Ryan Sorba has been on TV and met famous people - and the picture he chooses for his MySpace profile is of him flexing his muscles and covering his crotch.

The world is a big, scary place, and some people just can’t handle it. This gives rise to a very particular type of toxicon: someone whose phony expertise is based not just on a failure to recognize one’s own ignorace, but on an urgent psychological need to believe that one understands something that makes one feel frightened and inadequate. Very, very inadequate.

Meet Ryan Sorba.

On 2/19/10, Ryan Sorba addressed a crowded ballroom at the annual CPAC conference of conservative political luminaries. This is what he said: 

“I’d like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPride [sic] to this event. Civil rights are grounded in natural rights. Natural rights are grounded in human nature. Human nature is a rational substance in relationship to the intelligible end of the reproductive act is reproduction. Do you understand that? Civil rights when they conflict with natural rights are contrary… Will you sit down? The lesbians at Smith College protest better than you do. The lesbians at Smith College protest better than you do.”

Here’s the vid:

Sorba was quickly booed off the stage. The firestorm of commentary that ensued dissected exactly what Sorba’s words and the reaction to them says about the state of conservative thinking with regard to homosexuality. What hasn’t been examined is what they say about Mr. Sorba, which is interesting – because if you look at his actual statement, he never really attacked homosexuality at all.

Most peddlers of homophobia understand that there are two basic ways to go about it. If you know where the exits are, you can do a hit-and-run by invoking junk science to suggest that gay-ness is dangerous and harmful and then hauling ass before you get called on it. Alternately, you can stake out a nebulous high ground by applying adjectives like ‘immoral’ (which are impossible to argue with). Neither of these methods offers a knock-out blow, but they can satisfy an uncritical audience or rope-a-dope an unprepared opponent. In short, they work. So why didn’t Sorba stick with them?

Although Sorba’s actual words don’t add up to a meaningful sentence in the English language, his intentions are clear. He’s trying to argue that the legitimacy of sexual activity is in some sense based on the making of babies. One might certainly infer from this an attack on any lifestyle that involves non-reproductive sex, and many have been quick to poke the obvious holes in Sorba’s thinking (what about heterosexual sex in which the woman is pregnant, or one or both parties is infertile?).  These arguments, though reasonable, miss a larger point. Why should we read between the lines, when we can just consider what Sorba actually said?

“The intelligible end of the reproductive act is reproduction.”

Not fun. Not pleasure. Not even between heterosexuals. The ‘intelligible end’ – i.e., the whole point of sex – is reproduction.

In other words, if you enjoy sex, you’re missing the point.

Why does Ryan Sorba feel the need to convey this perspective? Why must he concoct such rickety logical frameworks to support his thesis that sex isn’t supposed to be pleasurable, goddammit?  And why is he so defensive and on edge that he’s constantly threatening anyone who might disagree with him?  There must be a reason for this behavior. Even if it’s only a little one. An eensy-weensy, shamefully tiny reason.

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