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Google Doodle Upholds Gay Rights Ahead of Sochi Olympics (time.com)
76 points by c2prods on Feb 7, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 163 comments



In passing and in contrast to Google I noticed that Yahoo's display of Dilbert cartoons at http://news.yahoo.com/comics/dilbert-slideshow/ shows a different cartoon to the main Dilbert site http://www.dilbert.com/strips/ for today. Is this an editorial decision or just a cock up do you think?


Man, I was hoping it was a cock up, but having looked now, and looked through past days, I'm really doubting it. :\

EDIT 1: For ease of viewing I tossed the comparison up on imgur: http://imgur.com/kBHJ0eq

EDIT 2: Squinting, it looks like they still have the 2-7-2014 date running in the gap between the 2nd & 3rd panel, but it's copyright is clearly from 1990-something. So, it's clearly intentional, I now wonder if it is Yahoo or S.A. himself providing the alternate.


Wow, nice catch. Sadly it looks very intentional. You can see the Yahoo version has been edited to include the date "2-7-14", even though the copyright still says 1995.[1] It is indeed a 1995 cartoon.[2]

I can't imagine Scott Adams being OK with this.

[1]: http://imgur.com/kBHJ0eq (thanks to another commenter for the image)

[2]: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1995-01-28/


can you post a link to the difference? i don't see anything on the dilbert site for the 7th feb, and the one on the yahoo site doesn't seem particularly inflammatory.

http://i.imgur.com/1IueyOE.jpg



It's a contentious issue, and a bit of an inflammatory comic. I'm not surprised they pulled it.

Imagine it was about abortion or gun control.


What's the point of republishing Dilbert if you're going to censor what you don't like? Nobody forced them to publish Dilbert, it was a choice they made. Is it okay for Amazon to redact portions of books that are contentious?

Furthermore, the date on the comic was apparently edited to hide what had been done. If you don't want to publish something because it's contentious, then IMO have the balls to state as much and simply don't publish anything - don't pretend the comic doesn't exist.


It's a contentious issue amoung ignorant biggots - imagine if it was about the sphericality of the Earth or evolution.


They're probably just trying to be sensitive to their audience and sponsors. Google also censors pornography because a subset of users are offended by it.


Really?

Scott Adams' mild political satire is understandably censored because it is comparable in offensiveness to porn?!

By the way, Google doesn't censor porn. They categorises it. If they were either dropping all porn or replacing all porn images by pictures of little ponies, that would be censorship.


I don't think equating porn and gay rights is very helpful.


It helps to highlight our cultural biases. In some cultures pornography is more acceptable than homosexuality. These are just different prejudices that different people hold. It's not obvious which is more right or wrong.


One is a choice and the other is not. It's obvious to me which prejudice is wrong.


Both are offensive to some section of the population...


> Google also censors pornography because a subset of users are offended by it.

Censoring pornography doesn't infringe anyone's human rights.


Please, so that we can test such an assertion:

1. Define human rights

2. Provide a methodology by which they can be objectively known.

Is a right to be left alone to one's culture a human right? Is a right not to be deprived by outside powers of one's native language a human right? And who gets to set the limits on the outer limits of such a right? (i.e. is the right to advocate the position that genocide of, say, black folk, is desirable a human right? What about pornography?).

My own sense is that usually these have no epistemology behind them and are based solely on projecting one's a priori assumptions onto the world.


Why? Pornography is speech too.


when a private entity chooses what it displays to the public I have no qualms with it, its censorship when a government entity chooses what you can or cannot view, say, or read.


How does a law that bans gay propaganda to kids have anything to do with Olympics? They don't ban gay sportsmen or anything, I don't see why they are making such a big thing around it during the Olympics...has nothing to do with Olympics.

I wonder if Olympics were held in USA this year, would those same magazines put NSA logos and colors all over their screen just to show that spying on own citizens is bad? Or would google put DO NOT TRACK logo on their doodle? I doubt...


Yes, gay propaganda, like kissing your loved one in public. Or admitting that you find someone of the same sex "hot". I'm pretty sure gay athletes are not feeling like the big welcome mat has been rolled out for them at this year's Olympics, and Russia totally deserves to be publicly pilloried for it.


I doubt that gay athletes are thinking about promoting homosexualism among kids in Russia, they have more interesting and important things to do on Olympics games. The only people who seem to be bothered so far are the media outlets looking for bold titles.

There are so many gays in Russia and I have several gays friends back there, and they live the same life as none gay people. There is NO law agains gays in Russia, the law is agains propaganda of homosexuality to kids, thats it. A lot of Russian artists and media hosts are gays and they never hide it and Russians don't really care about it as much as Western media does.


I doubt that gay athletes are thinking about promoting homosexualism among kids in Russia,

Yeah, but we all know what this law actually involves, and it's disingenuous to claim otherwise.

The "anti-propoganda" law essentially bans gay pride events and public defence of gay rights. It was backed by a president who directly equated homosexuality and paedophillia. That's not a gay-friendly environment, by any stretch of the imagination.

This is good old-fashioned minority-hate-stirring, and it should be roundly condemned. That fact that there are no explicit laws banning homosexuality in Russia is nearly irrelevant.


You'd be wrong, I suspect they are all deeply concerned about just what displays of public affection are considered acceptable at these Games. It's hardly fair to force them to have to face this distraction whilst they are trying to compete in a sporting event. Shame, Russia, shame.


your examples are pathetically absurd, what next, getting thrown in jail because you admire your next door neighbours body, because he goes to the gym while you stay inside all day?


Yes, they are pathetically absurd, we can agree on that. They are also illegal in Russia...


Cite some evidence to show that "saying someone is hot" is illegal in Russia.

Perhaps if you said it amongst some school kids...


We're talking about a country that put members of a rock group in jail for several years for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" when they peacefully protested against Putin. I don't think it's unreasonable, bearing that in mind, to expect that a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" will be used to prosecute people engaging in public displays of same-sex affection. Unless you have some evidence that this has been specifically excluded in the law? I mean, I'd love to be wrong on this, but I'm pretty sure this is a law designed to force the gay community underground once again.


So instead of evidence, you've stated a case of a rock group who vandalised a church... Well that proves it then! Russia is obviously clearly a "baddie".


So you can't talk about homosexuality in a positive way to "minors" without being locked up. Well that sounds like quite a free society.


Should you talk to minors about S&M or pedophilia? Maybe teach them how to make bombs. Freedom of speech and everything!

Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And the US is certainly not in a position to preach anything about freedom.


You are equating homosexuality to paedophilia and bomb making?

Should I mention I don't live in the U.S., btw? Would that negate my argument in any way?


notifying the public of atrocities committed by the military / government is also illegal, and gets you tried under espionage laws, really reeks of freedom doesn't it?...


> "gay propaganda"

What's that now?

> "to kids"

Ah, "think of the children", the rallying cry of the oppressor.


Propaganda is a form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of the community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument.


Could you please furnish me with an example of "gay propaganda".


BE GAY!

Gay people are more attractive, and have more sex. They are also more successful in business due to their inbuilt GAYDAR system, which enables better networking.

Think of your own future - go gay today!


Welp, I'm convinced!

Thanks :)


The road to hell is paved with people shouting "Think of the children!"


Scientists have yet to prove any genetic causes for homosexuality. Saying something is innate without any proof is quite misleading.


Whether or not homosexuality is "innate" is entirely irrelevant to its morality. Even if it was completely a choice (as it is to some extent for bisexual people) it would still be completely okay. Personally I feel like LGBT campaigns do themselves a disservice when they focus on this argument.

Furthermore, if you're going to consider "making assertions without scientific evidence" as sufficient grounds to ban speech, you're going to be silencing a lot of people before you're done.


