Pity the staff at the Washington Post. Their compatriots at the New York or Los Angeles Times luxuriate in a sea of enlightenment, with blue state voters as far as the eye can see. But the Posties must live and work in uncomfortable proximity to Red State Virginia, with only the thin buffer of the Northern Virginia suburbs between them and the gun-toting snake handlers.
Every now and then the Post publishes the journalistic equivalent of an involuntary shudder at its plight. The latest was an Oct. 30 editorial excoriating Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP candidate for Virginia attorney general. What gave the Post the vapors are statements Cuccinelli made about homosexuality in an interview with the Norfolk-based Virginian-Pilot.
Cuccinelli said homosexual acts are "intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that . . . They don't comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society."
Heavens! The Post called this “ugly nonsense” and posited that Attorney General Cuccinelli “would be an embarrassment to Virginia.”
Nice that the paper is looking out for the Commonwealth’s reputation, as it has been all during the current campaign season in Virginia. Over the summer, the Post dug up Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell’s 20-yr-old masters thesis, which proved beyond doubt that McDonnell was a social conservative! The Post and McDonnell’s Democrat opponent, Creigh Deeds, flogged the Republican mercilessly with the thesis. McDonnell currently has a 17-point lead.
But the Post continues to try to save the Old Dominion from itself. “… let's call his comments what they are: bigotry,” the editorial thundered. “Appeals to ‘natural law’ and ‘intrinsic’ rights and wrongs were the usual cliches deployed to justify the old-time religion of hatred then directed at African Americans, Jews, Italians, Irish and other immigrants.”
Of course, if you asked those put-upon minorities back then what they thought of homosexual acts, you might just experience of some of that old-time religion. And many of their descendents aren’t quite as enlightened as the Post would want – given the chance last fall to grant the ‘intrinsic’ right for gays to marry, a majority of Californians just said no.
The editorial further worried that the job Cuccinelli seeks would allow him to put his “bizarre ideas” into practice. Never mind that “he says he would not ask job applicants to the 166-lawyer office about their sexuality, and his spokesman says openly gay employees would not be ‘rooted out’ and fired.” The Post wondered, “since he would be empowered to issue opinions on such questions, how would he regard such firings generally in state government, in which a 110,000-strong workforce undoubtedly includes thousands of homosexuals?” Well if he wouldn’t discriminate in his own department, why would he tolerate it in others?
It’s irrational. But you really can blame the Posties. Just a year after Virginia appeared to emerge from the Dark Ages by voting for Obama (the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to be so honored), the state GOP is poised to run the table in the November elections. Just when they thought their property values would be going up, there goes the neighborhood.
Congress passed a hate crimes amendment covering sexual orientation this week – something we can be sure the Posties approve of. But thoughts and beliefs still are not proscribed by the government (unless you were entertaining them while, say, beating someone with a tire iron). What bothers the Post is that someone still believes, whether for religious or philosophical reasons, in something that was unquestionable just a few decades ago.
Cuccinelli has a comfortable lead over his opponent, Steve Shannon, which must remind the Post of its exposed position on the frontier, frighteningly close to so many people who share, or are at least comfortable with, Cuccinelli’s heresy.