Friday, February 16, 2007

Could people be genetically predisposed to hate?

S. T. Karnick at Karnick On Culture poses an interesting possibility concerning the controversy over retired NBA star Tim Hardaway's remarks on gays. In an ESPN interview Hardaway expressed his dislike for gays, going so far as to say he "hated" them.

Well for one thing, hate is wrong. Shame on him.

But it seems you can't even want to see someone slapped down anymore without wanting to slap the people who are slapping him down for all the wrong reasons. Not content to castigate Hardaway (legitimately) for hating other people (for any reason), the host of the show accused him of "homophopia"--a disease homosexuals claim heterosexuals who disagree with them have--merely because they disagree with them.

Karnick, however, has openly wondered if there isn't a scenario whereby homosexuals would have to take back all the bad things they've said about Hardaway:
[I]f people are going to be logically consistent (an unlikely premise, to be sure), Hardaway could stop all the controversy in a moment by simply asserting that he is genetically predisposed toward disapproving of homosexual behavior. Hence, he could argue, he cannot be held responsible for, or even criticized for, this genetically programmed behavior.

The fact that no one has identified such a gene is immaterial; nobody has looked for one yet. Surely one must exist, Hardaway could argue, given that so many people so strongly disapprove of homosexual behavior and that such attitudes have been so prevalent and persistent throughout human history. It is actually a highly plausible argument, he could say, given the evolutionary imperative for heterosexual behavior in creating children. Certainly the idea of an anti-homosexuality gene is every bit as plausible as the notion that there is a gene predisposing people toward homosexual behavior, he could argue. In fact, he could point out, it makes rather more sense in evolutionary terms.

And if it is wrong for society to seek to thwart or even disapprove of homosexual behavior because it is genetically programmed, he could observe, it must also then be wrong for society to attempt to thwart or even disapprove of people's dislike for homosexual behavior, because that, too, is genetically programmed.

Hardaway could argue that the two positions—approval or disapproval of homosexual behavior—are clearly on equal footing, as far as both genetics and political-social freedom are concerned.

The real difference between the two positions is that one is politically powerful at this point and the other is not.

Maybe we can also claim that anyone who disagrees with Karnick's theory is heterophobic.


M. Sheldon said...

Dad-gummed heterophobes. Heard an interesting question today: Do people have the right to be bigoted? If so, the Gay/Lesbian groups are interfering with Hardaway's civil rights!
/wrap your head around that one for a minute.

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