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Customer Review

34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing writing from a true american intellect., August 11, 2002
This review is from: Virtually Normal (Paperback)
Andrew Sullivan has written a gem with "Virtually Normal." In these beautifully written pages, we find an author exploring- his goal being to understand first, question next- four explanations for and proposed methods of dealing with homosexuality. In the end, he finds all four lacking.
The doctrines given treatment are: prohibitionism- being gay is a choice of deviance and as such should be treated as a sin, constructionism- gay is merely a social construction and there would be no 'homosexual problem' if we deconstruct sexuality, Conservatism- we should let people be gay but homosexuality should NEVER be encouraged socially. Finally we get to Liberalism. Perhaps Sullivan finds the most trouble here. The liberal doctrine states that as a persecuted group, gays should be tolerated to the point that if social coercion becomes necessary (through 'hate crime' legislation and the like), all the better. Through 'education' (resembling indoctrination) equality can be forced. Save for prohibitionism, I would agree that liberalism is the most dangerous of all.
Although it will be obvious that Sullivan has a special distaste for liberalism, he finds serious flaws in each of the four doctrines for good reason. His conclusion breaks sharply with all of them,resembling more of a classical liberal (J.S. Mill) approach. Tolerance should be encouraged, never forced. Government discrimination is the evil, private discrimination will die in the free market because it is always inefficient. Sullivan then devotes time to gay marriange and military service, asserting- very correctly- that untill homosexuals can serve their country openly and marry legally, they will always be on unequal footing. If the potential reader has never heard Sullivan speak on these issues, she should not delay.
His afterword is a much needed response to seemingly universal misunderstanding on his book. As he criticizes the four dominant views, he gets criticized by them in turn. Even the 'conservatives,' who as ironic as it is, were the group that his defenders were overwhelmingly from, misunderstood his arguments against liberalism as an affirmation of conservativism. Sullivan, if I had to guess, is a republican with a small 'r', i.e. he believes in a somewhat self governing republic. Whatever your views, this book will challenge, educate, and motivate you.
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