Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Cowardice

The profile of Ken Hutcherson, the minister that is taking credit for Microsoft’s “neutral” stance on Washington’s gay-rights bill — and thus, in the minds of some, contributing to its defeat, makes the man and his church sound like galant crusaders for the Word of the Lord and Traditional Family Values. But what it really points out is that Mr. Hutcherson, like many of his like-minded terrible-tempered ministers such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson, are nothing but cowards.

For whatever reason — whether it’s cultural, societal, or just plain phobia — they hate an entire class of people. But rather than just come out and say it, they hide behind the Bible, using that quaint collection of fables and mythology to justify the denial of basic human rights with impunity. They haven’t got the guts to just come clean and admit that they’re nothing but bigots because to do so would reveal that their motives and actions are based on irrational human weaknesses. Hiding behind superstition and a celestial boogeyman somehow makes it acceptable in their eyes and removes the burden of having to be responsible for their own actions: “because the Bible says so” is the new version of “I was only following orders.”

What is supremely ironic is that Mr. Hutcherson is using the logic that enslaved his ancestors and held thrall over blacks; the Ku Klux Klan and segregationists still quote the Bible in justifying their motives and actions. He rails against the equating of gays seeking their rights with the civil rights struggle of African-Americans in the 1950’s and 1960’s because he believes being gay is a choice. It’s an argument as false as the justification whites used fifty years ago to maintain segregation: blacks “weren’t ready” to live in the white world and that they were “happy” to live with their own kind. It was a cowardly justification back then, and it’s just as cowardly today to deny people their rights based on false science and psychology. No reputable school of thought believes that being gay is a conscious choice any more than we choose whether or not to be right or left-handed.

In a way, I can understand why people like Mr. Hutcherson cling to these discredited and shameful ideas. To admit the truth would undermine everything they stand for — you can no more justify hatred based on an innate quality such as sexual orientation any more than you can justify it on the basis skin color or ethnic origin. So there has to be a reason to persuade them to change, using the Bible as the weapon of choice. (In the case of Messrs. Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson, admitting the truth would cut the legs out from under their vast fundraising network — they’d actually have to work for a living.)

The final irony is that Mr. Hutcherson is using religion — something that is an invention of man and a belief system of conscious choice — to fight against something that is a part of human nature. History has proven time and again that nature always wins.