Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Glad to be gay

Yesterday Robbie Williams won a libel case over a newspaper claiming that he was gay. The basic report is here but that doesn't give the real significance of the story. According to BBC radio 4's news program PM the dispute was not over whether he was gay, but by claiming that he was gay the newspaper was saying that he was a liar when he said he was entirely hetrosexual.

Why not just do them for calling him gay? Because now in the UK to call someone gay is not in itself libelous. As character defamation it has all the power of calling someone "bignose".

I can't but help see this as a mark of greater tolerance toward alternative lifestyles. It almost makes me feel patriotic.


Anonymous said...

Nah. It would truly be an indication of greater tolerance for "alternative" lifestyles if polygamy were legal, as was the case in most of the world until Westernization.

Anonymous said...

...the one doesn't really seem to have anything to do with the other. O.o

Anonymous said...

Well, I thought being gay and polygamy were both considered "alternative" lifestyles. The former being far less accepted around the world than the latter was, yet it is now more tolerated in western civilization.

Anonymous said...

I thought that was what I said. If people were more tolerant toward gays, why not the idea of multiple spouses? There is no good reason to be more tolerant of homosexuality yet no more tolerant of polygamy. Western society probably still has the same prejudices as it did fifty years ago, just applied differently.

Oh, and I realized that Perron might have meant that westernization did not seem to have had anything to do with the disappearance of polygamy. Well, when China westernized, it embraced all things western and nearly junked its culture. Chinese medicine was dismissed as charlatan's tricks. Sun Tzu's Art of War was thought to be obsolete. People acted as if everything Europeans and Americans did was worth emulating. (This is still true to a great extent.) The idea of bigamy was probably imported when China imported western ideas of law and order. I don't know the details, but in my grandfather's generation, it was not unusual for someone to be a child who was not born of a first wife. I don't know anyone in my father's generation who's like that, and there certainly isn't anyone in my generation. (Or rather, anyone who was not born to a "first" wife had since joined the rank of bastards.)

Japan and Korea used to have polygamy, too. Not sure how that changed.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm saying that the fact that there isn't greater tolerance of polygamy doesn't nullify the fact that there *is* greater tolerance of homosexuality. Especially as homosexuality is now seen as less "out there" than polygamy, no matter what used to be the case.

(...Japan had polygamy? I think that was just the Emperor.)

Anonymous said...

You're right, tolerance for polygamy doesn't have anything to do with tolerance for homosexuality, but I find it a little puzzling that polygamy isn't more popular, that's all. One could even argue that by extending the traditional western marriage to a non-traditional union just reinforces the traditional social structure, which means the society isn't necessarily more open-minded than before.

Not sure if polygamy extended to the common man in Japan. In China, it's however many wives a man could afford, which in most cases was one. Only the wealthy and the royal had many. I suppose in today's world, tolerance for polygamy should include the one-wife-to-many-husbands combination. (For some reason Eagles' Hotel California just popped into my head and I'm thinking one woman, many fans.)

But back to Chinese polygamy. The idea still seems very popular today, which is why many Chinese businessmen from Taiwan and Hong Kong have many mistresses in China. It's a good source for tabloid junk. :)

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear: I never said that lack of tolerance for polygamy nullifies tolerance for homosexuality, just that greater tolerance for homosexuality, specifically homosexual marriages, isn't really a mark of greater tolerance for "alternative" lifestyles. It's more a sign of greater social conformity, of allowing former outsiders to be just like the rest of the society.

Polygamy, on the other hand, means a slight change in the social structure, which is why I think its acceptance would be a better indication of greater tolerance for alternative lifestyles.

Ragnell said...

I'm all for multiple spouses.

Clare Booth figured it out. Three husbands would be ideal.

I require a working man who brings in a regular income, an artistic man who may or may not turn a profit for his genius, and a live-in chef/neat-freak. And, during the off hoors, one to rub my head, one to rub my back, and one to rub my feet!

Hopefully, when the world embraces alternative lifestyles (May 13, 2012!) there will be a place to buy spare men.

Marionette said...

I agree. IF you're going to start advocating polygamy then how about some support for polyandry?

But getting back to the point of the article, if there ever was polygamy in the UK it is now so far back in the mists of time that we do not recall it.

My article was about social change in the UK, and since there is no tradition of polygamy there is no social pressure to introduce it. If some other country that does have such a tradition brings it back I will applaud their enlightenment, but where I live it's a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

Polyandry's fine with me. (See a previous post of mine.) Heck, polygamy in any direction is fine, whether the unions are between members of the opposite or the same sex.

This just occurred to me: would a comic book reader ever receive the social support that gays and lesbians are enjoying now? :) They're looked down upon even in Japan, for heaven's sake!