Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

An Open Letter to John C. Wright

Dear John C. Wright,

We, the Elders of Sodom, read with interest your recent diatribe on the moral decay of society, as manifest in the SyFy Channel's (most welcome) response to our criticism with regards to representing gay characters. We clearly differ from you in our response, in our celebration (as opposed to condemnation) of Mark Swift's expression of disappointment that we marked SyFy with an F for Frowny Face, his assurance that the company was trying and would try harder to represent homosexuality in a way that better reflects our presence in society. We must admit to feeling somewhat saddened that you react to his statement with such antipathy and with terms such as "homosex." This is hardly, we think, the stuff of civilised discourse.

So we are writing this open letter to yourself, in the hope that you will appreciate, if nothing else, the time and effort taken in the purchase and provision of an evidential indication -- which is to say, in buying you a fucking clue. We hold out little hope of persuading you that we are not intent on the destruction of all that is good and decent, or of salve your concerns with the New World Order and the evils of the Homosexual Agenda, but we do think it wise to address some of your arguments, such that they are, if only because such rhetoric should not, we think, be met with silence. To that end, we will go into more detail presently as to why we find you alternately objectionable and risible, but for the moment we can boil the basics of this correspondance down to a very simple message:

Cut the crap.

I say this not in the "shut the fuck up" sense, but rather in the "discard the tosh and balderdash" sense. What do I mean by "crap" here then? What tosh and balderdash am I referring to?

Well, let's start with the assumptions that will likely lead many to not respond with anything remotely resembling the rational answers you claim you want. If you want your questions to be taken seriously then you would do well to start by asking them without the arrant nonsense of paranoid fantasies in which the SyFy Channel has "recoiled in craven fear and trembling" before the intimidatory might of GLAAD's "homosex activists" (aka the Elders of Sodom, Media Division.) You would do well to start with the premise that the head of the SyFy Channel's public commitment to not simply presenting more homosexuality but to presenting it as a non-issue might actually be born of a genuine belief that this is an ethical thing to do.

We're sure you're aware that other people can and do have different opinions. You may reject the validity of those opinions, but it would hardly seem rational to reject their existence. Actually, come to think of it, you don't actually seem that rational, so maybe our conviction is unwarranted. Let us assure you then: we, the Elders of Sodom do have those opinions, trust me, and many within our ranks hold such opinions not because they are themselves homosexual, (we are open to all and sundry, welcoming even to the Brethren of Breeders,) but simply because they have a trait we refer to as "empathy." The ethics we hold to among the Elders of Sodom is, generally speaking, based primarily on this "empathy," and therefore rejects homophobia for the same reasons it rejects racism, misogyny, and all other forms of prejudice.

This is how it actually is, Mr Wright. People do actually disagree with you. Not just the actual sodomites like myself, but the Sapphic Sisterhood, the Hamite Alliance, the League of Heathens and Infidels, Atheists Anonymous, a whole panoply of progressive thinkers, aligned and unaligned, to whom your rant reads as the ethically repugnant ravings of a sociopath, given that it has so little concern for aforesaid "empathy". Let me repeat that, Mr Wright. People do actually disagree with you. Not because they're faggots who like the homosex. Not because they've been cowed into submission by the faggots who like the homosex. But because they see the faggots who like the homosex as human beings deserving of empathy, see the abjection of them as profoundly unethical -- stupid and cruel to the point of socially dysfunctional. You do get this, right? Surely you understand that Mark Stern might well be one of us.

Or perhaps not. To be fair, you do not have to assume that Stern is sincere; that's not what I'm saying. It's simply that you do not know that he is not -- you not being a mind-reader and all -- so rather than portraying the SyFy Channel's statement as capitulation to the dread forces of political correctness, you might equally well assume that SyFy is offering up its alliegance to the Elders of Sodom of its own free will. Given that Stern's statement carries no tone of grudging and embittered surrender, no sense of one who feels himself under siege from the terrible wrath of the Elders of Sodom -- a threat clearly considered insignificant enough by CBS, NBC, A&E and TBS that they feel no need to comment let alone surrender -- you would do well to consider if perhaps (horror of horrors!) he is one of The Enemy. Not homosexual, I mean. Just someone who holds to an ethics based primarily on empathy.

But why should this matter? Why shouldn't you assume the worst case (i.e. most paranoid) scenario, that the Elders of Sodom are slowly crushing all resistance to their libertine manifesto, that now even the network executives quake in fear at the faggot's fierce roar? Well, partly it matters because the scenario you paint sounds frankly bizarre to many -- that the Elders of Sodom wield such awesome power as to bring Mark Stern grovelling to his knees in front of us, so in terror of our stark fist of political correctitude that he would go out of his way to feign support, he alone among his peers, while the rest see no need to even acknowledge our criticisms at all. This makes you sound rather extreme, you understand? Words like "homosex" and "abomination," the rhetoric of gaybashing high school jocks and murderous religious fundamentalists, do not help you present yourself as someone worthwhile opening a dialogue with.

You claim to want a rational answer, but your alarmist hysteria no more invites a rational response than some medieval anti-semite's froth-mouthed demand to know how good Christians can suffer the "Christ-killers" plotting in their midst, working wickedly in the shadows to exert their evil influence. You complain that you won't get a rational answer but you sound like one whose antipathy clouds all judgement, one whose revulsion is so extreme, their disgust so bound to fear and hate, that it manifests in outright delusion, in conspiracy theories of covert and overt ideological Powers-That-Be, Evil Forces aligned against all that is good and decent. Paranoid fantasies born of prejudice do not invite a rational response. How can society have come to this, you cry, this depth of depravity, this sink of iniquity, that the head of the SyFy Channel cowers before the Elders of Sodom? How can others not see the headlong plunge into filth that will result from this the headfirst dive into acceptance of incest, paedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, fornication, wantonness, sin, sin, SIN?!

You seem incapable of conceiving that Stern could hold to a sincere ethical judgement that "homosex" is acceptable and that the absenting of it from television is a product of prejudice to be countered. You seem incapable of imagining that anyone could hold to this notion for any other reason than that they are a) wicked, b) gullible, or c) afraid to stand their ground. Those of us who hold exactly that opinion are more inclined, to be honest, to the fourth option: that you are d) nutso. This is not an accusation that you are nutso, mind, merely an explanation of how you come across, offered as basic advice in how to perform the amazing feat of understanding how other people think differently than you do. If you genuinely want to understand how society has come to this, how we can all hold to ethical opinions you consider utterly invalid, then you need to start by accepting that we do indeed hold to those ethical opinions. Honestly, you really want to try and understand why the following is just crazy talk to most of us:

By what logic is the sole and single standard of virtue in your world view an absolute devotion to vice?

Empathy is a devotion to vice? Really? Because that's what the Elders of Sodom base our principles on, my dear chap. It's written into our Protocols: the notion that other people are human beings and that their suffering is something to be minimised as best we can, just as we would seek to minimise our own suffering, not because we are forced to but because we care to; the notion that all particular principles and rule-of-thumb are open to interrogation as to how best we can achieve the optimum situation, because uncritical obedience is for children, not for rational adults; the notion that with maturity comes the responsibility to exercise our own faculties of reason as regards to ethics; the notion that this extends even to those core standards which seek to describe what that optimum situation actually is. This is the Grand Project that the Elders of Sodom are sworn to, have been sworn to throughout history.

The result of this historical project is actually a myriad of standards which may well seem confusing to someone looking for simplistic absolutes, but there's plenty of logic, even a coherent theme, in "the greatest good for the greatest number," or "from each according to ability, to each according to need," or "a healthy mind in a healthy body," or in many other axioms produced over the eons by those who have thrown themselves into the exercise of ethical faculties. There's plenty of logic to be argued over in all the resultant philosophy, but still we're all in the same boat as every one of our forefathers, the ultimate responsibility resting on us to navigate a way through all the arguments because we patently can't rely on being led by the ideologues who claim authority. They will only tell us to lynch black men who want to marry white women for their "miscegenation," behead rape victims for their "adultery," stone those who utter a certain string of phonemes for their "blasphemy," burn at the stake men who have sex with other men for their "sodomy". They will tell us to commit heinous atrocities in the name of all that's good and decent, but we must live with ourselves afterward, so we really have little option but to think about whether they really have a fucking clue about what's good and decent.

So, the Prime Directive of the Protocols of the Elders of Sodom is something akin to Kant's Categorical Imperative, with maybe a dash of Sartrean good faith: that the standard over-riding all others is that one must, with empathy in mind, use all one's ethical faculties in every situation in a passionate but reasoned attempt to make the best possible evaluation of the most ethical course of action. So, if someone insists that miscegenation is a crime against nature so "abhorrent" that we must join the lynch mob, no matter how many stand with him, no matter if we're the only person standing against him, we should nevertheless be ready, willing and able to challenge this self-righteous nonsense, to say, this is not a vice -- because this would be the more ethical response even if societal morés condemn us for refusing to conform. This is the logic underlying what is not "a sole and single standard of virtue," simply an overriding standard of autonomous thought as an ethical duty, a recognition that prejudice is not a legitimate basis for moral authority, a commitment to challenge such illegitimate "morality" as and when it expresses itself in unethical acts of abjection. We, the Elders of Sodom, find it quite saddening that you and others like you characterise this mode of ethical judgement as a "devotion to vice."

We're not suprised however.

By what logic is the sole and single sin the sin of having standards of virtue, what you call being intolerant?

