Herbert homophobic?

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Jon-Patrik

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Jun 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/6/96
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Having read the Chronicles a number of times over the last 20 years, I am
continually edified by the multilayered knowledge, insight, and wisdom Herbert
displays, but I have been very disappointed at what appears to be his
(unconscious) homophobia. In all that I can recall, the only reference to
homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of avarice
and perversity. All other romantic and/or sexual encounters involve women with
men.
I am interested in hearing from others if I have missed something here. Also,
does anyone know of any quotations or biographical material on Herbet that would
add light to this topic?
Let me add that I am NOT interested in a flame war about homosexuality itself,
or about how Herbert was right in vilifying homosexuals, or about how horrible
he was for not being gay-affirmative. I am simply hoping for a civil,
enlightening dialogue that those who are interested can learn from.

I look forward to your responses,
Jon-Patrik

Jon-Patrik Pedersen, Ph.D.
jo...@cco.caltech.edu
"One must still have chaos in oneself to
be able to give birth to a dancing star."
Nietzsche


EARL

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Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
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Well, I'm not going to get into the philosophical details of this
discussion, but the Harkonnens weren't the only homosexuals, I believe
one of the Idaho ghola incarnations was gay as well. Tho I'm not sure
if this was intended by Herbert, because I came across it in the
encyclopedia. Does anyone know the fate of this ghola?
Luv,

EARL

http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~esteris


Brent Russell

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Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
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>displays, but I have been very disappointed at what appears to be his
>(unconscious) homophobia. In all that I can recall, the only reference to
>homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of
> avarice
>and perversity. All other romantic and/or sexual encounters involve women
> with
>men.
> I am interested in hearing from others if I have missed something here.
> Also,
>does anyone know of any quotations or biographical material on Herbet that
> would
>add light to this topic?
> Let me add that I am NOT interested in a flame war about homosexuality
> itself,
>or about how Herbert was right in vilifying homosexuals, or about how
> horrible
>he was for not being gay-affirmative. I am simply hoping for a civil,
>enlightening dialogue that those who are interested can learn from.

Just because Herbert didn't write homosexual situations into his works, doesn't
mean that he was homophobic. Making the Baron a pedophile simply made sure
that his character would be looked down upon by the readers.

-El Musculo


ReplicantX

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Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
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You may have missed the scene in God Emporer where Duncan comes across
two women making love and is offended. Leto tells him that it's quite
normal and encouraged among the Fish Speakers, and I also recall Leto
telling Duncan that homosexuality was commonplace in all forms of the
military.
Leto didn't have a problem with it, and he is really just a mouthpiece
for Herbert's view of humanity.

Harkonnen

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Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
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<<In all that I can recall, the only reference to
homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of
avarice
and perversity. >>

What about the reference to homosexuals in a normal male-dominated army?
Leto II tries to explain to Ghola Duncan Idaho why he uses women for the
Fish Speakers, and cites homosexuality and rape as two things which are
avoided by not using men.

William Bechiom

chacoy

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Jun 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/7/96
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In article <4p8921$o...@news-e2c.gnn.com>, Russ...@gnn.com says...

>
>
>
>>displays, but I have been very disappointed at what appears to be his
>>(unconscious) homophobia. In all that I can recall, the only reference to

>>homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of
>> avarice
>>and perversity. All other romantic and/or sexual encounters involve women
>> with
>>men.
>> I am interested in hearing from others if I have missed something
here.
>> Also,
>>does anyone know of any quotations or biographical material on Herbet that
>> would
>>add light to this topic?
>> Let me add that I am NOT interested in a flame war about
homosexuality
>> itself,
>>or about how Herbert was right in vilifying homosexuals, or about how
>> horrible
>>he was for not being gay-affirmative. I am simply hoping for a civil,
>>enlightening dialogue that those who are interested can learn from.
>
>Just because Herbert didn't write homosexual situations into his works,
doesn't
>mean that he was homophobic. Making the Baron a pedophile simply made sure
>that his character would be looked down upon by the readers.


Pedophilia is distinctly different from homosexuality. Even among
homosexuals, pedophilia is scorned.

- Andrew.
cha...@ix.netcom.com
http://www.netcom.com/~chacoy/chacoy.html


EARL

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Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
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Someone wrote this:

I believe Count Fehnring was at least bisexual.


