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Monday, November 14, 2005

 

Ron Schlittler reacts to my article about Sheryl Swoopes

Ron Schlittler of PFLAG reacts to an email query about my article on Sheryl Swoopes. I was cc:ed in this exchange. I have removed email addresses.

-----Original Message-----
From: Andy Derksen
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2005 3:16 AM
To: Ron Schlittler
Cc:
Subject: RE: "Becoming out"
Dear Mr. Schlittler,

Hello. Please tell me how you compare the remarks of basketball player Sheryl Swoopes and Focus on the Family's Bill Maier, re. the origins of individual homosexuality. I note from the article copied below that you disparaged Maier's comments, but have apparently said nothing about Swoopes. How do you explain that?

Thanks and regards,

Andy Derksen

(This is Mr. Schlittler's reply)

Hello Mr. Derksen,

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

I have always maintained that women appear to have a bit more fluidity concerning their sexual orientation than men, as an honest interpretation of the research suggests. That, however, is not the same thing as "conversion" through the "therapy" advocated by religious ideologues.

Men, almost without exception the research also finds, experience their sexuality as hard-wired one way or the other.

So, it is disingenuous and self-serving of Warren Throckmorton to suggest that the Swoopes story is evidence that sexual orientation can flip like a switch.

I also have always maintained that some people are gay, some are lesbian, a few are bisexual and most are heterosexual. These are natural, healthy, normal variations of the human experience - also evidenced widely in the animal kingdom. And though individuals may
shift how they self-identify and express sexuality over time, as the evidence also indicates, basic innate sexual and affectional attractions do not change.

Though Throckmorton seems to insinuate I've been caught in an inconsistency by not commenting on Sheryl Swoopes, the fact of the matter is that I've simply not been asked - by him or anyone else until your note arrived.

Regards,
Ron Schlittler
Deputy Executive Director
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
1726 M Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
202-467-8180 ext. 226
www.pflag.org
"You Have a Home in PFLAG"
Join PFLAG today and help us make the world a better place!
Make a Contribution to PFLAG!http://www.pflag.org/donations.htm

After Mr. Schlittler's response, Mr. Derksen answered some of the points as follows:

Schlittler: So, it is disingenuous and self-serving of Warren Throckmorton to suggest that the Swoopes story is evidence that sexual orientation can flip like a switch.

Derksen: Why should you assume Mr. Throckmorton is "self-serving" because he stands up for his convictions? Couldn't I just as easily assume your email to me is self-serving? Why is pitching an argument self-serving on the other side but truth- and freedom-serving on *your* side? Are you suggesting the world's selfless people are lined up on your side, while the other side as all the self-serving people?

Schlittler: These are natural, healthy, normal variations of the human experience
- also evidenced widely in the animal kingdom. >

Derksen: There are some animals that eat their young as well. Would you be okay with me killing and eating my baby (if I had one)? Why should we presume to take our moral cues from the animal kingdom?

Schlittler: And though individuals may shift how they self-identify and express sexuality over time, as the evidence also indicates, basic innate sexual and affectional attractions do not change.

Derksen: Isn't it self-contradictory that you base part of your stance on what men "experience," while at the same time refusing to consider the experiences of those who are now ex-gay? Isn't that self-serving?

For the record, I do not know Mr. Derksen. I may have met him at a conference but I cannot place which one.

If anyone cares to take up the dialogue, feel free. I thought it was an interesting exchange.

Comments:
I experience being disorganized and messy as being hard-wired. I've tried for 5 years to learn to follow a schedule and to live in a organized fashion like most people.

My lack of organization and structure is destroying my life, and has ruined several romantic relationships.

I'm currently entering therapy to learn how to be more organized and to live with more structure. Things which I've struggled with all my life.

I honestly feel I was born this way.

moral of the story: some things FEEL hardwired. But does that mean that they NEVER change?
 
Assuming it's the one and same...