It's quite easy to explain, actually. You see, where you consider it unconscionable that anyone should treat the "abomination" of homosexuality as "normal and natural and worthy of no comment," you appear to be demonstrating what Kohlberg described as a "law and order" mentality, a sub-stage within the "conventional" stage of moral development. Your understanding of ethics is bound to a framework of social/natural/divine order seen as good in and of itself, something to be defended, propagated. Within this, virtue is equated with normative behaviours while vice is equated with some (but not all) non-normative behaviours, which are viewed as transgressions, breaches of norms institutionalised into moral dicta. Actions which are "bad" are not seen as existentially unethical because they cause harm to individuals but rather as essentially immoral because they "disrupt" the social/natural/divine order. Oh noes.

You have apparently managed to rationalise this to yourself in terms of a pseudo-Stoic teleological sophistry in which every passion has a "final cause" -- an essential purpose -- such that action at odds with these essential purposes represents an immoral "disordering" of the appetites, an unacceptable misdirection from their natural/mandatory objects. You seem to think this is a sophisticated philosophy, but to the Elders of Sodom it appears risibly simplistic -- practically crude and ignorant in its systematisation of potential human behaviour into a set of axioms bearing little relation to reality, and all of these articulated in a one note modality of "must" and "must not," judging this action a virtue to be proud of, that one a vice to be ashamed of. This is a clunking, crunching mode of thought that lacks even the subtlety by which we might deem it mechanistic. It has all the complexity, flexibility and functionality of a broken light switch.

Most damningly, this mode of (un)ethical (un)reasoning is responsible for all manner of inequity and iniquity, since the ascription of "essential" and "perverted" purposes to actions is often pseudo-rational at best. This becomes obvious when that which is "abnormal" invokes a conditioned disgust response, an affect of pre-rational revulsion, the sort of profound and unconsidered (perhaps unconsiderable) abhorrence that leads to the action being vitriolically condemned as an "abomination". The strength of this irrational response reinforces commitment to the social/natural/divine order by opposition to that which deviates from it. Further, acting to "defend" the social/natural/divine order from the demonised (i.e. abjected) transgressor/transgression by, for example, instilling that same loathing in others generates a pride in this (self-)righteous action. Thus you have a feedback loop in which prejudice against those identifiable as deviant is validated by the very disgust that motivates it, and propagating that prejudice is validated by the pride that results. Pick an "abnormal" behaviour such as inter-racial marriage and we end up with a "moral" imperative against the "abomination" of "miscegenation."

Many do think in such terms -- hence the "conventional" label -- but the markers of deviance, the "abnormal" behaviours that become the subject of moral dicta, vary across cultures, geographically and historically. Even with a cursory glance at these variations the limitations of this mode of pseudo-ethical morality become obvious. Some cultures have lacked morés that condemned brother-sister incest or even the sexual abuse of parent-child incest (or for that matter extra-familial paedophilic abuse) while within living memory (or for that matter currently, within neo-fascist subcultures) some have made a "moral" issue of the deviation from societal norms that they refer to as "miscegenation", considering this as an "abomination" of a similar severity to that which you ascribe "homosex." What we have in those cultures that do not condemn the unconscionable abuses we'd class as incest and paedophilia is conventional morality failing to be ethical. What we have with (sub-)cultures that condemn miscegenation is morality being itself unconscionable, the unethical masquerading as the ethical, prejudice wearing a disguise of piety. It seems fairly obvious to most of us within the Elders of Sodom that such a system of thought is in and of itself rendered ethically dubious where it does not simply allow for but in fact is predisposed to result in such failings.

This is, incidentally, why we stress the importance of tolerance, why we are "willing to tolerate sexual perversion but not racism". The latter is patently unethical in its abjection of a group marked out by skin colour. The former -- when we're talking about homosexuality, rather than your bugaboos of incest, etc. -- is a variant behaviour which is used to mark out another group as deviants to be abjected by the unethical who justify their prejudice as morality. It is simply not the case that a "malfunction of love" is higher on our standard than a "malfunction of hate". We find the whole teleological sophistry of "final causes" which paints homosexuality as a "malfunction" ethically retarded, do not evaluate homosexuality or racism by these criteria but rather by their effects considered in light of empathy and reason. The power dynamics involved in the bugaboos of sexual perversion you associate with homosexuality render them a quite different matter when their quite different effects are considered in the same light.

You ask, "Is an irrational lust and longing to mimic the mating act with a sex with which one cannot mate, at its root, any more or less disconnected to reality than an irrational fear and hatred of a Negro?" (And how we would dearly love to hear how you pronounce that last word.) We say simply that sex is, as the bonobos know fine well, a physical communion with entirely rational social-bonding functionalities far beyond procreation, causing no intrinsic harm and consolidating empathic connections with others, (which also answers your question, "Why is this one vice singled out for awe and reverence and glorification?" -- because sex can be rather beautiful with a bit of talent and/or practice.) Meanwhile, irrational fear and hatred on the basis of skin colour severs such connections, blocks them where they might be made, and ultimately justifies some of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated in the history of humanity.

You ask, " Why is it that the lack of self control in sexual matters, where self control is paramount, is held to be immaculate and beyond reproach, whereas the lack of self-control when it comes to something trivial smoking tobacco [sic] is scorned?" The simple answer is, Mr Wright, that you are speaking gibberish here. The issue is not self-control but societal control, moral dicta imposed by ethical retards. Your notion that self-control is paramount in sexual matters is comprehensible to the Elders of Sodom only as the neurosis of a disturbed individual whose sexual desire is bound to an abusive drive to subjugate, to rape men or women, children, animals or corpses. We can think of little reason to place a primary stress on self-control other than where there is some abusive tendency to be curbed. When it comes to sexual matters, the Elders of Sodom, (contrary to certain propaganda texts,) feel no need to control sociopathic urges that we don't feel, and therefore generally consider the pleasuring of one's partner paramount. The lack of self-control is not held to be immaculate and beyond reproach; rather a certain balance of restraint and abandon is, we consider, usually quite important in achieving our primary purpose of an intense physical communion. The comparison to smoking seems quite absurd to us, as sexual addiction is an entirely different matter, occuring regardless of orientation, and something to be treated rather than scorned.

In short, the Elders of Sodom simply do not think as you do, and consider your opinions on this matter if not pathological then at very least irrational in the most fundamental way. Your concern with what is "normal," what is "natural," is, as far as we're concerned barely logical never mind ethical. Let us clarify:

Whatever particular set of principles we adopt or construct for ourselves in the "post-conventional" stage of moral development, to us homosexuality is not "normal" as far as percentages go, but is entirely "normal" for that percentage who identify as homosexual, just as ginger hair is "normal" for those with ginger hair (assuming they don't dye it regularly such that their "normal" colour is, say, mauve.) The Elders of Sodom don't care. Normality is utterly irrelevant in an ethics based largely on empathy and reason rather than conformity to an imagined social/natural/divine order. As far as the Elders of Sodom are concerned whether our sexual behaviour is normal or not is neither here nor there, just as our hair colour is. It is none of your business, Mr Wright.

Aware of the observed facts of homosexual behaviours across the animal kingdom, the Elders of Sodom also know that homosexuality is entirely "natural" in the sense of "occuring within nature". It is simply somewhat less than usual as a behaviour pattern -- which doesn't matter a jot. Some will argue that one is born homosexual, the deviance no more "unnatural" than ginger hair, but some of us see no need to defend homosexuality on that basis. Even if one becomes homosexual through a gradual development of sexual tastes, the deviance is no more "unnatural" than if one develops a taste for bletted medlars and a dislike for apples. It is no more nor less than a variance of preferences. And to repeat myself: this is none of your business, Mr Wright.

A third option is that homosexuality is actually a combination of birth and choice, predisposition and conscious affirmation. In this case the deviance is no more "unnatural" than if one is born into an ethnically Jewish but non-practicing family, if one grows up with enough exposure to the beliefs and traditions of Judaism to incite a religious interest, if one decides to become a Rabbi and refuses point-blank to convert when the Christians come knocking at one's door, swords drawn, insisting that the denial of Jesus Christ is a heinous sin in the eyes of God and that one will be damned for all eternity if one does not abjure one's wicked ways. Whatever the Rabbi's reasons for being a Rabbi, he is quite entitled to tell the Christians where to stick those swords. On behalf of the Elders of Sodom, I say again: this is none of your business, Mr Wright.

But the above is not offered as a defense of homosexuality. We Elders of Sodom feel no need to justify our existence in the face of a moral dictum we consider as absurd and illegitimate as a racial-purist's self-righteous condemnation of "miscegenation" or an anti-semite's pious fervour in the glorious necessity of a pogrom. Thankfully, you are a marginal voice, so we consider you a nuisance at most, an irrelevant reactionary clinging to an obsolete moral paradigm even as society moves on, as the general populace sloughs itself of the prejudices of previous generations. We have no desire to waste our time trying to lead you out of the ethical backwater of your moralistic nonsense. This letter is aimed simply at explaining to you exactly how and why you find yourselves so at odds with the rest of society, in line with your explicit request:

I'd like someone, anyone, to explain to me how my culture reached a position where a public entertainment company can be criticized for failing to contribute to the moral decay of the land, and that the criticism would be taken seriously, and the company would cringe and promise to do better.

Let's break this down.

1. "how my culture" -- The culture is not yours. It belongs to none, is shaped by all, reshaped constantly in the harmonies and conflicts of differing ethics. Historically, by a process of abjection, various groups identifed by markers of deviance have been rendered scapegoat figures, disenfranchised. The Elders of Sodom (like many other such groups) are now in the process of reclaiming our place within it, our role as equals, as something other than symbolic whipping boys, as something other than the abject figures of abhorrence you would have us be. As human beings. In many respects, we have already reclaimed this humanity. In many respects, Mark Swift's statement is an acknowledgement of that fact, an acknowledgement that it is our culture every bit as much as it is yours. You resent this, are horrified by it. We consider this an ethical deficiency on your part.