Saying something is innate is maybe, possibly something technically incorrect, from a biological perspective. As is saying pretty much anything about human personality and behaviour.

The reality of the political struggle is that gays are and have been oppressed, mistreated, abused, raped, labeled insane, labeled as dangerous, killed, maimed or criminalized for the "crime" which is not a crime, not to anyone with a decent sense of morality. Political messages need to be simple. "They are how they are and they do harm to no one." To try and pick apart a political slogan demanding equality and tolerance with a semantic argument as if it was a statement of biological fact betrays an intention.

Alan Turing, war hero, scientific hero & intellectual hero was convicted and chemically castrated for homosexuality. He was driven to suicide. One of many.

Sometimes in history there is a line and you can stand on one side of it or the other.


You know what? Homosexuals are being killed in the Middle East right now but for some reason, the rest of the world doesn't care. There are no similar campaigns on the scale of gay marriage campaigns to stop the mass killings of homosexuals in the Middle East. Aren't there more important battles to focus on?


Of course there are and of course people care. Most of the people focused on the Russian situation are Russians. The situation is regressing and it's acute.

BTW, this is the second red herring you've flung into the fray.


Why can't people focus on both battles?


Something being innate doesn't necessary mean it is in your genes.

It could be influenced/decided by any event or hormonal level during pregnancy / early childhood.


Those who support the rights of homosexuals better hope they cannot prove a genetic link. With the technology we have today many will ask to screen for it and the fight over their right to end pregnancies because of that will be far nastier than that over ending the pregnancies of birth defects and such.


Stand up for your ludicrous opinion, please, Mr throwaway account.


It's not a ludicrous opinion because scientists have yet to determine any gene that causes homosexuality. I encourage you to Google yourself for research papers that definitively prove the causes for homosexuality. None exist.


It may not be genetic, but so what?

It's a preference. As long as people with aligning sexual orientation can express this under conditions of consent, where's the problematic element? Where's the harmful or damaging part of this?


If it's a personal preference, then this has to do with culture, not biology. If it's a cultural thing, then you should realize there are different cultures out there, and one culture has no right to impose itself on others. As they say, when in Rome do as they Romans do.

I can confirm that there are gay artists, filmmakers, etc in Russia and it is common knowledge that they are gay, and they are not persecuted in any way. They are just not holding gay parades or teaching 6 year olds about gay sex. So as long as the gay athletes are not doing that, they will be perfectly fine.

For many Russians, teaching young children about gay sex is a problematic element, and I think you should respect their view when it comes to THEIR children.


> "If it's a personal preference, then this has to do with culture, not biology"

I didn't say personal preference, I said preference. It's not a choice you make, but it is an orientation. Why do you prefer members of the opposite sex? Did you choose this?

> "teaching 6 year olds about gay sex"

I doubt that actually ever happens.

> "For many Russians, teaching young children about gay sex is a problematic element, and I think you should respect their view when it comes to THEIR children"

So I should moderate my reasonable behaviour because you feel awkward explaining it to your kid? Your communication problems mean I shouldn't hold hands with or kiss someone of the same gender, in case they see it?


> I didn't say personal preference, I said preference. It's not a choice you make, but it is an orientation.

Straight sexual orientation is clearly biological. So it's not a question of choice. As far as I can tell, there is no such clear view on homosexuality - i.e. personal choice may be a big factor there. Even if it is largely biological, there are different ways in which a particular culture deals with certain biological functions. E.g., women may have to cover their hair in public in some cultures, while in others not covering their breasts is normal. The same issue is with Russia: open demonstration of your gay orientation is just not acceptable in the Russian culture. The West has to just live with it, in the same manner as it lives with the fact that Muslim women wear headscarves in their home countries.

> So I should moderate my reasonable behaviour because you feel awkward explaining it to your kid? Your communication problems mean I shouldn't hold hands with or kiss someone of the same gender, in case they see it?

Remember, it's reasonable in your culture, not in mine. My culture is not a communication problem.


> "Remember, it's reasonable in your culture, not in mine."

It's not really, Ireland is as backwards as anywhere else on the issue.

> "My culture is not a communication problem"

Your culture is not an excuse for discrimination any more than it might be an excuse for enforced dress codes or genital mutilation. It's all disgraceful behaviour, no matter how you might like to dress it up as your culture or tradition (and therefore somehow deserving more respect).

"Tradition" and "culture" simply translate to "fear of change". If your culture is a culture of repression then no, I do not have to respect it.


> genital mutilation. It's all disgraceful behaviour, ... If your culture is a culture of repression then no, I do not have to respect it.

Right there, you violated a human right, freedom of religion. Would Orthodox Jews, for example, agree that circumcision is "repression", "disgraceful behaviour" and "fear of change", "dressed up" like a tradition?

Which is even more worrying, you are trying to enforce these views not only in your own country, but in countries foreign for you.

A while ago there was news about a couple in Germany who had sex on a parking lot near a supermarket, and who were arrested for that. Was that "repression", "fear of change", or "discrimination"?


> Right there, you violated a human right, freedom of religion

I did no such thing. Your rights end where mine begin. No matter how core it is to your religion, you may not injure or kill me.

> A while ago there was news about a couple in Germany who had sex on a parking lot near a supermarket, and who were arrested for that. Was that "repression"

Nobody is arguing for that, nobody wants to see you have sex. Maybe some day we'll be perfectly accepting of sex in public, but I feel you are trying to conflate different arguments.

I want the right for informed, consenting adults to be able to have sex in the privacy of their own homes should they so desire, and to not be cast as demons in the society they live in - this talk of corrupting youth is archaic garbage. Sure, your culture loves it, but that's because it has some growing up to do.


> No matter how core it is to your religion, you may not injure or kill me.

Well, you should respect my religion or at least be sensitive about it (if you want to have some dialog). When I come to your country, I won't make a fuss seeing gays kiss. When you come to my country, do not go protesting the fact there no gays kissing in public.

> Maybe some day we'll be perfectly accepting of sex in public, but I feel you are trying to conflate different arguments.

It's the same thing. Having sex in public is not dangerous to anyone, it's someone's natural function. It is simply in the Western culture, when done in public, it produces a cultural shock. Kissing gays produce a similar shock in Russia.

> this talk of corrupting youth is archaic garbage.

Is the prohibition to have sex in public archaic garbage? How about smoking marijuana? I accept that it may be ok for Dutch people and it may not be ok in US. I also have my own views on that, but I am not imposing them on these countries.

> Sure, your culture loves it, but that's because it has some growing up to do.

You are suggesting my culture is inferior to yours, and you are allowed to teach me about that. How nice is that? My feeling is that it's not just your view, it's a common view in the West, and that's the main problem in the West vs. Russia dialog.


> You are suggesting my culture is inferior to yours

I am doing no such thing. I am stating that any culture which discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation is broken. That includes my culture, your culture and many other cultures. Remember I said "Ireland is as backwards as anywhere else on the issue"?

> West vs. Russia

I'm a boat trip and a long walk away, not that far west.


Yes. I do agree with you. But why constantly tell (or imply to) people they're bad/evil for not believing in homosexuality? Unless there's scientific proof, you will never change their minds.


> "But why constantly tell (or imply to) people they're bad/evil for not believing in homosexuality?"

If someone said that to me, "I don't believe in homosexuality", I wouldn't call them bad or evil, though I might try to convince them they're wrong. Sexual preferences exist whether you believe in them or not.

> "Unless there's scientific proof, you will never change their minds."

You limited the terms to genetics. It may not be genetic. If it were, I suspect these same people would seek the "cure".

