Several people have written…

wondering if there was some sinister implication to my words about “not supposed to say ‘gay brownshirt'”. Were there Forces at Work behind the scenes? (Meaning “was Patheos trying to tell me what I can and can’t say?”)

Answer: No. Nothing like that. I simply meant I’ve gotten email from various readers who argue, rather reasonably, that in the words of Leah Libresco, “It’s hard for me to hear you over the sound of your Nazi analogies“.

I can appreciate that. My goal is, after all, to communicate and persuade people not to be, to make excuses for, or to be intimidated by bullies and thugs. It is not to self-medicate my intense dislike of bullies and thugs, nor to give anybody the impression that I regard all gay people as bullies and thugs. When a decent sort like Leah just feels shouted at, then communication is not happening, and it’s my responsibility to change the terms of communication, no matter how good it feels to let rip my deep contempt for savages (hmmmm… “savages” would be an appropriate turnabout on “santorum”….) who bully, intimidate, threaten, vandalize, physically abuse and even murder people for the “crime” of failing to celebrate homosex.

So I really do intend to drop the “gay brownshirts” thing since it appears to me to block, rather than facilitate communication. It doesn’t mean in the slightest that I mean to back down before the bullies in the gay community. But it does mean that, particularly after the… illuminating.. experiences of last week with the Righteous Inquisition of the Combox and their condemnations of Perry Lorenzo–whose chastity and profound love of the Catholic faith was not enough for them, and who was judged Severely Suspect of Evil because he did not sentence himself to perpetual loneliness for the sin of being same sex attracted–I have a better appreciation of how much same-sex attracted people have to put up with from those who are more holy than the Church.

So, for instance, I find it easy (after last week’s displays of uber-righteous condemnation of a great man like Perry Lorenzo by the Crackerbarrel Inquisition) to sympathize with Joshua Gonnerman when he too, as a chaste gay Catholic, finds that his obedience to Holy Church does not seem to be enough for all those Righteous Catholics[TM] who deem themselves holier than Holy Church and who firmly relegate good Catholics like him to second class status or who even have the temerity to treat folks like him as being dubiously faithful instead heroically faithful. With friends like that, the struggling SSA Catholic doesn’t need enemies. It’s one thing to have homosexuals reduce all love to sex. It’s quite another when even Catholics do it and assume that any relationship a chaste gay man might have must certainly be seeking to be homoerotic and sexually active rather than seeking friendship or chaste love in Christ.

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  • Thomas R

    Although I think you overreacted to the deal on Mr. Lorenzo, I don’t regret my questioning some things you said and I have some SSA myself, I am glad you’re not going to use the “brownshirt” phrase anymore. It did kind of heat things up more than was needed and generally I’m leery of Fascist analogies unless the person outright says they are Fascist or totalitarian. They have a tendency to confuse or outrage.

  • First, Leah does seem a very nice person, and I’ve enjoyed her blog. And as I’ve said, I normally don’t get into such terms as ‘gay brownshirt.’ But I would be far, far more sympathetic to her plight when it comes to reading such terminology if she were to grab the banner and run with it herself. That is, if she were at the front of the outrage when fellow homosexuals make it clear, through the worst behavior and agendas, that they wish to oppress and eradicate anyone who doesn’t support homosexual normality. If she steps up and renounces such behavior first, instead of first becoming offended at such terminology, then communications might open a bit IMHO. As long as she seems more concerned about the terms used to describe the behavior, rather than the behavior itself and its ramifications, then I’m having a hard time aligning with her priorities on the subject.

    As for not using such terms? That’s fine with me. But then I suggest no more stupid party, evil party, rubber hose this, torture enthusiasts that. Don’t use such terms and phrases period.

    Finally, the stumble point for me regarding SSA is the idea of a chaste, but otherwise romantic and emotionally intimate relationship. As far as I know, the Church does not bless two people living a chaste but otherwise romantic and emotionally intimate relationship otherwise. That can be a step toward marrying, or moving out (if, say, they have been cohabitating). They may work with folks where they are. But it’s not the end all that receives the blessing. I can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s the confusing part for me. Not that the Church won’t work with people where they are, but the Church doesn’t have much of a track record of saying ‘if that’s as good as you can do, that’s fine with us.’ So still working that part of it out.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      As far as I know, the Church doesn’t discourage people from having very deep emotionally intimate relationships with anyone. The Church does not discourage affection. She demands chastity, in body yes, but also in spirit. Period. Full Stop.

      And romantic? I hope to God the Church isn’t judging human relationships on yet another English concept that can mean just about anything.

      • I have a feeling that if a fifty year old man said he was in a romantic relationship with an 8 year old, most folks wouldn’t say, “Gee, that could mean anything.”

