When Inmates Run the Asylum

Is it just me, or is the whole world being run by lunatics?

Is it just me, or is the whole world being run by lunatics? Although there are plenty of examples of irrational behavior that don’t focus on the gay community, let me just list a few that do:

  • As I write this, right-wing talk radio nuts like Rush Limbaugh are blaming the daily revelations about American abuse of prisoners in Iraq on—what else—gays. Yes, when they aren’t excusing the behavior entirely on the grounds that (choose one) (a) these are harmless pranks akin to behavior of fraternity boys; (b) the behavior is justified by the actions of the—primarily Saudi—terrorists on 9/11; or (c) the other guys are worse, they are blaming the prison abuse on America’s moral decline, caused by our increasing tolerance of homosexuality. (As Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up.)
  • Opponents of same-sex marriage are warning of the dire consequences of events in Massachusetts, and the “slippery slope” from gay marriages there to all manner of morally degenerate behavior. While the campaign for a constitutional amendment has gotten less traction than the right-wingers anticipated, that hasn’t stopped them from predicting the imminent end of Western Civilization As We Have Known It. (Perhaps the best description of their argument was made by Slate editor Dahlia Lithwick. As she noted, “Since few opponents of homosexual unions are brave enough to admit that gay weddings just freak them out, they hide behind the claim that it’s an inexorable slide from legalizing gay marriage to having sex with penguins outside JC Penny’s. The problem is it’s virtually impossible to debate against a slippery slope. Before you know it you fall down, break your crown, and Rick Santorum comes tumbling after.”)
  • In Virginia, fear of the huge threat posed by gay couples living together in committed relationships has led to legislation that not only forbids the state from recognizing same-sex marriages or civil unions, but goes on to prohibit private contractual relationships between partners. I haven’t seen the language, but it’s hard not to wonder just how the Virginia courts are supposed to distinguish between a normal business contract and a “forbidden” personal one. What if I open a shop with my female friend, and we secure our respective obligations with inheritance provisions? Have we become lesbians? There is also that inconvenient contracts clause in the U.S. constitution—but hey, Virginia doesn’t pay much attention to the constitution anyway.  (In all fairness, neither does the Administration…)
Evidence of lunacy is everywhere. In Indiana, Congressman Mike Pence recently issued a press release in which he answered the election-year question “Are we better off today than we were four years ago?” with a resounding yes.

Of course, the assertion that America is better off than we were four years ago is at odds with a few pesky statistics: a 3.3% decrease in median income; the loss of 2.4 million jobs (a number that would be much worse but for the growth of federal government jobs); 4 million more people without health insurance; 3.5 million more Americans in poverty; and a 1.47 trillion dollar increase in the national debt, just for starters. There is also the little problem of being bogged down in a war that even the Pentagon now concedes has been bungled, and that many believe to have been unnecessary. And there’s that nasty little business about abuse of Iraqi prisoners, and the increasing numbers of people around the world who hate us.

So why does the Congressman say we are better off? Because we no longer have an “immoral” President in the White House, and because we have outlawed “partial birth abortion,” that’s why. Morality, for folks like Pence, has nothing to do with honesty or candor, nothing to do with economic self-dealing. Amending the constitution to make gay people permanent second-class citizens has nothing to do with morality. Waging an unprovoked war, and lying to the American people to justify that war, has nothing to do with morality. Morality is all about sex and profession of a very narrow, very particularistic kind of Christianity.

The President of the United States tells Bob Woodward that God tells him what to do. A Congressman from Indiana thinks his job is to legislate his brand of biblical morality. The inmates currently running our asylum are religious fanatics—members of our very own Christian Taliban.

It’s terrifying.