The recent revelations of the Tim Lefever (Ken and Stacy Mattson investment partner) Sacramento anti-gay crusade, and the Stacy Mattson anti-gay Facebook posts brings to bear a complicated topic of how best to describe, explain, and deal with ignorance and intolerance. I’m going to take one tack here and address the ignorance piece. I’ll describe what I see as a facile cultural prejudice that ignores the facts and laws of nature.
Laws of nature are different than human laws in that laws of nature simply describe what exists. Human laws, (institutionalized opinion) on the other hand, prescribe preferences.
Intolerance bleeds into ignorance, especially when the laws of nature, that being LGBTQ is natural, are ignored. Yet, people can be prejudiced and bigoted regardless of whether something like the natural reality of LGBTQ in society is accepted as true or not. Bigotry and intolerance exist in spite of scientific truth to the contrary. I won’t address such cultural parochialism here. Suffice it to say there is a universal human tendency to vilify others who are different from them, and this has been the basis for much human suffering since day one.
The application of bigotry and small-minded parochialism to truth as reflected in natural law does not make such truth wrong or suspect. But in a world where people do have a reasoning capacity, and where we are capable of arriving at best-rational-explanations, it is possible to show where LGBTQ-intolerant people are operating under wrong and ignorant assumptions. That’s what I intend to do here.
Being LGBTQ represents natural biological sexual variation that simply is. Natural sexual variation contains more expressions than simply male and female. This is a demonstrable law of nature and not open to question. To discriminate against people for something they did not choose and cannot help, and have a natural right to be, is ignorant. The laws of nature as they pertain to LGBTQ people, are that these people exist equally; they are not more or less, and their sexual expressions are normal and natural, and call to be accepted as such.
Human laws are social constructs and represent relative cultural preferences. These types of laws are on another plane than natural laws. Human laws typically represent the majority, and sanctify the power of the in-group, define what is normal, and vilify and discriminate against those in out-groups. LGBTQ people all belong to the culture and society of their respective in-groups, they are not born from outside the group, yet they are minorities in terms of frequency of sex and gender expressions. In-group/ out-group parochialism (even within in-groups) has been with us a long time and is responsible for a human history littered with bigotry, violence, and suffering. Why this intolerance is so is the subject for other essays.
Social constructs are nothing if not completely loaded with meaning, symbols and significance. This level of meaning is subjective. When such subjective, human law social constructs insist on framing the world as flat, or denying the natural validity of the LGBTQ community, it is incumbent on the educated to distinguish fact from fiction, and to help reframe what is objectively real or not. Real and true, when it comes to natural law, is not only reserved for a cultural majority.
There can be no “open-minded discussion” about preferential points of view that deny the laws of nature. The laws of nature are real, and if people refuse to accept them out of willful ignorance, the best and most efficacious way forward to changing hearts and minds is not to be against such ignorance but to be for enlightenment and objective truth where those things, like LGBTQ sexual variation, are shown to actually be true and real. Being for something does not mean a milquetoast, pacifist-only approach. The patently false still has to be called out and named, it’s just about the style of how you do that.
The smart thing for modern people to do is to make human laws congruent with natural laws, and to not discriminate against people who are simply born LGBTQ, woman, or black.
Given that there are highly prominent business people in Sonoma who depend on the public for business patronage and for good will to support many projects, and these people deny natural law and discriminate against LGBTQ people, I suggest a boycott of their $80 million dollar holdings until they apologize, recant, and take steps to make amends. The public is under no obligation to support discriminatory businesses.
The reason I suggest a boycott is because Mr. Lefever is actively trying to roll back LGBTQ rights; this is not merely a matter of opinion; we are talking active efforts to harm LGBTQ people. Until such efforts to harm the LGBTQ community are withdrawn, support for the local Mattson-Lefever empire should be held in abeyance. Should Mattson-Lefever have a change of heart, all people deserve to be redeemed and be forgiven when they change their ways for the good.
Now the long version.
Natural law and natural rights
Law of nature: all species are born with and express with a variety of sexual traits. These traits are on a spectrum and are expressed at a certain frequency. This is natural, normal, and why society has, and has always had, an LGBTQ cohort. Individuals who express natural sexual variation, (or have a certain skin color or ethnic stock, or any number of valid differences), have natural rights to simply be who and what they are. No one chose to be born with certain traits or not. It is human law that discriminates here, not natural law. Natural law represents simply what is.
