I wasn’t sure if there was much point writing about this. I mean, really. I’ve written about homosexual marriage. I’ve written about Christianity and alternative gender/kinship norms. I’ve written about Free Speech. Heck, I even devoted a whole post to the Slippery Slope argument. It’s like Lord Carey came on my page, looked at everything I dislike and brought it together in one resounding explosion of wobbles*. At most, I considered simply posting choice quotations from the ex-Archbishop’s speech, and leaving it up to you to connect the dots.
Then I read Tom Chivers’ article, “In Grudging Defence of Lord Carey”.
Of course, my wishy-washy liberalism means I’m especially allergic to Torygraph muddlings, but this one really took the biscuit. He writes words, and people pay for them. His Telegraph introduction notes that he “writes on science, technology …he is particularly proud of exposing The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown’s worst sentences to a disbelieving world.” He reviewed Game of Thrones. This suggests a man who pays attention to language. Hooray!
So what t f is he arguing?Admirably, he looks at Carey’s whole speech, not just the choice Nazi comparison:
“[Lord Carey] rejected suggestions that the true “bigots” were those who advocated gay marriage and would not listen to legitimate concerns of religious groups who disagreed.
“Let’s have a sensible debate about this, not call people names,” he said. “Let’s remember that the Jews in Nazi Germany, what started it all against them was when they started being called names. That was the first stage towards that totalitarian state.”
I’d add in what Carey said next:
“We have to resist them. We treasure democracy. We treasure our Christian inheritance and we want to debate this in a fair way.”
“Lord Carey…is rejecting the opportunity to paint his opponents as bigots; he is warning against hurling abusive terms around, including by his own side. In fact, taking the analogy he draws at face value, the “Jews” are advocates of gay marriage, and the “Nazis” are opponents who call them “the true bigots”. He is calling for polite debate. We should be encouraging this, not decrying him.”
No Tom. No, he’s saying that the ‘Jews’ are Christians. He’s saying that those in favour of homosexual marriage legislation are Nazis. Specifically, he seems to be talking about Nick Clegg’s gaffe, despite the fact Cleggo removed the word ‘bigots’ (which I happen to agree with) from the speech. Now, if the whole C4EM (coalition for equal marriage) camp was truly screaming ad hominem insults, and producing no further arguments, then his call for ‘polite debate’ would be relevant, even if the hyperbole he deploys would not. But they aren’t. If anything, homosexuals tend to be more frequent recipients of abuse, not that I wanna stray into tu quoque territory. This blogger does it for me. People are already civilly discussing this matter, from both sides and indeed from atop the weather-beaten fence.
What Carey is doing is rabble-rousing. Fearmongering. Lying. He’s telling C of E members that there is a coalition out to crush their free speech, and that this coalition is comparable to one of the nastier fascist regimes. He is conjoring a spectre to rally against, where no spectre exists.
Because he feels threatened. Of course, it isn’t his free speech that’s threatened – but only by couching his argument in free speech terms can he make it look remotely sensible. Chivers, oh Chivers, what’s he really defending?
The idea that the Church has a bigger, better, more authoritative say on matters than anyone else. Indeed, that his specific views on a specific issue, issuing from a specific sect of a specific faith, are being squashed.[ “Same sex relationships are not the same as heterosexual relationships and should not be put on the same level.”] OK Leonard, we are attacking that. We are saying that you and your people should have exactly the same control over morality-related legislation as anyone else. We are arguing that membership of one creed does not allow you any privileges**. If that makes me a Nazi, than I will proudly don a blackshirt.
TAG IN! fidei defensor Widdecombe
“This is not an anti-gay rally. It is defending marriage.”
Well I’m glad it’s not an anti-gay rally Ann. Because that’s something, I dunno, bigots do. And you aren’t a bigot, are you? You’re just standing up for your narrow definition of an abstract concept, and arguing that that definition should continue to be applied to people who don’t follow your beliefs, reasoning or conclusions. That’s fine. Good for you.
Widdecombe, a former Home Office minister, said such consequences would include the replacement of cherished liturgy and names such as “mother” and “father” with “progenitor A and progenitor B” or “partners to the marriage”.
Interesting. A little unfounded, perhaps. I could be wrong. Maybe these plans exist, and I just haven’t seen them. Or maybe she’s doing one of those arguments again. You know. The ones about hillsides with unsafe friction coefficients.
Carey argued that teachers, doctors and other professionals might be forced out of their jobs if they refused to embrace the proposed change to the law, an intolerant restriction on free speech that Widdecombe said could make the Church of England force disestablishment.
Yeah, that would be terrible. If it was remotely true.
Christian Concern, with some joy, writes:
Ms Widdecome drew applause from attendees as she argued that opponents of same-sex marriage were “no longer free” to express their views on the issue, challenging David Cameron to explain how he “can even contemplate creating such a Britain”…” MPs are free to speak their minds… but the people they govern are no longer free to speak their minds.”
No longer free? No longer free? Then what in GOD’s name are you and Lord Carey doing? Are you NOT arguing against homosexual marriage? Are you being arrested? Are you being threatened, detained, hounded, lynched, defamed or otherwise persecuted by the state?!
No, Ann. You are not. You are perfectly free, and you are taking a rather absurd stance in a debate, which everyone is happy for you to do. Carry on, please do. Just realise that Cameron et al’s proposed (and, sadly, shelved) legislation is not remotely infringing your freedom. Your Lordly buddy’s comparisons are a gross affront to the thousands around the world who really are suffering legal gagging. But you’re not. This is not a free speech crackdown. This is just what losing an argument feels like.
*He actually ticked another box with his mystical anthropology:
Stressing the need to preserve the family as the “fundamental unit of any society”.
I guess all my examples of societies that don’t conform to your heteronormative model are just figments of mine (and hundreds of social scientists’) imaginations?
Well. There’s sort of. Evidence for them. Unlike. You know. The big guy with the beard and the foreskins and the thunderbolts.
** One of the ‘attacks’ they perceived recently was the court ruling that it was illegal for Bideford Town Council to include Christian Prayers in their official Order of Business. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-16980025. Awwh.
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