Images of the Macabre and the Grotesque

By DeusExMacintosh

It takes one to know one

Cardinal Keith O’Brien said countries which legalise gay marriage are “shaming themselves” by going against the “natural law,” and should not consider their actions “progress”.

He claimed same sex unions were the “thin end of the wedge” and would lead to the “further degeneration of society into immorality.”

In a series of controversial comments, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that if same sex marriage were legalised, “further aberrations would take place and society would be degenerating even further than it already has into immorality.”

The interview, conducted by John Humphries, followed an article Cardinal O’Brien wrote for the Sunday Telegraph, in which he likened gay marriage to slavery…

Responding to accusations that his use of language, including the word “grotesque”, was inflammatory, he said:

“I am not saying it is grotesque, but perhaps to some people it might appear grotesque.

“I don’t think it’s inflammatory at all. I think it’s handing on the teaching of the Christian Church for more than 2,000 years and I am doing my best to hand it on in a way than many people can hear it.

“I think if the UK does go for same sex marriage it is indeed shaming our country.

The Telegraph

So, your Eminence… huge numbers of gay men who cross-dress, live together and think about nothing but sex. Is this “against natural law” or just Catholicism?


  1. Ripples
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    If they were to tidy up their own nest then they might seem less foolish in their pronouncements. I really wish they would stop using the “Natural Law” argument when they are referring to any argument that favours their particular flavour of bigotry. I thought the natural law argument fell down on homosexual behaviour given it is found in species other than homo sapiens.

  2. Posted March 6, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    [email protected]

    I thought the natural law argument fell down on homosexual behaviour given it is found in species other than homo sapiens.

    Natural law arguments permit the conclusion to set the ambit of its premises. (So the existence of same-sex activity, relationships, parenting etc in nature does not count since they are perverse manifestations of sexuality: it is the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.) A mode of argument which lets the conclusion set the ambit of its premises is obviously very useful to support religious doctrine.

    On a broader note, the Cardinal’s comments are exactly the same sort of argument that Catholic authorities have used to block a range of equal rights claims (Jews, women, heretics …). Bigotry has a logic to it that keeps repeating.

  3. kvd
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Macabre, grotesque; I love those two words! Led me back to Swift’s Gulliver – where maybe a suitable replacement descriptor for Messrs O’Brien and Pope might be ‘Yahoo’ – described as filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the comfort of the hero.

    And don’t get me playing with dirty habits, Popes, and suchlike. The only remarkable one was Alexander 😉

  4. Posted March 6, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    My favourite response to the argument that homosexuality does not occur in nature — in this case, made by Plato — was the Roman jurist Ulpian’s comment that ‘clearly, Plato never owned a dog’.

    That remark manages to combine the lawyer, the Roman and the anti-philosopher ever so beautifully.

    Ulpian owned a succession of sheepdogs, by the way.

  5. Ripples
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Thanks for the clarification on natural law as used by the religious position.

    In retrospect that was a poor sentence I wrote. I should have said

    “I thought the natural law argument did not support claims against homosexual behavior given such behavior is observed in species other than Homo sapiens”.

    I regret “the natural law argument fell down on homosexual behaviour” Ahh retrospect and a poor choice of words and poor spelling to boot.

    The natural world demonstrates quite a lot of what the good cardinal would think of as aberrant behaviours. Animals indulging in cross species sexual congress would have to fall into the not fully approved of category. Yet it is a behaviour commonly observed.

    I am sure an amorous interlude between the cardinal’s leg and a frisky Rottweiler would only serve to reinforce the cardinal’s position rather than change it.

  6. Mel
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m sick of gutless atheists who think it’s OK for these frock wearing creeps to denigrate others but then complain when fellow atheists given them a good tongue lashing. Onya Dicky Dawkins!!

  7. Posted March 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Thinking in terms of “aberrant” sexual behaviour, Ripples, the only one *I* can think of (that genuinely doesn’t seem to occur in animals) is.. um, celibacy. Anyone care to break that to a catholic theologian?!

  8. paul walter
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I think he misses the point, that not all people embarking on relationships are interested in just getting their rocks off.
    Isn’t sex just peripheral to a full relationship?
    What about the walks, the outings, the laughter, shared times and projects, support in dark times?
    So that reduces, maybe relationships are an example of some thing where the whole is greater than the individual components.
    Maybe any abiding caring collaboration between two people emphasises Natural Law, because there are bonding as well as procreative factors.
    I think there is enough evidence to suggest that gay people follow a certain predisposition, the same as heteros, that we all to some extent predetermined.
    A gay person should no more be punished for his or her inclinations than I should because women turn me on.
    But if I am a selfish person, I will lose the love. That’s where the real issue is and why many gay relationships will fit closer to natural law than some hetero relationships, because the bonding component is left in tact and not “observed in the breach”.
    Loneliness, the greatest curse of all is consigned back to the darkness from whence it came.

  9. Adrien
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    If you really want to deploy the ‘natural law’ argument then, considering our closest relatives in nature are Bonobo apes, considering also how they’re thought to solve conflicts

    Well it might be time to change the title and mission statement of Defense departments the world over.

  10. Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Great link. The bonobos, something of a biological treasure 🙂

  11. Mike
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    The Catholic Church were slow to embrace a round planet, the idea that the Earth revolves around the sun and that old women with facial moles and hunched backs are not witches.

    Will it take the passing of a dogmatic Pope Benedict and the election of a pope with some scientific literacy before Catholic teaching will finally accept the truth about natural laws?

    The nature of DNA equates 98% of our genome with Bonobos. Some part of that 98% is likely to include our shared diversity in sexuality that is passed by heredity in multitudes of species for reasons that remain a mystery to many, speculation to others but most certainly don’t fit neatly into contorted theological corsets.

    Nature can appear grotesque only if you have pre-conceptions about nature. The Catholic Church have an awful track record of understanding the nature of our natural universe, but should we live in hope that reality will eventually triumph? Nah, let its inevitable extinction take its course.

  12. Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Fair dos, Mike, the cattle-ticks are actually pretty good when it comes to scientific literacy these days (they laugh as hard as anyone else about creationism for instance) what is called a “Natural Law” argument in Catholic theology/philosophy actually has nothing to do with the biological sciences. They in effect set up the philosophical/religious ideal and call it “natural” (celibacy and monogamous heterosexual relationships within marriage for example) as opposed to any alternatives which are classed as “unnatural” (same sex marriage or hetrosexual relationships outside marriage, divorce and the like). It’s more a value judgement than a truth claim.

    We may share 98% of our genome with Bonobos but we also share about 80% of our genome with a banana!

  13. Posted March 25, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Do you have a reference for that wonderful remark by Ulpian?

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