2. "reached a position" -- Where reactionaries like yourself see the social/natural/divine order as an essential truth to be defended, a law inscribed in stone tablets that must never be questioned, never challenged, where you imagine it a virtue to instill a zealous belief in the social/natural/divine order in its own right, the Elders of Sodom recognise that the moral dicta that construct it are all too often rooted in base prejudice, that at the heart of "miscegenation" and various other such "crimes against nature" there is little more rationale than disgust, fear and hate perpetuated by the self-righteous pride of any ideologue who succeeds in propagating the moral orthodoxy. We recognise that many moral dicta -- such as that which classes "miscegenation" an unpardonable transgression of How Things Are Meant To Be -- must be overthrown as unreasonable and cruel to the point of unethical. So we pressure for change. And because we offer rational ethics based on empathy, in place of infantile moralistic nonsense, we can and do achieve that change. Other people are generally less ethically deficient than you.

3. "a public entertainment company can be criticized for failing" -- The change is slow but steady, with institutions often lagging behind the public, clinging on to dicta of the old moral orthodoxy even when the majority have ceased to believe that there's anything remotely "wrong" about, for example, inter-racial marriage. If they tend to "craven fear and trembling" in any regard, it is in the worry that by daring to, say, present a character like Gaeta as openly homosexual on mainstream television, they will potentially alienate a conservative audience who still abjects gays and desires them absented from the media (and ultimately reality). As younger generations slough their prejudices, join the Elders of Sodom and become more open about their rejection of unjust morés, attention moves to the institutions that are palpably lagging behind the time, sacrificing ethics in order to pander to a prejudice-ridden minority of infantile moralists. Even these institutions are less ethically deficient than you, it would appear; even the ones that don't respond favourably to such criticism have the good grace not to mouth off with terms like "homosex" and "abomination."

4. "to contribute to the moral decay of the land" -- This is not moral decay, but ethical growth. Our association of the term "infantile" with morés is not a crude insult, but a quite sincere criticism of the "law and order" mentality as an immature mode of ethical judgement. The reactionary conservatism that founds itself on a notion of social/natural/divine order is resistant, in its essentialism and absolutism, not just to any attempt to redefine it, but to any attempt to critique it. (Since the social/natural/divine order is seen as good in and of itself, any challenge to its injustices is seen as bad.) It cannot and will not contemplate the possibility that it is wrong and so will act to shut down all debate, internal as well as external. Where this moralistic mindset acts on the internal debate of one's rational faculties it is quite literally an ethical retardation. The horror you feel at "moral decay" is, to the Elders of Sodom, quite self-evidentally an affective defense mechanism, designed to function as a barrier to anything that might "corrode" your convictions. Compare "retard" as used in the term "flame-retardant". This moralistic mindset, Mr Wright, is "ethics-retardant". This is why you are at odds with the rest of us, the source of your ethical deficiency.

5. "and that the criticism would be taken seriously" -- The ethical inadequacies of such a mode of thinking become quite evident in such an attitude, when you shrug off any reason to consider the ramifications of not taking such a criticism seriously. Which is to say, where any wide-spread moral dictum is called into question, one may not agree with the criticism, may even consider the problem it is asserting non-existent; it is, however, only the most rudimentary of ethical judgements to consider that one may be wrong about the reality and severity of the problem and that one should therefore seek to establish the reality and severity of the problem. This sort of dismissal is, as far as the Elders of Sodom are concerned, an abrogation of ethical judgement at the most basic level. Your deficiency does not just result in bad ethics, Mr Wright. It is unethical in and of itself.

6. "and the company would cringe and promise to do better" -- or rather, as we have suggested above and as they themselves profess, the company would accept that they have failed to live up to the standards which they recognise as ethical imperatives, be disappointed at the criticism because they do in fact respect the homosexuals you abject and abhor, and offer a commitment to improve their performance, one that they will hopefully follow through on precisely because they are, at heart, fully paid-up members of the Elders of Sodom. Because they are ethical human beings, Mr Wright. Unlike some.

This is how it happens. This is how society dismantles prejudice even where it is institutionalised in deeply conventional moral dicta. People interrogate those dicta, applying empathy and reason, and if they do it loud enough and long enough, well, another person might join in. Of course, to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, then people may just call them faggots and not take them seriously. But if three people do it -- can you imagine, three people walking in and saying, this dictum is a pile of horseshit, singing it in harmony -- why, then we got ourselves a movement!

Is this making sense yet? Do you now understand the nature of the "crap" we are politely requesting you to cut, the particular tosh and balderdash we think you really ought to discard if you have any honest concern whatsoever with rational arguments? We very much doubt it. But still, let us make one last attempt to answer your questions as regards how such a terrible state affairs can come to pass as the head of a television network agreeing with an abjected minority that their under-representation is a problem worth tackling.

Someone explain to me by what series of events persons with serious sexual-psychological malfunctions would somehow be awarded the status of moral arbiters, something like priests and confessors and sages -- except that the passkey to being a guardian of public conscience in our age is the absence of moral value, not the presence.

Event 1: You term homosexuality a "sexual-psychological malfunction" that is "serious", assuming the authority of a moral arbiter, but exhibiting all the nous and compassion of Fred Phelps. You reach for the passkey, desiring to be a guardian of public conscience in our age, spouting your rhetoric of moral value and demonstrating the complete absence of any truly ethical value. All you have is an illegitimate dictum against homosexuality, spewed in vitriol indistinguishable from that of a Westboro Baptist.

Event 2: We say homosexuality is a variant sexuality which does no intrinsic harm to the consenting adults that practice it or anyone else outwith their relationship, rejecting in no uncertain terms your arrant presumption that you have the privilege to impose your morés on us -- or anyone else, for that matter -- and criticising your judgementalism as ethically retarded. We reject all your "passkey" piffle, point to the bankruptcy of your "moral value," and contend that the presence of even the most basic skills of ethical evaluation is vastly preferable to your line of crap.

Event 3, 4, 5...N: People agree with us.

We do hope this explanation has been of some use to you, but we rather doubt it to be honest. Such is life.

Yours sincerely,

The Elders of Sodom

Scribed by THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!


Blogger Larry said...

I guess Breeders like myself are free to sign our names to this open letter, Hal? :P

Nice counter, even if the doofus probably won't be reading this anytime soon. I was very saddened to read that he seems to have drawn to my church (Catholic) recently; I hope it's not because of some twisted logic related to their sometimes-intolerant stances, but I always fear the zealots that emerge from converts. Sometimes, the mind is just warped from all that change and I guess his just led to some weird conflation of Randian straw men rhetoric, the mostly-depised (now) doctrines of the most extreme interpretations of a particular sect, and the apparent personal qualities of Fred Phelps.

How can one not love such a dear, sweet winner like that? It pretty much amounts to the crap being flushed out into the open, where it can be condemned and then deposited in its proper place, no?

6:23 am  
Blogger Max Kaehn said...

Bravo! We of the League of Heathens and Infidels raise our horns of mead and tankards of ale to the eloquent words of the Elders of Sodom!

Have you seen Jonathan Haidt’s work on moral impulses? I found it an interesting read because not only do I not feel the typical conservative impulses, I tend to have a bad reaction to them because I’ve had bad encounters with them in the past. It would seem that intolerant conservatives create liberals.

6:42 am  
Blogger Cavillator said...

Following Larry's additional signature, I'd like to sign my name on behalf of the Christian "Jesus-Had-Some-Pretty-Cool-Things-To-Say-About-Not-Being-Total-Dicks-To-People-And-Hey-Wouldn't-It-Be-Great-If-We-Listened-For-A-Change" Crusade.

Did Mr. Wright ever buy a new copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? I know it's only been... 35 years since the DSM II was reprinted and homosexuality was removed as a mental disorder. Maybe someone should get him a copy.

6:44 am  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Absolutely, Larry. Absolutely you're welcome to sign your name here -- hetero or homo, theist or atheist, as a member of the Brethren of Breeders or indeed the Society of the Catholic(s) of Taste. All are welcome. And absolutely you've got to sort of admire the purity of the folly in that entry.

6:45 am  
Blogger Larry said...

Catholic(s) of Taste. I like that. Makes me feel like I have some connection with Teilhard de Chardin (whose work I tend to admire, even if the Papacy has struggled with it in recent years). As for admiring stupidity, I'm so immersed in it that I don't know if I can see the brilliance of it on occasion. I wonder if shortly I'll view Wright's rant as yet one more garden-variety turd that dropped out of Fred's (and his ilk) ass.

6:55 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow. Beautiful.

8:44 am  
Blogger Alex D M said...

This letter was a pleasure to wake up to.

Sister of Sappho

11:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "Negro" (to use Mr. Wright's anachronistic verbiage)says, outstanding riposte. Will post widely.

11:38 am  
Blogger Kynn Bartlett said...

This is almost too brilliant to be wasted on a schmuck like Wright.

At least the rest of us appreciate it, even if he won't even understand it if he reads it.

12:31 pm  
Blogger Antiqueight said...

I want to join Larry here - I am a raised Catholic (who is nervous of converts) and a breeder (or well, hetro if not actually breeding)- in signing my name (Kate)

Very well argued. I enjoyed reading this and learned much about morals/ethics. I will bookmark this for use in further discussion both on this and other similar topics.
Thank you.

12:47 pm  
Blogger Aishwarya said...

Magnificent! Signing on to this as well.

1:15 pm  
Blogger Erzebet said...

Sign me up!

with love,


1:23 pm  
Anonymous Eric said...

Thanks for saying what I was thinking about that coward, mister.

Baci, Eric.

1:41 pm  
Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Bravo, Hal. Happy to also add my name as part of the Empathetic Buddhist Breeders Cabal.

My stomach literally churned when reading Wright's hate-filled gobbledygook; I was so utterly upset by the raw bile which stuttered from his keyboard that I had to close my laptop. Thank you so much for your continued brilliance.

2:45 pm  
Anonymous Karen said...

Thanks for this, Hal.

2:55 pm  
Blogger Greg van Eekhout said...

Nicely done, sir.

3:22 pm  
Anonymous Lee Thomas said...

Amazing! Thank you, Hal. Brilliantly written.

3:22 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Most astute. For your next trick, please destroy Orson Scott Card. Pleeeeeze??

3:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you.

3:35 pm  
Anonymous Number 6 said...

Hear Hear my good friend, as always I tip my hat to you my fellow sub-genius anti-pope :o) another excellent blog entry

3:43 pm  
Blogger Jon Hansen said...

Nicely done.

3:53 pm  
Blogger Vince Liaguno said...

Nicely done, Hal! Thanks for this.

3:56 pm  
Blogger Christopher Fletcher said...

I'm going to go ahead and just say it out loud: "Hal Duncan, I love you."

4:13 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth Bear said...

Signed for the Those Cheap Trash yBisexuals, They'll Snog Anything And They Just Don't Want To Commit Club.


Elizabeth Bear

4:17 pm  
Blogger Livia Llewellyn said...

Mr. Duncan, you are both a Sodomite AND a Superhero! Really, what more could anyone want in a man?

4:18 pm  
Blogger bifemmefatale said...

So say we all.

4:30 pm  
Blogger tchernabyelo said...

Pointed here by Elizabeth Bear's lj.

Consider me signed up to this.

4:30 pm  
Blogger Eric said...

A hearty amen from flyover country.

Also: "The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom" is a title begging for a story.

4:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a paid up and card carrying member of the League of Heathens and Infidels, not to mention one of those baby-slaying commie-loving feminists, my salute to you, Mr Duncan. Rock on.

Liz Williams

4:41 pm  
Anonymous joycemocha said...


This Eeeevill Socialist Catholic wants to salute you and sign up as well.

4:49 pm  
Blogger Adam Rakunas said...

You, sir, are my hero.

4:50 pm  
Blogger Victor Raymond said...

Right on. Preach it.

Got here through several links and will add my own. You speak for me, sir - a marvelous refutation of Mr. Wright's puerile beliefs.

4:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said!

4:55 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

From your lips, to God's ears, Brother Duncan. Because that asshat's ears are probably too muffled by his glutea maxima to hear properly.

Sincerely, and with a five-snap blessing,
Sister Catt of the Witchkin Weary of Morally Deficient Asshats Trying to Blame Their Hatred on God.

4:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant.

Also, proof that a philosophy background is more useful than many people think. :-)

I am now suffering from an abnormal desire to accelerate my own personal moral decay by immediately purchasing all your books.

4:57 pm  
Blogger Dirk said...

nice job. Wright is a douchebag.

5:01 pm  
Blogger admin said...

Beautiful. :)

5:10 pm  
Blogger Daniel said...

What can I say, Hal? I'm most impressed and love it... an intellectual, intelligent, and yet far from humourless deconstruction and destruction of a bigot's argument. Well done, sir, and thank you.

5:13 pm  
Blogger Jim Crider said...

Bravo! A delightful dissection of dubious demagoguery. This member of the Rational Thinkers Collective commends you!

5:13 pm  
Anonymous Remus Shepherd said...

Hmmn. Mr. Duncan, while I agree with your goals, I have to say that you are taking the entirely wrong tack in approaching this problem.

You are treating Mr. Wright as though he is unreasonable and believes in all sorts of anti-gay fantasies. But I did not get that from his screed. Wright looks, to me, like a religious man who is sincere about what he considers morally healthy, and he wishes to steer people in a healthy direction. He doesn't fantasize about an Elder Sodomite conspiracy; he worries that people don't know that they're doing themselves harm. He's not trying to enforce law and order, he's trying to help. Treating a compassionate individual like an unreasoning totalitarian monster is a counterproductive strategy.

The only unreasonable part of Wright's beliefs is his religion, and you're not going to change his mind on that -- nor should you try. Instead, you should be convincing him that homosexuality is a healthy alternative lifestyle. (Which is something that even I question sometimes. The longest-lived gay relationship I know -- my ex-lover and his husband of 12 years -- just broke up. I question whether homosexual pairings are stable, and that's a flaw.) You should be convincing him not that this is ethical growth, but clear-eyed exploration of what it means to be human. You are trying to convince him that fringe behaviour is ethical. You need to convince him that it can be healthy.

And don't demonize the enemy. It only makes things worse. IMHO.

5:29 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Beautifully said. I linked this in my own post on the subject, where I encourage people to make donations to LGBTQI charities in Mr. Wright's name.

5:29 pm  
Anonymous Sovay said...

You have some lovely protocols, sir.

5:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a straight, Christian, female breeder - thank you for writing this amazingly calm response to his vitrol.

It is people like you, who can listen to someone spew irrational hatred, and yet answer it is turn with cool, rational explanation who are going to make our society a better place for my children, whatever sexuality they express.

Thank you.

5:45 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Hi Remus,

Thing is, before he deleted the comments on his post, Wright explicitly and on numerous occasions denied that his beliefs were religious, claiming that he came to these conclusions before his conversion. He claims to want a rational answer that he's not going to get, and talks a big game about how liberals are incapable of reasoned debate here. My own response is just in answer to his specific questions as regards "how the world could come to this," an attempt to explain why, as I see it, he's outraged and incomprehending in the face of ethical progress.

A lot of this just basic discourse analysis. His reading of Swift's response *is*, I think, anti-PC conspiracy theory wank, his terminology consistent with the crackpot fringe anti-semites and racists. All of his rhetoric fits the "law and order" mentality I'm talking about very well. And his whole argument is based on "final causes" rather than harm -- an essentialist "natural order." It's not about him being a totalitarian monster, but sadly this mindset *is*, I think, at the very heart of his moralised antipathy.

5:51 pm  
Blogger Triskelmoon said...

Signing as a concerned mother who is trying to raise an ethical son. I will be linking and using as source material.

Seriously, thank you.

5:54 pm  
Blogger K. Eason said...

As a fringe member of several groups bent on the destruction of all that is Good and Right(tm) in the world, let me say a simple "thanks, and well said."

6:00 pm  
Blogger Roz said...

I'd just like to add my support here. Wright's language is so intemperate, even when he is claiming the rational high ground, that you would have been justified in being far runder; it is clear that, unlike some other Thomist Catholic homophobes, he is not even pretending not have have a visceral disgust for what other people might do in bed.

Roz Kaveney

6:03 pm  
Blogger S Johnson said...

In Defense of John C. Wright!

Point One: Every writer worthy of the name wants to go to Hollywood.
With no exceptions. Writing on spec for the Colbert Report is laudable ambition. Laud Mr. Wright, and emulate!

Point Two: The Golden Age was dull as dirt and I couldn't read more than fifty, a hundred pages through. I was laughing hysterically when I read his rough draft for a comedy sketch. The brilliant switch from end of time SF (aka advanced science=magic,)enabled his talent to flower.

Point Three: When so many people are so concerned the US is engaged in multiple wars while the government funnels dollars by the trillion into certain banks and Wall Street firms, the importance of being both pure for God and respectable for society can easily be overlooked. Mr. Wright has an astounding ability to see the genuinely important issues of the day.

6:09 pm  
Blogger MsGoblinPants said...

Thank you, THE Sodomite. Thank you.

6:18 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you, Hal, for organizing the depth and clarity of thought that clearly underlies your letter. Your argument, one hopes, might even sway someone who currently thinks along the lines of its addressee.

6:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice job here. I just sat slack-jawed looking at his letter for some while, unable to coherently put together an argument because I was so disgusted.

There's a little pity in there, too, because as you pointed out, Wright seems to have some major psycho-sexual issues of his own. His terminology and ideas about sex (also, he and his wife are of the kind who believe that no one should be having sex, not even married people, unless it's solely to procreate) makes it even creepier and more disturbing than the usual vitriol. There's a man who has some serious, harmful urges toward other human beings, be it in a sexual or simply physical way.

(Plus, I'm pretty sure the Bible never says anything about bondage being against the "Rules of Nature." Could probably find evidence to the opposite.)

6:36 pm  
Blogger Lysana said...

I, too, happily sign this open letter. I represent the Doubly Greedy Bisexual Polyamorites, the Celtic branch of Pagans and Heathens United Against Limited Religious Thinking, and the Heretically Lapsed Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and Southern Baptists (yes, all three, as my history is complex).

6:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of the Chosen People of God as well as People Who Do Go Both Ways, not to mention Those Who Bite the Heads Off Chickens, I approve of this message.

6:43 pm  
Blogger imnotandrei said...

Brilliantly done, sir, brilliantly done; it's been a while since I saw such a fine filleting of a ludicrous argument, and I particularly appreciate your take on his pseudo-Stoicism.

Oh! And also, thank you for the verbose and obscure way of saying "buy you a clue" -- it's headed directly into my verbal repetoire, for those moments of much-needed obscurity. ;)

6:46 pm  
Anonymous Sarah Ann Watts said...

Signing in from the Land of Green Ginger to say - thanks Hal! :)

6:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the voice of sanity!