If LGBTQ people are to be vilified by human law, for being born in a regime of natural law with traits they cannot help, this is the worst kind of prejudice, to discriminate against people for traits they did not choose and that they can’t help.
Again, people are not just born male or female. There is a large spectrum of inter-sex traits a person can have. (1)
Scientific method and objective truth
Our understanding of natural laws gets updated through the scientific method, and as the scientific investigative process matures, laws become stronger and more refined. Sexual variation in animals, and the expression of inter-sex traits is a natural-law-level fact that has only been reinforced through modern research.
People can say that science itself is a relative cultural construct, and dismiss it the same way Trump Republicans dismiss anthropogenic climate change, or on some other basis. However, scientific laws are not merely a matter of opinion; they reflect a rigorous investigative method, are proven, and are based on the best objective, duplicable criteria at the time.
The valid existence of LGBTQ people is a natural law expression of human biological variation, not simply a matter of opinion or a “theory” in the sense that someone just made it up.
Human laws are opinions
Religious and cultural prejudices get to be human laws only in the sense that people gain power and then proscribe what they think behavior should be, and then try to force such views on others, or worse. Human laws, including all religions, are not equivalent to the laws of nature, nor to the scientific and biological facts on the ground. The laws of nature merely describe what is. It would be absurd for a human law to proscribe the boiling point of water as 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or that organisms can only be male or female and that’s it.
To the extent that human laws account for the laws of nature, for example accepting LGBTQ expressions as natural, or the with the greenhouse effects of too much carbon in the atmosphere, this is smart, rational, and adaptive. To the extent that human laws ignore the laws of nature, like the Soviets ignoring Darwinian evolution and genetic heredity, or medieval Catholics ignoring Galileo, or Trump/ Republicans ignoring anthropogenic climate change, is retrograde, self-defeating, and ignorant.
Scientific laws describe processes that are not open to question. Genetics and sexual variation are as much facts as is the boiling point of water. The sexual variation that makes for the existence of the LGBTQ community in society, is based on natural law. This is the same for being born black or as a woman. Cultures can make being LGBTQ or being black or female illegal, and put in place discriminatory provisions, but these are human laws, which in this case, go against natural laws.
The laws of nature as they pertain to LGBTQ people, are that these expressions are normal and natural, and call to be accepted as such.
What is open and closed minded?
There can be no “open-minded discussion” about the natural frequency of sexual variation if the proposition is to consider that a natural law is not a natural law, and that human laws should contradict natural laws. This would be akin to being open-minded to a proposition that a year is 403 days, or that the earth is the center of the solar system. It can’t be done, merely as a matter of accurate description. That’s where an adherence to the scientific method must lead as it pertains to LGBTQ people.
Tolerate willful ignorance?
The question then becomes, how to combat willful ignorance? This is an important question. Mr. Lefever, is trying to impose willful ignorance on all of society through proposing prejudicial human laws against the LGBTQ community. Calling out and exposing willful ignorance is the responsibility of all educated people, especially if such willful ignorance results in human activities as slavery, persecution, loss of legal rights, and genocide, or in ignoring the deleterious effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These sorts of ignorant and cruel human behaviors cause harm to innocent others, and are not able to be steered onto a level of open-minded discussion.
It is easy enough to see that human laws and cultural prejudices against the LGBTQ community could easily progress, and have progressed in some countries, to discrimination, incarceration, torture, and murder. Therefore, a willful ignorance against the natural law of sexual variation, that causes harm to innocent individuals and to whole classes of people, is evil, and needs to be stood up against at every turn. Evil, that which is no good, must be named.
The efforts of Mr. Lefever, to make the natural law of human sexual variation illegal in California, displays a high degree of ignorance and lack of education. The trajectory is to force a medieval fire and brimstone Christianity (2) onto a modern world where natural laws are increasingly able to form the basis of human policy decisions.
Hate the haters? No.
The question of how to best handle the LGBTQ views of people like Lefever and the Mattsons, in the realm of human laws and social constructs, can be summed up well by the following quote from the I Ching.
“Even if only one inferior man is occupying a ruling position in a city, he is able to oppress superior men. Even a single passion still lurking in the heart has power to obscure reason. Passion and reason cannot exist side by side–therefore fight without quarter is necessary if the good is to prevail.
