Saturday, February 27, 2010

“Family values” harm families and values

Jamie Oliver has apparently been trying to bring dietary rectitude to the fattest town in America, managing in the process to spark a near riot over the removal of french fries from a school menu (link). Wondering whether he had himself slimmed down for the exercise, or whether his own increasing girth risked breaking the back of his moral high horse, I set about googling the locus of his exploits, Huntington, West Virginia, and instead came across a prime example of one of the most egregious “because” charades: “we’re anti-gay because we’re pro-family”. Yes, it’s the family “values” lobby showing itself at its family-phobic worst. And just in time for Sydney Mardi Gras!

The scene: some locals are attempting to portray Huntington as more than a place ‘obsessed with gay-bashing, obesity, donuts and gossip’ (link). Enter: Sheila! Sheila is part of ‘the movement ... to protect our families and children from homosexuals’. How does the movement achieve this protection? By making it ‘legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation’. Yes, in Huntington, families and children are protected because ‘you can legally tell a homosexual no if they want to rent from you, do business with you or work for you’. But don’t think that Sheila is content to leave it to the movement’s ‘friendly faces in local government’ to assure this. No armchair activism for her! She writes: ‘As a matter of fact, I did have a gay son. Notice the past tense ... did. My husband and I cut our ties when he “came out” to use [sic] during his sophomore year in college. He was no longer welcome in our home or in our family.’

So here are Sheila’s family values in a nutshell: family matters so much to her that she has destroyed her own. The advocate of family values, and not her son, has chosen to regard flesh and blood as ‘dead and gone’. And the person who dismembered her own family sees her son’s homosexuality as ‘his cross to bear’, when the only cross he bears is her reaction to it. Moreover, if any other family should embrace what she has expelled, Sheila would be there! If homosexuals are renting and, who knows?, providing health care to their mother or father, she’ll put a stop to that by making them homeless. That’s one more family fixed! If they’re working and, who knows?, contributing to the education of a brother or sister, she’ll put a stop to that by making make them jobless. That’s one more life improved! And if they’re self-employed and, who knows?, providing a niece or nephew with a model of hard work and honest endeavour, don’t worry, she’ll make their business fold and put a stop to that, too. One more child protected!

So far as “because” charades go, this is one of the best. In a normal “because” charade, what follows “because” is simply unrelated to what goes before it: “I can’t be an atheist because science can’t explain the origin of the universe” says the person who never thinks about physics and so couldn’t possibly base any belief on it can or can’t explain. But the family “values” lobby go one better: what follows their “because” is the exact opposite of the real reason. What they should be saying is “we’re anti-gay because we’re anti-family”. For what could families and children more urgently need protection from than Sheila and her gang of ‘friendly faces’?

It’s time to stop the family “values” lobby from destroying and dismembering families in the name of ‘protection’. It’s time to stop them from ruining lives and wrecking relationships in the name of ‘tradition’. Time to stop them from bullying children and persecuting adults in the name of ‘compassion’. It’s time to tell the truth: that anti-gay means anti-family and pro-family means pro-gay. And, if for nothing else, we should do this for Sheila’s sake, and for the sake of the family in whose ruins she, like a misguided Samson, stands, denouncing her ‘dead’ son in blindly fervent bewilderment.


  1. Way back in the 1980s James Anderton was the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester. He was a rabid christian who frequently spoke out on issues of morality, policing and 'family values'. [Apparently he chatted to God a lot, but i digress, in case you think this makes him rather a nutter....]

    In relation to AIDS during the 1980s he sensitively enquired:

    “I see increasing evidence of people swirling about in a human cesspit of their own making… We must ask why homosexuals freely engage in obnoxious practices, knowing the dangers involved.”

    Oh how us homosexuals celebrated when his daughter came out weeks later....

    What i know less about, but i think was the case, he actually stopped his ranting on homosexuals and resigned his position soon after for love if his daughter. No doubt Sheila would think him a pussy.

  2. Thanks for tip. Definitely something to follow up on. It reminds me also of Cheney and his lesbian daughter: from memory, he was artfully silent on the whole affair, despite explicit mention both by Edwards and the chair during the 2004 vice-presidential debate and notwithstanding Bush's platform of banning gay marriage at the federal level. There must be more cases of anti-gay politicians finding sedition from the fruit of their loins. It would be interesting to know about the different reactions of different politicians under such circumstances.