6:56 pm  
Anonymous Alma Alexander said...

Oh, Hell, YEAH.


6:56 pm  
Anonymous Nancy Greene said...

Well done!

7:33 pm  
Blogger Gwyn said...

My dear sir,

Here is the Godless Heathen Zen Buddhist standing ovation you richly deserve:

(four minutes and twenty-two seconds of sitting silently)

Bravo, Elder of Sodom. Bravo.

7:33 pm  
Blogger John Wright said...

"Cut the crap."

Good suggestion. I will follow it. If I take down the offending post, however, I will be criticized for that as well.

Friend, I am not as irrational as you paint me. I will think about what you wrote.

John C. Wright

7:34 pm  
Anonymous Nick said...

OK, "John C. Wright" just deleted the post. . .

As he predicted, he will probably get criticized.

7:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and he *should* be criticised.
after all, it's not like he's making any effort to do anything other than embrace his homophobia and bigotry.
in fact, he continues to do so in other posts, after the fact.

7:53 pm  
Blogger DrGaellon said...

I can have only one response to this magnificent missive. Marry me. :D

"Normality is utterly irrelevant in an ethics based largely on empathy and reason rather than conformity to an imagined social/natural/divine order."


As one of the Elders of both Sodom and Zion (aka a Member of the Tribe), I applaud your brilliant riposte. Regrettably, he will likely never see it.

7:54 pm  
Anonymous Nick said...

I love the post about him getting sent to hell for being a (I'm quoting) 'arrogant prick'

St. John the Martyr

7:57 pm  
Anonymous Harry Connolly said...

Well said.

8:34 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Speaking for both "Those That Value Personality Over Pants Contents" as well as the "Order of People That Enjoy Leather for Reasons Aside from Fashion Alone", I would like to applaud this letter of yours and add my support to your (admittedly futile) efforts. Bravo!

8:40 pm  
Blogger Kyell Gold said...

Thanks, Hal. <3 Saw this on Elizabeth Bear's LJ and reposted on mine. Nicely said.

8:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So very well said!

Paul Tremblay

8:43 pm  
Blogger DesertRose said...

May I sign as well?

When naming my own affiliations, I'm really not sure whether I should sign myself as part of Those Cheap Trashy Bisexuals, They'll Snog Anything and They Just Don't Want to Commit Club, a la Elizabeth Bear, or the Doubly Greedy Bisexual Polyamorites, courtesy of Lysana.

DesertRose of the Heretically Lapsed United Methodists with Fundamentalist Independent Baptist Schooling (again, hat tip to Lysana), and also Pagans, Heathens, and Otherwise Who REALLY Wish Soi-Disant Christians Would Learn To Follow The Teachings Ascribed to Jesus of Nazareth (rather particularly Luke 10:25-37, in this instance).

8:46 pm  
Blogger Dw3t-Hthr said...

Another Heathen and Infidel, Greedy (But Not Bisexual), Leather Is More Than A Fashion Statement, Yes We Are Raising Children In That Environment representative signing on.

Luke is good; in this circumstance I often want to quote - believe it or not - Romans (14:14): I believe in the Lord Jesus that no thing is unclean in itself, but if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.

9:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely done.

I'd like to sign on behalf of the Siblinghood of Self-Mutilating Gender-Confused Transfolk.


9:56 pm  
Blogger dieselsandwich said...

I am filled with fangirl-esque emotional responses for your writing style that are expressing themselves in embarrassing ways. Namely giant stupid grinning, laughing out loud, and wanting to show all my friends.

Also, I really think it is intriguing that Mr. Wright actually came here, read what you had to wrote and considered things. Whether that's indicative of an actual breakthrough in ethical growth is another matter. But baby steps are still steps.

You may sign me up as a member of the Sapphic Sisterhood of Only Slightly Greedy Polyamorites and on behalf of The Nontheistic, Self Empowering and Elevating Spiritualist Infidels. Formerly of the Catholic Heresy League, but we are still in touch and on exceedingly good terms despite my pagan explorations. XD

10:03 pm  
Blogger NM said...

Good'un, Hal. I especially enjoyed that you didn't depend solely on the "it's genetic" defense or indeed even defense at all!

There are many colors in the homo rainbow.

10:11 pm  
Blogger Sochitelya said...

Signing my name to this letter, as a total heathen.

And since I can't say it on his blog, I'll say it here, regarding his recent posts: Backpedal harder, John!

10:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you for this.

cpolk, one of those Cheap Trashy Bisexuals who has the NERVE to Not Want to Snog anything, Making Lack of Commitment a Non-issue

10:30 pm  
Blogger Tim Pratt said...

On behalf of the Legion of Bisexual Hedonists, I salute you, sir.

10:48 pm  
Anonymous Meredith Schwartz said...


11:00 pm  
Blogger Michael M. Jones said...

I don't know what organization I want to represent, but when I decide upon a name more dignified than The League of Awesome, I'll join your coalition of open-minded excellence.

You, sir, may very well be the champion we've been seeking, the one who can refute Wright's arguments in the fashion he's accustomed: with lots and lots of words. Smart words. Wonderful words.

If promoting open-mindedness, tolerance, understanding, acceptance, diversity, and generally embracing the vast spectrum of possibility that is the human condition is contributing to society's moral decay, then I'm all for it.

11:01 pm  
Anonymous Angharad said...

Brilliant. Thank you.

11:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Rose Fox
Coalition of Agnostic Secular Jews
Hedonists Anonymous (Because It's More Fun That Way)
National Association for the Promotion of Polyamory and, When Appropriate, Polyfuckery
Fencesitters League

11:07 pm  
Blogger JoSelle said...

Hi Hal!

Haven't been able to read all of this yet, because it seems my browser dislikes your blog (it's making it lag :O). But what I've read so far is awesome. Since I'm both (lesbian-identified) bisexual and Catholic, can I sign this as a member of the Monstrous Regiment of Sodomitical and Sapphic Papists? (Yep, we do exist, and there are lots of us. And Mr. Wright? We're not the Church's problem; the Church's problem is people who want to put unnecessary difficulties between some of Jesus' most vulnerable followers and the Lord. Cut it out.).

11:09 pm  
Blogger Sean (quantheory) said...

As a Taoist, Bisexual, and occasionally a Thinking Person...

I am amused.

11:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such eloquence. Such a pity it is still necessary to be said.

Mr Wright's outpourings were what the bellowings of a panic stricken dinosaur must have sounded like as it sank deeper into the tar pit. Such hatred, such ignorance, so little love.

Thank you


11:34 pm  
Blogger Jon said...

Well put.

12:03 am  
Blogger The Swivet said...

Bravo, my friend. As always, articulate and thoughtful.

12:13 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Hal.

12:16 am  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Signing on. Thank you for writing this.

12:27 am  
Blogger JS said...

he and his wife are of the kind who believe that no one should be having sex, not even married people, unless it's solely to procreate

I don't know whether or not that is their position. However, I do want to point out that that is not the official position of the Roman Catholic Church.

I am not a fan of the RCC's position on many things, but "sex is icky unless it's for babies" goes quite a bit beyond that church's current position.

What I am a fan of is Hal Duncan's beautiful jeremiad, so there.

Julia Sullivan
Invisible Bisexual English Major
Episcopalian and Gene Robinson Fangirl

12:41 am  
Anonymous Beth said...

Bravo! Signing my own name as well.

--Beth Bernobich

12:42 am  
Blogger CD Covington said...


Bisexual atheist pervert

12:46 am  
Anonymous dcole said...

Wow. As a member of the UCC Jesus Ate With The Tax Collectors and Other Outsiders League and the UCC God is Love ANY Love assembly I want to say bravo. Both for the incredibly well written and educational post and the idea to give us all group names (it was incredibly fun reading others and coming up with my own)

12:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm speechless. Well said.

Brandon Bell

1:02 am  
Blogger Jeni Decker said...

From a mother of two young boys, can I just say I'd be proud as hell if my kids turned out half as articulate and lovely as you, sir.

As for the other one--the one I dare not speak his name...

...sad, sad little man.

Good for you. Your Momma must be very proud ;)


1:36 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you,
Nadine Armstrong
Breeder, feminist, commie

1:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a straight white girl who was raised Catholic (and ran like hell) I just wanna say thank you, for finding the words. My favourite part was regarding: "generates a pride in this (self-)righteous action." I immediately thought of some people in my life that should read this, but never will. Thanks again for providing an intelligent voice of hope and reason.

Marcy Italiano

1:50 am  
Blogger Richard Parks said...

Well put, Sir.

1:54 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Straight white breeder signing on here.

2:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is most excellently done, sir! Not only a brilliant smackdown and rebuttal in its own right, but a philosophical tour de force which gave me much to think about in relation to many other issues.

I like the formulation you use of an advanced, rational ethics being based on empathy and recognition of shared humanity, rather than adherence to social conformity. Do you have links to any more readings on the subject you might share?

2:12 am  
Blogger The Last One Out... said...

I think I love you.
Though I know he's not got enough wits about him to understand even 4 of 10 words up there, that is a work of art. Truth.

2:30 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Bravo, sir, bravo. I'm privileged to add my name to those already here.

John Langan

2:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A tip of my hat to you, sir, on behalf of the non-cranial-rectally inverted, childfree Wiccans.

Susan R. Kagan

2:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So say we all.

Donna M.

2:52 am  
Blogger Sarah Morehouse said...

Consider me one of the undersigned!

Atheist, bisexual, civil liberties loving humanist

2:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear sir,

on behalf of the Polymorphously Perverse SisterHood of Slashers (all orientations and gender identities welcome, commitment to porn desired),


as one who responded to him as he claimed to desire, which comment I copied to my own journal at Dreamwidth

I subscribe and set my typewritten signature to your work, above.