In a resolute struggle of the good against evil, there are, however, definite rules that must not be disregarded, if it is to succeed. First, resolution must be based on a union of strength and friendliness. Second, a compromise with evil is not possible; evil must under all circumstances be openly discredited. Nor must our own passions and shortcomings be glossed over. Third, the struggle must not be carried on directly by force. If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion. Therefore, it is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil becomes dulled. For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.”
What to do?
This revelation about Lefever and the Mattsons is a big deal in Sonoma Valley, not only for the intolerance based on untruth right here among us, but also because the Mattsons, and the Mattson-Lefever group have recently bought $80 million of real estate, much of it commercial and relying on high degrees of tourism and local patronage. Why would people who depend on the general public for their livelihood want to alienate the public and a client base that is known to have a high percentage of LGBTQ people? Why should the public support such people’s businesses and endeavors, especially with no mea culpa and apology? This kind of revelation about the Mattsons and Mr. Lefever’s ignorance is not going to just go away. The arrow has already hit the mark.
I suggest that without a mea culpa and public apology, that the general public boycott the Mattson-Lefever \ properties. This is voting with your feet. A sincere change of heart would then call for forgiveness. With no change of heart, the public should vote with their feet and avoid patronizing Mattson-Lefever properties. Why support people who actively work to deny others their natural rights?
I also suggest that people follow the I Ching’s advice. It is clear what is good and bad here. There is no basis in natural law facts to assert LGBTQ people deserve to be discriminated against. Discrimination based on such ignorance cannot be abided, and has to be spoken out against. However, to vilify only gets into a downward spiral of hating and parochialism all over again. Speak up for the objective truth, be for the good more than against evil, and vote with your pocketbook.
“Evil” in the I Ching quote is equivalent to ignorant intolerance, of all types, and especially, for the purposes of this essay, of the truth of natural laws concerning LGBTQ people. There can be no open-minded discussion where natural law truth is elided.
As Pope John Paul said, “truth cannot contradict truth.” Here we find ourselves in a place where willfully ignorant religious belief again (like with the case of Galileo) has not quite caught up with science and natural law. Reasonable men like Pope John Paul can see there is going to have to be an adjustment to account for objective truths that will not be going away. Best for the Mattsons and Mr. Lefever to read the writing on the wall, get congruent with natural law, and make amends, to clear the decks and restore their standing in the community.
Further reading: Is Homosexuality Unnatural?, by Burton M. Leiser, from Leiser, Liberty, Justice, and Morals: Contemporary Values Conflicts 1986
It has also come out that the Mattsons are Trump supporters. The Trump administration takes an extreme version of an already existent American trajectory that has glorified white, western European, Christian people, and makes white heterosexuals the measure of “normal” or mainstream culture. This frame has been called “strict father morality”, and tends to be taken up by conservatives. For whites, and white men in this vein, integration of any “others” is seen as a threat to their privilege and status.
For LGBTQ people, the Trump regime has meant a rollback of rights and opportunities gained, and attacks on their increasing human-law normalization. This coincides with Trump’s increased use of hate speech, calculated divisiveness, and increasing cultural intolerance, that derive in part from the fire and brimstone Christianity and nativism cohorts of Republicanism. One aspect of this happens right here in town every day at the Clinic. The Clinic must now ask on its health care questionnaire the question: sex at birth, male or female? If the Clinic refuses to ask the question, they could lose federal funds.
This health care question is a big deal because it puts human-law cultural preferences above the facts of, and in contradiction to, natural law. Natural law is that people are not just born male or female.
This is why the Trump healthcare question is so mean and nasty, yet it is in character with all the other strict father, white supremacy Trump Republican cultural memes: anti-immigrant, anti-black, anti- Muslim, anti-liberal, anti-Jewish, anti-woman, and on down the line. One would logically conclude that the Mattsons and Mr. Lefever hold these other views as well.
And so all of the public and Mattson employees of these various stripes should just have an open-minded discussion about the freedom to have opinions against people who have traits they cannot help? All of the above deserve to be excluded? How can Ken Mattson say he will respect diversity locally but in his heart, not really respect it? This all puts the Mattsons and Mr. Lefever in a bad spot, not only for their hard-hearted views, but because they have $80 million riding on top of endeavors that call for public good will.
Christianity has an alternate thread to that of fire and brimstone rigidity and intolerance. This thread comes from the compassionate, inclusive messages of Jesus. Mr. Lefever and the Mattsons might try attending some more inclusive churches: the local Congregational and Methodist churches, who both have LGBTQ pastors, or the Unitarians or Quakers in Santa Rosa.