’re full of Christ’s love for the targets they eviscerate.

    So yes, anti-gay Christians are very much responsible for the suicide trend among LGBT people.

  • Stephen P

    Does Myers’ Law apply to females? Because if so …

  • Nordog

    “If you ‘morally disapprove’ of homosexuality, think it’s a sin or think theirs anything whatsoever wrong with gay people or what they do YOU ARE A BIGOT AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SUICIDES LIKE THIS ONE!”

    Come on now, you’re just being a bully.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    “Are Anti-Gay Christians Responsible for the Suicide Trend?”

    Yes, absolutely. They are the ones who have created an environment of intolerance, hatred and fear. If it were not for religious prohibitions against homosexuality, we would not be reading about young people killing themselves over this. Everywhere I turn, the religious have blood on their hands…

  • http://mondaynightmiracles.blogspot.com Mike Powe

    “Perhaps if the culture had not filled Tyler’s head with titillating homosexual images and fallacious ideas…”

    Fallacious ideas? One can only assume she’s against the consumption of dick-shaped foods. That proves it. She’s evil. All the best foods are shaped like dicks.

  • Steve

    The phrase “titillating homosexual images” makes you once again think that these people are really turned on by gay sex themselves, can’t handle that and thus try to make everyone else miserable too. Projecting their own insecurities on others.

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Godless Monster,

    You claim that the church’s moral teachings against extra-marital sex are responsible for Clementi’s suicide: “They are the ones who have created an environment of intolerance, hatred and fear.”

    Who is intolerant here? How can you accuse the church of intolerance when it is you who are intolerant of those who have a different morality than yours, firing your inflammatory and irresponsible statements?

  • http://www.katcox.com kat

    “Perhaps if Christians pulled their heads out of their asses and realized that some people are simply gay and there’s nothing wrong with that regardless of what their despicable holy book says, there would be more gay teenagers alive today.”

    I love you for saying this. This whole post was awesome.
    It really is time we stop being so nice and let bigots get away with fallacious ideas about what’s okay. It’s not okay, Laurie. You are not okay.

    “You better pray for your sins, ’cause the gay messiah’s coming.” – Rufus Wainwright

  • Steve

    @Daniel Mann
    There can be no such thing as tolerance for bigotry, whether against race, gender, sexual orientation or anything else. It’s an indefensible position. There is nothing moral or ethical about it.

    Especially when there are lives at stake. Either literally because people kill themselves or figuratively by throwing kids out of their homes, or by making their lives torture by other means.

    And who said anything about extra-marital sex? That’s a whole other issue where religion causes more harm than good, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with this.

    Christians playing the victim is getting tiresome. Religious freedom and pluralism can’t be abused as a cover for outright hatred. This has gone way too far in the US – with devastating results, not just in this area. Believe whatever you want, but do it in your home and your church. Don’t force it on the rest of society.

  • John Locke

    “But how often do you hear pastors talking about envy, gluttony, and the lottery”

    To be fair, most pastors(even the ones that think homosexuality is a sin) talk about these things quite a lot. These views just don’t make the news very much.

  • http://www.cloverwise.com/ocd Tim

    Your sarcasm in this post is delicious. I love to see these hypocrites torn apart by logic and their own stupidity.

  • AxeGrrl

    Daniel Mann wrote:

    The question then becomes is the gay lifestyle self-destructive? Is there something endemic about it that gives rise to depression, drug abuse or even suicide? I think that these are legitimate questions – questions that you would sensor out of existence!

    Apparently not! since there it still is, for all to see :)

  • AxeGrrl

    Valdyr wrote:

    I always find it funny when evangelicals talk about “homosexual temptations”. Like they think that to everybody, homosexual sex is just something objectively delicious that they have to try hard to resist engaging in. I don’t think I’ve ever really heard anyone talk like that who was 100% straight.

    That’s because truly straight people don’t talk like that. How many more dozens of examples of a person being virulently anti-gay turning out to BE gay do we need to make the point?

