The offending poster (LifeSiteNews)
Providence College (PC) is a small Dominican college in Rhode Island. Michael Smalanskas, a student at PC, put up a poster defending the Roman Catholic understanding of marriage, which did not express fear, hatred, or even disapproval of anyone. The local LGBTQ+ alliance began a campaign of harassment against him, including a threat of anal rape.
Philosophy professor, and advisor to the student gay group. Dr. Christopher Arroyo announced a march against “every sign of unjust discrimination towards LGBTQ* members of the Friar Family.” (e-mail to the Providence College faculty, March 16, 2018. my emphasis) Michael was even advised to prove that he was not a homophobe by joining the march against himself.
Belatedly, after much protest by faculty, students, and alumni, the President of the College affirmed Catholic teaching about marriage and condemned the threats against Michael.
In 2016 Anthony Esolen, a distinguished Dante scholar and dynamic teacher, criticized the cult of diversity and was subjected to a campaign of vilification, by the President of Providence College among others, serious enough to cause him to leave the College..
A gay man, a woman, or a transperson who put up a stupid or offensive poster would face criticism, but if he or she were threatened with rape the campus would have been outraged, and the protestors would have done everything possible to distance themselves from the threat. If anyone but a straight white man had invoked a Catholic doctrine, say that homophobia is a sin, there would be no serious consequences.
My aim here is not to single out PC, but to call attention to a phenomenon widespread in our world. If it can happen at PC, it can happen anywhere.
As recently as 2003, male homosexual practices were illegal in some American jurisdictions. The gay movement with remarkable speed transformed a right to live their own lives unmolested into a right to coerce the rest of us into approving, or as the current phrase has it, affirming, their way of life. And lesbians and transpeople not to mention non-binaries (who claim to be neither male nor female) have matched their gay male comrades stride for stride. Only pedophiles and some extreme sexual oddities are remaining in the closet.
The LBGTQ+ movement has marginalized ex-gays, gay people who prefer to remain in the closet, gay celibates, believers in Platonic love, practicing homosexuals who find gay marriage undesirable, and the many gay people who are not political, at least in this sort of way.
In the midst of all this lies an “alternative fact”, or to put it more kindly, a partisan myth. The gay group at PC is named after Matthew Shepard, whose horrific death, supposedly at the hands of “redneck” homophobes, shocked America and changed its laws.
Now a different truth is emerging, sad, sordid, and in no sense a story of gay martyrdom.
The usual response, “Some of my best friends are gay” is irrelevant. Enriching friendships between gay (or bi) and straight men are possible, but cannot be demanded.
Gay men, lesbians, and so forth are entitled to kindness, to justice, or to mercy depending upon the situation. But we are here dealing with politics. And niceness is not a virtue when confronted with unreasonable demands.
We ought not to hate homosexuals – or anyone else, even pedophile priests. But we have every reason to fear homofascism, and other forms of minority-based fascism: They pave the way for a more powerful, and therefore more virulent, majority-based fascism.
Philip E. Devine is Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at Providence College, Rhode Island.