The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The End of the World As They Know It

I thought the columnist I mentioned earlier took the cake in terms of the religious right’s hysterical response to the California marriage ruling. Boy was I wrong.

Ed has posted two World Nut Daily columns that leave me pretty much staring in open-mouthed wonder. It’s the kind of thing you have to read to believe, but once I did I was left with a question or two which I’ll pose at the end of this post.

First Ed takes note of Dennis Prager’s response to the California ruling. The kicker? A conservative columnist is now mocking notion of compassion. (Of course, the key to compassionate conservatism is that it’s not compassionate to everyone, but only towards those who deserve it.)

Nothing imaginable – leftward or rightward – would constitute as radical a change in the way society is structured as this redefining of marriage for the first time in history: Not another Prohibition, not government taking over all health care, not changing all public education to private schools, not America leaving the United Nations, not rescinding the income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax. Nothing.

Unless California voters amend the California Constitution or Congress amends the U.S. Constitution, four justices of the California Supreme Court will have changed American society more than any four individuals since Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison.

And what is particularly amazing is that virtually none of those who support this decision – let alone the four compassionate justices – acknowledge this. The mantra of the supporters of this sea change in society is that it’s no big deal. Hey, it doesn’t affect any heterosexuals’ marriage, so what’s the problem?

See Ed’s dissection of Prager’s colunm for a brick=by-brick dismantling of its claims. He does such a good job of it that I won’t even try to add to it. Except, that is, to point out that in his entire column Prager doesn’t actually point out even one way that legal same-sex marriage tangibly change anyone else’s marriage. That is, he doesn’t name — and the opposition never does — name one real, substantial, verifiable benefit or protection that opposite-sex couples would lose as a result of legal same-sex marriage.

So, in the absence of any evidence that allowing same-sex couples to legally marry would deprive opposite-sex couples of any benefits and protections they currenty enjoy, Prager heads down a familiar path.

Outside of the privacy of their homes, young girls will be discouraged from imagining one day marrying their prince charming – to do so would be declared “heterosexist,” morally equivalent to racist. Rather, they will be told to imagine a prince or a princess. Schoolbooks will not be allowed to describe marriage in male-female ways alone. Little girls will be asked by other girls and by teachers if they want one day to marry a man or a woman.

The sexual confusion that same-sex marriage will create among young people is not fully measurable. Suffice it to say that, contrary to the sexual know-nothings who believe that sexual orientation is fixed from birth and permanent, the fact is that sexual orientation is more of a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. Much of humanity – especially females – can enjoy homosexual sex. It is up to society to channel polymorphous human sexuality into an exclusively heterosexual direction – until now, accomplished through marriage. But that of course is “heterosexism,” a bigoted preference for man-woman erotic love, and therefore to be extirpated from society.

Any advocacy of man-woman marriage alone will be regarded morally as hate speech, and shortly thereafter it will be deemed so in law.

Companies that advertise engagement rings will have to show a man putting a ring on a man’s finger – if they show only women fingers, they will be boycotted just as a company having racist ads would be now.

Films that only show man-woman married couples will be regarded as antisocial and as morally irresponsible as films that show people smoking have become.

Traditional Jews and Christians – i.e. those who believe in a divine Scripture – will be marginalized. Already Catholic groups in Massachusetts have abandoned adoption work since they will only allow a child to be adopted by a married couple as the Bible defines it – a man and a woman.

Anyone who advocates marriage between a man and a woman will be morally regarded the same as racist. And soon it will be a hate crime.

It reads like a film treatment for a science-fiction movie (like Left Behind or a right-wing version of The Handmaid’s Tale). The pargraph about “sexual confusion” is particularly amusing, with its thesis that legally recognizing same-sex marriage will literally cause everybody to “go gay,” that gays want everyone to “go gay” and “extirpate man-woman erotic love” from the face of the earth, and that prohibiting same-sex marriage is the way to hold the line.

Fear of a queer planet, anyone?

