July 2nd 2016


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY CFA dispute may end up burning Victorian Labor electorally

CANBERRA OBSERVED July 2: Independence Day or Groundhog Day?

EDITORIAL Expect shockwaves as Britain votes on EU exit

CLIMATE CHANGE Coral bleaching way overdone by reef saviours

EUTHANASIA Victorian report closer to truth in dissenting voices

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump v Clinton race revealing of state of U.S.

SEXUAL POLITICS Transgenderism and the triumph of marketing

EDUCATION Deconstruction and other rot at school

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS Two heretics: Hilaire Belloc and R.H. Tawney

FREE SPEECH From disagreement to discrimination: section 18C

LITERATURE Tolkien, Golding and Hell

SOCIETY New lease on life for freedom machine

MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT Talent shows grind down singers, grind out drivel

CINEMA Puppet people pull the plug: Me Before You

BOOK REVIEW HOMOSEXUALITY, MARRIAGE AND SOCIETY

BOOK REVIEW Friendship under fire

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BOOK REVIEW HOMOSEXUALITY, MARRIAGE AND SOCIETY




News Weekly, July 2, 2016

by Rabbi Shimon Cowen

Connor Court, Redlands Bay
Paperback: 94 pages
Price: AUD$19.95

 

Reviewed by Dr Andrew Mullins

 

Do you remember the Year of Tolerance 20 years ago? Among the materials sent to Australian schools from a quasi-governmental body were glossy materials promoting a homosexual lifestyle. I returned them with a note explaining that the parents in my school would not accept promotion of homosexuality to their children and so I would not be using them.

Crime reporter Harry Potter heard of this and rang me: “The public have a right to know that this material is being peddled.” The next night Channel 10 news featured a young mum reporter covering the story very sympathetically. There was overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Times have changed. The Andrews’ Victorian Government has now mandated that every child in every government school in Victoria will be taught that homosexual behaviour is as normal as heterosexual behaviour. To state truth is to be branded homophobic; the front-page banner in The Australian recently denounced an Islamic cleric as “anti-gay” for preaching that homosexual behaviour can spread AIDS. Would any Australian television channel now have the courage to defend parents’ rights to give moral guidance about homosexuality to their own children?

Given this current climate Shimon Cowen has written a courageous book, and one that is greatly needed. I think it is not possible to read this book closely, consider the evidence it presents, and not feel great indignation at politicians who are paid to do their homework to make decisions for the common good, but who have sold out to an aggressive and highly organised lobby.

Although Cowen adopts language of the Abrahamic faith tradition, he contrasts a “universal ethics” to the hedonist ethic which elevates impulse over conscience, and self over other. He invites us to choose between these worldviews. He writes: “Without conscience, the mind is the trustee of mere desire.”

A rational psychology underpins his anthropology; Cowen defends the capacity of human beings to distinguish right from wrong, to live for others, and to persist in the pursuit of difficult goals contrary to their impulses and fears. His view is very similar to that of Pope Benedict XVI, who argued that our sexual behaviours can make or break us: “What we do in our bodies must affect us profoundly as persons.”

Tapping into the best of contemporary psychology, Cowen exposes the half-truths, misrepresentations and lies of the same-sex campaign. He analyses the history of the depathologisation of same-sex attraction.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association, issued, without any consideration of the diverse causes of homosexuality, the ideological value judgement that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality. This view persists, with the result that the same-sex lobby argues that if homosexuality has no endogenous (internally caused) features of illness and if it is “normal” but genetic in origin, then any mental illness associated with homosexuality must be exogenously (externally) caused by stigma and victimisation.

In contrast, Cowen’s argument is impressive and precise. Both Tom Benton, director of the American College of Pediatricians, and Francis Collins, past director of the Genome Project, hold that, even if in some cases there may be a physiological predisposition towards homosexuality, that predisposition is not predetermining. Cowen responds to the facile mantra “that’s the way you are born”, by dwelling in detail on the three distinct strands of homosexuality: somatic, psychologically induced, and cultural/existential.

Of course homosexuality can be induced: I think of the fa’afafine of Samoa who by virtue of being youngest sons are encouraged to effeminate behaviour; many go on to become active homosexuals. I think too of young persons I have known who told me how their habit of viewing homosexual pornography took them past the tipping point to a new identity. The Nurture Assumption, The Lucifer Effect, Nuremburg rallies, aphorisms such as “we become the company we keep” and “a teacher cannot rise above his staffroom” – all these point to the power of peer culture, the field of battle for so many parents today.

