Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Not Terribly Thoughtful

I'm going to disagree with Ed's characterization of Leonard Pitts' comments on DADT; I don't find them to be particularly thoughtful. Specifically:

I have never understood how a people -- meaning individuals bonded by some racial, sexual, religious or geographical commonality -- can be immoral. Is it immoral to be Jewish? Immoral to be male? Is it immoral to hail from Idaho? How, then, can it be immoral to be gay?...
This statement overlooks a fundamental distinction: some of the traits that Leonard singles out are accidents of geography or biology over which the individual has little or no control, while others represent volitional behavior. The failure to recognize this distinction represents willful obtuseness in the very least.

I can think of no moral system that would condemn males for being male. The capacity for moral action requires the ability to choose alternatives; there is no way for a person to choose to have not been born male. Its an absolutely immutable fact which lies outside the realm of moral discourse.

There is a large element of choice, on the other hand, to the practice of religion. People can, and do, change their religion and their professed beliefs all the time. This places religion and religious affiliation within the realm of moral discourse; its a perfectly legitimate activity to question the morality of a particular set of beliefs.

If one believes that homosexuality is, in part, a matter of choice, that then brings it into the sphere of personal morality. Leonard has mis-characterized his disagreement with General Pace; his concern lies not with the fact that General Pace has examined homosexuality through a moral lens, but rather that General Pace has examined it and found it lacking. Overlooking this distinction essentially calls into question General Pace's right to have an opinion at all, a practice which should certainly be avoided. He's entitled to form an opinion, even if its one with which Leonard might disagree.


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