Is Anybody Normal
(Printed in the Towanda Daily Review on 7/6/95.)
Editor: In his 6/22/95 letter to the Daily Review, Robert Dobbs wrote, "Decent people readily agree that reactions of hate against homosexuals are wrong." He continued though with strong implications that the sex practiced by homosexuals is not normal and that homosexual couples should not have the same rights as normal couples.
He presented his opinion, yet provided no argument or reasoning to support it. He also failed to specify the rights that homosexuals are to be denied. To try to understand Dobbs' logic, I will assume that his argument is as follows: since homosexuals should not live as normal couples, then they should not have the same rights as normal couples. If his argument is valid, then and only then will it be necessary to determine the rights to be denied.
His assumed argument is based on the meaning of normal. Using it as a statistical concept, normal could refer to anything shared by most people -- their typical behavior or average characteristics. Thus, homosexuals living as couples could be considered to be not normal. Similar but faulty reasoning would also label a couple that has a left-handed or a red-haired partner as not normal. Thus, this concept of normal leads to a faulty conclusion through defective reasoning.
Normal could also be thought of as purpose or function. Anything used in a manner other than its intended function could be considered not normal. Normally, the functions of the sex organs are bladder evacuation and reproduction. If used for some other purpose, then that could be considered not normal. Similar but faulty reasoning would label post-menopausal sex, celibacy, or sex using birth control as not normal. As before, we would have a faulty conclusion through defective reasoning because of the difficulty in defining normal.
Clearly, non-normal behaviors or characteristics cannot be the sole factor for the denial of rights, particularly where only consenting adults are involved.
Another popular argument is that homosexuality is contrary to "family values." Again, we have a nice sounding term with no clear definition. And again, this reasoning fails an objective evaluation because there have always been homosexuals, yet homosexuality has never posed any real danger -- physical, emotional, or moral -- to any society or its families in all of recorded history.
Unless a valid, objective argument can be made that a particular group (as with convicted felons) be denied certain rights to protect society, then the unwarranted denial of those rights is not only wrong, it is immoral. Being different does not qualify as a valid argument.
For the real dangers, look to those who would use their own prejudice and bigotry to mislead and to influence public opinion; look to those who would deny others their rights simply because of an irrational aversion to anything not conforming to their idea of normal; look to those who would deny you your rights because your actions and thoughts don't conform to theirs. Look, and look clearly.
John L. Ferri