Peter Boghossian “Responds” About Gay Pride

So Peter Boghossian has responded to the criticism of his comment about gay pride, the one where he said on Twitter and Facebook:

I’ve never understood how someone could be proud of being gay. How can one be proud of something one didn’t work for?

Well, okay. “Respond” is putting it strongly. Peter Boghossian has, airquotes, “responded” to the criticism of his comment about gay pride. On Twitter and Facebook, he’s said (among a few other similar things):

Questioning that one can be proud to be gay is a leftist blasphemy. #justbornthatway

and this:

I’m looking for an entirely new group of ideologues to enrage. What word should I disambiguate next?

It’s hard not to notice that Boghossian isn’t actually responding to the criticism. A lot of smart, thoughtful people have explained in some detail exactly why what he said was both mistaken and harmful (here’s my response), and his response is essentially, “Yeah, well, you’re poopyheads.”


Peter Boghossian “Responds” About Gay Pride

26 thoughts on “Peter Boghossian “Responds” About Gay Pride

  1. 1

    So, let me be the first to respond to Peter’s response. It is a well considered and wholly philosophical response, in keeping with his previous comments on the subject.

    To wit: Fuck off, asshole.

  2. 5

    The original tweet was small-minded and ignorant, but whatever, teachable moment BLAH blah blah. However, the pattern that keeps repeating itself with these New Atheist Thoughtleader Bros is that while they’re happy to dish out critique of others, they are immensely slow to consider any critique of their own behavior or words. Criticism for thee, but not for me.

    Which, forgive me, seems a bit irrational. Yeah, I said it!

  3. 6

    It would appear that Dr. Boghossian is incapable of examining criticism and learning from it. As a result, I agree with otrame @4 that Kevin Kehres’ response @1 is completely apropos.

  4. 7

    Oh yes, heaven forbid we embrace our sexuality instead of feeling ashamed because society sends us the message that we’re moral perverts engaged in sexual deviancy who seek to molest children and are going to hell. Nope, no reason to be proud to be gay.

  5. 8

    So he considers himself to be right-wing, then?

    Not at all. He more likely considers himself, as a priest of the atheist religion, qualified to determine what is and is not heretical.

    The next step would be to impose some sort of inquisition into how widespread such heresy is, I suppose.

  6. 10

    Blasphemy? I would be tempted to describe him as “perpetually posing as persecuted”, but I’m not sure I want to take on that style of slanging others.

    I don’t know if he didn’t understand your post. Certainly he didn’t bother to engage it.

  7. 11

    I’m still struggling to understand what he was trying to do. So, he attacked a civil rigths concept that’s at least a half century old with a dictionary, all for the sake of what? Impugning SJWs as tempermental ideologues? Is hipster homophobia the latest craze? Straight white atheist men are determined to jump that shark, aren’t they?

    I suppose I’ll have to stop adding ‘but they’re generally good on LBGT issues’ when I describe to others the clusterfuck of regressives that characterize movement atheism’s ‘leaders’.

  8. 13

    Boghossian is a Fellow of the Global Secular Council. As an Exalted 33 Degree Thought Leader of the Great Grand Atheist Thinky Alliance his opinions on any subject are worth much more than those of the lumpenproliteriat like thee and me. Just ask him, he’ll tell you.

    Right, I get the straightsplaining, and the undeserved arrogance. That’s just part of the movement atheism old guard leadership uniform. But up until now, LGBT people were one group the old guard anti-social-justice types hadn’t gleefully and maliciously tried to humiliate and alienate. (Note: it’s very possible that this has already been going on and I’m just unaware of it.) As Greta wrote in her far-too-patient response to his first tweet:

    You know, I really thought that in the atheist community, we were past this. I really thought that in the atheist community — despite some of the horrible racism, sexism, misogyny, anti-feminism, and ferocious opposition to social justice we’ve been seeing — we were overwhelmingly pro-LGBT. I really thought that, with the exception of a handful of nincompoops who we overwhelmingly disavowed, we understood the deep religious roots of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, and that we understood that fighting this bigotry was part and parcel of our fight against religious oppression. I really thought that no widely-read, widely-respected atheist author would be making ignorant jabs at LGBT people and LGBT culture, and posting snide, hostile, hurtful, “just asking questions” questions about us in public without actually bothering to ask any of us beforehand. Or rather, I really thought that no atheist author would do that and continue to be widely-read and widely-respected.

    I’d though so too.

    So who is he trying to appeal to? Are there that many anti-SJ atheists who are going to applaud an anti-LGBT JAQing off tweet? The follow up tweets are straight up admission to trolling the left with LGBT rights as bait. So he’s Ann Coulter sans God. Is there enough of an atheist Fox News contingent that he’s going to get a lot of support for this?

    (Seriously, contending that LGBT don’t have a right to use language without his approval is Fox News level. He is not actually bravely putting forth a dictionary argument that no-one else has ever brought up in the past several decades, so don’t try to tell us this is actually about ethics in games journalism. If he was sincere, he would not have equated being given responses to his inquiry with being his persecuted as a heretic.)

  9. 14

    I’m sorry you still have to put up with this kind of bullshit, Greta, and other queer atheists. What a waste of your time and your energies to constantly be prodded to respond to inane shit like his, only to be accused of being the Inquisition when you do.

