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Alan Keyes is making sense

. . . as the Illinois Republican Party’s candidate for the Senate race against Barack Obama.  No, really:  finally the people of the great state of Illinois will have a devout believer and master logician fighting to represent them, not just some skinny kid with a funny name.  Take for example the question of the homosexual agenda and how to stop it.  Other conservatives may talk casually about men having sex with dogs and box turtles, but only Alan Keyes will perform the actual intellectual labor involved in proving that gay and lesbian Americans have the moral status of children:

Now, given that that’s the basic difference between the distinction between adults and children, and that it involves the ability to deal responsibly with the impulses of passion, let us say we accept the premise of the homosexual movement-- that premise being that we treat homosexuality and other sexual inclinations like race, and based on that treatment, we assume that individuals cannot govern their impulses and inclinations.

Well, if an individual who is thirty years old cannot govern their impulses and inclinations, somebody tell me what is the difference for that purpose between that individual and a child. There is none, because the basis for making that distinction has to do precisely with that ability, maturely and responsibly, to deal one’s impulses and inclinations.

So if we accept the premise that no matter how old you are when a sexual feeling comes over you, you are pulled into a whirlpool of inclination and condition that, like race, is ineluctable, that “must be the way it’s gonna be,” then for the purposes of that particular passion, in this case sexual passion, you’re a child. You’re a child at ten, you’re a child at twenty, you’re a child at thirty, you’re a child at seventy-- because if, in fact, you do not have that fundamental ability, in light of rational and moral and ethical standards, in light even of your own purposes, rationally, to respond to the impulses that you are subject to, then you are no better off than a child, and your consent and your inclination has no different quality that than of a child.

Now, the reason I make this point is so we’ll think through the implication of this agenda, because if we accept the agenda, you do understand then that the line between adulthood and childhood for sexual purposes is erased. Accept this premise, and you cannot sustain it.

Therefore, and furthermore ergo, Keyes, who has thought and thought hard for decades now about the implication of this agenda, has come to the conclusion that gays and lesbians are uniquely dangerous children-- the kind who threaten the innocence of our children:

What is the implication for this society, for the entire social contract or compact on which it rests, if the government takes steps that withdraw its support for the privileges without which the marriage-based heterosexual family cannot be sustained? At that point the government will have betrayed its compact with the people.

So, I think it obviously has to be thought through carefully-- not just in terms of its individual consequence, but, in terms of what happens when we have so defined our understanding of human sexual passion, purposes, and of human nature itself, that we take sexual behavior out of the realm of moral judgment and accountability and put it instead in a realm like race, where you are not responsible for what you do.

And I think that to do that will ultimately mean, what? The demise of all these institutions: the protection of our children’s innocence, the ground cut out from under it; the expectation of fidelity in marriage, the ground cut out from under it; the restriction of marriage, by the way, to marriage between one person and another person instead of between one person and several people.

But wait, candidate Keyes hasn’t even started to make sense yet.  A propos and quondam non propter hoc, homosexuals will destroy individualism and establish tyranny:

And of course, there are people, I guess, who don’t care about this. But I believe they are people who, therefore, do not understand the interconnections between our social institutions and their consequences. Destroy the heterosexual marriage-based family, destroy the notion of family as marriage between one person and another person, and you re-introduce in our society those things which have, throughout human history, been the premises of tyranny, not of freedom.

And if we then allow the social institutions of tyranny and despotism to prevail, what makes us think we will be able to sustain the individualism and the spirit of liberty without which self-government cannot survive?

He’s got a point there, you know-- once the social institutions of tyranny and despotism prevail, it’s really hard to sustain individualism and liberty.  So maybe all you Nathan Lane and Martina Navratilova fans should think carefully through the implications before you go around destroying the very foundations of freedom.

For the entire speech, “Against Civil Unions and the Homosexual Agenda,” delivered in April 2000 in Vermont, go here-- and then feel free to root around in the incomparable Alan Keyes archives and send some stuff to the Obama campaign just in case Illinois Democrats decide to take this clown seriously.  You know, the way the mass media do.

Posted by on 08/09 at 08:06 AM
  1. The media’s certainly open to criticism on many fronts, but I think they should be taking Keyes seriously as a candidate.  After all, the Illinois GOP recruited him, the national GOP (sort of) vetted him, and it’s a long- maybe medium-term good bet that it’ll shred any respectability they may have. As odious as I find his words (then again, I’m one of those irresponsible, childish gay men...), I think Keyes’ words are more a danger to himself and political allies than to those he’s attacking.

    Posted by Chris in Boston  on  08/09  at  10:02 AM
  2. Keyes makes me dizzy. 

