There are frequent discussions on whether same sex expression is immoral.  Or on whether support of same sex relationships, such as marriage equality, is immoral. 

 

It's more difficult to find discussions on whether homophobia is immoral.  Often we (or I) make statements based on the assumption that homophobia is immoral - but what is the basis for that?  What specifically homophobic actions or statements are immoral, and why?

 

I can try starting a list.  I am not formally trained in logic or moral discussion.

 

(1)  Scapegoating.  Scapegoating is the action of attributing bad events to a person or groups of people.  For example, 911 was the homosexuals' fault.  The tsunami was the homosexuals' fault.  AIDS is the homosexuals' fault.  Divorce among wealthy celebrity reality pseudostars is the homosexuals' fault.  Why are these statements immoral?  I think, first, it attaches demonization to a category of people, and on individual people, who are clearly not to blame.  It exposes them to danger, retribution, and discrimination, and for false reasons.  It might actually endanger other people, if they believed it - for example if tsunamis are the fault of the homosexuals, then there is no reason to avoid building near the coast, or install tsunami warnings, since the real protection would be to prevent homosexuality.

 

(2)  Unequal Opportunity.  Discrimination in work, housing, and other situations seems, to me, to be immoral.  That is based on my belief that all should have equal responsibility and opportunity.  It can also harm society in general, since it can mean that the most qualified person for a job or role is not the person doing that job or role.

 

(3)  I'm not sure what to add, or if this is on the right track.  Comments?

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Homophobia, as the dislike or fear of people who identify as gay, is not immoral in itself to me.  Anti-gay expression and efforts to limit sexual freedom are immoral, because they serve to place limits on harmless, non-exploitive love.  I don't know if there's a category for that with a nice name like "Unequal Opportunity," but maybe there is.

 

Oh, and I also would find teaching or perpetuating homophobia to be immoral, because I believe it diminishes the quality of life of the pupil and everyone.

You could take this from a civil rights issue. That gay people should have all the rights that others have. I think what you have on your list so far looks good.
Hi Sentiet; good question;

I think the point needs breaking down first.
What do we mean by homophobia? We don't mean an irrational fear of something. That's just the word. No one could possibly say that arachnophobia was either 'moral' or 'immoral'.
It's more like racism; you just don't like it and you think there are differences beyond the fact of the individual's sexual preferences. The homophobe seeks to reduce the happiness or freedom of the gay person because of something going on in their head. No one would like to be the subject of such an attack.

Like a racist, I doubt a homophobe feels in any way immoral, since it is an attempt to stop something you think is in itself immoral behaviour.
The subject of the homophobia probably does think that homophobia is immoral. It's certainly hurtful.
This highlights, as always, that immorality is too subjective to matter. It's the third party judgment by nosey people. It's a distraction.

For example, if you decided that a homophobic thought was immoral, what would that mean? What's the 'so what'? You might think that immorality spins on whether or not something causes harm. I think that this is really the only thing that matters; if something is harmful (i.e. a fully aware and informed subject doesn't want it) AND labelled moral, you would pay attention only to its contravening Mills' Harm Principle and you may ban it (in the UK). Something that is harmless (in the same sense) and labelled immoral you would, I hope, happily ignore the wining of the not-so-silent 'moral' majority.

So taking the word out and focussing on harm, you can quickly see that homophobia is deeply harmful and people, especially young people, should be protected from exposure to it. Vox populi, vox dei; young people think that just because lots of people appear to dislike something it must be bad; setting their own hurt as being secondary to the freedom of the masses to expresses themselves. Homophobia is harmful and, with the greatest of respect to Voltaire, I do not defend the rights of those who seek my subjugation.
The realm of morality sounds very scary. It would be interesting to hear anyone's views on my point above about it being entirely irrelevant.
Can you rephrase whatever point you made about "it" being entirely irrelevant?  From what I saw, you restated my sentiment, which is basically that homophobia/being homophobic is not immoral in itself, but that there are behaviors related to homophobia that are immoral.
The morality or otherwise of something is so completely subjective and vague that it is irrelavant.
I think that it makes more sense and is far clearer to talk about whether or not something causes harm.
Homophobia, in the modern way we use it, causes harmful behaviours. Whether or not you want to label it moral, amoral or immoral is irrelevant.
I'm not saying someone might be unable to acertain its moral status, only that you wouldn't care if something was immoral but harmless or moral and harmful; it's the impact or harm that matters.

