Several weeks ago, I read what had to be one of the most hideously unself-aware pieces of tripe I have ever had the displeasure to come across. Essentially, an English professor (why did he have to be an English professor?) named Anthony Esolen wrote a bit of a screed for the Witherspoon Institute (that, unsurprisingly, no longer exists there) that was several parts masturbatory panegyric to how tolerant he is and the rest a demand that gay people pay back his tolerance by never letting him know that they exist in any discernible fashion.
But it requires pretty serious reciprocity. For one, the rights of my son should be respected. No snares in his path, thank you. He should not have to suffer, by suggestion or invitation or public example or enticement or moral sophistry, any complication along his way to becoming a healthy man, able to love a woman in a healthy way. Mr. Madison and Mr. Unger live in the same apartment: they are roommates. The history teacher, Mr. Delvecchio, is 40 and unmarried. Well, some people are confirmed bachelors. And indeed they may be. The freedom-clearing presumption of normality ought to obtain.
I’ve been looking for ways to use this incredible bit of inanity since I read it, just because it’s so remarkably good at missing the point. And now that the election is done and marriage equality swept in four states, I can. Let’s look at some examples of the responses.
Laurie Higgins, of the Illinois Family Institute (and the first person to receive a Human Excommunication on this site), had this to say about the “declining morality” of America and how groups like hers have been too damn nice.
We tolerate the intolerable with unjustifiable equanimity. We tolerate censorship in public schools. We tolerate the presentation of false and evil ideas as objective truths to little children in the schools we subsidize. And we tolerate the destruction of marriage.
Brian Camenker of MassResistance, an anti-gay hate group, has argued that the reason why they lost in every state this last election is because the anti-gay right was just too damn pro-gay. He says that groups like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage try too hard to be kind to homosexuals and, rather, they need to “persuade the public through advertising that homosexual behavior was perverse, dysfunctional, and unhealthy”.
Those who deviated from this and took a more direct approach were shunned and even publicly criticized by the pro-family establishment. This included some of the vocal black churches in Maryland who wanted to quote the Bible, and activists in Maine and Minnesota who felt compelled to discuss the negative aspects homosexual behavior.
Way over in Washington, hilariously inept pastor Ken Huchinson not only accused the leading anti-gay groups of being too kind to LGBT people, but thinks that it’s racism that kept them from using him and his brand of campaigning.
“Their intention was to be moderate, non-controversial,” Hutcherson told OneNewsNow in an exclusive interview, pointing out that the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family and Family Policy Institute’s unbiblical strategy was a severe departure from the state’s churches’ aggressive campaign to stop same-sex marriage using the weight of family values and Scripture.
What do all of these people have in common is that they share the same remarkable worldview. They seem to be honestly, absolutely, and unquestionably convinced that we still live in a world where being anti-gay is acceptable, that it’s considered a mark of good character. And if they weren’t such awful human beings, I would pity them for it.
What Anthony Esolen doesn’t understand is that if he suddenly retracted his “tolerance,” it’s not his gay neighbors who would be ostracized, it’s him. Most people don’t put up with that shit any more, and the number of people unwilling to calmly listen to condemnation of their friends, family, and loved ones dwindles yearly. People simply aren’t interested in hearing it.
However, that doesn’t mean I don’t encourage people like Esolen to be open about their feelings on this subject. By all means, if it’s such a burden to be “tolerant” of people like me, nobody is asking you to continue to pretend not to be threatened by our mere presence. Similarly, I encourage the Catholic Church to refuse to confirm kids who support marriage equality. I would love it if the Southern Baptist Convention didn’t bother trying to dress up its old ideas in new words, words that are pretty transparent. I want to see their numbers dwindle to a tiny and insignificant minority, which is already happening but could use some acceleration.
Miriam pointed out that it’s actually quite rational to end friendships over political differences sometimes. Not all the time, but there are issues that we’re allowed to set as standards for our friendship. I can disagree with somebody who doesn’t think Firefly is the greatest show ever made (it is). I can disagree with somebody who thinks that all taxation is theft. I can disagree with somebody who thinks that while the federal government is endlessly corrupt, state governments are bastions of liberty. And I can disagree with them on all of these things while still remaining friends.
I cannot, nor will I, remain friends with somebody who denies my humanity and the humanity of my loved ones. I cannot, nor will I, remain friends with somebody who insists on “defending marriage” from the encroaching gays. I cannot, nor will I, remain friends with somebody who thinks women need to be defended and kept in their proper roles, or that thinks minorities vote in a block based on skin color alone, or in any way treats real people as anything other than complex creatures with varied motivations and a range of emotions, most of which are entirely ok based on any objective measure.
It is becoming increasingly clear to the public that there is no rational reason to hold the opinions above. The only reasons boil down to “I read it in a book” and because it’s a specific book we’re supposed to automatically respect that. But we don’t.
So please, tell us what you really think. This dance of trying to pretend that you’re concerned with protecting things that aren’t in danger and defending things that aren’t under attack is tiresome. I dare Anthony Esolen to stop hiding his true feelings and be entirely open about it. Come out of the closet as a bigot and see how that works out for you.