    But you’re probably wondering how Keyes can “make sense” of the fact that he publically opposed carpet-bagging in the case of Hillary Clinton and N.Y. but came around to support it in his own case.

    Well, although his show on MSNBC was discontinued some time ago, here is a special, one-time only edition of “Alan Keyes is Making Sense” Live from Chicago:

    “My decision to accept the challenge of the Illinois Republican Party is based on deep issues of national principle that are the sort of issues that require we put our allegiance to state sovereignty second to our allegiances to the national principles that make us a free people and are actually the basis of our union,” Keyes said in an interview after his announcement.

    He added that Obama rejects “the declaration of principles our country was founded on” by backing abortion rights, for example.

    But he said the people of Illinois need his help in making sure that someone who holds principles contrary to those of Abraham Lincoln is not elected. “You have to ask yourself: Are we in a position where if I do nothing the principles of national union will be sacrificed?” he said.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50260-2004Aug8.html

    Moral of the story: where there’s a need, Republicans will “discover” a principle.

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  10:24 AM
  3. Hey, what’s especially nice about this speech is that hidden and uncommented on is the assumption that non-white folks are *also* big ol’ children! “[W]e treat homosexuality and other sexual inclinations like race, and based on that treatment, we assume that individuals cannot govern their impulses and inclinations.” Granted that only right-wing blowhards still think of “race” as some kind of inherent predisposition towards certain behaviours, but that shouldn’t stop those right-wing blowhards from saying as often as they can that black folks are a lot like children—especially in a race against an ostensibly black folk like Obama, who is, in fact, clearly child-like in his appeal to millions of non-Illinoisians and presidential potential in the eyes of many.

    Posted by Dustin  on  08/09  at  11:07 AM
  4. Actually, Dustin, Keyes doesn’t really do anything with the “nonwhites = children” trope.  His argument is more like this:  if we say that gay rights are civil rights, and that antigay discrimination is analogous to racial discrimination, then we’re saying that people have no choice about whether they’re gay.  And that’s not as innocuous as it sounds, because if they have no choice in the matter, they’re saying they cannot control their sexual impulses, and that means that no one else should have to do so either, and there goes the Constitution right there.

    Whew!  I always need to catch my breath after summarizing Keyes.

    Anyway, loopy as he is, he thinks he’s arguing against the equation of nonwhite folks with children.  But given the bizarre terms of this argument, one might just as well say, “I have no control over my gender or my racial composition, therefore I have the moral status of a child.” And that’s why Alan Keyes is making sense!

    You really need to go through an entire Keyes production to get the flavor, but that’s pretty much how it goes-- one strange “logical” inference built on another, step by step, punctuated by constant reminders that he’s thinking carefully and rigorously, and by the time he’s done, you realize he started with “all the members of set X also belong to sets Y and Z” and wound up with “taxation is a violation of God’s law because homosexuals have no carbon in their bodies.”

    And Chris in Boston-- the media should take Keyes seriously as a candidate, yes, and in a sane world his respectability would thereby be shredded.  In right-wing America, though, he’ll be given his own TV show and hailed as a courageous contrarian and eloquent speaker.  Oh, no, wait-- that already happened.  OK, then, it’ll happen again. 

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  11:48 AM
  5. Obviously, Keyes’s argument is inane, a silly rebuttal to the proposition that sexual orientation, like race, is an inborn characteristic, a matter of identity deserving of civil rights protection.  His blunder is the assumption that gays should want to change that identity (or that sexuality is the sort of business that one can lash into shape with a healthy dose of puritanism and propriety) and that in failing to do so, they violate the trite but labored distinction he draws between adults and children.  Of course, gays shouldn’t want to change that orientation any more than light complected blacks should want to “pass.” Heavens, maybe all African Americans should consider whiteface makeup.  Taking Keye’s fatuousness to its logical conclusion, maybe all sufferers of religious persecution are being childish and they should jolly well convert and have it over.  All unwed mothers should....who knows..kill their children?

    But this is all giving dignity to an argument that isn’t due any more than a snort and sneer.  What interests me is the eminent scholar’s charming locution:  “basic difference between the distinction between adults and children. . . .” Wow!  That’s some fractured sytax and nonsense characteristic of a sloppy thinker.  I thought the “basic difference between thte distinction between adults and children” was coherent thinking and the ability to pull disaprate thoughts into a well ordered whole.  Gee, guess not.  All this time, the real distinction was getting hot for the right flavor underwear ads.

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  12:14 PM
  6. So, the very best parents, the ones who are most adult and responsible, the people who ought to be guiding our society...are all virgins?

