So, what's wrong with Duck Commander Phil Robertson going Biblical with his views on homosexuality?
Not one single, solitary thing.
His religious views are not substantially different from many Christians all over the world, including the pope in Rome.
But it wasn't his religious views that caused the Quack Heard Across the Globe.
Here's what he actually said during the GQ interview:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
That's the problem.
Members of the LGBT community are no strangers to this type of talk. We are routinely classified as sexual perverts, and homosexuality, we are told, is not substantially different than sexual perversions like pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia.
As a child growing up during the 1970s, I remember very well looking up the word "homosexuality" in the dictionary and finding it classified as a sexual perversion, "akin to pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia, which see."
I flipped the pages to look up those other words and was horrified to learn that the crush I had on Shaun Cassidy was no different than my wanting to have sex with a little kid, or a cow, or a dead body. Pretty heady stuff for a teenager in the throes of puberty. And not only heady, but shaming. Intensely, relentlessly, mindbogglingly shaming. And embarrassing. And humiliating. And psychologically damaging.
Does it need to be said that the love two gay men or two gay women feel for each other is substantially different than someone having sex with a corpse? Do we really need to explain how deeply misinformed, ignorant and offensive such thinking is?
Apparently we do.
Folks like Phil Robertson, pontificating on Bible verses and taking a stand for Jesus, routinely throw out comparisons to pedophilia and bestiality. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is famed for talking about gay marriage as something that will lead to the "man on dog" thing. Evangelicals constantly warn that gay marriage will lead to people wanting to marry their pets, or their children, or their brothers or sisters or ... fill in the blank.
Well, you say, so what? What's the big deal?
I'll tell you what the big deal is.
Surprise, surprise, gay people want to be loved, too. They want to fall in love, experience intimacy and romance, have sex, commit themselves to each other, create families, live normal lives.
By constantly suggesting that gay love is a sexual perversion like bestiality, religious types are striking right at the heart (so to speak) of a person, hitting them right in the place where they feel, where they find meaning and hope and happiness. They are striking at the core of an individual and his or her ability to love, to receive love, to interact with the community, to be a human being. By dismissing as perversion their romantic feelings, their attractions to members of the same sex, they are killing the souls of such people.
They are suggesting that these feelings of love and affection among gay people are disgusting and unworthy, perverted, sinful, so terrible that such feelings ought to be denied. They are doing this, not because there is any scientific or medical evidence to support it, but because they believe the Bible condemns homosexuality. They are teaching young gay men and women to hate themselves, to hate their feelings, to hate the truth about themselves, to shut themselves off from the love and affection of others like them. The psychological, spiritual and sociological consequences are predictable: Alienation, suicidal ideation, low self-esteem, self-doubt, self-loathing, loneliness, and ultimately, despair. And as a final kick in the pants, young gay men and women are expected to believe that this is what the God of love wants for them: A life of loneliness and pain and rejection and humiliation and shame.
Monstrous ignorance, from start to finish, as so many members of the gay community have painfully learned.
Read those words again:
It takes but six little words for Robertson to jump from "homosexual behavior" to "bestiality." As if they were so intrinsically linked, he couldn't mention one without the other.
This type of talk is so common among evangelicals as to be uninteresting. But that doesn't make it right. That doesn't redeem it from being what it is: Hate speech.
Hate speech is the use of words to demonize groups of people. Suggesting that two men who love each other is not at all different than a horny farmer raping his goat is demonization. It's a display of shocking ignorance and stupidity which has nothing to do with supposed Biblical teachings on sexuality and everything to do with bigotry and prejudice.
Many, many churches carry on a conversation about homosexuality without resorting to demonization and hate speech. It is possible to talk about religious beliefs on homosexuality without needlessly offending people. But the moment you stray from your beliefs and start talking about gay people as being no better than pedophiles or people who like to have sex with goats, you are no longer having a conversation on your religious beliefs: You are engaging in highly offensive exercise in ignorance and bigotry. And you can, and should, be made to face the consequences.
No one argues with Robertson's right to free speech and no one is suggesting that he is not entitled to his own religious beliefs. But when free speech turns into hate speech, and religious belief turns into ignorant demonization of others, there is a problem.
Hate speech leads to hate crimes. Gay people can and do get fired from their jobs. Some have had their children taken away from them. Gay and lesbian teens are kicked out of their homes and left to fend for themselves on the streets. Hate speech makes it easier for society to discriminate against gay people, take away their rights, violate their persons and property. Hardly what Jesus had in mind when he said we should do unto others what we would have done unto ourselves. This is not loving your neighbor as you love yourself.
That this hate speech wraps itself in Christianity does not give it the protection of freedom of religion. Your religious beliefs are protected, but your belief that homosexuality is somehow the same as necrophilia is not supported by the Bible (or any authority, including science or common sense). When you talk about homosexuality being the same as bestiality, you are not having a conversation on religious belief. You are being an ignorant bigot, and we have the right to be offended.