When I read that expression, “professionally offended,” in David Harsanyi’s column, I first thought he would be writing about those gay marriage advocates who readily dismiss supporters of traditional marriage as “haters.”Â But, he was actually commenting on a recent cartoon in the New York Post:
It’s a discredit to our national confidence that each time some impolite thought â€” perceived or otherwise â€” is uttered, sketched or typed, a faction of professionally offended Americans engage in a collective hyper-sensitivity meltdown.
It has been a long-standing custom for opponents to shut down debate by tagging an adversary with some dreadful label. No one wants to be called a racist, a commie or a neocon.
Or a hater.
It seems that’s the strategy of gay marriage advocates, particularly given Sean Penn’s harangue at the Oscars.Â They want to shame people into supporting gay marriage, not necessarily because it’s a good thing, but because they believe anyone who doesn’t favor “full equality” (whatever that means) for gay people must necessarily be a bad person.
Perhaps, I’m just comparing the two because my friend Dale Carpenter (one of the most thoughtful advocates of gay marriage) just e-mailed the link to a column of his that I had recently read in draft form.Â And his wise words were in my mind when I followed Glenn’s link to Harsanyi’s column.
More sympathetic to the “No on 8” campaign than most have been, Dale observes that those trying to defeat the ballot initiative, “were trying to overcome deeply embedded views about something Americans think is the foundation of responsible family life.”
That line really hit home to me.Â It gets at at the essence of the opposition to same-sex marriage.Â And it is important that advocates of same-sex marriage, like Dale, acknowledge that simple truth rather than let themselves become easily offended by opposition to the social change they favor.
Most advocates of traditional marriage have strongly held views about the meaning of that institution.Â It’s not that they hate gay people.Â It’s that they see gender difference at the heart of marriage.Â And those who disagree with that interpretation should not let themselves be so readily offended by a heart-felt difference of opinion.