APOLOGIA is a column in which I address issues having to do with faith, science, and ethics, and in which I try to use careful reasoning and evidence to seek what's true. Undoubtedly I will end up disagreeing with at least a few people. And probably I will make a mistake here and there. My hope is that I will show respect to those with whom I disagree, that I (and others) will learn from my mistakes, and that we'll get closer to what's true, good, and beautiful. - Hendrik van der Breggen
Robert P. George, Professor of
Jurisprudence, Princeton University:
“All human life is sacred. All murder is
murder. All murder is to be condemned. All victims are to be mourned. It
doesn't affect the gravity of the evil—at all—that the murderer killed
homosexuals in a gay nightclub.”
“Murder is to be condemned and victims
are to be mourned, whether the victims are nuns in a convent, prostitutes in a
bordello, children in a school, or fishermen in a boat.”
Professor George, again: “All human life
is sacred. All murder is murder. All murder is to be condemned. All victims are
to be mourned.”
George continues: “Mateen [the Orlando
shooter] was a Muslim and a Democrat. That doesn't make Muslims and Democrats
guilty. Christians aren't guilty either. Mateen & IS are guilty.”
Stan Guthrie, editor at Christianity Today (on blaming
Christians for Orlando): “Didn't Nero blame the Christians for the fire?”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, human rights activist,
former Muslim, fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School:
“Following the horrific attack in
Orlando, people as usual have been rushing to judgment. President Obama blames
lax gun laws. Donald Trump blames immigration. Neither is right. There has been
comparable carnage in countries with strict gun laws. The perpetrator in this
case was born in the United States. This is not primarily about guns or
immigration. It is about a deeply dangerous ideology that is infiltrating
American society in the guise of religion. Homophobia comes in many forms. But
none is more dangerous in our time than the Islamic version.”
Contemporary Sharia Law: Engaging in
homosexual sex is punishable by death.
Incorrect Thoughts: HSD and LGBTQ
Hanover School District trustee (and
nurse) Lynn Barkman: “HSD teachers, students and their parents know that our
culture is changing, that does not suggest that we should abandon truth."
Barkman on young students “being taught
anal sex and oral sex”: “I just feel that there is enough cancer around and the
increase in cancer is phenomenal.”
Gens Hellquist, executive director of
pro-gay Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition: “There are all kinds of health issues
that are endemic to our [gay] community…. We have higher rates of anal cancer
in the gay male community….”
Mayo Clinic: “All men have certain health
risks. Gay men and men who have sex with men face an increased risk of specific
health concerns, however.” E.g., HIV, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis. Cancer,
too, if anal sex is often practiced.
Robert Cushman, senior medical advisor at
Health Canada: “HIV is much more common in the MSM [men who have sex with men]
population than in the general population.”
Cushman adds: “MSM is a risky behaviour.
There's anatomical reasons.”
Researcher Thomas Coy, “The risk of HIV
from sexual contact for MSM (men who have sex with men) was approximately 150
times greater than the heterosexual male population in 2010.”
Coy adds, for perspective: “According to
the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) the risk of lung cancer for men who smoke
is 23 times greater than for men who do not smoke.”
From Miriam Grossman's You're Teaching My Child WHAT? A Physician
Exposes the Lies of Sex Education and How They Harm Your Child (this book is
recommended by Nicholas Cummings, a former president of the American
Compared to the general heterosexual population,
persons who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual report “more high risk sexual
behaviors, higher rates of infection with HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea, and
more mental health problems [anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts].”
These disparities also occur in accepting,
gay-friendly societies such as The Netherlands (and elsewhere).
“Clearly, societal bias is not to blame
for the disproportionately higher numbers in the homosexual populations in the
Dr. Grossman concludes: “While I'm sure
that for some people, societal bias contributes to their distress, the entire
onus for these difficulties—emotional and physical—cannot be placed at the feet
of a 'heterosexist' society. It's just not intellectually honest.”
If HSD schools discuss LGBTQ matters, I hope
it's done truthfully. ---
Note to critics: Before commenting, please read my (relevant) previous work, the criticisms of my previous critics, plus my replies to my critics. Look here, for starters: Is promoting same-sex sex wise?
van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence
University College. The views expressed in this column do not always reflect
the views of Providence.)
history shows us that the conscience can be so corrupted and manipulated that
today's unthinkable becomes tomorrow's thinkable with remarkable speed.” – C.
Everett Koop & Francis A. Schaeffer, Whatever
Happened to the Human Race? (1983)
Winston Smith, the protagonist in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, I entertain politically incorrect
thoughts. What follows are a few of those thoughts, some of which may soon
become illegal to express. They're disconnected and perhaps disconcerting—read
at your own risk. ● “Physician-assisted dying”: euphemism: not merely medical help to let terminally ill die peacefully and painlessly; includes active killing of another who requests suicide, whether terminally ill or not; positive attitudes associated with the acceptance of medical help when death runs its course are transferred (without argument) to other cases wherein doctors kill; effective in manipulating opinions of public that feels rather than thinks.
or unwittingly, able-bodied persons who would choose physician-assisted suicide
if they were seriously disabled and suffering communicate this message to
people who are presently seriously disabled and suffering: We would rather be
dead than be like you. Hashtag: Culture of Death.