There's plenty of research on the subject, working theories and all. Can't claim to be up on them, to be honest.

The most interesting research I've read was into health aspects of homosexuality. By far the greatest risk discussed in each paper was depression related to discrimination and homophobia.


Holy f*ck you're a !"#!"#. "gay propaganda".

Not to mention practically state sponsored attacks on LGBT. The fact that you're at the top of this post scares the living crap out of me.


From HN Guidelines:

Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation.

When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is an idiotic thing to say; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."


I would tell you that in person, and honestly there is no argument that would convince you that human rights is not propaganda so technically there is no way of going forward here... Scratch that, I probably wouldn't converse with you.


I hope that most people would say the same thing as seivan in a face-to-face conversation. I know I would.


It's easy positive publicity. Same reason why AT&T "took a stand" against the anti-gay propaganda law. Same reason why some politicians are calling for a boycott against the Olympics. In fact, I'd wager it's the same reason why Google decided to publicly support the movement against SOPA some time ago.

If these companies were truly concerned about human rights, they would take a look at themselves first.


The mens ice skating team would want a word with you....


Just the West trying to make Russia look like the only barbarians in the world. Hoping that we all forget about the damage they (colonial powers) have inflicted on the world over the past centuries, not to mention the NSA crap going on now, what better to distract people than some vapid finger pointing at Russia for banning gay propaganda.


Stop muddying the waters with tangents. You clicked on the thread, we didn't collectively wander to earshot of your soapbox.


Cheap Trick 28: Point out someone elses past mistakes to distract from your crimes against humanity. (taken from "How to be a hardcore Dick-tator)


What is happening on this thread? Is this really a reflection of the community here at hn? I'm flabbergasted. Wake up, West coast, we need you!


This is embarrassing for the whole community. But I won't say it surprises me, I lost most of the hope while reading comments about anything gender related.


Google has been running a campaign for two years about gay rights and discouraging 'homophobia' (https://www.google.com/diversity/legalise-love.html). Also, three main sponsors of Olympics including AT&T have also spoken out against Russian laws.


I'm curious. Why the scare quotes?


Perhaps because "homophobia" isn't a good word for it.

Hitler wasn't a jewphobe.


It's a good word for it. It has an established meaning, it is universally understood, etc etc. The fundamental use of language is to communicate, and I don't really think homophobia fails in this respect. There are plenty of non-"good" words for other things in the English language that get used very often without people quoting them or complaining about their use.


If you went around capturing and torturing spiders, would you be called an arachnophobe?

It's just a bit silly. Yes, words get misused all the time, and English is imperfect, but this one just seems ridiculous to me.


Well, homophobia is generally supposed to be considered in the light of Yoda-ism "Fear leads to hate..."


Verging offtopic I guess but:

As an example though, I'm not a pedophileaphobe - I'm not afraid of pedophiles. I think what they do is wrong.

The number of people who are "afraid" of homosexuals is miniscule. Most people who you'd label "homophobic" actually just believe that homosexuality is wrong, not that it's scary.

So the "homophobic" tag is pretty silly.


They are not scared of homosexuals, but of homosexuality. It represents a threat to set values and a set way of living to certain individuals. If it wasn't considered a threat to those values, why suppress it? It's homophobia.


as trivial aversion do


> Also, three main sponsors of Olympics including AT&T have also spoken out against Russian laws.

"Spoken out", boohoo! So scary! They'd better put their money where their mouth is.


To be fair, they probably agreed to sponsor it long before the homophobic laws were even discussed.


So what? They should threaten to withdraw the sponsorship if they really think being associated with the homophobic laws is bad publicity for them.


In India, the Supreme Court recently quashed an appeal and made homosexuality an illegal act under Section 377. Its reasoning was that it is the law that must be changed and therefore it was a legislative act that was required to quash what is an obviously discriminatory law. I applaud Google for their stand on Russia, but I question why they didn't do the same thing in India. Conspiracy theorists would say because Russia is a strategic foe of the USA and India is not. I am not in that camp, but I do find the question interesting.


Because there's no Olympics in India right now?


Which means we shouldn't care about people in India getting arrested because they're gay?


Nobody said that - it's a strawman.


This whole thread is a masterclass in falsely framing arguments.


The discussion here is scary, very scary.


Indeed. If einhverfr and usaphp and their fans do in fact represent the majority opinion of this site (which they apparently do), this makes HN a very uncomfortable place to be.

It's for these reasons I prefer not to have political topics or anything regarding social injustice and religion on HN at all. I actually prefer not to know what most people here think of women, gay people, poor people, foreigners, atheists, you name it.

The interesting thing is that those same people can appear completely reasonable and enjoyable to talk with in most contexts relevant to hackers. But every once in a while a topic like this one comes along and you discover that they believe homosexual propaganda is a thing, that persecuting homosexuals is a valid move to maximize reproduction, and that we should respect oppressive systems because of their culture.


Agreed. I'm miserably uncomfortable with the pseudo-social-science veneer being splashed around in the name of supporting the repression of a minority culture.


The anti-gay laws are there not because the Russian government is homophobic. These laws were created to provoke reactions like this or http://youtu.be/0KWhaqr1v8s which will help to turn some strata of the Russian population firmly against the West and prepare ground for the new Iron Curtain. Thank you Google for helping Putin!


But to be fair, Google isn't the only one doing stupid stuff like this. Read this piece slowly and see if you notice what I noticed: http://www.alternet.org/world/us-evangelicals-fueled-rise-ru...

What I noticed was that while the author was male, with the exception of Medvedev (whose position on abortion he didn't talk about), every politician he attacked in the Russian government on the abortion issue was a woman. Evidently Russian women (according to Alternet and The Nation) cannot be trusted with setting abortion policy: that role must fall to Western men....


Tangentially related, but this is one of the most eloquent, simply stated views on the issue I've seen: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tomphillips/watch-an-irish-drag-quee...


That is stunningly good. What a powerful orator. Thank you for sharing.


That's an interesting grammatical choice of the word "upholds" in the title, OP. When I read "gay rights" and "upholds" together, I start thinking about the law. My first thought when opening this thread was trying to understand what role Google had in upholding the laws related to gay rights (I was clearly wrong haha). But then I thought about it - maybe you meant "supports" but English isn't your first language? They are technically synonyms - support and uphold - but, in common usage when discussing things like this, I think most English-as-first-language speakers would have used the word "supports" to avoid confusion with legal bodies.

Google Doodle Supports Gay Rights Ahead of Sochi Olympics


I get deeply uncomfortable when Google does something like this. In general I think it is easy to judge someone half a world away and it is very hard to get things right when looking across cultural barriers. I am going to give my perspective here as an American living in Indonesia and married to a Chinese-Indonesian.

One of the key issues that nobody looks at when they talk about this is very distinctly a collective lifestyle choice: retirement living and who retirees live with. This is undoubtedly a collective lifestyle choice, and societies tend to fall in one of two groups: retire with the kids (the international norm) or retire with the spouse.

This has tremendous implications for views on reproduction and hence sexuality. Not only is childlessness not a viable personal choice in retire-with-the-children cultures but same-sex couples can never have equality in such cultures. Even if you revert the controversial laws in Russia, they would be replaced with very binding social pressures that are not easily resisted.

Part of the reason is that as soon as the norm is that people retire with the kids, and as soon as this expectation is set, then parents get (and find ways to make actionable) a legitimate interest in who their children marry. This means that parents effectively have something nearly like a veto power over childrens' spousal choices but that veto can be overridden by "accidental" pregnancy. This fact effectively dooms the notion of equal rights for same-sex couples in such cultures, and in the end one is, I think, forced either to recognize an equivalent to social security payments as a human right or concede that actual access to same-sex marriage is not one.

