BY udo schuklenk
This thing about ‘unnatural’ sex has been bugging me for a long time. For those of us who are trained to think about what we mean when we say certain things the term ‘unnatural’ carries no normative weight. For those who think less (either because they quite naturally or culturally cannot think a great deal due to a lack of gray brain matter or lack of education) about what they mean when they say that something is ‘unnatural’, the ‘unnatural’ charge routinely leads to demands that certain behaviours or products be outlawed.
Let me look at two examples just from this week, one from Uganda, the other from Jamaica, quite naturally both examples involve Christians on a crusade against gay sex. So, here we go:
Dr. James Nsaba Buturo is the Ugandan Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity. He announced this week that any attempt by donor agencies to have the country legalise ‘unnatural’ sex (and homosexual sex in particular) will fail. He went on to say that the government is prepared to fortfeit any [sic!] amount of donor money if that meant accepting homosexuality. I’m a consequentialist, so when someone says something like ‘no matter what’, which is what Dr Buturo’s ‘any’ implies, I know I am seeing someone not too deeply rooted in reality. For the sake of the argument: what if someone gave Uganda enough money to resolve the problem of poverty among its people for good, offered in addition free education, state-of-the-art free health care to everyone living in Uganda etc, provided that consenting adults be permitted to engage in ‘unnatural’ sex if they so wish. Any government minister who would be prepared to sacrifice the well-being of the people in such a case for the sake of fighting ‘unnatural’ sex is obviously a nutcase. Consequences be damned is very Christian, of course, but it also not very smart.
Anyhow, I digress, I really meant to write about the ‘natural’ and the ‘unnatural’, and that I will do, but let me first give you the second example. We owe it to a Christian ‘Senator’ in Jamaica. I don’t know Jamaica too well, so I presume Senators are not overly well educated people relying on tax hand outs for a living while preaching hate. Anyhow, here we go, in her own words, Jamaican Senator Hyacinth Benneth: “For many persons that push a radical homosexual agenda it is claimed that homosexual behaviour is natural for them. That particuar [sic!] group has been quite successful in advancing their cause by using the rights based approach. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist but I have not seen where homosexual behaviour has been conclusively shown to be natural. In fact the dominant scientific opinion has been that no one can conclusively show that homosexuality is natural.”
So, don’t blame me, blame Dr Buturo and Ms Benneth for today’s rant on nature.
Ms Benneth is probably unaware of the fact that there is no dominant scientific opinion on the naturalness or otherwise of homosexuality. The reason for this is that this issue is not a scientific question to begin with. It’s a matter of what you mean when you call something ‘natural’. In science EVERYTHING that is physically possible by necessity is considered a natural thing. Anything governed by the laws of nature is natural. So, for that reason alone there can’t be a body of scientific opinion on the naturalness of homosexuality anymore than there can be a body of scientific literature on any number of other things that are happening within what the laws of nature permit (namely: everything that is physically possible).
What does this mean? Not too much. Gay activists, do not rejoice too quickly. A lot of crap happens in nature. Crocodiles eat tourists in the Australian Northern Territory just about every year. Very much a natural thing, but still it’s not nice. Men (usually) rape women. Natural. People drive cars. Natural. People fly to the moon. Natural. People kill each other in genocides. Natural. People bake cakes. Natural. You get the drift, I’m sure.