● May I suggest a
new psychological disorder for the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders)? PHOBIA OF BEING LABELED PHOBIC. This is a fear of or
aversion to expressing disagreement on radical public policy issues (e.g., men
in women's bathrooms) because one wants always to be liked and appear
“progressive” (or “on the right side of history” or “2016-ish”); in adults the
dread of being called “phobic” may be so intense that paralysis results, even
as children are put at risk; in democracies, fascist-leaning politicians and
ideologues exploit this fear to halt critical discussion or keep it from
getting started; formerly known as cowardice.
● My pipe tobacco pouch has warnings from Health
Canada. According to researcher Thomas
Coy, “The risk of HIV from sexual contact for MSM (men who
have sex with men) was approximately 150 times greater than the heterosexual
male population in 2010.” Coy adds: “According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) the
risk of lung cancer for men who smoke is 23 times greater than for men who do
not smoke.” Should Gay Pride Parades display warnings from Health Canada, too?
(Further reading: Is
promoting same-sex sex wise? Be sure also to read my replies to my
Hellquist, executive director of pro-gay Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition
(in a 2009 statement): “There are all kinds of health issues that are endemic
to our [gay] community… We have higher rates of anal cancer in the gay male
● Bruce (“Caitlyn”) Jenner is not a woman. He is a “feminized” man,
i.e., a man trying to look like a woman. ● According to Bill C-16, “gender identity” and “gender expression” are to become part of the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canada's Criminal Code. But Facebook, which had 58 gender identities, now has “unlimited” gender identities. So which identities and expressions should be included in the HRA and CC? What about the 52-year-old Canadian man who identifies as a 6-year-old girl?
● If my feelings about myself are sufficient
justification for my identity, then why stop at transgender (i.e., identifying
as a woman in a man's body)? Why not trans-age (an adult identifying as a
child)? Why not trans-species
(identifying as a dog
or cat or dragon in a human body)?Hashtag: The emperor of subjectivity
(as sole criterion for objective truth) has no clothes.
● Promote “diversity”? But wait. There is diversity due to
God's abundantly variegated and good creation AND there are diverse forms of
brokenness due to the Fall/ moral rebellion. That is, there are diverse goods
and diverse bads. Which “diversity” do you mean?
and theologian Russell Moore: “John the Baptist lost his head for saying that
Herod could not have his brother’s wife. Some now will be targeted as
culturally unacceptable because they tell Herod he can’t BE his brother’s
world: Did you not read my book? Sincerely, G. Orwell." - Facebook
(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is associate
professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views in this
column do not always reflect the views of Providence.)
it comes to matters LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer/
questioning, etc.), I've noticed that critical discussion often is halted or doesn't
even get started because of fear about being labeled homophobic, biphobic,
transphobic, bigoted, or intolerant.
I will attempt to allay such fear by exposing the confusion lurking behind it
and then setting out five clarifications.
I begin, however, let me emphasize this: All persons—whether they identify as LGBTQ+
or not—are made in God's image, are loved by God, plus deserve respect as well
as protection from bullying and violence.
the confusion: If a person offers criticisms of same-sex, etc. sexual
relationships, then we can immediately judge that the person is homo/ bi/
transphobic, bigoted, or intolerant and, thus, that the criticisms should be
Clarification 1. A phobia is an irrational aversion or fear or hatred
concerning X (see Mayo Clinic's online entry on phobia), whereas one is not
necessarily phobic if one has reasonable evidence-based concerns about X. Being
concerned about very large spiders near little children doesn't mean one is arachnophobic.
turns out that many intelligent people have reasonable evidence-based concerns
and questions about LGBTQ+. It would be intellectually dishonest to judge such
persons as “phobic.”
2. A bigot is someone who has a
tendency to hold a view or opinion blindly and dogmatically, without giving
careful consideration to contrary evidence. Significantly, however, an attempt
to reason with care and to examine evidence, pro and con, need not be an
instance of bigotry.
means persons can be critical of LGBTQ+ matters and not be bigots.
Clarification 3. Calling a critic of LGBTQ+ names such as “homophobe” or
“biphobe” or “transphobe” or “bigot” and then dismissing the critic’s arguments
on the basis of his/ her alleged personality disorder (whether it’s a phobia or
whatever) is to commit the ad hominem fallacy.
The ad hominem fallacy is the mistake in reasoning wherein the arguer is
attacked instead of his/her argument, when doing so is not relevant. The
critic’s argument should be assessed on the basis of its merits.