    If there’s any sign that there’s a ‘preoccupation’ on the part of someone, where they’re devoting a lot of time and energy to this ‘fight’, chances are they’re ‘struggling’ with their sexuality themselves.

  • ash

    @ Daniel Mann

    Who is intolerant here? How can you accuse the church of intolerance when it is you who are intolerant of those who have a different morality than yours, firing your inflammatory and irresponsible statements?

    Can you state (and if you reference a god, please define such in universally agreed terms) what precisely is immoral about what consenting adults do with each other sexually?

    People have all kinds of ‘different moralities’. For some, racism, sexism, slavery, paedophilia, etc. is an acceptable part of their ‘different morality’. I suspect (I hope) you would not find these moral views tolerable. I suspect further that you would disagree that these ‘different moralities’ are not to be tolerated because they cause demonstratable harm. This may come as a shock to you, but gay people being discriminated against by law, religion, societal contempt etc. is demonstratable harm. Or would you like to argue that magical wishful thinking is somehow exempt from moral standards?

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Steve,

    You’re right – there are certain things that a society shouldn’t tolerate. We might disagree what they are, but we both agree that there is a place for intolerance of hate and destruction.

    I think that we’d also agree that love and concern for one another should guide what we tolerate and what we don’t. And so who loves the pedophile – the one who is silent or encourages him or the one who will warn him that this behavior is both destructive to himself and society?

    Who truly loves the adulterer – the one who says you’ve got to fulfill yourself (even at the expense of wife and kids) or the one who helps him see the damage that he is doing?

    The question with which we have to deal is this, “Is the gay lifestyle self-destructive or isn’t it? Is depression, substance abuse, and even suicide somehow endemic to it or isn’t it? I think that this is an important question – one that is often silenced with charges of “hate” and “homophobia.” (We are becoming a very repressive society.) If these things are endemic as the stats seem to indicate, then the media and society must also bear some of the responsibility for Clementi’s suicide?

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Ash,

    I’d agree with you that your list does constitute behaviors that are immoral. So at least we’re on the same page that there are certain things that are objectively wrong.

    I’d also add various other sexual lifestyles, and I think that there’s empirical evidence regarding their self-destructiveness to back it up.

    For one thing, all the major world religions have put “thumbs down” regarding them. Why? We are pleasure seeking people. Why then deny something that seems to be a major source of pleasure?

    In addition to this, history has also cast its ballot against the gay lifestyle. Although it has been tried out throughout history, it has never gained any consistent traction. Instead, these affiliations seem to self-destruct. I think we need to ask the question, “Why?”

  • Anna

    Nordog:

    Come on now, you’re just being a bully.

    I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that if you belong to an anti-gay church, if you donate money to that church, if you vote against equal rights for LGBT people and families, you are absolutely contributing to the culture of intolerance that led to these suicides. You’re not one of the jack-booted thugs, but that doesn’t make you any less culpable for promoting the societal stigmatization of homosexuality. If you’re helping to pass along the belief that homosexuality is inherently disordered, sinful and immoral, you’re part of the problem. You’re part of what makes bullies feel justified in targeting LGBT people for victimization, and your teachings directly contribute to making LGBT people feel horrible enough about themselves to consider suicide.

  • Steve

    You are completely confusing cause and effect here. In so far as there is a “gay lifestyle” (a term only used by Christianists in a disparaging way to denigrate the people they hate the most), it’s because society at large forced it upon gay people. The gay subculture came into existence because it was the only way for them to be themselves, meet like-minded people and express who they are. And for a lot of time that was somewhere in seedy underground bars.

