[good example of an article that would have been much stronger if the internet existed, which would allow to look up origins of term, and pull out the APA shift in categorizing homo behavior from disorder to normal. but you can clearly see, i was on the right track. my impulse and instinct were correct, i simply didn't know enough to grasp the whole context]
[opinion published in Pomona College's The Student Life, Friday, November 20, 1987]
The Use and Abuse of 'Homophobia'
By Alex Linder
Once in a while it's nice to consider some of the more recent additions to the public vocabulary. One of the most frequently heard words brought into vogue with the emergence of AIDS is the term "homophobia," which I take to mean (since I can't find it in the dictionary) fear or hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality.
I believe that this ill-conceived term is a misapplied in a way injurious to serious public debate on AIDS and other issues central to the gay-rights movement.
First of all, homophobia is bad grammar. The root 'homo' comes from Latin and means 'man' or 'human being.' Thus, homophobia means fear or hatred of man.
Or, if you prefer, it comes from the Greek homos and means 'same.' The hatred or fear of sameness?
Then again, the dictionary informs me that 'homo' is slang for homosexual.
But beyond this relatively innocuous abuse of semantics lies a danger in the application of the word - an application reflecting a subtle, not to say insidious, intent of gay-rights lobbyists.
Homosexuals and defenders label as homophobic anyone who refuses to accept a homosexual relationship as the moral equivalent of a heterosexual one. They refuse to acknowledge the existence of the group that probably the majority of Americans fit into: those who neither fear nor hate homosexuals, but nevertheless insist that homosexuality, while to be tolerated, is not to be morally condoned.
The gay-rights movement doesn't accept the proposition that one can judge immoral a particular act that another engages in without fearing or hating (or even judging) that individual. There is no middle ground. You're either a bat-wielding fag-basher or totally supportive of the homosexuals' political agenda.
The value of the buzz-word 'homophobic' to those in the gay community is clear. It can stigmatize and instantly discredit the arguments of anyone against whom it is applied, much as 'racist' and 'sexist' have in the past.
To be sure, there are people to whom the word homophobic can reasonably be applied. These are people who attack homosexuals physically and verbally, simply because they dislike homosexuals. But those who employ homophobic are indiscriminate. Instead of limiting its use to true homophobes, they use it as a political tool for intimidating anyone who refuses to accept their own views carte blanche.
As an example of the power of certain words, consider the use of the adjective racist. To many people, you're a racist or you aid racism if you support Reagan's policy toward South Africa or his dislike of quotas as the way to achieve affirmative action. And obviously no one wants to be on the side of racism.
Consider further Shockley, the geneticist who posited a genetic explanation for the widely observed differences in test scores between blacks and whites. He was denounced by many as a racist.
There were few indeed who strove to make the scientific case against him, rather he was called racist for even suggesting such a possibility. Such a charge leads to the end of rational debate and the preservation of cherished societal taboos. Anyone who believes in pursuing truth for truth's sake, as well presumably do, ought to be offended by the attempts at what is in effect censorship from those who are afraid of what might be discovered.
So far homosexuals have met with a reasonable amount of success in intimidating the public. Very few intellectuals are willing to defend attitudes or positions the gay-rights movement deems homophobic. In the initial stages of the AIDS invasion, as Randy Shilts has shown in his book And The Band Played On, gays successfully fought against the closing of the bathhouses where the virus was diffused among the homosexual population in San Francisco.
No doubt those who initially advocated the closing were labeled homophobic. And similarly labeled are those who oppose anything that takes away from the ultimate gay-rights goal: an amendment barring any form of discrimination against people on account of their sexual orientation.
As it stands now, the gay-rights movement will continue to level charges of homophobia against the majorities in certain communities who are willing to deprive of certain civil rights those who engage in certain acts with others of the same sex. I suspect that eventually, however, 'homophobia' will see its political usefulness neutralized as the majority of Americans refuse the homosexuals the special protection they demand, granting them only the constitutional protection they deserve and have always had.
Finally, I'd like to go on the offensive and suggest heterophobia as a new addition to the public vocabulary. It fits perfectly. It's bad grammar with as much conceptual validity as homophobia. It applies to those who use the word homophobic to describe those who neither hate nor fear homosexuality. Thus, I might say that the heterophobic ravings of the homosexual community in response to my "AIDS and Reason" article were typical of the liberal mindset which uses emotion and stigmatization as weapons against those espousing views counter to those they themselves are unwilling to submit to logical examination and would have us accept without debate.
It is the essence of heterophobia to blast me as a 'homophobe' because of my acknowledgement of the fact that anal sex between homosexual males is, to date in America, the primary means of transmission of the AIDS virus and my conclusion that this fact ought to be paramount in any discussion of ways of stopping the spread of AIDS - something I desire as much as anyone.
Last edited by Alex Linder; December 6th, 2013 at 08:59 PM.