Barney Frank’s Name-Calling
by Ed Whelan
Barney Frank’s attack on Justice Scalia as a “homophobe” is inane at several levels:
First, the term “homophobe” is an ugly epithet designed to stigmatize (“he’s the sicko”) those who don’t embrace the homosexual agenda. It’s intended to cut off serious discussion, not to promote it. It doesn’t belong in public discourse.
I much prefer the descriptors “anti-gay animus” or “anti-gay prejudice” to the less transparent term “homophobia.” After all, it’s about the behavior. But then you get into unwieldy territory when trying to describe a person who engages in this behavior, such as Justice Scalia. We all knew what Congressman Frank meant. It doesn’t cut off serious discussion at all; it merely requires people with anti-gay animus to explain why, if they have it, they consider it an insult to point out that they have it. To better understand what “those who don’t embrace the homosexual agenda” don’t embrace, see here and here.
Second, Frank uses his epithet in the course of expressing his concern that a Supreme Court that includes Scalia might not strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act was approved by overwhelming majorities in each House of Congress (85-14 in the Senate, 342-67 in the House) in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton.
Impressive, if you’re impressed by cowardice. That doesn’t guarantee that the law is constitutional, however. Making that determination is the purview of the judicial branch (you may remember this from junior high civics).
Senators in favor of DOMA included Biden, Bradley, Daschle, Kohl, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Mikulski, Murray, Reid, Sarbanes, and Wellstone. Millions and millions of voters in state after state have acted to preserve traditional marriage. Does Frank regard all these Americans as “homophobes”?
I suspect that many of these Senators have had time to reflect on their 1996 votes by now. To the extent that they, and “millions and millions” of non-Senatorial Americans, voted to ignore the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution, or to write discrimination against a group of citizens into their state Constitutions, they were either acting on anti-gay animus or failing to oppose it. People can be wrong. When they learn and change their minds, we can applaud them for that. Senator Schumer also voted for DOMA.
Third, Scalia’s position is clear: The Constitution does not address the matter of same-sex marriage. Therefore, the political processes are free to decide whether or not to adopt it. He, as a justice, will defer to the political processes, whatever the result.
In other words, on this matter as on so many more, Scalia will not indulge his own policy preferences (whatever they are) and will not write those preferences into the Constitution. Frank wants liberal activist justices who will indulge his and the Left’s own policy preferences on homosexual matters (and so much more). That’s his real beef with Scalia, and he’s masquerading it under the “homophobe” label.
Does this mean that Justice Scalia won’t deploy one argument for states that have voted to prohibit marriage equality, and another for states that have voted to allow marriage equality? That’s good, because it looks like Vermont will be the first state to legislatively affirm marriage for all couples, and it will certainly be followed by others. One can only imagine the silly arguments we will undoubtedly now hear about how the legislature overstepped its authority. That should be fun to watch, but I’m glad to hear that Justice Scalia will not be indulging them.
I’ll leave to others whether Frank’s name-calling is a tactic designed to distract attention from his role in causing the ongoing financial crisis.
That’s a relief. Because if Mr. Whelan were to inadvertently imply such a thing it would be irrelevant at best and an ad hominem at worst – the very same accusation with which he launched this diatribe.
I’m so glad we had this little talk.
Uh, “anti-gay animus” or “anti-gay prejudice” is no more serious — or accurate — than “homophobe.” The point, of course is to stigmatize those who hold views consistent with those of almost every civilized society for the last 5000 years. Neither is it “marriage equality” to enact the policy preferences of partisans for the radical homosexual agenda (concededly, an equally value-laden — if not belittling — term) to re-define the institution of marriage to something it is not, and something it has never been.
Homosexuals have the same — i.e., “equal” — right that heterosexuals have: to marry any member of the opposite sex who will have them.
I guess we’ll have to amend the title to “Whiny, table for two.” Enjoy your stigmatization!
I guess we’ll have to amend the title to “Whiny, table for two.” Enjoy your stigmatization!
That’s funny right there.
Translation: “I have no rebuttal to your points so I’ll just dismiss them derisively and hope no one notices”.
The term “phobia” describes an irrational fear. That is why the false term “homophobia” is generally inaccurate. It is used as a derogatory term, not as a valid descriptive in most cases.
I only speak for myself, but fear has nothing to do with it. I personally couldn’t care less what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom or with whom you choose to do it. But to insist that I (or society as a whole) be forced by force of law to accept your personal sexual fetish as “normal” is nothing less than tyranny.
But I guess that just makes me a “whiner” too. I suppose I’ll just have to learn to live with it.
No. Translation: The commenter claiming that “anti-gay animus” is inaccurate is widely known to be a clown from whose every pore drips toxic anti-gay animus. There is no serious discussion to be had there.
You, on the other hand, are not he. Whether or not you are a whiner remains to be seen. You do seem to make baseless, irrelevant (and rather personal) assumptions about perfect strangers. If you are interested in having a serious conversation here, it would be advisable to shed that habit.
I have already agreed with you on the unhelpful term “homophobe.” You will find that I hardly ever use it. As I said, I prefer the more specific descriptors anti-gay animus or anti-gay predjudice.
I’ve been reading and contributing to this blog since 2003 and never found any content even remotely related to sexual fetishes. Are you confusing us with some other site? If not, please elaborate.
Maybe you were thinking of TownHall.com and it’s advertisements which feature Ann Coulter in a tight black dress. TownHall.com also advertises conservative tee shirts. The ads always fetishize young blond women.
Or maybe you were thinking of WorldNutDaily which also seems to promote the ubiquitous Anne Coulter fetish. Or if you were thinking something more respectable like National Review Online, you’ll find fetishes for both Anne Coulter and Sarah Palin. Or maybe Right Wing News. Doh! there’s Anne is again, and an ad for Emma Rossum Sexy in Details Magazine which links to pretty bawdy content, like “Masculinity Times Infinity”. The distance between the NRO site that prompted this post and young girl fetishes is pretty short, so why did you decide to visit here? Something’s odd.
Jonathan, please don’t encourage these guys to talk about their sexual fetishes. Yuck. This isn’t that kind of site.
I liked this comment from a religion blog I was reading the other day:
“Ask any Straight couple why they choose to marry. Their answer will not be, “We want to get married so that we can have sex and make babies!” That would be absurd, since couples do not need to marry to make babies, nor is the desire to make babies a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.
No, the reason couples choose to marry is to make a solemn declaration, before friends and family members, that they wish to make a commitment to one another’s happiness, health, and well-being, to the exclusion of all others. Those friends and family members will subsequently act as a force of encouragement for that couple to hold fast to their vows.
THAT’S what makes marriage a good thing.”
Pretending that marriage is something other than the creation of a new family, and that GLBT people are somehow not qualified to participate in it because of some imagined deficit in our being, is precisely what we mean by “anti-gay animus.” James and Sailorcurt, thank you for the illustration.
“I’ll leave to others whether Frank’s name-calling is a tactic designed to distract attention from his role in causing the ongoing financial crisis.”
Bingo ! We have a winner.
Really? What did they win?
I don’t know, Greg. That seems like a stretch, to put it mildly. Frank was being interviewed by 365Gay.com, and responding to a question about the possibility of DOMA being challenged in the Supreme Court. It’s kind of hard to imagine anyone thinking that answering that question could function as a “distraction” from anything, let alone the current financial crisis. Think what you will about Congressman Frank, but calling that remark “a winner” is just begging for ridicule.
That’s “Mr. Faggot” to you, Jimmy 😉
It’s gratifying when readers actually take our clearly posted commenting policy seriously and keep their Fred Phelps impressions on their own blogs. Bless your heart.