Between Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut for wanting affordable birth control, Kirk Cameron calling gayness destructive to the foundations of civilization, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien comparing gay marriage to legalizing slavery, it was a big weekend for hateful old white dudes who should shut their damn mouths once in a while.
But if I had to pick the worst, I think I’d go with Cardinal O’Brien. Yes, Rush actually suggested that Sandra Fluke owed “us” a sex tape because she wants insurance to cover birth control. But he has been a hate-mongering sack of garbage for at least the last 15 years. If this is the thing that brings him down, great, but he has said WAY more offensive shit, especially about queer people and people of color.
Same deal with Kirk Cameron, kind of. Anybody who takes that guy seriously is probably not going to be a heavyweight champion of political thought. But Cardinals actually influence policy. This is a guy whose job is supposed to be leading the flock of humanity on the path laid out by Jesus:
He also compared the plans to introduce gay marriage to “legalising slavery”, a charge he defended in an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning.
“It is a perfectly good example as to what could happen in our own country if we go this way,” he said. “It’s time to call a halt now to what you may call progress in society.”
Cardinal O’Brien said that gay marriage would lead to “further aberrations” and warned “society would be degenerating even further than it has already degenerated into immorality”.
Clearly this guy does not actually think that slightly altering the legal understanding of marriage would open the door for slavery to be legalized. It’s completely offensive to even compare the two things. So why do it? It is a perfect example of the subtle—and not so subtle—divide and conquer strategy that conservatives have, embarrassingly for us, used quite effectively for a long time.
It is very much in the interest of the status quo to have oppressed people fighting against each other, instead of coming together. Bringing up slavery in the way that he did pits anti-racist advocates against pro-gay-marriage advocates. When in reality, that should be the same group of people. We’ve seen it time and again, even from within progressive movements: framing things as EITHER a women’s issue OR a black issue. Either a trans issue or a gay issue. Either an economic justice issue or a racial justice issue. Not only does that erase the many people who inhabit both oppressed groups, it ensures that social justice advocates waste their energy fighting among themselves, instead of coming together to fight the structures that keep us all down.
Shame on you, Cardinal O’Brien. Not very Christ-like at all.