    All the things Christianists see as bad in gay people’s lives are things they themselves created and fostered for decades, if not centuries. There wouldn’t be as much promiscuity if stable and committed gay relationships had been socially acceptable earlier on. If it had been easier for them to create families. AIDS wouldn’t have spread so far and fast in that particular community, if it had actually been integrated into society. There wouldn’t be so much violence against gay people if Christianity weren’t a religion of wrath and hatred. These suicides wouldn’t happen if Christian preachers didn’t create a climate of fear and condemnation. Gay people wouldn’t struggle so much and despair if their way of being were accepted. They wouldn’t fall into dangerous habits if they could lead normal lives more easily.
    There would still be some bullying, sure, but it wouldn’t be this bad.

    Of course society bears responsibility. But it’s American society. A society that is so steeped in Christianity that it’s completely suffocating in it.

    And you couldn’t help feeling oppressed again. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly. Your freedom ends where it impinges on other people’s freedom. Freedom of religion only means you won’t be burned or thrown in prison for what you believe. It doesn’t give to the license to do whatever you want.

  • Anna

    To be fair, most pastors(even the ones that think homosexuality is a sin) talk about these things quite a lot. These views just don’t make the news very much.

    Do they really? If all “sins” are equal, and gluttony is just as bad as homosexuality, are pastors condemning overweight people from the pulpit? I find it rather amusing that some of the most prominent figures on the religious right are significantly overweight, and no one is publicly condemning them for their “moral failings.”

    Going into fundamentalist mode for a moment, it’s not like Mike Huckabee and his family were born fat, after all. They chose to be that way. They could just stop eating so much and do what God wants. I don’t see anyone saying that Huckabee should be prevented from marrying and raising children despite his egregious and all-too-apparent “sin.”

  • Samiimas

    The totally not hateful Daniel Mann is already comparing us to pedophiles? Theirs a shocker. How’s it feel being left behind by society exactly like the racists were?

    Also you think it’s an interesting coincidence that the mormons, who refused to allow blacks full membership until 1978, were the biggest supporters of prop 8?

  • Richard Wade

    Daniel Mann:

    The question with which we have to deal is this, “Is the gay lifestyle self-destructive or isn’t it? Is depression, substance abuse, and even suicide somehow endemic to it or isn’t it? I think that this is an important question – one that is often silenced with charges of “hate” and “homophobia.” (We are becoming a very repressive society.) If these things are endemic as the stats seem to indicate, then the media and society must also bear some of the responsibility for Clementi’s suicide?

    These questions that you have asked twice now without censoring seem to be rhetorical questions. Please stop playing “Jeopardy,” framing your statements as questions, and back up these assertions with quotable data and reliable research. For instance, exactly what “stats” indicate that self-destructive behaviors, depression, substance abuse and suicide are somehow “endemic” to being gay?

    The problem is that you have very little if any “control group” because gays and lesbians are surrounded in a hostile and hateful society that constantly condemns, punishes and even threatens them with injury and death. I think you might agree that if you were to expose ANY human being to incessant stressors like those, they will develop plenty of depression, suicide and all the rest.

    “Endemic” to being gay, or the obvious consequences of being continually reviled and abused by ignorant bigots looking for scapegoats? You’ll need to compare two groups of gay people living in very different societies before you can arrive at any credible conclusions.

  • stephanie

    Homosexualist?

    What, does she think she’s Gore Vidal now?

  • K

    “anti-gay Christian” isn’t that a tautology?

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Daniel Mann wrote:

    Sometimes expressing moral disapproval is the highest expression of love. If I love my neighbor, I will censure him for cheating on his wife or sexually abusing his children or staying out all night drunk.

    This is not love. It’s control. If someone is sexually abusing children, you report that to the authorities. You don’t take that kind of matter into your own hands. It’s illegal. As for preventing an affair or a drunk night out on the town, that’s a call good friends may have a discussion about.

    Personally, your comments lead me to believe that your mindset is that you want others to lead your kind of life. Suggested is not an issue. Forcing and intervening into their lives to change their habits you morally disapprove of is what I call controlling.

    If a same-sex couple lives next door to you, are you going to intervene into their lives because it’s something you disagree with?

