Friday, November 12, 2004

 

There's shrill, and then there's shrillllllllll

I know we in the "reality-based community" have adopted the adjective "shrill" as a badge of honor (see The Shrillblog for all the juicy details), but let's not forget that the word has another meaning: "betraying some strong emotion or attitude in an exaggerated amount, as antagonism or defensiveness".

This is shrilllllllllllllll (via Talking Points Memo):
Dobson warned those attending the Friday afternoon rally at Oklahoma Christian University that the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman must be protected.

He cited examples of countries such as Norway that have allowed same-sex couples to marry as proof that fewer men and women get married. Dobson said 80 percent of children are born out of wedlock in Norway.

"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," Dobson said.

"It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."
Hoping that this is not a violation of Godwin's Law, let me say that when I hear someone crank up the homophobic rhetoric this high, I'm reminded of the first time I read Mein Kampf, with its lurid and loathesome descriptions of Jews (e.g., "If the Jews were alone in this world, they would stifle in filth and offal; they would try to get ahead of one another in hate-filled struggle and exterminate one another, in so far as the absolute absence of all sense of self-sacrifice, expressing itself in their cowardice, did not turn battle into comedy here too." Sorry if this offends anyone, just wanted to make a point.)

The first time I read Mein Kampf, I wondered to myself, "Who is Hitler talking about?" I didn't recognize his demonized Jews as anyone I'd ever met. I didn't recognize my Uncle Hymie, the shortest adult I'd ever known when I was a child, obsessed with his cameras. I didn't recognize my Aunt Manya, who made the most delicious blintzes we all fought over at family gatherings. I didn't recognize my cousin Bobby, elegant concert pianist.

And I don't recognize James Dobson's homosexuals, either. "Destroy the Earth" - is he kidding? (That's a rhetorical question, of course, since, alas, he's not kidding.) But what has our country come to that a man can say something this outrageous, this obviously nonsensical, and not be laughed out of public discourse?

In graduate school, I wrote a paper about German anti-Semitism and the rise of Hitler. What I concluded was not that all Germans were violent anti-Semites (most harbored some anti-Semitism, of course, but were not murderous about it). They did not vote for Hitler, those who did vote for Hitler (and remember, the largest percentage of the vote the National Socialists ever received was 43.9% after the Reichstag fire in February 1933), because of his anti-Semitism. Rather, they did not vote against him because of it, either. It did not disqualify him from eligibility; it was just another issue one could take into consideration and put aside if enough of the rest of his program was appealing.

In a similar way, the fact that James Dobson is not immediately disqualified from being taken seriously in any way and by more than just a fringe handful because of his unhinged rhetoric about the supposed dangers of gay marriage is a disheartening sign of how politically and socially immature large parts of America are.

Look, if you don't like gay marriage, there's a simple solution: don't have one! But let's remain anchored to the real world, okay? If you truly believe that gay marriage will "destroy the Earth," then I feel sorry for you. You have no clue.
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