What Libertarians Don’t Get About Gay Rights

A few weeks ago, I gathered that a friend is a homosexual. There were premonitory signs. He was eager to meet. He’d message me incessantly on Facebook. This doesn’t prove anything. I know another guy who does all this. He’s just weird. Maybe some people are neurotic. Perhaps their communication needs are much stronger. People are not straight forward, and perhaps these guys want to just feel safe.

This fellow is very good at his job. But, he’s still bothered by what happened in high school half a lifetime ago. When a guy tells me he’s depressed without giving me any good reason, my first guess would be that he’s gay. He doesn’t believe in marriage. When I probed further, no good reason seemed to be forthcoming. At some point, I felt he was hitting on me. There was nothing really sexual in what he said, but my intuitions don’t go wrong. I asked him whether he’s straight, and he said, “I don’t even know what I am”. I asked him whether he can give me a plain “Yes” or “No”, he said “You can’t put people in a box.” This is exactly the kind of thing leftist people say when they try to get away with something. I said, “Bye-Bye”. This is not my thing.  Continue reading “What Libertarians Don’t Get About Gay Rights”

Peter Thiel Believes Justice Is Unrelenting

Everything about Peter Thiel seems larger than life. Marty Neumeier once said that you can hear the caffeine coursing through your veins as you read Peter Thiel. In the words of journalists, he is a “gifted rhetorician and a provocateur with a bottomless pocketbook” who is also America’s greatest living public intellectual. Peter Thiel is against death. He is more “athletic than his onscreen impersonators”. Peter Thiel pays brilliant students to drop out of college. Peter Thiel wants to prevent aging, produce meat and leather without killing animals, and build computers with greater brainpower than human beings. Peter Thiel also wants to build artificial libertarian cities in the ocean. Ayn Rand would have been delighted to see a libertarian businessman who is also one of the greatest intellectuals of all times.

It is not just journalists who find Peter Thiel impressive. Some of the greatest intellectuals on earth are admirers of Peter. Economist Bryan Caplan called him the world’s most creative philanthropist. This is how economist Tyler Cowen introduced Peter Thiel before interviewing him.

“It’s been my view for years now that Peter Thiel is one of the greatest and most important public intellectuals of our entire time. Throughout the course of history, he will be recognized as such. Peter himself doesn’t need an introduction; he has a best-selling book. His role in PayPal, Facebook, Palantir, many other companies, is well known. Peter is a dynamo. There is no one like Peter.”

But it was Peter Thiel who funded Hulk Hogan’s legal battle against Gawker.com for violating privacy. In 2004, Peter Thiel was outed by Gawker. “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people”, a Gawker article said. Peter feared this may deter some of his more traditional investors in Arab countries. When Gawker’s dig at Peter Thiel and some of his friends got too much, he decided to get even. Peter Thiel hired a team of lawyers to research how to bring Gawker down to its knees. Peter Thiel became a vengeance donor. This is one of the many cases in which Peter Thiel funded people who sued Gawker.

Do I blame Peter Thiel? No. Why?

Peter Thiel once told New Yorker’s George Packer that he had not made up his mind about the seat belt question. People drive carelessly when they fasten their seat belts. Then he made a volte-face, fastened the seat-belt and said it is much better to drive carefully while wearing the seat belt. Think about this. Seat belts make driving safer. But if your mind tells you that you’re safe, you’d probably drive recklessly. It’s all in your mind. You can selectively erase the information inside your mind. You can twist such information to your advantage. You can forget facts when it is inconvenient, and remember them again when it suits you. You can transmit untrue facts from one mind to another. All these have consequences. This is why delusion trumps the seat belt. Your safety has more to do with your beliefs than seat belts do. Your safety, and that of others. Our beliefs matter more than where regulators stand.

Let us suppose you live in a traditional society where the punishment for homosexuality is ostracism. If news gets around, your family will disown you. Your friends will leave you. Your will be out of your job. No one will rent out an apartment to you. You will have no place to go. Remember: These are not violations of your rights. People are within their right to do all this. These are not hypothetical scenarios. In some parts of the world, till recently, gays were treated not too unlike this. Even in the US, gays were persecuted under the sodomy laws, and often faced private ostracism and violence. Peter Thiel’s sexual preferences were not known to many except his family, closest friends and colleagues. Why? He feared things wouldn’t be pretty if everyone gets to know this. Your friend Jim knows you are gay. He outs you. Is this fair?

