Deconstructing Jonathan Katz

21 05 2010

Sooner or later, everyone who isn’t a total non-entity googles their own name – just to see. We’ve all done it. Jonathan Katz has reason to do it regularly, at least to see the extent to which his views are being held to public excoriation and scorn. That being so, it is not unreasonable to suppose that his eye may well light upon this very blog. I hope so, since I am writing this from the purest and most altruistic motives. For his own well-being, Katz desperately needs to understand that, when he moves out of his laboratory, he is suddenly way out of his depth. Further, Mr. Katz  needs to understand why he has recently been thrown off a presidential commission to investigate the gulf oil spill after his essay on why it is OK to loath gay people came to light – not that he had tried to hide it. Matter of fact, it is still fully accessable to public view on his personal website.

Katz is a professor of Physics at Washington University and has a distinguished scientific record. His credentials in physics are unchallenged. Sadly, few scientists seem to have the ability to move beyond their narrow speciality and, like Einstein or Hawking, extend their understanding and brilliance to the community at large. When stepping out of his academic specialty, Katz at once flounders in an ocean of prejudice, assumption, hypothesis and arrogance – the very qualities the “scientific method” was designed to suppress. A  psychologist could speculate at length regarding this volta face’ of intellect – bursting the confining bonds of provability, observed fact and replication of results science demands and leaping into the unconstrained open air of social commentary – where any loud jackass must be heard. Such a leap must be liberating – exhilarating – we applaud Katz for having the courage to make such a leap, and sadly tsk-tsk that in doing so, he lands flat on his distinctly unattractive face.

Professor Katz despises queers. He makes no secret of it. Personally, he has nothing to worry about if the photo of him now making the internet rounds is at all accurate. His face resembles a hatchet bearing a large brillo pad. Perhaps it is his inner jealousy of beautiful gay men that has caused his ostensible hatred. We could speculate at length but unlike Katz, let’s try to stick to facts.

Like scientists of old who espoused new and unpopular theories in the face of derision, Mr. Katz is determined to stand firmly by his beliefs. Of course, those old scientists – such as Galileo – were right and Katz is as wrong as last year’s hemline but that doesn’t matter to him. I conclude it doesn’t matter to him because of the methodology he employs in formulating his conclusions about gays. Let us examine key elements of his essay.

In his very first sentence, he defines homophobia as the moral judgment that homosexual behavior is wrong (and he misspells judgment.) a “phobia” is by definition an irrational fear. Moral judgments  fall into the realm of ethics or perhaps theology. Phobias need to be treated by a mental health professional. Ergo, right from the start we see Katz doesn’t know what he is talking about.

He then moves on to attempt a differentiation between ethnic, racial or religious prejudice and homophobia by writing that homophobia is a “moral judgment upon acts engaged in by choice.”  Perhaps Katz is under the impression that religion is genetically implanted. If so, we must disabuse him of the notion. It is engaged in “by choice.” Much of ethnicity is also engaged in by choice. I am of Irish descent. If I chose to make a production of that fact, people will know my ethnicity. If I do not wear green on St. Pat’s Day, collect for the IRA and disproportionately listen to Celtic music, people will think I’m just another white guy. It’s a choice. Being gay however, is not a choice. The only choice involved is whether I decide to be what I was born to be, or spend my life hiding in the shadows, living a lie.

Next Katz quotes the Bible. So what? I’m not a Christian so I couldn’t care less what that particular folklore collection says. My rights as a citizen are not based on the Bible. They are based on the constitution. Further, as a scientist, Katz really should know that the Bible is not a source of scientific veracity. Katz maintains the Bible is a compendium of “traditional wisdom.” In part that is so but the Bible is also a compendium of Bronze Age superstitions – the oral traditions of a primitive desert tribe of three thousand years ago. Beyond such basics as the Golden Rule, the Bible is simply not acceptable as a source of instruction in a scientific setting.

In his next two paragraphs, Katz blames gays for the spread of AIDS. Oh sure – blame the victim – oldest trick in the book. Katz claims “a few sporadic AIDS cases have been identified as far back as the 1950s.”  As a scientist, Katz should be aware that such a retroactive diagnosis, without actual examination of the patient, can never be more than tentative. He should also be aware that the one or two such cases in the record could have been caused by other factors. There can be a number of paths to immune deficiency other than the HIV virus. Again we see the utter absence of rigorous method in Katz’s conclusions. Further, Katz completely ignores the many hypothesis, speculations and conspiracy theories regarding the origin and spread of AIDS. All three categories present facts and  partial explanations contradicting Katz and in need of additional exploration.

