New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he won’t be attending the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because the parade does not let gay organizations march under their own banners.
The statement made the news, though it was not likely de Blasio’s intention to do so. He mentioned it in response to a question at a news conference he had called to announce the appointment of a deputy mayor. But the press likes controversy over cultural issues a lot more than rudimentary announcements of mayoral appointments, so there you have it.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade does not outlaw gays. There’s no marshal on Fifth Avenue with a Shamrock Gaydar device pulling alleged homosexuals out of the parade. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The AOH is religiously Catholic and since the Catholic Church, like almost every other major religion, considers homosexual acts sinful, it doesn’t want openly gay groups marching under their own banner.
I agree that the Ancient Order of Hibernians should allow gay Irish groups to march in the parade under their own banner, or at least give them the same consideration they would give to any other Irish group. I’m all for gays, lesbians and any and every other designation under the expanding LGBT nomenclature being treated equally under the law and given full respect and dignity.
But the Hibernians have the right to be as ancient as they like in their attitudes and parade policies. The parade even avoids certain city regulations because the parade predates the American Revolution. I would love to divorce Irish culture from Catholicism and put it on a more secular, nationalist bent. But it’s their parade and they can run it as they choose. Likewise, organizers of the gay pride parade can decide they don’t want Irish or Catholic gays marching under their own banner. That’s their right.
De Blasio is being consistent with his refusal to march in the main parade; he didn’t march as a councilman or as Public Advocate for the same reasons. But this consistency is now a problem. He’s not a councilman or the Public Advocate anymore. The job description changes when you are mayor. Mayors represent the entire city and to get drawn into battles over ethnic parades should be beneath them. Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican mayor who was pro-gay rights and first legalized same-sex unions in the city, marched in every St. Patrick’s Day parade as mayor.
I’m also curious as to how consistently political figures who avoid the mainstream St. Patrick’s Day parade are with their insistence on inclusion. There’s a Muslim Day Parade and other overtly religious parades that may also disapprove of gays. If they don’t have an openly gay group among their marchers, are they verboten also?
Taking the activist left position on everything only paints you into a corner. Though to be fair, there was an effort to convince the Mayor to ban city workers from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in their uniforms and de Blasio didn’t take that left turn to crazyville.
By avoiding the St. Patrick’s Day parade, de Blasio doesn’t stand to change anything but lower his own standing. Lots of New Yorkers, Irish or otherwise, will look at him not as a more liberal-minded manager but as the white David Dinkins, involving himself in a well-tread skirmish in an old and tired battle.
The gay community is a collective rainbow huff over the movie “Ender’s Game” because Orson Scott Card, the author of the novel on which the movie is based, holds conservative views on gay marriage and homosexuality. Lots of gays refuse to see the film and some have organized boycotts.
I have not read the book or seen the movie, but I understand it to be science fiction and that it does not overtly or metaphorically address any gay rights issues. It was written decades ago before issues of gay rights were as ubiquitous in our public discourse as they are today. The author is indeed outspoken against gay marriage and gay rights etc.
People are welcome to boycott any film or book for any reason, but there’s one important element I think that the boycotters are missing. That is: Enjoying a work of art is not an endorsement of the political views of the artist.
I’m all in favor of gay marriage and treating gays equally under the law in all relevant respects, but it’s not something I’m going to let get in the way of reading a book or seeing a movie.
You are free to decide what you want to see or read based on the political views of the creators. But at some point you are going to paint yourself into a corner. You will at some point find yourself patronizing the work of an artist with whom you disagree vehemently.
And even if Card penned a violent homophobic screed that called for some kind of lavender holocaust, reading it or watching it doesn’t mean you agree with it. Everyone should be willing to challenge themselves and purposely seek out opposing viewpoints in art, politics, religion and all aspects of life. If we can’t listen to the opposition, we can’t form our own arguments thoughtfully.
But let us also enjoy art for art’s sake. If “Ender’s Game” is a shitty book and movie, let it fail on its own merits, not because you hate the religious or political view of the author.
I was disappointed to learn Pablo Picasso was a communist and Louis-Ferdinand Céline was a fascist. It broke my heart to see ZZ Top play the George W. Bush inauguration and to read about Julianne Moore shilling for illegal immigration amnesty. Should I boycott all the works of these artists? No. I disagree with them but my patronage of their work is not an endorsement of their views.
The case of Alec Baldwin, a bona fide leftist who recently issued a mea culpa for calling a reporter a “cocksucking fag,” scrambled the minds of the powers that be at MSNBC, which suspended his TV show for the offense. But no matter how disgusted you are with him for whatever reason, you can’t deny his acting skills. Does watching his films mean you endorse his leftism or his gay slurs or his unique (gay) marriage of the two? No. You can watch “Glengarry Glenn Ross” guilt-free no matter what your political persuasion.
An artist’s goal is to make art that is powerful enough that it can overcome and outlast the foibles of the artist. Only time will tell. Did Robert Johnson approve of homosexuality? Did Nathaniel Hawthorne believe in equality between the races? Those questions are completely irrelevant to those men’s contributions to the world.
At some point art and politics must go their separate ways. Whatever your politics, can we least agree that one of the biggest sins of all is limiting your intake of art?