Is Gay Adoption a Benign Reality?

Deliberately bringing a child into the world without a father and exposing that child's moral formation to an atmosphere of homosexuality is a "benign reality," according to Ruth Marcus in the Washington PostMarcus was writing in praise of "Mary Cheney's pregnancy," only regretting that it hadn't occurred during the 2004 election cycle, when a "hugely pregnant" Cheney could have
"illustrated the clanging disconnect between the Republican Party's outmoded intolerance and the benign reality of gay families today."
Unfortunately, the Republican Party isn't as reactionary as Marcus supposes. Hasn't she noticed that it is happy to make mindless concessions to social liberals like her? After all, George Bush evidently considers gay adoption a benign reality too.  Quickly crying uncle to his glib questioners at People magazine, he predicted Mary Cheney will be a very good mother and "loving soul" to her child.

Bush's interest in the domestic culture war at this point is almost nil and his handling of it is certainly as questionable as his conduct of the Iraqi one. The rhetoric grows more and more depressingly empty: White House spokesmen rattle on about the danger foreign radicals pose to our "way of life" even as they watch, with fashionable passivity, domestic liberals damage it. Is there nobody at the White House who can bring themselves to say that gay adoption is bad for children?

What Bush calls a "loving" arrangement, morally serious conservatives used to call a form of child abuse. Cruelly placing children, sans fathers or mothers, into homosexual households is just one more sham moral innovation Republicans are content to soft-pedal.

What passes for moral enlightenment among the establishment is stunning. Did anybody notice that the impeccably enlightened Post-after assuring benighted Americans that gay adoption is not corrupting but positively good for children-ran a piece recently rationalizing pederasty? That, according to its Style Section, is a benign reality too. Staff writer Philip Kennicott broached the topic of "sex between adults and teens" in an essay titled "The Instructive Message of 'History Boys'".

According to Kennicott, the "e-mails and instant messages that then-Rep. Mark Foley sent to teenage male pages should have been a very minor story," compared to far more weighty issues such as imploding Iraq, "memories" of Hurricane Katrina or "stem cell research." Similarly, the pederasty-or as he hedgingly puts it, "minor sexual contact between a teacher and his students"-in Alan Bennett's play and new movie, The History Boys, is a mere "subplot" to which hysterically puritanical Americans are sure to overreact.

A "climate of fear about adolescent sexuality" exists in America, sighs Kennicott, and Americans just aren't as sophisticated as the British when it comes to pederasty: Bennett's play could not be "written in the United States during the age of programs such as NBC's 'To Catch a Predator' or fallout from the Foley scandal." (Kennicott calls "To Catch a Predator" a "scabrous program" that fails to appreciate the "larger continuum of the sexual interactions between adults and youth suggested by Bennett's play.")

Kennicott quotes Nick Hytner, the director of the film, on the harmlessness of teacher-teen sex:
"I think I've been criticized for not taking this seriously enough. I'm afraid I don't take that very seriously if they're 17 or 18. I think they are actually much wiser than Hector [The teacher who molests his students]. Hector is the child, not them."
Dressing up crude relativism as high-brow nuance, Kennicott laments that
"that acceptance of a gray area about sexuality involving late adolescents is all but impossible in this country,"
a country in which there exists a

"vigilance so strict that there is no room for exceptions of any sort, even if the abused are all-but adults and don't feel particularly victimized."
Even if the abused are all-but adults and don't feel particularly victimized. It is hard to imagine the Post running a sympathetic article about a teacher who gives willing students, say, cigarettes or even potato chips. But a movie about a teacher who gropes his male students? That is worthy of a Post Style Section essay on its "instructive message."

And what exactly is that instructive message? Distilled to its essence, the message is that if teens consent to their own corruption, if they accept pederasty in a spirit of empathy, then it is morally acceptable. Amidst all of his throat-clearing hedges, Kennicott even in passing suggests that teens are not always victims of gravely immoral adults but "prematurely sophisticated" seducers of them. He praises the teen characters in Bennett's movie as "preternaturally wise" for good-humoredly indulging their "flawed teacher's sexual desires." The students recognize their teacher as a type that is "often harmless" and show him an empathy befitting their status as "intellectually sophisticated" and "rarefied" members of posh British society.
"Their ability to negotiate, with grace and understanding, what would in almost every other context be considered sexual abuse is very much limited to the particulars of their social position...," writes Kennicott.
The establishment reads a piece like this and either yawns or applauds. It is perfectly willing to let the "gray areas" of which Kennicott speaks grow larger and larger to cover behavior formerly considered evil. The moral program of the establishment largely consists of mistreating children and calling it "progress."

But do children consider this progress? Some can be brainwashed into consenting to the arrangement, and certainly the establishment expends a lot of energy on the task, pressuring children to adopt all the properly positive attitudes about such issues as abortion, gay adoption, and in vitro fertilization. Yet as its various moral experiments percolate and bubble over, a few voices of dissent can be heard.

To somebody's credit over at the Post, a disgruntled child of artificial insemination was allowed to pipe up last Sunday and blurt out the obvious in the Outlook section: that the whole arrangement reflects deep selfishness on the part of adults and callous indifference to the welfare of children. "As long as these adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?" writes Katrina Clark.
"Not so. The children born of these transactions are people too...and we have something to say...We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion."
Clark notes the hypocrisy of adults craving a biological relationship to the point where they resort to technology while assuming that the "product" of these methods-children-don't themselves need biological roots:
"We offspring are recognizing the right that was stripped from us at birth-the right to know who both our parents are."
Being conceived under unnatural circumstances has made her in a sense a "freak," she says and wonders why self-indulgent adults don't consider the consequences of intentionally depriving children of their fathers:
"When I read some of the mothers' thoughts about their choice for conception, it made me feel degraded to nothing more than a vial of frozen sperm. It seemed to me that most of the mothers and donors give little thought to the feelings of the children who would result from their actions."
Now the establishment adds on top of these anomalies one more-gay adoption via technology. Imagine what this new class of semi-orphans, essentially created to serve as an accessory to gay life, will feel about the circumstances of their birth. Will they consider it a "benign reality"?

George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report.
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