20 December 2013

The conservative reaction to the Duck Dynasty fiasco shows that religion is the single biggest obstacle to gay rights

In case you haven't heard by now, Phil Roberston of the hit show (for some reason) Duck Dynasty was suspended from the show by parent network A&E following some anti-gay comments that he made in an interview with GQ:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Alright, so at the very least he implied that a mutually consenting relationship between adults of the same gender is equivalent in some way to bestiality. Makes perfect sense. Then he tossed out a Bible verse, by which he seems to be implying that homosexuality is like prostitution and alcoholism, among other things. Here we have a classic case of religion getting good people to say bad things.

The religious conservative reaction to this has been just as mind-numbingly stupid as one might expect. A staffer for Herman Cain called A&E's decision "fascism".  Sarah Palin, a renown conservative intellectual, defended Roberston's remarks as "free speech". And across the interwebs, we got memes like this:

Classy.

Let's just pause for a moment to consider the "free speech" and "fascism" comments. Was Robertson censured or censored by the government? Detained? Imprisoned? Fined by the State? No. He was suspended by the network that funds his show. A helpful meme was posted by Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian™:

Clearly, some conservatives have absolutely no idea what free speech and fascism actually are. It's quite ironic too, when you consider that they don't hesitate rally to defend the rights of business owners to discriminate against gays – Chick Fil-A ring a bell? Facebook, meanwhile, was filled with gems like this:



And then over at USA Today, conservative radio mouthpiece Steve Deace offered up this pearl of wisdom:
Irrefutable history documents that the Bible and its teachings were the biggest influence on those that founded the freest and most prosperous nation in human history. Yet nowadays if you believe that same Bible is true you will either silence your beliefs, or you will be silenced. Just ask Phil Robertson, one of the stars of Duck Dynasty, among the most successful shows on TV.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Christopher Hitchens said Religion Poisons Everything. Rationally, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to oppose equal rights for gays or to treat them any differently than anyone else. Research shows gay people to be just as happy and well-adjusted as straight people, and they raise children who are just as happy and well-adjusted as straight people (and, incidentally, who are no more likely to be gay than children raised by straight parents). The American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations, the American Medical Association, and the American Pediatric Association among others have all, excuse the pun, come out in support of the fact that homosexuality is in no way a pathology.

Virtually all of the modern opposition to gay rights comes not from scientific research or medical organizations, but from religious conservatives. "According to my interpretation of the Bible, it's wrong, and that's that!"

Notice how quickly conservatives turned the discussion from bigoted anti-gay slurs to a defense of their "religious freedom". No, you are not entitled to your opinion, nor am I obligated to respect it. I've had it up to here with people masking anti-gay bigotry behind a thin veil of religious piety. This whole fiasco brought to light just how far we have to go to, and reminded me that, like the late Hitchens, I'm not just an atheist but an anti-theist. Fortunately though, we're winning.

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