Daily Archives: April 23, 2003

X Prime

“Rick Santorum, the Senate’s third-ranked Republican who is under fire from gay-rights groups and Democrats, says he has ‘no problem with homosexuality – I have a problem with homosexual acts.'” — Associated Press

In logical terms, you could write this as “I have no problem with X, I have a problem with X’ ” in which X is any particular human condition, and X’ is the action by which the condition of X is ascertained; indeed, without X’, X exists in an unverifiable state if it exists at all, since it is the performance of X’ that establishes X definitively. Thereby, in purely practical terms, if you have a problem with X’, you must necessarily have a problem with X.

Saying that you have no problems with homosexuals but have a problem with homosexual acts is logically equivalent, for example, to saying that you have no problems with Christians but have a problem with them accepting Christ, or that you have no problems with Republicans but have a problem with them registering as Republicans, or that you have no problem with Marines but have a problem with them enlisting (or receiving commissions in the case of officers). Each X’ is an affirmative act of association and identification, without which the identification of X cannot exist.

The way to check this is to determine whether the condition of X can exist without X’. So, to go back to our examples — can you be a Christian without accepting Christ? Pretty much not. Can you be a Republican without registering as a Republican? Not really. Can you be a Marine without enlisting or being commissioned? Can’t do it. In each case it’s absolutely possible to manifest an outward appearance of each group — lead a Christly life, vote Republican, or swagger around saying “Semper Fi” to people — But until you get baptized, register or enlist/are commissioned, you’re not one of the members of these groups. The act matters; thereby, having a problem with the act means you have a problem with the condition because the only way to the condition is the act.

Well, you say, the difference is that in each of the cases mentioned above your X’ is a one-time act, while homosexuals do their acts over and over and over again. Couldn’t they just do it once and be done with it? Well, from a logical point of view, the occurrences of X’ is neither here nor there; it doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. The act of hunting confirms the condition of being a hunter; the act of writing confirms the condition of being a writer. People who hunt or write don’t do their things just once, either. Also, of course, even those whose X’ has an initial and discrete affirmative action may adjudge that the X’ requires continual affirmation: A Christian may decide that his acceptance of Christ requires weekly visits to Church.

The other objection I see is one that can be raised by both homosexuals and others who prefer to weasel out of the fact they actually have a problem with homosexuals, and that is the idea that one doesn’t have to have homosexual sex in order to be homosexual. But, come on, people. If we’re going to make the distinction (and it is a fairly recent semantic distinction, since the word didn’t enter the language until 1892), it has to mean something, and what it means is right in the word itself.

Allow me to make the following suggestion to clear up the confusion, if in fact no one’s done this before: Let’s make concrete this distinction between desiring members of the same sex and actually having sex with them. Let’s call the desire for members of one’s own sex homophilia, and actually having sex with them homosexuality. Likewise, the desire for members of the opposite sex is heterophilia, while actually having sex with them is heterosexuality.

Let us also note that these are two distinct conditions, since the desire for something is not the same as an action. Everyone is born with a “-philia,” but it’s acting upon it that makes it a “-sexual.” So, one can be a homophile heterosexual (meaning you desire people of your own sex, but you actually have sex with members of the opposite sex), or a homophile homosexual(same sex desires, same sex sex), or even a heterophile homosexual, which probably means you’re in prison or a single sex boarding school. Let’s also give a shoutout for biphilia and bisexuality – you love everyone! — and aphilia and asexuality – you don’t want to be bothered!

This is clarifying in a number of ways, but the most obvious advantage is that it helps pin people down. If “homosexual” simply means having sex with members of your own sex, then people like Santorum can no longer wiggle around saying “I have no problems with homosexuals.” He will in fact have to admit he does have problems with homosexuals; the population he has no problem with is in fact the homophiles – the relatively few ones that are heterosexual or asexual, that is. And that’s not at all the same thing.

Santorum and others like him will no longer be able to deny that X is inseparable from X’ — In short, they’ll have to admit their own bigotry, even to themselves. And what a refreshing change that will be!

What Would Jesus Surf

Before I begin, I should note that as I start this entry, there are exactly 666 comments in the comment threads on the site. That’s some irony.

So, I’m wading through my referrer logs, because I’m exactly the sort of geek who does that sort of thing, and I notice that one of the spiders hopping through the site is from “ChristCrawler.” This is a new one on me, as well as something that is not, by name, an entirely savory image (Jesus walked, but I don’t think Jesus did much crawling) so I follow it back to this page, and read the goal of ChristCrawler, owned and operated by ChristCENTRAL:

“ChristCENTRAL.com focuses on providing the highest-quality search results for our own users and for corporate [users]. It is our goal to provide a unique, powerful way for Christians and non-christians to search the Internet, finding useful information while knowing that we strive to provide and filter all non-christian web sites.”

“Provide and filter all non-christian web sites” seems to me to be a rather contradictory statement; typically in regards to the Internet, when one “filters” that means one is actually excluding a site. So you’re either providing non-Christian links or not. The site’s not very well copy edited, so I’m thinking there may be a word missing here, and the search engine itself isn’t up, so it’s hard to say what they’re doing. But I suspect by its very name, it’s meant to be a search site that presents Christian-related links first or exclusively while excluding or demoting non-Christian-related links.

This brings up a couple of interesting points. The first being that I would be interested in seeing the technology that ranks and evaluates a site’s Christ level. Current online content filters are of course notoriously bad at this sort of contextual evaluation, so unless there’s a human on the backend, checking each site for its presumed Christliness, I don’t know how useful such a search will be. I mean, my site has a number of references to Christ, hardly any of them non-complimentary (he’s a righteous dude, on any number of levels), but it’s pretty emphatically not a Christian site. That’d be a pretty interesting nut for an automated search engine to crack.

The second is, if indeed ChristCrawler excludes “non-Christian” sites, should it really be called a “search engine”? An engine that searches information to determine if it should be excluded should probably be called an “exclude engine” (or, to go back to more common phrasing, a “filter”). No doubt there are millions of Christ-oriented pages out there, but there are billions that aren’t, so the majority of search cycles will be spent throwing stuff out.

There are of course a number of Christian search engines out there (here’s one, here’s another), but they’re pretty poor analogues to the Web in general. One boasts a catalog of over 30,000 links, which is nice but a drop in the bucket compared to the general Web.

Which may be how the people who use these sites like it; they’ve got their own Christ-centered thing and they’re not interested in stuff outside of it. Which is fine, although I have to say that doesn’t seem very Christ-like to me. I would even go so far as to suggest that the recent wave of Christian cocooning in which some evangelicals have engaged in — in which they endeavor to live entire lives shielded and isolated from the rest of the world — is emphatically non-Christian.

Jesus, you’ll recall, was not someone who spent a whole lot of time sheltering himself against the unbelievers and the scumbags. He was not even unworldly, to the extent that he recognized there was a world concerned with the issues of men and he knew what they were; Matthew 22, verses 15-22 is a fine example of that. And of course, Jesus hung out with some real unsavory types — hookers, thieves and so forth. Jesus was engaged in the world of his time, including and especially the parts of it that some Christians today wall themselves off from.

Jesus was not exclusionary. He had confidence that his message could thrive in the marketplace of ideas. When he searched the Internet, I’d guess he’d probably use Google.