October 05, 2010

A bit of a contrary position

As I'm sure all three of our readers have heard, Jim DeMint repeated his statements that openly gay people and sexually active unwed women should be banned from teaching.  There has been the expected, and not unfounded, reaction to this, with GOProud in particular stating that this is not a conservative position.

My reaction to all of this is basically "and"?  Look, I think DeMint's position is idiotic.  Sexuality should be irrelevant to teaching.  By the way, that includes saying that there should be more openly gay teachers as role models to kids.  In my perfect world, teachers are lovely asexual beings who have no discernible private life.  Yes, yes, that won't happen but I can dream.   

The reason that I'm not terribly offended is because this is a position with which I am familiar.  I was raised in the Evangelical Christian world and statements like DeMint's are the norm.  It's difficult for me to get all worked up about something that is part of the air I breathed.  Perhaps I should be more queer power and girl power about it but I simply can't.  Part of the reason why is because it is an intellectually consistent position.  If you believe that a teacher should not be representing a positive view of sexual activity outside of the bounds of marriage, then opposing both gay teachers and sexually active unmarried women makes sense.  You'll note, however, there is nothing stated about unmarried sexually active men.  I do not know if that's due to the difficulties of an obvious cue (ie pregnancy) or due to the fact that the vast majority of teachers are female.  At least credit DeMint for not going after only the gays.

As an aside, this position is part of what drives many in the Evangelical world to marry at what is now considered a young age.  I attended a religious college where the spring semester was known as engagement season.  Why?  Because it was incredibly difficult to find a job as a pastor, youth pastor, music minister, Christian school teacher or the like if you weren't married.  Actually, it was a bit harder on the men than the women, there's an interesting strain of viewing unattached single women as quasi-nuns in the Evangelical world.  Thus, there was a great deal of societal pressure to get engaged before graduation.  What's even more interesting is the shock and denial with which I was greeted when I pointed this out to various people.  It's a huge blind spot in parts of that world.  But I digress. 

The one part about that that I do find intriguing is how both sides are claiming that the other is not conservative.  This whole kerfuffle is coming on the heels of the Homocon/Ann Coulter mess wherein the accusation was made that it is impossible to be both queer and conservative.  A variant of that argument is now being made in reverse.  There are some, like GOProud, whose position is that DeMint's comments are not conservative as such a policy would require increased governmental interference in schools and private lives.  That is also an intellectually consistent position given a definition of conservatism that is based around limited government.  If one is using a definition of conservatism that is centered on social positions, then DeMint's position is actually the conservative choice.

The various Purity arguments that have been raging over the last month or so all come down to arguments over definition.  There seems to be this drive to make there be One True Definition of Conservative and all others be gone.  I do not subscribe to that theory.  I believe there is room for a spectrum of conservative thought.  I do appreciate knowing what definition someone is using before engaging his/her arguments as that saves a great deal of time down the line.  But I'm not willing to shove people out of the conservative movement simply because they think that I don't belong there.  If I demand that people accept that I can be both queer and conservative, then I must extend the same tolerance to their belief that I am, well, going to Hell.  Note also that I'm using tolerance in the actual meaning of the term, see re: the end of Lemmiwinks in South Park for the best explanation of this.  My position boils down to this - so long as the greater objectives of attempting to return to a limited government are agreed upon, then we'll fight about the rest later. 

So, yes, I'm not going to go to eleven on DeMint for this.  I can see why others will but, for me, there's nothing either shocking or interesting in what he had to say. 

Posted by: alexthechick at 10:23 AM | Comments (25) | Add Comment
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