Michael Zeleny (larvatus) wrote,
Michael Zeleny

it was twenty years ago today: a marginal screed in progress

Message-ID: <6010@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 15 Mar 91 22:59:27 GMT
In article <1991Mar14.001224.20441@daimi.aau.dk> pilgrim@daimi.aau.dk (Jakob G}rdsted) writes:
I myself think, that the 1/20 should be sustained. Not because I dislike gays or think they should not practice what makes them feel good, but because heterosex have a better performance rate in reproducing mankind, compared to homosex, so far. And like we should not rid this planet of trees or elephants, we should not work against nature/evolution. I dunno about these last lines. Maybe it’s just thoughtscrapup, whatdoyasay?
I myself wholeheartedly agree, and would welcome some rational argument for or against this position.
    First, about the use of ‘should’. In my case, and in the present context, I use it to refer to some transcendental moral values. All moral relativists are invited to turn the flamethrower on, as I hereby state that, not being a Politically Correct person, I believe in the objective existence of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.[1] […] I believe that in the realm of politics, there is no place for moral judgements. Morality neither can (in practice), nor should (morally) be legislated. The best that a government can hope for is to guide its laws in accordance with some standard of common Good.
    A corollary of the above: homosexuals, drug users, gun owners, in short everyone who deviates from that, which by any statistical standard may be accepted as the Norm, have absolutely the same rights as everyone else, provided that they, as individuals, do not injure or coerce anybody else. “Setting a bad example” does not count as coersion.
    This is the old “consenting adults cannot do anything legally wrong to each other” thesis. Note that children are automatically excluded, until they reach legal majority.[2]
    Concerning the main issue: death is the price we, as a species, pay for the privilege of having sex. While, as Sade among many others very clearly understood, the degree of erotic excitement increases with any increase in the distance between recreation and procreation, some measure of restraint must be imposed on this distance out of moral considerations. Where to draw the line is subject to many questions. Personally, I believe that many organized religions go to far in their proscription of “spilling the seed on the ground”, birth control, and so on. On the other hand, it is equally clear to me that, until and unless homosexual reproduction has been invented, homosexual intercourse will remain morally wrong.
    See, as Camus used to say, death is our common enemy; and intentionally removing any possibility of reproduction from our sexual practice, we implicitly embrace this enemy.
    Now for the issue of choice. I have argued along the above lines with many PC persons. Once, after I drove friend to exasperation by what he perceived as my obstinate refusal to convert to his beliefs, he exclaimed: “Look, I can’t control when my dick gets hard!” Quite right. But you can control where you stick it.
    Not wishing to impose my views on anyone else,
    Mikhail Zeleny

Message-ID: <6067@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 19 Mar 91 20:10:49 GMT
In article <1991Mar18.172147.27395@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> mrh43601@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu (Matt Hucke) writes:
The best possible ‘orientation’ is obviously bisexuality. After all, you can find fulfillment with anyone, instead of ignoring half of the population. And there is great variety—You can perform both cunnilingus and fellatio, and if you are male you have a great choice of orifices to stick your schlong into. And in an orgy, the possibilities are endless…
As the Roman hookers like to yell to their transvestite competitors (my translation): “Hey, baby, three holes are better than two!” Just a little point about variety…
Of course, nothing is wrong with preferring one sex over the other. But think how much your sex life would improve if you could learn to be more flexible.
I don’t know… I think I’d rather stay stiff as long as possible.[3]

Message-ID: <6069@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 19 Mar 91 20:40:38 GMT
Sex is (not moral, but) morally right when, even though it does not in any particular instance lead to reproduction, there remains a physical connection, whereby such reproduction might be effected.
    I contend that such a connection definitely exists in the case of (here comes one of my favorite words) orthogenital, unprotected, sexual intercourse; on the other hand, it is clearly absent in the case of homosexual intercourse.
    Where to draw the line is rather hard to say, at least on a priori grounds. Hence I have to rely on intuition, which tells me it’s OK to have sex non-orthogenitally and/or while wearing a rubber, as long as I have it with a woman, so that there is a cunt nearby. A believer in absolute morality might not countenance even this sort of behaviour. However, I never claimed to follow absolute morality, but choose to follow one based on absolute principles. You understand the difference, don’t you?[4]

