Weekend Update 10/03/2015: More varmints among the sheep
Friday morning, after reading the morning news during my bus ride to work, I posted to Twitter: “Nice to see the vatican still knows how to do PR… These tidbits change nothing. Don’t fall for the spin.”
And it got re-tweeted. And one of the retweets got re-tweeted by someone I don’t know. And then some people replied to the re-re-tweeted post feeling the need to tell me how wrong I was because the story about the pope’s meeting with a notorious homophobic county clerk was being greatly exaggerated. I particularly liked the ridiculous “The pope loves [name of Kentucky grifter/county clerk in the news] and the pope loves you. Get over yourself.”
Now they’re responding to a few sentences, and it is understandable that they didn’t understand what I meant by spin. So before I say anything else let me be crystal clear: By “spin” I mean the lie that the Catholic church and many associated organizations constantly peddle that they are not anti-gay. That is what I mean by “spin.”
In that regard, whether or not the pope met with anyone doesn’t change the fact that he continues to insist that homosexuality is both a sin and a disorder, that gay people should not be allowed to adopt, that relationships between same sex partners are not marriages, that laws ought not recognize our relationships as marriage, that we and our relationships are a threat to families, that transexual people are a threat to civilization on a pare with nuclear weapons. Yes, he and his surrogates have issued statements that talk about welcoming gay people and calling on people not to do violence to us, but other parts of those same documents (which never get quoted by the media which has swallowed the whole this-pope-is-different myth) continue to call us disordered, et cetera.
The Catholic church is officially homophobic and bigoted. That is a fact. This pope is a homophobic bigot. That is also a fact. He tries to couch it in language that sounds accepting and loving. But just as the parent who beat her child to death because she thought he would grow up to be gay insists that she loved the child and was doing it out of love, the church’s and the pope’s claim that they love queer people is at best a self delusion.
A narrative has emerged that the pope’s meeting with the Kentucky clerk was part of a sort of receiving line arranged by some of the Washington D.C. Catholic officials, and that the pope didn’t know in advance that she was invited, and at the time only knew that she was a “faithful Christian who is standing up against religious persecution.” The way this might have happened is quite plausible, given that despite the statements I’ve documented above, this pope is perceived within the church hierarchy as too soft on gays and related social issues. So finding a way to either give the appearance that he was endorsing a harder anti-gay line, or to embarrass him, is certainly plausible. And maybe that is part of what has happened.
But there are reasons to suspect this explanation.
First, the Vatican itself has changed their story several times in the last few days. First they admitted there was a meeting but they had no comment. Then they said it was just a brief meeting along with several other people of faith. Then they said that the pope’s people had nothing to do with arranging the meeting. Then they said that the pope was blindsided by the meeting. And then they said it was a meeting that should have never happened, oh, and by the way, the pope did have a private meeting and it happened to be with a gay couple. I’m going to come back to that last piece, but if the pope really was blindsided by the county clerk and so forth, they would have said so sooner, rather then wait through several news cycles as they saw each of their stories met with skepticism. Also, if he was blindsided by American Catholic officials so much that he regrets it happened, someone would have been fired in the Nunciature. Yes, already. Because look how fast a Catholic priest who came out as a gay person this week got fired, not by a local organization, but by the Vatican.
Also, before the Kentucky clerk’s slimy lawyers “leaked” the story about the meeting with the pope, the pope told reporters during the flight back to Europe that he believed government officials have a right not to perform some of their duties if it violates their religious beliefs, comparing this to being a conscientious objector. The problem with that comparison is that if a person who is drafted into the military becomes a conscientious objector, they stop being a soldier altogether and are assigned other duties. That’s different than refusing to perform some duties for some people, but keeping your job. So it is a really bad analogy.
And if you think I’m being harsh on the pope and the church, note that as recently as last year Catholic groups have donated millions of dollars to campaigns to limit or take away civil rights from gay people. A group of the Catholic organization, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, stood side by side with white supremacists and similar groups at rallies in support of the Kentucky clerk just last month.
Finally, that gay couple the pope met with? One of them is a former student of the pope. The person was not invited to meet with the pope because the pope wants to extend an olive branch to queer people, but because they are personally acquainted. And I have no doubt that the pope prays regularly that his gay former student will magically stop being gay and leave his husband. Much like my homophobic aunt who regularly says that god will destroy America because of gay rights, and then doesn’t understand why my husband and I didn’t drive 150 miles to attend her Independence Day barbecue with some even more homophobic relatives.
Also, the Vatican didn’t reveal this meeting with the former student until all those news cycles of their previous claims about the meeting with the Kentucky clerk had been less than convincing.
Don’t misunderstand, I believe that the Kentucky clerk and her lawyers are milking this and exaggerating the meeting a huge amount. If the pope really was blindsided by this meeting, it would not surprise me one bit that the clerk’s lawyers knew it. Clearly the law firm (which is so anti-gay it has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for years) is using the Kentucky clerk to milk more money from their anti-gay donors. I also believe the clerk is a grifter with dollar signs in her eyes. Given that her church doesn’t even consider Catholics to be Christian, and not that long ago described the office of the pope as “the whore of Babylon,” I can’t believe that this meeting on her part was motivated by anything other than a desire to get in the news spotlight again and continue to set her up for book deals or speaking fees on the often lucrative wingnut circuit. But the fact that her motives were hardly pure, that her lawyer’s motives are even more venal doesn’t subtract one iota from my initial claim: the Catholic church as an organization, and this pope in particular, are still very anti-gay.
Enough about that!
Updates to News of the Week
4 Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing is good, but they really missed the mark on the fourth one. The original intent of the Second Amendment was to sanction state laws that banned blacks from having guns and mandated able-bodied whites to serve in militias and regularly go on patrols to make sure neither slaves nor free blacks were stockpiling guns or plotting revolt or organizing escapes into free states. That phrase “a well-regulated militia” has always meant that states have the right to limit who can own guns.
Rather than reading another story about the gunman (who is probably not mentally ill), let’s talk about one of the unarmed heroes from Thursday: Hero Army Vet Shot 5 Times While Protecting People From the Gunman in Oregon.