Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Homophobic Hysteria... Still Alive And Well In The Bronze Age Mentality


Remember Pat Boone... from the Bronze Age?

It's a shame Pat Boone couldn't have gotten Satan to loan him Anita Bryant for the occasion of his latest anti-gay tirade. Maybe he could have had her rotting corpse dug up for a photo-op. The washed up old performer-- who became a celebrity by brazenly stealing African-American musicians' work and homogenizing their songs for a mass audience-- claims gay people protesting religious fanatics and Mormon cultists' homophobic jihad is equivalent-- at least in his senile brain-- to the terrorist attack in Mumbai.

Boone asks the readers of neo-Nazi propaganda sheet, WorldNetDaily, if they have "not seen the awful similarity between what happened in Mumbai and what's happening right now in our cities? ...[T]here is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists. Hate is hate, no matter where it erupts. And by its very nature, if it's not held in check, it will escalate into acts vile, violent and destructive."

Perhaps Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) would, in a sense, agree with him today-- at least in terms of what he no doubt feels are the lawless streets of Minnesota. This morning the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied his request to withdraw his admission of guilt in a case involving a handsome young policeman in a public toilet in the Minneapolis-St Paul airport. Craig has been "admonished" by the Senate Ethics Committee for bringing discredit upon the institution. Nothing so far about David "Diapers" Vitter or Ted Stevens or Pete Domenici, though. Homosexuality, of course, has a very special place in the minds of the structurally conservative, frightened and insecure.

The cover story for the current Newsweek goes back a bit and looks for the Buy Bull's take on homophobia.

The battle over gay marriage has been waged for more than a decade, but within the last six months-- since California legalized gay marriage and then, with a ballot initiative in November, amended its Constitution to prohibit it-- the debate has grown into a full-scale war, with religious-rhetoric slinging to match. Not since 1860, when the country's pulpits were full of preachers pronouncing on slavery, pro and con, has one of our basic social (and economic) institutions been so subject to biblical scrutiny. But whereas in the Civil War the traditionalists had their James Henley Thornwell-- and the advocates for change, their Henry Ward Beecher-- this time the sides are unevenly matched. All the religious rhetoric, it seems, has been on the side of the gay-marriage opponents, who use Scripture as the foundation for their objections.

The argument goes something like this statement, which the Rev. Richard A. Hunter, a United Methodist minister, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June: "The Bible and Jesus define marriage as between one man and one woman. The church cannot condone or bless same-sex marriages because this stands in opposition to Scripture and our tradition."

To which there are two obvious responses: First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second... no sensible modern person wants marriage-- theirs or anyone else's-- to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. "Marriage" in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other-- in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer-- in accordance with God's will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married-- and a number of excellent reasons why they should.

Jesus never mentions homosexuality and marriage in the Buy Bull, after all, was always about "one man and as many women as he could pay for"-- and the chapters about Ozzie and Harriet never made it into the final version.
If the bible doesn't give abundant examples of traditional marriage, then what are the gay-marriage opponents really exercised about? Well, homosexuality, of course-- specifically sex between men. Sex between women has never, even in biblical times, raised as much ire. In its entry on "Homosexual Practices," the Anchor Bible Dictionary notes that nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, "possibly because it did not result in true physical 'union' (by male entry)." The Bible does condemn gay male sex in a handful of passages. Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as "an abomination" (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat—or a lamb or a turtle dove. Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?

Paul was tough on homosexuality, though recently progressive scholars have argued that his condemnation of men who "were inflamed with lust for one another" (which he calls "a perversion") is really a critique of the worst kind of wickedness: self-delusion, violence, promiscuity and debauchery. In his book The Arrogance of Nations, the scholar Neil Elliott argues that Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference his audience would have grasped instantly. "Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all," Elliott says. "He's talking about a certain group of people who have done everything in this list. We're not dealing with anything like gay love or gay marriage. We're talking about really, really violent people who meet their end and are judged by God." In any case, one might add, Paul argued more strenuously against divorce-- and at least half of the Christians in America disregard that teaching.

Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument). Common prayers and rituals reflect our common practice: the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer describes the participants in a marriage as "the man and the woman." But common practice changes—and for the better, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." The Bible endorses slavery, a practice that Americans now universally consider shameful and barbaric. It recommends the death penalty for adulterers (and in Leviticus, for men who have sex with men, for that matter). It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.

If you tried-- and if you were intellectually honest-- you would have to explain this psalm that King David wrote at the death of friend Jonathan:

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
You were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
More wonderful than that of women.

Marriage between same sex couples has nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of dirty, furtive sex deranged Republicans like Larry Craig (R-ID), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) have with each other in toilet stalls. Demented, fearful conservatives like Pat Boone, Thomas Monson the Mormon and corrupt Republican Party leader Rob Hurtt can have all the titillating fantasies about gays and lesbians they'd like, but treating a whole segment of the population as second class citizens and pariahs just will not work. It's 2008, not the Bronze Age.

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At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless Tiny Tim.


At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might like this:

Pat Boone's Cock and Balls

At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw him on Olbermann today, but not nearly as good as this photo, lol.
The article blasts him, as it should!

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous MicroHost said...



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