Sunday, May 29, 2005

Reality Check

It's always good to hear the voice of reason, especially after the endless venting of bile that was the 2004 Republican presidential campaign. Those of us who were struck, wearied, and finally deadened by the homophobic rhetoric of the American right, might be amused by Richard Davenport-Hines's review, in the 20 May Times Literary Supplement, of two books on same-sex marriage. (I know Davenport-Hines only from his biography of Auden, but the man clearly can write.)

Commenting on Michael Mello's Legalizing Gay Marriage (Temple UP), Davenport-Hines writes of the "entrenched animus against homosexuality that has characterized US state legislation": "Horrible examples of this prejudice, taken from the ranting of neo-con commentators and gleaned from the local newspapers of Vermont, bespatter every chapter. The cumulative effect of this outpouring of hatred – often supposedly legitimated by primitive interpretations of the Christian faith – is battering for the reader. Many Europeans will feel sullied by reading these foul ebullitions, will be shocked by their violence, and dismayed by the mass-psychology and ethical backwardness of a country where such violent, vehement and vindictive language is an acceptable part of daily political discourse."

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