Message-ID: <6075@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 20 Mar 91 03:28:09 GMT
I have never introduced an assumption that sex is inherently bad; for that matter, neither are violence or death. I did, however, point out the intrinsic connection between these three; if this connection should for whatever reason remain obscure, I urge you to read Sade, Freud, and Bataille.
    What I consider bad is the sort of sexual activity which purposely chooses to be constantly unaware of its spiritual significance. I have argued that the choice of partner’s sex and/or orifice is not morally innocent. I have not argued that it is immoral to have non-reproductive sex, but rather that it is immoral to have one’s sexual practice in principle disassociated from reproductive possibility.
    Eric Gans @ UCLA […] mentioned that life had but two sides to it: the ritual, and the market. “What about sexuality”, I asked; and he said: “Well, it used to be a sacred activity, but now it becomes more and more of a commodity to be traded in the marketplace.

Message-ID: <6083@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 21 Mar 91 00:13:45 GMT
Reproductive possibility has everything to do with the spiritual significance of sex, provided you assume that life (not particular lives, but Life in general) is not entirely devoid of spiritual value. Sexual reproduction is a way to continue Life; and it is not entirely disassociated from sexuality. Indeed, I have argued that there is an intrinsic connection between recreation and procreation, a connection which informs our sexual behavior with moral and spiritual significance.
    Perhaps you can resist the general tendency of our society to treat sex as a commodity; if so, more power to you (if you doubt that this tendency actually exists, I shall be happy to discuss the subject of TV advertising). As for myself, I find that as long as I live in a place where human worth is assessed on the basis of one’s financial standing, I should not so quickly presume myself to remain unaffected by the prevailing system of values. Indeed, judging from your language, you are pretty deeply involved with some Christian cultural stereotypes, combined with a traditional American disregard of mature responsibility. If you have a genuine need to ask: “What sexual irresponsibility?”, I can do no better than direct you to your local adult Sex. Ed. class.

Message-ID: <6096@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 21 Mar 91 23:56:04 GMT
In article <8864.27e8b3e4@jetson.uh.edu> alien@jetson.uh.edu (…born to giggle…) writes:
In article <6083@husc6.harvard.edu>, zeleny@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
Reproductive possibility has everything to do with the spiritual significance of sex
I have read your posts with interest and some of the things that keeps nagging at me are:
I am sterile. Is sex for me, be it homosexual or hetrosexual, nonspiritual or ‘morally wrong’ in your opinion?
Let me tell you a little story.
    Before I came to the US, I was told time after time that the only thing of which we can be sure in life was that we are going to die (my response was: not in my lifetime I won’t).
    Then I heard the american version: the only two sure things in life were death and taxes (so I decided to become a scholar, so as not to make any money).
    Still, no one ever told me that sterility was the third sure thing.
    But if someone has actually told this to you, I can suggest am answer.
    “I don’t know if you are right, but I plan to have a lot of fun trying!”
    (I hope that you are having fun.)[5]

Message-ID: <6092@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 21 Mar 91 20:49:02 GMT
Allow me to recapitulate my conclusions. I argue under two constraints.
  • (i) There is a life-asserting element which inheres in the sexual act, conditioned by the presence of a possibility of conception. In the absence of this element, sexuality tends to reduce to its violent and morbid aspects.
  • (ii) The degree of erotic excitement produced in the sexual act tends to increase with any decrease in the association of the sexual act with its natural reproductive ends.
    It is quite obvious that (i) and (ii) are at odds with each other. Pursuing (i) to its limit would result in taking an extremist position against any interference with the possibility of conception, which still seems to be advocated by some organized religions. On the other hand, doing the same with the hedonistic principle (ii) would force one to conclude with Sade, that murder, the opposite of reproduction, is the ultimate erotic act.
    I have argued for (i) on some very basic philosophical grounds. I invite anyone to find fault in my arguments, but ask that they be read attentively beforehand. I have neither the time nor the energy to argue for (ii) as thoroughly; yet I feel that I can be excused for not so doing by virtue of the availability of the writings by Georges Bataille (e.g. “L’Erotisme”, which exists in English translation). I will gladly discuss them with anyone who wishes to do so.
    My aim is to arrive at a morally acceptable compromise between the principles (i) and (ii). I feel that I have accomplished this goal.
    To put it crudely, as long as the genitals of the opposite sex remain within reach, the reproductive possibility still forms an integral part of the sexual act, if only because reproduction can be attempted at will by abandoning contraception and/or changing orifices. Once such possibility is eliminated, a qualitative change occurs, whereby reproduction becomes, in principle, impossible. Hence the moral consequences of homosexuality: an implicit limitation of one’s sexuality to its essentially morbid and violent aspects.
    Please note carefully that I am not making any sort of sociological claim here. It does not follow that homosexuals are bound to behave in violent ways. My conclusion is purely philosophical; it has to do with the essential nature of human sexuality, rather than with its manifestation in one’s social character. In any case, I have no reason to assume that the latter is fundamentally based on one’s sexual identity. Such reductionism seems quite primitive.[6] […]

