How the Republican Party is like the Catholic Church, Except It Isn’t, Except It Is

Vis-a-vis the Foley scandal, in an essay “How the Republican Party is like the Catholic Church” for the New Republic, Andrew Sullivan asks: “What is the closet, after all, if it isn’t the steadily crumbling facade of internal psychic damage?”

I ask: Does anyone actually edit the New Republic?

A facade is the outward, public face of something, so it can’t be “internal.” If it were, however, the fact that the damage was “crumbling” would be a good thing. Damage = bad, right?

The sentence comes from a passage designed to partially absolve Mark Foley for his behavior by blaming, in part, those who disapprove of homosexual activity:

Is it possible to feel sympathy for [Mark Foley]? I guess I felt a twinge of it, as I feel when any gay man is subjected to public scorn and anger. And I do not want to doubt that he may have been molested himself as a teen; or that he might have an addiction problem; or that he has a psyche damaged by decades of internalized homophobia. What is the closet, after all, if it isn’t the steadily crumbling facade of internal psychic damage?

The over-written phrase “steadily crumbling facade of internal psychic damage” serves to disguise the fuzzy thinking. Why, after all, should disapproval damage the psyche of a person who believes the disapproval is meritless? Make them mad or contemptuous; possibly. Crumble their facades, no.


But why think it over anyway, as Sullivan in his next paragraph tells us none of what he wrote in that one matters:

But, in the end, none of this matters. Foley is entitled to his weaknesses and his pathologies. He is not entitled to drag young people in his care into them.

Okay so far, except then Sullivan says it matters again:

The worst thing one can do to [teenage homosexual men] at such an impressionable age, I think, is to initiate them into the cycle of shame and denial that comes with the closet.

And it is back to blaming those who disapprove of homosexual activity again:

And it points to the obvious conclusion to this tawdry, depressing spectacle. There is something deeply sick about a Republican elite that is comfortable around gay people, dependent on gay people, staffed by gay people — and yet also rests on brutal exploitation of homophobia to win elections at the base. These public homophobes, just like the ones in the Vatican, may even tolerate gay misbehavior more readily than adjusted gay people do. If you treat gay sex in any form as a shameful secret to keep concealed, the line between adult, consensual contact and the sexual exploitation of the young may not seem so stark. That’s how someone like Speaker Dennis Hastert could have chosen not to know…

Got it everybody? External facades are internal, and damaging, but when the damage crumbles, that’s bad. And what Mark Foley did is the fault of people who think sex is for marriage, except it isn’t, except it is.

Everybody straight on that?

I thought not.

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