Saturday, August 24, 2013

In the News: Tchaikovsky Back "In," Manning Verdict and Voltaire, Nuns and Abuse, and Another Right-Wing Catholic Admits Defeat on Marriage Equality

As part of its pogrom vs. gay folks, Russia's now trying to "in" Tchaikovsky, John Aravosis reports. Aravosis's response to this effort:

Russian composer Pyotr "The Nutcracker" Tchaikovsky is not just merely gay, he’s really most sincerely gay.

At Common Dreams, Abby Zimet quotes Voltaire as she comments on the Manning verdict: "It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong."* And then she adds,

Manning got 35 years. Those whose crimes he exposed - Bush, Cheney, Rice et al - got book deals, speaking tours, slimy freedom.

For Tikkun DailyTimothy Villareal argues that Catholic religious women have sometimes been given a pass for their abuse of minors because they do works of mercy. But:

Indeed, so long as the Roman Catholic Church is simply brimming with men and women who, in effect, feel entitled to annex the very concept of mercy unto themselves – as if their works of mercy somehow have more value, meaning, and holiness than everyone else’s on the planet, Christian or not – priest and nun sexual abuse survivors like Theisen [i.e., Steve Theisen, director of SNAP Iowa] will never have a place in the Catholic community: their very existence is nothing but a drain on the unceasing, inherently corrupt, inherently self-serving, attempt to annex mercy.

In a loooong essay at Commonweal, right-wing Catholic activist and signer of the Manhattan Declaration (as well as former editor of First Things) Joseph Bottum admits defeat on marriage equality. His argument in a nutshell: my gay friends--and isn't it amazing they'd react this way?--understand my Catholic opposition to their human rights as a statement that Catholics don't value gay folks. That I don't value them as friends!

Catholic = heterosexual ≠ homosexual.

And my first thought as I read Bottum's essay: this is what Commonweal meant when it wrote recently, "It is now time to listen to and learn from those the church has long silenced or ignored"--i.e., to gay Catholics (and see also here)?!! 

As Mark Oppenheimer notes for New York Times, Bottum's admission of defeat is noteworthy, precisely because of his thick ties to the Catholic right. It does matter that he signed onto the Manhattan Declaration and is now rejecting its call for faith-based culture war against gay Americans. On the same point, see Mark Sitman at the Dish site.

Nor is the significance of Bottum's admission of defeat--on behalf of the entire Catholic right, and I'd include Commonweal here (their associate editor Matthew Boudway, who helped lead their charge against marriage equality, is, after all,** was, after all, an editor at First Things)--lost on many Commonweal readers, who are kicking and screaming in the thread following Bottum's article.

Saying things like, "Fergit, hell!" and "Ain't never gon' give up on this fight against the gays," and "Us Catholics and them gays," etc., etc. But never saying, "Maybe it's a bit unseemly for us Catholics who enjoy heterosexual power and privilege to treat them gays as if they're lesser human beings and ipso facto unCatholic because they happen to have been born gay." Or, "Maybe if we chose to treat them like human beings for a change we'd better exemplify Catholic values and be more convincing when we talk about human rights for everyone."

Those responding to Bottum at Commonweal are, of course, making their points in the name of that fulsome and overflowing Catholic charity that, to their astonishment, those of us they declare other and defective just don't quite grasp as the love it claims to be. Imagine that: not understanding that people who shove you from their table, define your humanity as less than theirs, deny you rights and privileges they claim for themselves, and exclude you from their conversations are acting out of love as they engage in such behaviors?

Imagine being treated as subhuman and taking such treatment personally! Being treated as subhuman by people who arrogate to themselves power and privilege that depend on excluding you from the circle of human rights (from the circle of humanity), and taking that personally. Taking it personally when those same human beings then claim the right to preach to you and to define your humanity down, while never acknowledging or talking about their own unmerited power and privilege.

The Catholic love that cannot quite speak its name . . . . 
When it cannot speak honestly about so much that happens in the real life of the real Catholic community . . . . 

* The Voltaire quote was in Zimet's header for the article in the newsfeed for Common Dreams; it doesn't appear in the article proper.

** I based my information that Mr. Boudway is currently an editor at First Things on this page at the First Things website. It appears that the statement on the page, "Matthew Boudway is Managing Editor of First Things," refers to a position he no longer holds. I apologize for the mistake. 

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