Drum roll, please:
A couple of obvious thoughts. Paladino speaks of "perverts who target our children and seek to destroy their lives." This is the gay equivalent of the medieval (and Islamist) blood-libel against Jews. To conflate gay people with child-abusers is an archaic and disgusting calumny, to portray us as a "threat to children" is as dark and as vile a smear as you will find. Many of us are children, in the first place, and although there are some gay abusers, as well as straight abusers, the overwhelming majority of gays and straights love our children and nieces and nephews, would never dream of harming any child in any way, and many gay people indeed have taught and guided and reared children over the centuries, and to levels of excellence bar none. I don't doubt that a gay teacher taught Paladino once; the odds are high. And when I think of the lives of great service so many gay people live in the worlds of education, mentorship and parenting, his demonization sickens me even more.
What's even more amazing is the context of these remarks. Paladino cannot be unaware of the recent spate of gay teen suicides, or the disgusting act of torture against two gay men in the Bronx. At a time when it is the responsibility of public figures to condemn this kind of violence, to defend gay people from the rhetoric that fuels such violence, Paladino has decided to ratchet up the bigoted language in a way that will only help legitimize anti-gay violence. That he is running for governor of New York, and has this notion of responsibility and decency at this moment in time, is a low-point for even today's gay-baiting GOP. Now watch if anyone in the national Republican leadership disowns this bigotry, and disowns him. That will tell you a lot.
Lastly, he makes a case for marriage and family. Great. But in doing so he simply assumes that gay people are not part of people's families, and he ignores the fact that many have already married across this country and the world, and brought up children, and done so magnificently. He places one segment of society outside respectability, and outside the family, implying that it is a choice, and the "gay agenda" is to corrupt children to make that choice. I might add that this is not even orthodox Catholic doctrine. Even the Pope acknowledges that gay people do not choose our orientation. Even in as dismal a document as the 1986 Letter, Ratzinger wrote:
It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
So this is, for a Catholic like Paladino, a kind of social scapegoating and demonization whose history is well known to every student of history. The Catholic hierarchy in New York has a moral duty to condemn this "violent malice in speech" and "disregard for others". It has no place in free and tolerant society or a free and tolerant political party.
And then, finally, the assertion that none of this means he is anti-gay or holds any animus toward gay people - just that all of us are a threat to children, that we are "brainwashing" kids into thinking gayness is ok, and that the notion that we may be "proud" of our lives sticks literally in his throat. This, mind you, in New York, the bluest of blue states. And of course, to an audience of religious fundamentalists.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what the GOP has become. In 1978, Ronald Reagan took a stand in defense of openly gay school-teachers. Today, DeMint and Paladino want to cleanse us from schools because we allegedly threaten to brainwash or rape children. How much clearer can the degeneracy be than that?
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