Review my arguments; if you still find them pseudo-intellectual, then either (a) I have failed in my reasoning, or (b) you have failed in your understanding. If you believe the former to be the case, feel free to point out my mistake. I have been known to change my mind; if I see that you are right, I will admit it. On the other hand, (b) is alco a possibility, don’t you agree?
    I aim to appeal to reason, not to emotions. I will listen to any rational attempt to refute my points and, in turn, will attempt to address it rationally myself. If you wish to call me a homophobe, go ahead. I would only point out that on no occasion have I advocated fear or resentment of homosexuals; if you believe the opposite to be true, feel free to show the evidence to that effect.
    On the contrary, I have argued for political tolerance and equal rights under the law. Yet I do not think that tolerance requires moral relativism, or even moral neutrality. Tolerance is a public, political virtue; morals are inherently personal and private. This is not to say that they do not exist objectively, or that they vary from person to person. My claim is only that, just as the community serves as the source of political virtues, such as tolerance, the individual is the sole source of moral virtues, such as the affirmation of life. […]

The relevant common feature protected and/or non-orthogenital heterosexual intercourse has with reproductive sex is the availability of the possibility to attempt conception, which remains present, and can be exercized at any moment. The salient difference between it and homosexual intercourse consists in the utter absense of such a possibility in the latter case. Hence the moral distinction.[7] […]

I like to think that one of the most important ways in which we differ from animals consists in our ability to respond to reason. No matter how lonely or depressed I might get, I always have my rationality.
    More importantly yet, this rationality, combined with an intuitive faculty, offers me something infinitely more precious: the Moral Law within me. This I consider both all-important and infinitely meaningful.
    Charity is a laudable quality; however it cannot do any good, unless it is guided by Truth. […]

My argument is purely secular. However, it is unaffected by Malthusian considerations because (a) I don’t advocate indiscriminate reproduction, and (b) I do not assume with Malthus that (i) contraception is immoral, and that (ii) statistical tendency is the same as reasonable expectation (the latter must also consider the possibility of unforeseeable variation in the former, due to technological advances and natural calamities). I reserve the right to be optimistic about the future of the human race. […]

Having grown up as a Jew in the USSR, I am quite familiar with violent persecution.[8] Furthermore, three generations of my own family perished in the war started by a culture which considered both Jews and homosexuals to be Evil incarnate. If I argue for tolerance, it is not only for reasons of impartial fairness; I have direct experience of the alternative,
    As for what it means to be homosexual in our society, I can sympathize with such plight, if not empathize, or fully emotionally relate to it. However, there remains a distinction to be made. If homosexuality is a matter of involuntary preference, or inclination, as claims the present political fashion, I will say that I myself often have inclinations (e.g. to kill somebody who has insulted me), which I freely choose to suppress in the name of morality. Furthermore, assuming the truth of Freud’s argument that all of us more or less have the same kind of sexual inclinations, conditioned by our individual development, the distinction between homo- and heterosexual character becomes moot. And naturally, any sort of behaviour that does not result from a freely made choice cannot be either moral or immoral.
    If, on the other hand, homosexuality is determined by voluntary preference, or by behaviour of a free agent, then it is fully subject to moral considerations, such as were presented above. Personally, I believe in the freedom of will. Check out what Sartre has said on the subject of homosexuality.
    Two final observations. Try not to fall into the naturalistic fallacy, equating the actual with the Right. Furthermore, it is true that I cannot offer any easy solutions. Likewise, I do not have a plan for universal peace, cure for cancer, or interracial harmony. My express qoal was to show the existence of a problem: sexuality is not, contrary to common assumption, morally innocent. For solutions you would have to look elsewhere; personally, I think that Freud suggested some right answers.