Russia is in the retire-with-the-kids category, and as a result they have a strong interest in maintaining a sort of traditional family structure that has all but disappeared in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, etc, namely the multi-generation household. On the other hand, for cultures where the primary human contact in retirement is the spouse, then it is deeply unfair to deny people the choice of that relationship for whatever reason they want to spend that time with someone of the same sex (and the reason really is unimportant at that point).

As an American living in another retire-with-the-kids culture, I will say that such systems work and work out well for everyone, but that isn't a reason to perpetuate gross unfairness in the US.

So I stand in the awkward place of saying that most Western countries probably should look at legalizing same-sex marriage, but that a gay rights movement really would be deeply socially disruptive in a really bad way in much of the world (including Russia).

Like it or not, if we ever succeeded in remaking the world in the American image, we'd destroy the planet. If you don't believe me, look at per capita greenhouse gas emissions.


I'm not a person who usually weighs into these sort of debates, but I want to address something with you.

Your entire post is based on the premise that each culture's practices are all valid within the culture that they are practised within. This is demonstrably false. The fact that Russians support each other via a traditional heterosexual family unit does not in any way mean that someone who is gay should be discriminated against.

The whole premise of your argument is that gays cannot retire with children, so they will be a burden upon the state. That's absurd. What about those who are childless? Or remain single all their lives? Or lose a spouse early and never have children? Seems to me that such systems do not "work and work out well for everyone".


Your premise that Western culture's social norms are absolute and universal is far more dangerous than OP's idea of having each culture define its own practices. The West has a genocidal history of bringing "civilization" to other cultures that resulted in their decimation. I fear that colonial imperialism justified by "white man's burden" is being replaced with "human rights imperialism" where the Western dogma of human rights justifies invasion or manipulation of countries out of favor with the West. Case in point http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6f3rHZV5JQ discussion of US State Dept. Ambassador to Ukraine on how to install US chosen puppets in Ukraine.


Your premise that Western culture's social norms are absolute and universal is far more dangerous than OP's idea of having each culture define its own practices.

Yeah, I'm not.


I think the fundamental problem is that "human rights" don't really have a solid epistemology behind them, i.e. there is no real theory that allows one to objectively argue whether or not something is a human right. This means, effectively, that they become avenues to convert the world to one way of life.

The problem though is that solutions to social problems aren't free and what sorts of solutions the US can afford (and at what long-term cost!) are very different than what could be afforded in a place like Indonesia.

When I came to Indonesia it took me a long time to understand how things work here, and how much my preconceptions of what was socially good or bad got in the way. For example, police corruption is a functional part of society and it is politically constrained by prosecution. The police may be corrupt routinely in predictable ways that people accept, value, and work into the social order, but if they step out of line and accept bribes that go against the public interest, it's jail time.

Similarly contraception is not widely available to the unmarried. This is a part of the support for a retire-with-the-kids culture. If the unmarried are having sex, they are probably trying for a parental-veto-overriding pregnancy.

Instead of universal human rights, I think most rights are transversal, and apply to a subset of all cultures based on understandable and objective criteria. Abortion as a right is relative to careerism and an economy that cannot handle the realities of family (i.e. Western Capitalism). Same-sex marriage is dependent on independent retirement. So forth.

As for an epistemological basis I would go back to Cicero's statement that there are functional requirements for people to live together in cities. Those functional requirements o course can be met many different ways, but certain patterns have implications, which pose additional social imperatives.

So by the function for civil living together and the functioning of society are how rights are to be known and tested and that's the epistemological basis I would give. I would also add that the CAP Theorem as applied to human communications implies a social imperative to individual and local autonomy.


> Your entire post is based on the premise that each culture's practices are all valid within the culture that they are practised within.

Not really. I will explain below.

> This is demonstrably false.

While I would not necessarily agree with the validity view you said, I don't think it is demonstrably false. Please demonstrate that it is false in a way unbiased by your own cultural assumptions of autonomy.

> The fact that Russians support each other via a traditional heterosexual family unit does not in any way mean that someone who is gay should be discriminated against.

Define discriminated against. Is a retire-with-the-kids culture where parents get to say no to spousal choices (but won't if he's made her pregnant) inherently discriminatory?

> The whole premise of your argument is that gays cannot retire with children, so they will be a burden upon the state.

No. My point was that same-sex couples can't have equality if only opposite-sex couples get a veto override (via "accidental" pregnancy) against parental objections. If equality is the goal, one cannot tolerate a retire with the kids culture because parents have so much power over childrens' choice of marriage partners, and this is inherently greater with regard to same-sex couples.

I don't think you read what I wrote very carefully.

As for the cultural validity piece, as I said, I would come back to it. I don't think it can be demonstrated to be false, because cultures function in different ways to the point where apples to apples comparisons are essentially impossible, and so any comparison comes from assumptions, passed on by culture, which determine the conclusion. But at the same time there are certain problems that can't be easily addressed by a position of pure cultural relativity. In my view, these come in two forms: inter-group disputes and breakdown of institutions.

The first includes things like intercontinental slave trade, Germany gassing Polish Jews, Japan's brutal treatment of various occupied areas in WWII, colonial treatment of Africa and Asia, treatment of Native Americans by the US government, etc. You can't solve an intergroup dispute by assuming that both sides are valid actors, so what one is left with is a political resolution.

The second issue is the question of the breakdown of institutions. If a practice is perfectly valid in a culture, then institutions should be perfect, but they aren't anywhere. I think that critique of cultural institutions from a context sympathetic to the culture is a worthwhile endeavor.


Please demonstrate that it is false in a way unbiased by your own cultural assumptions of autonomy.

Just to make sure you understood me, I'm saying that not all cultural practices can be viewed as intrinsically good within that culture by an outside viewer. I can assure you that the practice of female genital "circumcision" is abhorent regardless of whether you are in the culture or not.

Given that cultures change their morality and practices, it often means that there are cultural practices that are accepted that are abhorent within a culture that are changed at a later time.

Define discriminated against. Is a retire-with-the-kids culture where parents get to say no to spousal choices (but won't if he's made her pregnant) inherently discriminatory?

Well, yes. It means that the person has discriminated against the other. Ergo, that's inherently discriminatory. That's not from a value-judgement, that's definitional.

My point was that same-sex couples can't have equality if only opposite-sex couples get a veto override (via "accidental" pregnancy) against parental objections.

Well, that's royally screwed up in its own right then. But you're right, I don't think I did understand what you were saying. I stand corrected on this point.

I'd just like to end this to say that not all cultural practices are equal. There are some that are fundamentally wrong, and some that are just different, but equally valid. That's really the only point I was making. Discrimination against gays by the state is one of those issues.


> I can assure you that the practice of female genital "circumcision" is abhorent regardless of whether you are in the culture or not.

Your assurances are different from demonstration. I asked for demonstration. If it is so clear that this is objectively true, how would you demonstrate it to someone who fully adopts the culture in question? Until you can do that, I don't think you have demonstrated anything other than "we feel horrified" which is a basic view that "these things are self-evident." The problem though is that what is self-evident depends on culture.

> Well, yes. It means that the person has discriminated against the other. Ergo, that's inherently discriminatory. That's not from a value-judgement, that's definitional.

So now we understand that if discrimination against same-sex couples is a human rights violation and retire-with-the-kids cultures are inherently discriminatory in this respect, then a cultural expectation to retire with family is a violation of human rights, right? This is just Aristotelian logic here. Hence my proposition, that one must choose between an equivalent to social security payments being a human right and access to same-sex marriage not being.

> I'd just like to end this to say that not all cultural practices are equal.

