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Immoral Philosophy

July 4, 2010

In three years at St Andrews, I’ve come to view the town as a reasonably liberal place. Of course, there is a weighty kernel of wealth at the middle of everything, and with all the Hunter wellies and Jack Wills that decorate the Yahvenues there will always come a certain amount of ill-informed Tory bigotry. This is not to say that such prejudice is restricted to the rich and infamous of St Andrews. Intolerance, sadly, is everywhere, but it’s not as prevalent as you might expect in the home of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. There is a strong leftist presence within the student body (even if they are often consumed by in-fighting), and the LGBT society, while not always at the top of their game, are generally safe from attack by brick-wielding skinheads or religious fundamentalists. All in all, I’d say the Bubble is a fairly balanced and accepting place.

bigotImagine my dismay at hearing that the Philosophy department have awarded a Professorial Fellowship to a certain Roger Scruton, philosopher, journalist and (apparently) novelist and poet. I’m going to be honest, I haven’t read a single one of Scruton’s books, so it’s not up to me to criticise him as a writer. My chief concern is with this article in the Telegraph, in which Scruton attacks the right of same-sex couples to adopt children. I will freely admit that I am biased in this matter; as a gay man who hopes eventually to start a family, adoption is likely to be my first port of call. It seems ludicrous to me to go through the fuss and expense of surrogacy or IVF or whatever when there are children in the world in need of a loving family. That’s just how I see it. Scruton, however, would seek to deny me that, claiming that my desire to raise a child wth someone I love is selfish and an injustice to the child.

The jist of Scruton’s article is this:

The purpose of adoption is not to gratify the foster parents but to help the child. And since, on the religious view, the only help that can be offered is the provision of a real family, it is no more an act of discrimination to exclude gay couples than it is to exclude incestuous liaisons or communes of promiscuous “swingers”. Indeed, the implication that adoption is entirely a matter of the “rights” of the prospective parents shows the moral inversion that is infecting modern society. Instead of regarding the family as the present generation’s way of sacrificing itself for the next, we are being asked to create families in which the next generation is sacrificed for the pleasure of the present one. We are being asked to overlook all that we know about the fragility of homosexual partnerships, about the psychological needs of children, and about the norms that still prevail in our schools and communities, for the sake of an ideological fantasy.

I find this offensive. Not only does Scruton accuse same-sex couples ofwanting to start a family purely as an act of self-gratification, he questions the ability of such couples to raise a child. Other than breast milk, I fail to see what a heterosexual couple could provide that two male parents could not. With lesbian couples, even this single exclusion is removed. The idea that same-sex couples adopt children only as an ideological statement is disgusting, especially when expressed within an article that is determined from the offset to mark homosexuals with an indelible stamp of otherness. Homosexuals adopt for the same reason as heterosexuals — to give a child the opportunity of a better life, and to bring that child into the light and warmth of their existing loving relationship. Any parent who tells you that having a child is an act of self-sacrifice and nothing else needs to be checked for post-natal depression, or a soul. And Scruton’s concerns over the ‘fragility’ of homosexual relationships are simply an attempt to assert moral and social superiority as a divinely-ordained hetero.

In short, no, Department of Philosophy, I do not want this narrow-mided bigot preaching his ignorance to my university for half a semester every year. Kindly fuck off.


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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 4, 2010 3:23 pm

    Hot topic, and interesting. I’ve just seen a bit about a gay American couple just now starting a family through the use of a surrogate mother. Let me tell you: I’ve never seen a prouder set of parents! These gentlemen were as excited as I’ve ever seen two people about to have a child enter their lives. How is it that such obvious love for a baby/child could go wrong?? Answer: it can’t, and that’s a good – no, great – thing.

    One thought from a straight man: the divorce rate amongst straights in the US is well above 50%, and just imagine what that’s doing to the children consumated within those marriages. I am completely for gay marriage and families, though I’m sure I’m in the minority, especially among my peers. Good work here; Let’s see if the university ever picks up on the problem.

    Richard

  2. July 4, 2010 3:42 pm

    Shall we make an e-petition?

    • Harry Giles permalink
      July 4, 2010 5:55 pm

      Yes. Do.

      Have a look at some of Scruton’s books, if you can stomach it. He’s at the forefront of legitimising homophobia through “philosophy” — often heralded by the right as a voice of reason in their battle for sexual conservatism, but really he’s just a bigot using different language,

  3. Joe Slater permalink
    July 6, 2010 10:34 pm

    Nice article.
    I’ve not really heard much about his background before, and despite a retraction of sorts of this view, I’m still extremely sceptical about this appointment. I think I’ll discuss this with my philosophers and see what we can do about this.

  4. July 7, 2010 12:39 am

    I agree with your article and hence have taken the liberty to start a wee fb group to gather people, who likewise oppose the idea of having him lecture: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=132417533458351

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