Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where we are now

This case is exemplary and not in good way.

A male high-school student kisses another boy for a yearbook picture (and no, I've leaving this post unillustrated, except for one for the eggheads down below). The school blacks it out, but then backs off and apologizes. But it's the next detail that truly makes this item an envelope-pusher.
Andre Jackson, the student, said Monday that he was disappointed that the Newark schools superintendent had not delivered the apology face-to-face and in public. Because of that, he said he did not accept it as sincere.
"I would accept an apology — a public apology," said Jackson, 18.
Jackson said he learned of the apology through the media.
This says far more than all the robotically-learned "Polly wanna cracker"-cant we hear about homophobic this and anti-gay that. An *18-year-old* decides that an apology from the *schools superintendent* isn't good enough because it wasn't in person and in public. He doesn't want the vindication itself; he wants the ritual of public obeisance and to be seen to be cracking the whip.

If beggars can't be choosers, then choosers are indicating that they are not beggars. This student's behavior shows that he knows perfectly well that his homosexuality makes him not a beggar in the matter of public approval, but a chooser. (This is basically the dynamic Isaiah Washington is saying TR Knight is exploiting).

And one other point. This case proves (redundantly for the 46947876841st time) the emptiness of tolerance as a free-standing virtue and the essential unity of the public square. There is only one standard for public morality, since all must share the same public space. That standard, whatever it is, will be enforced on all and for all -- there is no "live and let live." If the morality of gays is what counts, then there is no reason for these sorts of pictures not to appear in the yearbook (or the daily paper). Thus they will do so, people who try to act contrarily will be punished for Badthought, and the image of two men tonguing each other (to speak only of the current picture ... there is, in principle, no limit) become a part of everybody's "Normal."

To Christians I say, walling yourself off completely and totally — I emphasize both those adverbs — is the only (purely theoretical) short-term option the libertine culture has for us. And there are no long-term options. To gays and other libertines, I say, don't patronize us with "don't look at it if it offends you." You act as any other cultural hegemon, and Gramsci would snort at your very innocent-sounding protests. There are no self-regarding actions, and no quarter or compromise is possible on the matter of the standard of public morality.

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