Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some cold water for your chicken sandwich and waffle fries

Here it is, August 1, and the anti-Chick-fil-A crusade has reached “epic fail” proportions.  Far from hurting Dan Cathy through his pocketbook, the threatened boycott has generated the Atlanta-based QSR (and owner/CEO Cathy) millions of dollars of extra business plus new regular customers, assuring that the boycott will continue to generate revenue even after Mike Huckabee’s anti-boycott fades into memory.

The British Submarine Service used to have a saying: “Never mind your enemies; watch out for your friends.”  That was because a number of subs had been lost at sea when they were struck by surface ships from their own fleets.  Boston mayor Dan Menino and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel did the pro-SSM marriage cause more harm than good by their over-the-top threats to ratchet their zoning and permit laws against the chicken chain.  While other cities have joined the witch-hunt, the ACLU (mirabile dictu) has fired their own shot across the various cities’ bows:  barring Chick-fil-A over the personal views of its owner is an “open and shut” discrimination case.  The Boston Globe and the Chicago Sun-Times, neither of which qualifies as a right-wing paper, have both criticized their local leaders for their threats of repressive tactics, and even AndrewSullivan wrote a we’re-better-than-that piece for the Daily Beast [reposted to his blog on The Dish].  Put simply, the “ban Chick-fil-A” movement will die faster than Huckabee’s candidacy did.

What we’re seeing is an authentically liberal backlash against a budding ersatz-liberal totalitarianism.  However, we have to wonder if the backlash has enough staying power to open up space for traditional-marriage supporters to be heard.  The kids may eat the chicken, but will they listen to us after they’ve munched the last waffle fry?

I kinda doubt it.  We’re still alive at the plate after a lucky foul ball, but the pitcher ain’t done yet.  If only we can take this into extra innings ….

The first problem, as Terry Mattingly and Sarah Pulliam Bailey at GetReligion.org have both pointed out, this is a story that shouldn’t have been a story in the first place.  Cathy’s support of pro-family stances is hardly news; George Stephanopoulos and Ron Claiborne are  more than a little disingenuous in accusing Chick-fil-A of “starting a firestorm”.  But when combined with other news of “Gaystapo” pogroms — frivolous intimidation lawsuits, exposure of Maryland marriage petition signers to potential harassment à la the Prop 8 fight in California, the bogus accusations of scientific misconduct against UT sociologist Mark Regnerus — it appears that the less-stable, more sociopathic elements of the gay-rights lobby are losing patience with incrementalism.  No longer content with the subtle seduction of a voting populace that is, in the main, ill-informed about sex and reproductive issues, these elements want a full-court press (my, I’m full of sports clichés today).

The second problem is that it’s almost impossible to make the case against same-sex marriage without simultaneously making the case that homosexuality is a sexual dysfunction.  Unfortunately, that means more than separating the good science from the bogus studies done by both sides.  You must also force both straight and gay people to confront a fact that most of our species is bent on denying or ignoring altogether: The primary biological purpose of sex and human sexuality is reproduction.

Good luck with selling that.  Combined with what The Blogger Who Must Not Be Named calls “the average American posture … of wanting to be let alone and not press-ganged into fussing about the private lives of others” is an equal reluctance to connect the dots. 

“Thinking means connecting things,” G. K. Chesterton reminds us, “and stops if they cannot be connected.”  Humans have known for almost as long as they’ve been humans that sex causes pregnancy; this was no special revelation of modern scientific methods.  (If you think about it, the Middle Ages theory of sperm carrying humonculoids to be planted in the womb isn’t all that far from the reality, although the reality is much more dazzling in its complexity.)

But for just as long a time, men and women have been motivated by the sensual pleasure to engage in what is essentially mutual masturbation, even driven to take unnecessary, potentially lethal risks in their choices of partners and circumstances.  This aspect of Eros has always carried with it a tendency to mentally dissociate sex from reproduction, to blind ourselves to the intrinsic connection even as we paid backhanded compliments to it through the ages-long search for effective contraception.  Even the term “sex drive” testifies to this cart-before-the-horse mistreatment; properly, it should be called the “reproductive drive”.

If we were all the good little Darwinians we profess to be, we would see that same-sex attraction represents a (potentially) closed genetic path, as it redirects the reproductive urge to target mates that by definition are reproductively unavailable.  If there is a “gay gene” — which is by no means conclusively established — it would be a trait that depresses and discourages genetic survival.

So what?

Because of the Pill, sixty-four years’ worth of bogus agenda-driven social science and the ever-increasing porn monster — the down side of free speech — we now have a culture which takes sex without consequence as an entitlement rather than a contradiction in terms.  As for marriage, not many people can see it even as a contract, let alone a sacrament or a human institution with an intrinsic social purpose; it seems rather to be an expensive and often embarrassingly narcissistic occasion for the happy couple to celebrate their decision to live and sleep together, and for the community to give it their rubber stamp.

Joe Schmuckatelli might get worked up about blatant disregard for the First Amendment.  But he really doesn’t give a rat what goes on in other people’s bedrooms.  So what if gay sex doesn’t lead to kids?  Who said married people had to have kids, anyway?  We’re free to speak … and they’re free to not listen.  That’s democracy for ya.

Hope I didn’t spoil your chicken sandwich.  But the high tide and the turn haven’t come yet.