  10. 15

    I suppose I’ll have to stop adding ‘but they’re generally good on LBGT issues’ when I describe to others the clusterfuck of regressives that characterize movement atheism’s ‘leaders’.

    Anthony K @ #11: I actually think Boghossian is something of an outlier in this area. But he does obviously have his anti-social-justice minions who will defend anything he says or does — especially if it involves poking at the supposed left-wing ideologue Mafia — even if it means abandoning one of the central issues that organized atheism has been organizing around for years.

  11. 16

    I had a similar feeling as he does, but at least I was smart enough to realize that 1) Words have different meanings in different contexts, and 2) I might be missing something that makes the standard meaning of “pride” appropriate.

    All my concerns vanished after my first Pride event, and in any event the worst I got was wondering if there might be a better word to describe the concept, rather than shitting on the concept itself as Boghossian appears to be doing.

    I don’t mind that he publicly wondered why the word “pride” was being used, but he clearly didn’t care what the answer ended up being. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t even read responses further than to find out they disagreed with him.

    Comes off like “Sure, you can have equal rights, now stay in your corner and be quiet while the rest of us make all sorts of noise”.

  12. 17

    One of the problems with the skepticism movement is that there are so many folk who think that refusing to accept facts that challenge their preconceived ideas makes them a skeptic.

    I first noticed Boghossian when he bravely jumped on the Sokal bandwagon to attack Social Text at a time when precisely nobody was defending them. Well apart from folk like me who were pointing out that Sokal was rather misrepresenting the nature of the periodical he had scammed and didn’t seem very interested in understanding what he was making fun of.

    It seems to me that when people are accusing others of being sloppy with logic, they need to avoid doing the same.

  13. 21

    Lots of people talk about being proud to be American, how is that different? For a professor of epistemology, Boghossian seems remarkably lacking in consistency.

    W.S.Gilbert lampooned that type of patriotic pride, “for in spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations, he is an Englishman’. Why would Boghossian call out Gay Pride when patriotic pride is far more likely to be imposed on people? Why are people ‘proud’ of the achievements of the Boston Red Sox despite never playing on the team or working for the organization in any capacity?

    I think that the reason is that people readily understand that patriotic pride is not pride in ones own achievements but the pride in the shared achievements of a community that they are a member of. Once that is understood, gay pride is understood in the same fashion.

    Boghossian has something of a history of standing up for the overdog and belittling the consequences of a history of oppression, clothing his rather insular and ignorant views in the garb of skeptical enquiry. Take his swipe at ‘factual relativism’ in his piece jumping on the Sokal bandwagon. One of the main foundations of his argument is a quote in the New York Times in which Roger Anyon, a representative working for the Zuni people asserts that “The Zunis’ world view is] just as valid as the archeological viewpoint of what prehistory is about.”

    Now this seems absurd unless you read the article and understand that (1) this is a legal dispute (2) the relevant law explicitly recognizes native American theology as a valid basis for evidence and (3) the fact that the US committed numerous genocides against the Native American peoples during the 19th century.

    So what we have here is not an argument about fact but an argument about law. The archeologist wants to dig and uncover the truth, the Zuni don’t want him to. Their real issue is not with the repatriation of remains, it is to put the archeologist out of business. And they have every reason to be suspicious of the archeologist’s activities given their history. They understand that whatever evidence he might discover is a losing proposition for them.

    The Zuni legal strategy makes perfect legal and political sense. It doesn’t make scientific sense but the Zuni are far from the only culture that is not interested in knowing the past. The legal complexities of archeology in Palestine and Israel are far more tortuous than in the US and for much the same reasons. When people are going to use the past to infer consequences in the present, that is going to constrain attempts to unearth the past.

    Now it is one thing for a random blogger to make the mistakes Boghossian does but he is a professor of epistemology.

  14. 23

    For some reason I’m imagining Peter Boghossian in 1968, going around telling Black activists that they should take off their BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL t-shirts or badges because objectively speaking black is neither more nor less beautiful than any other color or ethnicity.

  15. 24

    I can understand the glimmer of a point that is behind that tweet….i’m as proud of being attracted to men as i am about having hazel eyes or a white lock of hair on my beard. These things just are. They are not my achievements or the product of any effort, they are simply what is. BUT since there is this thing called homophobia and the vast majority of us have known what it is to be at best discriminated and at worst hated, despised and abused for this thing that just is and which is neither our fault nor our achievement, i say it is perfectly fucking understandable for people who happen to have this characteristic and who have unjustly suffered because of it, to rebel on their acceptance of themselves and the acceptance that they get from others, to be fucking proud that they survived and that they are alive and non-exclusively heterosexual. There is a reason why one opposite of shame is pride.

  16. 25

    @ azhael 24,

    Agreed. I am not proud of my shoe size, but if there were tremendous social pressure to have a size 6 mens shoe, and all those who don’t would inherit historical legacies of deprivation and continue to be blamed for their shoe size I could understand why foot pride might be a thing.

    What is so striking is that this is so similar to being non-religious that it makes it all the more maddening.

    It’s a shame because I liked most of his book (except the fucking bizarre right-wing anti-multiculturalism shit in the back).

  17. 26

    What I think I may never understand about Peter Boghossian and people who say or write such assinine remarks is why they think that just because they have a thought that thought has to be shared with others.

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