Markandey Katju is a man who has passed a number of path-breaking judgments during his time as a judge in Supreme Court of India. Looking at his past record, he has firmly stood on the side of human rights. Moreover, he is the chairman of Press Council of India currently. Hence I find it highly unusual that my comment was deleted from one of his recent posts on Facebook.
Let us delve into the illogical argument of that post first.
The post was titled “Gay Relationships and Gay Marriages” and uses the thoroughly discredited, non-scientific theory of “Life Force” by George Bernard Shaw. This theory rejects Darwin’s theory of evolution and rejects the traditional God of our religions too; instead it says that there exists a life force that gives a direction to evolution (which is against Darwin’s theory by the way) towards the human ideal of Übermensch (often translated to superman in English – different from the superhero who goes by the same name). It was an idea propounded by Nietzsche, a highly celebrated philosopher of 20th century; Shaw’s contribution was that his “life force” leads to Nietzsche’s übermensch, as suggested by the title of the play “Man and Superman”.
Shaw, then goes on to say that this life force manifests itself as the will and intuition of women rather than men. The reason provided is that a woman bears a child and thus life force gives her the ability to decide who the best father for her child will be. This single child is just an intermediary human in a long series of steps ultimately leading to übermensch. In short, life force is nothing but a directionful evolution; the direction is led on by the womankind. This concept implicitly asks us to let women handle her life herself, a highly commendable idea. But ultimately, life force as an idea has been shredded to pieces by science and Darwin’s theory of directionless evolution is the one that science places its bets on.
I am sorry to say that Mr. Katju was swayed by a fabricated, beautiful concept and I am not surprised that the non-scientific idea – which gives power to women – had its influence on Katju’s humanitarian way of thinking. But he makes the mistake that people often make – of confusing wishful thinking with cold, hard facts. And which leads him to believe that life force is for real.
He says in that post:
Hence, according to Shaw, it is not men who pursue women, but women who pursue men. It is the Life Force which drives women to pursue and catch a mate, who will then look after her while she is performing nature’s serious and vital function of continuing the species. Women who remain single are prone to have psychological problems.
[…] Nowadays there is a lot of talk of gay relationships and gay marriages. To my mind it is all humbug.and nonsense. Will a gay relationship or gay marriage serve nature’s requirement of continuing the species ? No, it is only sex between a man and a woman which will give birth to a child, not sex between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman.”
Since we know that ‘Life Force’ as a concept is not true, his whole argument of being against homosexuality, which relied on the life force, collapses. (To be truthful, not everything Katju says in this post relies on it; a minor part of it also relies on the fiction of a Hollywood movie ‘Fatal Attraction’ which I just treat as an in-joke on Katju’s part and which, I admit, made me chuckle for a good thirty seconds.)
Katju is evidently a learned man, enough to read Shaw who was an iconic playwright of his times – yes a playwright, who writes plays, and not a scientist, who collects data and analyzes it for thoroughness. (Darwin was a scientist.) Thus, I ask Mr. Katju what he could possibly mean by the word ‘natural’. I, to my knowledge, know that every species makes its mark on its surroundings, but humans have, through sheer willpower, ability to change entire ecosystems. Therefore, ‘natural’ as a term is distinguished from ‘man-made’ i.e. a natural object exists even if humans had not come into the world. And we have seen that homosexuality is found in mammals, birds and even insects. If this is not natural, then I do not know what is. As someone rightly pointed out, homosexuality is observed in 450+ species but homophobia in only one: Homo sapiens.
