A Style So Rancid

In its first iteration, the “Rod Dreher hates gay people” dust-up didn’t particularly interest me. I guess I was supposed to be shocked that a “respectable” social conservative, who works to sustain the patriarchy through pretentious references to Burke or Aquinas rather than more overt bigotry, would admit that he considers gay people (sorry, “legitimized homosexuality”) “a profound distortion of what it means to be fully human”. I wasn’t; just because Dreher writes in language better suited for First Things than a Westboro Baptist Church rally doesn’t make his views any less contemptible, or predictable.

That said, I think his latest overwrought grousing on the subject is edifying, in that it contains an interest turn in the type of argument used by anti-gay bigots. It’s more effective than the traditional “OMG my arbitrary views on the nature of marriage are being challenged what the hell” method, and obviously no less full of shit. To wit:

This morning, I had breakfast with some guys, including a lawyer. We weren’t aware of [the Iowa gay marriage] decision, but we talked about this issue. The lawyer said that as soon as homosexuality receives constitutionally protected status equivalent to race, then “it will be very hard to be a public Christian.” By which he meant to voice support, no matter how muted, for traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality and marriage. To do so would be to set yourself up for hostile work environment challenges, including dismissal from your job, and generally all the legal sanctions that now apply to people who openly express racist views.

Hilzoy deals with the more obvious problem here well (you can legally be a homophobe in public, just not at work), but at a certain level Dreher is right. It will be hard to be a homophobe in a country where states like Iowa recognize same-sex relationships. It will be hard to be a homophobe in a country where gays can become generals, or gain citizen for their international partners, and are generally recognized as equal by the federal government.

And good. Expressing support for the oppression of gays and lesbians should lead respectable people to hold someone is less esteem, and to doubt their morality. Making almost hilariously convoluted and self-contradictory arguments for why the reproductive nature of marriage should exclude gays and lesbians but not the impotent or otherwise childless should make one’s peers think less of his intellect. Using a facile reading of scripture that discounts passages justifying slavery and the oppression of women but somehow asserts the prohibition on sodomy as some sort of cornerstone should lead more sophisticated Christians, not to mention all non-Christians, to lose respect for someone. The modern state of anti-gay discourse is one of hate wrapped in idiocy, and those who embrace it should be shamed. Someone like Rod Dreher, who embraces “the social utility of shame”, ought to understand that.

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