A number of people have correctly pointed out that the rationalist community is not only non-homophobic, but is also seen to be non-homophobic, and I think a lot of that goes back to the early work of Yudkowsky (Bayes be upon him) in a way that is instructive to compare with the treatment of sexism.

From the very beginning, Yudkowsky maintained that homophobia was not even a valid opinion to debate, but the mark of a fool, an idiot, a cretin. This point was made explicitly on LessWrong, but also crops up regularly in all of his fiction. In HPMOR it’s repeated throughout the text to an extent that clearly marks the rationalist community as a place where homophobic rhetoric is unwelcome.

Sexism is also called out explicitly, but by describing it as a problem in the past that has no real explanation and is now over for all time and thus doesn’t need to be thought about again. Feminism is also mentioned, but only to (gently) mock it.

The main concern for sexist rhetoric was not its truth value or the cognitive biases that might underpin it, but the more prosaic instrumental concern that it could drive women away from the community. PUA debate was discouraged for these tactical reasons; it just didn’t fit with the goals of the site (and anyway, the founders already had plenty of dates).

ah yes this was one of the things in HPMOR that somewhat annoyed me. that and the inner dialogue of female characters often seemed… weird, not even in keeping with their relatively reasonable external actions, though I think it got a lot better towards the end.

(I don’t really go out of my way to think about How Does This Work Treat Female Characters, this honestly just jumped out at me.)

I didn’t realize that homophobia was “officially stupid!” That makes a lot of sense and I really wish that sexism and racism were also “too stupid to idiotic” within the rationalist community.

Homophobia, anno 2010, is a very different beast than sexism and racism.

Imagine standing up in 2010 and saying “there’s a group of people who should have fewer legal rights than the rest of people.”

That’s so blisteringly stupid it goes without debate. And that’s true for homophobia, but it’s also true for sexism and racism.

That’s why it was so easy to say “homophobes can fuck off” – because the people accused of homophobia were pretty much all homophobes, it was kind of easy to recognize them.

Not so with racism and sexism. If you think all people should be treated equally, I can easily find ten think pieces calling you a racist, and another ten calling you a sexist. And I could find them in 2010 as well.

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