Saturday, 2 February 2013

Moral agency

Buried somewhere in this Beeb story is an oblique hint to the effect that if gay men persist in playing Russian roulette with their health by having unprotected anal sex with numerous strangers, it may not entirely be the fault of an uncaring homophobic society. But you have to work at finding it - in fact, you have to work your way to the final sentence. In between there's a lot of stuff about how various fake charities need more of our money so they can hang up "Caution, stable door open, bolting danger" signs and count the horses periodically to establish how many have gone awol since the last time.

The case for gay marriage is made in a way that is curiously detached from the facts on the ground* as alluded to by Yusuf Azad. Is it intended as an alternative to the "gay scene" or as an add-on to it? Or is that just none of our business?

Meanwhile, Harry's Place, in stereotype-busting mode (ee, bah goom, lad, it's tough up North London, and no mistake), has no doubts whatsoever about moral agency. If a couple of civil partners can't get a joint appointment at a beauty salon, then the proprietor should be driven out of business. And preferably hung, drawn and quartered and his remains left for the vultures to dispose of.

When Mr G was a student Leftie, he and his comrades in arms aspired to nationalise the top 200 monopolies under workers' control and management. If he was a student Leftie today he'd be campaigning for a boycott of the homophobic beauty salons of Woodford Green, apparently. Somehow, a wider vision has gone missing.

*A little number-crunching: the number of gay men living with HIV is comparable to the number living in civil partnerships.

It's also interesting that the average age of new civil partners continues to be fortyish (bizarrely but perhaps revealingly, the average age of those dissolving a partnership is actually lower), which does rather suggest that it's what you do when promiscuity begins to seem a bit like hard work. Now I'm not saying there aren't plenty of straight men who would be very happy to build up their sexual CV along similar lines, given half a chance. But the whole point is that, unless they have the good fortune to play in the upper reaches of the Premiership, they aren't given the chance.

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