The Signaling Hazard Objection

A common far-right objection to tolerance of male homosexuality is that it constitutes a "signaling hazard": if Society legitimizes the gays rather than oppressing them, that interferes with normal men expressing friendly affection for each other without being seen as potentially gay, which is bad for the fabric of Society, which depends on strong bonds between men who trust each other. (Presumably, latent homosexual tendencies would still exist in some men even if forbidden, but gestures of affection between men wouldn't be seen as potentially escalating to homosexual relations, if homosexual relations were considered unthinkable and to be discouraged, with violence if necessary.)

People who grew up in the current year generally don't think much of this argument: why do you care if someone isn't sure you're straight? What's wrong with being gay?

The argument might be easier to understand if we can find other examples of "signaling hazard" dynamics. For example, well-read people in the current year are often aware of various facts that they're careful never to acknowledge in public for fear of being seen as right-wing (racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, &c.). In this context, the analogous dismissal, "Why do you care if someone isn't sure you're progressive? What's wrong with being right-wing?", doesn't seem compelling. Of course, we care; of course, there's something wrong with it.

One person's modus ponens is another's modus tollens; the implications of the analogy could be read in two ways. Maybe it's especially important that we repress right-wing ideologies, so that good progressive people can afford speak more freely among ourselves without being confused for one of the bad guys.

Or maybe the libs got it right the first time, and it's possible to just—defy the signaling incentives? Why do you care what other people think?

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