What’s gay marriage got do with the June 9 bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley? Nothing. So naturally it’s becoming the central topic among our sensationalist, scandal-mongering national media.
What we have here is a repeat of what happened long ago to news coverage of national, international, and economic affairs. Most reporters and their editors are ill-equipped to deal with such issues and it’s very difficult to explain them to an increasingly unlettered public as education funds are slashed in order to give unnecessary assistance to one percenters. So reporters and commentators run around posing questions relating to “social” issues -- abortion, gay relationships and other topics that deal directly or indirectly with sex, which is always a hotter topic than the Federal Reserve’s long-term bond purchases.
And when we get national candidates like Sarah Palin, who knows plenty about reality TV but, as it turns out, thinks Queen Elizabeth II makes government policy in the United Kingdom, she brings the national conversation down to the level of underground salt deposits, much to the relief of your average “serious” journalist.
Back to Pacquiao. It all started when he allegedly told a blogger that he opposed gay marriage and went on to quote a passage in Leviticus that commands us to put men who lie with men to death. Next thing we knew they were talking about Nike divorcing itself from Pacquiao. And apparently a posh L.A. shopping mall banned Manny from its premises, putting a planned press event there in doubt. I say “apparently” because when you report this kind of stuff you have to deal with rumors flying around like poison Frisbees flung from members of the media-ocracy who do about as much fact-checking as a titmouse on steroids.
What we do know is that Pacquiao’s website, reacting to the media storm, released a statement in which he conceded that based on his reading of the bible, he does in fact oppose gay marriage but that no, he never referred to Leviticus and no, he never said and certainly never thought gay people ought to be put to death. Whew.
What complicates all this is the fact that prizefighter Pacquiao is also a Philippines congressman. Under normal circumstances we could expect him therefore to be playing to the electorate across the sea, not the American public. But Pacquiao was elected to a great extent because of his very distance from the turbulent political scene in his homeland. He speaks what’s on his mind without testing the sentiment among focus groups, and I expect his latest clarification is his honest reaction to all the furor.
Incidentally, if that shopping mall actually banned Pacquiao from the premises because it differs with his beliefs, that would raise questions about the mall directorate’s acquaintance with the law of the land regarding freedom of thought and expression.
Anyway, same-sex marriage has been banned in California since the passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008. Most residents opposed Prop 8 at the outset, but then out-of-state money, much of it from Utah, poured into a group calling itself Protect Marriage, which then poured it into scary TV ads that told voters California schoolteachers would have to start demanding their pupils engage in gay sex. Or something to that effect. Anyway, most voters said yes to the ban, which would mean if belief in gay marriage were in fact a shopping mall litmus test, the mall would have to ban a majority of the state’s voters.
Don’t you get a kick out of these people who say we have to “protect” marriage? They seem to think that if we allow men to marry men and women to marry women no one would be able to resist and it would kill heterosexual inclinations forever. Speaking for myself, I doubt it.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, I think Bradley is going to have a hard time earning respect for his punches from the stronger, faster Manny. But Bradley is a tough customer who doesn’t know how to lose, and I’m starting to really look forward to this. That reminds me. What does Bradley say about a woman’s right to choose?
This essay was adapted from a column in BoxingInsider.com entitled "How Same-Sex Marriage Affects Manny Pacquiao’s Footwork (Not at All)." It can be found at:
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