From there Katz moves on to the realm of pure inspired assumption – inspired that is by his own prejudices. He states categorically that “the human body was not designed…to be promiscuous and it was not designed to engage in homosexual acts.”  His choice of phrase implies a designer who created the human body with specific intent. That, dear Professor Katz, is religion, not science – period. Leaving aside the design issue, I can personally inform Katz that the human body works very well indeed for gay sex. There are two basic male orifices for the sex act. Obviously the mouth functions perfectly well regardless of whether it is part of a male or female person. Of that there can be no question. As for the rectum, maybe Katz has led a sheltered life and is in ignorance of the fact that this is the location of the prostate – the male “G spot.” What do we conclude from this? Only that if indeed there was a “designer” he, she or it must have deliberately provided for gay sex by this specific locating of that important body part.

The objection that the male anus serves as a waste evacuation facility is nugatory. The female vagina also serves in this manner, though for liquid waste only.

As for promiscuity – the body is not equipped with a counting or a partner ID mechanism  in its sexual system. To say it was not designed for promiscuity is an assumption without foundation. While clearly promiscuity elevates the risk of exposure to STDs, that has nothing to do with bodily design. If one has, say, 100 sexual encounters, the body will function equally well or poorly regardless of whether they are all with the same person or with 100 different people.

At this point in his essay Katz begins to get plain nasty. He blames gays for all the “innocent” deaths from AIDS (gays being ipso facto guilty.) He states children, spouses, receivers of contaminated transfusions “died so the sodomites could feel good about themselves.” To that hate filled diatribe, there really isn’t much we can say except Fuck You, Jonathan Katz – you are a truly evil-minded person. Obviously, such sentiments as Katz expresses here have nothing whatever to do with scientific inquiry and are merely the mouth frothings of a committed bigot.

From bigotry, Katz moves to pure fantasy when he writes “the homophobe does not engage in violence against homosexuals.” Really??!! That will come as a surprise to Matthew Sheppard, Sakia Gunn, the four college students gunned down in Newark and so many, many others. Oh wait – no it won’t. They’re dead. However it will come as a great surprise to all those who loved those poor kids. Katz’s statement can be summarily dismissed as being obviously ludicrous.

Next Katz asks “what of those cursed with unnatural sexual desires? Must they forever suppress those desires?”  Value laden phraseology is hardly the scientific method and one would think Katz knows that. The assumption that homosexuality is unnatural is not substantiated by the evidence. To the contrary, it is plainly part of the natural world since it occurs therein. Further, many species of birds and animals display homosexual behavior, including lifetime partnering. On a personal note, I would add it isn’t a curse. In my own life it has been a joy and a blessing and I am eternally grateful for it.

Of course Katz concludes that indeed we must suppress these desires, just as people must suppress desires to steal and kill. This simile is without merit. To compare love and sex with stealing and killing makes no sense whatever.

Finally, Katz states “I am a homophobe, and proud.” That much at least is true. Katz is indeed suffering from irrational fears and grasping at any straw to make those fears seem grounded in reality. What he has actually accomplished is a graphic demonstration of how, when he leaves the confines of his scientific discipline he also leaves behind the entire structure of the scientific method of arriving at truth. Someone so handicapped and so blinded by prejudice is not needed on a presidential commission of any sort. Go back to your laboratory, Jonathan Katz, and concern yourself with quasars and algorithms where your foul hatreds can do no harm. You understand nothing of life among human beings

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2 responses

21 05 2010
Billy Glover

Nothing new-that is why intelligent homosexuals don’t trust “experts,” since it was experts, using, as you point out, religious beiefs as the basis for their “scientific” decisions on homosexuality, and other health and physical issues.That is why it is important for young gltb people to know of the work of Dr. Evelyn Hooker, and Dr. Kinsey, et al, proving that everything people up to the 1950s were told about sexuality was a lie.

By the way, why iis it never pointed out that the ‘rules” of Christin etc churches were made by government agents? Remember Constantine? And How we got the Anglican Church? And who appointed Russian Orthodox church leaders for years?

21 05 2010
Perry Brass

This is just superb. But it is not nor will it be the only time that “scientists” use their podiums to advance a repellent social agenda. The Nazis employed hundreds of them to prove that certain people were genetically inferior. Dr. Josef Mengeles, a “genetic scientist” working for the Third Reich, actually did studies to turn Jewish children into Aryans. So this Johnathan Katz is not alone. Unfortunately his name sounds too similar to “the” Jonathan Katz, who wrote “Gay American History.” Maybe that’s why Johnathan with two ns is so pissed off and dumbly homophobic: he got confused with the real Jonathan Katz too often.

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