Actually, Fenring was a eunuch (sp?), not have any sexual abilities
one way or the other.


Luv,

EARL

http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~esteris


Jon-Patrik

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Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
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Brent Russell <Russ...@gnn.com> wrote:

>Just because Herbert didn't write homosexual situations into his works, doesn't
>mean that he was homophobic.

I agree that simply excluding homosexuality in itself is not proof that one is
homophobic. But in a span of tens of thousands of years, in such a
psychologically sophisticated work, something must account for the absence of a
type of relationship that has occured in all cultures in all ages.

>Making the Baron a pedophile simply made sure
>that his character would be looked down upon by the readers.

I didn't read the Baron as a pedophile, but even so, it was a male he was
interested in. So this, in addition to his exclusion of same sex romance,
certainly adds weight to the possibility that he was homophobic (meaning either
afraid of or judgmental of homosexuality). And William, in a later post, makes
a good point about Leto's rationale for not having a male army--avoiding
homosexuality and rape.

I appreciate the dialogue,

Jon-Patrik

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Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
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dja...@psuvm.psu.edu (EARL) wrote:

>http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~esteris

I, too, would appreciate a citing of the book and page in which this ghola is
referred to.

Jon-Patrik

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Jun 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/8/96
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hark...@aol.com (Harkonnen) wrote:

><<In all that I can recall, the only reference to
>homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of
>avarice
>and perversity. >>

>What about the reference to homosexuals in a normal male-dominated army?

>Leto II tries to explain to Ghola Duncan Idaho why he uses women for the
>Fish Speakers, and cites homosexuality and rape as two things which are
>avoided by not using men.

>William Bechiom

Good point. I had forgotten about this.

Thanks,

Jon-Patrik

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Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
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repli...@aol.com (ReplicantX) wrote:

> You may have missed the scene in God Emporer where Duncan comes across
>two women making love and is offended. Leto tells him that it's quite
>normal and encouraged among the Fish Speakers,

I don't recall this. Do you have the page number? It's also rather common for
heterosexual men to be more tolerant of, even interested in, female
homosexuality.

>and I also recall Leto
>telling Duncan that homosexuality was commonplace in all forms of the
>military.

You may want to look at William's comment. He states, and I agree, that Leto is
giving reasons why an all male army is to be avoided.

Thanks,
Jon-Patrik


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

Jon-Patrik

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Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
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Ron <aru...@concentric.net> wrote:

>I believe Count Fehnring was at least bisexual.

Could you reference the selection you are basing this on? Also, the Count was
not a very nice guy.

>I dont think Herbert was consciously homophobic although he
>did seem to imply an incestuous homosexual relationship between Baron Harkonnen and his nephew Fehd.

Yes.

>Whereas
>the entire series is devoted to the events following thousands of years of selective heterosexual breeding,
>Believe that Herbert thought homosexuality was not an integral part of the story as homosexual men would not
>have been particularly useful in breeding and perhaps the bene Gesserit had through selective breeding so
>deeply recessed the homosexual gene that none of the royals (these people are royalty in the strictest sense
>Duke Leto, Baron Vladimir Etc.) could be homosexual unless they deliberately chose homosexuality,

You have an interesting point here, but I don't think all people were bred, just
the elite. Moreover, in actual history and the literature of intrigue, gay men
played their role of breeder but still had their own relationships.

>Baron
>Harkonnen being an exception. The fact that the Baron's "perverse" genes were necessary to the BG's breeding
>programs shows that Herbert wasn't truly homophobic as the story has a token gay who also happens to be the
>antagonist of the story.

I don't understand your reasoning here. The fact that the "token" gay IS the
antagonist of the story is exactly my point. The events in the story aren't
accidents; Herbert created them all. He created the plotlines that lead to the
necessity of certain events.

Abuelo Oso

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Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
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Yes, but you must remember that Leto II was a monster, half worm, half
human. He was a freak, and while I don't think that Herbert was gay, he
might have played on the general public attiutde towards gays when he
wrote this.

Brent Russell

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Jun 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/9/96
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Perhaps Herbert was simply making a statement about the military here,
extending his theory that the aggressive nature of males causes more problems,
saying how women are able to handle such situations, and males not, without
violence, which is essential to a peace-keeping army.

