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What did Rand actually say about Homosexuality?

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I read somewhere that Ayn Rand herself called homosexuality "disgusting and immoral." I've tried making sense of this, in the context of Objectivism, and I can't figure out how that fits with the rest of her philosophy. Anyone care to explain?

[Moderator of "Basic Questions" Forum: On Jan. 23, 2005, I changed the title to reflect the (sometimes) orientation of this thread that distinguishes it somewhat from the much longer, never-ending "Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality" topic.]

Edited by BurgessLau

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I read somewhere that Ayn Rand herself called homosexuality "disgusting and immoral."  I've tried making sense of this, in the context of Objectivism, and I can't figure out how that fits with the rest of her philosophy.  Anyone care to explain?

It doesn't need to fit with the rest of her philosophy. It is not a part of the body of Objectivism. It may be an improper or proper application of her philosophy - depending upon whether she actually used the word "immoral" to describe it. If she merely thought it was disgusting, then its irrelevant. As irrelevant to philosophy as when I occasionally say that I hate NASCAR. I hate any "sport" where people frequently get killed. It is a personal opinion. It relates to her psychology rather than philosophy. Homosexuality, from a strictly biological standpoint, could be considered anti-life in the sense that if everyone was homosexual, nobody would be here. Also, it may be disgusting from a health or hygenical point of view. Some, or even many, homosexuals engage in what can be objectively called inherently disgusting behavior. But I don't want this to get into a graphic debate.

PS : from the above you may get the idea that i thik that if she used the word immoral to describe homosexuality, she misapplied objectivism. I am not willing to say that. I havent studied the nature of homosexuality at all, and for all I know, it may be the end result of a process of evasion- which would make it immoral. Ayn Rand had a context when she was speaking, and I suspect that whomever quoted her may have dropped that context, so it would be helpful if you knew where you read the quote in question.

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I read the quote on some website about the homosexuality debate. You're right, in that there was no context. I've looked for the article or book that the quote came from, and I've been unable to find it, although I have found various other website that mention it, so I have no reason to believe that it's a false quote. Maybe she said it in a speech or something. I agree that whether or not it's disgusting is a matter of personal opinion, but the "immoral" part seems to imply that it is related to ethical philosophy.

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I read somewhere that Ayn Rand herself called homosexuality "disgusting and immoral."  I've tried making sense of this, in the context of Objectivism, and I can't figure out how that fits with the rest of her philosophy.  Anyone care to explain?

Although I think she said this publicly, I have heard that on a private note she said that as we don't know the nature of homosexuality (atleast at that time), we can't say whether it's moral or immoral.

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I read somewhere that Ayn Rand herself called homosexuality "disgusting and immoral."  I've tried making sense of this, in the context of Objectivism, and I can't figure out how that fits with the rest of her philosophy.  Anyone care to explain?

Lots of people say lots of things about Ayn Rand. There isn't a single quote in her published works that could possibly even be misinterpreted in this way--not even in her Journals and Letters. One should not be so fast to believe everything that one hears, especially when it pertains to such an important and controversial figure.

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Lots of people say lots of things about Ayn Rand. There isn't a single quote in her published works that could possibly even be misinterpreted in this way--not even in her Journals and Letters. One should not be so fast to believe everything that one hears, especially when it pertains to such an important and controversial figure.

I think the most she ever said was that is was a psychological problem - it was during a q&a on a taped lecture somewhere. But this is just an example of personal opinion, not objectivism. She didn't like beards either. I wouldn't want to be in the position where everything I ever said is to be analyzed forever. What is important is her written work.

She was a writer, and it seems to me that anything she ever considered important, she wrote about. Or was studying to do further writing about. The fact that she wrote about everything from Marylin Monroe to chess, but never wrote about homosexuality, I think proves that it was not an important subject to her.

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I read somewhere that Ayn Rand herself called homosexuality "disgusting and immoral."  I've tried making sense of this, in the context of Objectivism, and I can't figure out how that fits with the rest of her philosophy.  Anyone care to explain?

