Summary[ edit ] Nussbaum analyzes the role that disgust plays in law and public debate in the United States. She posits that the fundamental motivations of those advocating legal restrictions against gay and lesbian Americans is a "politics of disgust". These legal restrictions include blocking sexual orientation being protected under anti-discrimination laws, sodomy laws against consenting adults, constitutional bans against same-sex marriage, over-strict regulation of gay bathhouses, and bans on sex in public parks and public restrooms. Nussbaum notes that popular disgust has been used throughout history as a justification for persecution. Drawing upon her earlier work on the relationship between disgust and shame, Nussbaum notes that at various times, racism , antisemitism , and sexism , have all been driven by popular revulsion. Nussbaum argues the harm principle, which supports the legal ideas of consent , the age of majority , and privacy , protects citizens while the "politics of disgust" is merely an unreliable emotional reaction with no inherent wisdom.
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Shelves: homo-lectio , books-by-women Excellent discussion of the need for rational underpinnings of laws that dictate public OR private morality. Read this if you want to have solid, well-informed arguments for why prohibiting any-gendered marriage is unconstitutional. Combining rigorous logic, thorough research, and humanity, Nussbaum examines our legal tradition to explain how the insidious notion of "disgust" is offered as a basis to deny rights to the "unworthy.
Examining the legal status of homosexuality, she contrasts the views of two British thinkers. Philosopher John Stuart Mills, "abhor[ed:] the tyranny of public sentiment over personal choice," and thought government had no place in regulating the activities of equal, competent, consenting adults. In opposition to Mills, she offers Lord Patrick Devlin, a British judge and Neo-Burkian, who opposed ending the legal sanction against homosexuality arguing that the state can and should use force to encourage social solidarity and enforce a common morality.
Devlin saw sodomy laws as just and necessary, setting bounds on what is acceptable; according to Nussbaum, Mills would have seen them as nothing less than an assault on liberty. In matters of privacy in general and homosexuality in particular, she demonstrates how jurists are divide followers of Mills and Devlin. In the case of the latter, arguments always track back to disgust, homosexual being "others" and "deviants," engaging in behavior that exists only in deranged fantasy.
Thinkers such as Justice Scalia and Leon Klass, Chair of the Bioethics Council under President Bush, both of a Devlinian bend thinking disgust as a basis for sound ethics, receive an intellectual drubbing.
Virginia invalidated miscegenation laws, at a time when an overwhelming number of Americans thought interracial marriage wrong and unnatural? In places she demonstrates a sharp sense of humor, as when she muses about why legislators doubtless mostly men seem so often preoccupied with gay male sex, but are inclined to give lesbianism a pass.
From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law