At about the same time the hysterical jeremiads began circulating about the supposed discrimination against Christians by the gay-coddling American legal system, another earth-shattering story also exploded into the news: the outrage toward actor Kirk Cameron for standing by his “Biblical principles” on same-sex relationships. It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that the punditocracy brandished this backlash as a prime specimen of “liberal” intolerance, “liberal” hypocrisy, “liberal” bias in the media, and above all an anti-Christian vendetta of holocaust proportions.
Now you might figure that all show biz celebrities squander their free time in such frivolous pursuits as combating AIDS, world hunger, child abuse and neglect, homelessness, rape of the environment or rape of other human beings. But rest assured, some of them are perfectly willing to devote some precious time and energy to things that really matter, such as keeping those accursed Sodomites in their place.
If you’re old enough to remember the late Seventies (in which case you have my sympathies, you disco duck), you may recall that “Christian” pop singer Anita Bryant waged a more-sexually-pure-than-thou rampage to overturn anti-discriminatory legislation in Florida, establish further discriminatory measures in that state and elsewhere, and in general denounce the “deviant lifestyle” of queerness like a Good Christian. After successfully leading a campaign in Florida to repeal a law affording protection to gays, she crowed:
Tonight the laws of God, and the cultural values of man have been vindicated. The people of Dade County, the Normal majority, have said ‘Enough, enough, enough.’
She didn’t specify whose god, which divine laws or which man, but it’s clear enough that in her worldview, gays, by existing in her direction, were blatantly assaulting her and other “normal” folks. (Bear in mind, this was not about gay marriage or any other particular right or benefit; it was just a law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.) In fact, she and her cohorts portrayed homosexuality as an evil cult that tried to recruit children into its Satanic rituals. (Actually, gay pedophiles are rather likely to be members of the priesthood. And anyone remember what religion they represent?)
Her triumph was short-lived, because laws recognizing gays as human were reestablished in Florida and elsewhere and in fact her activities galvanized a network of gay activists nationwide to fight harder than ever for equality. During one appearance on a TV station in Des Moines, one such activist smacked her in the face with a strawberry rhubarb pie. Whereupon she quipped, “At least it’s a fruit pie.” Nyuk nyuk nyuk. Afterward, I heard it said that her getting her just desserts constituted the kind of persecution that Christians typically have to face in our society, and the fellow who did the serving proved that them librulz are hateful and intolerant. Seriously.
Kirk Cameron hasn’t gone on nearly such a holy tear as Bryant, at least not yet. In fact, all the hubbub was really about a single comment, a tempest in a fruit punch bowl, if you will. Speaking to CNN’s Piers Morgan, he declared that he considered homosexuality not only “sinful” but “unnatural” and “ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” What foundations? Destructive how? He didn’t elaborate. He didn’t need to. He has a direct line to Yahweh Himself.
It’s become trendy among fundamentalist gay-bashers to weasel out of the guilt of being hatemongers by insisting that they “hate the sin and not the sinner”, and that’s essentially how he tried to validate his position. Sorry, won’t work. To label anyone a “sinner” is arrogant, presumptuous and judgmental (Aren’t Christians supposed to believe that only God can determine who’s a sinner?); to do so on the basis of factors beyond their control is, in addition to the above, bigoted if not downright hateful.
But chances are there wouldn’t have been such an outcry over this one ill-advised utterance had not Mr. Cameron done an encore during another TV appearance. A couple of weeks later, NBC’s Ann Curry pressed him to explain himself a little further, pointing out that many people (she didn’t say including herself) might consider his words “hate speech”. It was a golden opportunity for him to redeem himself, to justify his beliefs or else apologize for his thoughtless words. Instead, he did more or less what simpleminded ideologues so often do when challenged: he did a Sarah — i.e., he shifted the blame to those doing the questioning:
I love all people. I hate no one. And, you know, when you take a subject and you reduce it to something like a four-second sound bite, and a check mark on a ballot, I think that that’s inappropriate and insensitive.
Pretty speech. But somehow I suspect that if I said Mr. Cameron was an unnatural critter who was destructive to civilization, he wouldn’t deem it particularly loving. Furthermore, he still tap-danced around the question he was asked, as well as the larger question of just what he’d intended to say in the first place. Why exactly does he consider gays such a threat to his particular civilization? And what exactly did he mean by “unnatural”?
The latter is no trivial pursuit; “natural” (and hence unnatural) is one of those words that mean whatever people want it to. At one extreme, nothing is unnatural, because we human beings are a part of nature, and therefore one might argue that everything we create or produce is also a part of nature — even including nuclear reactors and sneakers with lights. But when people invoke these two words for ideological purposes, they’re most often focused on the other extreme: that “natural” includes only those things that might have been around in the day of the Neanderthals — or in the Garden of Eden, if you will.
