Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I’m having a dialogue!

You may remember Richard Mouw, the evangelical who is not a religious fundamentalist who recently wrote a Newsweek “My Turn” column expressing his shock and sadness—and tears!—over gay people’s angry reaction to his vote for California’s Proposition Hate.

I wrote a response to Newsweek that never got printed. So I posted it here because hey! free blog post!

Mouw is the president of Fuller Theological Seminary, and a google search of his name brings up thousands of links that are everything but my humble little blog. And yet he found it. And he actually wrote a response on his own blog.

Well, kind of a response.

I called him a solipsist in my post. And an asshole. And while anyone who’s ever read this blog knows I tend to use more swear words than a clumsy porn director, I really do regret saying things like that about people. I’m a 40-year-old professional writer with a prodigious vocabulary. Words like asshole are beneath me … and they’re a devastatingly efficient way to undermine anything I’m trying to say.

Did I mention I tend to wander off topic when I write too?

In any case, my post challenged Mouw on a range of logical flaws, implausible conjectures and the ugly realities his actions force gay people to face every day. Mouw’s response focused on … the solipsism. And the asshole. So to speak. Plus he totally lied about me in his description of my post.

And though I really don’t care to have an ongoing dialogue with the man, I posted this response on his blog:

Considering the ostensible premise of your “My Turn” column, my use of profanity in my response was an unfortunate choice. But I swear all the time. It’s probably my worst habit, right after drinking too much diet soda and ignoring the dishwasher when it needs to be emptied. So don’t interpret a swear word from me as the first horseman of the civility apocalypse.

And before I comment on the rest of your post here, Richard, I have to say I’m concerned how cavalierly you turned “Newsweek didn’t print my letter” and “I wrote this response to Newsweek” into “[Jake] expresses his rage over the fact that Newsweek failed to print his letter” … especially given the fact that your god’s celebrated Ten Commandments expressly forbid the bearing of false witness.

Here’s a link to what I wrote. Please note the complete absence of the rage you describe:

But you are correct in assuming I’m quite angry with you. And more than a little exasperated. My anger comes directly from the actions of people like you who work so tirelessly to deny gay citizens equal protection under the law. People like you who go on to defend their actions—and absurdly try to play the victim—in national newsmagazines.

While your musings here on solipsism are lighthearted and entertaining, they pretty efficiently reinforce one of the arguments in my rage-infested blog post: When faced with the challenge of providing concrete, measurable, plausible justifications for denying marriage equality to gay citizens, you people just trot out irrelevant, misleading distractions. The fifth sentence of your “My Turn” column implies that changing the definition of a word is too burdensome a price for equality. The definition of a word! Really! By the time you finish your article, you’ve raised the specters of three-way relationships, Hollywood’s portrayal of religious folk and the transubstantiation of church talk into “hate speech.” You even trot out the time-honored horrors of having to talk to your kids about gay people.

And yet you still don’t explain why my husband and I are forced to invest thousands of dollars to approximate the legal protections heterosexual couples take for granted when they get married. And why—according to our attorney—there are still uncloseable loopholes in everything we’ve done to protect our home, our relationship and the developmentally disabled adult we’re raising. Here’s a little bit more about him: He was abandoned by his father years ago and savagely beaten and emotionally abused (she repeatedly told him he should commit suicide) by his mother for more than 10 years before we rescued him. In addition to the horrors they inflicted in their own disabled child, these two heterosexuals have also racked up four marriages and at least two affairs between them. And yet you used your moment in Newsweek as a platform to complain about how stripping us of marriage equality made you cry instead of grabbing the opportunity to lash out at the heterosexuals who daily make a mockery of marriage by repeatedly cheating, divorcing each other and destroying their families.

I cover a lot more than diversionary tactics in my blog post. In between all that rage, that is. Here are the rest of my points that you ignored—or tacitly agreed to?—in favor of your folksy stories about solipsism:

• The malicious denial of marriage equality has real consequences for real families like mine.

• People like you have no right to be shocked, saddened or surprised by gay people’s angry reaction after you stripped us of our equality.

• Reducing our highly justifiable anger over Proposition 8 to mere “worry” and “anxiety” is patronizing oversimplification bordering on calumny.

• Your slippery-slope arguments are intellectually lazy and logically desperate … and easily trumped: If we follow biblical mandates on marriage, then we’ll have to follow biblical mandates on adultery, divorce, reproduction and the subjugation of wives.

• Your selective interpretation of your chosen mythology has nothing to do with my right to equal legal protection in the real world.

• Your baffling assertion that “gays and lesbians have a right to ask me what my sincerely held convictions mean for how they pursue their way of lives” undermines every plea you make for “dialogue” and a “flourishing pluralistic society.”

• You can’t vote away my equality, defend yourself in a national newsmagazine, dodge your accountability with transparent diversions, falsely accuse me of emotional instability on your blog and then rationally expect me to sit down and have a friendly chat with you about it.
UPDATE: As I figured, Mouw wasn't deleting comments on his blog post. It looks like he'd just set his commenting software to let him approve comments before they went live. I do the same thing. It took three days, but it looks like all your comments have now been approved and posted.

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