The love that now dares you

HUGO GURDON

It is becoming unacceptable in Western society — in much of Europe, as in North America — to live by the moral code upon which this civilization was built and has guided every generation except today's.

Alabama Attorney General William Pryor

The destruction of marriage in Canada was announced with Jean Chrétien's usual insouciance. "You have to look at history as an evolution of society," said the Prime Minister, eating his cake and having it too. Without a fight he sweeps aside an institution more ancient than the history he invokes, yet asks to be treated as a spectator. "According to the interpretation of the courts, these unions should be legal in Canada." I've led the country for a decade, he suggests, but don't shoot me — I'm only the piano player.

Looking at events from the American side of the border, the cartoonist Oliphant drew two Mounties at the altar. The officiating priest asks if anyone can show cause why the two should not be married, then sees Uncle Sam at the back and tells him to stay quiet.

The impression given is false, for although "gay marriage" is not yet legal across the United States, Americans who have not abandoned the traditional belief that homosexual coupling is unnatural or sinful, must increasingly conceal their feelings. Even those who believe neither of those things and regard gay unions as a private matter are now expected to silence their wish that it would stay private rather than be publicly flaunted.

A week before Mr. Chrétien sloughed marriage on to the ash heap, the U.S. Senate's judiciary committee considered President Bush's nomination of Alabama's Attorney General William Pryor to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Senator Russell Feingold asked Mr. Pryor, a devout Roman Catholic, whether it was true that he and his wife rescheduled a trip to Walt Disney World with their two young children because it would have coincided with Gay Day, an annual event there. (Disney ain't what it used to be).

In a tone suggesting that he believed he'd found the smoking gun, Sen. Feingold said: "News accounts also report that you even went so far as to reschedule a family vacation at Disney World in order to avoid Gay Day."

Mr. Pryor: "My wife and I had two daughters who at the time of that vacation were six and four, and we made a value judgment. And that was our personal decision ..."

Feingold: "Well, I certainly respect going to Disney World with two daughters. I've done the same thing. But are you saying that you actually made that decision on purpose to be away at the time of that."

Pryor: "We made a value judgment and changed our plan and went another weekend."

Feingold: "Well, I — I appreciate your candor on that."

In other words — Boy, he admits it and everything! Can you believe this guy? Has he no shame?

Maybe Sen. Feingold was merely being disingenuous in his repeated expressions of astonishment; one hopes so. But sadly he probably really believes the Pryors' decision was extreme.

So what is Gay Day? National Review Online posted links to pictures taken on that occasion in Disney's public spaces. In one, a man sucks on a beer bottle protruding from the unzipped trousers of another man. There were several other scenes like that. Are these appropriate for young children? Or for a decent, self-respecting society? When men and women are involved in such scenes, most people acknowledge them to be tacky. Spring break rarely passes without a few nose-held news accounts of the bacchanalia. In high school, if heterosexual students get shamelessly physical in public, their peers are likely to tell them to "keep it in your pants."

But criticism, or even a quiet personal decision to avoid contact with homosexual practice and culture is frowned on. Mr. and Mrs. Pryor's private decision brings down on their heads the implied accusation of bigotry. An upstanding and outstanding lawyer is pilloried in the supposedly august U.S. Senate for not subjecting his small children to scenes of homosexual debauch.

In Canada, Christian conscience is no excuse for refusing to print literature that promotes homosexuality. And Christian conscience will not excuse a small, family-run bed and breakfast if it chooses not to accept the custom of homosexual men who wish to share a bed.

It is becoming unacceptable in Western society — in much of Europe, as in North America — to live by the moral code upon which this civilization was built and has guided every generation except today's. Natural law, customs, mores, and the complex of arrangements arrived at down the ages by a sophisticated people are being demolished. That is what we mean today by tolerance. The love that once dared not speak its name, now dares you to speak your disapproval.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Hugo Gurdon, "The love that now dares you." National Post, (Canada) 24 June, 2003.

Reprinted with permission of the National Post.

THE AUTHOR

Hugo Gurdon is editor-in-chief of The Hill.

Copyright © 2003 National Post


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