It'd be good to hear whether there is anything that falls into the immoral but harmless category that there's a good 'so what?' to attach to it.

I think I understand, but I never assumed he was asking an objective question about morality.  I took his question to be a survey of subjective beliefs about morality and its underlying reasons.  It's a separate question from, "Is homophobia harmful?" or the even better, "Is homophobia undesirable?"

Are there better questions to ask with application to the cause?  Maybe.  But he started this discussion, so he probably finds this question interesting.  If you would rather another be asked, then start up your own discussion. :)

Ooo soz; totally didn't get that from the question!

Oar removed!

If we changed the context, and said "is racism immoral", I would answer unhesitatingly yes.  I guess I need to parse the term "immoral" or "moral".  I am not a philosopher so will contemplate my navel for a while and get back to you.

 

Is that lint in there?

OK, I know I said I'd keep my oar out...

I think you'd struggle to find anyone, certainly here, who would contend that racism or homophobia were good, moral things.  You certainly don't need to have studied moral philosophy to have a view on it.  Indeed, moral codes only ever have value if they are widely understood and accepted.  No one has a monopoly on right and wrong, and that’s the problem for me.

The thing that’s wrong with racism is that it’s a hurtful defunct theory.  It claims that you can take one fact about a ‘race’ and infer behaviours, usually bad, from it.  Sexism, ageism etc. are all bad for this reason and because the victim suffers because of it.  Just because someone has darker skin it does not follow that they are more likely to commit crime.  Homophobia, in the way we use it means much the same as this, and it’s bad for the same reasons.

Tekken is correct that, conventionally, an idea or theory cannot be immoral in itself.  Wilde wrote in the Picture of Dorian Grey: ‘ a book cannot be moral or immoral;  it can be well written or poorly written’.  Some people might even say that resisting such harmful thoughts, even though they do occur to you, is very moral indeed.

My beef with morality per se is that it is so woolly a thing.  Most people have a view on what it is, however since there is no ultimate authority, an individual’s personal moral boundaries might be set at a different threshold than her neighbour.  Now unless there is some Hobbsian ‘Be moral or else’ authority, why should anyone care what your moral boundaries are?   You could live out your life using a non-harm principle and you’d probably not fall foul of the law and you may even think that you’re being extra nice too.

The label of immoral or moral is usually issued by the religious and is rarely intended to bring people together or add benefit at all.  It’s an attempt to mobilize social stigma; to alienate the transgressor from the community.  I think that all of us should refrain from doing this as we should accept that the law is the boundary for our behaviour, and the only punishments should be issued via the courts.  The want to label homophobes as immoral is to want to do this.  Fighting fire with fire? Maybe but did we stop fighting for our position because we were called immoral? No.

So to actually answer your question, Homophobia is not, in itself immoral since there may be many people to whom distaste occurs but who act morally as a result.  We should focus though on who is causing harm though their actions and their speech, not because they are, in our judgement, immoral but because they are objectively harmful.

I have blue lint in my navel because I am wearing my Superman t-shirt today.

You can put your oar in any time.  

 

I guess the corollary to stating that homophobia is not immoral would be that sexism and racism are not intrinsically immoral?

 

I agree with you that the practical matter of Nonmaleficence is important for this discussion.  It is possible to be bigoted and not do harm.  Especially if one is a comatose quadriplegic.

 

Your pic of yourself in the superman t-shirt did not come through.  Could you post it again?  Or just the belly button, that might do.

Following is the wikiedia definition for homophobia.  I understand the desire to be etymologically vigorous.  I do not know of a catchword that fills the gap if we restrict the term to, what would literally mean, fear of sameness.

 

Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towardslesbiangay and in some cases bisexualtransgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the implication of antipathycontemptprejudice, and aversion.[1][2][3] The term "homophobia" is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination[1][2] andviolence on the basis of a perceived homosexual or in some cases any non-heterosexualorientation. In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King stated that "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."[4]

 

I use the following definition, basically "fear of sameness" for why my socks never match:  The term homophobia was formed like the names for many other phobias (e.g., arachnophobia) from homoios (όμοιος, greek for same) and phobia (φοβία, greek for irrational fear')  Technically, I guess if Michelle Bachmann looks into the mirror and is suddenly very very afraid, that would be homophobia, but it's not the commonly accepted use of the term even as applied to her.

 

I guess I should use a more precise term to express myself.  Maybe antinonstraightbiasism would be better.

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