Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Haidt’

The Sunday review: “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt

15/04/2012, 08:00:19 AM

by Anthony Painter

The other day a bus passed by me adorned with an ad from the campaign group, Stonewall. On a bold red background, white writing declared: “Some people are gay. Get over it.” The “get over it” was in black lettering. I thought “uh-oh, that’s dumb”.

To understand why I thought that, you need to read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

For many years, Haidt has deployed the tools and insights of psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and economic theory to understand the nature of human morality. He essentially breaks our moral instincts down into categories: harm; fairness (which is actually about reciprocity); respect for authority; commitment to an in-group; sanctity and purity which is associated with religious and tribal ceremony; and, for this book, he has added a sixth – liberty/oppression.

Those who believe in equality for homosexuals are generally motivated by reducing harm and liberty from oppression. Cards on the table – I happen to be one of the people with this instinctive moral sense. I am closer to a left-wing (liberal in Haidt’s terms) than a conservative morality. The problem is that there are different moral senses too. Those who are adamantly against homosexuality – a minority in recent years in our society – may feel that they threaten their group which may be a church, for example, or there is something impure about homosexuality. They may also feel that legal changes to advance equality oppress their liberty to reject homosexuality.

And this is why I felt discomfort at the “get over it” message. Presumably, the objective of a campaign is to persuade. This slogan almost seemed designed to mock, belittle and entrench positions against it. It seemed likely that there would be a reaction.

On Thursday, the reaction came. A group promoting “gay cure” therapies bought ad space and mimicking the original ad, deployed the slogan: “Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!” The entire notion of “gay cure” is harmful and oppressive.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon