Raining cats and dogs

A dog wearing a top hat, a cat wearing a pulled-back veil and holding a bouquet. The dog saying, “Then we said, ‘What the heck … if gays in Vermont can get married, why can’t we?'” And then the kicker – when the News Leader’s Jim McCloskey is pressed on what he was trying to say in the April 8 editorial cartoon, he offered up that “(s)ome might say that two members of the same sex getting married is as unnatural as dogs and cats getting together.”

Really, Jimbo?

“Jim McCloskey’s cartoon showing a cat and dog preparing to wed because gays in Vermont can now marry underscores the ignorance and fear that many have when it comes to the topic of same sex marriage,” Waynesboro author Elizabeth Massie wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Leader today, putting it about as well as it can be put from my vantagepoint.

Folks on the ultraright make that argument as the centerpiece to their case against gay marriage – that allowing gays and lesbians to enter into formal marriage relationships opens up the pandora’s box of relationships that would have to then be sanctioned, to the extreme including the relationships of adult pedophiles and child victims and even those who would want to bring legal sanction to bestiality-type relationships.

McCloskey got called on the carpet on this last week on his blog on the Leader website. “Comparing gays to cats and dogs is lame at best, and dehumanizing at worst. I am not gay, but I find this cartoon to be insulting anyway, and a pitifully weak commentary on this complicated issue,” a reader identified on the blog as RajIndia wrote. McCloskey responded: “That’s regretable (sic), RajIndia, because it wasn’t meant to be. The Cat-Dog analogy was used for its diametricly (sic) opposing differences, i.e. ‘fighting like cats and dogs, etc.’ As far as it being dehumanizing, I know folks who treats their dogs and cats better than most humans.”

“Jim, your reply to RajIndia: ‘The Cat-Dog analogy was used for its diametricly opposing differences, i.e. ‘fighting like cats and dogs, etc’ makes no sense at all. What does fighting like cats and dogs have to do with gay marriage? Your cartoon came across just as RajIndia stated, dehumanizing and insulting,” the reader Waynesborian wrote.

Later in the discussion, McCloskey clarified his view on gay marriage. “My definition of marriage is confined to the traditional sense of being between one man and one woman. I know others disagree with that definition, but I am tolerant of their views and am OK with that. It’s too bad some folks can’t accept that there are others that don’t agree with them,” he wrote.

Reader ckensington1 offered the right amount of perspective there: “I think that it’s easier to accept differences of opinion when they don’t involve civil rights.”

And that’s what this is, of course. Not fodder for a cartoonist’s portfolio, not something for a politician to use to whip the base into a frenzy, not a definition or opinion or view to be tolerated or agreed with. It’s people’s lives we’re talking about here.

I’ll take RajIndia’s comments about how insulting this whole thing is one step further. The cartoon itself was insulting; the bigoted thoughts expressed in its defense are a sad commentary on the author.


– Story by Chris Graham

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