-El Musculo


Joseph Omalley

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Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
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Jon-Patrik (jo...@cco.caltech.edu) wrote:
: Having read the Chronicles a number of times over the last 20 years, I am

: continually edified by the multilayered knowledge, insight, and wisdom Herbert
: displays, but I have been very disappointed at what appears to be his
: (unconscious) homophobia. In all that I can recall, the only reference to

: homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of avarice
: and perversity. All other romantic and/or sexual encounters involve women with
: men. . . .
: Jon-Patrik
:
: Jon-Patrik Pedersen, Ph.D.
: jo...@cco.caltech.edu

DUNE was first published in 1965, and I assume that Frank Herbert did not
spit it out in a weekend! So we are talking about early 60's --think
back. Herbert was not very PC by 1990's standards. Women could not be
mentats or navigators (N.O.W. would be protesting the Guild), men could
not be in the BG so somebody would sue... Do you think the "Animal
Rights" crowd would put up with the killing of the little makers to
produce the Water of Life?

As I recall there was some MOTSS stuff in the later books (1980's). They
were much more PC (but not to 1990's standards) than the first three.

Jon-Patrik

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Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
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cha...@ix.netcom.com (chacoy) wrote:


>Pedophilia is distinctly different from homosexuality. Even among
>homosexuals, pedophilia is scorned.

I have a feeling you didn't mean to say EVEN among homosexuals, as though this
group would accept almost anything. It seems your point was to differentiate
homosexuality and pedophilia. It is sad that this clarification is even
necessary.

Ben Carterette

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Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
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In a previous article, jo...@cco.caltech.edu (Jon-Patrik) says:

>Having read the Chronicles a number of times over the last 20 years, I am
>continually edified by the multilayered knowledge, insight, and wisdom Herbert
>displays, but I have been very disappointed at what appears to be his
>(unconscious) homophobia. In all that I can recall, the only reference to
>homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of avarice
>and perversity. All other romantic and/or sexual encounters involve women with
>men.

In God Emperor, Duncan observed two Fish Speakers in a passionate kiss. He
was outraged about it, but Moneo was pretty apathetic. Moneo sez it should
be expected among young people confined to groups of their own gender.
--
Ben Carterette
cc...@po.cwru.edu

Ron Nikel

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Jun 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/10/96
to

Having just re-read the whole series. I beleive that he had
a slightly homophobic feelings. In God Emporer he took a few moments
to discuss between Leto II and Duncan his theory about all male
armies. I think his point there was homosexual - same sexed - armies
should not be all male due to a violent streak in males and
was only re-inforced by this adolescent nature in men. His use
of homosexual there had nothing to do with men having sex with each
other. Semantics is important in interpretting that.

His only other reference to homosexuality is Baron H. Well I guess
it is another example of use of homosexual behaviour embodied
in a bad guy. This may be an indicator that Herbert was
homophobic, but I really don't think we have much to dwell on there.

Ron.

Jon-Patrik wrote:
>
> Having read the Chronicles a number of times over the last 20 years, I am
> continually edified by the multilayered knowledge, insight, and wisdom Herbert
> displays, but I have been very disappointed at what appears to be his
> (unconscious) homophobia. In all that I can recall, the only reference to
> homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of avarice
> and perversity. All other romantic and/or sexual encounters involve women with
> men.

> I am interested in hearing from others if I have missed something here. Also,
> does anyone know of any quotations or biographical material on Herbet that would
> add light to this topic?
> Let me add that I am NOT interested in a flame war about homosexuality itself,
> or about how Herbert was right in vilifying homosexuals, or about how horrible
> he was for not being gay-affirmative. I am simply hoping for a civil,
> enlightening dialogue that those who are interested can learn from.
>

> I look forward to your responses,
> Jon-Patrik
>

> Jon-Patrik Pedersen, Ph.D.
> jo...@cco.caltech.edu
> "One must still have chaos in oneself to
> be able to give birth to a dancing star."
> Nietzsche

--


Ron Nikel - "If it was easy, then everyone would do it!" - Kathy Kohout
MTS - CIT - MTI - SGI

*** NEW PHONE/FAX #'s

PH: (415)933-5450
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Jon-Patrik

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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abue...@aol.com (Abuelo Oso) wrote:

> while I don't think that Herbert was gay, he
>might have played on the general public attiutde towards gays when he
>wrote this.

Is it then okay to play on general racist attitudes without somehow countering
them?

