By Michael Clark (Transcribed with edits from a voice recording)
Recently I linked to a news story about Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. The headline goes like this:
In a nutshell, there was a protest on the front lawn of Queen’s Park, the site of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto.
The protesters didn’t like the new sex education curriculum. And, according to CBC news, the Premier says “she has no doubt homophobia motivated some of the hundreds of people who protested Ontario’s new sex education curriculum this week.”
The whole story got me thinking about something – actually I’ve already been thinking about it, but didn’t really know how to put it into words.
Basically, what concerns me is the use of the word homophobia. If someone dislikes homosexual activity, is it right to brand them as “phobic?”
Dictionary.com gives the definition of phobia as [emphases mine]:
a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.
And another definition at dictionary.com:
a combining form meaning “fear,” occurring in loanwords from Greek ( hydrophobia); on this model, used in the names of mental disorders that have the general sense “dread of, aversion toward” that specified by the initial element: agoraphobia.
And a third:
(psychiatry) an abnormal intense and irrational fear of a given situation, organism, or object
So in other words, Kathleen Wynne is insinuating that some people are irrational, abnormal and mentally disordered because they don’t like homosexuality.
That is shocking. I believe it’s a defamatory attack on the right to free speech and the freedom to think.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if someone’s gay, straight, bi or transgender. It doesn’t matter to me. I am not interested in those issues. What interests me is the sheer power or words.
There seems to be a general trend these days to label people who dislike homosexuality as phobic. They are homophobics… with homophobia.
Instead of phobic, let’s find some synonyms for the word dislike. We could just as easily call it:
Homo-antipathy, homo-aversion, homo-disapproval, homo-displeasure, homo-distaste, homo-dissatisfaction
And some more synonyms:
Homo-disfavor, homo-disinclination, homo-objection, homo-offence, homo-opposition
There are a few more, but those are the more moderate ones.
Maybe we could call people who dislike homosexuality homo-objectors or homo-opposers. This wouldn’t slander them as irrational, abnormal or mentally disordered for simply thinking for themselves and forming an opinion.
Why do people use the word phobic?
I think this is partly due to the scientific mindset. Unreflective folk call it a phobia, creating a pseudo-scientific gloss as if they have some kind of test tube certainty. And that’s bogus.
Scientism is the new religion. It has the same kind of power to shape thinking as religion did in the Middle Ages. If we make something sound scientific, even if it’s not, many people buy into it.
The fact that the Premier of Ontario would so recklessly smear certain groups in this way – just because they dislike homosexuality – reveals woefully inadequate thinking.
I’d expect that, say, in a teenager, but not with the Premier of Ontario.