Throughout my years at AUB, I watched as the level of the student publication Outlook decreased from something readable to, well, something unreadable – for lack of better words. I eventually stopped picking it up. Lack of interest, perhaps? I’d like to call it lack of content.
But Outlook is back with brand new controversial content that will make your head roll. Fact checking? What’s the point of that? Let’s publish anything that can get people talking. The latest? An AUB student named Mohamad Sibai wrote an article about homosexuality that he entitled: Viewpoint: Please Me At Any Price. You can read his piece here.
I felt it is my duty as a holder of a biology degree with an interest in psychology, two domains that Mr. Sibai is apparently very fond of citing, to say a few things, respectfully of course.
1 – ‘Why would God create people like that if he didn’t want us to do it?’ People are not born homosexual, usually one changes as he is growing from the infant stage up until puberty, some even later than that. This is, according to psychologists, due to certain factors during infancy and homosexuality can be treated in various ways.
Mr. Sibai, twin studies have shown that their is a genetic correlation for homosexuality. It’s not a linear correlation but there is an effect of genes on a person’s sexual orientation, whether you like to admit or not. There are other factors that science is currently actively researching. You also cite psychologists. Let me tell you Mr. Sibai that any psychologist who would be referring to homosexuality in the way that you are would be going against everything that he is taught, including the holy book of his domain: the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder). Homosexuality has been removed as a mental disorder from that book in its 2nd edition, back in 1971. The 5th edition will be published in 2013. Look at how far they’ve come, right?
2 – How would [allowing homosexuality] serve mankind any good? It obviously wouldn’t. The pair (if not more) would never have offspring, the rate of STDs would skyrocket, and any morality that society still had would disappear amongst a myriad other plights.
Mr. Sibai, the rate of STDs is not correlated with homosexuality in any way whatsoever. It is correlated with sex. The millions of HIV+ people in sub-saharan Africa would disagree with you as well. Why have homosexuals been affected more in certain communities? Because the stigma associated with their behavior makes them more promiscuous. Your argument for morality is also highly invalid. What is the basis of morality? How can someone’s sexual preference determine whether that person is moral or not? For all matters and purposes Mr. Sibai, Hitler was heterosexual, and so was Stalin, so is Bashar Assad and so was Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Sibai, the evolution argument you are using regarding homosexuality not “serving mankind any good,” makes it unnatural is invalid. What do you say about infertility then? The way I see it, Mr. Sibai, overpopulating the planet is not in the “natural” course of things. And if homosexuality was unGod-like and unnatural, evolution would have had it extinct by now.
Also Mr. Sibai, an obviously religious person like you using evolution as an argument is sort of hypocritical, no?
3 – The point is, religion has done well in keeping society working well and efficiently in a respectable manner. God has set the rules for us to abide by, not to make life hard on us, but to make it better and easier.
Let’s see, you have World War I, World War II, the Cold War, a few thousand conflicts around the world, poverty all around, just to name a few things. How exactly is religion running things well Mr. Sibai? I understand you are a religious person. So am I, to an extent at least. However, to say that all religions have been working like clockwork in running things is false and delusional. Mr. Sibai, God has also set different rules apparently for different religions. You can marry 4 times, I can marry only once, just to illustrate my example. Now which so-called rules should we follow to not make life hard on us?
4 – Homosexuality in Russia is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison, locked up with other men.
Starting May 27th, 1993, homosexuality was made legal in Russia. Your subsequent argument, Mr. Sibai, is invalid. A simple wikipedia search would have told you that.
I won’t go through the remainder of his article. However I have to ask: how did this make its way into Outlook? Don’t they have an editor-in-chief who knows what he/she is doing? Freedom of speech is obviously allowed to Mr. Sibai. But if everyone who wants to say something is given the platform to say it, then what does say about those platforms? Selectivity when it comes to newspapers, even student ones, is needed to keep a respectable level of discourse.
Mr. Sibai’s point of view is shared among many, I’m sure. It also adds a rather interesting field to the array of students in AUB. Unlike contrary belief, the university is not filled with liberals only. But Mr. Sibai, if you want to take your “viewpoint” to a newspaper, you need to formulate arguments that don’t appeal to your emotional side. Odds are if you had done some serious researching before decided to write something like this, you could have actually given a piece for people to think about and not criticize left and right.
