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    November 13, 2006

    Father doesn't always know best

    Posted by: Chris

    Pixneuhaus I was surprised how much there is to agree with what Father Richard John Neuhaus, a leading Catholic conservative, had to say about Ted Haggard's hypocrisy and how the public likely reacted to it. Writes Neuhaus:

    In tones of adolescent rage and petulance, which is the characteristic gay voice, commentator after commentator has accused Haggard of hypocrisy, insisting that what he claims to see as his sin is, in fact, his true self, and demanding that he embrace his sin as his authentic identity. At the core of such commentary is an adamantly binary view of sexuality—one is either straight or gay, all the way. This completely ignores findings otherwise celebrated by proponents of sexual liberation, such as Kinsey’s scale of 1 to 5 in heterosexual/ homosexual orientation.

    I can't disagree that much of what passes for gay commentary, especially in the blogosphere, is about as thoughtful and provocative as a Rush Limbaugh tirade, detailing every salacious fact of the Haggard story with childish glee. Neuhaus is also right to call the P.C. police on the assumptions about Haggard's sexual orientation. If the evangelist is bisexual, then his marriage isn't the sham most gay folks have assumed it to be, and "lusting in his heart" for men (and other women) is a betrayal of his marital vows, at least according to Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and Jimmy Carter in Playboy.

    Another oddity is that gay and gay-friendly commentators assume that any publicity involving homosexuality—whether Ted Haggard or the Florida congressman who flirted with male pages—works to the benefit of their cause. This strikes me as highly doubtful. A congressional predator or Haggard’s liaisons with a male prostitute hardly enhances the public image of gayness. Of course, there are adult men who prey on girls and there are plenty of female prostitutes. But most Americans live in a heterosexual world where such deviance is recognized as deviance. Almost all the people they know do not prey on girls or patronize prostitutes. But what they do know about the gay world? Largely the sleaze that comes to the surface in public scandals.

    I've actually assumed the opposite in both cases, and I agree that when famous people are discovered to be gay in the midst of sleazy scandals like these, or James McGreevey's, it slimes the reputation of gay folks generally.

    Unfortunately, by wallowing in Haggard's hypocrisy, just for the sheer joy of it, gay commentators only emphasize the sleaze factor for mainstream Americans and miss the opportunity to make a much more important claim than that some televangelists are hypocrites. As I pointed out before, the real moral of the Haggard story isn't about personal hypocrisy, but the cold-hearted arrogance of conservative Christian leaders who refuse despite the mounting evidence to see the wrecked lives (like Haggard's and McGreevey's and their families') that result from their misguided teachings about homosexuality.

    Neuhaus personifies that mean-spirited stay-the-course commitment to condemnation, dismissing the Castro and Greenwich Village as "not America," and concluding:

    What most Americans know about being gay is distinctively unattractive and, in their view, morally repugnant. Gay advocates deceive themselves in thinking that the more people know about homosexuality the more they will approve of it.

    Of course every public opinion poll ever completed on the subject suggests the contrary, as a reader to Andrew Sullivan's blog points out. Now if we can stop chortling over Haggard's hypocrisy long enough, maybe we could point that out.

    (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)



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