Over the past few years, those of us who have opposed various efforts of gay activism—such as the endeavor to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples—have gotten used to being called “homophobic,” a word that denotes an irrational and prejudiced fear of homosexuals but has often been affixed to anybody who voices any objections to the gay activist agenda.
This strategy, needless to say, has coarsened and debased our public discourse, mostly because it is more a tactic of shame than a real argument: if you can label someone a bigot instead of actually engaging his position, it makes things much easier for you. It is quite likely that many people with objections to, say, gay marriage have remained silent, and understandably so, for fear of being labeled “homophobic.”
Yet conscientious moral opposition to the gay agenda does not by itself signify homophobia. If you wish to see real homophobia—the genuine article, not the intellectually exhausted fashionable buzzword the Left trots out at every possible opportunity—look to yesterday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, in which 50 individuals were murdered inside a gay nightclub.
The Orlando shooter’s father claims the shooter had recently seen two men kissing in downtown Miami, at which point the shooter “became very upset” and expressed disgust. This allegation, if true, and coupled with the shooter’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS, indicates that the young man probably possessed deep-seated prejudices towards homosexuals, apparently so much so that he felt compelled to murder as many as he possibly could.
This is what actual homophobia looks like: not a reasonable objection to the deficiencies of modern gay culture, but a profound and even homicidal desire to harm gays because of their sexual preferences.
Political Advocacy Doesn’t Equal Supporting Murder
The anti-gay impulse is unfortunately prevalent throughout a large amount of the Muslim world: ISIS is notoriously brutal towards gays, and a great many Muslim-majority countries punish homosexual behavior with anything from prison time to death.
In the United States, a pizzeria can decline to cater a purely theoretical gay wedding on religious grounds, and the pizzeria instead of the gay activists face public backlash. In Somalia, however, a man might be put to death for having sex with another man. One of these things represents homophobia; one of them does not.
A writer for the Daily Beast feels differently: yesterday Tim Teeman claimed “certain GOP lawmakers” should be “questioned and shamed” after the shooting, because their political positions “ultimately give official legitimacy” to the Orlando massacre. The shooter’s “homophobic disgust,” he wrote, “…is shared by the Religious Right and GOP politicians.”
To equate the mass slaughter of innocent people with the conjugal view of marriage—a view held by virtually everyone, including the president of the United States himself, until a few years ago—is not simply wrong, it is unhinged, and almost dangerously so, because it implicates an entire class of reasonable political belief with the savage large-scale murder of innocents.
Yet the cavalier accusations of “homophobia” have an obvious political advantage, as I wrote above: it shuts people up and reduces opposition. But events like the brutal tragedy in Orlando expose this tactic for the shallow, cynical conceit it really is. Many of us oppose the redefinition of marriage outright, and plenty more are fine with gay marriage but think artisans should not be forced to comply with gay weddings. Neither of these positions is “homophobic,” insofar as they are not informed by fear of, or bigotry towards, gays.
If you want to see anti-gay fear and bigotry, look to the carnage in Orlando. Look, also, to the Sharia courts of Iran, or the prison cells of South Sudan. This is what real anti-homosexual prejudice looks like.
If we wish to have anything resembling a sane and productive political discourse concerning gay rights, we have to be able to tell the difference between Orlando and Proposition 8, between the Catholic Church and the Islamic State. Yelling “Homophobia!” every time someone disagrees with a gay activist simply will not cut it.
Orlando is a brutal and terrifying reminder of what genuine anti-homosexual hatred can lead to. Let’s not pretend that this insane murderous rampage implicates anyone other than the killer himself, his perverse beliefs, and the psychotic death cult to which he pledged his brief and destructive life.