The discussion about Ayn Rand had remained congenial enough, but that was about to change. While it was going on, more of the guests had gathered around, standing or sitting on the many chairs and couches scattered around. I was delighted to find Joanne Tylor had chosen to join me on the small love seat directly opposite the large leather chair Roger had chosen as his platform.
"I don't think I would like to debate your friend Roger," she confided in me.
"Well, he's not exactly a friend, only an acquaintance I know well, and happen to like very much. I have no idea why some people are afraid of him. He's the most harmless person I know.
"Oh, I'm not afraid of him. I find him quite interesting, in fact."
"Is that the "fem" part of your feminism talking, miss Tylor?"
"Oh please call me Jo. I'm not at all radical. I very much enjoy being a woman, and yes it is the woman that finds your Roger most attractive.
"Oh!" I said. "And please call me Mark, by the way. I was going to introduce you to Roger, but now,... perhaps not." I grinned.
We listened as Roger began to respond to the request to provide an example of something Rand taught that most Objectivists did not know, or like:
"I will give the example, but I'm sure you will not like it, and many others here will not like it either. I do not like to offend anyone, and will refuse to discuss the subject if it cannot be discussed amicably."
"Very well," Dr. Sciscabara, who had asked the question, agreed.
"One thing Ayn Rand got right that most Objectivists, as well as most libertarians, and in fact most people, not only do not like, but avoid, or perhaps I should say, 'evade,' is the nature of what is wrongly called 'homosexuality.' Rand said:
"'[Homosexuality] is a manifestation of psychological "flaws, corruptions, errors, [and] unfortunate premises' that are both 'immoral' and 'disgusting.'
"Her choice of the word 'immoral' I think was unfortunate, because what she meant by 'immoral' was 'self-harmful.' She did not use the world pejoratively. The significant part of what she said is that sexual anomalies, such as so-called homosexuality, are the consequences of psychological flaws, corruptions, and errors and unfortunate premises." He said this with slow precise emphasis.
Dr. Sciscabara seemed very patient, perhaps because Roger had insisted that any discussion of his revelation be kept amicable. Dr. Sciscabara was a homosexual.
"That statement you quoted was given during a question and answer session after one of her lectures. It was, "off the cuff," really. Isn't it more an expression of her personal feelings than her philosophy?"
"Isn't that rather an insult to Ayn Rand who made it quite clear that one's views should never be determined by their feelings. Do you think her views were not consistent with her own philosophy? Is it not more likely that her feelings were determined by her philosophical principles, and that if that statement was really about her feelings, they were feelings that were the inevitable consequence of her objective evaluation of homosexuality?
"Isn't her view based on the fact that all human behavior is determined by choice, and the fact that the choice to engage in abnormal sexual practices are psychological mistakes, at best, and defiance of reason, at worst? No human behavior is predetermined, therefore all human behavior is chosen. Rand simply understood that homosexuality is a very bad choice.
Both Jo and I had noticed the tall dark individual standing near Roger obviously growing more agitated as this conversation progressed—at least Jo noticed him and made me aware of him by a gentle poke in the ribs and a head-nod in his direction.
"Do you know who he is?" I asked Jo.
"Yes. He's Peter Ruskowitz. He writes for the FF, the Fountainhead Foundation which also claims to be the real Objectivist authority in competition with the ARF."
Unable to contain himself this character blurted out:
"Just how do you know you are a heterosexual?"
Roger ignored the rudeness and turned to him.
"Excuse me. Peter Ruskowitz, isn't it?"
"Yes. Now how do you answer that question?"
Roger smiled. "As a matter of fact, I know no such thing. I'm a human being and all human beings are sexual. To ask how I know that would be like asking how I know I'm bipedal.
"Humans are bipedal simply means for humans to walk requires two legs. Humans are sexual simply means for humans to reproduce requires two humans—one of each sex."
"'Sexual' is not a suffix. There are no different kinds of 'sexual,' like heterosexual, bisexual, trisexual, monosexual, homosexual, or pretzelsexual. There is only sexual which always means the relationship between opposite sexes—anything else is not sexual.
"Since human beings are sexual, all one needs to know is which sex they are, which a simple self-examination or a look in the mirror can easily determined."
"So you think the only purpose of sex is procreation!" Mr. Ruskowitz retorted.
"What do you mean by, "purpose of sex?" Peter.
"I mean what sex is for...what the genitals are for."
"Isn't it obvious the reason we have sex is because it is the human means of reproduction? If we reproduced some other way, we would not have human genitals, we'd have stamens or something."
"So no one should engage in sex unless it's to reproduce?"
Peter's disingenuous attempt to "trap" roger did not work, however.
"Quite frankly I have no interest in telling anyone what they 'should do.' How others use their genitals is of no interest to me. How most people choose to use them I regard as ignorant, perverse, and disgusting, but they may use them to paint paintings for all I care.
"I simply answered your question. If we can say nature has, "purposes," which it cannot, it is obvious the natural "purpose" of the genitals is procreation. It is the only reason we have them. But like everything else about human nature, how we use what we have, we must learn and choose. Sadly, most people never learn how to correctly use any of their attributes, including sexual ones, to their own detriment.
I doubt that either Dr. Sciscabara or Ruskowitz were really listening to Roger anymore. They were both obviously burning with rage.
Ruskowitz could hardly contain himself.
"Frankly, I find your homophobic attitude extremely offensive. In a free society everyone, whatever their sexual preferences, must to be treated fairly and equally."
Roger smiled. "I see. Although I have no idea what that word means, or how you think what I've said would result in anyone being treated unfairly. Are you a queer then, Mr. Ruskowitz?"
There were a few gasps from those listening.
"Yes I am!" Ruskowitz said haughtily, "and I'm proud of what I am. Homophobes like you just hate anyone who does not have the same sexual orientation as you."
"Oh, so that word, homophobe, means hate. Ha, ha. Do you think I'd waste the energy it takes to hate someone just because I do not agree that what they do with their life is rational and normal? Good grief, do you hate everyone you disagree with? Do you think I hate you, Mr. Ruskowitz?"
"Maybe you don't, Mr. Conant. But the things you've been saying are quite hateful."
"Well, they are not, but you are welcome to your opinion.
"You consider yourself an Objectivist, don't you, Mr. Ruskowitz?"
"Yes, I'm an Objectivist."
Isn't it true that Ayn Rand said that the feelings and emotions were non-cognitive and that objective reason is the only means to knowledge of the truth?"
"Yes, that is what she said."
"Now let me ask you the question you asked me. You say you are a homosexual, and I'm sure you do not mean it is only what you do, but what you are, in some essential way. Can you, then, without invoking feelings or desires, explain how you know, by objective reason alone, you are a homosexual? What objective evidence do you have you are homosexual?"
I was quite surprised to see this last question had infuriated Ruskowitz. He had seemed to have regained his composure, but now he was clearly out of control.
Trembling with rage, he was shouting at Roger:
"Who do you think you are, you homophobic piece of human refuse. Who are you to question someone else's nature. Do you think one's feelings don't matter. Do you think we are supposed to ignore our desires, repress them if they are not the socially accepted ones? You are a ....
At this point he began to call Roger some vile names, and was yelling quite incoherently. The harangue might have gone on longer if Peter Reddington hadn't stepped in and forcibly quieted Ruskowitz down, steering him out of the room.
"Wasn't that a lovely display of Objectivist rationality," Roger chuckled to himself.
That was the last we saw of Ruscowitz. So, against my better judgment, I introduced Jo to Roger, which resulted in some surprises for everyone, except Roger.