        As for the other, that’s not something I’m sure of. If a relationship isn’t a sin, it may not be celebrated or condoned either. For instance, in the RCIAs I’ve worked with, we’ve had couples that were cohabitating. Usually they’re told up front that cohabitation is a no-no. From the Church’s POV, they should cease and desist all physical activity. Then – and this is the big part – they should either work toward marriage, or move out. If there’s a reason they can’t (in one case, the boyfriend was also the caregiver), much emphasis was on the need to get that marriage going. There was no case in which they were told ‘Oh, well, just cut out the sex and that’s good enough.’ It doesn’t need to be mortal sin to still fall short of what we are called to be. And that’s where I’m trying to figure where folks are coming from.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          You can’t compare a relationship on an arc toward marriage, with a relationship that isn’t.

          A guy and a girl, though they just be shacked up and screwing around, are on an arc toward marriage, whether they acknowledge it, or ever arrive.

          2 men or 2 women, no matter how deeply affectionate and devoted they are to one another, are not, for what I hope are obvious reasons, on an arc toward marriage, even if they claim to be, or even play dress up and perfom a ‘joining ritual’.

          The really truly confused part of your thinking is comparing a deep and abiding friendship, which can never be more and still be good, with a deep and abiding friendship that must become more if it is to remain good.

          Its like comparing apples and Harleys.

          • A friendship is no problem. Two individuals with SSA can be friends and not be attracted to each other. As I understand it, individuals with same sex attraction are perfectly capable of not being attracted to everyone of the same gender, just as I am not attracted to everyone of the opposite. I think part of the problem is nobody wants to define the terms. Are we talking about two gays in a loving – as in ‘I love you but you never take me anywhere’ love? Or are we talking about two friends? Just what? I think that’s the issue. Of course two individuals with SSA who happen to be gay is no problem. But two individuals attracted to each other sexually, and living out that relationship in everyway but sexually? I don’t think that makes the grade in terms of ‘celebrate and bless’. It certainly wouldn’t be consistent if it did. That would be like me being blessed and celebrated for maintaining a loving, intimate relationship with another women than my wife, on the grounds that we are nonetheless chaste.

            The problem isn’t comparing at all. The problem is trying to figure where the line is drawn between ‘this is disordered’ and ‘not a damn thing wrong with it.’ That line appears to some to have moved quickly in the last few months in Catholic blog circles, and it’s creating some confusion. Confusion that obviously should be discussed.

            • Sal

              Dave has expressed very well the confusion a lot of us are experiencing. Primarily from comparing the guidelines for heterosexual relationships to what we, maybe mistakenly, see as the proposed guidelines for SSA relationships. They seem to be different.
              I think this is b/c there is no possibility, ever, of marriage in SSA relationships. So, having a relationship that would probably end in marriage, or just end, for heterosexuals, seems to be presented as an ongoing possibility for SSA persons.
              You could argue, as Mark has, re: Mr. Lorenzo and his friend, that benevolence demands that we not read more into such friendships than we should.
              But as others have pointed out, don’t SSA persons have the same neccessity as anyone else to avoid the near occasions of sin? This is their responsibility, and we can’t judge how well they are meeting it. But the reasoning seems confused here.
              That is what needs more discussion.

    • leahlibresco

      I am opposed to vandalism, and I’m always bonus angry when it’s my team letting the side down, but realistically, I won’t respond to most of these events because they tend to be faceless individuals. If an organization does something bad, there’s someone to respond to.

      But re:

      When fellow homosexuals make it clear, through the worst behavior and agendas, that they wish to oppress and eradicate anyone who doesn’t support homosexual normality.

      I’m not on board with oppression, but we all want to eradicate the opposing side when the stakes are high in a culture fight. It’s just that it sounds a lot nicer when we use the words “educate” “convince” or “convert” (or possibly “outlive” when it’s a demographic shift). There’s nothing wrong with hoping that in 50 years time, people are all mostly on your side. What matters is making sure the tactics you use to persuade people respect their dignity (i.e. talking about gay families, coming out to our communities and sharing our experience, fighting about teleology and natural law, etc). The means are the problem, not the goal.

      • Thank you for your response. I really do enjoy your tone and perspectives. I agree with you on the dignity part, though sadly, I also agree with you on the whole ‘eradicate’ part. My problem is, I would rather you be as upset, if not more upset, with those suggesting that this ol’country isn’t big enough for the both of us. Let your outrage fly – at those acting the way the gay rights movement once so loudly condemned.

        That’s probably the Christian in me. As you can probably tell, nobody does the circular firing squad better than Christians, and I’ve learned that Catholics are especially versed in the skill. Perhaps it’s due to the old notion that to those who are given much, much will be demanded. So you often see, as in Mark’s case, much of the anger and frustration aimed at his fellow Catholics and Christians. Same with others. When Fred Phelps so much as sneezes, you have to buy tickets to get to the microphone to condemn him if you are religious, particularly if you are Christian. Everyone wants to vent at him. So it would be nice to see, from homosexuals (or atheists for that matter), a similar response to those on their team who act in ways not too far from our good Mr. Phelps.

        For me, though I usually don’t use phrases like ‘gay brownshorts’, as of now I think it’s entirely appropriate as applied to that segment, that growing segment, of homosexual rights activists who want to make it clear that me and my kind had better join in, or we will see who is told they no longer belong anywhere but the closets. Do that, get mad at the logs that are those radicals rather than fret over the splinter in a phrase’s eye, and I’ll sleep a little better at night knowing it’s just not those who are targeted who are upset.

  • Don’t be hatin’ on Cracker Barrels dude…they make killer food! 😉

    I’m just as guilty as anyone with the name calling, so I don’t mind you dropping the phrase (like you needed my permission), but I do agree people tend to be uber sensitive.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      You’ve been down in the flatland too long. Their beans are alright and their cornbread’s decent. But their greens plainly come from a can.

      And they use ham to flavor, rather than fatback.

  • I suggest that it is “liberal” ideologues who set up the problem when they insist that ALL love is sexual, so loudly and repetitiously that Catholics and others critical of the idea are like to assume that all of “them” share the attitude.

    • No argument there Will, I guess what Mark is saying we shouldn’t frame the discussion in their terms and lower ourselves to their level by name calling.

      Hard for me to do as well…that’s always my knee-jerking….gotta work in that…

  • chris

    i happen to think the “gay brownshirts” tag is appropriate.

    But i believe that’s because i have read a little history. The original brownshirts existed more than 80 years ago, and i doubt they get much beyond vague mentions in the history of Nazi Germany, at least the sort of history which most of us get taught. So the word brownshirts evokes, for many people, only a vague sense of “they were bad people, but i couldn’t really articulate exactly why they were bad.” i am assuming that Mark’s choice of the term was based in part on a better understanding of what the original brownshirts were and what they did, to which parallels to the more extreme factions of the people who seek more than basic tolerance of homosexuality in the world can reasonably be drawn.

    And, since Mark’s goal is communication, it’s reasonable for him to choose to use terms other than brownshirts which will communicate his ideas more effectively.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    I get Mark’s willingness to change some wordings if that will help his point come across better. The only hesitation I have there is that people are too willing to take offense when terms are not even effecting them. For example, when Mark is talking about “Gay brownshirts,” he is talking about the bullying, intimidating, and sometimes violent wing of the homosexual lobby. These individuals represent only a part of that group, but Mark is only referring to the ones engaging in poor behavior (usually his posts about Gay Brownshirts are accompanied by articles that show the repulsive behavior to which he is referring).

    My mother used to tell me, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” The corollary to that rule that more people need to follow is “If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.” If you are part of a group, but clearly aren’t part of the extremists that Mark is calling out, know that he’s not talking about you, and let it slide.

    I know everybody wants to be a victim. Victimhood is the only thing that grants power in our postmodern society. Let’s call actual victims for what they are, and stop taking offense at name calling, especially when they’re not even talking about you.

  • dpt

    “So I really do intend to drop the “gay brownshirts” thing since it appears to me to block, rather than facilitate communication”

    I think this is great. Labels and name-calling can be demeaning and dehumanizing.
    When attacked, there are better ways to respond and give witness. In Acts, we can read how St. Stephen responded to a violent attack, and St. Paul was witness to this.

    • Sal

      I think this is great, too. This tendency has been a deterrent to really getting at the heart of what Mark is trying to say in a lot of posts. It’s not about being ‘nice’ or politically correct or not victimizing others, it’s about being a better communicator. Speaking for myself, I can grasp what a post is about much more clearly if it doesn’t involve hacking through a forest of hyperbole, snark and scorn.
      I do understand the difficulty of restraint, when someone has deeply held convictions about a subject, and a ready keyboard.

  • Ted Seeber

    Let’s be politically AND religiously correct. They’re procreation challenged.

    • Robert

      Um, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of heterosexuals who are procreation challenged for other reasons and don’t appreciate being lumped in, so it’s not exactly politically correct. Just a thought.

  • SteveP

    Mark Shea: I understand your decision; I tune out writing that insists I’m a homophobe, bigot, unwelcoming, not creating a family-like environment, etc. I do not think talk of “gay persons in the Church” is any more appropriate than talk of “irritable-bowel syndrome persons in the Church.”

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    For the record, I don’t tell bloggers what to write about or not write about. If I didn’t want Mark to write like Mark, I wouldn’t have brought him over here. Sheesh.

    • Mark Shea

      Elizabeth Scalia is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

      • Nathan

        Someone’s been brainwashed… in Manchuria! 😉

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    No, there is no raise in your future! 🙂