If you were searching for something online on Monday, you no doubt noticed this Google Doodle:
November 4 was the birthday of Shakuntala Devi. She was an arithmetically-gifted child prodigy who could do seemingly impossible calculations in her head. Initially that was her claim to fame. But she was also celebrated later for writing an important book on homosexuality in 1977, The World of Homosexuals, which Wikipedia calls “the first study of homosexuality in India.” Here’s more from the site:
The book, considered “pioneering”, features interviews with two young Indian homosexual men, a male couple in Canada seeking legal marriage, a temple priest who explains his views on homosexuality, and a review of the existing literature on homosexuality. It ends with a call for decriminalising homosexuality, and “full and complete acceptance—not tolerance and not sympathy”.
Long before anyone had ever heard of Shakuntala Devi, there was Sigmund Freud, who also had an interest in homosexuality, albeit in a time when it was poorly understood. The Skeptic’s Dictionary plainly states that Sigmund Freud’s personal invention, known as psychoanalysis, is,
the granddaddy of all pseudoscientific psychotherapies, second only to Scientology as the champion purveyor of false and misleading claims about the mind, mental health, and mental illness.
An example of such nonsense, as the Dictionary points out, is how Freud viewed schizophrenia:
Freud thought he understood the nature of schizophrenia. It is not a brain disorder, but a disturbance in the unconscious caused by unresolved feelings of homosexuality.
Fortunately, real science has advanced beyond such mumbo jumbo. Schizophrenia is no longer “a disturbance” related to feelings of homosexuality, unresolved or otherwise. But there are folks among us who still have strange views of homosexuality itself, notwithstanding Shakuntala Devi’s call for “full and complete acceptance” of it a generation ago.
And many of those folks are in Congress.
By now you have heard that a so-called gay rights bill in the United States Senate, officially known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has survived a procedural vote by a margin of 61-30. All Democrats (except for Claire McCaskill, who had attended a funeral for former Missouri congressman Ike Skelton in Lexington, Mo., and missed the vote) voted to advance the bill and a mere seven Republicans (minus a likely “yes” vote from an absent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted with them.
The bill, as ABC News reported, “would ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The assumption behind the bill, of course, is to apply Shakuntala Devi’s “full and complete acceptance” of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity to the American workplace.
Missouri’s other senator, Roy Blunt, did not vote and I don’t know why or where he was. But I do know that in 2007 a right-wing Christian website called “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality” featured Blunt, who was not my senator but my congressman at the time, specifically because of his opposition to ENDA:
In a piece published by the reactionary website Human Events and appearing almost six years ago to the day, Blunt explained the basis of his objection to ENDA. You can go there and read it for yourself, but I will here summarize his objections:
1. Ensuring that there is no employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity represents a threat to the practice of Bible- and Quran-believing religion.
2. Employees in Christian or Muslim businesses would be forced to “choose” between their faith and their pocketbooks out of fear of litigation.
3. The whole ENDA exercise is a “whim”—defined by the Free Dictionary as an “arbitrary thought or impulse”—of Congress.
4. Your “freedom to practice religion” could be “greatly impinged” by some judge “sitting on a bench” in a particular state on a given day.
To condense Blunt’s objections into one sentence: Homosexuals have no rights which a conservative Christian (or Muslim) is bound to respect.
All of this, of course, at least for Blunt and his Bible-believing constituency, stems from the Bible’s rather hostile view of homosexuals. You know, like this from Leviticus:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
So, you can see that what Roy Blunt was protecting in 2007 (and presumably today) in terms of his opposition to ENDA, is the Iron Age beliefs of people who thought (and some who still think) that there is something so seriously wrong with homosexuals that executing them, if they practice their “sin,” is necessary.
Where is Sigmund Freud when you need him? His views are quite civilized, at least compared to the view Blunt is defending.
And by the way, Rand Paul, the duel-loving serial plagiarizer and faux-libertarian superstar, a man who in theory is in favor of “more individual freedom,” voted in favor of honoring Iron Age notions of sexuality and the bigotry that goes with them, allowing the Bible- and Quran-thumpers to keep discriminating against homosexuals, or perceived homosexuals, in the workplace. He too, like Roy Blunt, apparently believes that such folks have no rights which religious zealots are bound to respect, especially religious zealots who happen to own businesses.
Below is a video of Roy Blunt arguing against ENDA in 2007 in the House. While it is unlikely that ENDA will ever become law, so long as one side of the Capitol remains under theocratic control, you will, no doubt, hear arguments similar to Blunt’s should this matter ever get debated in the teavangelical-dominated House of Boehner: