If there was ever any doubt that conservatives are pathologically obsessed with homosexuality, those doubts should have been put to rest in the wake of the recent "Values Voters" summit. No sane person could ever imagine that heterosexual pornography would "cause" homosexuality, but for the Christian Right that connection is just as natural as connecting homosexuality with murder, shoplifting, and bestiality.
You don't have to be insane or mentally deranged in order to be part of an extremist political or religious movement, but the Christian Right seems to be working hard to weld them together permanently. This is a large part of why they act like they are trying to move beyond the boundaries of satire or parody — no matter how bizarre of an idea you come up with to ridicule them, chances are someone now or in the near future will propose it in all seriousness.
Spread the Hate
That's precisely what's happened with Mike Schwartz, chief of staff for Republican Sen. Tom Coburn:
But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct. After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people.
And one of the things that he said to me, that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark. He said, “all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards. Now think about that. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants." You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people.
Obviously Mike Schwartz doesn't give any evidence that there is any connection between homosexuality and heterosexual pornography, but that wasn't relevant to his audience — they were excited about the claim and positively aroused at the possibility of linking two things they hate so much and already spend long, lonely nights thinking about.
And what's the purpose behind such linking? I believe Mike Schwartz made that clear at the start of his story: because the young boys that they want to target with this message already hate homosexuality so much. In other words, they want to take the extreme homophobia which they have been encouraging and redirect some of that hate towards other subjects, like pornography. They hope that their anti-gay hate mongering has been extreme enough that it can encompass straight pornography as well.
Socialist Homosexuality, Socialist Pornography
Even more bizarre was Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who complained about the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision to strike down a state law defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman:
So in the end this is something that has to come with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal.
They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.
Other critics have pointed out that if it's a "socialist concept" for gay couples to seek "affirmation" and access to public resources, then it must be equally a "socialist concept" for straight couples who want to get married — and thus marriage itself must be socialist. So the "family values" crowd who usually pretend to be defending marriage are now arguing almost openly against marriage.
I'd like to go in a slightly different direction and connect all of the above: if heterosexual pornography leads to homosexuality and homosexuality leads to a desire for gay marriage and gay marriage is ultimately a socialist concept, then isn't heterosexual pornography really just a socialist, Marxist conspiracy against individual rights and liberties?
I guess group sex is just an introduction to broader socialist attitudes about everyone sharing with everyone else. Blow jobs — gay and straight, though they are all ultimately gay — are a metaphor for what the rich should be doing for the poor. Anal sex is a metaphor for what will happen to private property owners. Bondage of course is a metaphor for how socialism exists to put chains on the people, depriving them of their individual rights — all while teasing them and giving them promises of future release in exchange.
King is not alone in this particular insanity. Colin Brendemuehl writes:
This (and I will continue to use the term) special rights agenda should not be taken out of the broader social and historical context. It has a close relationship with the feminist movement that sees marriage as, in their words, elitist. It is the very existence of marriage which the broader movement is attacking. Today’s movement is wholly consistent with the Communist Manifesto.
Source: Positive Liberty
If it's "consistent with the Communist Manifesto" to extend marriage equality to gay couples, it must be equally consistent to have extended equality to interracial couples. Oh, wait, weren't opponents of Civil Rights openly complaining that it was all a communist conspiracy? This is an argument with a very old pedigree in conservative circles. It's not about race or homosexuality — or even communism, strictly speaking. It's all about defending authoritarianism: authoritarian government, authoritarian families, authoritarian family structures, etc.
There are of course legitimate critiques of and concerns with both communism and socialism, but in these contexts you don't see any of that. This is because it's not about those systems; instead, they are just useful labels for smearing anything that seeks to expand equality and eliminate unjust privilege. It's tough to argue this without looking like a complete idiot, however, so efforts to expand equality are instead tarred with labels like "socialist" and "communist."
After years of training Americans to have a Pavlovian response to those words, conservatives can now use them to discredit anything without having to invest any effort in constructing a reasoned, intellectual, or moral critique. Conservatives don't have to try to explain what's wrong with treating blacks, women, or gays like fully equal and worthy human beings; instead, they can just count on enough hate and fear to preserve an authoritarian system which keeps such groups in their place.
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