Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Christians Are Working-Class Zeroes, Says the New York Times

If there's any question about the true message of the New York Times Magazine's cover story "What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part)," it's answered by the article's online URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/magazine/19ANTIGAY.html.

Yes, in Times author Russell Shorto's world, believing that homosexuality is—as the Roman Catholic Church and many other Christian and Jewish denominations believe—disordered behavior, equals being "ANTIGAY," which equals hating gays' guts.

The equivalent logic for gays would be: Believing in the Kinsey continuum—that most people are somewhere in between being 100% gay and 100% straight—equals believing that the sizable number of people who consider themselves 100% straight are likely misguided and therefore disordered, which equals hating those who consider themselves 100% straight. (The Times article is, appropriately, sponsored by the video release of the movie "Kinsey.")

What's most telling about Shorto's piece is the way in which he portrays the "ANTIGAYS"—who are, of course, universally Christian (no "ANTIGAY" Jews exist in the New York Times' world, despite Orthodox Jewry's opposition to homosexual marriage)—as working-class idiots.

For example, Shorto notes, traditional-marriage activists Jim and Evalena Gray still have their Christmas lights up in March because, says Evalena, "the grandchildren like them." They're "semiretired opticians" who do their infernal "ANTIGAY" work from their basement—"paneled, wall-to-wall-carpeted, decorated with Jim Gray's Confederate memorabilia (a portrait of Jeb Stuart, framed currency)."

The Grays' fellow traditional-marriage advocates Laura and Dave Clark live with their four children in "a ranch house...tucked cozily into the back of a cul-de-sac in a 1970's housing development," Shorto observes. "Inside, it is wall-to-wall carpeting and hand-me-down furnishings." No books to speak of, but "snapshots of the kids cover the refrigerator door. The couple's wedding album is prominently displayed on a table in the living room. Dave works for the federal government. Laura home-schools the 7-year-old twins, Grace and Cole, while also looking after 5-year-old Kayla and 3-year-old Jacob."

When their fellow traditional-marriage activists come over to meet Shorto, the Clarks prepare quite a spread: "sliced lunch meats, hamburger buns, tomato and onion slices, bowls of pretzels and chips, cookies and several two-quart plastic bottles of soda." What, no sushi? Guess there's no Dean & Deluca in the Clarks' little '70s time-warp nabe.

Contrast Shorto's descriptions of the Clarks and Grays with that of the one homosexual couple he spotlights: "Lisa Polyak and Gita Deane, a lesbian couple who have been together for more than 20 years and have two daughters" live in a "quaint house" that's "white-painted brick with a picket fence." No wall-to-wall carpeting here: "The hardwood floors are covered with Oriental rugs." In other words, the only home in the article that clearly doesn't need the Queer Eye.

Of course, Polyak and Deane, unlike the Clarks and Grays, actually own books other than Bibles and traditional-marriage propaganda: "[T]he living-room bookshelf is crammed with kids' books and photo albums." What's more, they have real jobs. "Deane works part time as a learning specialist at Goucher College," and—remember how Dave Clark simply worked in "government"? Polyak has an actual government-job title: "an environmental engineer for the U.S. Army."

The point is not that conservative Christians are in fact icons of hip. The point is that Shorto feels a clear need to stress their gaucherie (like leaving Christmas lights up) in order to make them look foolish. If a news article stereotyped homosexuals the way that the Times and many other media outlets regularly stereotype Christians, gay-rights advocates would quake with rage.