I actually never said they were. I think all cultures are open to critique but I think that critique is most productive (and more likely to be on the mark) when one treats the culture as a whole as a generally good, functional system.


OK. It causes massive damage to a woman's reproductive organs. Not sure how else it should be demonstrated. They'll probably disagree, but now it is they who are wrong, not me.


Not all forms do. The words describe a wide variety of practices. Some are significantly less intrusive than male circumcision, some are far more intrusive.

What you are missing in your demonstration is an understanding of how the practice fits into society, and so why women would be willing to have it done. In at least Sudan it is in part a status symbol and therefore is important for upper class women to do to preserve marriage options. This is particularly true in cases where re-doing the intibation after divorce is important.

I think if one starts at this point, it is easier to say "ok, so this is why you do it. But here are the health implications, so something to think about."

But additionally if you go that route, I think you'd have to be totally up in arms over this: http://www.gynsecondopinion.com/hysterectomy.htm (statistics in how many women get hysterectomies in the US that are medically unnecessary by international standards).


So lets refine this to forced female circumcision. You just changed the playing field there, I see what you did! Are you saying that it's OK in any culture to have it forced upon you against your consent?


> So lets refine this to forced female circumcision.

Is "if you don't get this done, then you will have to marry below your class" forced? If so then no changing of the playing field. If not, then let me pose a different question:

There's an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea called the Sambia. The Sambia have as part of their coming of age ceremony for males a required element where they must become men by, well, consuming manliness (and giving tribal elders oral sex). Is this a violation of human rights even if one cannot show harm? I mean we might look at it and say it is not freely consented sexual conduct with a minor....


No. More like "I'm going to catch you, hold you down whilst you struggle, and circumcise you". Please give me an answer to this one. I'm genuinely curious as to what this will be.

Incidentally, that example you give is sexual abuse. It should be stopped.


> No. More like "I'm going to catch you, hold you down whilst you struggle, and circumcise you". Please give me an answer to this one.

It's hard to have any social autonomy without some degree of bodily autonomy. If the line is between catch/hold down and merely exiling those who refuse, I would be fine with such a line. Without social autonomy nothing can get done, so there is a social imperative to individual autonomy subject to social obligations.

Now once one has not avoided a ritual context though, I don't know that I would draw the line at exiting a ritual. Otherwise you have problems with some aboriginal groups which, say, have someone pretending to be a legendary monster hold down young men and extract a tooth as part of a coming of age ceremony. Condemning something like that is in essence to take away aboriginal culture rights on the basis of white man's fiat which strikes me as very dangerous.


So what you are essentially saying is that there are indeed some things that can be said to be unacceptable, even though they are practiced and accepted by a particular culture.


But then the question is, who is responsible to change them and, if the culture at issue is unable to change the problems what can be done to enable them to move things in the direction they collectively desire.

If something is acceptable it still doesn't necessarily mean that the question of who gets to decide what to do about it goes away. I still think that those questions have to rest with people from the culture.

I certainly don't think that a social expectation to retire with the kids falls in that category even if it forecloses an ideal of equality for same-sex couples.


That's an interesting question, and not one that I asked.


just to clue you in on a little known secret, gays don't normally have children. in the traditional heterosexual family unit kind of way that is....


I just checked for numbers about this, and I found this interesting study... [1] The full study is here [2]

TL;DR: Around 15-20% of same-sex couples are rising children

[1] http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/press-releases/a...

[2] http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gat...


When science works out a way of making this happen, your head is going to explode.


It'll probably be the same time science makes it possible for you to request your unborn baby be ensured to be "not gay".

So there's plusses and minuses to science...


Which will mean that you can request your unborn baby will definitely be gay. His head is still going to explode.


But that would still mean that one would be able to relegate being gay to the status of a birth defect in that case, right?

One of the problems I see here is that debate seems to go between the "Gays are bad people" crowd and the rebuttal of "but they can't help it" with one side calling the other homophobic.

And yet in Western culture, it seems almost certain that men are becoming increasingly less free to express anything that might possibly be interpreted as gay.


I feel like it is the opposite in western culture, express any views which go against the flavour du jour and you are branded a bigot, a homophobe, a xenophobe, <!-- Add -phobe here -->.


It's funny. I think we've misordered our ideals. Tolerance, diversity, and freedom have been set up as goals in themselves, but then this means that perceived intolerance (and indeed it is anything perceived as intolerant) towards the wrong groups must not be tolerated, and hence diversity cannot accommodate real cultural or viewpoint diversity. It also means that freedom is more and more regulated, as if there was no real tradeoff between perfect justice and perfect freedom (but anyone who believes that should read Plato's Republic!).

I think, actually, these must be set up in the service of something else. If we have these in the service of self-improvement and learning, then we tolerate and appreciate diversity because we know that we can only learn where there is disagreement, and we respect freedom because without a right to make mistakes there can be no growth.


I keep trying with my partner and we have yet to have kids.


Which branch of science are you in?


I am surprised that this is the top comment. It appears that quite a few folks here do not believe that the right to sexuality is a basic human right. I believe that it is, but I will backpedal and start here:

First, the intentions behind the law must be separated from its function. Unrelated example: intention of laws allowing our government to spy on everyone may be good, but in practice lead to a lot of problems.

Regarding Russia's law in question, the stated intention is to protect children, however the law itself is vague and targets simply the "promotion" of homosexuality. A translation I read here said: "...it is necessary to establish measures to ensure intellectual, moral and mental security of children, including the prohibition onto perform any act aimed at the promotion of homosexuality."

This is incredibly vague.

Now for Russia's track record: There is no law in Russia that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people, and violent crimes against them receive little (any?) attention from authorities. In fact, police are known to use violence against them.

How do you think this new law will be interpreted? It won't be good. It's bad enough that the country doesn't protect gays from discrimination, but now they have passed a law that will likely encourage it. Can gay people now legallly hold hands in public? Gay parents in Russia are now unsure of how their communication with their children, their children's friends etc., could be construed as promoting homosexuality.

You believe "that a gay rights movement really would be deeply socially disruptive in a really bad way in much of the world (including Russia)." I believe that any human rights movement concerning religion, race, color, sexuality, gender, class, political affiliation, etc. is always a good thing. It is always good because humans should be treated equally.


> It appears that quite a few folks here do not believe that the right to sexuality is a basic human right. I believe that it is, but I will backpedal and start here:

So, to be clear, would you say that human rights are faith-based? I.e. are they whatever the individual believes they are? If not, what other basis can they have?

> First, the intentions behind the law must be separated from its function.

To some extent, yes. But as I think you are getting at below, you can't separate either, really, from enforcement, and I would point out you can't separate enforcement from local politics.

> Can gay people now legallly hold hands in public?

Given what I know of Russian culture, I doubt that would be seen as gay.

> You believe "that a gay rights movement really would be deeply socially disruptive in a really bad way in much of the world (including Russia)." I believe that any human rights movement concerning religion, race, color, sexuality, gender, class, political affiliation, etc. is always a good thing. It is always good because humans should be treated equally.

I think you need to define "treated equally." There are plenty of cases where facial equality is in fact not equal at all. The lack of women as new tech founders is not caused by a lack of facial equality, but due to the differences in how a facially equal culture affects men and women differently. If you were planning on starting a family within a few years and knew it would cause an earnings hit, would you work long hours with uneven paychecks for uncertain rewards?

But let's look at specifics. The problem is intergenerational duties and interests. Strong intergenerational duties tend to be associated with difficulty remarrying after having kids, retirement with the kids, strong, enforcible interest in who one's children may marry, and so forth. In such an environment, there is no way to have equality because the tool of last resort to overthrow parental opinion (premarital sex resulting in pregnancy) is unavailable to same-sex couples.