J-P
*************************************************************************************************

Jon-Patrik

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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Ron Nikel <r...@sgi.com> wrote:

>Having just re-read the whole series. I beleive that he had
>a slightly homophobic feelings. In God Emporer he took a few moments
>to discuss between Leto II and Duncan his theory about all male
>armies. I think his point there was homosexual - same sexed - armies
>should not be all male due to a violent streak in males and
>was only re-inforced by this adolescent nature in men. His use
>of homosexual there had nothing to do with men having sex with each
>other. Semantics is important in interpretting that.

I agree, this may have been more of a statement about men than homosexuality; he
also mentioned wanting to avoid rape in an all male army.

>His only other reference to homosexuality is Baron H. Well I guess
>it is another example of use of homosexual behaviour embodied
>in a bad guy. This may be an indicator that Herbert was
>homophobic, but I really don't think we have much to dwell on there.

If you read the entire thread, you'll find there are a few other direct and
indirect references. However, the fact that there isn't "much to dwell on"
except negative references speaks rather loudly to me. Especially when the
major evil character is the most direct of the few gay references.

I do think it's possible that Herbert was just not very conscious regarding
homosexuality and spoke from a common, collective bias, which is sad to say
given his sophistication in other areas and the value he placed on being
conscious.

Jon-Patrik

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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cc...@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Ben Carterette) wrote:

>In God Emperor, Duncan observed two Fish Speakers in a passionate kiss. He
>was outraged about it, but Moneo was pretty apathetic. Moneo sez it should
>be expected among young people confined to groups of their own gender.

This implies that homosexuality is an immature behavior determined by the
environment. Sounds rather judgmental to me.

Joseph Omalley

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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Jon-Patrik (jo...@cco.caltech.edu) wrote:
: Brent Russell <Russ...@gnn.com> wrote:

: >Just because Herbert didn't write homosexual situations into his works, doesn't
: >mean that he was homophobic.

: I agree that simply excluding homosexuality in itself is not proof that one is
: homophobic. But in a span of tens of thousands of years, in such a
: psychologically sophisticated work, something must account for the absence of a
: type of relationship that has occured in all cultures in all ages.

: >Making the Baron a pedophile simply made sure
: >that his character would be looked down upon by the readers.

: I didn't read the Baron as a pedophile, but even so, it was a male he was
: interested in. So this, in addition to his exclusion of same sex romance,
: certainly adds weight to the possibility that he was homophobic (meaning either
: afraid of or judgmental of homosexuality). And William, in a later post, makes
: a good point about Leto's rationale for not having a male army--avoiding
: homosexuality and rape.

: I appreciate the dialogue,
: Jon-Patrik

HomoPHOBIC means "afraid of." As for judgmental you seem to mean a
judgement different than yours.

I argee that the Baron was more homosexual than pedophile. From what
little data there is it would seem that the Baron's main attraction was to
males in their late teens. I disagree that the Baron's sexual preference
was intended to imply something about him being good or evil. Let's face
it, excluding Paul and Jessica, old Vlad could almost be described as the
"nice Harkonnen" (and all of the others were hetrosexual).

When I first read Dune in high school english class more than twenty years
ago the general theory was that since the KH had to 'be both male and
female' the breeding program produced different results (the Baron, Count
Ferring, Paul) that were all expressions of that fact.

Another thing to consider is that the main thing about the Baron was that
he was self-indulgent. If he had been hetro- or bi- the BG could have
produced hundreds of offspring by him, and there would be much less
special about Paul and especally Jessica!

We also know that the Baron had a "crush" on both his grandson and his
nephew. More than anything else this may indicate that Baron Harkonnen
was realy in love with himself.

"In the span of tens of thousands of years" a LOT is not going to make it
into six short books! I found Dune in the Science Fiction, not the
Romance, section of my bookstore. Relationships are not going to make it
unless they advance the story. You may consider this "judgemental" but
most people are hetrosexual, and homosexual relationships do not produce
offspring. Dune may not be propaganda for homosexuality, but why would
you expect it to be?

Brent Russell

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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> You may have missed the scene in God Emporer where Duncan comes across
>two women making love and is offended. Leto tells him that it's quite

>normal and encouraged among the Fish Speakers, and I also recall Leto


>telling Duncan that homosexuality was commonplace in all forms of the
>military.

