Kevin Myers has apparently decided that it has been too long since he was discussed in the Oireachtas and, accordingly, has kicked over the proverbial cradle with an article on gay marriage.
This isn’t the first time Mr Myers has courted publicity by seeking to shock; after all, who can forget his article about MoBs (Mothers-of-Bastards), which led to his public humiliation? There was a time when the calling card of Myers was to send up sacred cows in an incredibly offensive, excessive and hilarious manner, allow the public to howl and scream for a small while, then follow up his original article with a well-written and cogent explanation of his views, which tended to be articulate, intelligent and designed to capitalise on the increased and incensed audience available to him.
He appears to have ceased to write the follow-up articles.
When I first heard that Myers had written an incredibly offensive piece on gay marriage, I have to admit that I was looking forward being entertained by it. I do not read his work as often as I did in his Irish Times days, and so I expected wit and brimstone in equal measure.
Instead I was left reading an article that should never have been published in a national newspaper, not because it was controversial or offensive, but because it was, bluntly, dumb.
A word I never would have attributed to Myers before, and one I hate to use given its schoolyard tones; yet, it is the only word that really fits.
The focus of the article seems to have been intended to be either gay marriage or gay adoption, but instead it manages to hit on AIDS and sex-selective abortion, and, while on its merry way, touches tangentially (once burned, twice shy) on single mothers as well.
However, it should be noted that, ever the considerate gentleman, he does specify, àpropos to nothing, that he is not referring to paedophilia. In his article about gay adoption which decries the chances of two gay men adopting on the same terms as a straight couple and then uses AIDS as a justification.
The start of the article is relatively inoffensive, then the controversy begins when Myers starts to complain about Fianna Fail’s (after well-publicised shenanigans) recent conversion to supporters of gay marriage. It deepens as Myers enters into an uninspired whinge about gay adoption, devoid of anything original, witty or even erudite.
The fun only really begins when Myers equates the War in Vietnam with the Legalisation of Homosexuality, and claims that the death ratio between the two is 65,000 to 250,000 respectively. Myers manages this little display of mental acrobatics by attributing every death from the HIV epidemic to the legalisation of homosexuality. This doesn’t make sense.
Firstly, the death toll figures are from America, which only finished legalising homosexuality in 2003 with the case of Lawrence v. Texas, which legalised homosexuality in the last 14 states with sodomy laws. In total, 25 states have legalised homosexuality since 1990 meaning that it was still illegal in around half of America during the AIDS epidemic.
Secondly, merely having sodomy outlawed would not have prevented the AIDS crisis; to accomplish this, it would have been essential to have strict and effective enforcement of the laws as well. However, since sodomy is by its very nature normally a private crime, this presents a serious problem. Even though enforcement was tried and gay bars were frequently raided and homosexuals named and shamed, this had very little effect on the tragedy that occurred. The extent of the legal mechanisms needed to effectively and decisively reduce the incidence of sodomy on the scale needed to prevent the AIDS crisis ever occurring would have resulted in a gross and unacceptable intrusion into the lives of the general citizenry, both gay and straight.
Myers has fallen into the old trap of assuming that just because something is illegal, that means it will go away.
Thirdly, the stigma surrounding homosexuality, so incredibly prevalent at the time, is a large factor in the obscene death toll that resulted from the epidemic – how was society to notice, diagnose, highlight and fight a disease plaguing community that it refused to acknowledge?
Myers seems to suggest that had society been just a little more stringent, the death toll would have been less severe. However, I think the above would suggest that had the gay community been even more invisible when AIDS struck, it probably would have taken even longer for society to notice and confront the issue.
As to Myers final question on the issue, whether or not it was worth it, I would say yes, it was.
The death toll was not caused by acceptance of the gay community.
It was caused by ignorance, prejudice and averted eyes; the same phenomena that facilitated the epidemic of child sex abuse in Ireland.
But even if the AIDS crisis could have been avoided by persecuting the gay community, the movement that Myers decries has ended an oppression that lasted centuries, and which, with the aid of modern technology, will never be forgotten. Every generation from here onwards, about 5% of them will live happier, freer and more fulfilled lives than if Myers has had his way, and the clock been stopped.
Myers views in this article are extremely myopic. He effectively calls for the kind of governmental yobbery he pretends to dislike, and presents a misinterpretation of history that is erroneous, ridiculous and frankly, in a national paper, scandalous.