Monday Morning Chicken: Protest Edition

This is Diamond, enjoying an extra side of “hate” with today’s Monday Morning Chicken. (Because we’re all about the “hate“.)

Memo to the gay “marriage” militants: you’ve officially jumped the shark. When you attempt to transform a perfectly mild statement of support for traditional marriage–an opinion held by every rational human on the planet for a few thousands years, and barely even broached in mainstream discourse until about a decade ago–into evidence of “hate” that must be punished, you’ve admitted that intelligent discourse no longer has any role in your movement.

When I was in college, I remember listening to gay rights advocates (and at NYU in the 1980s, you couldn’t walk ten feet without running into one) viciously mocking the very concept of marriage, and that was the dominant attitude until they realized they could weaponize marriage in an effort to mainstream homosexuality. The idea that there was this vast number of gay couples pining for the chance to marry is laughable. It has always been an unimportant, fringe issue affecting a minuscule portion of the population. It’s real purpose was as a wedge issue in the culture war. Given the vast problems faced by humanity, the idea that gay marriage is sucking so much oxygen out of our national dialog should appall anyone with a genuine interest in the future of our world.

In the end, they’ll win, because they have the appeal to emotion, the education system, the media, all of one political party, a portion of the other, and the entertainment industry on their side. It’s just a matter of time, and I realize that. It’s a silly subject for a society in as much trouble as ours. There are important battles that can be fought and won–such as conscience protections, poverty, and life issues–and battles that are doomed. For Catholics, the gay marriage fight is lost. The best we can do is make sure we have legal protections against the inevitable attacks that will follow when the first Catholic institutions refuse to recognize these new “marriages,” because that’s what this was all about.

Chick-fil-A has become a defining cultural moment. It sounds silly to say such a thing about a overblown reaction to an unimportant comment by a guy who sells chicken sandwiches for a living, but it’s the truth. That little army of Davids sitting on the sidelines, trying to mind their own business, saw the forces of intolerance rise up and call them “haters” because of their opinion, and they didn’t like it one little bit.

“Wait,” they thought. “I don’t hate gays. I don’t hate anybody. I just think a marriage is between a man and a woman.” See, that’s not called “hate.” That’s called, “What almost everyone has always believed forever.” That the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction so quickly is a testament to a concerted effort to sway public opinion. And it’s worked: a good chunk of the population, who had never really bothered to consider the idea, said, “Ah, what the hell, let ‘em marry if they want. WhaddoIcare?”

Then the campaign ran smack into the other, larger portion of the population, which said, “Mmm, no. Nice try, but no. Your campaign worked with the others, but we’re going to try to hold the line on this one.” Celebrity comings-out, Very Special Episodes of TV shows, touching articles, happy little rainbows, ribbons, commercials, parades, movie-star endorsements, and all the rest of the trappings of a well-orchestrated propaganda effort weren’t going to sway more than half of the population from their completely logical belief that marriage is one man and one woman, period.

And so that remaining half needed stronger medicine. They needed to be lumped in with Orval Faubus and David Duke. They needed to be shamed as bigots and haters. This had to become the New Civil Rights Battle, to which a large portion of the black community said, “Er, what?! You’re saying not being able get a lower insurance rate is the same as being attacked with dogs, hosed down, spit on, denied fair education and voting rights, told to move to the back of the bus, and, oh yeah, frigging enslaved?” Go ahead, pull the other one.

I can hardly tell the difference!

But that was the new narrative, and anyone opposed was little more than a mouth-breathing, cross-burning, gay-bashing hater who needed to be excluded from society.

This whole Chick-fil-A thing is a watershed moment. Hundreds of thousands of happy people (including my family) turned out to peacefully eat fast food as a gesture of solidarity. There was no hate, and everyone who reported on the events around the country (at least the reporters who aren’t liars) encountered reasonable people making a small gesture for freedom of speech and traditional values.The centrality of food to the entire issue was  significant, since food is a core element of cultural communication. America’s troubled relationship with junk food, the communal nature of shared meals and public eating (so central to Christianity), the intersection of sexuality and culture, the indication that this is a dress rehearsal for the November elections: all of these things made the Chick-fil-A moment the most important story of the summer, while simultaneously being the silliest.

I don’t think it will change anything in the long run. This is a war of attrition, and most people have a lot more serious things to worry about. The issues involved are abstract, and hard for most to articulate. Gay marriage proponents are winning the youth, which means their victory is merely a matter of time. Hearts and minds, however, will be a more difficult matter, particularly after a vast segment of the nation has been vilified for merely believing what people have always believed.

Proponents can hurl all the insults, wear all the ribbons, and even pass all the laws they want, but it will be a hollow victory. You can no more claim that two people of the same gender are married than (to steal a line from CS Lewis) “a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” It’s an ontological impossibility. It would be a mad world indeed if you could claim “red” is now “blue” by simply berating people into passing a law. And even in that mad world, “red” would never really be “blue.”

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • robin

    This is going to sound trivial, but to me, one of the biggest irritants about the movement is the appropriation of the rainbow as a symbol of gay pride, so much so that Oreo has adopted it. The Biblical symbol of God’s promise is thoroughly debased in a manner that permeates every shopping aisle and TV screen–and all children love rainbows. Explain that to a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old.

  • julian

    Thomas, you’re really on to something here with the centrality of eating. I think there are some folks like Wendell Berry and Joel Salatin that have perhaps showed us that a comprehensive Culture of Life is not merely merely being opposed to R v. W and is not merely political, (those of us who are realizing the Republicans have sold us out consistently over the past couple of decades are living that realization out). Of course Pope JPII was saying this all along. In any case, I think that there is something to the fact that we are so disconnected from our selves that we have really lost any sense of joy in so many things connected to being human, (the process of raising, preparing and eating food as well having children and raising families). Somewhere in the cross-roads of sex and food our culture wars are played out in a pretty bizarre fashion. Despite being a family of “foodies’ we’re not above the occasional visit to Chick-Fil-A and yep, we found ourselves there on Aug 1. You’ve marked it well: the most important, yet silliest moment of the summer for our culture. It was nicely played, but clearly, we need something more. We need a more complete reintroduction or invitation to discover what it means to be human in our day and age.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Well said, and touching on a point that’s very important to me: agriculture, food, and our disconnect from our agrarian roots. I have no illusions that raising chickens will save us much money in the long run, but it puts us one step closer to the source, and that has value. My family has decided to make better choices about food when we can: growing what we can (still minimal), shopping sensibly, and sourcing as much as possible from local providers.

    Our society is troubled because so many things are so far from what they should be: sex has been severed from its true meaning; food has been commodified into empty garbage; and the unique elements of regional, religious, and ethnic culture are being flattened by a homogeneous, mass-marketed, crass, empty over-culture.

    All these things–sex, food, culture–are suffering for the same reason: they’ve been disconnected from God, their source.