Also sprach feminist Camille Paglia regarding the Phil Robertson affair:
I speak with authority here, because I was openly gay before the ‘Stonewall rebellion,’ when it cost you something to be so. And I personally feel as a libertarian that people have the right to free thought and free speech...In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality — as I one hundred percent do. If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again they have a right of religious freedom there.
Now, the term "homophobic-" a word which actually means "fear of the same," but as meant as a linguistically awkward ad hominem argument against people who are prejudiced against gays and lesbians, or disapprove of homosexual behavior (depending on the person using it) is problematic, especially since its definition is so variable. Certainly the notion that one can be bigoted because one disapproves of a set of behaviors is rather... well, original. I emphatically disagree with any implication that the options are being "homophobic-" whatever the word means- and "supporting homosexuality." But Paglia is yet another example of a gay person who understands that having different beliefs from her own does not make one a bigot.
As I commented in a previous post, this seems for some reason to be a point which gays and lesbians have an easier time dealing with than do straight liberals. But Paglia is exactly right: the brouhaha over Phil Robertson's comments would be more at home in Nazi Germany or in Stalinist Russia than in the United States.
Here, we don't fire people because of their political or religious beliefs. And when we do, we call it "McCarthyism."
Paglia is rightly appalled at the degree to which her Democratic party has turned its back on the values of true liberalism by seeking to stigmatize and silence anyone they disagree with. As a former Democrat, I have to agree with her. There are many issues on which I remain far more of a liberal than a conservative, and would be more comfortable still being in the Democratic party. But I love the values it supposedly stands for too much.
Paglia sums the matter up thus:
There is a dialogue going on human civilization, for heaven sakes. It’s not just this monologue coming from fanatics who have displaced the religious beliefs of their parents into a political movement.And that is what happened to feminism, and that is what happened to gay activism, a fanaticism.
Exactly. And the most basic values we stand for as a people are at stake.
Another, earlier quote from Paglia:
I do not believe in God, but I believe God is man’s greatest idea. Those incapable of religious feeling or those (like hardcore gay activists) who profane sacred ground do not have the imagination to educate the young. Flicking the radio dial in America, one hears bursts of beautiful, spellbinding poetry. But it is neither academics nor contemporary writers who are filling the air with dazzling imagery and profound spiritual truths. Alas for progressive politics, these are the voices of white and black Christian ministers, reading form the Bible. Why have intellectuals abandoned the people? This is the shame of modernism. High Romanticism at least gave poetry as the prize of rebellion and, turning from God, put nature in his place.
I am neither gay, nor a libertarian, nor an atheist. But I have to respect anyone sufficiently grounded in the most basic values of our culture to join Voltaire in saying, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."