11 October 2010
Carl Paladino: The Man of the Hour
The Republican candidate for governor of New York could not have timed better his speech yesterday before a group of Orthodox rabbis in the metropolis in which he decried the notion of schoolchildren being "brainwashed" into believing homosexuality "equally valid." As he spoke, the big news in the big city, and to a lesser extent statewide, was the gay-bashing rampage of a Bronx Latin Kings franchise. Homophobia is real and it is violent, and anyone who legitimizes it, no matter how much they denounce violence or make soothing noises about individual rights, legitimizes homophobic violence. With his usual mulishness, Paladino stands by his remarks while making a big deal out of red-penciling one sentence he deemed excessive. Homosexuality, he'd have us understand, isn't dysfunctional in its own right, -- though it's "not how God created us" -- but homosexual marriage is. Like many Americans, Paladino reserves the right to denounce homosexuality as a matter of religious conscience while urging tolerance toward homosexuals like his own nephew, without acknowledging that millennia of "conscientious" homophobia have provided the moral foundation for gay-bashing. People like Paladino cannot see their way to the necessity of teaching acceptance of homosexuality as a positive good for those so inclined as the best hope of nipping violent homophobia in the bud. But here is an instance where the principle of human rights requires the nation to set itself against biblical law or "tradition" and risk the wrath of God if necessary. It's not much of a risk as far as I'm concerned. In this context, Paladino's confused homophobia is just another reason why he's unfit to govern New York, but it may be the plank of his personal platform that drops like a trapdoor to kill his campaign.