This much is obvious to me. You will suffer through no fault of your own. Jim and your other associates have the satisfaction of not having violated your rights. By tinkering with the information inside the heads of people, Jim harmed you. Here, Jim was not lying. But, what if he were lying? What if he were publicizing information he had not right to publicize, as in Hulk Hogan’s case? Gawker often targets powerless and vulnerable people who can’t fight back. Whatever you think about it, this fits Peter Thiel’s fundamental tenets of philanthropy:

“You want to pick an issue where it both does some good on its own, and at the same time helps draw awareness to a broader set of issues.”

My Experiences With Homosexuality

They have a disease called homosexuality. Do you know what it means?

In junior high school, the lunch break seemed all too short. When we were thirteen, every boy liked to play, except the class topper, a freak who never needed to study, and the wayward backbenchers. They did not leave the classroom when everyone else did. My only friend in high school once said, “He, and his friends, they have a disease called homosexuality. Do you know what it means?” I said, “Yes. I have read about it.”

I first read of homosexuality in a memoir in which the author, a scientist once met a friendly middle-aged man in a wine bar. The middle-aged man insisted that he needed a place to sleep. When the author said that there are many hotels in the city, the “friend” said that they are very expensive. The author took this man home, where he was staying as a paying guest. When the author decided to sleep on the sofa, asking him to sleep on the bed, the “friend” claimed that it made him feel guilty. He insisted that they could sleep together, puzzled, asking the author why he took him home when he had no intention to sleep together. The scientist did not understand what was going on. When he was asked to leave, the friend said that he needed money. The landlord woke up hearing the verbal duel, paid the friend, asked him to go, telling the author that there are many maricón’s in the city. Homosexuals. After this incident, the landlord and his daughter did not talk to him much. Continue reading “My Experiences With Homosexuality”

All that means that I am Sapiosexual

i-love-you-like-grown-ups-do-no-for-real-5999Many years later, when I heard do-gooders prating about the importance of giving back to the society, I remembered what I told Krishnapriya when I was seventeen. We were discussing our grand plans for the future. I said I’ll become a great novelist when I grow up. And that I’ll drop my day job and move to that beautiful bubble of mine when my novel hits the bestseller list. 

She said I was being too selfish. “You won’t share your wealth, even with those underprivileged children in Africa?” she asked me. I told her it’s difficult to be so rich without serving people. “But what about actors and rock stars? Do they serve the masses?”, she asked me. I said, “They do, my dearest child. They electrify the pulse of millions.”, and she replied helplessly, “But….but, you think too much.” 

I knew nothing about the brilliant schemes communist people cook up to block the revenge of nerds.  I was too innocent to entertain such possibilities. Today, I know that clever people in the government are actively scheming to impose something called the “super rich tax”. They say they care for the poor, but that is just the usual fig leaf excuse. The real objects of their hatred are people who are smarter than them. I know this because I have observed many leftist people in action. Editors in a magazine did everything to make sure that my articles are not as beautiful as my seaside villa. 

When I was traveling in the train the next morning, the winter sun was dappling the greenery around me. I remembered her. 

                         ***************

The year was 2004, and we used to wait for someone to write in our scrapbooks. It was on one such evening the “Queen of Darkness” added me on Orkut. Her Orkut profile read:

“I got long legs. They work just fine. I also love my feet, which is small and very pretty. I uplift depressed souls. I have great compassion. People do not notice. But, when you think of the salvation that comes at the end, it feels so nice. And I love Ayn Rand.” 

A friend had written a testimonial for her:

“She has a mind that is extraordinarily complex for a girl of her age. But, if you mess with her, she will never forget it. She will never let you forget it either.”

Another testimonial read:

“When she grows up, she might turn into one hell of a heart-breaker, but then she would be worth it too. It is fun to see her torturing the many men who love her.”

The picture of Nietzsche in her community list “frightened” me. She was a member of the “Anti-Social” community. She owned an Orkut community: “Sapiosexuals”. I looked up the definition of the word “Sapiosexual” in The Urban Dictionary:

“One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature. I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay. I want someone who sometimes makes me go ouch due to their wit and evil sense of humor. I want someone that I can reach out and touch randomly. I want someone I can cuddle with. I decided all that means that I am Sapiosexual.”

Now that’s me.

Her twelve-year-old brothers profile intro read:

“I love Philosophy. I also love my sister though she can be quite bossy.”

I knew her. Years ago, I knew her as “Cutiekrishna”. We met in a Yahoo chat room. I still remember our first conversation. When I said I wanted to pull her over my lap and smack her bottom for talking on the Yahoo messenger when she was supposed to study, she replied, “This is none of your business.” I said apprehensively, “We should talk. I think we might get along well.” She retorted, “You’re right there, Shanu. We might. But then, we just might.” I felt a pang of dread. But I loved it because she was all of twelve years old.

