The burgeoning physical culture war over gay marriage (as evinced by a rowdy protest that almost looked like a riot at the LDS church’s Los Angeles temple and an older Christian woman being savagely harrassed in Palm Springs) is sobering and scary.
I’ve already explained my defense of barring “gay marriage” at length elsewhere on this blog, but today I have a more sympathetic thought about this culture war in mind.
The 2005 crossword puzzle documentary Wordplay is one of my favorite movies. As it celebrates the English language and the joy of being well educated in it, I’ve shown it several times to various high school classes and even in English 101. It enjoys the mark of a successful lesson: intelligent, serious students always love it, and truculent, lazy people tend to hate it.
One of the great puzzle solvers featured in the film is a man named Trip Payne. In one scene, Trip refers to his boyfriend as “dear,” then gives him a quick peck, the kind of chaste little kiss that any of us would feel comfortable giving to our mother. Invariably, any time I ever show this award-winning documentary about real-world linguistics to students, this scene elicits groans, laughs, and even crude comments.
Nobody would ever think of treating a racial minority this way. I honestly believe that racism is dead in our society. Sure, pockets of ignorance might still pulsate here and there, but then there are still some people out there who think the world is flat and that Star Trek V was a good movie. People might criticize or be leery of social mores that seem to condone, or even encourage, what the mainstream would view as anti-social criminal behavior, but that’s a far cry from assuming inherent inferiority, and you just don’t see public belittling of any racial minority just for being a racial minority. The very thought is unspeakable.
And yet, regardless of our views about law, religion, or family, almost every segment of our society is comfortable openly mocking gay people. Continue reading