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By: Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC

I was home today with the flu. Isn't it awful how humans can be rendered almost completely unable to function by a viral infection? So confident in our own ability to do anything one day and then, within almost twenty four hours, on our backs, down for the count! Well, it simply shows us our own weakness and dependency on others for help and support. As it is individually, so too collectively, we need to stand with and for one another. That is what is called solidarity.

I awakened this morning to my usual morning rituals, one of which is to read my local paper, the Virginian Pilot. I followed the drill, only this morning I moved a little more slowly due to the sinus pain occasioned by this horrid flu. I read the front section for the "World News", then the "Hampton Roads" section for local news and then the commentary and opinion section. I stopped there. That last section often includes political cartoons. It did so this morning and the cartoon made me even sicker than I was upon waking.

This distasteful political cartoon featured a stereotype of an evangelical preacher with his mouth wide open, his hair swooped back and his eyes in an angry frown. In front of him, held open in his right hand, was a Bible. To his right stood a woman with a vacuous look in her eyes and a smile reminiscent of a Step-ford wife. Remember that movie about suburban wives who had no freedom to think for themselves because they were held under the spell of men? This woman was apparently under the spell of this judgmental, harsh preacher.

In the first frame of the cartoon, this stereotyped looking evangelical Christian with a haughty arrogance in his eyes says "Homosexuality is an abomination. It says so right here". The woman next to him responds "So, instead of legalizing Gay marriages, we need to live by Old Testament Rules!" This first frame is then followed by a series of cartoon frames with quotes from Old Testament texts, some taken from the Old Testament dietary laws, and all found in the Pentateuch, the first five Books of the Hebrew Canon.

The subsequent frame read "Let's execute anyone who works on the Sabbath", accompanied by a drawing of a fast food waitress. The next, "And Declare the eating of shellfish an abomination" with a drawing of a black man eating clams. The next "And ban clothes made from two types of thread", with a woman buying material at a textile store. The next, "And no beard trimming" accompanied by a man shaving. Then, in the final caption, we return to the two caricatures and the preacher says "And brings back slavery". The woman affirms his sentiment with an imbecilic smile, saying "Dear, I think those good folks at Wal-Mart are working on that one"

I was totally disgusted by this political cartoon. What a horridly bigoted swipe at a segment of the Christian community! However, I was feeling really horrible from this flu! I thought to myself "I am not an evangelical Protestant, I am a Catholic, it wasn't directed at me. The figure in this cartoon did not have a clerical collar on". I thought briefly about just chalking it up to the ongoing dispute between this paper and my neighbor down the road, climbing back into bed, and recovering from this awful flu. I couldn't do it so I had to write.

I live down the road from the headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting network (CBN) where the 700 Club television program is broadcast on a daily basis. This local paper has not had the best of relationships with the founder of that network. This kind of obvious belittling of this segment of Christianity is not unusual fare in this paper. However, though this cartoon was in poor taste and insulting, it was much more! It was ominous. This was an obvious effort to denigrate anyone who supports marriage as being between a man and a woman (which is most Americans) and, in particular, those within that majority who are also Christians.

This offensive cartoon made me recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller, written in 1945 and recorded in his now famous "They Came for the Jews." "First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

A Pogrom is "An organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group, especially one conducted against Jews." I believe that this cartoon reflected more than editorial poor taste. It is the early stage of a pogrom of sorts, aimed at painting with a broad brush of derision anyone who stands for marriage as being between a man and a woman. That includes me and I will not keep silent. The weapons of this early pogrom are verbal and symbolic, utilizing insinuation, denigration, intimidation, guilt by association and humiliation. The perpetrators are media elites such as this editorial page editor.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Church recently released a definitive document concerning the defense of marriage. It unequivocally and vehemently addresses the growing effort in some Western nations to redefine the word marriage and thereby eliminate the institution. In it they said:

"The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives."

This cartoon used dietary laws from the Pentateuch (given to promote health in a time where there was no refrigeration) and tried to imply that the current defense of marriage by the whole Christian Church was somehow akin to the early prohibition against beard trimming addressed to the people of Israel. Worse, it went further; it equated the defense of marriage as akin to some "defense" of slavery in ancient Israel. The fact is that the passages regarding the treatment of slaves in Israel weren't a "defense" at all. In an age when slavery was the norm among the ancient Nations neighboring Israel, the laws binding Jews required that indentured servants be treated with an uncommon dignity and respect and actually be able to earn their freedom.

This cartoon was clearly anti-Christian bigotry of the worst ilk and it was being perpetrated by a newspaper with an agenda, the promotion of practicing homosexuals who so choose being given a new "right" to a legal status equivalent to marriage in our society and everyone else being forced to not only recognize it but support it or be ostracized.

It was the late great C. S. Lewis who coined the phrase, "verbicide" in his Book entitled "Studies in Words". The term refers to the murder of a word. In the past when I have written concerning the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right to life, I have referred to the current assault against words as "verbal engineering" and maintained that it is always the first step in social, legal, political, and cultural engineering. Remember, it was using the word "choice" to describe the killing of a child in the womb that paved the way for abortion on demand, once universally opposed, to be heralded as a "right" in America and throughout the West.

