The battle between pro- and anti-gay marriage supporters continues, just as strong today as last winter, when Pope Benedict XVI made another unsuccessful attempt to derail the civil rights campaign. His speech last Christmas drove hundreds of bloggers back into the Blog-o-sphere. One Huffington Post blogger, Wayne Besen, calls upon readers to look at the Pope’s latest rant as one piece in a jigsaw puzzle of “out-of-touch pronouncements” made during his reign.
Besen begins his article by quoting a traditional marriage supporter’s doomsday prediction in 2004 and follows it with the Pope’s strikingly similar, and equally melodramatic, assertion that gay marriage threatens the “future of humanity.” After undermining the Pope’s credibility, Besen aims for our hearts by moving the conversation into his private life: that of a happily married gay man. Now we see the situation from his point of view. Despite many predictions, it seems that life does, in fact, keep on turnin’ even after the legalization of gay marriage. Not only is the Pope wrong, Besen argues, but he is also a “joke” and an “abject failure.” Besen’s entertaining sarcasm and passionate speechifying strikes the Pathos Bulls-eye, but our demand for factual corroboration is, as of yet, unsatisfied. Were he to end the post there, or continue in the same vein, I would be inclined to write the entry off as a biased rant and it would, therefore, have been an unsuccessful piece of rhetoric where this reader is concerned.
But he doesn’t.
Instead, he widens the camera lens to look at the whole of the Pope’s career, and starts with European resistance to and disapproval of Pope Benedict’s reign in Spain and Ireland. Next comes evidence of socially unaccepted (for the most part) gay bashing by the Pope’s archbishops: comparison of the gay community to the KKK and an infusion of anti-gay marriage prayer into Catholic Mass. Finally, he calls upon all tolerant people by highlighting three other examples of Pope Benedict’s “notable gaffes,” namely his vocal and negative opinion regarding other religious factions and his tendency to reward Catholic extremists who believe the Holocaust was a hoax.
The gist of Besen’s post can be summed up as such: Stubbornly, old-school religious people have been saying for eight years that same-sex marriage will destroy the Earth. It has not; it will not. Please, Religious Communities, look at how ridiculous and tragically outdated your supposed leader is; I’ll show you through choosing the most socially unaccepted instances of intolerance, ignorance, and uncleanliness: child molestation, insensitive criticism of Muslims, mentions of the KKK, and denial of the Holocaust.
The examples he uses has an obvious and direct targeting system: all people with a semblance of humanity, Muslims, African Americans or anyone with white guilt, and Jewish people or anyone with WWII guilt. It’s a wonderfully composed, intelligently and occasionally humorous piece that weaves in all the injustices that we as the People of a worldwide community find unacceptable. More than criticizing just one piece of rhetoric, he uses one inflammatory sentence of that relevant speech to pull the rhetor’s entire career under the microscope and break down the speaker’s credibility with specific examples of related occurrences. It would be a stronger piece of rhetoric if there were more people on the other side of the issue, but when the Pope faces opposition from world leaders and members of his own Church, you know he’s on his way out of the conversation, even if it takes many more years to reach complete resolution on the issue in question.