WASHINGTON, DC—The Family Leader letter that tea party fave Michele Bachmann signed is more about holding the line against the encroachment of the "gay agenda" and marriage outside the “norm” than it is about eradicating pornography. Porn is—of course!—an evil subtext to all the other ills that beset us, so it goes without saying that it would be included in a screed that seeks to clarify what is acceptable to social conservatives in a presidential candidate and what is not, but it is only mentioned twice in the letter, and in ways that may (or may not) surprise some of the true believers.
What the letter really attempts to do is encapsulate the world view and overriding concerns of social conservatives. And, as Bachmann and her fellow conservative culture warriors, former Senator Rick Santorum (who also signed the letter) and Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind), have made abundantly clear in innumerable statements over the years, the national issues they and their followers really care about are the ones that they believe undermine the family and marriage. Problems related to the economy are noted, especially with respect to the debt, but they are framed more as a result of the country’s fall from grace than as a source of the problem.
Indeed, their priorities could not be clearer; every problem in dire need of fixing flows from the “debasement” of marriage, as the following bullet point contained in the letter makes painfully evident:
“Social protections, especially for women and children, have been evaporating as we have collectively ‘debased the currency’ of marriage," the letter reads. "This debasement continues as a function of adultery; ‘quickie divorce;’ physical and verbal spousal abuse; non-committal co-habitation; pervasive infidelity and “unwed cheating” among celebrities, sports figures and politicians; anti-scientific bias which holds, in complete absence of empirical proof, that non-heterosexual inclinations are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color; as well as anti-scientific bias which holds, against all empirical evidence, that homosexual behavior in particular, and sexual promiscuity in general, optimizes individual or public health.” (Somebody claimed that homosexuality "optimizes" individual or public health? When did that happen???)
While this sort of unequivocal language should be one more clarion call to progressives that their enemies are playing for keeps, Bachmann will hypocritically attempt to placate those who accuse her of wanting to engineer society at the federal level by appealing to a states' rights position. Let each state decide how far it wants to go in preventing its citizens from having access to [name your debasement], she will argue, while signing pledges that promise the opposite.
As ABC News noted, “Bachmann’s support of a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage conflicts with previous comments she has made, in which she has said she would not interfere with states that have legalized same-sex marriage.”
During the CNN debate in June, she said, “I do believe in the 10th Amendment and I do believe in self-determination for the states. I'm running for the presidency of the United States. And I don't see that it's the role of a president to go into states and interfere with their state laws.”
That statement may seem to conflict with her signing of a letter that paints homosexuality as a choice and a health risk, but such inconsistency has never been a problem for Republican candidates who need to square their campaign positions with the official party platform, which is usually to the right of Attila the Hun. The point, of course, is to deliver unambiguous code to the true believers while pulling enough wool over the eyes of independents to get elected.
As far as pornography is concerned, it is mentioned in the context of the letter signer’s pledge to “honor and to cherish, to defend and to uphold, the Institution of Marriage as only between one man and one woman. I vow to do so through my:
“Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy—our next generation of American children—from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”
The notably religious author of the letter is, however, palpably aware of the inherent frailties of the human soul, and probably more to the point, the weaknesses of many of the politicians being courted to sign it. Which must be why he included a “forgiveness clause” [my term] that is more or less hidden in one of the many source references that support the idiotic contentions made in the letter.
The one in question (#9) elaborates on the pledge to practice “Personal fidelity to my spouse,” and reads:
“As applicable if married now, wed in the future, or whenever interacting with another’s spouse, a person of the opposite sex or of personal attraction. No signer herein claims to be without past wrongdoing, including that of adultery. Yet going forward, each hereby vows fidelity to his or her marital vows, to his or her spouse, to all strictures and commandments against adultery, and to resist the lure of pornography destructive to marital intimacy.” [Italics and bold added]
Without that caveat, need it be mentioned that Newt Gingrich, to name but one sullied pol, would be unable to sign the pledge in good faith, assuming he is even interested in doing so? (Whoever said these people don’t take care of their own? Forgiveness is always available as long as you promise to stick to the straight and narrow in the future.)
The only other mention of pornography in the letter has to do with child pornography and trafficking. In sum, the porn references could lead one to conclude that Michele Bachmann would support a total ban on pornography, but it is doubtful that she will expend much if any campaign energy stumping for such a prohibition. If she were to become president, there might come a time when she speaks in favor of outlawing porn, but again, such a hamhanded approach is unlikely. There are better, more subtle ways to do the job.
Porn, after all, is a symtomatic evil of a much larger societal ill that can be cured only by a return to a long-lost paternalism. The reality is that the letter writer is a dyed-in-the-wool misogynist who believes that women and kids need to be protected from “all forms of pornography and prostitution,” but that men simply need to “resist” the temptation. When they fall, they will be scolded, but then forgiven quickly and sent back into battle.
What should also be noted is that in creating separate levels of sexual independence for men, women and children, the author has envisioned a world view that is closer to the Sharia Law they condemn in the form of a pledge to reject "Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control.”
No one should be surprised that seeds of confusion are sown in the author’s rejection of Sharia. The rabid right wing simply cannot make up its mind which it hates more, gays and uncontrollable women or Islamists. So, instead of fashioning a coherent world view, it creates instead a hodgepodge of intolerant views that conveniently ignore the absurd contradictions found therein. One sublime example of this is the reference to a famous First Amendment Supreme Court case in a footnote (#12) to the pledge to vigorously oppose “any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage.”
The footnote reads, “Justice Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas holds that laws against such things as bigamy/polygamy, prostitution, bestiality, adult incest—customs historically rejected within the United States—may become Constitutionally-inevitable under U.S. Supreme Court logic which could be used to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act and laws, in the overwhelming majority of states, against so-called same-sex marriage and near-equivalents. This is particularly problematic with regard to polygamy, a demographic and strategic means for the advancement of Sharia Islamist misogyny, for attacks upon the rights of women, for the violent persecution of homosexuals, for the undermining of basic human rights, and for general religious and civil intolerance for Jewish, Christian and other non-Islamic faiths under Sharia law.”
When the Christian misogynists start calling out the Islamic misogynists, you know a presidential election must be right around the corner.
Both Bachmann and Santorum have had to backpedal a bit with the letter because if its opening bullet point in support of the covenant of traditional marriage that cited slavery as an institution more likely to provide a child with a stable family unit that modern family:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President. 3
The cited source material is a study by academics Lorraine Blackman, Obie Clayton, Norval Glenn, Linda Malone-Colon, and Alex Roberts, titled “The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans: A Comprehensive Literature Review,” published by the Institute for American Values in 2005. Unfortunately for the author of the letter, the study does not actually support the above claim. The Family Leader has since removed the passage about slavery, and Bachmann and Santorum have had to do some damage control.