This means, to have equality you have to:

1. Isolate children from their parents, at least as of adolescence and adulthood.

2. Isolate parents from their children in retirement.

These are the things I think would be harmful, in fact so harmful that I don't support internationalizing such movements.

Now obviously we do both of these things in the US, but most of the world doesn't and the question is what right do we have to redefine the parent/child relationship as necessary to give equality on the basis of our notions of sexual orientation.


So your argument (which I find interesting and worth keeping in mind) is that due to the existing societal construction, having equal rights for a specific minority would be deeply socially disruptive.

And not just disruptive, but disruptive in a bad way, so bad that it's better (according to some reasonable criteria) to continue with the status quo, at least for the time being. Hence, it's problematic to pressure those societies to change.

That seems pretty harsh. Minority rights issues very often involve major social disruptions, and social disruption is often "bad" in its immediate effects -- social violence, strife -- and often has long term effects -- difficult economic shifts and reorganisation as in your description.

But where do you draw the line? The same argument would apply -- and, I'm sure, was made -- referring to a society reliant on slave labor.


> And not just disruptive, but disruptive in a bad way, so bad that it's better (according to some reasonable criteria) to continue with the status quo, at least for the time being. Hence, it's problematic to pressure those societies to change.

Yes. That's a fair characterization.

> That seems pretty harsh. Minority rights issues very often involve major social disruptions, and social disruption is often "bad" in its immediate effects -- social violence, strife -- and often has long term effects -- difficult economic shifts and reorganisation as in your description.

Minority rights issues are usually borne by groups across generations. The question at issue here is not but rather is borne by individuals or, at the the largest scale, couples.

In other words, if you deprive the Native Americans of land and capital, in 20 generations they will still be in poverty. Trust that wage labor will lift former slaves out of poverty and a hundred and fifty years later, blacks will be under far more crushing poverty than whites. Almost all of the minority rights issues in the US have been of this kind.

And I would add, particularly regarding racial minorities, our treatment of the issues as individual rights issues instead of problems to be solved by communities and families has been a tremendous part of the problem. Too bad Sherman didn't get his way with his 40 acres and a mule plan.

> But where do you draw the line? The same argument would apply -- and, I'm sure, was made -- referring to a society reliant on slave labor.

I guess we should stop looking back at Greece and Rome as great civilizations then, right? ;-)

Honestly your question is particularly loaded because although slavery has meant many different things in different places, our national experience was with a particularly bad kind. I don't know that merely calling something slavery would be enough. I don't condemn the Greek or Roman slavery systems even though I do condemn the tarns-continental slave trade bringing Africans to the New World.

I think you have to ask how slavery fits into society, what structural protections there are for slaves, what incentives there are for freeing slaves, and how the descendants of freed slaves are treated. In societies where slavery is a revolving door and descendants of freed slaves are citizens, I might not condemn that. In a case like the US where descendants were not eligible for citizenship and where slavery was an inter-group, phenomenon with no protections structural or otherwise, yeah I would condemn that, but part of what made that so offensive was the intergroup aspects. American slavery could not have survived in its form if slavery was used as a way to pay off one's own debts for example (as it was in Rome).


(I don't normally let myself get tricked into 'discussions' like this, but this particular instance is... how shall I put it... as perplexing as it is disgusting).

If you're a troll, you're certainly putting a lot of effort into it, and bravo to you.

But if you're not, then you're basically someone who is not only defending the violent persecution of people of a certain sexual persuasion with an abstract hand-wavy 'collective good' argument, but also defending slavery in the face of facts like the slave woman in West Africa just a few years ago who give birth to a child after she was raped by her owner, took care of it as well as her situation let her, only to come back one day to her hut with the baby laying dead before it, died of the intense heat, because her owner wouldn't let her take the baby into the field because she'd work harder without it.[x]

If you honestly can read this article without getting a chill down your spine after the first two paragraphs, and are in an intellectually honest way (again, if you're trolling, well done) going to try to defend slavery, or even the Russian form of non-hetero discrimination, I can offer you no answer but the advise to seek mental health help asap, because you need it.

[x] http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2012/03/world/mauritania....


The question as posed was whether one would condemn a culture for depending on slavery. If we should then we shouldn't look to Greece and Rome as shining high points in civilization. What I was trying to get at is what distinguished Greek and Roman slavery from the American experience.

But my point also isn't about violent persecution particularly. If you have a culture where it is expected that one will retire with the kids, then it is a social duty to get married to someone of the opposite sex and have kids if possible, because otherwise you are a burden to someone else's kids. If your goal is equality you can't tolerate that and must persecute that model. There is no other way around it because of the power dynamics across generations will always favor heterosexual couples in such an environment. If that's acceptable, and the only objection is to the propaganda law then that's one thing. If the goal is equality, though, you can't stop there.


I know full well what the question was, and you responded to it by saying that some forms of slavery are OK. Not sure what forms those would be, while still being 'slavery' for every reasonable definition of it, but still.

I can't read what you say in another way than 'same-sex couples are a drag on society, therefore we need to suppress them'? (And preferably 'convert' them, too? Your argument doesn't make sense unless you force a gay person to live a heterosexual life, or at least to make them have children?)

And you're defending this based on 'equality', because only people who have children can be equal in society - i.e. everybody needs to pull his weight and have children?

"There is no other way around it because of the power dynamics across generations will always favor heterosexual couples in such an environment."

What does that even mean? Heterosexual people have the evolutionary edge, because they are the only ones procreating; therefore we need to stomp out everything else?

(I can't believe I'm actually replying to this, it's like arguing on stormfront.org)


> I know full well what the question was, and you responded to it by saying that some forms of slavery are OK. Not sure what forms those would be, while still being 'slavery' for every reasonable definition of it, but still.

Ok, let's look at Rome for example. The reason I find Roman slavery relatively non-objectionable is a combination of a couple of factors:

1. Political incentives by owners to free slaves (i.e. freedom alters but does not obliterate mutual obligation, and therefore freed slaves are valuable to a household). Over time this meant that a relatively large percentage of slaves would be freed within their lifetimes, and their children would grow up to be citizens of Rome.

2. A major source of slavery was in essence an exchange of a subsistence guarantee for a loss of autonomy. This is not different in kind (though it is in degree on both sides of the equation) from the modern relationship between salaried employee and his or her employer.

3. The loss of autonomy of a slave in Rome was less than it was in many other societies. Slaves could and did belong to professional organizations, for example, and many of these had rules about how to conduct funerals of a slave member if the master failed to deliver the body.

4. There were legal restrictions which highlight some of this. For example, a father could not sell a given son into slavery more than three times (see the Twelve Tables). Such a rule would make no sense if slavery was less constrained.

The result there was a sort of revolving door between slavery and freedom and it meant, effectively, that abuses of slavery could and were politically controlled. This is fundamentally different than in the US where slavery was between racial groups, there were no incentives to free slaves and so forth.

> "What does that even mean?"

Very simple. If it is a cultural norm to retire with the kids, then parents have an interest in their children marrying someone that they can quite literally live with. Parents will find ways of making this interest stick on their side. For example, arranged marriages may be a part of that in some cultures, and in places like Indonesia, parents get an effective veto over a marriage license. This makes sense to some extent because parents are parties which are fully invested in such marriages, and therefore really are parties to the marriage.

However, at the same time, honor and image matter. Consequently, parents will yield on vetos (or hasten to "arrange" marriages) where this ends up not undermining their larger political interests in society. This means, effectively that "look-- they are bad parents. Their son got so-and-so pregnant...." or "their daughter got pregnant and was abandoned" are very much against the parental interests. Therefore "accidental" pregnancy is a way to coerce parents into going along with a preferred match even if the conventions are arranged marriage or a parental veto.

