June 28th, 2013
Ross Douthat mused the other day that the future of religious liberty in America will depend mostly on how magnanimous the gay marriage movement deigns to be toward the knuckle-draggers who bitterly cling to the antiquated views of marriage once espoused by Barack Obama in April of 2012. He may be right, though there are other, less-condign possible futures. But let’s leave that alone for now and do a quick temperature check on the magnanimity of the gay marriage movement.
Here’s John Aravosis going after an evil, right-wing Republican hate group (the Family Research Council) for “the most anti-gay logo” in the history of politics. You’ll want to pay attention to two aspects of this post.
(1) Aravosis thinks the logo in question is hateful because it features “a man performing oral sex.” Tobias Funke responds, “No, but funny how your mind would go there boy-Michael.”
The stick-figure in question is pretty obviously a person kneeling in prayer. I suppose you could call this a Rorschach test of some sort if you really wanted to stretch things. But the point here is that Aravosis doesn’t even raise the possibility that FRC was indicating prayer. He jumps straight to the hate histrionics.
(2) Aravosis opens his post with the following line:
In one of the most unfortunate moves in American politics since Republicans kept referring to the Tea Party “teabagging” . . .
I had to read that three times to make sure I understood what he’s saying. In Aravosis’ reading of history, the Tea Party/teabagging stuff was a slur perpetrated by the Tea Party rather than against the Tea Party. That’s a pretty tortured depiction of reality. Parts of the Tea Party originally called for sending tea bags to Congress as a message–we do all remember where “Tea Party” comes from, correct?–and then the left quickly adopted “tea bagger” as a slur against Tea Party members.
Aravosis is just one data point in a wider gay marriage movement that consists of roughly
80 percent 65 percent 51 percent of the country, so I don’t want to make too much of it. But as a quick temperature read on their inclination towards the tiny rump minority which believes traditional marriage is important, it’s worth marking down.
The conventional view is that, whatever else happens in the realm of civil society, the religious liberty line will at least hold at the door of the church. I’m not particularly convinced and whatever the case, I’ll be surprised if that line isn’t repeatedly assaulted in the next decade.
Jonathan– I think you’re misreading Aravosis here. His use of “unfortunate” isn’t an accusation that the Family Research Council’s logo is hateful. (He feels they’re a hate GROUP, which is justifiable and can be debated on the merits, but that isn’t in reference to the logo.) Rather, he’s ridiculing them for an unintended but obvious sexual double entendre in their campaign’s logo and slogan, and compares it to the “2M4M” mistake which worked much the same way — not ill-intended by the FRC but just embarrassing. From a liberal perspective this is joyful, not hateful, satire, predicated on the sexual cluelessness (or, possibly, subersive intent) of the marketers and designers who serve these conservative groups.
The root of the joke is in the commonly held, generally unproven but highly appealing idea that anti-gay / anti-gay-marriage sentiment is rooted subsconsciously in deeply repressed homosexuality, which expresses itself in embarrassing public double entendres like these or in the behavior of people like Larry Craig and Ted Haggard. For the audience of Americablog this is probably understood intuitively, but I can see how it would pass right by a conservative reader.
At any rate, it’s worth considering in this analysis that “magnanimity” is an awfully high standard to set for a sociocultural group that — from its own perspective at least — has been marginalized and spitefully discriminated against, in public, for centuries, and with great vitriol from many corners to this day. From their perspective they on the verge of an entirely justified vindication and are under no obligation to treat their opponents with gentleness.
Think of it this way: if you accept the premise that gay marriage is a civil right that has been unfairly denied, which most of its advocates presumably do, then to ask them to be “magnanimous” and to respect “religious liberty” in choosing to celebrate, promote and exercise that right is laughable and offensive, analogous to asking African-Americans to be magnanimous in choosing to attend integrated schools in the 1950s or to respect the wishes of racist business owners in the name of economic liberty. (Obviously, from a conservative perspective that analogy doesn’t fly, but I raise it because it’s instructive in understanding the behavior and motivation of those who do follow that line of thinking.) To accuse them of hatefulness or aggression, then, is in my view completely unfounded and rooted in a misunderstanding of their perspective.
If you read MLK’s speeches and writings, what stands out is that he roots the cause of civil rights not so much as a claim of a specific racial group but as a necessary fulfillment of the American Dream for everyone. That’s something that anyone can get behind regardless of race.
The gay marriage movement has rode a similar wave in that it can appeal to the larger majority not as a claim of a special interest or a very small minority but rather as a fulfillment of the American dream of liberty. At worst, one I doesn’t need to care for your different family arrangement as long as they understand that it’s your business and not theirs.
We’re beginning of the rout of traditional marriage. Could you imagine 15 years ago that we would see mumblings in the conservative press about getting the government out of the business of recognizing marriage? I remember a George Will column from 20 to 25 years ago about a poster a social dance somewhere in England; Will commented on how some were claiming that the posters were discriminatory because they didn’t show any same-sex couples dancing. All for a good laugh, but do you have any doubt that such debates will become commonplace?
Not only has the unthinkable become reality but those leading the way have not articulated a larger vision of how this all fits into notions of political and religious liberty so it’s not like the gay marriage movement feels any obligation on those counts. So I expect no magnanimity from them, which I feel is Douthat’s larger implicit point. In pact given both the cases in New Jersey and Canada on public accommodations and the placement of the gay marriage debate within the bounds of political correctness we can see where this is going.
First magnanimity shown by victors derives not so much from fine ideas of tolerance but as from the notion of survival – that it’s better to leave some money on the table rather than risk a counter-reaction. MLK might have placed the civil rights struggle within the context of the American dream out of magnanimity or good tactics or both but the fact remains that there is no reason based on recent past history that we should expect any such fine calculations here. I fear overreach and the realization of the old adage ‘learning from experience’
Second this magnanimity/religion discussion is not taking place in a vacuum but rather in the context of 5 years of overreach by the Obama Administration. Over the past year there has been alot of organization and movement by the Catholic Church and non main line Protestant denominations over the HHS contraception mandate, people are not only alerted to such threats but have been working on them via a Fortnight of Freedom. Note that ongoing debate of freedom of worship vs. freedom of religion
Second is that while alot of the official religious liberty movement and work is focused on the positive and tactical, there is an opposite sentiment expressed unofficially by much of the leadership cadre within the laity. That the fine sentiments of liberty expressed in the gay marriage movement are really stalking horses for a larger assault on traditional liberties and civil rights, that we in our religious communities
will have our freedom within the sanctuary on Sundays from 9: 00 to 10:00 but nothing outside of it. Personally in my conversations with many pro-gay marriage advocates they seem oblivious to these concerns
I don’t think there are too many times where “magnanimity” is simply claimed by the victors out altruism and that we will have to fight for our rights. In having to fight I don’t mind as that as part of my heritage as both a Christian and an American but I have a very bad feeling that this is going to get out of hand.
I laughed at “rump minority”.
Re: Sanity Check
Pointing out the “double entendre” nature of FRC’s logo truly says MUCH more about the person making the observation and very little about FRC. It is evidence of a view that makes life one-dimensional and focused on sex, very much like a typical teenage boy. I could see a 15-year old boy making the observation about FRC’s logo, because 15-year old boys tend to be crass, immature, and completely sex-obsessed. Most people who heard a 15-year old boy make such an observation would probably roll their eyes and tell him to grow up, but we would hope that he would learn that mature adults don’t look at life through such a sex-obsessed filter.
Even given the oft-observed tendency of homosexual males to be more sex-conscious and sex-obsessed than the general population, Aravosis’s gross misreading of FRC’s logo is something to behold. Beyond crassness, immaturity, and an unhealthy ultra-Freudian obsession with sex, it speaks to a complete lack of familiarity with religion or religious people — otherwise known as 80+% of the population. That is troubling in itself, but, it is even more troubling when one reflects on how this tremendous ignorance and distorted view of life seem to be fairly representative of the pro-SSM movement as a whole.
Oh no. The “discrimination” lawsuits against businesses who don’t wish to participate in gay “weddings” are a very clear pointer of where we’re headed. Honestly, looking at the past activity of the gay privileges movement, it’s almost mathematically predictable that they would use lawsuits to destroy people who disagree. And that they will do the same to churches is just as clearly in the cards.
Does anyone honestly think that Obama & friends will stand up for religious liberty in this case? If a case like that goes before a leftist judge, that church has some serious problems. These are very, very dark times.