Now we see the oxymoron, used first by only the fringe elements of the homosexualist movement, "gay marriage", gaining favor in the hands of media elite. There simply is no such thing as "marriage" between two same sex people engaging in sexual acts, even if they engage in such acts only with one another and for a long time. This is true no matter what a Court or legislature may try to impose to the contrary. However, the more the phrase is used, the closer we get to this vision of a brave new world. The enforcers of a new order want to be sure that those who disagree with their vision for a new social order are marginalized. So they utilize tactics such as those employed in this demeaning political cartoon.

One has only to watch the daily news or read any paper to see that there is a well funded and growing effort by a small fringe element of the radical homosexualist movement to force legal recognition (and thereby legal equivalency with marriage) of homosexual unions on the rest of society. The goal is clear - the total re-ordering of civil society. Proponents of this effort have a clear verbal, social, legal, cultural and political strategy.

Those who protect and defend marriage are being dismissed as caricatures, like the ones in this political cartoon. They are targets to be ridiculed through the use of terms such as "fundamentalist", "narrow minded", "authoritarian" or any other of a number of pejorative terms. The front line troops of the pogrom, the enforcers of an amoral, relativistic, utilitarian "utopia" where "family" becomes anything one says it is (backed up by the power of the State) and freedom means doing whatever anyone pleases, are newspaper editors such as the one who approved this horrid cartoon. The defense of marriage is trivialized by such ridiculously errant references to Old Testament passages taken out of context rather than presented as what it truly is - a reasoned defense of the common good for all men and women, those who have religious faith as well as those who do not.

Monogamous Marriage between a man and a woman is the first cell of civil society and forms the healthiest framework for the rearing of children. This fact was once widely accepted by the overwhelming majority of sane people. It was not simply seen as a "religious" idea but was a human understanding that formed the basis of civil society itself. The notion that we would have to define marriage by law would have been considered to be absurd!

Even those who broke their marriage vows and divorced did not call for scrapping the institution. Marriage and the institution of family were understood to promote the common good of society. Stable marriage between a man and a woman was a "good" that promoted human flourishing. Marriage was a "good" of persons and promoted and protected the "common good" of the society as a whole by forming the foundation of family.

To defend marriage should never be equated with justifying discrimination against those with homosexual tendencies, desires or even those who choose to live in homosexual relations. However, tolerance does not equate with the re-ordering of society to accommodate these "alternative" lifestyles. There is clearly a movement afoot to, by redefining the word marriage, re-order civil society. Anyone who stands against this move is now being targeted for a kind of verbal and social ostracism- as witnessed by this horrid cartoon in my morning paper. What is next? Will supporters of marriage as between a man and a woman be depicted as mice like Jews were during the ascendancy of the Third Reich?

In order to comprehend what is occurring let me borrow a Property Rights Analogy. It does not even come close in terms of the magnitude of the danger we now face because persons and their flourishing are so much more vitally important than the ownership of property. However, it will help to unmask the tactics being used.

We all still accept a uniform definition of "private property." In fact, we cherish the right to own property as a "right" and it forms a basis for our social, economic and political order.

Let's say that next year; a group among us had decided that "private property" really should mean that our land also belongs to the neighbors on adjoining land. Why? Because they decided that approach was better and they changed the definition, first among themselves and now they had decided to do so within the broader society. Next, they insist that the law recognize this new definition by giving it at least an equivalent status to the "traditional" notion of private property. Well, we can see where this is headed. You simply cannot have two distinctly different things being called the same thing. One has to yield to the other.

Oh, I know this seems absurd to some who are reading this article. After all, private property is private property. It is what it is. Or, is it?

I turned forty nine yesterday. It wasn't that long ago that the notion of "marriage" as possibly being between two men, or two women.... or three... would have seemed absurd. Now, anyone who holds to the definition that marriage as between a man and a woman because it simply is what it is are being painted by the media elites as either big mouthed, puffy haired, fundamentalist tyrants or mindless floppy haired Step-ford wife types.

This political cartoon reflects a trend by media elite to marginalize the majority of Americans who support marriage as marriage. Like me, you may not identify with those people in the cartoon that I read this morning and which led me to write this article. But we must be silent no longer in the face of this kind of tactic. It is the social equivalent of the flu. I started this article noting that I was home today with the flu and commenting on how awful it is that we humans can be rendered almost completely unable to function by a viral infection?

As it is individually, so it is collectively, we need to stand with and for one another in the face of this pogrom against marriage before it disables our society and we find ourselves collectively down for the count. We must oppose the kind of tactics revealed in this political cartoon even if it doesn't yet include "us". We must do so for the sake of marriage and the common good.

______________________________

Deacon Keith Fournier is a married Roman Catholic Deacon, who also serves the Melkite Greek Catholic Church with approval. He is a human rights lawyer and a graduate of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. He is a co-founder of the "Your Catholic Voice Movement" and the founder and President of Common Good.

Contact

Your Catholic Voice Foundation
http://www.ycvf.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Co-Founder, 757 546-9580

Email

keithfournier@cox.net

Keywords

Marriage

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