> Leto didn't have a problem with it, and he is really just a mouthpiece
>for Herbert's view of humanity.

I just thought of this:

In books, authors often speak through a character, this usually remains
constant throughout the book or series. In the Dune series, do you think
Herbert takes the side of the Atreides or of Duncan Idaho.

Or is Herbert Duncan Idaho, learning from the Atreides (which makes Herbert
from the perspective of the Atreides).

-El Musculo


Brent Russell

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
to

>DUNE was first published in 1965, and I assume that Frank Herbert did not
>spit it out in a weekend! So we are talking about early 60's --think
>back. Herbert was not very PC by 1990's standards. Women could not be
>mentats or navigators (N.O.W. would be protesting the Guild), men could
>not be in the BG so somebody would sue... Do you think the "Animal
>Rights" crowd would put up with the killing of the little makers to
>produce the Water of Life?
>
>As I recall there was some MOTSS stuff in the later books (1980's). They
>were much more PC (but not to 1990's standards) than the first three.

Ah, not so. In Chapterhouse, there is a BG Mentat. The groups seem to have
segregated themselves by choice, and neither has any wish to join the other.
The society seems very balanced from this viewpoint.

-El Musculo


Brent Russell

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Jun 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/11/96
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>: >Making the Baron a pedophile simply made sure

>HomoPHOBIC means "afraid of." As for judgmental you seem to mean a


>judgement different than yours.
>
>I argee that the Baron was more homosexual than pedophile. From what
>little data there is it would seem that the Baron's main attraction was to
>males in their late teens.

>When I first read Dune in high school english class more than twenty years


>ago the general theory was that since the KH had to 'be both male and
>female' the breeding program produced different results (the Baron, Count
>Ferring, Paul) that were all expressions of that fact.
>

>We also know that the Baron had a "crush" on both his grandson and his
>nephew. More than anything else this may indicate that Baron Harkonnen
>was realy in love with himself.

Lucky. I never got to read Dune in HS English; where are you from?

I thought it said somewhere that BH prefered young males. anyway, a slight
misreadinginto and interpretation on both ends here.

In love w/ himself - good point. this seems to be the most viable suggestion
i've read

The whole homoPHOBIC thing seems to be stretching things a bit.

-El Musculo


Joseph Omalley

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Jun 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/13/96
to

Brent Russell (Russ...@gnn.com) wrote:

: >DUNE was first published in 1965, and I assume that Frank Herbert did not

: -El Musculo

Just my point, Chapterhouse was written in the 1980's not the 1960's and
was therefore more PC than the original.

Matthew Knyvett Roberts

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Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
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In article <4pj2js$c...@gap.cco.caltech.edu>, jo...@cco.caltech.edu (Jon-Patrik) writes:
>cc...@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Ben Carterette) wrote:
>
>>In God Emperor, Duncan observed two Fish Speakers in a passionate kiss. He
>>was outraged about it, but Moneo was pretty apathetic. Moneo sez it should
>>be expected among young people confined to groups of their own gender.
>
>This implies that homosexuality is an immature behavior determined by the
>environment. Sounds rather judgmental to me.
>

I don't think the tolerance of such an apparently widespread behaviour
(that of the Fish Speakers) indicates any sort of condemnation at all. And
it's certainly unusual to find Frank Herbert belittling the significance of
genetics. Perhaps this is a gap in his usual genetic determinism.
The only other reference that comes to mind, admittedly not from the Dune
books, is in _The Dosadi Experiment_. McKie is talking to Jedrik about some
suicide shock troops, and McKie guesses they are homosexual, because, and this
is a pretty bizarre theory, once humans lose the instinct for survival of
the species it is relatively easy to push them to lose their own survival
instinct. I don't really know if this is judgemental or not.

Matt.

Dave Steffen

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Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
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I'm not sure Herbert made this theory up; I seem to recall
hearing once (and I'm not sure where this comes from) that the Celts
used their homosexuals this way (shock/suicide troops), maybe these
were the original "berserkers"? Any cultural anthropologists out there
to back me up and/or set me straight?