The quote you use is not correct, but only in that Miss Rand did not say "disgusting and immoral" together. She did, however, say those words individually in regard to homosexuality. The words were from a Ford Hall Forum question and answer in November 1971, and I presented the quote for discussion on HBL several years ago. Here are the actual words.

Question (as repeated by the Ford Hall Forum moderator):

"This question says she read somewhere that you

consider all forms of homosexuality immoral. If this is

so, why?"

Ayn Rand's answer:

"Because it involves psychological flaws, corruptions,

errors, or unfortunate premises, but there is a

psychological immorality at the root of homosexuality.

Therefore I regard it as immoral. But I do not believe

that the government has the right to prohibit it. It

is the privilege of any individual to use his sex life

in whichever way he wants it. That's his legal right,

provided he is not forcing it on anyone. And therefore

the idea that it's proper among consenting adults is

the proper formulation legally. Morally it is immoral,

and more than that, if you want my really sincere

opinion, it is disgusting."

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a judgment about psychology, not philosophy, and therefore is not a proper part of Objectivist philosophy. The second important point is that these remarks were made during a question and answer period, and we should never hold extemperaneous remarks to the same standard as written comments.

Harry Binswanger noted that almost a decade later he asked Miss Rand about this issue, and he had her Ford Hall Forum remarks in mind. In essence, Dr. Binswanger indicated that then Miss Rand was not prepared to say that all homosexuality was immoral, because of psychological complexities in development. Whether she changed her mind about the issue since the Ford Hall Forum Q & A, or whether she misspoke at that time, is not known. Unfortunately there is very little in written form on the subject.

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I think it's important to emphasize that the underlying psychology is a scientific issue which is still in development (which may be the source of the apparent softening by her on this issue as time went by). The issue being: is sexual orientation chosen, and how, and to what degree?

Then, if it is chosen, is any particular choice rational or irrational? And therefore right or wrong?

In the meantime, I think that acceptance - of their right - should be the guiding principle.

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I think it's important to emphasize that the underlying psychology is a scientific issue which is still in development (which may be the source of the apparent softening by her on this issue as time went by). The issue being: is sexual orientation chosen, and how, and to what degree?

Then, if it is chosen, is any particular choice rational or irrational? And therefore right or wrong?

In the meantime, I think that acceptance - of their right - should be the guiding principle.

I assume your basis for acceptance being the default is because you do not see it as in anyway impacting on any non-consenting adults, unless there should be any other reason...

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QUOTE(Neurosophist @ Dec 5 2004, 09:58 PM)

I assume your basis for acceptance being the default is because you do not see it as in anyway impacting on any non-consenting adults, unless there should be any other reason...

I wouldn't say not impacting. Everything has an impact.

Primarily, I accept it because it's their right, and does not involve physical force against others, so it doesn't involve - as you said, "non-consenting" adults.

And personally, my sense - admittedly unscientific as it is - is that homosexuality is as ingrained as my heterosexuality is in me, and things that are such a part of one's "nature" are morally neutral since we can't choose them. To use an extremely simple example, it is like accepting brunettes because they are born with that hair color - it's simply the way it is.

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I'd like to inject a reminder that there is no philosophical / ethical duty to reproduce.

If my post led you to remind us of that, no need to bother. I know.

It was a mere statement of fact, just like saying: If everyone were sterile, then...

Or, if everyone ALWAYS opted for the anus or mouth, then . . .

Or, if everyone were sexually attracted to sheep and only sheep, then . . .

. . . the human race would have been gone long ago.

I have nothing personal against homosexuality. I'm just staing the fact that in that ISOLATED sense, it could be viewed, in THAT CONTEXT only, it could be viewed as anti-life.

It is the homosexuals that are vehemently ANTI-STRAGHT that don't seem to get it. And there are probably more of that type than you think. But those types aren't objectivists anyway.

In my view, it IS possible for a homosexual to be moral. I am sure there are many instances of it. I am sure that many Objectivists here know homosexuals that are moral - and many who have a greater understanding of Objectivism than I do.