"Andy Derksen" is, apart from being a conservative Christian, is STRAIGHT. So, one wonders what dog he has in this fight? (need I even ask... he's a anti-gay straight man with an opinion about gay people.)

As was pointed out here, Swoopes made two (seemingly) contradictory statements about "choice". I did ask if you were able to reconcile the two. Nope, apparently :)

But your article did only mentioned one, and then suggests this as (what?) evidence that sexuality is fluid. That is self-serving, because it ignores the other inconvenient statements.

And you can always tell where this type is heading.

Schlittler opines "natural, healthy, normal variations of the human experience" (something I assume he's seen more than enough evidence for via PFLAG) and Derksen throws a dead cat into the room with an unrelated bit of nonsense about animals eating their young.

Huh? And exactly why does he think Schlittler therefore must support the eating of babies?

I doubt Derksen is interested in anything other than making derogatory statements, and in this case by conflating unrelated statements with each other. Perhaps in his own mind Derksen does conflate being gay with every dangerous, harmful and nasty aspect on the planet -- but he's therefore going to be regarded as an ignoramus.

I'm also sure Schlittler knows exactly where to file that sort of exchange.
 
"Derksen: Why should you assume Mr. Throckmorton is "self-serving" because he stands up for his convictions? Couldn't I just as easily assume your email to me is self-serving? Why is pitching an argument self-serving on the other side but truth- and freedom-serving on *your* side? Are you suggesting the world's selfless people are lined up on your side, while the other side as all the self-serving people?"

Um... I think the PFlag guy was just saying you made a bad argument from a really flimsy premise.

Boo
 
I also love this one:

"Schlittler: These are natural, healthy, normal variations of the human experience
- also evidenced widely in the animal kingdom. >

Derksen: There are some animals that eat their young as well. Would you be okay with me killing and eating my baby (if I had one)? Why should we presume to take our moral cues from the animal kingdom?"

Anti-gay person: "Homosexuality is unnatural!"

Gay person: "But it's all over nature!"

Anti-gay person: "Are you saying we should act like animals?!"

Just gotta keep shifting them ol goalposts.

Boo
 
hmmm Derksen's responses were very effective compared to Schlittler's weak and contradictory statements. Did he email him back. Probably not.
I plan on using some of that rebuttal. Great stuff.
 
Here's what I think about the article:

I have always maintained that women appear to have a bit more fluidity concerning their sexual orientation than men, as an honest interpretation of the research suggests. That, however, is not the same thing as "conversion" through the "therapy" advocated by religious ideologues.

This is somewhat true, though the research also indicates that some women have A LOT of fluidity, and some have less. In fact, the trait of fluidity should itself be measured on a continuum. Some women's attractions seemingly change like the weather. Other's change every few decades.

I will also add, as the ever astute CK pointed out, a lot of apparent shifts in orientation seem to occur naturally, without any sort of forced effort (i.e. the whole conversion through prayer baloney) Though it is more common among women, and less common in men, this is not to say that it is impossible, and can never happen.

Men, almost without exception the research also finds, experience their sexuality as hard-wired one way or the other.

Wow, without exception eh? What a bold statement. Where's the evidence? Again, Schlitter must think he's God to be able to speak for the entire male race (And which research study purports to sample the entire male race? Remind me again. I seem to have forgot). It is one thing to say that all men, by definition, without exception, have XY chromosomes. But to say that ALL men experience their orientations the same way (hard-wired)? Puzzling. I thought different people experienced things differently? (And, does it even make sense to call sexual orientation a singular "thing?") I certainly do not experience my sexual orientation as "hard-wired," after all, what the hell does that mean? I've played tennis for so many years that I experience the movements as hardwired into my being. I've forgotten where those movements came from. It feels as if I've always had them. Also, I've tried for many years to alter my faulty backhand, but to no avail. It seems as if its written into my DNA. Of course, I'm not saying that sexual orientation is purely learned, only that it is tempting to say that because something feels hardwired, that it is.

