Roger Helmer – political philosopher or just ‘a right plonker’?
They have flocked from the four corners of the country, the gay ‘clicktivists’, first mobilised by Stephen Fry against Jan Moir, and now standing as a ready-made, always-prepared rent-a-cybermob to blast anyone who dares to question the received orthodoxy with a note of jarring dissonance.
The horde against Mr Helmer coalesces (as ever) around a Brussels centre, obligingly provided by Labour MEP (and ‘gay rights’ chairman) Michael Cashman. He is of the opinion that David Cameron ‘must condemn’ Roger Helmer’s tweet, ‘or risk associating his party with highly offensive homophobic views’.
On Sunday 16 January, Roger Helmer tweeted: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to “turn” a consenting homosexual?”
The reaction has been angry, to put it mildly, with a #sackhelmer hash tag beginning to be used by campaigners.
Jack of Kent took this up (briefly), and The Heresiarch also did so (at some length).
His Grace is not going to repeat the assertions or observations of either: please read them for yourselves.
Instead he wishes to focus on how a simple question about the way society views gender identity and sexual preference has become unutterable.
Roger Helmer has responded to his critics (and regrets the furore). But it must be observed that his question was posed in the context of a qualified psychotherapist of 20 years having suggested that homosexuals may be ‘turned’ from their inclination. A gay man sought her out, voluntarily, and enquired into her professional view. She now faces being stripped of her accreditation to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) for venturing her opinion.
The ‘patient’ was in fact a prominent homosexual rights campaigner and journalist, who secretly recorded two sessions with the therapist, Lesley Pilkington, before reporting her to the BACP.
It was blatant entrapment.
Referring to his tweet, Mr Helmer said, "I never cease to be amazed by the instant indignation and intolerance of this strident lobby group."
The fact that he is also a prominent climate-change sceptic only serves to confirm in the minds of this ‘strident lobby group’ that Mr Helmer is not fit for public office: his scepticism marks him out as an ‘extremist’ (right-winger) unworthy of a place in Mr Cameron’s new, soft, fluffy and pink Conservative Party.
It appears that merely by asking a question (which is, actually, an interesting point of ethical philosophy), the heterophobic hordes bay for blood and the politically-correct, anally-retentive intelligentsia extinguish rational discourse and reasoned debate.
Issues of gender identity and sexuality are complex, and may not be condensed to a 140-character tweet. But Mr Helmer simply posed a question. And that question is not merely concerned with private matters of sexuality (about which Mr Helmer does not care a fig) but of public policy involving taxpayers’ money.
Is there no tolerance in a liberal democracy which permits the reasoned questioning of the use of taxpayers’ money in matters of gender dysphoria, gender realignment and aversion therapy?
‘Gender’ was a term introduced by feminists in order that the social aspect of sexual difference should not be ignored. When the difference between male and female human beings is treated as one of ‘sex’, it may be thought to be accounted for biologically. Speaking of ‘gender’, one acknowledges the socio-cultural determination of the concepts of women and men, and admits a conception of women and men as distinguished primarily by a difference of social position.
When we come to the application of this to ‘homosexuality’ – that is, erotic interaction between people of the same sex – we juxtapose an ancient manifestation with a modern socio-political agenda. The orthodox Christian view emanates from Plato’s Laws (the ‘un-natural’ practice), through St Paul (‘against nature’) to Aquinas (violation of natural law). We are now in a post-Benthamite utilitarian era in which there is an on-going debate between the view that homosexuality is freely-chosen sin and the view that it is an imposed state of nature.
That, it appears, is not a debate the LGBT tweeting horde wish even to permit. And so the disciples of liberalism become manifestly illiberal: the homosexualist persecutes the philosopher in the same fashion that they perceive the Church to have done unto them over the centuries.
Foucault is of the view that homosexuality is a social construction invented and forced upon a minority by those seeking power, particularly those in the medical profession who label homosexuality a sickness and thus in need of cure. But while agreeing to the potentially healthy state of the mature homosexual, one suspects that Foucault’s thesis might itself be something of a construction, made plausible by a selective reading of the historical record, and backed by a confusion between the undoubted existence of people whose inclinations are exclusively homosexual and the fact that society picks out such people, labelling them and treating them in distinctive ways.
And so do medical professionals.
But that is not a discussion the political philosopher or ethical moralist may have.
Lest they be labelled ‘bigot’ by the self-righteous guardians of the socio-political narrative, and cast into outer darkness by the Leader of the Conservative Party.