Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Candidate uses head as battering ram

   "I know nothing except the fact of my own ignorance." — Socrates

    At his next U.S. Senate debate, should Craig James pledge to Socrates' humble oath, I'll change my opinion of him. 

    At the expectation that, should James read this and rush to his Bible, I've beaten him to it, and to 1 Peter: 

    "Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance."

    At a debate of Republican challengers to represent Texas in Kay Bailey Hutchison's soon-to-be-vacated seat, James, former SMU and NFL ball carrier, longtime ESPN talking head, denounced fellow Republican candidate and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert for participating in a gay rights parade.

     You'll see no such display from Craig James. At the debate, he called homosexuality "a choice," and said that gays and lesbians "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions."

    Say this for James: While too many of his peers suffer now from too many head injuries, his calculating political brain has not calcified. He is absolutely certain to get votes for this — from absolutely certain voters who'd never be swayed by anything approximating evidence of what they speak.

    This is not a discourse about what makes a gay person gay.

    I don't know what does that. Nor does James.

    This is what Socrates was talking about: admitting you know nothing, yea though you talk a good game. Understandably, the Greek empire knew best to nip that kind of talk.

    My take on gay people, I acknowledge, is pretty simplistic and unresearched — unlike the caverns of data-collated certitude James clearly has tapped.

    Results of my unscientific study: Basically, all the gay people I've known have been just like all the other people I've known with the exception of sexual orientation.

    That means a whole lot of them are the best people I've known, and I do so hope to know many more, because the results of my research thus far have been encouraging.

     Gay marriage? In these days of splintered homes and general alienation, it's odd that anyone would have to make the case for monogamy and commitment on any basis, even if, as Rick Santorum worries, it involves a dude and a boa constrictor. May they live happily entwined, I say.

    As actress Anne Hathaway ruminates on the increasingly successful state-by-state push for same-sex marriage: "Love is an emotional experience, not a political statement."

    Of course, politics is an emotional experience as well, and that means playing to one group's passions to marginalize other groups, whether they be the poor, the dark-skinned, the Mexican, the Muslim, the single woman making an excruciating decision, the fill-in-the-blank.

    Agreeing with Socrates about what it is that we can't know, most of what's contained in Craig James' Bible would imply hardship before one's maker if one sought to make whole swaths of humanity feel horrible for what they are.

     It's remarkable to think that one could benefit politically from saying things of which one has no knowledge, particularly if they are fiction. Then again, I don't know. James could be right. Most people who gain their bearings between the tackles are right on most things.

    As a football hero and a talking head, James knows he has a leg up on many opponents who would suffer from their lack of field vision.

    Ex-Mayor Leppert, for instance, was trapped in his office making buses run and trying to keep police and minorities happy. Similarly, in appearing at a gay rights parade, he was trying to represent a city of diversity in ways he thought wise.

     What a strategic error. Was he not using his head?

     Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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