Monday, February 11, 2013

My response to David Blankenhorn

David Blankenhorn posted some comments about me, and Maggie Gallagher has asked me to respond. Here are my two cents in italics:

Here is my response:

I do not know much of David Blankenhorn's life, even less of his deeper motives. The issues on which he has asserted a stake in the conversation are, I would remind him, not leisurely and slow for all of us. For some of us, engaging in a polite conversation would mean passively turning away from the danger posed to others.
The striking words he uses are that he finds in in my voice nothing that reminds him of shared humanity or the complexities of experience. Much of what I write, especially of late, is about the experiences of people other than myself: the activists in France, the forgotten people in the US who write to me, the surrogate mothers in India, poor students in Belgium, etc.
By contrast, his comment below revolves entirely about himself. The only thing that he can say about me is that I remind him of accusers, mean people, immature fanatics, and many other dismissive epithets. Really, though, the measure of his perception is himself, his experience, his inclinations, what would make him think, how he would care to engage in conversation, what would make him trust someone on subjects that matter to him. Literally in David Blankernhorn's world, he is the center of the universe and all moral judgments relate to David Blankenhorn's epistemological register. Phillis Wheatley doesn't matter, skeptical faculties of others do not matter, the consequences of ethical failures that create urgencies in the lives of other people do not matter, unless they can be translated into the language of David Blankenhorn.
David Blankenhorn is the epitome of what underlies homophobia: the normative demand that discourse be structured to respond to the delicacies, sensitivities, and ambitions of a heterosexual middle-class white man; the insistence that things only be acknowledged as real if he believes them, if he trusts them, if he likes them. This is the mentality that causes young queer men to feel that they can never be real, never be vindicated, unless straight people approve of them. Hence the LGBT movement militates for gay marriage and struggles to prove to others that they are just like straight people, while their own constituents are being exploited by older gay men, starving themselves to look like porn stars, anesthetizing themselves with drugs, and falling through the proverbial cracks. All the things to which I allude have metrics by which we can prove their reality: the history of the LGBT movement, the rhetorical record of who said what, the sociological record is not impossible to ground in statistics. All that he alludes to, from what I can see, has but one metric: whether he shares it or not. That is the underlying ideology that makes queer people so miserable.