    To answer the question that Hemant asks, I think being anti-gay is a mindset that you may use bullying tactics, even if they are not ones an anti-gay person may personally or directly exhibit or inflict. Voting away someone’s right is a form of bullying, creating another class of people that are not like you.

  • cat

    @martymankins “This is not love. It’s control.” Thank you for that. Christians don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word love. The notion that I would ‘love’ pedophiles was so absurd it actually made me laugh. I don’t love pedophiles, I actively dislike them. If I condemn someone’s actions on ethical grounds, I absolutely do think that, the thing that they are doing makes them a worse person than those who do not do it (all other things equal. When I say that pedophilia is evil, I do absolutely mean that engaging in it means that you are a bad person. Is it possible to like someone despite something that the did/do? Yes, if it is not too evil (you can forgive the otherwise nice to Asian people old lady who keeps using the offensive term ‘oriental’ but not so much the Klansman), but you still think that the are a WORSE person because they do that thing.

    Daniel Mann also does not understanding what censorship means. Being criticized is not the same things as being censored. Also, advancing your knowledge of psycology out of the realm of the 1880s social conservatives would be helpful if you actually wanted to know shit like causal factors for suicide. Here is the American Psycological Association’s official position “Homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgement, stability, reliability, or general social and vocational capabilities; Further, the American Psychological Association urges all mental health professionals to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientations.” http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/policy/discrimination.aspx Your bullshit is in no way supported by modern science. Also please learn that CORRELATION DOES NOT PROVE CAUSATION.

    On the issue of bullying, the reason that bigoted language against oppressed groups is bullying is not because all moral disapproval is bullying, but because all bigotry and oppression is bullying. This language and these actions cause direct harm against queer people as a social class,and promotes the social privileging of heteros and oppression of queers, which is what makes it bullying.

  • ash

    @Daniel Mann

    I’d agree with you that your list does constitute behaviors that are immoral. So at least we’re on the same page that there are certain things that are objectively wrong.

    So, racism, sexism, slavery and paedophilia are wrong? I do hope you’re not having to appeal to religious authority to claim this as, far from condemnation, the bible (in particular) gives us certain guidelines as to how we are to practise these things.

    I also note with interest you are unable/unwilling to answer my initial question. In case you missed it, let me repeat,

    “Can you state (and if you reference a god, please define such in universally agreed terms) what precisely is immoral about what consenting adults do with each other sexually?”

    BTW, adultery or cheating assumes by default that at least one person is not a consenting adult. Coercion by violence and/or psychological abuse also denotes a lack of free consent.

    all the major world religions have put “thumbs down” regarding them. Why?

    All the major world religions have an in group/out group mentality, where the out group is generally seen as lesser or plain wrong. Perhaps then, all major world religions are bigoted at heart?

  • AxeGrrl

    Daniel Mann wrote:

    I think that we’d also agree that love and concern for one another should guide what we tolerate and what we don’t. And so who loves the pedophile – the one who is silent or encourages him or the one who will warn him that this behavior is both destructive to himself and society?

    Pedophiles very obviously harm other people. So, of course we’re justified in ‘warning’ him of this.

    Homosexuality does no such thing, so for pete’s sake, will you please stop conflating these two things? every time you do so, it makes you look dishonest and/or grossly ignorant (not to mention slanderous in intent).

    It’s quite fascinating to see the anti-gay side spew the same ol’ arguments, even after they’ve been debunked/dismantled time and time again…..

    it’s almost like one of their strategies is “if we wait awhile before using this argument again, maybe they’ll forget how utterly baseless it is

    sorry, we don’t.

  • AxeGrrl

    and martymankins…..great post :)

  • Ex Partiot

    Bigots and homophobs are the reason for the problem. Anti gay xians are one of the biggest of the problems

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Daniel Mann,
    You are obviously not here to learn anything. You are only here to push your idiocy on others.
    That being the case, my response to your comment on my observations can only be…BITE ME.

  • Nordog

    “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that if you belong to an anti-gay church, if you donate money to that church, if you vote against equal rights for LGBT people and families, you are absolutely contributing to the culture of intolerance that led to these suicides. You’re not one of the jack-booted thugs, but that doesn’t make you any less culpable for promoting the societal stigmatization of homosexuality. If you’re helping to pass along the belief that homosexuality is inherently disordered, sinful and immoral, you’re part of the problem. You’re part of what makes bullies feel justified in targeting LGBT people for victimization, and your teachings directly contribute to making LGBT people feel horrible enough about themselves to consider suicide.”

    Oh come on now, you just being a bigot.

  • muggle

    On that first part, I was going yes! I’ve been saying this. I’m straight and that tape being put on the internet would make me want to die. If someone didn’t intervene, I’d take Tyler’s route. Because I’m a modest person and would find it that utterly mortifying to have an intimate moment of me broadcast on the internet.
    But then she went on and here we go with the same old hateful bullshit again. I don’t think she’s really sorry at all (not deep down anyway) that Tyler’s dead. Otherwise, she would not have gone but then proceeded to go on an anti-gay rant.

    martymankins, excellent comment!

  • Anna

    Nordog:

    Oh come on now, you just being a bigot.

    Are you being facetious? I can’t tell if you’re serious or not. If you honestly think people are not responsible for their actions, I don’t know what to say. When people donate money to anti-gay organizations and directly promote anti-gay views, they are contributing to the stigmatization of homosexuality. That culture of intolerance is what leads to these suicides.

  • Secular Stu

    Nordog:

    “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that if you belong to an anti-gay church, if you donate money to that church, if you vote against equal rights for LGBT people and families, you are absolutely contributing to the culture of intolerance that led to these suicides. You’re not one of the jack-booted thugs, but that doesn’t make you any less culpable for promoting the societal stigmatization of homosexuality. If you’re helping to pass along the belief that homosexuality is inherently disordered, sinful and immoral, you’re part of the problem. You’re part of what makes bullies feel justified in targeting LGBT people for victimization, and your teachings directly contribute to making LGBT people feel horrible enough about themselves to consider suicide.”

    Oh come on now, you just being a bigot.

    Just being a bigot against bigots? Could you be more specific in what you find objectionable in that quote?

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    Thanks for your many responses to my missives. This is one charge that repeatedly comes up: “The Bible (or Christians) stigmatizes homosexual sex (HS).” While I think that there is some merit to this charge, I think it’s important to lay out several caveats:

    1. I know of NO Christians who do not deplore what has happened to the gay Rutgers student, Clementi – not only the suicide but also the filming.

    2. The Bible stigmatizes many behaviors – everything regarded as “sin” – many of which I too am guilty. I just thank my Savior that He forgives me and washes away my guilt and shame. However, you’re mistaken that we have a preoccupation for HS. In fact, I haven’t heard any sermonic mention of this particular sin for many years.

    3. True Christians don’t look down on gays. We recognize that Christ has had mercy upon us, and so we owe others that same debt of mercy. In fact, gays who know real Christians don’t seem to feel stigmatized by us. Ocean Grove is a good case in point. Traditionally, it has been a Christian community, but over the last 10-12 years LGBTs have been moving in en masse.

    4. It is not just the Bible that “stigmatizes” HS, but also all of the traditional religions and societies. Why? Did they all arbitrarily come to the same conclusion or is there something intrinsically problematic and destructive about HS? I am not aware of any long-lasting gay institution. There is no historical continuity. In contrast to this absence, we observe generations bred by the church.

    5. The main source of stigmatization seems to be coming from within the conscience of those who practice HS. The university campus is far more accepting of HS than it is of Christianity, but Christians aren’t jumping off bridges! Why not? Because even if we are hated for our faith, we are still convinced that it’s not shameful. Along with this, many gays who have left the HS lifestyle have acknowledged that they knew that what they had been doing was wrong. Consequently, they were often experiencing shame.

