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Thursday, December 26, 2013


Banned at Volokh

Randy Barnett at the Volokh Conspiracy presents some poll results that attempt to show that a plurality of Americans approve of homosexual sex. It’s another one in a long line of articles that try to convince people who consider homosexual relations as a sin – a la Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame – that they're out of step.
One question that has come up in the Duck Dynasty dispute is how typical is Phil Roberston’s view that homosexual behavior is a sin.

In recent years, the public has been moving from a majority believing that sexual relations between people of the same gender is always wrong to roughly equal numbers believing that it’s always wrong and believing that it’s not wrong at all.

Indeed, less than two years ago, our President finally came around to embrace views on gay marriage that I expect a majority of us at the Volokh Conspiracy have long held.

In searching through polls archived at the Roper Center, I found these surveys showing the split over gay sex:

May 2013: Do you think it is a sin, or not, to engage in homosexual behavior?
(Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Political Survey)
45% Is a sin
45% Is not a sin
10% Don’t know/Refused
March 2013: Do you personally believe that sex between two adults of the same gender is a sin, or not?
(Source: Public Religion Research Institute Religion & Politics Tracking Survey)
44% Yes, is a sin
46% No, is not a sin
10% Don’t know/Refused

If the fact that about half the people in the country are willing to openly state that they agree with Robertson, despite the condemnation of people like Barnett - the ones who dominate the mass media and academia - is a surprise, it may mean that Barnett lives in a bubble at Georgetown.

Barnett remarks (in the comments section)

The entire post is designed to do just what it does -- give information to the intellectually curious on both sides.

That bigoted views on gay sex are so widespread (and are religiously based) makes the challenge all the greater. These views on homosexuality are sadly quite mainstream, indeed, the majority view for men and for those living in Robertson's region of the country. For those who welcome the network's actions, with this information one can get a better sense of what the one is up against. People in my part of the intellectual world often lack basic understanding of the actual views of the American public. It's not just some strange guy out of the mainstream.

For those who oppose the network's actions, one can see that his view of gay sex as sinful is a mainstream view, though no longer in the majority.
As for motivations, the demography of viewpoint diversity is part of what I do.

Really, make of the facts what you will. In my post, other than implying my long-time support for gay rights, I expressed no opinion on Robertson or A & E. As an atheist myself, I do not view the Bible as other than the works of men who lived a long time ago.

Which I call bullshit.   “The entire post is designed to do just what it does -- give information to the intellectually curious on both sides.” No it doesn't.  I'm not sure how many people are curious about the sexual antics of about 2% of the population; who approves and who disapproves and who gives a damn.  Because that's not what the controversy over Phil Robertson's remarks are about.  

It’s designed to put Barnett's finger on the scale by using polling to make people who believe that some things are a sin (or as he might put it “sin”) shut up because their views are becoming less popular. Note he refers to people who believe that homosexual sex is a sin, like adultery, are bigots.  It is also designed to convince people that the way to be part of the “intellectual” in-crowd, to be accepted by professors of law are "sadly" mistaken and need to be re-educated by their betters who don't live in the Louisiana swamps. They must be educated to adopt the view that homosexual sex is normal, perhaps even somewhat noble because it’s somehow associated with inter-racial marriage; something that someone inevitably brings up in comments to posts like his at Volokh.  This is particularly true of the rigid – and rather totalitarian atmosphere of academia where Robertson’s view of sex and sin is simply not permitted to be uttered. Where evangelical atheists congregate to compliment each other on their goodness. People in Barnett's part of the intellectual world are doing their best to de-legitimize the views of the mainstream that disagrees with their views of morality. Slickly done.

I'll give Phil Robertson the last word.

Oh, and my presence at Volokh is no longer accepted.  That's fine, I'll stand with Phil.  His swamp is healthier and more accepting than Barnett's.

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It is easy to understand why the poll numbers are the way they are. In fact it could be worse. The media has been beating the drum of gay rights for a long time, psychiatry says you are born that way, churches preach grace and love without any word that God still has standards, and people are more and more illiterate of what the Bible says because they don't read it and for some even if they read it they rely on that God of unending love and grace and not that part that said "everyman did what was right in his own eyes" which God didn't like. I'm reminded of the Thomas Sowell interview that said that the more intellectual you are the more you don't know what you don't know but you think you do.
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