Monday, June 21, 2010

The usual hullabaloo

So, last week Thomas Peters blogged something negative about the D.C. Macy's store's gay marriage themes in its storefront wedding advertisements.

Andrew Sullivan reacted in his usual way (no, not the "Sarah Palin's baby is really Laura Bush's extramarital love child with secret paramour Karl Rove!" way, but the "call everybody I disagree with about gay sex a 'Christianist' and pretend that the Catholic Church's teaching on the intrinsic grave sinfulness of homosexual sex acts is just exactly like the Taliban's tendency to crash planes into buildings and otherwise seek to murder everybody they disagree with" way.) Leaving the disturbing Freudian analytical potentials aside, Sullivan's 'Christianist!' epithet has moved way beyond tiresome into downright silly, making his various claims about baby Trig's parentage seem almost thoughtful by comparison.

Patrick Archbold writes about the teapot-tempest here:

Peter’s simple remark that “DC would be a hard place to raise kids. I’m beginning to think that’s more and more the case, especially if you live near the Macy’s,” has garnered him all kinds of rebukes including Andrew Sullivan boringly charging him with “best American Taliban template for bigotry.”

Oh please. Peters rightly responds to the all the hubbub by saying, and I paraphrase, “Duh, I am Catholic.” [...]

Rather than dive into the subject of the absurdity of gay marriage, let’s look at this display from a business perspective.

It is inarguable that the percentage of self-identified gay people is rather small. Experts suggest that it is somewhere around four percent of the population. That is a pretty small market segment but why not target it? Perhaps because the majority of people actually oppose gay marriage. In fact, in every state in which gay marriage has come before the electorate it has been defeated, sometimes with very large majorities.

How does it make good business sense to target a population of less than four percent while risking alienating the large majority of potential Macy’s shoppers? It doesn’t. I would call it a bad business decision but we all know this decision has nothing to do with business. [Link in original--E.M.]

Patrick's take is a good one--except for one thing. The Wedding-Industrial Complex, which wants to sell every American on the idea that it's just not even worth moving beyond cohabitation if you can't afford Your Dream Wedding (average cost: $30,000 and rising), is all for gay-marriage. It's a huge untapped potential market, after all. This article from last year noted that the wedding industry could grow by sixteen billion dollars if all 50 states legalized gay marriage--and that estimate was made in 2004 by Forbes; the numbers could be higher by now.

So there's a lot of money for Macy's to make by "betting" on gay marriage, considering that like most traditional department stores, Macy's makes a percentage of its annual revenue around bridal registries and the gift purchases they drive. If they alienate their actual weekly-Mass-going, educated enough to understand Church teaching on gay marriage and to accept it fully Catholic customers in the meantime--well, those six or eight couples probably wouldn't have shopped at Macy's in the first place.

I only wish I were kidding.

Truth is, businesses like Macy's have nothing to lose by showing ads featuring women clasping hands with other women, or men with other men. If Macy's could make money pushing polygamy, they'd probably show happy "Big Love" style groups, too, the women all dressed in identical and expensive wedding gowns with the tuxedo-clad man beaming in the center. If Macy's could make money promoting incest--well, but let's just not go there.

So in the end, this situation is nothing but the usual hullabaloo--a Catholic pointing out rather mildly that ads featuring same-sex "married" couples are pretty distasteful to Catholics, and someone on the same-sex "marriage" side acting as though such statements are outrageous and bigoted instead of--well, Catholic. But with D.C. now a "same-sex 'marriage' zone," Catholic's rights to express our disagreement with the idea that a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, can in any real sense of the word be said to be married without changing the historical and legal definition of the word is probably on the way out, just like it has been in Massachusetts and every other place that has legalized same-sex "marriage."

1 comment:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I do think that the biggest difference between, on the one hand, the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and your own Archbishop Chaput, and, on the other hand, the Taliban, is that the former group haven't a hope of exercising temporal coercive power in the name of their doctrines, no matter how their hands itch to hold such power, so they wisely do what they can with the tools they have.

That doesn't mean that anyone who quietly voices their heartfelt belief that gay marriage is sinful is the next Osama bin Laden. IF anyone seriously suggests that married gay couples should be buried up to their necks and stoned to death, THAT will be a good analogy to the Taliban. Meantime, some churches teach that it is a sin to drink alcohol, some churches teach that it is a sin to act on homosexual impulses, some churches teach that it is a sin to eat the flesh of pigs, and none of that is bigotry. Not until you kill your neighbor and burn their house down for failing to obey your precepts.