At Public Discourse this week, Anthony Esolen, in the name of fatherless boys, takes bitter aim at the Philadelphia City Council, taxes, the War on Poverty, the modern YMCA, trade union bosses, crummy public schools, feminism, contemporary music, vice, parasitism, anti-religious bigotry, sexual innovations, and, in general and most vehemently, the “Left.” Let’s just say, the man has a world view. Some parts of it I find convincing; the world view itself I find brittle, angry, and deeply unattractive.
Esolen’s point of departure is the Boy Scouts — an organization that I’ve known, studied, and admired for years. Esolen strongly endorses the Boy Scouts policy — now being re-examined by the organization — of excluding gays. He gives his reason:
The Boy Scouts retain the commonsense notion that it is not wise to bring boys into close quarters with men who are sexually attracted to boys, regardless of whether they act on those attractions.
That proposition caught my eye: It is unwise for society to allow men with same-sex attractions to be in close proximity to boys, regardless of how the men act. That is certainly food for thought. Leaving the Scouts aside for a moment, let us begin to reckon some of the ways that our world would be different, if that policy were a general policy.
For starters, a good number of male teachers would have to quit their profession, or never consider entering it in the first place – including, as I look back, several quite good teachers that I had as a young person in the South in the 1960s and early 1970s. A small price to pay, Esolen might say, when the issue at stake is fatherless boys.
To take another example, I suspect that the impact on the Christian clergy would be significant — including, as I look back, on some of the wonderful Catholic priests that I knew and admired as a teenager and young adult (including in Esolen’s town of Philadelphia). I don’t know how many Catholic priests there are in the world, and of that total, how many have same-sex attractions but do not act on them, but I would guess that the number is non-trivial, and that therefore the impact of Esolen’s proposed policy on his own Church would, if implemented, end up as somewhere between important and cataclysmic.
One more example, this one less potentially world-historical, but meaningful to me. I have a close friend who for many years was a famous dancer at a famous ballet company. Now he teaches young dancers. He’s very good at it. I guess he too would have to find another way to make a living, were Esolen’s proposed policy to be, or become, a general policy.
Now, for Esolen, this policy is self-evidently wise – why? Because he cares about fatherless boys in inner city Philadelphia whose lives are being wiped out by trade union bosses, taxes, the modern YMCA, working mothers, and the entire “Left,” up to and including gay people doing things that put them into contact with children. As I say, the man has a world view.