Some time back I made the joke that David Quinn was the Irish Independent’s John Waters, and John Waters was the Irish Times’s David Quinn. That joke isn’t funny any more, if it was ever funny in the first place. The reason it is not funny is that it is not true, because it depends on an analogy, and the analogy no longer holds water, because whilst the newspapers differ substantially in terms of tone, presentation and vantage point, the content produced by the writers is identical save for a few cosmetic differences. And both happen to write for the Irish Catholic. So to tell the joke now is like observing that the closest thing a rabbit gets to a carrot is a carrot.
Anyway, whilst I used to focus on them with some degree of regularity for the more arcane purposes of this blog, I stopped, since if I ever want to know what the right-wing propaganda unit (lay division) of the Catholic church is thinking, all I need to do, like De Valera, is look into the dark recesses of my own heart.
That said, the matter of cross-subsidised media commentary entered my mind this morning. Last night on Prime Time there was someone called Rory Gillen, a let’s-be-reasonable spokesman for the don’t-lets-be-beastly-to-the-bond-traders constituency, who spoke on the question of NAMA. Said individual, of whom I had never heard previous to yesterday, had an article published in the Irish Times on precisely the same topic. And then David Quinn was on, talking about gay marriage. Today he has an article in the Irish Independent that repeats the same points he was making last night. Now I don’t think there is anything worth saying with regard to cross-subsidised media commentary that can’t be subsumed under the more general topic of how news media is awful. So I wanted to make a point about Quinn’s references to the ‘gay lobby’ and the ‘gay agenda’.
‘Gay lobby’ and ‘gay agenda’ to my mind suggest phenomena whose basis for existence is essence de teh ghey.
In common parlance there is lots of talk of lobbies in relation to government, for special interests related to oil, tobacco, cars, healthcare, construction, banking, and so on.
Generally, these lobbies are perceived as exercising a malign influence on democratic government, since their accumulated financial power translates into the power to directly influence political decisions made by legislators, thereby diminishing the power of citizens to do the same.
So many people might instinctively understand lobbies as antithetical to the needs and concerns of citizens. This is important when reading about a ‘gay lobby’: it sets up the idea of associations militating against the needs and concerns of citizens with regard to how the state should function, when in reality the people who might be said to comprise such associations are simply demanding a form of equal treatment for all citizens: that there should be no discrimination.
‘Agenda’ is one of these words that cannot help but sound sinister when used with regard to politics. It is as though there were something wrong with having a list of items you want to see addressed, as if politics should ideally happen without having to do anything unseemly like make a demand. So not only is ‘the gay agenda’ infused with essence de teh ghey: it is just downright rude, to say nothing about subversive.
But not only that: essence de teh ghey even has a corrupting influence on the meaning of the word agenda. Hitherto understood as a list of specific points or to be addressed, the gay predicate supplies agenda with subversive agentic power:
Therefore, marriage between a man and a woman deserves special treatment.
The gay agenda completely turns this view on its head. [what, special treatment deserves marriage between a man and a woman? – HG]
It says there is nothing special about heterosexual marriage and there is nothing advantageous in having a loving, married mother and father.
It insists that two men or two women will do just as well.
This is what the gay agenda does.
It persuades us that children have no need of a mother and father and no right to a mother and father, even in theory.
Whatever ‘the gay agenda’ is, I must admit that the essence de the ghey has been effective in persuading me. There is nothing special about heterosexual marriage. Indeed, many people in what Quinn terms ‘heterosexual marriages’ will gladly attest that there is nothing particularly heterosexual about marriage for the most part, which is to say, in terms of how people live their lives, heterosexuality is hardly the defining characteristic of the marriage.
Also, I am fully persuaded that children have no need of a mother and father and no right to a mother and father, since one cannot have a generic mother or father: one can only have one’s own parents, whom one may need or not, depending on the nature of the parents. Unfortunately that does not always work out for the best: there are no guarantees in this regard. Furthermore, it make doesn’t sense even to talk about rights ‘even in theory’. Either you have the right or you don’t: it’s a bit like being pregnant. Take the right to life. What’s the point of me recognising you have the right to life ‘in theory’ if in practice I am going to drop a piano on your head from a great height? But let’s say you had the right to a mother and father. What would that mean? It could only ever mean that you’d have the right to your own parents. It wouldn’t mean you’d have the right to parents conforming to certain characteristics, like a heartbeat, a healthy bank account and a heterosexually monogamous, religiously observant persuasion. Well, at least not in reality, but maybe in the eyes of the Catholic Church you would.