This was the background with which I made the following comment on his post. You can no longer find it there because the chairman of Press Council of India deleted it (thank a friend who warned that his comment was deleted too, prompting me to save a local copy):
Marriage that we recognize today is not some conscious game of incentivising reproduction, no sir. It is just an approximation of what already existing social structure was. Thus are borne the ideas of family, marriage etc. But law frequently breaks away from societal structures too: we treat a girl to belong to a different family in Hindu society but she still retains hereditary rights under Hindu Succession Act upon property of her deceased parents. Thus, we broke away from tradition to grant women same rights as men. I fail to understand why we cannot do it now. If society has changed to accommodate same-sex couples, why can law not recognize it? Childless couples are extended medical facilities of IVF and surrogacy; why can lesbian and gay couples not do the same? Human species continues to grow, which you trumpet will diminish upon legalizing gay marriage. (It is curious, in fact, you never explicitly say you are against gay marriage, despite proclaiming in your title that this is what your piece is about; you instead hide behind pseudo-theories of a non-scientist.) In fact, homosexuality in humans has been documented even in old texts. Thus, we are forced to conclude that nature produces both homosexuals and hetrosexuals in humans and still we are able to grow exponentially. Growth in human population has not ever been affected by homosexuality till now; it is delirious to start believing that it would in future. (As you might have noticed, being homosexual does not mean a person is not able to reproduce. A gay and a lesbian can still produce a baby, don’t you worry.) Please read some elementary books of biology, psychology and logic rather than fairytales by George Bernard Shaw.
It draws parallels between society and laws based on it, which he knows more than me of course. If anything, I expected him to engage me on that point. But he found it more prudent to just delete the comment; I am still trying to know what his intention might have been. I would like to know what it was that stuck out so sorely for him in that. (I am trying to imagine a former judge of the esteemed Supreme Court of India deleting my comment over petty disagreement.)
After all, it is not a complete argument as neither his own post is. My comment is backed by solid data as well as conclusions which I can furnish for anyone interested. It was a Facebook comment, and the platform is not ideal to write a lengthy post with bullets, emphasis, quotations, sub-headings etc. like I have used in this very post. Was the lack of formatting so egregious that he decided to not only delete my comment, but also ban me from posting any other comment on his Facebook page? This when he is simultaneously defending PK the movie against sanctions by religious groups.
It is a short post and I include it verbatim:
In my post ‘ Gay relationship and Gay Marriages ‘ I had expressed my views on the subject But I was sorry to note the reaction. There was a barrage of hostile comments, some almost abusive, some calling me mad, some calling me a homophobe, others calling me an idiot.. Am I not even entitled to express my views ? It appears that the answer is no, and if one dares to do so, a torrent of invective, abuses and curses is bound to follow. “It seems that if a man ‘ marries ‘ another man , or a woman another woman ( whatever that may mean ), it is being modern, but if a man marries a woman that is being backward and retrogressive ! “This is an interesting new definition of modernism !
Hmm. I start to see how an old man might be frustrated with a flurry of comments targeting him unnecessarily. He has forever stood for human rights so he might be confused why people are shooting him down for being a homophobe or a mad man or an idiot. I have my sympathies with him for being targeted so.
But I am also puzzled by his line: “Am I not even entitled to express my views ?” He, a former judge of India, must believe in freedom of speech as something very fundamental and during the course of his career, it must have been one of his guiding principles. He also must have had very provoking and engaging arguments on a vast variety of subjects – as controversial as Pakistan’s standing as a separate nation – but they must have always been polite and grounded in firm facts.
But the same chairman of Press Council of India decided to delete my comment which was as far away from irrationality as it could. I tackled him on facts. The last line is what might have enraged him possibly but I thought he liked wit, since he is the same man who posts the following about his former colleagues in SC:
When I was in the Supreme Court, there was a Judge there who was originally from Bihar, and another from Orissa. The former used to often say to the latter : ” Ever since we Biharis gave you Oriyas a thrashing in the battle of Kalinga you have never forgiven us “
Remember that mine is not the only post that is being deleted. Hundreds of comments must have been deleted and I do not know how to trust the comment section there. It is in extreme poor taste, Mr. Katju, and fundamentally against the nature of modern social networks. If you post on Facebook, know thy neighbours. People here are not used to censorship, alas.
By the third post, we see him returning to his familiar ground of “logic”. He says, and it is a short post again:
I never realized the ruckus my article ‘ Gay Relationshipa and Gay Marriages ‘ would create. It seems that the Gay organizations all over the world have been incensed, and have taken umbrage A correspondent of the Huffington Post, an American online agency, telephoned me and asked me whether I had any statistics in support of my statement that single women have psychological problems. I replied that I had not said that single women have psychological problems. I had said that they would be prone to have such problems. In other words, it is not certain that they would have psychological problems, there is only a likelihood. And this is because after reaching a certain age it is the natural desire of most women to have a family, which means a husband and children. Does this require proof and statistics ? Is there nothing called common sense ?
