Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Some Letters in the Irish Times Just Make Your Jaw Drop

A chara, – May I respectfully suggest that if someone is upset by being called homophobic, they refrain from espousing homophobic views. Problem solved. – Is mise,


George’s Quay, Dublin 2.

So there you go. The persecution of Jews through the centuries must have been justified, because why would their persecutors have accused them of child murder and treason and all those lovely things unless it was true? School bullying is no longer a problem because the victims wouldn't just get bullied for nothing, would they? We no longer have to feel bad about the victims of Stalin's purges because, well, they would have been just fine if they weren't actually Trotskyists and saboteurs. No smoke without fire, after all.

How doesn't everybody else see this? It's so insanely simple when you get it! It cuts through so many ethical, jurisprudential and philosophical Gordian knots with one swift flash of steel!

The writer may object that she is condemning expressed views, which are publicly aired, as homophobic, as opposed to deeds or actions which have to be discovered through investigation. And this is true, and my satire does indeed rather overstate the case for that reason.

But how does it make her comment any more superfluous and cheap? The point of the whole correspondence is whether an expression of opposition to same-sex marriage makes you homophobic or not. To say, "We wouldn't say you were homophobic unless it was true" is adding nothing at all to the debate. It's what a frustrated father says to a smart-alecky seven-year-old daughter when he's tired of arguing with her.

Another letter on the same page is touching in its naivety:

Sir, – Breda O’Brien (Opinion, February 8th) seems to think that a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum on marriage equality will be an endorsement of those who seek to stifle the expression of dissenting views on the issue. I can assure her that it will be nothing of the sort. The only outcome of a Yes vote will be that same-sex couples will finally be afforded the same rights that other couples currently enjoy in society. Nothing more, nothing less. – Yours, etc,



Co Tipperary.

How can he say this, when the very correspondence in which he is entering brims over with letter-writers eager to pathologize their opponents, and a recent article in the same paper (I think it was the same paper) called for a government body that would be a watch-dog against "homophobia"? It's like you can hear the knives being sharpened already.


  1. Hi M,
    this debate has taken a bizarre turn. It's stopped being about SSM and now seems to be about whether it is homophobic not to agree with SSM. It's a risky debating strategy to claim that the rightness of your cause is so self-evident that you don't need to put forward any arguments and rely instead on calling everyone who disagrees with you homophobic. It isn't going to 'shame' people into changing their views; those 'on the fence' may not appreciate their parents, grandparents, etc being so-labelled; and it leaves the arguments against change unchallenged. I think if the referendum were held tomorrow there's a good chance it would pass; but if we have another 18 months or so of this, who knows?

  2. My instinct is that same-sex marriage is now unstoppable all over the developed world-- I fully expect this referendum to pass, but even if it doesn't, I think it's only a matter of time. The best that supporters of traditional marriage can do is make the right arguments and not let it happen without an articulate and reasoned protest. We are arguing for the minute-book of history, not for the newspapers.

    On the other hand, when marriage has been redefined all over the liberal world, I think it will become more and more meaningless so that only sacramental marriage is taken seriously anyway.

  3. I disagree. In the USA, at the state level, 30 out of 33 referenda have rejected SSM. 31 state constitutional amendments banning legal recognition of same-sex unions have been adopted and subsequently backed by voters. Talking about Europe, the only popular referendum in Slovenia in 2011 repealed the Family Code that had introduced SSM. Last December, Croatians approved the constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Italy has not even civil partnership. The reaction of the French people to the introduction of SSM has been amazing and after a year they are still protesting in the streets. I am happy that Irish people will have their say because the national stations will have to give both sides equal time while now it's not the case. Popular vote tends to reject SSM and this will happen in Ireland in 2015. Many will be surprised, I won't.

  4. It's a compelling case, Angelo, and I hope you are right. My fear is that the internal logic of liberal society makes it inevitable.

    I think the fact that the massive French opposition failed to derail the legislation is part of what makes me so pessimistic.

    And it's a great point about equal time, which is certainly not happening now. (Not to mention the frequent use, by presenters and reporters, of loaded terms like "marriage equality").

  5. It seems Ireland is becoming like the US media in terms of making homosexuals a "protected class." It's too bad people are falling for it without much thought, especially the Millennials.

  6. Oh, I think the philosophical canards we are swallowing, just regarding this subject, go way beyond that!

  7. I have a feeling this will be passed too Maolsheachlann, but I wouldn't look at it as an "all we can do now" sort of situation, even if there is nothing you can actually do as such. That's the sort of talk that makes it easy for the people we oppose. They see us as on the defence, and somebody who's on the defence can only lose ground. I've discussed my views on "homophobia" in the forums, so I won't bother posting it here again, but that's where I stand anyway.

  8. I just made a post, but I'm not sure if it was sent.

  9. So I was researching the pompadour (a vintage hairstyle - look it up) since I'm planning to style my hair that way in the upcoming week, and I came across a blog that had a few articles on it. It so happens that the writer of the blog was Irish. "That's cool," I thought to myself. I later found out while searching through the blog for more 'pomp' articles that she was a lesbian. She wrote this on one of her articles (non-pomp related), which immediately brought me back to your post: "Homophobia does not just mean being ‘afraid’ of gay people. It encompasses intolerance, a lack of respect, feelings of superiority."

    This was after she mentioned John Waters and the Iona Institute. Apparently Mr. Waters and Iona were "lying" about homosexuals. I am not sure if this true, but that's what her feelings were.

    This the article: http://tinyurl.com/m7clb6t

  10. Antaine, I think you are probably right that defeatist talk is a bad idea. It's something I should bear in mind. And Goldenrush Apple, I'm not at all surprised by that article by the lesbian lady-- it seems to be the essence of modern "'phobias" and supposed prejudices that there is no defined or settle essence to them so we can haplessly find ourselves offending against them even when we don't think we are.