Message-ID: <6098@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 22 Mar 91 00:46:11 GMT
In article <77468@bu.edu.bu.edu> kane@buast7.bu.edu (Brian Kane) writes:
In article <6083@husc6.harvard.edu> zeleny@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
What I consider bad is the sort of sexual activity which purposely chooses to be constantly unaware of its spiritual significance.
Mr. Zeleny proposes that the source of spiritual significance in sex is its life-giving. However, that may not be the only spiritually significant thing about sex. What about L-O-V-E ??? Is homosexual activity always devoid of love?
Not so loud, Mr. Kane.
    First of all, life-affirmation (and possible life-giving) is hardly the only source of spiritual significance in sex. Death and violence are not so insignificant. How about the only positive source of spiritual significance, unless you propose to exhibit another.
    But of course you have tried to do just that. Well, I am glad you asked. Love is one of those things which are notoriously difficult to pin down. In a way, I have been discussing it all along; for once you subtract sex from the socially constructed notion of love, all you have left is one of those fuzzy Hallmark things.
    A Russian joke:
    Wife: “Honey,… do you love me?”
    Husband: “Huh? What do you think I am doing?!”
    And then there is the classic Socratic idea of love (philia/eros), defined as the desire that the good be one’s own forever, the quest of a mortal nature to be immortal, accomplished through begetting (genesis); all this could be construed as supporting my moral argument (before you start telling me about the Ancient Greek sexual practices, consider how different they were from anything found in our time). On the other hand, this conception is rendered very problematic by some essentially modern experiences of the pursuit of infinity and/or immortality (on this, see Baudelaire’s “Les Paradis artificiels”, I.1, and Nietzsche’s “Der Wille zur Macht”, 1052; the locus classicus of the Greek conception is in Plato’s “Symposium”, 200-6).
    Finally, consider this. Whatever your particular conception of love might be, can you be sure that it automatically has a positive spiritual significance? True love might be claimed as a motivation by a rapist or a child abuser; would such a claim in any way justify their actions? And if you would reject their claim, for what reason?[9]

Message-ID: <6102@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 22 Mar 91 18:07:43 GMT
Sexual irresponsibility occurs when one of the partners knowingly exposes the other to the danger of infection. It also occurs when sex is obtained under false pretenses, e.g. when a man uses his sexual capacity as a means of expressing his resentment of women, or when a woman knowingly fails to use contraception while her partner reasonably assumes that she had used it. A particularly pernicious kind of sexual irresponsibility occurs when one has children without any concern for their physical or emotional well-being.
    Finally, sexual irresponsibility occurs when one chooses to ignore the fact that there is more than hedonistic pleasure involved in human sexuality; that every sexual act is accompanied by a tiny emotional connection which should be respected; that one’s sexual partners are much more than means to an end, and should be treated accordingly; that sexuality is intrinsically involved with procreation, as well as with recreation, and to deny this link is to indulge in mauvaise foi, or self-deception.

Message-ID: <6103@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 22 Mar 91 19:31:01 GMT
Life-asserting is right, but not always good, in the sense of being desirable, useful, or even pleasant; responsibilities often aren’t. Mutual pleasure is good, but not necessarily right, in the sense of being ethical or responsible.
    If violence and morbidity are not universal characteristics which inhere in every aspect of our lives, I would appreciate an example of a non-violent or a non-morbid culture which is not derived from Rousseau’s myth of the “noble savage”.
    Eros and Thanatos rule our world; even to doubt this fact in a mature age is tantamount to espousing the philosophy of Jiminy Cricket.
    Neither sociological nor psychological considerations can in the least bear on an abstract philosophical argument, except to provide illustrations or context. You may adduce any number of well-adjusted, happy, healthy homosexuals without in any way contributing to the solution of the question of whether homosexuality is right. […]

