David Brooks and America’s Braindead Lack of Nuance

2 Apr

David Brooks on Same Sex Marriage

“Marriage is one of those institutions — along with religion and military service — that restricts freedom. Marriage is about making a commitment that binds you for decades to come. It narrows your options on how you will spend your time, money and attention.

Whether they understood it or not, the gays and lesbians represented at the court committed themselves to a certain agenda.”

Whoa whoa whoa! Whether they understood it or not? Are you saying that you don’t believe Edith Windsor, the woman at the center of DOMA, doesn’t understand marriage as an institution? She was with her partner for 40 years. How long has David Brooks been with his chosen life unit?

“And far from being baffled by this attempt to use state power to restrict individual choice, most Americans seem to be applauding it. Once, gay culture was erroneously associated with bathhouses and nightclubs. Now, the gay and lesbian rights movement is associated with marriage and military service. Once the movement was associated with self-sacrifice, it was bound to become popular.”

Here’s where things get really messy, you see, it wasn’t an erroneous thing for gay culture to be associated with bathhouse and nightclubs. Gays did hang out at bathhouses and nightclubs, that is, some gays. You see, David Brooks, you and your ilk are not the only people in the world who have nuance. Brown people have nuance, gay people have nuance, and those bathhouses and nightclubs were a very real thing for a lot of gay people who had no other options.

Brooks is speaking to a large audience of well-meaning people who see his point. Theirs is an unfortunate side-effect of ages and ages of bizarre normalization, unfortunately, it’s like radiation seeping into their brains emanating from horrible plot devices, tv shows, and dumb articles. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of fictional stories and caricatures that David Brooks sees gay culture as this large amorphous blob, a teeming crowd of mostly promiscuous people evolving from cocksuckers to monogamous married folk.


This is America’s Braindead Lack of Nuance; the belief that your concerns and your problems are multi-faceted complex things, but other people, and by turn their problems, are just very very simple. It’s a view that erases whole populations and it’s deeply disrespectful.


Consider how powerful our prejudices are that even an “intellectual” of Brooks stature doesn’t understand that there are different types of gay people. Consider that Brooks doesn’t understand that gays who are fighting for marriage are not necessarily the ones who went to bathhouses, they aren’t necessarily the ones who valued polyamory and free love, they’re still around. Consider that it never enters into David Brooks’ consciousness that there are older gay people in relationships that could tell him a thing or two about devotion.

It’s a sad thing to read about in the NY Times, but thankfully it no longer affects the gay community, it’s just sad of David Brooks.


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