Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Richardson says it is a choice, or not

At the Democrat debate:
Perhaps the most surprising moment of the night came when Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, causing a visible stir in the audience, replied to a questions about whether he believed being gay was a biological fact or a personal choice.

"It’s a choice," Mr. Richardson said, a view that is contrary to the position of many gay rights advocates. He added, "I don’t like to answer definitions like that that are perhaps grounded in science or something else that I don’t understand."
Richardson had to backtrack:
"Let me be clear — I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice," Mr. Richardson said in the statement. "But I’m not a scientist, and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law."
Richardson does appear far too inept politically to be President, but his comments here are not totally stupid. It is entirely possible that homosexuality is a choice, that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that the questions are properly answered by choosing some definitions and doing a scientific study. The term homosexuality usually refers to behavior, and there is certainly some choice about it. The term "sexual orientation" was concocted to reflect a part of human nature that is not a choice.

It is the gay rights advocates who want their personal views to supersede science. If there were some scientific proof that homosexuality is not a choice, then they could just cite the scientific papers.

The is a similar controversy over whether obesity is a choice. Just in the last week, NewScientist reported that kids can get fat because a leptin deficiency gives them a food addiction. A New England Journal of Medicine article claims that obesity is contagious. This latter paper is so goofy that it has to have a glossary of its own jargon:
Ego: The person whose behavior is being analyzed.
Alter: A person connected to the ego who may influence the behavior of the ego....
Induction: The spread of a behavior or trait from one person to another.
I wonder what these politicians would say if asked whether being fat is a choice.

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