I am not a moral relativist. Still, if you are one, how can you presume to judge me, a representative, however unconventional, of a 2500 year old philosophical culture? Furthermore, on what would you base your criteria for judging parts of human spirit as superficial, if not on universal principles? If it is your intuitions that serve as your measure of profundity, I think we have already estabilished that our intuitions differ, so we can end this discussion by agreeing to disagree.
    As for universal love, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Message-ID: <6104@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 22 Mar 91 19:46:09 GMT
I am not at all anti-homosexual; I merely believe that homosexual behaviour is morally wrong. As a matter of principle I do not impose my views on anyone; furthermore I believe in equal rights and protection under the law, regardless of one’s involvement in any consensual activities. How do you define bigotry? is it something that disagrees with your own views?

Message-ID: <6113@husc6.harvard.edu>
Date: 23 Mar 91 09:58:04 GMT
In article <6107@husc6.harvard.edu> burns@das.harvard.edu (John Burns) writes:
You say that sex which doesn’t lead to reproduction is bad. Since reproduction is the issue here, I’m not even sure gay sex counts as sex; it’s at most equivalent to masturbation. It’s not like there was an opposite-sex couple around to create a potential. Other questions spring to mind. Is only orgasmic activity to be counted? What if someone stops short?
    You claim to define universal principles, but you have just created a smokescreen for the kind of cultural prejudice that’s been common for more than 2500 years. As for the ideal of universal love: I don’t claim it’s here, but the influence of Gandhi in India and MLK in the US reflect the ”life-asserting” value of this philosophy. If you’re ready to call them moral relativists, count me in.
My concern is not with prejudice; I sincerely believe myself to be free from it. I am interested in the intellectual challenge the problem presents to me. Your counterexamples are either spurious or presuppose a far more trivialized conception of sexuality than that assumed by me.
    I ask you this: do you think my inquiry illegitimate? Has it been decided in advance that sexuality is morally neutral? Can I arrive at a “politically incorrect” conclusion as a result of an honest investigation? Is it at all possible to be objective in these matters?
    Finally, I do not consider your heroes to be moral relativists; yet I do not agree with their principles at all. Max Weber once proposed that if you don’t resist evil with force, you share the responsibility for its ascendance. So much for turning the other cheek; I think it is incompatible with rudimentary dignity.[10]


[1] Here began fault-finding. Thus spake Gordon Fitch: “Mr. Zeleny starts, in a sense, with the fascist Plato; it is not surprising, then, that we find him declaring that sex where reproduction is impossible (or some category of sex; or some other category of innocent behavior) is morally wrong. Once you start the sausage machine, it produces sausage.” In the long run, Zeleny agreed with this ascription of Platonic inexorability: “My favorite argument is Kant’s, which develops themes ultimately going back to Plato and Aristotle, and comes in two stages. First you argue that the proper function (a term of art, q.v. the Third Critique or Larry Wright’s modern take on the same subject) of the genitals, as determined by their evolutionary origins, is linked to the continuation of the species. Then you argue that if morality is a set of universal rules binding equally on all rational agents, one ought not to act on any maxim whose adoption by any of one’s ancestors would have resulted in one’s failure to be born, for the reasons of its involving ‘proper dysfunctionality’. For one could only do so on pain of willing one’s own antecedent non-existence, thereby countermanding a condition of all willing. You will find relevant texts in Kant’s Groundwork, the Metaphysics of Morals, Second and Third Critiques, and Lectures on Ethics.