It gets worse from there. Next, Ed takes up this column by Janet Folger, which makes the column from the previous post seem like height of reason.

You see, it’s the end of the world.

As I wrote about in my book, “The Criminalization of Christianity,” Jeffrey Satinover, who holds an M.D. from Princeton and doctorates from Yale, MIT and Harvard, was on my radio program one day and I asked him about where we are in history. He explained that according to the “Babylonian Talmud” – the book of rabbis’ interpretation of the scriptures 1,000 years before Christ, there was only one time in history that reflects where we are right now. There was only one time in history, according to these writings, where men were given in marriage to men, and women given in marriage to women.

Want to venture a guess as to when? No, it wasn’t in Sodom and Gomorrah, although that was my guess. Homosexuality was rampant there, of course, but according to the Talmud, not homosexual “marriage.” What about ancient Greece? Rome? No. Babylon? No again. The one time in history when homosexual “marriage” was practiced was … during the days of Noah. And according to Satinover, that’s what the “Babylonian Talmud” attributes as the final straw that led to the Flood.

On my Faith2Action radio program on Thursday, Rabbi Aryeh Spero verified this to be true.

Rabbi Spero spoke of God’s compassion before the Flood, in hopes people would repent and turn back to His ways. He showed patience for hundreds of years.

But, he said, the Talmud’s writings reveal that “before the Flood people started to write marriage contracts between men, in other words, homosexual ‘marriage,’ which is more than homosexual activity – it’s giving an official state stamp of approval, a sanctification … of homosexual partnership.”

In fact, he said, “the writings indicated that it wasn’t even so much the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back,’ but that the sin in and of itself is so contrary to why God created the world, so contrary to the order of God’s nature, that God said then and there ‘I have to start all over … to annihilate the world and start from the beginning. …'”

Rabbi Spero went on to say, “Even in ancient Greece they did not write marriage contracts between men. There was homosexuality, and it was wrong, but there was not an official ‘blessed’ policy. … Marriage is ‘sanctification’ (not simply a partnership).” He said to confer the title of sanctification and holiness upon this behavior is “probably one of the greatest sins of all that one does against God’s plan for this world.”

The one time it happened was: “During the days of Noah.” When I first heard this, my mind immediately went to a verse I’ve heard many times but never with such relevance. The verse is found in Matthew 24:37. It reads:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. – Mathew 24:37 (NIV)

I used to read this verse and think: It was bad at lots of points in history; it doesn’t necessarily mean now, but if these Jewish writings are true, we are uniquely like the “days of Noah” right now – and only right now.

The California Supreme Court should not have decided as it did because now the columnist’s god will desroy us.

I almost hate to quote these people at length, but the unreason is so dense that it’s difficult to pick just one track, because they’re all so fantastical. I mean, this woman wrote a book called The Criminalization of Christianity? In what universe? Certainly not one in which presidential candidates must outdo each other in professing how much they love Jesus. Which leads me to my question.

Clearly the arguments of those opposed to marriage equality boil down to religious beliefs (which history is usually then revised to fit). They are not remotely based in anything that can be called reason. After all, bible verses are not proof of anything except, perhaps, the religious beliefs of the person citing them. These are particularly astounding in the depth of their unreason, to borrow a phrase from Susan Jacoby.

It probably doesn’t matter to either that several cultures and societies in history recognized same-sex relationships with various types of legal status including marriage as defined by those cultures. William Naphy went into great detail about this in his book Born to be Gay: A History of Homosexuality, which I couldn’t help quoting in a previous post.

…[H]omosexuality is clearly a very real characteristic of the human species taken as a whole. The presence of gay people is, in other words, a natural part of humanity — it is a normal feature of the human condition. Most societies throughout history have accepted this with varying degrees of toleration, albeit with similarly varying degree of disapproval. Most cultures have found a way to construct some sexual interaction between members of the same sex in a way that allows for some scope of sexual activity and real emotional bonding.

The reality, though, is that the vast majority of cultures have accepted that same-sex attraction is simply a facet of the human condition. Christianity, on the other hand, has chose to construct sex, sexual acts and sexuality in a manner wholly at odds with the pattern which has been adopted by almost all other human cultures throughout recorded history. In other words,in the context of human history and culture, it is the (Judeo) Christian response to homosexuality that is abnormal and unnatural.

And, while they may point to acceptance of same-sex activity and relationships as the “reason” these cultures fell, they could just as easily pick up a book like Guns, Germs, and Steel, for an explanation that’s not based in the supernatural.

Again, Naphy provides a compelling, convincing frame.

Homosexuality, while never the behavior of the majority and also never seen as a life-long alternative to procreative relationships, has in almost all cultures been accepted and ‘fitted into’ the structures of society. Indeed, the virulent homophobia of Western Christianity has been shown to be a feature that came into fruition only in the past 500 years, and was never consistent. More importantly, the spread of the negative Christian view of homosexuality became worldwide only as a result of the nineteenth-century global hegemony of Europe, and the cultural and economic dominance of the United States in the las century. In effect, the West’s ‘colonization of the mind’ continues apace, aided and abetted by non-Westerners, who seem bent on sacrificing their own histories and traditions in an effort to emulate all aspects of what even they seem to consider the ’successful’ cultures of the West.

Moreover, Byne Fone in Homophobia: A History, went into great detail about how western imperialists, colonizers and missionaries dealt with homosexuality in the culture they conquered, includian diary entries from the culprits theselves. Fone describes acts such as Balboa feeding cross-dressing Panamanians to his dogs.

Homosexual and transgender individuals were also common among other pre-conquest civilizations in Latin America, such as the Aztecs, Mayans, Quechas, Moches, Zapotecs, and the Tupinambá of Brazil.[19][20]

The Spanish conquerors were horrified to discover “sodomy” openly practiced among native peoples, and attempted to crush it out by subjecting the berdaches (as the Spanish called them) under their rule to severe penalties, including public execution and burning. In a famous example of cruelty against homosexuals, in 1513 the conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa

discovered that the village of Quarequa [in modern-day Panama] was stained by the foulest vice. The king’s brother and a number of other courtiers were dressed as women, and according to the accounts of the neighbours shared the same passion. Vasco ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs. The Spaniards commonly used their dogs in fighting against these naked people, and the dogs threw themselves upon them as though they were wild boars on timid deer. [21]

Of course, the authors above could conceivably argue the Christian god put western peoples in locations where they would have the advantages described in Guns, Germs, and Steel, because he knew and even intended for them to invade and destroy cultures that recognized same-sex love. So, you see, even if those cultures fell because of western imperialism, it was also because of their acceptance of homosexuality that the Christian god allowed those cultures to be destroyed. The torture and destruction of all those people, their histories, and the cultures was all part of the Christian god’s plan.

But you can’t prove anything just said in the paragraph above. You can’t point to any evidence other than the bible. The good news is that you don’t have to. You can spout just that kind of claptrap and get away with it as long as you based it in your religious beliefs. You can even do so without fear of criticism or consequence. Or, at least, that used to be the case. I haven’t seen enough evidence to make that conclusion myself.

Which leads me to my question. Considering that we still live in a culture where religion, if not a conversation stopper, still thought to be entitled to a degree of deference and even respect, and must never be questioned, my question is this.

How does one criticize people who, like the columnists above (whom I’m giving the benefit of the doubt), spout unsupported, irrational claims that are intended to have an impact on public policy, but which — however wrong-headed — are based in sincerely held religious beliefs? How do you call them hogwash without calling them hogwash?

And how do you do so without being labeled an “anti-religion bigot”?

6 Comments

  1. OK, I know I’m picking a nit off of the Great Wall of Diseased Fur, but, “Schoolbooks will not be allowed to describe marriage in male-female ways alone?”

    I have looked through my son’s schoolbooks, and I have yet to see any definition of marriage at all. Sometimes they’ll mention a specific male-female marriage in historical context (e.g. Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon), but it would hardly be the case that the book would be required to de-gender those historical facts. In fact, it might be historically enlightening to mention things like Alexander the Great’s dalliances all around the gender spectrum.

    It amazes me that these people are afforded any credibility whatsoever.

  2. OK, I should have read the whole thing before making my first comment.

    The time before Noah is now a factual period from which we have same-sex marriage licenses?

    Holy cow. What about the time right before Palpatine killed all the Jedi? Or the Interregnum between the Wizard of Oz and Ozma, when the Scarecrow reigned with a straw fist?

  3. Their claims remind me of the predictions that segregationists made in the wakes of Brown v. Board of Education and the civil rights acts.

    Their vision of the future reminds me of some of the scenes from D.W. Griffin’s Birth of a Nation.

  4. “if these Jewish writings are true…”

    Ah, there’s the rub. There is no supporting documentation to establish the veracity of the notions expressed whatsoever! According to the Bible account of Noah and his family, they, and only they, were allowed to survive among all the countless human beings extant before the flood. This, of course, would mean that either Noah and his family invented the Sumerian pictographic written language (believed to be the first example of a written language) or brought it with them and recorded their story; or their story was handed down verbally for generations before someone finally set it to ‘clay’ so to speak. The time-line offered by some so-called ‘experts’ places Noah and his flood around 2300BC but we know of examples of early tablets containing pictographs dating into the late 4th millenium BC. Who wrote those?

    Much later, the books of the old testiment were written by the priesthood in the early period of Israel, during the period of the Levites and the time of the kings of Israel being constantly rewritten and revised over at least a millenium or so we’re told. While we consider this to be a time of great antiquity, Noah was certainly not contemporary with them and his story is based on pure conjecture as is most of old testiment ‘history.’ Any discussion of this ‘history’ in the Babylonian Talmud (dated to about 500AD, give or take) would not be based on any actual recorded evidence. Talk about long memories!

    Isn’t pseudoscience wonderful? Hey, I think I’m getting the hang of it. ROFL. HELP! I’m turning into Dennis Prager!

    babble… babble… babble…

    ROFLOL

    Then GDad said:
    “The time before Noah is now a factual period from which we have same-sex marriage licenses?

    Holy cow. What about the time right before Palpatine killed all the Jedi? Or the Interregnum between the Wizard of Oz and Ozma, when the Scarecrow reigned with a straw fist?”

    HOWL!

  5. How does one criticize people who, like the columnists above (whom I’m giving the benefit of the doubt), spout unsupported, irrational claims that are intended to have an impact on public policy, but which — however wrong-headed — are based in sincerely held religious beliefs?

    And how do you do so without being labeled an “anti-religion bigot”?

    Easy (at least I think so). Pretend you know nothing about “their religion” and keep questioning the source of their claims; keep throwing in phrases like “Wow, really. That’s fascinating! But…”. Slowly peeling away the layers — eventually they’ll reveal the true source of their “facts”.

    Of course the problem with this is, it takes a long time — it’s like getting meth addicts to admit that they have a problem. Of course, it really accomplishes nothing. Once they realized that they’ve been backed into their religious corner, science, history and logic are no longer acceptable sources of reasoning (unless it enforces their claims), and religious imperatives trumps any logical thinking

  6. I am intrigued at how prohibiting gay marriage is all about protecting teh wimminz from themselves.

    Much of humanity – especially females – can enjoy homosexual sex. It is up to society to channel polymorphous human sexuality into an exclusively heterosexual direction – until now, accomplished through marriage. But that of course is “heterosexism,” a bigoted preference for man-woman erotic love, and therefore to be extirpated from society.

    Really? Especially females? Interesting, given that the usual focus of their rants is male homosexuality.

    We have to subjugate women into male/female relationships to protect them from enjoying homosexual sex. Wow. It’s all about the heterosexual male privilege, isn’t it.

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