Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don we now our gay apparel

I am constantly amazed at the capacity of the human mind to engage in wishful thinking, even when contrary to fact -- to conveniently explain away, or ignore, mountains of evidence in favor of a cherished (but wrong) idea.

Today's example of willful self-delusion comes from Traverse City, Michigan, where a music instructor at Cherry Knolls Elementary School took exception to the words of the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls."  In particular, the teacher was bothered by the third line of the first verse:
Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la
'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la
Don we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la, la la la la
Troll the ancient yuletide carol, fa la la la la, la la la la.
The teacher was evidently repulsed by the idea of a bunch of little kids singing about people putting on "gay apparel," and so she changed it to "don we now our bright apparel."  Apparently she seriously thought that the third line would be construed as encouraging an approval of the "gay lifestyle," as if singing a Christmas carol would somehow induce all the little kids to consider being gay when they grew up.  Maybe she really felt like this line would make all of the little boys go home after the Christmas concert with homosexual inclinations, and late that night the parents would get up and find their sons dressed in leather pants and watching Queer as Folk.

This isn't an isolated incident.  Schools in Tennessee earlier this year passed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which makes it illegal to mention any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality in public schools prior to ninth grade.  The unspoken assumption here is that if we can just get kids to hit puberty without ever having heard about homosexuality, it will never occur to the kids to be attracted to the same sex, and homosexuality will go away.

Well, I'm sorry.  That isn't  how it works.  Thirteen-year-olds don't sit down one evening, and think, "Hmm, let's see... shall I be attracted to boys or girls?  Oh, wait... I remember back in third grade, singing about 'gay apparel.'  That gives me a great idea...!"  While we still have an incomplete understanding of where sexual orientation comes from, it is clearly a question to be resolved by the developmental geneticists -- not psychologists, and certainly not teachers, politicians, or ministers.  Homosexuality is a naturally occurring construct of human genes, and is not produced by a timely suggestion.  Homosexuality can no more be prevented by ignoring it than you could change a person's blood type by pretending that everyone was AB+.

And neither, for the record, can anyone be "cured" of homosexuality, despite the repeated claims by Michele Bachmann and her husband.

What these homophobic efforts accomplish, then, is only to marginalize further a group of teenagers who already have a staggeringly high incidence of depression, victimization by bullies, and suicide.  Being that the motivation for these actions can't be that they're based in the truth -- they're not -- they can only be explained as a desire on the part of bigots, whether from fear or simple cruelty, to repress a group of people they would eliminate if they could.

And given that the vast majority of these people are motivated by their religion, it kind of makes you wonder how they reconcile this with the concept of "Christian charity."

Not to mention with the phrase, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."


  1. The word as it appears in the song is traditional and does not carry any of the current meanings. To tacitly dismiss that is a knowing act, born from a desire to see others subjugated into a finite interpretation of how humans should behave. Jesus did not have anger for the plight of anyone. Jesus would undoubtedly suggest to a person how they should behave, then leave them to their OWN FREE WILL. Free will is the cornerstone of the christian god, wherein a person's actions determine their own fate after death. Follow Jesus, make the right choices, and through the opportunity to make those choices, one can receive salvation.

    Stop trying to save everyone and let them save themselves... or be total hypocrites and make Jesus facepalm.

    Jesus approves of your Skepticism at people's desire to follow his teachings, while ending up not being able to see the forest through the trees.

    Anyone skeptical of the above? Reference how Jesus discussed the prostitutes, the lepers, the downtrodden... Mary Magdelene. Jesus might not approve of what you are doing, but HE WOULDN'T STOP YOU FROM DOING IT.