Frank Rich is a long-time columnist for The New York Times. As a former drama critic, he’s no stranger to the stage and certainly knows how to stir the pot. He once referred to the Passion of the Christ film as “a porn movie, replete with slo-mo climaxes and pounding music for the money shots.”
Mr. Rich has been a frequent critic of evangelical Christianity. Focus on the Family has born the brunt of his sharp pen several times, but as an opinion columnist, he gets paid to share his perspective, and that’s part of what makes America great.
But as the old saying goes, a person may be entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to (make up) their facts.
To point, there is a sharp debate raging these days in some circles about Mr. Rich’s labeling David Blankenhorn a “bigot” – not once, but three times – for his vocal support of marriage. Mr. Blankenhorn is the founder and president of the Institute for American Values, a private, nonpartisan organization that’s dedicated to renewing marriage and family life, and he writes on the importance of mothers and fathers for children.
What makes Mr. Rich’s attacks so curious is that David Blankenhorn is widely considered a “progressive”. According to my friend, Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy:
David is not a movement conservative. He’s not a political conservative at all, in my judgment; I consider him both a dear friend and a stalwart pro-marriage liberal. This is why he cares so much about what the New York Times writes about him, and why he is appealing to its editors to do the right and fair thing. He believes in the New York Times.
David Blankenhorn — who not only supports federal civil unions but tells conservative audiences (I’ve been there and seen it) that he believes in the “equal dignity of homosexual love” — is beyond the pale in polite liberal society. (To their credit, gay conservatives Dale Carpenter and Jonathan Rauch have defended him.)
Mrs. Gallagher, with her signature laser-like clarity, goes on to make a dramatically important point about what the same-sex marriage issue portends for all of us who believe mothers and fathers raising their kids together is a special and important human value. She also points out that since our opponents have over-reached so dramatically with nasty name-calling, we’d be smart to capitalize on the opportunity.
When they say you are a bigot, comparable to those who opposed interracial marriage, if you think marriage is the union of husband and wife, believe them. They say it because they think it’s true. The movement goal is to use the power of law to help reshape the culture, as was done for race. Those who didn’t realize this in 2003 will start acting that way in 2010, because framing ideas have consequences…
But I will not volunteer to live in a world where an idea as good and reasonable as ‘to make a marriage you need a husband and wife’ gets treated as a radioactive proposition that you need to ‘pay some price’ in order to express.” Marriage deserves its unique status, because these are the only unions that can make new life and connect children in love to their mother and father. On that ground, I will stand or fall.
I hope David is able to blaze a trail, to get the New York Times to respond, to win some validation that there is something really wrong with a world where a respectable writer at a respectable paper can slander him in this way, not once but three times.
But what actually defines a bigot? According to Webster’s, a bigot is:
“…a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”
Based on the facts, Mr. Blankenhorn is clearly no bigot; even his many critics have ceded the fact that he argues with respect and tolerance.
So, let me ask you: Does Mr. Rich owe Mr. Blankenhorn an apology?
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