Last week a number of gay rights organizations went into an orgy of criticisms at the decision of Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama to continue his association with popular gospel singer Donnie McClurkin. The flap centered around McClurkin’s assertion that homosexuality was “a curse which could be cured with prayer.” Naturally, that caused the long gay-bashing knives to come out enmasse, all sharpened and ready to shed McClurkin’s anti-gay blood.
True to form the gay rights organization’s chorus of indignation reached fever pitch with calls for Obama, to not only distance himself from McClurkin, but drop him from performing at his campaign fundraising events. Obama, quite rightly and showing some guts, has so far rejected these calls but sought to appease gay and lesbian anger by including an openly gay minister as part of his team
Consciously or unconsciously Obama did not buy into a typical gay rights tactic of leveling unrelenting criticisms against anyone who dares to have a different take or viewpoint on homosexuality than that of the prevailing explanation at the time. What this does is to block any discussion on the issue by preempting any reasoned viewpoint and labeling opponents as hateful and evil. In short, set aside the issue while making the argument a personal one.
The end result of such a move is to obfuscate the real issue and allow those with their set, cast-in-stone, beliefs and positions to attack anyone offering a contrary viewpoint in a way that leaves no room for addressing the issue that started the exchange in the first place. Applying that logic to the Obama/McClurkin issue the crux of the matter is that McClurkin – a one-time homosexual – has publicly said that he felt that his former sexual orientation was a “curse” that it could be “cured” with prayer.
By any reasoning this is McClurkin’s personal opinion and beliefs that are presumably based on his “conversion” from gay to straight. I believe that he has a right to his opinion – no matter how many people feel that it is off the wall or how many who support it or subscribe to it or how objectionable it is for some people in the gay and lesbian communities.
Nor should Barack Obama shunt him off to the sidelines simply because the gay rights groups demand it without responding directly to what McClurkin said. What if he’s right? Is it not “good Christian folks” who keep carping day in and day out that “prayer can move mountains?” Aren’t we constantly and relentlessly told that praying is the ultimate miracle worker and that when “we take it to the Lord in prayer” He answers? So how come when somebody attributes a change in his sexual behavior to prayer these same people start yelling bloody murder with blood in their eyes?
That’s because hypocrisy does not reside only in the straight community not does intolerance. McClurkin may be a pontificated ass but he still has a right to say what he wants and if he attributes his changed homosexuality to the power of prayer then the gay and lesbian communities had just better live with it. Moreover, just as gays and lesbians don’t want to be ostracized, penalized, brutalized and punished for their sexual orientation – frankly that is nobody’s business – then McClurkin should not be ostracized for his religious beliefs. To tell me I’m a bigot for not carrying the gay and lesbian line about sexual orientation and at the same time pooh-pooh my religious belief is unadulterated hypocrisy.
Indeed, the unofficial position on homosexuality held by both gays and lesbians is that it is inborn and part of a person’s DNA. Of course, there is no science or empirical proof to back this claim but anyone who dares to suggest otherwise is immediately attacked as being homophobic (I really don’t know what that word means. Perhaps fear of mankind?) ugly, biased and hateful. Me? I don’t know if there is a gay gene and thus I can’t say with any degree of certitude that homosexuality is inborn.
The problem with such hard and fast positions is that without any evidence to prove it there is the very real possibility that homosexual orientation can be changed and McClurkin used himself as living proof that this was possible. Right or wrong the gay rights groups only saw red and instead of refuting his position with comprehensive, valid and science-based facts and arguments they chose to label him a hater and anti-gay bigot and demanded that Obama disassociate himself from him.
And McClurkin did not attack individual gays and lesbians but used his experience to inform the statement that he made about homosexuality. So to try and muzzle him and ostracize him without offering any counter-argument is clearly a scurrilous attack on free speech. I don’t stand with hate speech or for any unfair or unprincipled attack on anyone - gay or straight. I can also have a healthy respect for gay rights and gay activities – what is done in the bedroom between two consenting adults is no business of mine – but I also have the right not to like it for whatever personal or religious reasons.
Too many times now any dissenting viewpoint is immediately pounced upon, labeled, packaged and ready to be tarred and feathered simply because it does not conform with the thinking of one group or another. For example, any criticism of the Jewish community is immediately met with loud, shrill cries of anti-Semitism. Any passing, innocent characterization of Blacks as “you people” immediately draws blistering comments of racism.
We have become an intolerant people made ironically so by the very tolerant behavior and political correctness that is now part of modern society. Compliments are seen as sexual harassment in the workplace and the entire country has become so paranoid over what to say, how to say it and when to say it that we’ve become verbal prisoners in our time. Do I believe that there is hate speech? Of course. Do I believe that it should not be tolerated? You bet.
But there are times when the envelope is pushed way too far and what results is simply a storm in a teacup with people arguing over semantics and trying to act like they have the monopoly on behavior and ethnics. The Obama/McClurkin gay thing is one such storm in a teacup and the Illinois senator did the right thing by not bowing to the gay rights groups and their threats to not vote for him. Such political blackmail and arm-twisting is thuggish and cynical. Gay or straight Obama did the right thing and scored one more point for freedom of speech and those who would want to assassinate a person’s character just because he did not share their views. No matter who it is – gay or straight – that’s just plain wrong.