    Posted by PZ Myers  on  08/09  at  02:47 PM
  7. So if we accept the premise that no matter how old you are when a sexual feeling comes over you, you are pulled into a whirlpool of inclination and condition that, like race, is ineluctable, that “must be the way it’s gonna be,” then for the purposes of that particular passion, in this case sexual passion, you’re a child.

    One of the great things I learned as a philosophy major is to reject principals that cannot validate themselves.  Empirical philosophy suggests that no principal can be true unless it can be proven by experience.  Except, of course, that principal itself.

    So apply Keyes’s arguments to his own position.  If you have overwhelming urge to have heterosexual sex, that’s childish. You must realize that you might really be gay.

    Oh, and don’t forget those overwhelming urges to eat, to drink, to sleep. Childish.  All of them.

    Posted by Clif  on  08/09  at  03:52 PM
  8. Oh, that quote’s NOTHING. How about this one?

    “ ‘Hitler and his supporters were Satanists and homosexuals.  That’s just a true statement.’ He added, ‘The notion that is involved in homosexuality, the unbridled sort of satisfaction of human passions’ leads to ‘totalitarianism,’ ‘Nazism,’ and ‘communism.’” - People for the American Way,Hostile Climate,” 1997, p.26

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  08:33 PM
  9. Keyes makes me cry.  “When we, through our educational culture, through the media, through the entertainment culture, give our children the impression that human beings cannot control their passions, we are telling them, in effect, that human beings cannot be trusted with freedom. That means that a free way of life is impossible, that totalitarian government which seeks to structure us in such a way that we don’t harm ourselves and others, is inevitable.”

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  10:41 PM
  10. Well, Katherine, it is a true statement.  Although you won’t hear it from the liberal media, the Satanist and homosexual vote provided Hitler with his margin of victory in 1933-- remember, they supported him on the grounds that he would take away everybody’s guns.  But that’s another story.

    And yep, PZ, the best parents and the best leaders are virgins.  Really, really, really repressed virgins.  Purity of essence and all that, don’t you know.

    Posted by  on  08/10  at  02:57 AM
  11. And Chris in Boston-- the media should take Keyes seriously as a candidate, yes, and in a sane world his respectability would thereby be shredded. In right-wing America, though, he’ll be given his own TV show and hailed as a courageous contrarian and eloquent speaker. Oh, no, wait-- that already happened. OK, then, it’ll happen again.

    Of course time will tell if my optimism is justified or not, but I will say this: 1) Keyes appearance on MSNBC reflected the desperation of that cable network to find a ratings niche - mainstream media practitioners at heart resert this myopia of the bottom line and will be quick to pile on Keyes should the story frame veer toward his unpalatable statements; and 2) people (media, voters, public figures) will put up with more from a fringe primary candidate than they will a party’s Senate candidate; and 3) there have to be even conservatives in Illinois who are cringing in embarrassment right now.

    Posted by Chris in Boston  on  08/10  at  05:03 AM
  12. Michael—I get his argument, but I can’t quite be so forgiving on the “race” issue as you are.  I can’t see any reason for equating sexual orientation with “race” and then demonizing one kind of sexual orientation without there being a parallel demonization of one kind of “race”.  And since the bad sex is the kind (ostensibly) different from Keyes’, I’m venturing the bad “race” is likewise not his own.

    Of course, it’s almost futile to argue with his logic—it’s like arguing with sleepless green ideas (what point arguing with something that doesn’t exist?).  But it’s kinda fun, so here’s something else: how is Keyes’ sexual orientation any more (or less for that matter) a matter of choice between right and wrong than a homosexual person’s?  “We treat homosexuality and other sexual inclinations like race, and based on that treatment, we assume that individuals cannot govern their impulses and inclinations,” he says—so we’re assuming that straight folks and other non-gay types, folks like Keyes and myself, are likewise unable to govern our impulses, right? “Well, if an individual who is thirty[-three] years old cannot govern their impulses and inclinations, somebody tell me what is the difference for that purpose between that individual and a child[?]” Um… I have advanced degrees, Mr. Keyes—does that count?

    Apparently not. “There is none, because the basis for making that distinction has to do precisely with that ability, maturely and responsibly, to deal one’s impulses and inclinations.” Drat! So you’re saying, Mr. Keyes, that until I can learn to deal with my heterosexual impulses and inclinations, until I can shut them down tight until my whole being becomes a white-hot cauldron of suppressed opposite-sex attraction, until, that is, I learn to bend over and take it like a man, I can never ber seen as an adult in this society? Man, you right-wingers are tough on us straights!

    Posted by Dustin  on  08/11  at  12:08 AM
  13. Point taken, Dustin.  TouchÈ--

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  02:18 PM

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