[2] Zeleny complemented his Millian disclaimer by repudiating coercive politics: “If you really believe that people have a political right to coerce others to enter into unwanted contractual relations with them, solely on the basis of their self-identification with some politically constituted faction, you might reflect on the position that doctrine puts you in, with respect to the pack of horny dweebs on soc.culture.soviet, whose one common trait is their abiding desire to pork any female who wanders in their midst.” Likewise, he disavowed an animus against homosexuals: “I have no urge to censure my neighbor for his gall in choosing a lifestyle in opposition to my moral principles. What gets me going, is the climate where one can stand accused of any number of intellectual transgressions, merely for his audacity in airing out a considered moral judgment of such a lifestyle. It’s like that: Robert Stone, in a generally sympathetic article on gays in the military, in the current issue of the NYRB, cites the testimony of a homosexual GI, advocating the banishment of the last vestiges of ‘Judaeo-Christian morality’, which stands in the way of his military career. Now, I have no brief for religious dogma of any sort; but it really gets my goat to see this inanely oblivious clamoring for automatic moral entitlement, which to me is as repugnant as any clarion call to exterminate kikes, commies, faggots, or niggers. Thus I derive no small amount of pleasure from crushing the creatures who are prone to such presumption, regardless of the ideology they espouse, or the orifice they prefer.” As to the source of this pleasure, he elaborated: “It is by far the least objectionable way to cater to my overweening sociopathic urges. Ever since I stopped hanging in the circles that offered regular opportunities for smashing people’s faces against brick walls, I started feeling the need to compensate by indulging in the quaint form of ritual humiliation that passes for public debate around these parts.” And he hastened to deny his Libertarian affinities and affiliations: “How amusing to see so many intelligent people buy the Libertarian crap lock, stock, and barrel. Libertarianism is a Republican joke. If elected against all odds, those people would fuck you just like Ron and George did. Get a life, be an anarchist, don’t vote for parties. Get the ballots to carry a NOTA box, and just vote the fuckers out of the office, without replacing them with a new bunch of parasites. No government is good government.” Instead of so identifying, he claimed credentials as “a commie, albeit one of the autonomous stripe”. Yet many readers failed to heed his repudiation of state oppression, rising to a shrill pitch epitomized by Gene Ward Smith: “Fuck your ass with broken glass, you poisonous, pus-filled little cretin.” Zeleny’s key distinction arose between recognizing a fundamental right to the pursuit of happiness, and denying a fundamental social need to ensure the happiness of all citizens. Accordingly, he though each man free to pursue his happiness by deploying his genitals at will, while denying his right to socialize the costs of this deployment regardless of its social benefits, or lack thereof. In this regard, Zeleny’s politics found its supporters. Thus Randall Holmes: “Zeleny has been extremely clear about this; his opponents are obligated, in a forum of this nature, to take him at his word on this point and argue against his (clearly indicated) argument rather than proceed along the lines of ‘Zeleny thinks that homosexuality is wrong; thus Zeleny is in favor of discrimination against homosexuals’. Note that this (that homosexuals should be persecuted) is not a conclusion of Zeleny’s argument, and he denies that it is his position.” Thus Michael Feld overstating the case of defense: “One remarkable thing about Mr. Zeleny’s homophobia is his political/legal tolerance, and pleas for tolerance, of the behaviour he so deplores.” Whereupon Zeleny hastens to disclaim: “No. Intolerance of persecution is not tolerance of the persecuted. I accept consensual behavior, no matter how deplorable, because I am appalled by the means necessary to censure it, not because I opt to tolerate it. As a limit case, I would defend an abortion clinic in spite of personal opposition to abortion, because the certainty of my moral assurance in such matters does not measure up to the force of my conviction that terrorism does not constitute acceptable political means. A fortiori, I would gladly protect Gene Ward Smith’s favorite glory-hole bathhouse from any violence, be it initiated by government troops or by private religious fanatics.” In response to backhanded compliments proffered many years later, Zeleny clarified his position further: “I generally agree with Justice Antonin Scalia dissenting in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), that state laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are sustainable only in light of validation of laws based on moral choices per Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986). However, I disagree with his conclusion, preferring that laws based on moral choices be restricted as much as possible from interference in the private life of individual citizens. In particular, I object to state interference in mutually agreed upon choices sexual practices. In my country a man has no right to disagree with another man’s preferences, on the pain of infringing his neighbor’s right to pursue his happiness. I do not approve of the way my gay neighbor deploys his private parts, but my disapproval gives me no right to disagree with his deployment. On the other hand, I reject all state interference in my right of free association and reserve the right to shun in every way those I regard as morally deficient.

