Friday, March 29, 2013

In the News: Debates About Rights Are About People, More on What-about-Children?! and I'm-Not-a-Homophobe-But Arguments

(As the day goes on): sorry for the hiatus in my blogging today. As my previous post indicated, I intended to note some more newsworthy (to me, that is, and I hope to you) stories that have caught my eye the past day or so. And then life got in the way of blogging, with a trip I had to take to do some business, and I'm only now back at my computer. So here's the rest of today's story:

As always, I'm impressed (and moved) by the insights of Fred Clark at his Slacktivist site. Fred's a straight evangelical ally of gay and lesbian folks as we struggle for our rights and to have our dignity respected. In a posting yesterday, he notes that the DOMA and prop 8 debates aren't primarily about issues, but about people

This is not primarily about a debate — it’s about people. And it is wrong to treat people as something other than people. It is wrong to reduce people to "controversial issues."

Compare what Fred says here with what the leading centrist intellectual luminaries of my own Catholic tradition in the U.S. have been saying recently at this Commonweal thread, where the painfully parochial conversation among heterosexual Catholic centrist powerbrokers shows hardly a scintilla of awareness that they're discussing the lives of real human beings. Who happen to be real fellow Catholics.

As one of the few openly gay voices in this going-nowhere conversation, Jim McCrea finally says,

I’ve had it with this topic and the close-mindedness being spouted about it. I’m outta here . . . . 

And who can blame him? The us-vs.-them mentality of these influential heterosexual Catholic academics and journalists, who take for granted that they are the church and that the gays are somehow other than the church (and other than fully human), is so deadly, so off-putting to anyone who happens to be gay or cares about someone who is gay. As is the frosty disdain of the Commonweal doyenne who rakes a young Catholic over the coals for daring to side with the gays--just as she raked a fellow Catholic at Commonweal over the coals recently because the poor woman happens to have roots in the nowhere place of St. Louis and not, as she herself is fortunate to have, in Chicago, or in New York, where she presently lives. 

Note the doyenne's equally frosty disdain when a blogger in this thread dares to compare anti-gay bigotry today to the racist bigotry of those who opposed civil rights for African Americans in the past. Note the continued condescension of the heterosexually married Catholic deacon in this thread who purports to welcome gay folks into "his" church, but who won't even respond to an email from a real-life gay person whom he once invited to talk to him by email, in a showy public display of "welcome" on the Commonweal blog--which he immediately belied by his refusal to engage in the conversation he had invited a real-life gay Catholic to have with him.

And then there's the influential academic in the thread, who once sought to shut that same gay Catholic up on a thread at the same blog site when he dared to blog about his experiences as a gay Catholic, by informing him that her parish in the New York City area is full of gays who are fully accepted and never treated as outsiders. And so the claim that many Catholics feel totally unwelcome in Catholic parishes has to be false and the testimony of those Catholics should be disregarded. Note how this influential academic colludes with the doyenne in pouncing on the young Catholic woman who dares to side with the gays.

Going nowhere, these narcissistic insider Catholic conversations in which powerfully placed heterosexual centrist Catholics treat themselves as normative and gay and lesbian human beings as aberrations from the norm. Conversations that show no discernible concern at all for the pain inflicted on real human beings by the disdainful and unjust attitudes and practices of Catholic institutions in which these powerfully placed centrist Catholic insiders are comfortably ensconced . . . . Powerfully placed centrist Catholic insiders who continue to keep openly gay voices out of their conversation defining Catholic identity . . . . 

Thank God for the Fred Clarks of the Christian churches. Sad to say, I can't say the same of some of the most influential of my fellow Catholics in the U.S., who are firmly on the side of the Scalias, the Alitos, the Thomases, and the Roberts of the Supreme Court. Not on the side of gay and lesbian human beings denied justice.

Earlier this week, I blogged about the what-about-the-children?! argument employed by opponents of marriage equality right now. As I pointed out, this technique of using children in pseudo-moral arguments to pursue bigoted goals of adults has deep roots in American culture.

And now I'm pleased to see Andrew Sullivan blogging about the same topic at his Dish site. As Sullivan notes, pointing to an article by Brian Palmer at Slate, opponents of interracial marriage in the past used the exact same "think-of-the-children!" argument opponents of marriage equality are using today.

I also blogged earlier this week about the umbrage opponents of marriage equality display when someone points out to them the clear parallels between their behavior and that of anti-integration bigots during the Civil Rights period. And now I'm happy to note that Ana Marie Cox is noting the very same dynamic at Common Dreams:

People opposed to marriage equality don't like it when you make analogies to the quest for racial civil rights, and there's a simple reason why: they don't want to be thought of as bigots. But here's the thing: they're bigots.

And so it goes, this Good Friday afternoon . . . .

The video of Edie Windsor speaking in D.C. after the DOMA hearing at the Supreme Court is from Washington Post.

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