    6. If you are truly concerned about the victimization of gays, then you should pay more attention to the Islamic world where gays are often put to death. Instead, it’s the Christian who is bullied by the media for our “repressive” attitudes. Why not Islam? Is it because the Christians are a “soft” target, which will not retaliate?

  • ash

    @Daniel Mann

    1) It’s not a shocker that even homophobes can have an ounce of compassion and empathy, but it should be recognised that those attitudes contribute to the death rate. Feeling bad about something is not the same as actually doing something to change it.

    2) Many christians are preoccupied with HS. Case in point, I haven’t noticed you participate in many threads, but this one attracted you…?

    3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

    4)

    It is not just the Bible that “stigmatizes” HS women, but also all of the traditional religions and societies. Why? Did they all arbitrarily come to the same conclusion or is there something intrinsically problematic and destructive about HS women? I am not aware of any long-lasting gay institution matriarchal society. There is no historical continuity. In contrast to this absence, we observe generations bred by the church.

    FTFY.

    5) I’m starting to wonder if you’re a bit slow. Being threatened, beaten, thrown out of homes, ostracized from friends + family, employment problems, these are all real things that really happen to people just because of what they choose to do in the privacy of their own bedroom. Being manipulated and coerced into believing that what you do is shameful is not the same as that thing actually being shameful.

    6) And fatwa envy? Are you really that dense that you don’t realise that christianity is the majority religion in America and that it’s the christian right doing the majority of the bullying attitudes and denial of legal rights? Have you heard ANYONE say that christian homophobia is wrong, but muslim homophobia is ok? Yeah, thought not.

    If you insist on being stupid, I’m done with you.

  • grazatt

    Andrew Marin is a real shady character!

  • Mechagogue

    Where does “Moral Disapproval” become bullying? It is at the moment when the one disapproving finds the bully on her side. No longer is the bully alone, but he finds moral justification in a group.
    Those who rally their voices and call homosexuality a sin and then, when accused of bullying, sit down and claim they’re ju…st ‘expressing their views’ are no better than the bullies, themselves. They are the operator of a sinister machine- they are the benefactor of evil. They are the parents of the schoolyard bullies, who encourage their children to steal from the weak simply because they have the power to do so. They are the sanctuary to those who commit wicked acts against their fellow man- acts that hurt the flesh or tear at emotions.
    So, where does Moral Disapproval become bullying? I view the two as little less than synonymous. Perhaps the greatest difference is that bullying can be stopped. We can enforce rules against those who hurt and punish- we can even hope that some find understanding. Those who sit in their quiet corners and claim a sort of passivity? They have no hopes- their feeble claims will continue to excuse and exonerate them in their own minds, which, as we’ve seen, are the only minds that count.

  • Jack

    Hmm, I disagree. If moral disapproval is the same as being a bully then I bully the lier, the thief, the murderer, etc. and all of society is just a big bully to criminals.

    When a kid starts hitting another kid and the first child’s mom chides her son for acting badly is she a bully? Are you going to accuse the father who kicks out the boy trying to feel up his daughter of being a bully? Not to be disrespectful but what if that boy felt so ashamed that he ended his life? Now is the father a bully? Should the father let others fondle his daughter from now on?

    Everyone has morals and stands by them (this article, for example, expresses moral disapproval of moral disapproval) but everyone is not a bully. There is a difference. A big difference. The difference is only hard to see when you’re the one in the wrong. It’s tragic that there have been these suicide situations but to attack morals as a result…I don’t think that’s going to help anyone.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Are you going to accuse the father who kicks out the boy trying to feel up his daughter of being a bully? Not to be disrespectful but what if that boy felt so ashamed that he ended his life? Now is the father a bully? Should the father let others fondle his daughter from now on?