(As per the story goes, my sister made me read this post to her once more because she could not comprehend that a Supreme Court justice could say so and tried to find a loophole that I might have missed. She had a deep, hearty laugh both of the times.)
He seems to think that he can say anything if he says something is “prone” to anything. Sorry to say Mr. Katju but scientists call it correlation. My readers might not know (I cannot insinuate the learned man Katju for not knowing this) that correlation is an utterly scientific concept. If we were to find correlation between women and psychological problems, say, we can do it in a lot of ways. We can check how many women are single and how many of them are married in the registers of hospitals for psychological problems and compare them with their ratio in actual population. Or we can do the same procedure for different common psychological problems, do it for women of differing ages, nationalities etc.
Or another procedure might be that we devise an objective test that decides whether a person has a psychological problem or not. And than apply it on both single and married women, controlling all other variables, and see how they fare against each other. We can do this procedure multiple times and verify whether the results are consistent or not. We can repeat the experiment at different points of time, say every six months and see how the results change over time. We can do it at different places to see how women of different populations are affected by it.
Of course, Katju knows all this. I just very humbly ask him for his sources as did the correspondent from Huffington Post so that we all can benefit from his knowledge. Alas, he refuses point blank saying this is just “common sense”. I beg to differ. Common sense is very subjective, and different common senses’ dictate how women are treated in different countries. I did not know that Supreme Court of India put aside the Constitution of India and used common sense in its judgments.
This is the most interesting in his series of posts. He gives a recollection of a phone call which might have looked good in a future memoir by him but does not reflect the intelligence that he possesses while articulating his position against homosexual relationships. This is his argument:
Step no. 1 Is it, or is it not, correct that there is a law of nature that while individuals may die,the species must continue ?
Actually, it is false. Darwin’s theory of selection has said time and again that nature selects only those inhabitants who are able to survive their environment. For example, dinosaurs – large and powerful – once ruled the earth but they got extinct in the ice age; it was the smallish birds and mammals who survived living in small caves and crannies. Dinosaurs couldn’t adapt to genealogical changes and died. Nature did not shed its tears; after all, ice and mountains and earthquakes are a part of nature too.
Thus, we do not need to go on to the rest of his argument. He is proved false…
That was a damn squib though. We did not even get to hear the rest of his argument! So, I humour him along and assume this is true just for entertainment’s sake.
Step no. 2 Is it,or is it not, correct that in fulfilling this law of nature the main role is that of the woman, because it is she who has to conceive the child, bear it in her body for 9 months, then give birth to it, and later rear it ( though in this last function the husband also plays a role ) ?
Nope. This is a very human-centric view of laws of nature. Laws of nature should be general enough to survive even without humans’ existence. To give a minor example, many species have external reproduction like frogs outside the body of female and many of them do not particularly care for their offspring. There also exist species where only paternal care is provided among parents.
Let us humour him again, and believe that what he meant was laws of nature concerning humans. Then, I will concede that it is largely true, since he too concedes that men have a role in caring for children.
Step no. 3 Since it is the woman.who plays the main role in continuing the species, does it not logically follow from step no. 2 that, leaving aside exceptions, every woman has a strong urge to have a child ? As regards surrogate children, this may be because the woman may have some medical problem of retaining the foetus in her womb after it is conceived. And if she cannot have a child despite medical treatment she can always adopt a child. My friend had some doubts about this third step, saying that some women do not want children, but when I pointed out that the third step logically flowed from the second, and that women who do not want to have children are rare exceptions, he had to agree.
This too is okay. Though, I would like to draw the attention to his statement saying that exceptions do exist. Women not wanting children are okay, but women wanting children but wanting to live with other women are not. He seems to differentiate even among the exceptions.
Step no. 4 To have a child, a woman has to be impregnated by a man. Surely a woman cannot impregnate another woman. Of course a woman may be artificially inseminated, but is that the normal way ? I have spoken to several women, and they agree that they would not want artificial insemination but in the natural way.
Ok, we will like to move on.