What religion teaches, above everything else, is the importance of love and compassion. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” Let’s ponder on that, shall we?
Great insight!! respect!
Thanks for reading it!
Great reply and straight to the point.
Thank you for reading, Melissa.
I like how you didn’t attack religious text like some are doing to prove their point. A job well done.
Yeah I didn’t like that in other articles about this either. Thanks for reading, Elie.
As you said, he represents the majority of people in Lebanon. So this is not about changing mentalities cause that would be impossible.
Great read though. The line about morality: spot on.
Yeah I’m not setting out to change mentalities. Those that will read this probably agree with me. Thank you for reading!
Like the people above, I think your piece is right on and has a well balanced tone. Like you, I disagree with Sibai and I think that he’s simply trying to rationalize his religious convictions. His piece is so riddled with errors and misconceptions that I won’t bother replying.
From a strictly evolutionary perspective –which I admit only tells part of the story– a “gay gene” would not have passed on and would have been extinct a long time ago. The only evolutionary explanation I can think of is that a gay gene is a mutation that happens very often.
Like I said, this only tells part of the story, but it does present a complicating factor to people like you and me who try to convince their friends and families to let go of their aversion to homosexuals..
I agree that evolutionary speaking and based on the principle of survival of the fittest that a “gay gene” shouldn’t exist. If it’s a mutation, I believe nature would have found a way around it by now if it was truly debilitating for the species. That’s why I said that genetics only tells part of the story – the correlation between genes and homosexuality is not linear, as I said. It has been shown that genes have an effect. I remember reading a research paper that said twin studies showed a 30% correlation.
Scientists are still working on it though and this is not a research domain I want to go into. Research is pointing out to it being not a choice though. People want to believe what they want to believe, regardless of science. The simplest example? smoking – it kills you but try to tell that to a smoker.
As you said, this is about mentalities. People are free to think what they want. Some are saying we have no right to criticize because Sibai was exercising his right of free speech. He’s definitely among the majority in Lebanon, let alone many other countries.
My problem is with the publication that allowed such an article to be published without moderating it.
Thank you for reading Mustapha, a pleasure to read your comment.
First off… elie as always this is a great read.
Now quoting Mustafa… the idea that [from a strictly evolutionary perspective, a “gay gene” would not have passed on and would have been extinct a long time ago] could and would most probably be true… only if we decide to exclude every closeted/non-closeted homosexual man or woman that was forced to marry by whoever and for whatever reason. And this might have happened over a very long period of time, long enough to have a recurrent and wide spread genetic marker that could indeed be a “gay gene”
This sounds more like a conspiracy theory… but an opinion nonetheless that needs to be looked at. Don’t you think ?
Interesting idea. But I think it’s debunked by the fact that the correlation between genetics via twin studies and homosexuality hasn’t been 100%. I think about 30% was the last data that I read.
If homosexuality had a gene, I think that 30% would have been substantially higher, pending mechanisms – environmental, epigenetic and whatnot – that would affect gene expression. Despite those, 30% still is low.
Thank you for reading Firas. Hope Neuro is treating you well :p
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Beautifully written response.. I really wonder how outlook agreed to publish it.. it is not even considered freedom of speech.. it is more of a bunch of lies and apparently outdated so called “facts”. I think Mohamad Sibai comes from a history book and it seems that he’s been on that russian waiting list for awhile.. shame on him
Thank you for reading.
He is free to say whatever he wants – “lies” included. My problem is, as I said, that his article didn’t go through any form of filtering whatsoever. Not even some quick fact checking.
Which tells you something about outlook nowadays.. I have never read such horrendous articles in outlook. It has always been a respectful informative journal not a space where people are allowed to throw their destructive judgment and think they can go away with it!
Well I have read worse when I was in AUB :p
It has its ups and downs.
Ok not worse – but definitely bad. This isn’t the first Outlook-related controversy and it won’t be the last.
Ha ha I luved some of your quips here – the line about evolution was awesome !!!! Keep up the great work Elie !!!!
Thank you for reading 🙂
Thank you for the great reply! 🙂
Thanks for reading.
