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Andrew
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I agree that the "born this way" argument has pragmatic rather than logical value. But sometimes political movements prefer influential arguments over correct arguments, "ends justify the means", etc. - and despite your historical counterexamples, experience suggests that for whatever reason, homophobic people usually are positively influenced by the "born this way" argument. As for the specific case of Cynthia Nixon, my understanding is that female sexuality is often more fluid than male sexuality, so I'm not surprised that she feels free to choose while you or I don't.
If you don't mind paying, the Teaching Company has a nice bunch of lectures by Robert Greenberg - I listened to his series on Beethoven's string quartets and it gave me a deeper understanding of some old favorites (speaking as someone with many years of training in classical music). Handy for listening on commutes and such. Just try to catch it when it's on sale.
Toggle Commented Dec 25, 2011 on How to Listen to Music at Foreign Dispatches
The exception of the U.S. is interesting - the party in the 19th century that did the most to extend the franchise to all white men (the Jacksonian Democrats) was also the more pro-slavery and pro-ethnic cleansing. Perhaps the early extension of the franchise in the U.S. was a reflection not of universal democratic principles but of white ethnocentric chauvinism. (Even a tenant farmer can feel a king compared to a slave, etc.)
Toggle Commented Dec 7, 2011 on Too Much Democracy Too Soon at Foreign Dispatches
Outrageous. You should try to get this story published in the mainstream press.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2011 on On the Tottenham Riots at Foreign Dispatches
What do you make of the theory that it was actually Iran or Syria behind the bombing and the US and UK blamed Libya because they didn't want to cause a rift with Iran/Syria ahead of the first Iraq War (needing their airspace etc)?
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2009 on Friends of Evil at Foreign Dispatches