They’re Just Making Stuff Up
April 16th, 2013
Anthony Esolen is a literature professor at Providence College, a Catholic school in Rhode Island. He’s joined NOM as “the latest addition to the Ruth Institute Circle of Experts” and, well, he’s not off to a good start.
His first contribution is a long, meandering complaint that lust is bad and dominating our culture, while romantic love is good but on the wane. Esolen goes on and on, writing sentence after sentence, each more vague, transcendent, and floppy than the last, until finally you wonder if he’s an actual English professor or just a fictional creation meant to parody one. Here’s a sample:
Beasts copulate; but men and women are meant to marry. They perform the marital act; they know, when they unite in that act, that it is, or it ought to be, the seal of a love that, to quote another of Shakespeare’s sonnets, “bears it out even to the edge of doom.” We are the creatures aware of time, and oriented toward eternity. We know that the act of marriage brings into the bond of love the past generations, whose history we bear in our loins, and the present, and the future, in the child that may be born of the act. We cannot copulate! We cannot forget, when we unite, that we are doing what our parents did…
And I had to stop there because it’s just too funny. It’s a mark of how bad Anthony Esolen’s writing is, this unintended statement that whenever he has sex he can’t stop thinking about his parents (wasn’t there a Friends episode about that?). And, of course, the exclamation point in “We cannot copulate!”
He gives us nearly 1500 words of this, but the very beginning is what really sets me off:
Several weeks ago, Saint Valentine’s Day at my school came and went. There was no dance. There was no concert. There was no ice cream social. There was no party for trading little gifts. There was no showing of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon or Marty or Goodbye, Mr. Chips or Casablanca. There were no foolish and innocent flirtations on the way to class.
I can believe — though I heartily doubt — Esolen went to the trouble of confirming there was no dance, no concert, no ice cream social, no special screening. I do have to wonder how he determined no one threw a party to trade little gifts (though between that and the ice cream social, it sounds like he’s confusing young adults celebrating their love with second-graders in homeroom).
I draw the line, however, at believing there was nobody flirted with anybody on their way to class. That’s when I realized: Anthony Esolen has nothing to say. He’s just sitting at his desk, making crap up. Perhaps he meant this as a poetic flourish or hyperbole, but if so it’s bad poetic flourish and lame hyperbole.
I guess this is trivial, but it’s also symptomatic of a bigger problem: The anti-gay movement in general has nothing left to say. They’re left with meaningless rhetoric or outright lies — as when their attorney at the Supreme Court argued DOMA wasn’t borne out of anti-gay animus, but simply a desire to standardize marriage law across states, or just the other day when NOM falsely claimed once again that the Regnerus and Sirota studies were about same-sex parenting.
If I’ve grown more snarky lately (and I have) it’s because our opponents have stopped giving us red meat to chew over. It’s all cotton candy from them now. Just wave your hand through it and you’re left with nothing but a stickly, sickly mess.