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The discussion on homosexuality can be held scientifically and morally. If you do not accept homosexuality based on your religious values this doesn’t mean that science will prove you right. Then again the question is if morals should need a scientific base or justification. If not, then in the case of homosexuality there’s no doubt you will lose the battle if you claim it is against nature or claim – which I find very bizarre – something a person chooses for later in life.
What bothers me is the simplistic correlation between HIV and (accepting) gays. Since this is (most likely) a result of sexual behavior not sexual orientation.
I could combine facts which do not have a direct relation as well. Basically all countries where homosexuality or homosexual behavior is punishable death are countries with one or terrible human rights record, poor economic perspectives and more than often low technological innovation.
So now there’s a farfetched link between not accepting homosexuality and flawed states / dictatorial regimes.
I cannot judge from a Lebanese society perspective since I come from another country. But his views would be marginal here and considered offensive if not simply down-right backward. Maybe 1-2% of our political landscape holds similar views. For many it would basically prove an intrusion of religious dogma into the personal life and choices of others.
Which is close to my personal opinion. Any attempt to ban consenting sexual orientation or behavior by the government opens the road to more limitations in personal freedoms. Even if you are uncomfortable with the way others love, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. Legislating adult consenting love is wrong in my view from a moral-ethical point of view. What if tomorrow such people find a reason to condemn my relationship with my girlfriend?
There were churches in South Africa which for many decades used the bible to justify their opposition to interracial relationships (whites as contemporary Israelites and blacks as Canaanites). So while I refuse to bash Christianity or any faith for the heck of it, the churches are not always right.
Oh, and neither is one guy’s religious interpretations on gays, even if shared by many/majority.
Precisely. I spoke about the correlation between STDs and homosexuality. There is none. In fact, lesbians have the least rates of STDs. STDs are related to sex, not who you have sex with. This is basic biology. I don’t even need to pull my degree for that.
I like the dimension you gave the argument. It may not be a correct argument to make, but neither is his. So for all matters and purposes, great contrast/compare situation. I agree with it.
The majority of Lebanese think the same way that he does. We have laws that are not very applied that prohibit homosexual behavior. Those laws need ratification because they are outdated. But in a country where much more things are more important, things like this go on the backburner.
Your final point is exactly as things should be: the moment people and the state start to interfere with where your genitals go leads to more interference in personal freedom. And at least when it comes to this type of freedom, we shouldn’t interfere. The author of the article has the right to say what he want. You can’t take that away from him and I don’t want to. But us being free as well can criticize and call out his mistakes.
What I find interesting is that other articles by other Lebanese bloggers have basically taken their argument out on religion. In my opinion, that does more harm than good – attacking religion for the sake of making a counter argument leads where? how much better would you be if you used the same type of rhetoric with a different aspect of conversation?
As I concluded my article: religion is open to interpretation, especially Christianity. The fact that this article (the one I wrote) was shared by a priest on my Facebook timeline is telling.
Thanks for your comment Daniel. It’s welcome and interesting, as usual.
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Wow, very well written, I enjoyed every part of the reply arguments which were concise, straightforward and very rich in information.
Except, I disagree with one part only:
“lso Mr. Sibai, an obviously religious person like you using evolution as an argument is sort of hypocritical, no?”
I don’t find that to be true since scientific apologetics and theology no longer requires evolution to be false in order for faith to be justified… the argument of Creation vs. Evolution is outdated and we, Scientific Christians and others are embracing new theories such the theory of Intelligent Design which includes Evolution but from a slightly different perspective.
Some scientific religious people being able to fathom evolution and bringing it to terms with their religion doesn’t mean religion accepts evolution. I’m pretty sure both Islam and Christianity don’t.
The concept of a theory, scientifically, is that it cannot be proven wrong or right. It’s just that – a theory. The point behind that sentence was to say that for his article which was full of religious references, being his main argument, bringing in something that contradicts what he believes in into the mix doesn’t work.
Thanks for reading.
Actually Christianity does … search “Theistic Evolution”, it was adopted by the Vatican I THINK a few centuries ago, or less. But I’m sure it was a long while ago, this is not new.
I agree on the rest. You’re welcome, Thank you for writing!
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