By this line of reasoning, the “unnatural” would include clothing, penicillin, razors, bicycles, spectacles, toilet tissue, the computers with which Christians disseminate their beliefs, and the Bible from which they profess to obtain them. But it would not include homosexuality. It’s common among animals of many kinds, not just humans, and most of these species have never even been exposed to the supposedly corrupting influences of pop culture or those legendary gay recruiters.
Homosexuality has always been around, and is an integral component of the foundations of civilization; yet Mr. Cameron believes that its continued existence, by some process or other, threatens the survival of civilization. He expressed, in other words, a strong opinion on a matter about which he is, in fact, quite ignorant. There’s a word for that: bigotry, the evil stepmother of hatred.
To condemn gayness in the name of the deity that invented it is misguided at best, and potentially far worse. Even when camouflaged by angelic robes, the rhetoric of the Cameron-Bryant Follies is a fuse attached to the powder keg of hate crime. Words like “unnatural” “destructive”, “abnormal” and “deviant” suggest “perverted”, “malicious”, “evil” and “dangerous”. And it’s not at all hard to conclude that repeatedly characterizing any segment of the population in such terms — particularly when coupled with the type of blatantly slanderous allegations advanced by Bryant and certain “Christian” “Family” organizations — breeds a festering animosity toward such a segment that could escalate into physical violence, perhaps of the type directed against Matthew Shepard.
(Food for thought: Since the official spin is that “liberals” are more hateful and intolerant than “conservatives”, and that criticizing a “Christian” is more hateful and intolerant that just about any type of attack against a gay, what would happen if “liberals” committed a Matthew Shepard type of torture-murder? Would that be considered as hateful and intolerant as, say, pieing Anita? A very interesting “lady or tiger” type of conundrum.)
Just as Bryant’s pie in the face was a badge of her putative persecution for her “principles”, Cameron — whose career hadn’t been exactly Disneyland lately — has used the notoriety from his TV appearances to make further TV appearances to say the same things and protest about being misunderstood again. He has become a poster boy for the National Organization for Marriage, one of those cherubic sounding groups that strive to “protect” marriage by prohibiting the wrong people from getting married. NOM, by the way, is also mulling the enlistment of other “glamorous, non-cognitive elites” — i.e., attractive but stupid celebrities — to champion its cause. You think I’m joshing?
He’s also launched a speaking tour to share his expertise with the rest of the world, and has even taken advantage of his newly acquired limelight to defend Congressman Todd Akin, who’s come under fire for displaying a level of scientific knowledge comparable to Cameron’s own. Yet for all his embracing of opportunities for exposure, he’s rejected a friendly invitation from a group of gay teens to conduct a constructive dialogue about his views on homosexuality.
In short, Ann Curry’s line of inquiry was entirely relevant; she was doing the job for which she gets paid. But that, of course, was not how it was spun. The media, taking its cue as usual from the most extreme of rightwingnutball diatribes, began to suggest that she was “attacking” him for his “Christianity” (always including, of course, the obligatory projection that “If he’d been Muslim instead”, yada yada yada). The most monumentally silly of these diatribes, the absolute Mount Rushmore of silliness was surely the one at Breitbart.com. (The man is gone, but his brilliant legacy lives on.) Accompanied by an audio clip of her questions on the topic with his responses edited out — giving the impression that she’d hammered away at him without giving him an opportunity to answer — the blog entry included these scintillating observations:
Make no mistake about it, this is all about going after the Christian Church. Same-sex marriage, GLAAD’s fascist rampages, and all of this Orwellian political correctness is part of long-term goal — and that’s to make Christian beliefs a form of bigotry and to force a left-wing agenda on the church all under a Trojan horse labelled “discrimination.”…
We all know what the next step is, and that’s the outlawing of these opinions under the principle that the speaking of such things will cause harm to others.
This, of course, would mean the end to the church — which is the whole idea.
No, stop laughing. These folks are serious. I think. Never mind that the great majority of “liberals” are Christians, and the great majority of gays are Christian, and that by no means do all Christians condemn gays as “sinners”. Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts. We got an ideology.
Make no mistake (to coin a phrase), this has far less to do with any imagined persecution of Christians and far more to do with promoting the notion that them librulz are even more evil than them fairies. The good folks at Brietbart and elsewhere know that Bible thumping is a very reliable technique for getting people to fall in line with an extremist ideology.
Fortunately for them, there are plenty of Christians who are willing to swallow it hook, line and crucifix.