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Like Mooney himself, defeatmooney.com crosses the line

June 16, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

The pattern of a bully is pretty well defined. He will raise heck until someone hits him back, at which time he generally goes crying back to momma.

Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, is doing a lot of crying these days, over the Web site defeatmooney.com, which delivers a pretty solid punch to Mooney's stomach.

Actually, the punch might seem to a reasonable reader to be below the belt.

Money's photo is juxtaposed against one of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose red-baiting in the '50s destroyed a lot of good people's lives. It then takes him to task for "gay bashing and sexual bigotry" and concludes that "If we do not stand up to Senator Mooney's hate, then the homeless, the mentally ill, the elderly or (deja vu) the Jews might be next."

That strikes me as going over the line. There is plenty in Mooney's political career to take issue with, but he is not some Hitleresque monster.

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He is actually a fairly personable fellow who believes (I think) strongly in his ideals and his ideology. To imply that after he wipes gays from the face of the earth he will next go after the elderly and the Jews defies credibility.

Democrats in particular seem to have a thing for scare tactics. The elderly are told that if they vote Republican they will lose their Medicare and Social Security. Some very viable ideas, such as at least partial privatization of Social Security, never seem to get a fair hearing, because the elderly are told this is the first step toward curtailment of benefits.

To say, as the defeatmooney Web site does that "If you are Jewish, please take an observation of this man's actions and remember the phrase 'never again,'" is a shamefully wild swing.

Of course if Mooney truly feels scandalized by these pronouncements, he has only himself to blame. For four years now in his fund-raising literature, Mooney has made it sound as if gays are on the brink of storming our schools, restaurants and streets with the mission of converting everyone to a deviant way of life.

Mooney's own rhetoric has been no less outlandish than that of his opponents. Now he's finding out how it feels when someone matches you at your own game.

It's ironic, because while the website says that Mooney hates gays, and his own words would tend to back that claim, I seriously doubt that Mooney hates anybody.

For a career-minded politician such as Mooney, homosexuality is an exploitable issue, nothing more, nothing less. Gays are a no-brainer to hit against, because they represent a small percentage of the voting population and because in a conservative district there are lots of people out there who actually do hate (or are afraid of) gays and will vote accordingly.

"The gays are coming" is the social equivalent of "no new taxes." It's a no-brainer political boilerplate designed to win votes.

Politically, it's a smart move if you are willing to do anything to get elected. But as society changes, it's becoming more dangerous. As the stigma slowly ebbs, more people are willing to acknowledge that they live a different lifestyle.

And as more gays come out, more people will see that they are not monsters or predators, but nice, normal, productive people seeking peaceful and happy lives, just like everyone else.

Increasingly, people know and like someone who is gay. In this sense, sexual-preferance acceptance is likely to move along at a faster clip than has racial acceptance. You do not wake up one morning and discover that your son, your co-worker, or the person sitting next to you in the pew, is black. But every day people are discovering that someone they know or love is gay.

Then, your choice is to break relations with, or accept, that person. Overturning something you have believed all your life is hard. Cutting a friend or relative out of your life is harder.

In this war of words between Mooney and defeatmooney, neither side does itself proud, and both sides are in danger of stunting rather than promoting their causes.

With his anti-gay howling, Mooney energizes a significant group of volunteers who will work tirelessly for his defeat. He also turns off a lot of voters who know someone who is gay and know better than to believe Mooney's claims that gays are the scourge of the earth.

But by responding in kind with references to the Nazis, those behind defeatmooney only lend an unintended thread of credence to the "militant homosexuals" tag that Mooney so hysterically trumpets. I've never understood why a few gays believe that dressing in drag and marching at the head of a parade promotes acceptance. And I don't believe that calling attention to yourselves through fearmongering Web sites does much good either.

Certainly, Mooney can find more substantive issues that don't involve hysterically cutting down a minority group's ability to live in peace. And certainly those who oppose him can find plenty of grist in his voting record to criticize without resorting to equally hysterical claims.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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