Thursday, May 21, 2009

Christians vs the gays

This week's Smile Politely column is up, and has an unnecessarily inflammatory title: "Why gays are morally superior to Christians."

It's actually just a recounting of Stanley Hauerwas' 1993 essay of the same name. Despite its age, it's still both funny and relevant.


brownie said...

One for four ain't bad, (if you're a AA semi-pro baseball player). But mostly those just war theory points were off-base.

"question targeting strategies of nuclear weapons" Just question it? As a Christian, they couldn't morally oblige themselves to work with any organization (the military as a whole) who targets nuclear weapons at civilian
centers. A blooper drops in to short right center for a single. One for one.

"refuse to bomb in cities where civilians may be killed" Collateral damage is regrettable and should be minimized, but it is not against the just war theory to wage war where civlians MAY be killed. They just can't be the TARGET. Fly ball snagged at the warning track. Close, but no banana.

"insist not on killing but on incapacitating the enemy by taking prisoners or wounding them" Nothing in the just war theory about this. In fact, incapacitation is a very modern, liberal idea. Aquinas would have had, and did have, nothing to do with this notion. Line drive to pitcher's face! He caught it!

"question the idea of a standing army" Interesting point, but this is a political policy, and has nothing to do with actually WAGING war. Pop-up caught by the catcher.

You're batting .250. You've been sent to the Fort Wayne Tin Caps for the summer.

Anonymous said...

Dan: You surely already know about this, but its gallingness came to mind in light of your new SP essay--


Nate said...


I would like to ask where one could obtain a copy of the "just war theory" that you refer to? I have never heard of it before and would like to read it for myself.

brownie said...

I'm not sure there is a simple, complete "copy" per se. It is, rather, an idea that has evolved over the centuries, based on St Thomas Aquinas' teachings on how a "Christian" nation must conduct itself in war. If you research it well, you'll find that the theory boils down to about five basic points that deal with the "moral" justification and conduct of war by a city-state (in Aquinas' time) or nation-state.

I spent a whole semester researching and writing a series of papers on the subject and how it relates to the war on terror. So, I've done a bit of homework on this. (Just in case you thought I was just full of sh** [which, I must admit, I occasionally am, just not in this case])


Nate said...


I apologize if I sounded as if I were making you out to be full of sh**. That was not my intent. Just curious about the "just war theory". Thank you for the info though. I will start with reading on Thomas Aquinas.

Shay said...

I wonder where he got his information? When I was on active duty I always was told that the rationale for barring gays from serving was that homosexual behavior was prejudicial to good order and discipline, and that gays were a bad security risk (this was back when homosexuality was still illegal in many states. Ergo, a gay servicemember could be blackmailed).

That gays were "dodgy warriors" never came up. Would really like to know his source.

Nate: more on the Just War theory here

Dan S said...

I think the rationale for barring gays is whatever someone can think of at the moment. There's really no such thing as "homosexual behavior" other than the sex act itself, but the phrase is used to imply a lack of morality.

Blackmail is a reasonable reason, but is easily remedied by requiring gay servicemen to be out in the open, so they can't be blackmailed.

Brownie, JWT has evolved since Aquinas, but yeah, as I look over JWT again, I think some better arguments could have been made by Hauerwas. For instance, "Last Resort" is a good one. If soldiers questioned whether everything else has been tried before waging war, this wouldn't go over too well by the brass.

Thanks for the link Molly. I had not seen that. I guess nothing surprises me anymore about what was going on in the Bush administration.

PG said...

Probably the people I know who most fervently believe that nonviolence is active and that violence, especially war, cannot be justified are the people who live these principles and rarely speak out about them. I'm not sure that this part of the Tao Te Ching verse 78 directly applies, but somehow it does relate to the effectiveness of force, kind of like "the meek shall inherit the earth." Personally, I choose to believe in the practicality of this advice.

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water.

The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid.

Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice.

Shay said...

Dan: I didn't say those were reasonable or even that I accepted them; I said those were the rationales repeated to me during my years in the service. And I'm still wondering where he got his version because during twenty-one years in the Marines (1979-2OOO), I think I would have remembered hearing that gays were "dodgy warriors."

Shay said...

I stand corrected: "doubtful," not "dodgy."

Dan S said...

Hey Shay, I wasn't assuming you accepted that, I was just trying to point it out.

It may be that Hauerwas wasn't being literal about the phrase "doubtful warriors" but assuming that in the military, gay men are thought to be too effeminate or something. I guess that's a good question for you and Brownie. What kinds of stereotypes of gay men exist in the military? When someone gets "insulted" as gay, what is meant by it in the military?

Shay said... have kids. Have you listened to teenagers talk?

The word "gay" is used as an insult in America's military the same way it is used as an insult in American society. The nineteen year old soldier and the nineteen year old college student both say "That's so gay" about everything they find unreasonable or stupid or disagreeable.

PG said...

The whole use of the word "gay" for something that doesn't work or sit right or messes up or sucks somehow... isn't entirely hateful. It can almost be affectionate, in a way, like kidding your brother for being off-base. I'm not thrown all out of whack by this development in the connotations of the word. I'm still exploring what it means. It might end up being kind of a friendly, elbow to the ribs kind of thing, I think.

brownie said...

What kinds of stereotypes of gay men exist in the military?

The same kinds that exist everywhere else. But I think in a vocation like the military, where the idea of manliness and the testosterone-enhanced atmosphere are pervasive, it makes it an especially corrosive accusation.

BTW, I was accused more than once of being both effeminate and gay while I served in the military. I am hetero, as you know, but my personal experience of having to defend being something which I couldn't (and wouldn't) actually prove to someone else has shown me what it's like to face this kind of prejudice. It wasn't fun.

This experience taught me that the world is mostly made up of lemmmings. They'll follow in any direction as long as someone is willing to lead them there, even if it's over a cliff.