Via the HRC:
“Unless Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain to tell us something different, we need to keep that understanding of marriage.”
“It’s the acts, itâs the various acts that people perform that are sinful.”
–Rudolph Giuliani on homosexuality
There are so many different ways I could go with this.
I could go with Huckabee’s snarky, smirky Brokeback Mountain reference. I could gas on about how “Brokeback Mountain” has become the new “Adam and Steve,” the default catch-phrase for when people want to make bigoted jokes about gays.
I could also point out how wildly inappropriate the Brokeback Mountain reference is. I mean, did he see the movie? Did he think it was a ringing endorsement for gay people denying their sexuality and getting into heterosexual marriages? The whole point of that damn movie was that gay people staying in the closet ruins lives — not just their own lives, but the lives of their wives and their families and everyone around them. To make a “Brokeback Mountain” joke in support of a “traditional marriage” position is clueless to the point of delusion.
And of course, I could go the “laughably hypocritical” route on Guiliani’s comment. The twice-divorced, thrice-married, adulterous Giuliani, lecturing gay people on their sinful sex lives? Please.
But that’s not where I want to go with this. Instead I want to pose a question that kept me and Ingrid entertained for hours:
Which do you think is worse — craven hypocrisy, or close-minded bigotry?
Here’s the thing. I don’t believe for a moment that Giuliani actually thinks homosexuality is a sin. He supported civil unions and domestic partnerships when was mayor of New York. Hell, when his second marriage was breaking up, he moved into the apartment of two gay friends. He did a Victor/Victoria drag show with Julie Andrews. He’s far from the most enlightened person on the planet when it comes to LGBT issues; but I doubt that he has anything against us personally.
I think his move to the right on LGBT issues is purely pragmatic. He wants to be President. He thinks he has to suck up to the far right to accomplish this goal. Gay-bashing is the quickest, easiest way to do that.
Huckabee, on the other hand:
I am quite sure that Huckabee means every word of it. His entire record speaks of passionate homophobic bigotry, fueled by a particularly virulent form of close-minded religious fundamentalism. When he said that “homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle,” I have no doubt whatsoever that he meant every word.
So here’s my question:
Which is worse?
The close-minded, true-believing bigot — or the craven, self-serving hypocrite?
From a purely ethical standpoint, I think the true believer has the stronger position. Their bigotry is evil, it’s harmful — but at least it’s sincere. It’s not held simply for selfish gain. Itâs internally consistent.
But from a purely practical standpoint, I think I’d rather have the hypocrite in public office.
Because you can change a hypocrite’s mind.
If someone is taking a bigoted position purely to advance their self-interest, all you have to do to change their mind is shift the political scales. Mobilize your forces. Make alliances. Get better organized. Convince the hypocrite that their self-interest would be better served by sucking up to you instead of your opponents, and they’ll be your new best friend.
It’s much, much harder to change the mind of a true-believing bigot. If their bigotry is a consistent, integral, fundamental part of their view of the world and themselves, changing their mind about their bigotry requires them to rewrite their entire life story. Very few people are up to that.
And while internal consistency can be an admirable trait, it’s not so admirable when it comes at the cost of shutting out the world around you. Prioritizing your own belief system over human reality is really just another way of being self-serving.
Then again, as Ingrid points out:
If you do succeed in changing a true believer’s mind, chances are that you’ll have them for good. The ranks of LGBT supporters are filled with former bigots who changed their minds when their friends, their colleagues, their children or grandchildren, came out as gay. And their newfound tolerance is as strong — and as sincere — as their old bigotry.
Just ask Giuliani. And the gay friends who took him in when he needed help. The friends who he’s now calling “sinful” — because he wants to be President.