4:00 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

When I first read Mr. Wright's post on LiveJournal, I was stunned beyond words. I, the original "Help, I'm Talking And I Can't Shut Up(TM)", so-stereotypical-I'm-a-cliche, Gemini, was speechless.

While we are not partners, I must admit that reading your response was extremely pleasurable and tender you proper thanks. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, drop me an e-mail and I will do my poor best to provide for you an equivalent pleasure of gastronomic delights that accommodates your every food preference. Reading your letter here was not merely better than sex, it was more satisfying than a truly excellent meal among good friends.

Member of the Libertine Party - we don't offer bread & circuses, we offer circuses in your beds.

4:30 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello Hal & All!

I will happily add my name to this list. However, I am saddened that this is necessary at all.

I have been a huge fan of Mr. Wright and of his books ever since I picked up the Golden Age and was spellbound. I consider the Chaos books to be absolutely brilliant. Even his take on the Null-A universe I found a fascinating read.

Mr. Wright, if that is truly your comment above, I applaud you. I would love to once again live in a world where I can pick up your books and enjoy them.

4:37 am  
Blogger Rhea Silvia said...

Thank you.

Though, as I am quite deprived of SyFy, I will not be able to watch any of the shows, I am very glad to be able, at least, to read this response to Mr. Wright's stupidly bigoted asshattery.

Again, thanks.

4:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*standing ovation*

4:49 am  
Blogger Vector said...

Thanks for writing this. Not because of the intellectual smackdown of a certain Mr. Wright, who I could care less about, but because of how eloquently you explained ethics and empathy. I think just reading this gave me leg up in all future debates.

5:23 am  
Anonymous Soni said...


From the primary branch of Married and Possibly Bisexual But Lacking Enough Energy or Interest To Bother Determining That Empirically, by way of the Lapsed Middle American Vaguely Protestant Turned 'Screw The Fan Clubs, I'll Just Email The Man Himself' subdoxy.

5:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo! Adding my name as well for the Bisexual Pagan Commie Cabal. ;D

5:42 am  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

That was wonderful. The part about empathy and how we have to stand against the crowd brought tears to my eyes. So Mr. Wright has contributed some good to the world - he served as a muse for that brilliant essay!

5:44 am  
Blogger Dave said...

Sign me up, Hal. Not sure anyone could have said it better.

6:12 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catholic, convert, and not crazy, and there are more of us than there are of him.

7:12 am  
Anonymous Alyce Wilson said...

Absolutely fantastic response. And I have to say that, while I have sworn not to buy any of James C. Wright's books (which is easy, not having been sorely tempted before), as soon as I finish this comment, I WILL be ordering yours!

7:21 am  
Blogger Prosetry said...

Thank you for this. I will be printing this out and passing it on to others.

7:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of Those Peculiar Asexual People, chiming in to say thanks for writing this.

8:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Signed! by this Handmaiden of Venus and part-time Daughter of Sappho.

9:11 am  
Anonymous Jess said...

I was dismayed to hear that John C. Wright inspired this response. That said, the response is perfect. Thank you for writing it.

9:21 am  
Blogger Terry Talks Movies said...

I'd be honoured to sign my name to this one. The future has to be diverse and accepting or it won't be the future, just a dark iteration of the past.

9:31 am  
Anonymous IX said...

I..... Love you.

Truly one of the best pieces of prose ever written on these fine Internets. You, sir, have eloquence of word and thought that I could only ever dream of matching.

This is coming from someone who has only recently began to come to terms with his own sexuality; facing the unbridled contempt of legions of conservative ideologues. You are the sort of person that gives me hope that we can truly live in a brighter future, one more empathetic and continually more intellectual.

9:31 am  
Blogger Ian said...

From this here christ-killer, two thumbs up.

9:39 am  
Anonymous Lea said...

*standing ovation*

9:42 am  
Blogger Terry Talks Movies said...

I'd be honoured to sign my name to this one. The future has to be diverse and accepting or it won't be the future, just a dark iteration of the past.

9:46 am  
Anonymous Thaily said...

Great post.
Could you write one on his wife next? The woman who claims to not recognize race and is thus not racist, then refers to her son's friends as "a boy the color of pitch" and "a Spanish boy whose family hardly speaks English" as well as referring to a fellow diversity panel member, a black woman, as "girl".

9:58 am  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Hi flewellyn,

One of the trackback links below is to a post that makes some very cogent points in a similar vein. Altermeyer's studies of the "authoritarian personality" bear comparison to Kohlberg's "law and order mentality", I reckon:

This is also very pertinent:

(And, with a quick doff of the hat to Max Kaehn: Yeah, Haidt's work is something I'm very down with. :D)

Other than that I don't have any links off-hand, but I highly recommend Googling Kohlberg + "stages of moral development", and Wikipedia on Authoritarian Personality. And just take it from there. :D

And to all of yez: bless yez, each and every one of ye; it's heartwarming to see this sort of response.

11:18 am  
Blogger M Harold Page said...

Shit! Get back to writing fiction, Hal. That's where the real battle is.

11:18 am  
Anonymous xenakis said...

I would say "word", but there were rather a lot of them. Therefore:


11:43 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Adding yet another "so say we all", and nodding in recognition to familiar names above me.

Goth Hobbit of the Small But Mighty Society of Contemplative Pagan/Agnostic/Atheist Gardners, Musicians, and Artists

1:14 pm  
Blogger Gwenda said...

::applauds:: Thank you for writing this.

2:42 pm  
Blogger Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

Excellent post, thank you.

3:15 pm  
Blogger Jeni Decker said...

Fire up the blogs, people. Let your voice be heard.

Jeni ;)

3:17 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

As a Vanilla, Hetero, Breeder, suburban-dwelling, white male let me just say this:
This man does not speak for "society", or for me.
Although I left organized religion years ago, I maintain that any Higher Power worth acknowledging would want to promote love and happiness, regardless of the gender, religion, skin tone, etc. of the participants involved.
This was a well thought out response to a very hateful piece of writing. Good job on being the more evolved human than the instigator.

3:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As another member of the Doubly Greedy Bisexual Polyamorites I commend you for your most lovely letter and stand at your side in your verbal battle of societal morals.

3:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put and I salute you.


non-cranial-rectally inverted, childfree pagen (with props to the non-cranial-rectally inverted, childfree Wiccans).

4:56 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your response to him is BEAUTIFUL.

As a member of the brethren of breeders (one son) catholic-in-recovery (why isn't there a 12 step program for this?) who is married for life to a bi woman, I will gladly sign attach my name to the bottom of your missive.

Michael J. Murray-Magill

6:15 pm  
Blogger Justina Robson said...

Oo, I don't belong to any exciting categories so I just have to tip my hat to you from the White Average Agnostic Breeder Club.

6:47 pm  
Anonymous Jamie said...

Bravo from the Let Hal Say It Better Than We Could Syndicate.

Word Verification: muserbun - the philosophical baked good.

8:18 pm  
Blogger BrideOfPorkins said...

This crazy cat-lady applauds you, sir.

9:03 pm  
Anonymous Fran Walker said...

Thank you. That was beautiful. Especially the

d) nutso

9:14 pm  
Blogger Ana S. said...

This is brilliant in so many ways.


Ana from the Society of Geeky Gay-Loving Loony Leftist Feminist Atheists.

12:43 am  
Blogger Dr. Dave said...

One 'yea' vote from the Free Will Baptist Breeders (Theory Group).

3:27 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

That is beautifully written, poetic even. That I agree with it is icing on the cake, as it were. Thank you...

12:58 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

As an asexual atheist, I'm glad to add my name.

1:33 pm  
Blogger Nathan said...

I'll just add my voice to this massive chorus of praise. This is a wonderful post.

3:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, same here. Nice work.

3:37 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Very well said, sir.

6:36 pm  
Anonymous Stella Omega said...

and a hearty thumbs up from the queer-families-raising-wonderful-children league.

8:50 pm  
Anonymous Jane said...

Having found this via an incredibly circuitous blog-route, I would just like to add my thanks for this inspiring letter. I often find myself too angry to respond rationally in discussions with bigots a la John Wright, and hope it would be acceptable to borrow your eloquence in future arguments.

Jane Crowley,
Non-specific Theist, Member of the Hetero Feminist Freethinkers and Lover of All Beings Except Complete Morons (and Wasps)

9:08 pm  
Blogger Alcibiades said...

"The power dynamics involved in the bugaboos of sexual perversion you associate with homosexuality render them a quite different matter when their quite different effects are considered in the same light."

This post was fantastic, but I am a little bit concerned at the Elders of Sodom's willingness to cede the high ground on nonmainstream sexualities other than the GLBT community. Granted that things like pedophilia ought still to evoke the greatest moral censure, but statements like this:

"We say homosexuality is a variant sexuality which does no intrinsic harm to the consenting adults that practice it or anyone else outwith their relationship, rejecting in no uncertain terms your arrant presumption that you have the privilege to impose your morés on us"

apply no less forcefully to things like BDSM than homosexuality.

10:10 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Awesome writing. I read Wright's rant and I pretty much didn't bother engaging him because I saw it as rather like trying to clean out a leach field with my bare hands. Thanks for coming along with the proper tools to deal with this mess.

fyi: pracice (practice?)

10:18 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Ooooh! well spotted, that man. Thankee.

11:13 pm  
Blogger DesertRose said...

Oh, and I linked to this post on my blog, after I had signed.

12:54 am  
Blogger Null and Void said...


