Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Alec Baldwin Debacle, and Parallels to Catholic Blog Conversations about the Gays

Various news sites (see, e.g., Jack Mirkinson at Huffington Post) are reporting today that Alec Baldwin has been suspended for 2 weeks from MSNBC for a recent outburst in which he's alleged to have uttered a (another, that is) homophobic slur. I've been following Andrew Sullivan's commentary (and here) about this story with interest.

Part of the reason this story interests me is that it parallels a story that I read constantly at Catholic blog sites, whose narrative thread seems never to be teased to the surface. Click on the second link from Sullivan above, and you'll read a response from one of his loyal readers taking him to task for calling Baldwin a homophobe. The man writing Sullivan says that he is from San Francisco, has gay friends galore, defends gay rights, but feels perfectly comfortable shouting terms like  c--------r, f-----t, or b---h when he's in a rage. 

But him homophobic? He doesn't think so. He has gay friends, for goodness' sake!

As I say, I've been thinking through a similar story as I read the commentary at Catholic blog sites about gay issues and gay people. At National Catholic Reporter, my old friend Purgatrix Ineptiae (old friend, in that she used to haunt this blog site and so I take her anti-gay commentary personally) has been on a roll as one state after another (most recently Hawaii and Illinois) moves towards marriage equality. On a more or less daily basis, she continues to plaster the NCR site with commentary about how gay men (who are the very particular focus of her animosity, as opposed to lesbians) are selfish crass materialists who contribute nothing to society and who want to use children in their self-serving battle to "normalize" their aberrant lifestyle.

She opposes adoption of children by same-sex couples and continues to raise red flags about gay men as child molesters and spreaders of disease. She's all for discrimination against same-sex couples by business owners who don't want to serve those couples due to moral qualms. 

I won't document all of her statements here, though I can supply links for anyone interested in verifying what I'm saying. She also repeatedly claims that the Catholic priesthood is dominated by effeminate gay men who hate women, especially assertive women like her. In Purgatrix's worldview, effeminate evidently = bad, but women = good, and feminism, of a discrete, limited, Catholic sort is wonderful, but should in no way give any sympathy to effeminate men.

And here's what catches my attention as the spate of noxious drivel rolls forth: yesterday, in response to one of her NCR zingers about how it's "tragic" to place children in a household headed by same-sex parents, another NCR contributor who frequently praises Purgatrix's commentary, someone named CAELewis, responded to her "tragic" claim as follows:

It's "tragic" only in the eyes of someone blinded by a twisted, erroneous and hateful view of a portion of humanity. 
I quite like most of your comments, Purg, and admire your obvious intelligence, education and wit. I also pray for your heart that needs compassion and understanding -- as do all of our hearts.

I'm struck by the, well, logical disconnect between paragraphs one and two in CAELewis's statement. Can someone who is "blinded by a twisted, erroneous and hateful view of a portion of reality" really display "obvious intelligence, education and wit" in all the rest of her commentary? What I'm asking is this: does the persistent vocalization of twisted, erroneous, and hateful views regarding targeted others not vitiate all of what a commentator has to say on any other subject?

Purgatrix Ineptiae and others like her continue to have a free pass to post at Catholic blog sites. They continue to have a free pass to express views that others rightly characterize as twisted, erroneous, and hateful towards a targeted minority. The implication appears to be that, though the kind of poisonous rhetoric they spread about regarding gay folks would not be tolerated if they were talking about, say, people of color or Jews, it's somehow acceptable when they're talking about gay folks.

And though we'd very likely conclude that anyone spreading around open, ugly, hateful rhetoric about  groups like African Americans or Jews has nothing else to say about any topic at all that we'd be inclined to regard as good, people like Purgatrix Ineptiae not only seem to get a free pass to mount open homophobic attacks on gay folks at Catholic blog sites, but they're praised when they write about other topics--e.g., the role of women in the church.

I have to say, I don't quite get it. Just as I don't get the way in which Deacon Jim Pauwels continues to be treated as such an all-around nice guy and great exemplar of Catholic values at the Commonweal blog site when he predictably defends people like Bishop Paprocki. An all-around nice guy and great exemplar of Catholic values who's capable of inviting someone in an effusive public gesture of Catholic nice-guyism (and here) to email him and explain why many gay folks feel unwelcome in the Catholic church--and who then totally ignores the email he's solicited.

Treating the person from whom he's solicited the email as if he isn't even there, hasn't spoken, is invisible and beside the point as a human being. Which seems to me to be the very definition of unwelcome.

There's something about the Catholic mindset I just don't seem to get. How can people like Purgatrix Ineptiae and Deacon Jim Pauwels be allowed to represent themselves as the epitome of what it means to be Catholic and as people with great minds and hearts, who just happen to have an unfortunate little blind spot when it comes to their fellow human beings who are gay?

Is it really possible to be a good Catholic gal or guy who just has a lamentable little tendency to spread hateful lies about those who are gay, or a lamentable little tendency to treat gay folks as if they don't exist, while the person behaving this way professes to be all about love and welcome?

Can anyone enlighten me about this? I'd be grateful.

See the following footnote to this posting.

The graphic is from the Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center International Team, which has generously made it available for sharing at Wikimedia Commons.

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