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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, June 10, 2006

McIlheran Watch: Hey, Gays, Go Back in the Closet and Let me Insult You

As the debate over various gay marriage amendments heats up--nationally, again, where is fizzles--and here in Wisconsin, it's interesting to watch pundits' true colors coming out. Even the circumspect ones might leave enough pieces lying around to put together into a full picture. In Patrick McIlheran's case, the picture is not very attractive.

We already know that he favors the anti-gay marriage (and civil unions and other substantially similar arrangements) amendment because he really wants to criticize the gays. In a November column, he wrote (my emphasis),
The campaign for gay marriage is all about denying anyone the ability to disagree. If we are told by legislators or courts to permit same-sex marriage, then any disagreement we might have with it can have no effect on what we do or say. The law will have told us that we must regard the couple as married, even if we think that's nonsense.

That's because marriage isn't about mutual affections, an ungovernably private matter. Nor is it the prerequisite to intimate relations: No one suggests a lack of a legal document has kept any couple pining in separate beds.

Rather, marriage is about declaring those mutual affections before the world and having the world in turn regard two people as a unit. [. . . O]nce the state says marriage includes mutual husbandry, there's no disagreeing. The moment you treat the couple any differently than any other, you'll find yourself cornered by a motivated, high-end pro-bono lawyer ready to dice, slice and ice you. Good luck.
In other words, shut up and let me insult you all I want.

And now we now also know that Pat doesn't just want even want to know gays exist. In response to MPS school board member Jennifer Morales's coming out this week:
Frankly, I suppose that like many I’d prefer to say nothing--and that she hadn’t made a public thing of it. Did we have to know this? There is a virtue in discretion, after all, a reason bedrooms have doors.

The way modern society is disposed, we are not supposed, upon learning someone’s homosexual, to think less of him, since we’re not supposed to regard homosexuality with moral disapproval. Yet the plain fact is that a great many denominations and their adherents do view gay sex as morally problematic. What can a public coming-out be, then, but, intended or not, a confrontation with what many people think is a matter of right and wrong?

Such a declaration could, I suppose, be presumed a morals-neutral thing, but this seems absurd: One does not come out as a fan of the color red or as being fond of pickles. [. . .]

I know the act of "coming out" is a big thing if you feel your sexual preference is the defining characteristic of your life and you’ve kept it a secret. But if it’s therapeutic to tell someone, surely therapy could be achieved by involving family and a circle of friends, by some step short of bringing all Milwaukee, whether they wish it or not, into a confidence.
The fact that gays and lesbians exist, and that we know about them, is too much for him to handle. Jeebus forbid that he should have to know that something exists that he disagrees with.

(The full story on Morales's coming out is here. I say good for her. I find it interesting that McIlheran critiques Morales, a public figure, for making it public, while it's his paper--on whose editorial board he sits--ran the story.)

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