I sign this post happily as a member of the Breeder Brotherhood, the Evil Liberal Conspiracy, and the 'Since-when-did-thinking-that-we-should-care-for-our-fellow-human-beings-become-morally-reprehensible?' Committee.

More seriously, this was beautiful.

-Scott Wells

1:51 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

You're welcome. One other thing that has like absolutely nothing to do with the above. I'm like 44 and I found this hard to read with the background as dark as it is. I just set it as "no style" in firefox, but that takes out all of the formatting, except the most basic. If you could increase the opacity of the white layer under the text it would be so much easier to read. (hey you might have some important reason to leave it this way, or like no darn time to fiddle, so trust me either way, it's all good)

Take Care
Drooling Fan Girl

3:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Signed, from a lifelong Unitarian Universalist who is far too sleepy to match the wit of the other comments already left here.

6:25 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

As a member of the Novel Neuroforms Division of the Elders of Sodom, I sign my name, add my applause, and ask a question. Question first:

You base much of your ethics on empathy. Do you define this empathy as the near-unconscious ability to see yourself in someone else's shoes, or do you use a different definition? Does this definition make allowances for those with mental discrepencies that significantly reduce empathy (eg. Aspergers' Syndrome, where empathy is decreased but reason tends to be significantly augmented)?(I will be checking up on those links you posted earlier - apologies if this is something covered there).

Along the same vein, I'd like to put in a request for more of the structure of your particular brand of ethics. You have clearly constructed a tool very much worth knowing more about.

Now on to the adulation and applause:


I must say I've been wondering what would happen if you commented on John C Wright's views. I am not surprised, nor am I in the least disappointed - your analytical approach and sense of style are always delightful and intriguing.

So, again, as a member of the Novel Neuroforms Division of the Elders of Sodom: query, applaud, sign.

8:37 am  
Anonymous Sam Kelly said...

The Society of Polyamorous Bisexual Depression-Afflicted Quaker Artists, Scientists, and Theatre Geeks would also like to add our subscription to this missive.

9:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. I guess I'd be signing on as Vaguely Episcopalian Because Being Churched Is a Plus When Arguing Religious Tolerance with the Religiously (and Otherwise) Intolerant.

Or just call me a Cynic. ;-)

3:56 pm  
Blogger Colin Meier said...

Great analysis of 'morality' vs ethics, Hal.


Signed on behalf of the Entirely-Unintentionally-Celibate Homosexuals.

3:58 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Hi Daniel. Yeah, I'm pretty much going with the informal bog-standard notion of empathy as affective... synchronisation... the tendency we have to simply feel what we think others must be feeling.

Of course, you do have people with Aspberger's (and autism, I guess,) for whom this natural faculty is impaired. The only thing that my brand of existentialism would ask of them is that they make the most of what they've got. It would seem utterly unjust and idiotic of me to judge their ethical development without taking into consideration the fact that they have the empathic equivalent of learning difficulties.

I mean, from what I understand (though I'm no expert on this at all,) most of the problem is with social interactions, with an inability to relate the same way most do, which fucks with Theory of Mind, makes it hard to read signals like facial expressions and so on. An individual with Aspberger's often just doesn't *get* what others are feeling. But where they think it through or have it explained to them how their behaviour affects others emotionally, they *do* actually care -- at least that's my understanding of how it works, based on a *very* limited experience and jackdaw level of research.

Anyway, if being ethical is largely a matter of exercising empathy and evaluative reason (in terms of rationales and ramifications,) to the best of one's abilities, their disability may well mean they're trying *harder* because they *have* to in order to function in society at all.

Hell, by my existentialist ethics, it's not even my call to say if they're "trying hard enough". The only time I'm really likely to judge someone's ethics is when they invite it by asserting moral superiority. And really it's sort of a pragmatic/aesthetic issue of what I think makes a human being, well, good at being a human being, rather than an assertion of an imperative I don't have the right to impose on anyone but myself.

4:38 pm  
Anonymous Ms. Anon E. Mouse, Esq. said...

As a member of the youth wing of the Empathetic Evangelical Potential Breeders (Commie Canadian sisterhood), I sign on to your brilliance and wisdom with enthusiasm and some humility. I don't know anyone who could have written something this brilliant, beautiful and persuasive.

10:42 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

For any UK citizens out there coming to this late, btw, even if you don't want to add your name to my blather, there's a very worthy petition to be signed, asking the UK to apologise for its treatment of Alan Turing:

As noted by Cheryl Morgan here:

And in an article in the Manchester Evening News here:

5:32 pm  
Blogger Corey said...


Damn, but that was a fine wine of an argument. You've made a fan out of me, sir.

7:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This member of the Sodality of Objectum-sexuals thanks you for a fine post, an inpiration to reasoners everywhere. Since the verification letters read "terse", that is what I will be. I add my voice to the letter--Angiportus.

8:07 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Another link:

To the newborn Outer Alliance, SF/F writers pledging to LGBT advocacy.

8:33 pm  
Blogger Jen R said...

Another co-signature, from the Straight Monogamous Breeders (Because We Can Be For LGBT Rights Too) club.

9:05 pm  
Blogger Natalie Ford said...

Signed and agreed with!

10:07 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

And another link. Actually, a set of links and a personal response that answers Daniel's question far better than I did or could. After my own response I got an email from a reader. They hadn't posted it as a comment because they didn't want to hi-jack the thread, but I think the following, quoted completely, is both highly cogent and highly pertinent.



In a comment to your $subject above you wrote:

I mean, from what I understand (though I'm no expert on this at all,) most of the problem is with social interactions, with an inability to relate the same way most do, which fucks with Theory of Mind, makes it hard to read signals like facial expressions and so on.

While 'reading' others is commonly difficult for neuro-atypicals, the idea that we can't form a Theory of Mind, while received wisdom, is [unequivocally][1] [not][2] [true][3].


"Empathy, Mindblindness, and Theory of Mind by Lynne Soraya"


"Empathy and lack of empathy; two of the stupidest and most offensive fads in popular science writing today by Lili Marlene"


"Do People with Asperger's Syndrome Have Empathy?"

FWIW, Soraya's point about the Golden Rule:

So, here it comes -- the "E" word -- empathy. On the wall in one of my childhood classrooms was a copy of Norman Rockwell's painting, "The Golden Rule." I recall staring at those words, day after day as we lined up in the doorway -- "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." It sank in.

From a young age, I incorporated that axiom into my belief structure. But here's where the problem comes in -- what I would want "done unto me" is entirely different than what another might want. Likewise, "Putting myself in the other person's shoes" would have me doing something very different than what another person might envision doing in a similar situation. So, the logic is faulty.

rings true for me.

Like Soraya, the Golden Rule sank in fairly quickly. Like her, I quickly realised the logic was faulty. Consequently, I ended up preferring Hillel's negative version:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
-- Shab. 31a

I like Hillel's approach partly because it is about what not to do. This strikes me as sensible, since actions always have consequences. Inactions can have consequences too, of course, but, in most cases, inaction can be replaced with action once more data has been acquired.

I especially like Hillel's formulation because of his call to action at the end: go and learn.

This helped me with my own solution to the apparently intractable problem of Other People. Since starting high school, at least, I've endeavoured to *effectively* model as much of the universe, including the people in it, as I possibly can. (This is a solution I've since learned is not atypical among neuro-atypicals, BTW.)

By understanding, as deeply as I can manage, the basic workings of everything, including people, I'm less likely to fall into error.

This works with physical things (never forgetting gravity and momentum and friction when driving is a good thing) or emotional things (never assuming my experience is universal is a good thing and always remembering that the same input can result in multiple outputs because people have different neuro-chemistries as a consequence of the micro-environments each of us exist in is an especially good thing).


10:09 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Continuing my correspondent's comment:


An individual with Aspberger's often just doesn't *get* what others are feeling. But where they think it through or have it explained to them how their behaviour affects others emotionally, they *do* actually care -- at least that's my understanding of how it works, based on a *very* limited experience and jackdaw level of research.

FWIW, I've always found modelling biological entities more difficult than modelling non-biological entities. That said, I'm not sure my being neuro-atypical puts me at an especial disadvantage in this regard.

I've long been better at reading my (neurotypical) daughter's moods than my (also neurotypical) wife, for example. I suspect this has more to do with the nature of our particular Father-Daughter relationship and their particular Mother-Daughter relationship than it does anything else.

Against that, I am largely hopeless and helpless in most social settings. I can't keep sensible track of all the input/output possibilities and either freeze up and retreat entirely or go into performance mode.

This latter approach turns the individuals in the crowd into an undifferentiated audience, of course; a form of distancing (or de-humanising if you will) that's always felt ethically problematic to me, even when it's both practical and desirable. (Problematic is over-stating it: better to note that engaging an audience, no matter the circumstance, is a different ethical responsibility to engaging an individual or tiny group. Also, turning a crowd into an audience without their prior consent is a whole ethical quagmire of its own.)

I've no money to test this, but I've got a half-formed hypothesis that even argues neuro-atypicals are *more* empathic than neuro-typicals.

Assume the core difference between the two groups does turn out to be the neuro-atypical's strong tendency towards systematised thinking (this over-simplifies things, but bear with me).

Systematic thinking favours modelling and measuring against evidence over assumption based on direct experience. Consequently, highly systematic thinkers will be less inclined to assume their experience is universal. If empathy is the capacity to 'put oneself in another's shoes', highly systematic thinking is a better tool for doing so, since it discourages inaccurate universalising from direct experience.

Dragging this back somewhere close to your Open Letter, my strongly systemetised neuro-atypical brain argues for your position and against John Wright's on the evidence.