This veto override is solely the product of heterosexual reproduction and therefore is not available to same-sex couples.

What I am getting at is that same-sex marriage may indeed follow from (and I think probably does follow from) modern American ideals and functions of marriage. However those are both modern and American, and older models have very different dynamics attached.

> (I can't believe I'm actually replying to this, it's like arguing on stormfront.org)

I think the difficulty is that as an American who has now lived in Indonesia for two years (and has always loved reading history including for example Plutarch), my cultural assumptions have shifted a bit. The problem with arguing where assumptions are not shared is that all too often the assumptions are determinative and therefore it becomes impossible to argue without running into that problem.

But since I mentioned Plutarch, I am going to mention one other huge assumption that is usually made in these debates, namely that the choice is between oppression of people who prefer same-sex relationships for whatever reason (and to be honest I don't think the reason matters), and full equality up to and including same-sex marriage.

The problem with this is that it assumes that identifying with sexuality and sexual preferences it itself universal, but this isn't really fully true (for example see Foucault's "History of Sexuality"). Identity and how it relates to sexuality is a very complex thing, and culture forms a large part of the gap. It's worth remembering that as Plutarch portrays Sparta, pederasty and wife swapping formed functional political institutions (though the former would almost certainly have been heavily constrained due to Greek concerns about sexual abuse, believe it or not, something Aristotle discusses a great deal in Politics, and there's no real reason to think that Sparta had a different construction of gender and sexuality in this regard).

The fact is, cultures have very different ways of navigating the vast spectrum of human sexuality. I think there is a certain arrogance in assuming we have a better understanding of such matters than the ancient Greeks, for example, did. The assumption that our approach to understanding human sexuality is the only objectively correct approach is wrong, and that's a big part of the problem.


So by condemning particular kinds of slavery, you mean to say in those cases it is sensible to pressure another society to change that aspect, despite wide-reaching socioeconomic consequences and the consequential "badness" caused by this disruption. Right? That is, this is where you'd consider drawing the line?

And, going back to the previous paragraph, this is fundamentally because these kinds of slavery are cross-generational, that is they persist not just for a group of people but also for their (biological) descendants. This tends to create particularly powerful economic barriers for those discriminated against, so powerful in fact that they persist long after their legal basis has been abolished. Huh! Interesting!

So that seems like a sensible argument why discriminating against traits that are inherited -- particularly biologically (e.g. color of skin) but also socially (e.g. religion, ethnicity) -- is especially destructive.

Setting aside whether or not or to what degree homosexuality may actually fit in that category, another difference is that homosexuality is not primarily about economic discrimination. I think it's reasonable to say it works on a more fundamental level than economic racial or even gender discrimination -- it's not "you're not getting that job because you're black/a woman", it's essentially "you may not be -- or at least not openly be -- what you are".

(I hasten to add that particularly in societies where this more fundamental level of equality is reached, there is also discussion about economic discrimination.)


> So by condemning particular kinds of slavery, you mean to say in those cases it is sensible to pressure another society to change that aspect, despite wide-reaching socioeconomic consequences and the consequential "badness" caused by this disruption. Right? That is, this is where you'd consider drawing the line?

I have trouble imagining such cases which are not effectively intergroup disputes. There seems to be a fundamental difference between enslaving one's own people and enslaving "the other." if there is even a significant portion of one's own people, then protections for slaves become political.

If it is fully of another group, then you have an inter-group dispute and that's properly settled between groups.

> I think it's reasonable to say it works on a more fundamental level than economic racial or even gender discrimination -- it's not "you're not getting that job because you're black/a woman", it's essentially "you may not be -- or at least not openly be -- what you are".

Now you have a problem, which is that identity is complicated and socially constrained. As Michel Foucault pointed out, up until relatively modern times, sexuality wasn't really a point of identity. That leads to the problem of who gets to decide what these constructs of identity are?

It seems to me the more fundamental issue is that a concept of heterosexual identity is dependent on an opposition to a concept of homosexual identity and so cultures may accept both as valid identities or simply eschew the whole concept of identification with sexuality completely. It's tempting to look at the latter as homophobic but I am not sure it is more homophobic than the former, for if people identifying as homosexual are insisted to be perpetually a small minority, then they are necessarily "othered" by the distinction.


> One of the key issues that nobody looks at when they talk about this is very distinctly a collective lifestyle choice: retirement living and who retirees live with. This is undoubtedly a collective lifestyle choice, and societies tend to fall in one of two groups: retire with the kids (the international norm) or retire with the spouse.

Children being the primary source of retirement support is the norm whenever there isn't a strong social support network; it was pretty much a universal norm in the US until fairly recently historically. Strong social support networks change this, and, by changing it, also change social incentives in a way which leads to a reduction in natural population growth.

> Russia is in the retire-with-the-kids category, and as a result they have a strong interest in maintaining a sort of traditional family structure that has all but disappeared in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, etc, namely the multi-generation household.

Being in the retire-with-kids category -- e.g., lacking strong public old-age support -- means they have a strong economic incentive for individuals to behave in a way which maintains that family structure, independently of people's natural inclinations. But it doesn't produce any justification for other people to discriminate against people who don't choose a lifestyle conducive to natural production of children, whether or not homosexuality is involved in it. After all, in such a system, your adult children's children are competing with you for resources when you retire.


Isn't that proving my hypothesis that you have to choose between an equivalent to social security payments being a human right and same-sex marriage not being?


I agree with chris_wot but i'll answer you directly. 1% or even 3% of the population being gay and displaying their homosexuality in public is not going to destroy the traditional family. Everybody is not going to turn gay because the law allow them to be what they want to be.

On the other hand, Google getting political is just ridiculous. I dont expect my ISP or any service provider to get political,(at least display it on their homepage) because they might end up defending a cause I dont support one day,their job is to provide a service, not to alienate half of their customers.


I think the point though is that equality for same-sex couples and a cultural expectation to retire with the children are not really compatible. If you have the latter, then the parents have more power over the spousal choices of the children but "accidental" pregnancy is almost always across cultures a good veto override. Since this is only available to opposite-sex couples, this gives parents very strong ways of discriminating against children in same-sex relationships.

So my point is that the traditional family in the sense of three or more generations living under one root, sharing meals, and there being reciprocal care duties between parents and children cannot allow the equality folks are talking about. Destroying that (and establishing the American-style family and retirement as the norm) is a prerequisite to any meaningful equality and that's the source of my objection.


Your post is well written and logically consistent. If you're a troll, you're a very good one. However...

...it is also the logical and moral equivalent of a defense of slavery on the grounds that it would be extremely disruptive to abolish it in a society that is organised around its existence.

You say that the gay rights would be "deeply socially disruptive in a really bad way" for Russia. True! And the civil rights movement was deeply socially disruptive for the Jim Crow South, just as the abolition of slavery was deeply socially disruptive for the antebellum South even earlier. And that's okay, because societies that are structured around the systemic oppression of out groups deserve to be disrupted in a "really bad way".

Your entire post boils down to "but Russia is a really bad place, thus it doesn't need fixing". This does not follow. Explaining how discrimination against gays is part of the fabric of Russia does not mean that Russia is a better place than Western critics had thought, it means it is much much worse.


> ...it is also the logical and moral equivalent of a defense of slavery on the grounds that it would be extremely disruptive to abolish it in a society that is organised around its existence.

If slavery is structured such that the interests are aligned well enough to politically constrain abuses, yes, and I would argue it would be a defence for the sorts of slavery that existed in the ancient world.

