Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Damon Linker on the Foolish Cruelty of Catholic Conservatives Who Want Gays to Disappear, and the Continued Fence-Sitting of Catholics of the Liberal Center

Conservative commentator Damon Linker gets the foolish cruelty of Catholic conservatives who want gay people to disappear absolutely right in his column in The Week today:

In the end, the problem for [Austin] Ruse and like-minded Catholic conservatives is that homosexuals refuse to disappear. 
At one point in his essay, Ruse insinuates that in talking and writing about their experiences of coming out as gay, Tushnet and Gonnerman display narcissism. Perhaps so. But what about a man who sets himself up as the Grand Inquisitor, eagerly casting stones at people trying, however awkwardly, to abide by the extraordinarily demanding strictures of their church? I'd say that's a person so consumed by hatred of homosexuality that he's willing to risk looking like a complete jerk — and willing to make his church look like an institution deeply, almost existentially, devoted to cruelty.

Linker is commenting on a recent statement by the inflammatory anti-gay right-wing Catholic activist Austin Ruse in Crisis magazine which Linker characterizes (rightly) as "egregiously anti-gay." As he notes, the problem for Ruse and the Catholic contingent for whom he speaks is the mere existence of those who are gay. Ruse attacks even conservative gay Catholics like Eve Tushnet and Joshua Gonnerman, who defend magisterial teaching about homosexuality and remain celibate, while stating openly that they are gay. (Click his name in the labels below this posting, if you want to find my previous commentary about Ruse.)

Terri Hemker, who frequently leaves scintillating comments here and at other Catholic blog sites, reported recently in this NCR thread that, when she dared to leave critical comments several days ago in response to this Crisis article by James Kalb, she found herself quickly blocked from commenting. Terri's comments are still standing at the Crisis site and in her Disqus feed. As anyone who seeks them out will see, they're anything but incendiary. 

As she states at NCR:

Update: Yes, friends, I'm proud to say that my first night on CRISIS magazine tonight, they had a heart attack because I stood up for gay rights and booted me right off of that baby! I'm totally blocked while anti-gay 'faithful Catholics' who said some very unChristian things to me, remain. Because, you see, I didn't get booted for my words, but for the ideas behind them. To CRISIS magazine and others like it, evidently, ideas are dangerous, unless they agree with them. I'll wear that like a badge of honor! ;-)

People "so consumed by hatred of homosexuality" that they're "willing to risk looking like a complete jerk — and willing to make [their]  church look like an institution deeply, almost existentially, devoted to cruelty": Linker seems to me to get right to the heart of the matter.  And, as I noted yesterday, while a vocal minority of Catholics in the U.S. manage to convince increasing numbers of their fellow Americans that the Catholic church is an exceptionally cruel institution in how it deals with human beings who are gay, the liberal Catholic center represented by journals like Commonweal remains totally silent.

It proudly sits on the fence, declaring itself objective and above the fray on questions of gay rights, as Commonweal's editor Paul Baumann reminded Commonweal readers a few days ago in an essay applauding the virtue of those who refuse to take sides. Demonstrating, once again, that Catholic liberal "centrists" are every bit as much a part of the problem as are the Austin Ruses of American Catholicism . . . .

Since there is no defensible neutral position when people are being unjustly attacked . . . . Fence-sitting under those circumstances is taking sides with the attackers.

No comments: