Sunday, July 20, 2014

CDC Study on LBGTetc.

"1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual.
The overwhelming majority of adults, 96.6 percent, labeled themselves as straight in the 2013 survey. An additional 1.1 percent declined to answer, responded “I don’t know the answer” or said they were “something else.”"
-- The Washington Times
For simplicity's sake, rather than list every form of politically-correct non-traditional gender roles, The study refers to them all together under the label "gay". But there will still be people who get hung up on labels. Even when you use the currently in vogue "LBGT" there are people who argue about whether "their letter" is being included, or whether their group is adequately represented by a letter [don't believe me? Click]. So I'll be using the just-now-invented word "curfs" to mean "every form of non-traditional gender role". There. Now i'ts defined, and as it is now a real word, we don't have to waste any more time on it. (And yes, this is me protesting the corruption of plain language. Making up new words is frankly better than fucking up old ones. It doesn't matter what a word IS so long as everyone agrees on what it MEANS. That's not possible when you hijack a common word.)

The WP goes on to list a number of additional facts that seemingly reinforce curf stereotypes.
  • Curfs are more likely to be cigarette smokers (26% vs 18%)
  • Curfs are more likely to have five or more alcoholic drinks in one day at least once in the past year (33% vs 22%)
  • Curfs are more likely to have met federal guidelines for aerobic physical activity (56% vs 49%)
  • Curfs are more likely to have been tested for HIV (67% vs 37%)
  • Curfs are more likely to have received an influenza vaccine during the past year (46% vs 41%)

The actual report lists more information. To me, the fact that the data seemingly reinforces curf stereotypes is completely unsurprising. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. A stereotype tells you what is likely to be true about a member of a group. They are derived from observation of that group. They are not pulled out of thin air. A stereotype is not a lie, it is a probability. Of course that doesn't mean that it will be true of any particular individual; and that is why it's wrong to apply a stereotype to an individual (such as thinking that all curfs are effeminate). And it doesn't mean that behavior doesn't change with time, which is why it's wrong to apply outdated stereotypes to a group (such as thinking that all Southerners are inbred hayseeds, or assuming that women don't have jobs outside the home).
But seriously -- as an aside -- if a member of  a group is offended by a stereotype, then it's misguided of them to direct their ire toward people who notice the stereotype. Instead, they could direct it toward the members of the group whose consistent behavior brought that stereotype into existence. Or toward themselves for believing that merely describing the general characteristics of their own group as being somehow "offensive". Or they could choose to understand what a stereotype truly is, in which case there's no cause for offense.
Here's a quick example of stereotyping in action. You invite someone to dinner, but knowing that he's Jewish, you assume (via stereotype) that he may have some restrictions regarding the menu. So you ask. And he doesn't get in your face and tell you that he's a non-practicing Reform Jew and then ask how dare you make assumptions about the level of his Jewishness. No. He says "No it won't be a problem," or "Anything but ham or pork," or "Why don't we eat out?" Show me someone who says they never use stereotypes and I'll show you someone who is either a liar or self-deluded. It's how you apply them that makes them either problematic or culturally sensitive. 
Aside complete. 
A couple of observations...
  1. The study doesn't posit any reasons for these trends. It is purely a fact-gathering exercise. Arguing the figures would be silly. These are self-reported statistics, so it would be accusatory, unprovable, and unhelpful to suggest that the "real" numbers are different.
  2. It's not clear whether all of those percentages in the detailed comparisons mean anything. When you're comparing 33% of 2.3% of the population to 22% of 96.6% of the population, is that a fair comparison? Is it even outside the margin of error? Either way it's still clear that mega-boatloads more straight people have had five or more alcoholic drinks in a single day within the last year. So if you asked some random person that question, the chances are terribly small that the person is actually curf. So there's a danger that people will misinterpret these data and conclude that there's a 33% chance that a heavy drinker is curf when in fact the probability is under 1%. 
To illustrate that second point... out of every 1,000 randomly-chosen people, the chances are that 7 curfs vs 213 straights have had a drinking binge in the last year. So, how useful is that? My point here is that any significance of these individual categories has yet to be determined. It's really easy for laypersons to get wrong, it's not in the report, and speculation isn't terribly useful.
A third observation is, 2.3% of the population is pretty small. Far smaller than one would expect given the representation of curfs in the media. And that's not unexpected, because (via perfectly valid stereotype) we know that many curfs tend to gravitate toward media-related jobs. So yeah, they're more highly visible in media than they are in the general public. So the study does seem to indicate that fears of being "overrun" by curfs in your community are irrational.

What's not irrational though, is how a solid number might reasonably shape social expectations and legislative policy. We have an expectation that "reasonable accommodations" are made for minority groups, and that there is a reciprocal expectation of "reasonable accommodations" BY minority groups. For instance, if I'm the only wheelchair-bound student in an existing school, a reasonable accommodation would be to make sure that all of the classes I'm scheduled to take are on the ground floor. It would be unreasonable to expect the cash-strapped educational system to build an elevator just for me (although new buildings may have that requirement as a result of updated building codes). After all, it's easier to switch a couple of teachers around than to build a lift. It would be unreasonable to change the rules of basketball so that I could play on the varsity team. After all, able-bodied students are equally excluded from the team under the existing rules. But if no restroom existed on the ground floor, it would be reasonable to expect that one be added, because it is a necessity; and I would expect to engage in some form of exercise within my physical limits. Likewise, where laws are not written to deal with necessity, it's reasonable to expect curfs to accommodate the majority.

What this means in practical terms to me is that this study changes nothing whatsoever. I think it's reasonable to expect that the average person I meet is straight. I see no reason to pussyfoot around bizarre pronouns, or to require of me that I remember your quirks specifically, and whatever invented labels you wish to apply to yourself. I see no reason for me to begin to care who you sleep with, or who you make love to, how often, or where, so long as it's not in any place that I would reasonably expect a straight person to get jiggy.

Since I don't give a shit about who my straight friends marry, I see no reason to begin giving a shit about who anyone else marries, and I don't have any reason to support any law that implies I give a shit one way or the other. I'd rather repeal laws rather than stupidly try to fix the system with more of what broke it in the first place. So I'd repeal just about anything that has to do with marriage, because I don't think the government has any business having a say in it. The First Amendment says that Congress can make no law regarding religion. If you believe that marriage is a religious affair then regulation of it is prohibited by the Constitution. If you think it's a secular affair it's still nobody's business. I'd repeal a lot of other laws, too, but that would be a digression. But if your brand of weird preys upon the helpless, then I see no reason to change anything that prevents you from doing it. A society exists to protect its citizens, and predators are predators no matter what twisted justification they invent for themselves. I see no reason to stop defending the underaged, or the physically weak, or the psychologically impaired, or the aged, or animals, for that matter.

Nothing changes for me. Must be a slow news day.

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