When I asked her how she found me on Orkut, she said evasively, in a contemptuous tone, “I saw you in somebody’s friend list. I don’t really remember who.” But I knew it was a lie. She went to school in the same city where I studied computer engineering. She had dark eyes, long lashes and everything. And a Teddy Bear. 

She talked like a philosopher. When I heard her often say, “Co-ordinate geometry sucks”, I asked her, “But, you are only 12?” She said her father’s idea of amusement was teaching her Calculus and Co-Ordinate Geometry. She said, “Nobody cared for him when he was young. He doesn’t care for them now. On some days, I feel sorry for that man.” When I asked her, “Do you love your parents?” she said, “We are supposed to love our parents.” I was touched. If there is anything that regret about my life, it is that I was not born to super-nerdy parents—To people that deserve me.

I argued that happiness is possible only through being perfectly logical and rational. She asked: “Are you logical and rational?” I nodded cheerfully: “Yes”. “Now, are you happy?”, she asked me, with a sarcastic smile. I was silent, because in my teens, I was anything, but happy. 

When I argued endlessly, listing my premises one after another, she said, “Once in a while, you should take your fingers off the keyboard and pay attention to what I say too.”

When she asked me what I look for in a girl, I said I want someone with whom I can discuss philosophy all night long. “It is such philosophical discussions that turn me on”, I said. She said, “I knew a sixty year old man. I miss him, and the philosophical discussions I had with him. It still turns me on.” She then sent a smiley that resembled a scooter driven by an insect. Many years later, I understood she was kicking my ass.

When I once said, “People tell me I am the coldest person on earth. But, you sound colder than me.”, she replied, “It is for my own safety.” She said, “I am too mean to people, but they still like me. I am not nice to you because I do not want you to stop loving me as much as you do now.”

She was leagues ahead of kids of my age in intelligence and maturity. “But, what is the point in being the smartest among all those dumb people?” she asked me.

Her IQ, I estimated, was 50 points higher than that of senior girls in my college. When I often said she was smarter than anyone I have ever known, she said: “But, it is so nice of you to rub it in!”

She said, “You are a quick learner, Shanu. You are a quick learner.” It made me sick.

The boys in her class, she said, drop their pens on the floor near her desk to look up her skirt while picking it up. “The boy who sat behind me used to do it almost every day. He left the school a year ago. Otherwise I would have slapped him hard across his face.” she said. When I once said, “I’ll slap you”, she retorted, “You can’t.” I felt emasculated. Months later, I noticed that the girls in her school do not wear skirts. When I asked about it, she disappeared. 

Once we talked till 5 O’ Clock in the morning. I feared my mother will come downstairs and find me talking over the yahoo messenger the whole night. She asked me to wait because she had to change her clothes. “Half done” she told me, after a few minutes. My heart was pounding. “Tops off or shorts off?” I asked her. “Look, we are flirting. I am not in to this.” she said. “I am sorry. I hadn’t intended that.” I said apologetically. “It is alright. By the way, tops off.” was her reply. Months later, she said: “But, we weren’t really flirting. That is not flirting.” I sat there wondering “flirting” meant. I still do not know. Years later when I asked about it again, she said, “I was really kiddish.”

In one of those days, I heard that she broke the heart of a 17 year old Punjabi boy she met on Yahoo chat. Long after she ditched him, the boys in his class often called her to say that he was not eating. “How can a 17 year old boy be that dumb? I calmly listened, but when they started swearing, I proved that my vocabulary is not bad either. But, I still reply to his messages.” she told me. 

She once said, “The only reason I still talk to you is that you find me so adorable.” When I turned silent, she said, “Now, deny it.” Months later, I asked, “But, is that the only reason you talk to me?” After a deep, ominous silence, she replied, “Let me think about it.”

Once when she spoke to a super-senior of mine in college, he said he didn’t understand a snide remark of hers. She said, “But, I did not expect you of all the people to get it.” When I told her that he was a senior of mine in college, she said, “Hehe. He’s too dumb to be a senior though. Why do you even talk to him? He is so demented.”

She once said, “He is too dumb to be my brother, but I still love him.”