All I am saying is that in Ayn Rand's context, and not a single one of us can know what that was, she was probably striving to convey valid reasons for her feelings about the subject. I am sure it was NOT just a blank-out into a unjustified bigotry on her part. What I really question is the motives of those who NEED to know Ayn Rand's opinion on every detail of life. And then they cry out " she didn't like my type of music. she's intolerant" or " She doesn't like Thomas Wolfe. How could she hurt my feelings like that??" or "She wouldn't want a woman president. How can SHE say such a thing??" or " Why did she like Charlies Angels?? Gee, I thout it was unrealistic and sexist!" Do you see what all of these complainers have in common????

THEY WANT A RELIGION OUT OF HER. NOT PHILOSOPHY.

Now, is it any wonder why some misinformed jackasses would call Objectivism a cult?

From what I can tell, it isn't Ayn Rand's fault at all that a good portion of those who allegedly are Objectivists are actally just second-handers. She answered questions in q&a sessions. M.any of those questions were off the topic of philosophy. She was gracious enough to answer them anyway. It is from all of the non-essential stuff that Ayn Rand's enemies get ALL of their ammunition.

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If my post led you to remind us of that, no need to bother.  I know.

It was a mere statement of fact, just like saying: If everyone were sterile, then...

Or, if everyone ALWAYS opted for the anus or mouth, then . . .

Or, if everyone were sexually attracted to sheep and only sheep, then . . .

. . . the human race would have been gone long ago.

I have nothing personal against homosexuality.  I'm just staing the fact that in that ISOLATED sense, it could be viewed, in THAT CONTEXT only, it could be viewed as anti-life.

It is the homosexuals that are vehemently ANTI-STRAGHT that don't seem to get it.  And there are probably more of that type than you think.  But those types aren't objectivists anyway. 

In my view, it IS possible for a homosexual to be moral.  I am sure there are many instances of it.  I am sure that many Objectivists here know homosexuals that are moral - and many who have a greater understanding of Objectivism than I do.

All I am saying is that in Ayn Rand's context, and not a single one of us can know what that was, she was probably striving to convey valid reasons for her feelings about the subject.  I am sure it was NOT just a blank-out into a unjustified bigotry on her part.  What I really question is the motives of those who NEED to know Ayn Rand's opinion on every detail of life.  And then they cry out " she didn't like my type of music. she's intolerant" or " She doesn't like Thomas Wolfe.  How could she hurt my feelings like that??" or "She wouldn't want a woman president.  How can SHE say such a thing??"  or " Why did she like Charlies Angels??  Gee, I thout it was unrealistic and sexist!"  Do you see what all of these complainers have in common????

THEY WANT A RELIGION OUT OF HER.  NOT PHILOSOPHY.

Now, is it any wonder why some misinformed jackasses would call Objectivism a cult?

From what I can tell, it isn't Ayn Rand's fault at all that a good portion of  those who allegedly are Objectivists are actally just second-handers.  She answered questions in q&a sessions.  M.any of those questions were off the topic of philosophy.  She was gracious enough to answer them anyway.  It is from all of the non-essential stuff that Ayn Rand's enemies get ALL of their ammunition.

Good post, and I couldn't agree more.

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I read somewhere that Ayn Rand herself called homosexuality "disgusting and immoral."  I've tried making sense of this, in the context of Objectivism, and I can't figure out how that fits with the rest of her philosophy.  Anyone care to explain?

You've come to the right place--we've had a 23-page-long discussion about this on this thread.

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You've come to the right place--we've had a 23-page-long discussion about this on this thread.

If homosexuallity is a psychological problem and it certainly seems that it is- because nature certainly intended for people to be attracted to the opposite sex. Wouldn't an homosexual Objectivist be moral only if he recognized this? To try and bend reality to suite their desire seems immoral.

