Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Hairy Palms of Deceit

Good politics, good insight and good prose too seldom coincide. They do in Gay Marriage - The New Willy Horton. It is simultaneously a well-reasoned argument, replete with great talking points and precise definition of issues, and a superbly written tale.

The poster is Texas-based John M. Kelley, "a teacher, philosopher, writer, artist, political activist, singer of ballads, rebellious Irishman and agent for change who worries daily about the world he is leaving for his grandchildren. His blog is at www.mytown.ca/johnkelley."

He sets out the differences between marriage as civil contract and as religious ritual. Then, he notes that "the unique history of getting a license from the state and then going through a ceremony with a minister blurs the two acts into one in the minds of most people and makes it an issue for exploitation."

He predicts that on same-sex marriage, the Republican exploitation will rain long and hard, much like the Willie Horton lies used against presidential candidate Mike Dukakis. Or as the very literary Mr. Kelley put it:
A friend of mine recently related a story he had heard about shell game operators in the 1800’s. They would glue hair in the palm of their hands. Then as they moved the shells and slid the pea from one to the other they would frequently show the palms of their hands. The mark would be so caught up in the sight of the distracting hair in the operator’s hand it would insure they would lose track of the pea and of course forfeit their money.

The decision of the Massachusetts Court, the Supreme Court ruling striking down sodomy laws and the public’s lack of understanding of the issue has given the Republicans the hairy hand issue they can exploit in each upcoming election. They think they can galvanize and get out the vote of the religious right and split Democrats to insure the reelection of Republicans and gain offices at every level.
One of his conclusions is that, as in 1988 with Willy Horton, Republicans are not driven by their bigotry, race then and homophobia now. Instead, "it is just an issue that they can exploit to divide the country over fears born of ignorance." As back then, they can distract the nation from their party's failings and the discomfort, despair, fear and poverty that their policies have introduced and exacerbated.

Mr. Kelley is harsh, honest and insightful.

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