In the early nineties, a disgruntled group of anti-abortion activists in Oregon decided to shift gears, and the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance rose to influence trying to compel the state to exclude homosexuals from societal participation; the ballot measure was so broadly worded that a “gay panic defense” would succeed in any question of murdering a homosexual or suspected homosexual, because prosecutors would be forbidden from not condemning homosexuality as “abnormal, perverse, and wrong”. While some of us frequently joke that marriage equality owes much to such merry bands of stooges insofar as they moved the question of gay rights to the fore as no gay rights activist possibly could, it was a grave time that even saw homophobes resort to terrorism.
Which is telling. But the aspect we might consider today is a persistent one: Why is the idea of consent as relates to sexual intercourse so irrelevant to the conservative political outlook?
I’m sorry, is that a harsh question?
Deal with it. We’ve been hearing this sort of talk for decades.
The latest manifestation comes from Rep. Don Young (R-AK):
At a Wasilla High School assembly Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Don Young didn’t temper his notoriously abrasive personality for his young audience.
Numerous witnesses say Young, 81, acted in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage.
Then again, this is Don Young. The octagenarian congressman has a penchant for bigoted gaffes.
Which, in turn, says something about the virtues and values along the Last Frontier.
But here is the functional problem: This is part of a long-running rhetorical bit whereby social conservatives aim for comedic style points. The problem here is that in winning the debate on style points, conservatives are (A) dehumanizing their opponents, and (B) erasing sexual consent.
Think about it: When was the last time we heard bovines debating affirmative consent, or even whether no means no? Does a bull buy the cow—or, by Young’s argument, the other bull—dinner, first? Perhaps most disturbing is the idea that Young might know what pillow talk and seduction sounds like in bovisexual quarters.
And as apathy toward consent goes, we might also note the Alaskan At Large is hardly the most concerning. George W. Bush appointed a judge to the Eleventh Circuit named William Pryor. And as Alabama Attorney General, he filed an amicus brief while the Supreme Court heard Lawrence v. Texas, and argued that if homosexual intercourse became legal, states would have to legalize child rape.
You see, in these bigots’ minds, there is no difference between two consenting adults enjoying themselves and each other, and raping a child, or, you know, cattle having sex.
And it’s true that after hearing this sort of excrement for decades, one might recall their father saying something like, “That’s not the sort of person I would let be around my children.” Unfortunately, that umbrella would seem to cover most Republicans.
Meanwhile, and though it is of no comfort, we should probably also remember that Young won over sixty-five percent of the vote in Alaska, where sexual consent doesn’t really mean much, anyway.
Hollander, Zaz. “Young rattles Wasilla High students with ‘hurtful’ remark about suicide”. Alaska Dispatch News. 21 October 2014.