    I love the implication that the daughter is the father’s property, and he has the right to determine what happens to her body. What century are we in? Assuming this contact is consensual, I fail to see how it’s any of the the father’s business. I notice you did not even mention the mother. Note to Christians: sexism and and patriarchy are very unappealing.

    It’s tragic that there have been these suicide situations but to attack morals as a result…I don’t think that’s going to help anyone.

    There’s nothing moral about bigotry and prejudice.

  • Christian Monitor

    In answer to “There is no historical continuity. In contrast to this absence, we observe generations bred by the church.”
    Gay people have continually existed throughout history. Usually “bred” by heterosexuals in an exclusively and often christian heterosexual environment. There is a difference between homosexual behavior and the litany of deplorable acts it is often compared to… Safe Homosexual sex between consenting adults harms homosexuals no more than Safe heterosexual sex does as long as there is consent among the individuals. Nazis, murderers, terrorists, adulterers, theives, etc. do not ask for consent from their “victims”. “Victims” of bullying or anything else, inherently do not consent.

    What people do in privacy and in mutual consent is frankly thier own business and christians and everyone else should butt out, and not concern themselves with personal choices between others.
    As far as the “cult” of christians are concerned, the bible as written is full of many contradictions, many of them morally questionable by it’s own standards…
    Perhaps the most egregious is it’s insistance on being the source of “truth”.
    If this were so the sun and the moon marking the period of a day would have been created on the first “day” (not the third according to Genesis), The contradictions between the 4 “Gospels” including the diferences in the orders of events and generals lack of agreement in the details between them. There would be a recognition that the human race would not be in existence without the “cloning” of Eve from adam’s rib, the reason for sexual organs of adam and eve and their apparent use and necessary incest inolved between the children of and or possibly adults of the first generation resulting in the later generations, all outside the sanction of marriage. Without this system of “perfection” of life created by god, there would be no religion of man to condemn all these acts.
    And by the way….(Marriage didn’t always exist, and started as a man made property contract, later co-opted by the church to morally suppress couples)Adultery along with other bad things was not a sin until God sort-of clarified what was and wasn’t in the 10 Commandments which doesn’t mention or explictly forbid homosexuality either, but does call for all of us to “love thy neighbor as thyself”.
    And even more by the way…

    God’s behaviour isn’t that perefect either…

    Who set the “trap” that is the Garden of Eden?
    Why did God include and allow physical access whatsoever to such a hazard as the “tree of knowledge”?
    Did God himself not create the first temptation by forbidding acces to knowledge, while making it freely available?
    Any Christian parent or otherwise would be considered negligent or purposefully endangerous of a child (someone lacking the ability to reason [biblically forbidden to Adam and Eve up to this point]) for creating a situation that would result in potentially permanent, fatal damage(to their immortal soul). And why should God be excused for permanently condemning Adam and Eve as well as all their children and kicking them out and putting them in danger when He was responsible for all the Creation
    including Lucifer and the “concept of free will” and therefore the “Situation”, the rules etc., Adam and Eve’s lack of understanding or”knowledge” of the Penalty for obtaining “knowledge”. (I guess this explains the origins of the anti-intellectualism of organized religions).

    Is it Justice to subject the descendants of people for the crimes of their parents?
    What “decent” christian parent would condemn the innocent offspring who have committed no crimes to the sufferings that God has the power to prevent. Is God less responsible for the protection of the innocent than anyone else? Any parent who while having the resources and complete discretion to help the innocents, but instead allows disease, starvation, homelessnes, poverty, and anguish to go unabated would be held guilty of negligence.
    Are we not all victims of God’s neglect?
    Forgive me for digressing, I could go on and on about God’s faults and failings as both a parent and a “perfect” Deity, but I think that it is safe to say that what people do in their own bedrooms, harms noone until someone else seeks to use it to embarrass, threat, or injure them by taking advantage of the harm that unjustified
    predjudism will punish them for.