[3] Thus an observation on the Net.Legends.FAQ: “Seeing Zeleny try to tell a joke is like watching Miss Manners try to limbo; you know it is not going to be done well, but it is amusing to see it attempted.” In regard of three holes being better than two, Zeleny was no less stilted explaining the degradation implicit in an uncaringly administered blowjob:

Well, this is one time when you really have to face the naughty bits; and some people follow St Augustine and Voltaire in being repelled by their proximity to shit and piss.
    As for me, I don’t like fo fuck anything I wouldn’t eat. (For the logically innocent, don’t expect either the converse or the contrapositive to be true, since I am neither a cannibal nor a chicken-fucker.)
Zeleny supplemented his exhibitionism with a knack for rebuffing potential supporters. Thus Ben Gamble observing early on: “The Z-man has the vocabulary of a gentleman. Everybody else seems to have the vocabulary of a schoolyard. (-: But his vocabulary is the only gentlemanly quality he’s exhibited yet on alt.sex.” Zeleny responded:
translation into philosophical bullshit:
    i have abstained from exhibitionism by not volunteering the dimensions of my penis and the average duration of my bump-and-grind routine, from intromission to ejaculation. this is quite unpardonable, and i offer my profuse, sincere, and humble apologies to everyone involved. here are the stats:
    my penis is 6.5'' long, with a shaft of 5.5'' circumference, bent about 10 degrees to the left, with a somewhat bulbous head and a substantial circumcision scar.
    the average duration of a single dirty deed, as defined above, is about 25 minutes, the times ranging from a quickie of about 10 minutes to a horizontal tango of 2 hours 45 minutes (last time i timed it); unless i go all the way out into the 60+ minutes range, the encores last longer.
    my favorite obscure trick for controlling mr happy involves relaxing the anal sphincter muscle by contracting my abdominal muscles as if i was trying to fart (hopefully, without actual crepitation). however, in the rare cases when a borborygmus occurs, i dedicate it to mr ben gamble.

[4] Thus the synopsis of Zeleny on the Net.Legends.FAQ: “Russian philosopher wanna-be; his objection to homosexuality (yes, I know I have about six in a row here, but honestly, it’s one of the big nut-subjects, no pun intended, on the Net…) seems to be purely abstract: he can’t imagine Kant (I think) approving of it, thinks it rules out reproduction, and so tries to show that it’s metaphysically bankrupt.

[5] A common tactic for vindicating homosexual couplings consists in analogizing them with heterosexual intercourse between partners sterile in virtue of age or disability. This analogy founders on the observation that, unlike gender identity, sterility and senescence are regrettable medical conditions. If there were a cure for aging, would anyone in his right mind abstain from taking it? The rude fact of law is that an infertile heterosexual coupling is essentially crippled. It is recognized as such only in so far as it is formally and substantially similar to the normatively fertile heterosexual union. Nothing of the sort obtains in the couplings of two men or two women. While heterosexual marriages that involve partners rendered infertile by age or disease are defective by nature, we can look forward to the day when medicine can reverse or remedy these predicaments. By contrast, no such anticipation makes sense for same-sex couples.

[6] Thus a response to Bruce Garrett’s speculation that “it would be best for everyone if homosexual voices were silenced… somehow…”:
On the contrary, I want your ilk to speak out as much as you are able. Every in-your-face Gay Pride parade; every state-funded Queer Studies program; every agenda-laden epicene seeking NSF grants for proving the innateness of homosexual traits; every glory-hole aficionado obligingly confessing his fondness for unprotected buggery to the inquisitive Village Voice wag; every raging transgender activist decrying his unjust imprisonment in a body that congenitally fails to reflect his ethereal self-image—inexorably drives home the very same point that you strive so hard to conceal—that your freely chosen lifestyle willfully defiles humanity in your own person. Remember this every time you embrace your partner, and rationalize away the fact that your pleasurable act contravenes the brute genealogical facts of your own provenance. Remember this every time you try to face your wretched parents, thinking of the reasons that directed your father’s seed in place, and away from a trough as barren as that, which serves as the habitual receptacle of your loathsome urges. Remember this on your death bed, wallowing in that bitter solitude that you brought upon yourself. Remember this as you continue to spew your hypocritical anodyne cant, in a vain attempt at persuading Mr and Mrs America that your sexual inversion does not represent any significant departure from their insipid conjugal mediocrity. Remember this as you attempt to externalize the mental anguish of your self-inflicted sterility. You have condemned yourself to a life in bad faith. Go on blaming others for the misery that you freely chose as your lot.
So much for primitive reductionism fundamentally basing one’s social character on one’s sexual identity.