Dunno about judgemental - I'm straight so I don't know how a
homosexual would take it - but it seems to me that Herbert's use of
this theory fits in well with the situation in _Dosadi_. Remember the
people on the Rim have only one survival option - to breed like
crazy. This is explicitly mentioned several times. Given that, on
Dosadi, it's not hard to make _anyone_ loose their "personal survival"
instinct if it means survival for the group (look at the use of
guards with dead-man switches), perhaps a Rim-born homosexual turns
into a fighting machine on his/her own... Or, given the Rim's emphasis
on reproduction, perhaps it's the attitude of _the Rim born_ (and not
Herbert) that says homosexual = shock troop.

/\
\/

Dave Steffen No, his mind is not for rent
Dept. of Physics To any God or Government
Colorado State University Always hopeful, yet discontent
stef...@lamar.colostate.edu He knows changes aren't permanent-
But change is...
"Speak softly...
... and carry a black belt!" - Peart / RUSH
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Paul Louis

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Jun 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/15/96
to

One thing I've noticed is that Frank Herbert is unasheamed about
describing how attractive his male characters are. When describing
from a female point of view the descriptionsfrequently verge on the
sexual. This certainly doesn't seem to me the actions of a homophobe.


LETO II

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Jun 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/16/96
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There is another reference to homosexual behavior in the Dune Chronicles.
In G.E.O.D. Duncan witnesses an encounter between Fish Speakers and is
repelled by it. Moneo responds that it is all normal and must be channeled
in the proper direction. He also noted that Duncan's thinking was
outdated.
I never considered Herbert to be outmoded in any belief he had, including
any feeling's he may have had about sexuality, witness Lucilla's role as
Imprinter,
and Murbella and Duncan's "sexual collisions"

The Lizard King

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Jun 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/18/96
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In article <4pp99j$9...@tribune.concentric.net> Joseph Omalley wrote:
>Date: 13 Jun 1996 14:40:51 GMT
>From: Jd...@cris.com (Joseph Omalley)
>Newsgroups: alt.fan.dune
>Subject: Re: Herbert homophobic?

I'm sure Herbert was SO concerned with being politically correct, as are ALL
artists who voice their OPINIONS and PERSONAL VIEWS as well as create new
PERSPECTIVES.

FUCK political crapectness*

-El Musculo


Peter M. Hilton

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Jun 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/18/96
to Joseph Omalley

Joseph Omalley wrote:
>
> Brent Russell (Russ...@gnn.com) wrote:
>
> : >DUNE was first published in 1965, and I assume that Frank Herbert did not
> : >spit it out in a weekend! So we are talking about early 60's --think
> : >back. Herbert was not very PC by 1990's standards. Women could not be
> : >mentats or navigators (N.O.W. would be protesting the Guild), men could
> : >not be in the BG so somebody would sue... Do you think the "Animal
> : >Rights" crowd would put up with the killing of the little makers to
> : >produce the Water of Life?
> : >
> : >As I recall there was some MOTSS stuff in the later books (1980's). They
> : >were much more PC (but not to 1990's standards) than the first three.
>
> : Ah, not so. In Chapterhouse, there is a BG Mentat. The groups seem to have
> : segregated themselves by choice, and neither has any wish to join the other.
> : The society seems very balanced from this viewpoint.
>
> : -El Musculo
>
> Just my point, Chapterhouse was written in the 1980's not the 1960's and
> was therefore more PC than the original.This is all mindbogglingly far beside the point. Read Swift's "Modest
Proposal" if it takes a swift kick in the intellectual pants to halt this
rear-view crystal ball foolishness. You cannot "analyze" 1960's
speculative fiction by the (oftem questionable) "values" of the 90's any
more than you can judge Charles Dickens in terms of Walt Kelly.

Peter M. Hilton

unread,
Jun 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/18/96
to Ron

Ron wrote:
>
> Jon-Patrik wrote:
> >
> > Having read the Chronicles a number of times over the last 20 years, I am
> > continually edified by the multilayered knowledge, insight, and wisdom Herbert
> > displays, but I have been very disappointed at what appears to be his
> > (unconscious) homophobia. In all that I can recall, the only reference to
> > homosexual people or behaviors is to the Harkonnens, the embodiment of avarice
> > and perversity. All other romantic and/or sexual encounters involve women with
> > men.
> > I am interested in hearing from others if I have missed something here. Also,
> > does anyone know of any quotations or biographical material on Herbet that would
> > add light to this topic?
> > Let me add that I am NOT interested in a flame war about homosexuality itself,
> > or about how Herbert was right in vilifying homosexuals, or about how horrible
> > he was for not being gay-affirmative. I am simply hoping for a civil,
> > enlightening dialogue that those who are interested can learn from.
> >
> > I look forward to your responses,
> > Jon-Patrik
> >
> > Jon-Patrik Pedersen, Ph.D.
> > jo...@cco.caltech.edu
> > "One must still have chaos in oneself to
> > be able to give birth to a dancing star."
> > NietzscheI believe Count Fehnring was at least bisexual. I dont think Herbert was consciously
homophobi
> did seem to imply an incestuous homosexual relationship between Baron Harkonnen and his nephew Fehd. Whereas

