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Martha Nussbaum Demands Apology from Homophobic Huckabee

June 28, 2010

The hits just keep coming for Pride Month!  Philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who (noted jerk) Mike Huckabee cited as providing philosophical justification for his characterization of same-sex sex as having an “ick factor,” has spoken up to defend her work from its misuse by politicians with poor reading comprehension skills.

She writes to Politico,

In fact, I have never used the phrase “ick factor” in any of my three  books dealing with the emotion of disgust, or in any articles. I use  the term “projective disgust” to characterize the disgust that many  people feel when they imagine gay sex acts. What does that term mean, and to whom does it apply? The view I develop, on the basis of recent psychological research, is that projective disgust has its origin in a  discomfort with one’s own body and its messier animal aspects, including sexuality, and that, in a defense mechanism, disgust is then projected outward onto vulnerable groups who are characterized as hyperphysical and hypersexual. In this way, the uncomfortable people displace their discomfort onto others, who are then targeted for various forms of social discrimination.

Thus the people to whom the term “projective disgust” applies are the insecure and emotionally stunted people who campaign against equal rights for gays and lesbians, not gays and lesbians themselves.

Huckabee had previously claimed that, hey, it was totally cool for him to say that gay sex had an “ick factor” because other people said it first, including this one lady philosopher, who is famous and stuff.  While philosophers have been known to say particularly stupid things (so, FYI, simply citing one of them as a way of defending yourself against charges of bigotry is not generally what I would advocate as Plan A), and while it’s worth wondering how helpful (or, for that matter, respectful to people with developmental disabilities) it is to equate homophobia with being “emotionally stunted,” Nussbaum definitely does not hold the view that Huckabee–very publicly–attributes to her.  Her final word, then, is not surprising:

He owes me a public apology.


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