Step no. 5 It follows that gay relationships are unnatural
Wait, wait, wait… this is a judge of Supreme Court, a learned man in logic. He does not even bother to write down what made him think that the requirement of both a man and a woman being needed for procreation implied that gay relationships are unnatural. We have carefully drank every word of his without spilling even one, but we do not know how he defines being natural. I am forced to interpret that a natural thing involves procreation. So are mountains not natural?
Maybe he meant it in context of living things. But then what does he have to say about black swans: about a quarter of all pairs are of homosexual males and they form temporary threesomes with other females or steal eggs in order to gain children to raise. Furthermore, their cygnets are able to survive with better probability than heterosexual pairs. Reason might be that they are better able to defend their nests; in any case, homosexuality seems to advance their species better.
Moreover, if anything that cannot continue species is a marker of unnatural, there are infertile women who should not be able to marry according this logic. Yet they are allowed to. In fact, they are given the options of IVF and surrogacy to gain children. Just like the homosexual black swans got their children to raise. If one can make an argument out of it, it should be that the intent to raise children should be a relatively better criterion for ‘natural’ relationships.
That still rejects the heterosexual couples who do not want kids at all. They even go by a handy acronym “DINK“: double income, no kids. These childless couples not wanting children are allowed to marry. There is no affidavit or other kind of legal document that binds them to have children after they marry. In fact, having children is not a condition for a relationship at all: all you need is to be an adult and a willing opposite sex partner as of today. And that is the whole point really.
Heterosexuals, or in common parlance straight, couples are not interrogated by law whether they are able to raise children (society is another matter). But law suddenly becomes very concerned about continuation of species when it comes to homosexual couples. The fact that homosexuality is present in other species and the fact that those species are able to survive implies that homosexuality has no bearing on continuation of species. The ratios of straight to gay individuals differ but remain stable for all species. Homosexuality in humans is not more than 10% by the most optimistic of surveys. Therefore, even if only 100 humans survive in future (out of the 7+ billion today and growing) there still will be at least 90 of them who will be straight and willing to copulate with the opposite sex. Also, if by a matter of chance, all of them were homosexuals but some were gays and some were lesbians, they still would have working reproductive systems. They will still be able to continue the species. And there is a good probability that they will copulate willingly because we have seen that maternal urge is as strong in homosexuals as in heterosexuals. There can even be a law that forces each homosexual to have at least one baby if population becomes too small; desperate times will call for desperate measures but Homo sapiens will be able to survive.
We can give our thought experiments a rest though as all this planning and plotting is for moot since the all powerful Darwin’s theory is not bothered by whether legal status is accorded to homosexuals or not just as it is not bothered by mass killings of one religion. We humans still do what we feel is right in the latter case based on human empathy; are we not able to do the same in the former?
If you are not able to invoke your empathy for homosexuals, know that gay teenagers have a universally steep suicide rates compared to straight teenagers (e.g. about 30 to 40% LGBT youth have attempted suicide in their lifetime). Many force themselves to be straight but they cannot control their natural urges and there is a constant cognitive dissonance about the lives they project outside and the lives they lead underground. The fact that the sex they have is underground, there is not much choice they have regarding who they choose as sexual partner: this leads to MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) community to have a very high rate of AIDS (4.43%) compared to normal population (0.35%). These are just statistics because this post tends to appeal to our rational side. But we have emotions too and I cannot stand the suffering of a fellow human because he or she is subjected to mental torture because of something that he or she was born with. It is like torturing someone for being left-handed or having blonde hair or having black skin.
I appeal to your emotions because this is ultimately what it is all comes down to: emotions and feeling of a helpless gay man when he is being forced to commit suicide for something as natural as wanting to have sex with a willing partner. Or a girl being denied a possibility of lifelong commitment with another girl because society stamps it as unnatural. A quote by Desmond Tutu has always stayed with me and I want to share with you at the end of this mammoth post:
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Update [30-12-2014, 0108 Hours]:-
Katju has had a change of heart recently and has unbanned everybody who commented on his posts regarding gay relationships. A dear friend has suggested me to tone the post down accordingly. But I have decided not to. Though, he has gained much of what he lost in my eyes, I cannot forget the feeling of anguish that I felt back during the time of writing this piece. And thus it remains honest to what I felt. He is behaving how an SC judge should carry himself, I am no longer bitter and Delhi is still cold. It is life as usual again.