So, it is disingenuous and self-serving of Warren Throckmorton to suggest that the Swoopes story is evidence that sexual orientation can flip like a switch.

I've read Warren's op-ed several times, and nowhere does he say that sexual orientation can flip like a switch. Of course, him being a conservative Christian, I would suspect him to have an obvious right-of-center agenda *ahem*, but I have heard him say many times that these apparent shifts take a long time, and may not occur for everyone. Hardly of the light switch variety.

I also have always maintained that some people are gay, some are lesbian, a few are bisexual and most are heterosexual. These are natural, healthy, normal variations of the human experience - also evidenced widely in the animal kingdom. And though individuals may
shift how they self-identify and express sexuality over time, as the evidence also indicates, basic innate sexual and affectional attractions do not change.


The bit about animals is wholly unnecessary, and gives off the false (?) impression that he is saying something along the lines of: "because animals do it, it must be normal." And, the latter is so obviously wrong that we need not say more about it.

Lastly, the last bit about innate attractions NEVER changing poses a philosophical question. So if a Gay person seemingly experiences his or her attractions as changing, and discloses this to the public, this can mean one of three (or more, feel free to add to the list) things: 1) he or she was of a bisexual orientation all along, and merely discovering latent hetero feelings that were always there, thus NO CHANGE 2) he or she really did experience a CHANGE in orientation 3) he or she is lying about the whole thing.

To my knowledge, there is no way we can be totally sure which one is the case, though I can tell you which options are convenient for which agendas...

U.M.
 
DL - To my knowledge there was no reply.
 
Desmond - Have you seen my office???
 
If I may respond to a couple of the respondents(!) . . . .

> grantdale said...
> "Andy Derksen" ... is
> STRAIGHT. . . . he's a anti-gay
> straight man with an opinion
> about gay people.

I don't see why this should carry any weight. If my arguments can be dismissed because I'm a "straight man with an opinion about gay people," then by the same logic the arguments of gays can be dismissed just because they're gays with opinions about straight people.

I, for one, have never dismissed a homosexual's argument just because it comes from a homosexual. I've always attempted to take it seriously, analyze it, and respond accordingly. Apparently Grant isn't willing to debate by the same respect-based standard, but will dismiss my arguments just because I don't happen to be gay.

> Derksen throws a dead cat into
> the room with an unrelated bit
> of nonsense about animals eating
> their young.
> Huh? And exactly why does he
> think Schlittler therefore must
> support the eating of babies?

It is hardly "unrelated." Schlittler had used, as part of his argument, the observation that homosexuality sometimes occurs in the animal world. My point in mentioning that some animals eat their young was to demonstrate the obvious flaw in Schlitter's reasoning: just because something occurs in the animal world does NOT mean it's justified in the human world.

Of COURSE Schlittler does NOT advocate eating babies(!). My argument was based precisely on the assumption that Schlittler and others do NOT in fact advocate eating babies, and therefore they themselves do NOT attempt to justify mimicking the animal world in all cases.

THEREFORE, the logic of my argument is that if we do not mimic animals in eating our young, then why should we assume we can mimic animals in the occurrence of homosexuality? In short: observations of the animal world do not in themselves justify homosexuality among humans.

> I doubt Derksen is interested in
> anything other than making
> derogatory statements,

Praytell, what statements of mine were derogatory? I posed arguments; I did not use abusive language or putdowns. This is in marked contrast to yourself, since you arrogantly dismiss my arguments rather than actually dealing with them.

> DL Foster said...
> Derksen's responses were very
> effective compared to
> Schlittler's weak and
> contradictory statements. Did he
> email him back. Probably not.

You're right; he did not.

> I plan on using some of that
> rebuttal. Great stuff.

D.L., I much appreciate, and am flattered by, your kind words.

God bless,
Andy Derksen
 
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