Friday, June 08, 2007

The Surgeon General

Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., the president’s nominee for surgeon general, is taking hits from across the blogosphere for his "demonizing" of homosexuality. Dr. Holsinger has said this:
Four general groups of conditions may be encountered in homosexually active men: classical sexually transmitted diseases (gonorrhea, infections with Chlamydia trachomatis, syphilis, herpes simplex infections, genital warts, pubic lice, scabies); enteric diseases (infections with Shigella species, Campylobacter jejuni, Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis non-A, non-B, and cytomegalovirus); trauma (fecal incontinence, hemorrhoids, anal fissure, foreign bodies, rectosigmoid tears, allergic proctitis, penile edema, chemical sinusitis, inhaled nitrite burns, and sexual assault of the male patient); and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Jason Kuznicki, drawing on an essay by Princeton University professor emeritus Harry Frankfurt, says Holsinger is full of "bullshit," by which he means a complete indifference to the truth or falsity of facts alleged, but simply a desire to scare people.

I, for one, am scared.

As Jefferson put it, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; (and) that His justice cannot sleep forever." I believe homosexuality is a sin, and under the U.S. Constitution, the states are free to make it a crime. I agree with Jefferson, that capital punishment is not appropriate for the crime of homosexuality (Jefferson advocated castration). But a society that tolerates homosexuality is headed away from civilization into barbarism.

Many Libertarians will write me (and Jefferson) off as hopelessly backward, or "homophobic." "Phobia" is completely inaccurate. To quote Prof. Frankfurt, it is "bullshit." This is not an emotional issue, or a "phobia," for me or for Jefferson. My position against homosexuality is rational and constitutional: Every single person who signed the Constitution believed that homosexuality was contrary to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."

Kuznicki raises an excellent point, however, concerning the existence of "The Surgeon General." According to the government's website,
In 1798, Congress established the U.S. Marine Hospital Service—predecessor to today’s U.S. Public Health Service—to provide health care to sick and injured merchant seamen. In 1870, the Marine Hospital Service was reorganized as a national hospital system with centralized administration under a medical officer, the Supervising Surgeon, who was later give the title of Surgeon General.
Conservatives against "sodomy" and libertines against "homophobia" will continue arguing, or labeling the arguments of the other as "BS." Kuznicki writes:
Perhaps we’re not actually going to agree on any of these issues. But adding a bureaucrat in a uniform — empowered to give “official” opinions — doesn’t do one thing to clarify the debate. It just makes you and I [sic] fight all the harder, in order to make our own opinion the official one.

All of which raises the question: Might we be better off without these political drama queens? Why don’t we just close down the theater, mothball that silly costume, and carry on with our plain old doctors?
This is a position with which all libertarians can agree. The office and practice of the Surgeon General is beyond the authority delegated to the federal government by "We the People" in the Constitution.

7 comments:

JASON said...

Let's see if I understand this correctly. One federal bureaucrat with the power to issue an opinion is bad. But fifty state bureaucrats with the power to castrate are just fine by you.

I hope you'll pardon me if I say that your vision of libertarianism is radically different from my own. Remember, Mr. Craig, that the Libertarian Party was the first national political party that called for an end to state sodomy laws. This is because no government of any type belongs in the bedroom of consenting adults.

Gary McGath said...

"I agree with Jefferson, that capital punishment is not appropriate for the crime of homosexuality (Jefferson advocated castration). But a society that tolerates homosexuality is headed away from civilization into barbarism."

What's "barbaric" is the notion of castrating people for private, voluntary sexual practices.

Kevin Craig said...

I responded to Jason here. On Jason's blog there are more people like Gary McGath who accuse me of being "bizarro," a "hater," a "bigot," and now, "barbaric." All of these bloggers and commentators forget that they are leveling their criticisms against Thomas Jefferson, who wrote a law calling for castration of sodomists. As the response to Jason makes clear (and as my campaign webpages make clear), I oppose such punishments. The point I often make in this context is that the Constitution does not prohibit the states from legislating Christian morality. I only disagree with how they attempted to do this.

More recent discussion of this subject can be found here.

I liken these critics to what Rush Limbaugh calls the "drive-by media." These comments are uninformed, and are designed to prejudice the discussion rather than encourage enquiry and thoughtfulness. There is very little concern on the part of the hit-man to be sure he is fairly representing the position of his opponent. They are directed only to the party faithful.

