Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No evidence

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, in opposing the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem:

"G-d preserves His people in the merit of [their] modesty, holiness and purity... The Torah commands not to commit the abominations of the Canaanites - such as men marrying men, women marrying women... They were evil people, abominable... They bring these evil people from all over the world to Jerusalem to defile it. All of us as one, we will all protest this with all our might. On the day they have it - we will make a demonstration, and everyone will be there..."

(from here)

The problem with this is that there is no evidence that the Canaanites ever did any such thing. There is no evidence that homosexuality was common anywhere in the middle east -- and there is sufficiently detailed archaeological evidence on what they did do (the clay tablets commonly used for writing in that part of the world in ancient times are remarkably durable) that we would know about it by now. In particular, there is no evidence for same-sex marriage. There is plenty that WAS done back then that is indeed abominable -- the Egyptians brother/sister marriages, the Canaanite's child sacrifices, and the use of ritual sex in temples devoted to idolatry -- but homosexuality in ancient times appears to have been common only in Greece. And even there, I've seen no evidence of same-sex marriage, even by Alexander the Great (the most notorious homosexual in ancient times, who nevertheless is generally treated favorably in Rabbinic sources).

Rabbi Yosef knows more Torah than I will know in five lifetimes. He certainly has the right to oppose the parade. But why does he have to use arguments with facts that don't pan out?

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