[7] There is nothing subjective to the principle that human procreation occurs only as a consequence of a heterosexual coupling. There is nothing subjective to the principle that gender distinctions are grounded in fundamental biological identities, unlike sexual orientations or clothing preferences. The right of Mr Slave to pursue his happiness by donning a pink tutu and getting sodomized by Mr Garrison does not extend into a warrant to socialize the costs of such predilections. There is a clear social benefit to an exclusive sexual union apt to produce offspring. A union of this sort deserves social protection in virtue of its capacity to perpetuate the society. It’s all well and good that people can agree to band together for sexual relations in ways that do not conduce to childbearing. They have every right to do so, but they cannot expect the same kind or degree of social protection granted to reproductive families in their capacities of fundamental building blocks of societies. Admittedly, this view regards families incapable of reproduction in virtue of age or disability as defective. Age and disability are organic defects, and if we had the wherewithal to cure them, no sound objections could be made against doing so. In the meantime, granting social recognition and matrimonial benefits to the victims of these infirmities affords no rationale for extending them to participants in essentially sterile unions. There are good reasons to humor the disabled by admitting them into institutions meant for the able-bodied, by dint of special accommodations. If homosexuality is a disability in this sense, a sound social policy would seek either to redirect homosexual desires towards objects of the opposite sex, or to enable sexual reproduction through homosexual intercourse. Until and unless these agenda are pursued with the vigor accorded to rejuvenation and regenerative medicine, the analogy between senescent and infertile heterosexuals and able-bodied homosexuals will fall flat.

[8] Zeleny’s avowal of victimary Yiddishkeit met with much merriment. Thus Rod Swift: “You’re the type of Jew that gave Hitler some justification for his genocide, I’m sure.” Meanwhile, Zeleny solicited more sacrificial members for his hapless tribe:
As far as I am concerned, whoever wants to be a Jew, is one.
    Quite a few of my “shiksa” girlfriends came to consider themselves as Jewish by injection…

[9] In addressing an emotional issue, Zeleny faced opponents committed to justifying the moral worth of emotional preferences. Naturally, they tended to confuse feeling good with being right, prompting an inquiry by Michael Feld: “why are all of Mr. Zelany’s antagonists so, well, so… non-clever?” Thus John Donald Collier responding to Zeleny’s observation that homosexual behavior deliberately excludes generation: “BZZZT! FALSE. This is merely a consequence, and is more often than not not intentional. In fact it is quite possible to have homosexual sex intending to have children (though it would be deluded). Please stop making up facts to fit your demented theories.” JDC buttressed subsequent polemics with Zeleny by averring that his verbal and math GRE (not SAT) scores “were 790 and 760 respectively”. Thus Gene Ward Smith arguing that Zeleny’s views cannot be defended on their merits, as the outcome of an actual quest for the truth, lest the defender “accept the notion that homosexuals are inferior”. As Zeleny elaborated: “Smith aims to demonstrate that my alleged views that homosexuals are inferior cannot be defended on their merits, as the outcome of a quest for the truth. In support of his claim he asseverates that to say that there is something more to the views in question than bigotry, and put me in a class in some way superior to a racist, is to accept the notion that there is merit [not rationality] to be found in anti-homosexual polemic that is not discoverable in racist diatribes, which is tantamount to accepting the notion that homosexuals are inferior. In other words, he argues that my views are indefensible because they are unacceptable, without offering any further explanation of their alleged flaws.” By parity of reasoning, “[t]he proposition that 3 > 2 cannot be defended on its merits. To say that there is something more to it than the proposition that whites are superior to blacks, is to accept the notion that there is merit to be found in arithmetic which is not discoverable in racist diatribes. And that is to accept the notion that 3 > 2.”

[10] A few weeks later, Peter Reuderink inquired: “Zeleny, what the hell you’re driving at!?” A pompous response ensued:
A positive publicly communicable moral conception, which is derived from our common erotic, mortal, and rational nature, respects the dignity of the individual independently of socio-political considerations, and does not appeal to the debasing ideology of compassion common to redemptive religions, which stands in need of bribery by the promise of future reward, fear of everlasting punishment, and the suffering of innocent victims for its motivation.
After two decades of windbaggery, Zeleny’s goal still stands.
Tags: persiflage, philosophy, sex, sodomy, usenet, vanity

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