Wright's diatribe proceeds from a inaccurate universalising of his direct experience. He makes no effort to model his or other's experience against a hypothesis that both explains the existing data and makes testable predictions.

Your position, OTOH, is entirely testable (treat everyone as if they are human and see if the lot of everyone improves). It also, I infer, proceeds from anthropological models of In and Out group status and marking that models and explains the existing data tolerably well.

Ethics entirely aside (and I'm not arguing we should set them aside, just that I don't believe we need to invoke ethics at this point), your argument is compelling simply because it models reaility more closely than Wright. Since reality doesn't much care what we feel, paying reality due regard is an absolute minimum requirement in any discussion.

Just a few semi-organised thoughts from the Antipodes.

Hope they are at least diverting if not entertaining.


So there you go. Personally, I think that's *way* more valuable than just entertaining. And I highly recommend clicking through on those links. A sincere thanks to my reticent correspondent for granting my request to make the private email public.

10:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angiportus, here, again.
Thanks for not sounding like all neuro-atypical people have Aspergers or are autistic. That's something a lot of folks seem to miss.
The Agglomeration of Actually More Asexual Than Anything Else People Who Have Old Computers And Can't Always Get Those Sign-In Things To Work now returns you to your regularly scheduled open letter.

3:39 pm  
Anonymous AB said...

Lots of words, all of them cool. And this bit made me cry a little:

"the notion that other people are human beings and that their suffering is something to be minimised as best we can, just as we would seek to minimise our own suffering, not because we are forced to but because we /care/ to"

From a fully paid-up member of the "Can't we all just get along" cabal.

4:04 pm  
Blogger Edward Morris said...

Hal Duncan, if I weren't already up to my eyeballs, I'd get down on one knee and propose to you right now for that splendid symphony from your city-sized heart. Blessings from every deity in range,

Edward Morris

5:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an intellectually and ethically masterful takedown and probably the best thing I've read all week; thank you.

7:09 pm  
Blogger Artur Nowrot said...

A pansexual (even if more on the Breeders side) would like to vote his support. The letter was absolutely wonderful, Hal.

8:07 pm  
Anonymous Sochitelya said...


Have you noticed what I assume is a response to this letter and other outcries on John C. Wright's LJ? I don't think he got the message.

10:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I see he's posted a screed of argument attempting to rationalise his position. I haven't read it all yet but if it's premised on his first section "1.1. On Self Control", he might as well be Plato arguing for pederasty. He certainly hasn't gotten the message about "pseudo-Stoic teleological sophistry".

2:14 am  
Blogger csmith said...

Thanks Hal - very well said. Name on it too.

@Larry: I'm mortified as well (another Catholic here) - though tbh he reminds me of a frothing woman hating priest I had at school, a former Anglican priest who renounced his vows and turned Jesuit after women were allowed to become Vicars. At the time he chose this, he entered a 500 year old boy's school to teach. 2 years later they started accepting girls (of whom I was one). My amusement at this irony has never gone away. If you believe in direct divine intervention, this is the equivalent of smacking someone on the head with a stick screaming "PAY ATTENTION NOW".

Most of the Catholic theologians I know (and I know quite a few) would rip through JCW's position like a hot knife through butter. Purely theologically there are gaps a mile wide in his argument.

(I am still amused he cites Leviticus and Paul, but not Genesis - City of the Plains much? Direct Old Testament Fire and Brimstone Trumpets and Thunder? HE HAS SUCH GOOD FODDER FOR A GIANT RANT THERE!)

I'm figuring that this man, after seeing what happened when both he and his wife did not recant in racefail, decided he wanted a bit of publicity for himself.

Whatever the reason, I pity him. It must be horrible going through life so assured of your own self righteousness that you don't take time to examine the log in your own eye.

Sorry for the random biblical analogies!


5:46 am  
Blogger Farah Mendlesohn said...

Thank you.

I have just pointed out to him that a large proportion of the Worldcon programme team doesn't identify as heterosexual. I do wonder why he wishes to hang out with us deviants of sf.

7:19 am  
Blogger Eagle said...

May I clap you enthusiastically and sign myself as another member of the Siblinghood of Self-Mutilating Gender-Confused Transfolk, as well as a Socially Malajusted In-Denial Individual and Shameless Worshipper of the Brain-Destroying Silicon Chip?

5:26 pm  
Blogger Dee said...


Thank you. This is the best description of ethical & empathic reasoning I have ever read.

Sign me up.

Member, Apostate Catholics
Member, Pagan Heretics
Member, Bisexual Geeks

10:23 pm  
Blogger Malkuth said...

On behalf of fellow agnostic, omnisexual transsexuals, I feel obligated to say that this is, as others have asserted, incredibly awesome, brilliantly well-reasoned, and deadly accurate. It is one of the best things I have read in my life.

10:56 am  
Blogger Yonmei said...

Excellent open letter. Signed!

I see that "John C. Wright" deleted his original post apparently in response to this one: but without apology for the bigoted homophobia expressed in post and comments. Indeed, I gather he is now complaining that he's being "slandered" by being referred to as a homophobic bigot, just because he promotes homophobic bigotry.

Orson Scott Card does the same thing: perhaps Card and Wright should have a date someday to discuss how awful it is these days not even being able to publicly express hatred of gay people without being called a homophobe.

8:36 pm  
Blogger Moshe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:43 pm  
Blogger Moshe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:46 pm  
Blogger Moshe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:47 pm  
Blogger Moshe said...

[I wish there were a way to edit out typos once a comment is posted rather than having no option but to delete and try again!]

As someone who occasionally uses a sig that identifies me as "Your friendly neighborhood agnostic but sentimental, non-observant-orthodox Jewish, open-minded scientific humanist." I found your response to Wright totally brilliant.

It's far better reasoned (and calmer!) than I could have managed. Thanks for taking the time and trouble.

For his own sake (not to mention his kids') I hope John reads it, puts it aside for a few days, and then reads it again. If he reads it enough times that it can get past his emotions, it might have a chance of doing him some good.

He's not stupid, he's just been warped somehow, so I hope there's a chance that so much clearly stated good sense can eventually sink in and start to wash away the sour, bitter, nastiness that seems to underlie his screed.

Keep up the good work, Hal. Clearly I need to getting around to reading your books! :-)

- Moshe Feder

4:49 pm  
Blogger Harry Markov said...

My hero. *sigh*

Way to go Elders. You rock.

1:00 pm  
Blogger victor said...

"IT" pretty much amounts to the crap being flushed out into the open, where it can be condemned and then deposited in its proper place, no?<<

Certainly, The peter is not in charge of "The Head" and just because "IT" teams UP with the a.s.s and tries shoving peter into a wide open head does not make "IT" ,this crap, right to be deposited there cause "IT" is not a toilet. No matter how much empathy might be used and just because countless numbers might think and agree that "IT" is right to do so won't cut "IT" with 'Our Heavenly Father'

I hope that we all learn before "IT" is too late that Bating The Master and/or Bating your kingdoms and/or your body whichever way "ONE" might look at "IT" certainly won't make U>S in "The Image of God" and if I've convinced just one spirit and/or one soul then my time will not have been spent in "Vain"

Good Luck,

God Bless,


P.S. If any one gets UP SET after reading this then say a prayer for me so that sinner vic won't get involved cause then "IT" could turn into a Witch hunt and my flesh is just not strong enough to withstand "IT" cause my Lord has not sanctioned any of this.

8:23 pm  
Blogger FoolishOwl said...

This is how it happens. This is how society dismantles prejudice even where it is institutionalised in deeply conventional moral dicta. People interrogate those dicta, applying empathy and reason, and if they do it loud enough and long enough, well, another person might join in. Of course, to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, then people may just call them faggots and not take them seriously. But if three people do it -- can you imagine, three people walking in and saying, this dictum is a pile of horseshit, singing it in harmony -- why, then we got ourselves a movement!

Signed, on behalf of the Egalitarian Compassion Fetishists Cooperative Association

1:05 am  
Blogger Lucilla Lin said...

Both you and Mr Wright went wrongly about this. I disagree with both of you, in opinion, and, especially on your manner of debating. John C Wright wrote in too vulgar and insulting manner. Your answer was of the patronizing type. Even worse were the self-congratulating comments under your post.

People have different opinions. They should be able to be discussed in polite manner without ad hominem. Following the debates on Speculative Fiction scene, I've red more emotional rantings, than good debates.


Spenglerian Pessimist, Conservative and Theist of No Particular Alignment.

2:58 pm  
Blogger victor said...

"IT" is nothing God and His Angels can't correct cause if Jesus helped our peter or should I say with respect "Our Peter" He can help any "ONE".

Keep the faith and please keep praying for me also.

God Bless and Merry Christmas to "ONE" and all.


3:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed. After great enjoyment of the man's books, how horrifying to discover what repugnant views he holds. Especially since the ones I read are celebrations of...freedom?!

4:33 am  
Blogger Datlow said...

Fucking brilliant. Thank you and sign me up.

10:55 pm  
Blogger John Cowan said...

As someone to whom many of the above adjectives apply, except those entailing non-maleness and, like, actual membership in things, I am pretty sure I speak for Distributed Unitarian Jihad (you don't have to be a UU to be UJ!) in putting forth my entire and wholehearted support of this post, even if I read only about half of it, which is still a far greater percentage than I read of Mr. Wright's rants on various topics.

I must say, though, that his polite response doesn't suggest to me that he's really going to think about any of this. That's just his Southern upbringing, which won't let him be rude to individuals (as opposed to verbally flaying the groups those individuals belong to). His momma would whoop his ass if he did that.

—Brother Rosy Fire of Compassion

1:40 am  

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