> the entire series is devoted to the events following thousands of years of selective heterosexual breeding,
> Believe that Herbert thought homosexuality was not an integral part of the story as homosexual men would not
> have been particularly useful in breeding and perhaps the bene Gesserit had through selective breeding so
> deeply recessed the homosexual gene that none of the royals (these people are royalty in the strictest sense
> Duke Leto, Baron Vladimir Etc.) could be homosexual unless they deliberately chose homosexuality, Baron

> Harkonnen being an exception. The fact that the Baron's "perverse" genes were necessary to the BG's breeding
> programs shows that Herbert wasn't truly homophobic as the story has a token gay who also happens to be the
> antagonist of the story. I look forward to hearing from you regarding my opinion., Thanks Ron
You're trying very hard to find things which aren't there but your fear of
not finding them is stronger than your willingness to "go with the flow" of
what IS there. Your sexual orientation (whatever the PC crowd have lately
defined that to be) is of no consequence to the matter of Dune. Do a bit of
research into the highly homoerotic natures of bedouin cultures. Look at some
of the Emperor's patsies. If one reads the very first few chapters of Dune,
one finds all there is to need to know; the remainder is tale-weaving, not
tail swyving. Imagined agendas are really a waste of the future and the past.

Abuelo Oso

unread,
Jun 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/25/96
to

Maybe Herbert = Duncan, and Atreides = Society...hmmm, interesting....

Abuelo Oso

unread,
Jun 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/25/96
to

wow, you read Dune in high school english? I just read it as an
independant book, and I almost was told I couldn't, I'm curious, where did
you go to High school? Liberal Land?

Abuelo Oso

unread,
Jun 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/25/96
to

Maybe he just put in the homophobic texts to make a more positive light on
the hetrosexual breeding practices seen in the book.

Ash Charlton

unread,
Apr 11, 2021, 3:05:40 PMApr 11
to
Actually Herbert WAS homophobic. In real life he pretty much disowned his gay son, and in the God-Emperor text referred to he specifically cites male homosexuality as a reason NOT to use male troops as, whilst they can be great warriors, homosexuals are part of the displacement of sex into pain: they will indulge in pain-causing behaviour. In the Dosadi Experiment he goes a stage further. The lead character guesses that some suicide troops must be homosexuals as ‘When Humans for any reason go terminal where survival of their species is concerned, it's relatively easy to push them the short step further into wanting to die.’

Love and sexuality are frequently portrayed in Herbert's books (Paul's love for Chani, Irulan's for Paul, Jessica for Leto, Alia's awakening sexuality etc), but only hetero sex is shown as healthy or good - any other form of sexuality is always linked to evil or deficiency. Given all this evidence, I don't think we can have any special pleading for the gay/pedophile Baron Harkonnen slur - the baron ONLY wants boys, not children (he shows no lust towards the little girl Alia, for example). He is as obvious a stereotype as an avaricious Jew or fiendish Asian.

Furthermore, it is no good saying that Herbert was a man of his time - for all his faults, Robert Heinlein had written much more positively about polysexuality and polyamory, and by the time God Emperor and Dosadi were published, homosexuality had become legal in most US states and the UK and queer characters or at least sexual liberalism were becoming much more prevalent in science fiction. Herbert was NOT a man of his time, he was clinging to anachronistic and prejudiced beliefs for reasons of his own. Given how he rethought societies in so many radical ways in his 'soft' sci-fi books like Dune, Dosadi, Heaven Makers etc., he was clearly capable of imagining places and people different to what he knew - he just chose not to countenance this one, except in a negative light. He was worse than an unthinking homophobe - he was a thinking homophobe, one who had the opportunity to embrace tolerant values (a future society where anything is possible) and explicitly rejected it.
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