If the arguer is in fact homophobic or transphobic, etc., this may give us
grounds to suspect that his/ her arguments are not strong;
nevertheless, whether the arguments are in fact strong or not
depends on the arguments themselves.)
Clarification 4. Not all tolerance is good, and not all intolerance is bad.
are rightly intolerant of drunk driving as well as texting and driving.
Teachers are rightly intolerant of cheating on exams and bullying. Parents are
rightly intolerant of children playing with matches.
it is reasonable to think that a behaviour can seriously harm a person, then it
is good to be intolerant of
such behaviour. Tolerance of such behaviour would be not good.
Clarification 5. In the case of same-sex, etc. sexual relations, the public
issues have to do (minimally) with balancing possible harm and freedom of
the following questions should be raised: Is there evidence for thinking that the
relations in question have harmful consequences to self or others? Or not?
there are such
harmful consequences, are they sufficiently
harmful to self or others so that we should question the wisdom of
engaging in or promoting such sexual behaviour? Or not?
the sake of truth, and for the sake of avoiding possible harm to innocents,
these are questions responsible adults should not be afraid to ask (e.g., see
my column Is promoting same-sex sex wise?). Questioning
is not phobic. Nor is it bigoted or intolerant.
conclude with this comment from Robert P. George, professor of jurisprudence at
Princeton University: “Cowardice is a greater danger to our civilization than
error. When people cannot muster the courage to speak the truth, error will
courage, then. Boldly seek truth and speak truth. And do so lovingly, with
gentleness and respect toward those who disagree.
(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, teaches
philosophy at Providence University College. The views expressed in this column
do not always represent the views of Providence.)
Should the use of public multiple-occupancy restrooms,
showers, and changing facilities be based on biological sex or “gender identity”?
I think the answer is biological sex.
Before I set out the reason for my answer, here
are four clarifications.
Clarification 1. All people are made in God's
image and deserve respect, including those who identify as “transgender.” (To
identify as transgender is to feel oneself is, or wishes oneself to be, the
opposite of one's biological sex; a.k.a. gender dysphoria, formerly known as
gender identity disorder.)
Clarification 2. According to John G. Stackhouse
Jr., “Gender dysphoria in particular, and the wider range of trans issues, are
matters disputed at the highest levels of psychological and psychiatric
expertise.” (Of related interest: A tracking of children who at one time
reported transgender feelings reveals that 70-80 percent of these children
spontaneously lost those feelings.)
Clarification 3. The percentage of the general
population that is transgender is small, apparently less than 1 percent and
perhaps even less than 0.5 percent.
Clarification 4. Love requires careful thinking.
In our desire to promote the well being of some, we also need to consider the
well being of others.
So why do I think the use of public multiple-occupancy
restrooms, showers, and changing facilities should be based on biology instead
of gender identity?
My reason is simple: prudence.
I think it's prudent (i.e., an exercise in sound
judgment on practical matters) to protect girls and women from the very real
possibility of sexual predators and perverts.
No, I am not saying that all transgender people
are sexual predators and perverts (though perhaps some are).
Rather, I'm saying that there are too many rapists
and pedophiles (whether transgender or heterosexual or whatever) from whom we,
as responsible citizens, must protect women and children. The concern here,
then, is not with transgenders, but with rapists and pedophiles who pretend to
We must also protect women and children from the
voyeurism of men and boys pretending to be transgender.
In other words, opening physically intimate
spaces such as public multiple-occupancy bathrooms, showers, etc. to anyone who
claims a transgender identity allows sexual predators to stalk their prey much,
much too easily.
Prudence also involves practicality. The fact is
that girls and women account for roughly 50 percent of the population whereas (as
mentioned) transgenders account for less than 1 or 0.5 percent.
Yes, the well being of transgenders is
important. But their bathroom and shower room needs can be easily accommodated by
adding some single-occupancy gender neutral facilities. And this can be done without
opening all women's bathrooms and shower rooms to every man or boy who claims
he feels female. Ditto for men's facilities and women or girls who feel they're
Let me put it this way: I care about the comfort
and well being of a transgender person in his/ her using a bathroom or shower
room, but I think it's wise not to allow this care to trump the comfort and
well being of my wife, daughters-in-law, aunts, mother-in-law, and future grand-children.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz put it this way: “As a
father of daughters, I'm not terribly excited about men being able to go alone
into a bathroom with my daughters…And I think that is a perfectly reasonable
determination for…people to make.”
Stackhouse puts it this way: “[Government and
school] authorities can be sure that
many children will be uncomfortable and even traumatized by the presence of
members of the other sex in bathrooms, change rooms, gym classes, swimming
classes, and the like. To knowingly plan to upset millions of young people in
the disputed interests of the very, very few is not enlightened, but [ideologically]
So, should any person who claims to feel they
are the opposite sex be permitted to use whatever public restroom, shower room,
and other related facilities they choose?
The reasonable (and non-transphobic) answer is
van der Breggen, PhD, is associate professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.)