However, regarding the American experience and the intercontinental slave trade, this wasn't the case. You can't take a group of people, subject them to total oppression with nobody to stand up for them, and even insist that if they are freed, their children, born in freedom can never be citizens.

The difference is that in Rome, slavery served a vital social function and the abuses could be constrained because slaves very often had citizen family. In the US, it served merely an economic function and had no alignment of interests.

Livy talks about the controversy concerning the rule in the Twelve Tables that a father could not sell a son into slavery more than three times. Such a non-permanent slavery is not at all comparable to what we saw in American history.

I think the key thing is, one important aspect of retirement with the kids is that it is an important way by which interests are aligned across generations. Parents are far more invested in their children's success, for example. Taking that away due to a notion that it is unfair to some people is a problem.


I said "And the civil rights movement was deeply socially disruptive for the Jim Crow South, just as the abolition of slavery was deeply socially disruptive for the antebellum South even earlier."

And you replied "If slavery is structured such that the interests are aligned well enough to politically constrain abuses..."

Well, yes. A situation which clearly did not pertain in the specific examples I gave, rendering the rest of your comment irrelevant. And if the oppression of gays in Russia was structured in a way that wasn't brutal, cruel, and a denial of basic human rights, it wouldn't be so terrible...and if frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their ass when they hopped.

(I'm not going to even touch on your characterization of slavery in Rome, since it just doesn't matter. Your argument is that slavery was (somehow!) good for the Roman slaves, but unless you want to argue that the oppression gays are currently experiencing in Russia is somehow good for them too (please, I'd love to hear it!), then this entire example is a pointless derailment. Which is why, incidentally, I was careful to specify slavery in the antebellum south, and not slavery in general. I am comparing two—three counting Jim Crow—situations that are unambiguously bad for the victims, and I think you wouldn't be so desperate to talk about Rome if you didn't realize this.)

TL;DR: You managed to write an awful lot while very carefully avoiding every point I made. My troll-o-meter is starting to flash...


No I didn't avoid it. Slavery in the South was an inter-group problem and because the groups were fully static over generations, it's properly a place for intergroup pressure.

It is an argument to be cautious though and I think reconstruction failed because it was orchestrated on the plans of industrialist Northerners rather than those who had direct personal experience with what was going on. If Sherman's 40 acres and a mule plan had been implemented race would be different in America today.


You're pretending that Rome didn't make war to capture slaves.

(Or captured hundreds of thousands of slaves as a result of conquest; phrase it however you like and it still looks pretty awful)


> You're pretending that Rome didn't make war to capture slaves.

There were a critical mass of Roman slaves, and this meant a strong set of social institutions to support feeing them. That there were POW slaves doesn't undermine that.


POW is a loaded term and really doesn't in any way apply to someone who was abducted and taken as a slave.

Even just the English phrase "prisoner of war" implies the ongoing servitude was somehow linked to the war, when really it was linked to the owners ability and desire to keep the person captive.


It isn't less loaded than an American, in the stream of American history calling the system of servitude in Rome "slavery" as if it is the same thing as the American slave trade.

My point is, servitude that can't be just walked away from (whether it was entered into initially voluntarily or not) covers a huge spectrum of institutions and these have a wide variety in terms of capacity for abuse. A system which takes people from another continent, frees very few of them, and has essentially no rights to them (and few rights to freed slaves or their descendants) is ripe for abuse in a way that "revolving door slavery" of the sort the Romans had was not.

Several important points about Roman slavery are worth repeating:

1. The largest source of Roman slaves (at least from the surveys I have looked at) appear to have been debt slaves -- people being sold into slavery by their parents or selling themselves into slavery to pay debts.

2. Children of freed slaves were citizens (the United States, OTOH settled the question with a "no" in Dred Scott v. Sanford, categorically barring not only slaves like the petitioner, but also the descendants of freed slaves, from citizenship status).

3. Freedom was a transformation, not a total release from, the mutual obligations to the former owner. Consequently, freed men in Rome were an important source of political support, and a fairly large percentage of slaves could expect freedom in their lifetimes.

4. The revolving door had a tendency to revolve so fast that at one point Rome restricted the practice of selling one's children repeatedly into slavery, by insisting that if a father sold his son into slavery three times, the son would be emancipated from the control of the father. Livy mentions this was very controversial.

As for prisoners of war, what you have to understand is that if captured (whether a combatant or not) there were very few legal rights one had. That meant effectively that slavery, compared to freedom without family, actually meant some degree of protection. This protection would not go away on freedom, but neither would an obligation to support politically and otherwise the former master. This meant, effectively, that slavery was an institution by which prisoners of war achieved a degree of protection otherwise not available and, should they later be freed, a degree of economic support.


It took until the second century for there to be any restrictions on a Roman killing one of their slaves. For a while after that they just had to have a reason.

That paints a clear enough picture of what was going on.


And yet for those without family, there was nobody to prosecute their murder even not being a slave. If you had no real legal protection anyone could kill you. If you were a slave, only your owner could. That's still a major step up.


When one person (legally) holds the life of another in their hands, you can't have "interests are aligned well enough".

That it is not the worst aspect of said society is not especially relevant.


So... gay people should leave the country or suck it up and breed?


If the support for the retirees is their children (as it has been in most times and places), what other choice is there?

It's worth noting that Aristotle (who wrote quite a bit about the merits and limitations of male-male sexual relationships) articulated marriage for the Greek world as a purely heterosexual institution for that reason (and therefore same-sex relationships were relegated to being in parallel to reproductive marriage and subject to certain productive limits).


I bet they wont to the same with the World Cup and the United Arab Emirates ,too much oil there, hypocrites. And what about India? and all the other countries where homosexuality is a crime ?


> I bet they wont to the same with the World Cup and the United Arab Emirates ,too much oil there, hypocrites.

Russia is the largest producer of oil in the world, smart guy. I don't imagine oil has a stranglehold on Google anyways. Maybe you have your angry phrases mixed up?

For the rest: http://www.google.com/diversity/legalise-love.html


the background image for Google Now on my phone is also rainbow themed

http://i.imgur.com/sgfXgvs.png


If Google does something it isn't automatically on topic of 'hacker news'..

From HN guidelines:

>Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon ... If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.

...

>If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on the "flag" link.


Channel 4 in the UK also has added the rainbow to its logo for the week, but Google didnt go as far, C4 have a "Gay Mountain" video too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6RID82Ru-k


I can't help but feel that Russia making homosexuality illegal is a simple troll-move. Have the world go ballistic, so noone will look at the things that are truly important (not saying gay rights aren't important, but in Russia it's less than a drop in the ocean).

I think we're all feeding the troll.


since when did Russia make homosexuality illegal? It's still illegal in Texas. What Russia made illegal was promoting the, 'alternative lifestyle' to minors.


Homosexuality has not been illegal in any manner in the US or any US state since the Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003, which overturned the last few state holdouts on this issue. And don't kid yourself about what some ignorant thugs in Russia have made illegal...


Homosexuality stopped being illegal in Russia in 1993 (http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A3%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%BE%...).


Moreover, being homosexual was never illegal in the first place; it was sodomy laws that made gay sex (and, in many cases, any non-vaginal sex by anyone) a crime.

These laws were used as tools to specifically target gay people, but I make the distinction because gay speech, the issue in Russia right now, has always been protected by the first amendment.


Interestingly, Justice O'Connor filed an opinion concurring in judgement in Lawrence where she would have only struck down laws that singled out same-sex conduct, allowing laws to remain on the books if they included opposite-sex conduct too.


how progressive...


except, expressing the fact that you're gay in public is seen as promoting it to minors. So for all intents and purposes: being gay without pretending to be straight is illegal.


It appears this story has hit the flame filter.




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