Breaking Glass

Homophobia and Its Enemies

It is easy enough to criticize the postmodern approaches that have become orthodoxy in humanities departments over the last couple of decades, but if postmodernism has taught us anything of value, it is that we are prisoners of our language.  The words we use constrain the expression of our thoughts.  Since postmodern academics tend to be on the left or far left, they generally ignore what is probably the best single example of this phenomenon—namely, the changes in the English language that make it all but impossible to challenge the most extreme claims made for the legal and social status of homosexuality.  Supporters of “gay rights” have won, are winning, and will continue to win, and their victory can be epitomized by the brilliant success of one word: “homophobia.”

Let me illustrate with a hypothetical example, one that may not be hypothetical for much longer.  A state plans a sweeping package of gay-rights legislation, which would establish domestic-partner benefits; make civil unions equal to heterosexual marriages; permit gay adoptions; and vastly expand hate-crimes law to penalize any demonstration, remark, or writing deemed hostile to homosexual behavior.  The community is divided.  One activist—call him John—believes the measures are worthwhile and long overdue.  Another, David, has a much more ambiguous response.  Believing as he does in...

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