All the evidence from neuro-moral psychology, the field of my studies, is that in normal people, impulsive behaviours can be conditioned for better or for worse. The neuronal plasticity underpinning our affective and emotional responses, and the capacities we all have to build up regulatory cognitive responses, show that reorientation therapies can work; Cowen’s presentation of clinical and statistical data shows that they can and to a significant extent do work.

The deception behind the “nothing you can do about it” view is revealed. After he had normalised his life, Oscar Wilde, once the most celebrated of homosexuals, wrote: “I was no longer the captain of my soul and I did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me.” Politicians and clinicians who assert that homosexuals cannot change are incorrect and scientifically uninformed; by allowing their prejudices to obscure their judgement, they tragically betray those who would change if given hope and opportunity.

“A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest,” wrote Paul Simon and Demosthenes in very different times. Confirmation bias is alive and well in every age.

“Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives,” wrote the great psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl. Frankl’s psychological insights feature often in this book.

Cowen exposes the Freudian lie that human beings are no more than their impulses. He substitutes a psychology in which our choices and conscience can guide us out of the selfishness and even despair of negative impulsive behaviour. But of course a “born that way” mantra can become self-fulfilling prophecy. Behaviours change and new habits develop only when we set goals for ourselves and new repeated behaviours consolidate into preferred response patterns. Change takes effort; a life lived on impulse is a cop-out.

Cowen dissects the great differences between traditional marriage and homosexual relationships. He explains that to call the latter marriage is to separate the notion of family and marriage from any transcendent meaning, to deprive children of their “fundamental identity” and to condemn children to an upbringing that is demonstrably less stable.

The data show that relationships founded first of all on an underpinning ethic of feelings and impulse satisfaction (either de facto or same sex) are dramatically less stable than commitments of choice.

Cowen demonstrates that high de facto and extramarital birth rates and legalisation of same-sex marriage go together. He offers data on the high breakdown rate of both approaches, and reflects on the great disservice to children raised in such “families”.

Why do we accept politicians to represent us when they fail our children so badly?

Cowen’s analysis of the Safe Schools debacle lays out the litany of false assumptions upon which this program has been foisted on children and teachers. As an anti-bullying program it flies in the face of best practice. Every teacher who has dealt with bullying effectively knows that it is the unkind actions themselves that are the problem. Whether the victim is, or is not, totally innocent, whether he or she wears deodorant or has body odour, is straight, gay or any variation thereof, does not enter into how one corrects a bully. The problem is the unkind action, the bullying itself, not the behaviour of the victim. Even if the victim had been thieving or lying can never excuse bullying.

Cowen exposes, in what had been presented as an anti-bullying campaign, the surreptitious intention of the program and its political supporters to legitimise and promote same-sex behaviour, and having exposed the intention, he highlights the arrogance of those who think they have the right to impart a morality at odds with parents. He writes: “The dissolution of gender amongst children is the logical extension of the dissolution of gender among parents.”

Ultimately, the purveyors of the Safe Schools materials are orchestrating a new stolen generation, snatched from their parents’ values.

Cowen demonstrates that the depathologisation of same-sex attraction in the 1970s came as a result of non-empirical, ideological value judgements and ethically compromised research, and that this popular view has widespread legislative and judicial effects. He writes of the “false conflation of ethics with science and culture”, and to illustrate, of the JONAH case in 2015 in which a U.S. court refused out of hand to hear up-to-date clinical evidence.

Cowen examines the bogus science underpinning the view, still held by the Victorian Government in its 2016 creation of a Victorian Health Commissioner, that homosexual behaviours are set in concrete in every case. Cowen presents decisive evidence that, if underpinned by a worldview open to the spiritual, reparative therapies are in fact extraordinarily effective.

Cowen writes: “The homosexual is the most poignant victim of the same-sex ideology.” Children who are directed into believing that they are unchangeably gay, and gay adults who are denied hope of change if they wish are arguably the most at risk.

We are on the cusp of creating a society that convinces itself that there is no difference between impulse and conscience, where subjectivity is above science, where politicians no longer serve family but are above family, where legislation and legal precedent determine ethics. The imposition of this worldview, which is essentially hostile to traditional religion and values, cannot underpin a society where human beings are able to flourish.

Frankl writes that tolerance must be “about love and respect for people, not for their views and behaviour”. Yes we can respect individuals but fundamentally disagree with them, and explain courteously the reasons, without their taking offence. This issue has far greater consequences than miffed feelings.

Rabbi Cowen has given us a book that is rigorous in its precision of argument, and in breadth of scope and research. Would that this book were required reading for every Victorian politician and for any lawmaker messing with marriage. My only complaint is that this excellent book would be well served by a comprehensive index so that the reader might be better enabled to mine the insights and evidence it offers.

Dr Andrew Mullins is Director of the Drummond Study Centre, Carlton, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame Australia.


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