Phobias are serious business, and some must be fought. One driver spent years heroically overcoming her macrogephyrophobia, fear of big bridges. Some men suffer from pentheraphobia, fear of mothers-in-law, but mine is nice. I admit to nucleomituphobia, fear of nuclear weapons.
What are our national phobias? Theologicophobia and homolophobia, fear of theology and sermons, seem to be growing. Gamophobia and pedophobia, fear of marriage and children, are evident trends. Over the long term we appear to be oozing toward both eleutherophobia and hypengyophobia, fear of freedom and responsibility.
Before 9/11 I thought Islamophobia no more reasonable than omphalophobia, fear of belly buttons, but terrorism plus trips to Turkey and Ethiopia cured me of that. I visited church structures from centuries ago that were literally underground, because Christians needed to hide from murderous Muslims—and many in the Middle East today need new hiding places.
Until the past several years I thought homophobia was a propaganda word: Who would be afraid of gay folks, especially those down the street who fixed up their houses so nicely? But the scent of power has turned some aggressive, with the goal of firing football analysts, duck call patriarchs, and even Colorado cake bakers who refuse to bow to That Which Must Not Be Criticized.
Now, fear of individual homosexuals is still rare, but fear of the gay lobby is growing. Journalists twist reporting to avoid anything negative about homosexuality. For example, bloomberg.com last month ran one of the most extraordinary lead sentences ever: “Gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the U.S., mostly in men who have sex with men, a trend the government said is linked to inadequate testing among people stymied by homophobia and limited access to health care.”
Think about that. The news is that the rate of new gonorrhea and syphilis cases rose 4 and 11 percent in 2012 from the year before, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that the rise in the syphilis rate “is entirely attributable to men, particularly those who are gay or bisexual.”
You’d think a reporter might emphasize the way that particular sexual activities cause trouble. But no: We’re told the problem is that “having a sexually transmitted disease from having sex with another man is highly stigmatized.” Fact: “A November study from U.S. health officials found a 20 percent rise in unprotected sex among gay men.” Spin: Don’t decrease homosexual encounters, increase testing.
While the cultural success of the gay lobby distorts reporting, its political success is crushing Washington axioms like the separation of powers. The Obama administration through executive orders has consistently turned the 1.6 miles from the White House to the Capitol building into a 100-yard dash, but now it’s also abridging the distance from 1600 Pennsylvania to the U.S. Supreme Court’s home.
Last month the Obamaists ignored a Supreme Court decision, yet that astonishing move received little attention and provoked almost zero press consternation. The Supremes had said a federal judge in Utah overstepped his authority, so gay couples in that state who thought they were married really were not, pending a decision on Utah’s appeal of the judge’s ruling.
Yet, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that for purposes of federal law the Obama administration would recognize those same-sex “marriages” as lawful, and those couples would be able to file joint tax returns, sponsor for visas spouses who were not U.S. citizens, etc. When the executive branch can thumb its nose at the judicial branch and almost no one objects, that’s gay power—and I have tyrannophobia, fear of tyrants.
The forces that inspire Islamophobia and homophobia are opposed in the long run: Gays and lesbians have reason to fear Islam. Right now, though, each pressure group can benefit from the success of the other. As homosexuals redefine marriage, Muslims yearning for polygamy can draft after them like Tour de France bicyclists. As Muslims say Bible-based, truthful criticisms of their theology and repressive cultures are “hate speech,” gay leaders can draft after them.
How should journalists react? We need to be free of enissophobia, fear of criticism. We need to defend First Amendment freedoms: religion, press, speech, assembly. From our front-row seats at the circus, we should seize the opportunity to laugh at clowns and praise lion tamers.