In 2005, a 15-year-old mutual friend of ours called me to say she was suspended from school. When I told her Mr. 15-year-old was never quite sure she was thirteen, she said, “When I met him, he was as dumb as a 10-year-old. But, I never doubted whether he was a 15-year-old. I was fair to him. So, why is he not fair to me?” They used to talk too much on phone, but she had to stop when his parents found out and said that she shouldn’t call. But, when I asked her why they don’t talk anymore, she said, “I am over talking to stupid people. I have long outgrown that phase.” 

I asked her why she did not go to school that day. I said, “Perhaps your parents know that you are a smart child who doesn’t need nobody’s help.” She nodded, turning silent. After a while, she asked me whether “Mr. As-dumb-as-a-ten-year-old” had told me anything. The Principal decreed that she sit at home for two weeks. Her class teacher did not like it when she lashed out: “I know the frustrations of a forty-five year old virgin.” 

“They gave me two weeks. My mother doesn’t punish me because she fears I will hit her back. But, she says that I need counseling”, she said. When I was a boy, my mother used to tell me that she felt nervous while punishing a boy who had grown tall, though I had started loving the hard touch of her hand. Ah, those rose-colored glasses.

When I was once walking near the railway station to find a rickshaw at midnight, a man stopped his bike near me and asked me where I was going, in a familiar voice. I said I was going home. He asked me whether I’d like to join him. I couldn’t have recognized my neighbors by their face, but I felt he was one among them. I said, “Yes”. Much later, I asked him where he was going. He stopped the bike, and said I needn’t join him if I do not want to. He was willing to pay. I screamed.

When I reached home, I told Mr. As-Dumb-As-A-Ten-Year-Old that a gay man tried to take me home. But, Mr. As-Dumb-As-A-Ten-Year-Old did not know what ‘gay’ meant. When I said that a gay man is a homosexual, and that “gays are attracted to other men”, Mr. As-Dumb-As-A-Ten-Year-Old said, “Enough. I get it now.” When I told Krishnapriya that Mr. As-Dumb-As-A-Ten-Year-Old did not know what “gay” meant, she said, “LMAO. The boys my school say that Shailesh is gay. I am not sure. They call me SNB”, she said. When I asked, “Swiss National Bank? I am not sure I always understand these expressions.”, she said, “Sexy Naughty Bitch”.

She began conversations along these lines: “I know what boys who talk to me want. I know you too well. Don’t worry. You can marry me when I grow up. Just wait. It might happen.” I burned in shame, speechless, lying on my bed for hours, with unpleasant butterflies in my stomach, hoping that someday I might forget it. But, then, I just might. In those days, when my mother removed the curtains of my room, I did everything to keep my room dark. 

It was hard for me to not like someone who could see through me so well. I often denied. I hemmed and hawed. I pretended not to understand when she hid the whip from me. After a few months, when I brought it up in the middle of a conversation, out of nowhere, she laughed and said: “But, I didn’t mean it at all. You can’t forget it? Did it hurt because it is true?”

Much as I appreciate being understood, it would have been better if she’d kept her mouth shut. 

To attend a quiz program, she once turned up at my college. She said, “The girls were nice. But, the boys looked like, well, nerds.” When we started talking on Yahoo Messenger, she’d said that she was tall, with long, straight hair and everything. When I told her this was not true at all, she said, “I was 12 then, and I was tall for my age.  I also had long, straight hair then.” After a while she said, “You know, your blog sucks”. When I said, “My blog is better than any blog I have ever read, and ever hope to read.” she said, “Sure. Everything is relative.” But, she’d once said that she liked my blog post “Unconditional Love”. She’d said it was a great privilege to be praised by her. Later, she repeated, “I’m pretty. And I know it.” This was when she turned cruelly sarcastic. 

When I was delivering a long lecture on Ayn Rand’s philosophy, she asked me, “Shanu, Why don’t you live up to what you believe in? Do you even believe in what you believe in?” I felt sick to my stomach. I stopped talking to her. She removed me from her Orkut list. When I tried to talk to her again, she said, “Don’t call me your dearest child. I am very sorry too.” 

I felt numb.

She wouldn’t forget an insult or an injury. If you mess with her, at best, you could wait and see her nibble you to death. It was from her I learned to hurl insults that rip people out of existence. It was from her I learned to hurl insults that remain a secret shame till they are taken to the graveyard. Perhaps the saying that men’s great works bear the persistent marks of pain is true. This is why I have such a long line of detractors though they’d never tell you that. 

I still remember her with deep affection uncharacteristic of me. Years later, when I poked her on Facebook, I gathered she was studying in some stupid engineering college in Tamil Nadu.  A few days later, I tried to find out whether her college info remains intact. She’d removed it.

I’d expected it, because……..because I’ve deep insight into such people.