Saturday, November 15, 2008


Depending on what you believe or how you live your own life, it's open season on you. The law cannot protect you, and the media will deny the whole thing.

Recently, the state of California shocked the rest of the country by passing the so-called "Proposition 8," which would overturn the legalization of same-sex "marriages." (Hey, I put it in quotes. Come and get me already.) Many of us have seen the commercial run by their opponents, depicting two young Mormon missionaries barging into the home of a lesbian couple and tearing up their "marriage" license. (There, I put it in quotes again. Not to worry; I laugh in the face of danger.) They would never depict Jews or Muslims this way, as both have a history of making enough noise when they're disrespected in public. Maybe they're on to something. Then there's the video clip of an old woman carrying a homemade cross in front of protesters, who is attacked while the cameras are rolling and her cross is trampled to the ground.

So now we're picking on little old ladies, huh, guys?

Such shenanigans is not limited to California. Witness a "gay pride" parade in DC, where people who dress in an extreme fashion deliberately terrorize families of tourists on the sidewalks passing by. The police won't act to "serve and protect" little children being scared out of their wits by some public deviant. They have orders not to interfere.

In a sense, this is an unfair picture of them. That's right. Most people who identify themselves as homosexual or gay or lesbian or whatever, lead relatively quiet lives, away from the activist limelight. For many years, Washington was home to a "Bachelors and Spinsters Club," which was said to be a cover for those with such proclivities (or so I'm told). Two of my best friends from college "came out" some years later. One of them is a photographer in Seattle, whom I still consider a good friend. I know guys at the office with male "partners," and to be honest, they're really great guys. I'd meet them for a drink after work, even. Their private life is really none of my business, now, is it? Just like mine is none of theirs.

Relax, we'll get back to that rationale shortly.

Then there's the minority who have to parade their sexual preferences in front of the world. I suppose for most of us, that is the big issue. If you want to live a certain way, that's your business. Do I have to be forced to treat it as normal, when everything I believe in says it isn't? In the face of that conviction, am I really stopping you from living as you wish?

The inevitable response, is that these people have a "right" to be married. Just what do they mean by a "right" anyway? Is it truly an entitlement under the laws of nature, which is how we have always defined rights, or is it simply the ability to "do whatever I want"? There's a difference between freedom and license, but the angry mobs who want same-sex "marriage" don't see it that way. (There, that's three times in quotes. Where's the knock on the door?) Having decided this, they're determined that the rest of us have to live with it. I'm waiting to hear why.

This would elicit the next inevitable response. They want to be able to provide for those whom they care about in the event of old age, with medical coverage and pension plans and such. Most of this would be provided with power-of-attorney and a certain latitude in probate laws of most states. Apparently that's not good enough. Their wishes have to be paraded in front of the rest of us, so that we have to be inundated with their personal business as a sort of cause celebre. Perhaps some sort of "domestic partnership" arrangement would be beneficial to those who grow old alone, and find a companion -- whether platonic or not -- with whom they would be less of a drain on the system in their advancing years. What's wrong with that, you ask? Nothing, perhaps, if we could be sure that society renders the proper distinctions, and leaves it at that. We have learned otherwise.

We hear a lot these days about the benefits of "diversity" and "tolerance," but such mantras are largely a myth. Those who clamor for such variety are often themselves the first to squelch it when it works the other way around. This seems hypocritical at first glance, but it is based on a tendency that is inevitable. Gay and lesbian advocates claim that what they want doesn't hurt or otherwise impose anything on those who disagree, but this overlooks the larger picture (not to mention their own reaction when their demands are not met). A society can only maintain its cohesiveness in the long run, when everybody in it thinks and behaves similarly in certain core areas. People are most likely to be civil to one another in their everyday dealings, when they're on the same page. Civilizations have always worked this way. They have never survived for long when they did not. Far from being restricting, this is in fact liberating, as it leaves us free to otherwise be ourselves, without fear of being inappropriate or outcast.

It's a reason we have manners, for example, a standard mode of behavior when around others. The loss of a common norm for behavior eventually makes everyone uncomfortable. For now, we act as though "tolerance" and "diversity" are not a problem. Even when we're okay with it, we find ourselves having to constantly watch what we say, depending on where we are, then changing that set of rules in our heads when we are somewhere else. We are self-conscious, out of place in our own native setting. It is a wonder we all get along as well as we do.

Still, history has known of those who have followed "a different drummer." In so doing, they accept the risks that go with being different. They want something badly enough to be misunderstood by most of those around them. Most of the time it is harmless, but there are occasions that should give us pause. As Catholics, one of the spiritual works of mercy is to call others who have need of it to conversion, assuming our own lives are in order. Persecuting or otherwise mistreating them does not accomplish this; speaking the Truth in Love does.

Perhaps the future of America may see parts of the country where certain behaviors are tolerated, while other parts of the country become increasingly provincial. One may wonder if this moderate path may sustain the American way of life for a while longer than otherwise. One might have expected California to be the first to embrace the former path. If not even they are ready yet, is there not cause to reconsider the wisdom of certain choices among us? Perhaps diversity isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Now, if you'll excuse me, someone's banging incessantly at the door. I can't imagine who...

(NOTE: AP photo updated 11/17/08 with video clip of a less-than-pleasant evening stroll in San Francisco. Content advisory, obviously. H/T to The Divine Mrs M.)

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