Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Choice or Not: Does it Matter?

Will Saletan links to an article about more scientific evidence that being a lesbian is, on some level, hardwired in the brain. It makes perfect sense to me that something so fundamental would be encoded in us this way -- whether it's raging hetero- or homosexuality, or some less clear-cut proclivity, it's probably rooted in the brain. Daniel Dennett's shaking his head right now -- because I'm sure he reads the blog -- muttering, "Everything's in the brain, moron." OK, OK. But I think the level to which things are immovably set up there varies greatly. And so here's the question I often wonder about: Should it really matter, politically, if sexuality is biologically determined or governed by choice? After all, if someone is an architect, no one fervently asks, "Well, were you born to be an architect?" Acceptance of that person's career choice doesn't hinge on pending results from scientific studies about whether certain people can't help but draft blueprints. Just to drive home the obvious, it's not that I think decisions about careers and sexuality are analogous -- "decisions" about physical attraction are mercifully less painstaking than decisions about whether or not to stop writing poetry and attend law school in your 40s or ditch your office job at 26 to get that MFA. It's just this: It seems clear to me that the more you're relying on scientific fact to carry your political argument in this case, the more you're allowing the opposition to believe that a dearth of said evidence somehow diminishes the legitimacy of your life.

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Blogger MAW said...

Well said.

Of course, there are people in the world like this lady who believe that dead soldiers are the result of God's wrath over homosexuality. True, she's totally insane, but perhaps finding a genetic or biological reason for homosexuality may take some of the wind out of the sails of those who love to spread hate.

Or perhaps not.

5:20 PM  

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