The heebie-jeebies; or, crossing the line (I of II)

Regular readers know I’m a pretty vocal critic of Jerry Kirksey’s editorial judgment at the Singing News. Still, even I wasn’t prepared for something Kirksey wrote in his October “Perspective” column. If you blink at the right time or tend to skim, you might have missed it, so let’s have the full sentence first, from roughly the middle of his column (which is not up on the website yet): “We as a nation must banish abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, substance abuse, pornography, adultery, and sex and violence as a form of entertainment and much more.” This may seem like a pretty standard laundry list of political red meat for fundamentalists, and it is mostly. Except for that bit about banishing not just same-sex marriage but also homosexuality itself. Whoa. Banishing same-sex marriage and all the other things Kirskey mentions makes sense in this context, but when is the last time you heard a conservative, even a fundamentalist Christian one, not just condemning homosexuality and calling for a ban on same-sex marriage, but for banishing homosexuality? This is a pretty hefty claim with some serious real-life consequences for real human beings far beyond the effects of a same-sex marriage ban, so I want to be clear. “To banish” means, in current usage, to require by authority to leave a country, to drive out or remove from a home or dwelling place, to clear away, or to expel. I realize Kirskey may well be operating on the standard “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality of many evangelical fundamentalists toward gay people, and so believes that someone who self-identifies as gay or homosexual can and should be “cured” by so-called ex-gay ceremonies and “therapy” like the one Kirk Talley wrote about earlier this year. But obviously this “therapeutic” approach can only happen when the gay or homosexual person agrees to undergo it. Submission to the ex-gay process is voluntary. This is not what Kirksey is talking about. He says that “we as a nation” should vote in ways that, among other things, banish homosexuality … that is, legally, by law, with the force of the state and all its attendant powers. You can condemn homosexuality on the strongest possible Biblical and moral terms and still be very bothered by this statement. At best, Kirksey implies that the state ought to be able to punish and ban a way of life that is, no matter one’s opinion of it, legal (protected now with the same constitutional safeguards as, say, religious freedom, however odious that may be to many people). At worst, for people who don’t believe sexuality is programmable (and so, for gay people who would refuse to be subjected to bogus regimes of sexual reconstruction), this talk of banishing things “as a nation” strongly suggests that homosexuals ought to be officially and systematically removed from their homes and exiled to some unnamed leper’s colony, since this would be the only way to “banish” homosexuality in cases where gay people refused to be “de-gayed.” Is this really what Kirskey mean? Is he actually endorsing legal banishment of homosexuality? Does he realize how, once enacted, a precedent like this could cut both ways? Or is he just that careless with the words he uses?

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