I hope I do this less than I used to; I used to "denounce" the heretics in order to "protect the sheep." I would accuse my opponents of being no different than Jeffrey Dahmer or Adolph Hitler. I wanted to show how well-informed I was, as well as how great a stalwart for truth I was. Years later, I discovered I could learn a great deal from those I had warned others not to listen to. I even denounced men like James Dobson for his various inconsistencies, warning people not to read him, whereas now I link extensively to his website and recommend him highly (despite a few lingering inconsistencies).

I think I'm a pretty good messenger of libertarian policies to an audience of Bible-believing Christians. Nobody can accuse my policy proposals of being un-libertarian. I am only accused of thought-crimes. I expect criticisms from statists, but not libertarians. I liken their behavior to the bullying that characterized nazi thugs in the early 1930's.

Libertarians who shout the praises of a "free market of ideas" need to be a little more hesitant to shout-down their competition.

Free Libertarian said...

The issue is not whether the states can outlaw homosexuality (which they cannot) the issue is that for any government (state or federal) to prohibit homosexuality or legislating, as you say, "Christian morality" is an immoral encroachment on the rights of individual adults.
You can personally and publicly disagree with and condemn activities, like homosexuality all you want.
However, I would suggest considering the end to individual freedoms that will occur by supporting giving states the ability to regulate personal conduct.

Kevin Craig said...

Thanks for commenting, "Free Libertarian." I disagree with every single sentence in your comment, but I'm glad to be able to clarify things.

You say,

The issue is not whether the states can outlaw homosexuality (which they cannot)

Since I'm running for U.S. Congress, and would be required to take an oath to "support the Constitution," I like to pretend to do so, even though there's little chance of my being elected. Under the Constitution, the states were free to outlaw homosexuality. A full 200 years after the Constitution was signed, states like Georgia were still outlawing homosexuality, and the U.S. Supreme Court was still declaring such laws "constitutional" (Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986). It wasn't until 3 or 4 years ago that the Supreme Court declared that states could not outlaw homosexuality. The Constitution had not been amended between 1986 and 2003; this was just the Court deciding to make new laws.

the issue is that for any government (state or federal) to prohibit homosexuality or legislating, as you say, "Christian morality" is an immoral encroachment on the rights of individual adults.

Your use of the word "immoral" is interesting. How would you label the morality you wish to see legislated?

You can personally and publicly disagree with and condemn activities, like homosexuality all you want.

There are apparently many who would disagree with that statement. It seems that I cannot publicly condemn homosexuality as "immoral" if I want to be a candidate in the Libertarian Party.

However, I would suggest considering the end to individual freedoms that will occur by supporting giving states the ability to regulate personal conduct.

States already have that ability. I'm not in favor of them using it, by punishing homosexuality with fines, prison, or execution. And I'm against transferring that power from the states to the feds.

States still retain the power to regulate sex with children (much to the consternation of pedophiles). I do not worry very much that regulation of personal conduct which is contrary to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" will lead to "the end of all individual freedoms." I assume you do not object to the government making illegal an adult having sex with a child by declaring that a child cannot "consent," even if by outward observation there was no coercion and the child consented. But you deny the state the power to declare that two men cannot "consent" to homosexual acts. Your morality is arbitrary. Mine is based on "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."

Kent McManigal said...

Homosexuality in no way initiates force or fraud; it does not violate the Zero Agression Principle. Prohibiting it by force of law does initiate force against homosexuals, therefore prohibiting homosexuality by force of law is authoriarian in nature, not libertarian.

Kevin Craig said...

Thanks for the comment, Kent.

I agree that prohibition of homosexuality by force of law is the initiation of force and violates the "Zero Agression Principle." That's why I am against all such laws, as I state clearly on my website.

However, I disagree with your claim that "Homosexuality in no way initiates force or fraud." Suppose I decide to have sex with your 11 year-old daughter. Your daughter is very precocious: more intelligent and emotionally more mature than many air-headed 21-year olds who, if they were to hear the conversation between me and your daughter, would say that your daughter consented. And your daughter says she consented. Did I initiate force or fraud against your daughter? Legally, yes, because the law assumes that your daughter is incapable of giving "consent," even as it assumes that the 21 year old air-head is capable.

Every single person who signed the U.S. Constitution believed that homosexuality was a violation of "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Given that starting point, they reasoned that nobody could "consent" to a homosexual act, and homosexuality was prohibited in every state in America.

I believe that homosexuality and child molestation are not just the "initiation of force or fraud," but "abominations" in God's eyes, but I am commanded to leave vengeance to God.