Keith

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If homosexuallity is a psychological problem and it certainly seems that it is- because nature certainly intended for people to be attracted to the opposite sex. Wouldn't an homosexual Objectivist be moral only if he recognized this? To try and bend reality to suite their desire seems immoral.

If flying is a psychological problem and it certainly seems that it is -- because nature certainly intended people not to fly, else it would have given people wings. Wouldn't a flying Objectivist be moral only if he recognized this? To try and bend reality to suit their desire seems immoral.

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If flying is a psychological problem and it certainly seems that it is -- because nature certainly intended people not to fly, else it would have given people wings. Wouldn't a flying Objectivist be moral only if he recognized this? To try and bend reality to suit their desire seems immoral.

Is that analogy valid? Isnt homosexuality primacy of consciousness? Whereas the spirit of invention and betterment of man something completely different? Unless you can somehow call homosexuallity invention...

Isnt the bottom line whether or not homosexuallity is a mental illness or not. And if it is a defective way of thinking would a person only be moral if they accepted that and attempted to cured?

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Isnt homosexuality primacy of consciousness?

I think not. But, if you think so, then perhaps you might want to justify why.

Isnt the bottom line whether or not homosexuallity is a mental illness or not.

Perhaps. Do you have any evidence to offer in support of homosexuality being a mental illness?

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I think not. But, if you think so, then perhaps you might want to justify why.

Primacy of consciousness in the sense that they "want" it to be accepted and normal based on their subconscious desire and attraction to the same sex ignoring the root cause of those feelings.

Perhaps. Do you have any evidence to offer in support of homosexuality being a mental illness?

.

I am sure there have been many studies about this topic with conclusions being reached in both directions. I am not attempting to reach a conclusion as to whether it is or isnt (a mental illness) in this thread.

The point I guess I was trying to make and did so incorrectly by stating my theory as fact is to whether or not a person would be moral for embracing a mental illness because it "seemed" right to them.

Keith

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Primacy of consciousness in the sense that they "want" it to be accepted and normal based on their subconscious desire and attraction to the same sex ignoring the root cause of those feelings.

But here you are just assuming what I asked you to justify.

I am sure there have been many studies about this topic with conclusions being reached in both directions.  I am not attempting to reach a conclusion as to whether it is or isnt (a mental illness)  in this thread.
Well then, your opening sentence sure had me fooled. You said:

"If homosexuallity is a psychological problem and it certainly seems that it is- because nature certainly intended for people to be attracted to the opposite sex."

The point I guess I was trying to make and did so incorrectly by stating my theory as fact is to whether or not a person would be moral for embracing a mental illness because it "seemed" right to them.

Okay, but that is a different question from the one you first posed.

In general we hold people morally responsible for the actions they choose, but not necessarily for the feelings they have. The fact that you put "seemed" in scare quotes implies that you may be thinking that such a person is consciously fooling himself. If that were the case, if indeed a person chose to evade the relevant facts in order to rationalize away his behavior, then yes, that would be a breach of morality. But, I would ask you to consider that simply because people may do something that you do not like, that in itself does not indicate any evasion on their part. Especially when it comes to the context you first raised, which had to do with human sexuality. I do not think that the evidence is conclusive for homosexuality as either choice or as biological, and in my view it would be obscene and outright malevolent to expect a homsexual to refrain from acting in furtherance of his sexuality.

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The point I guess I was trying to make and did so incorrectly by stating my theory as fact is to whether or not a person would be moral for embracing a mental illness because it "seemed" right to them.

Keith

Regardless of whether or not homosexuality is a mental illness, it would not be immoral unless it was a detrement to your life. The fact is that people can live rational, productive, happy lives being homosexual. If something isn't broken why try to fix it?

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Regardless of whether or not homosexuality is a mental illness, it would not be immoral unless it was a detrement to your life. The fact is that people can live rational, productive, happy lives being homosexual. If something isn't broken why try to fix it?

Before we try and "fix" anything, shouldn't we allow the psychologists and the biologists to determine whether it actually is a mental illness or not? This is not even a proper question for philosophy.

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