I am a longtime reader of Chronicles, and of Chilton Williamson, Jr.’s column, as well as a couple of his books, and as such I was taken aback—shocked, actually—by the shrill, even hysterical tone of his column “Humanity Lite” (In Our Time, September).  He says that “Homosexual ‘marriage’ is insanity,” and a little later, “gay marriage is more perilous to the human race than global warming is.”  And frankly, this old, white, married-for-half-a-century (to the same woman) father of three, grandfather of six is at an utter loss to understand this hysteria.

A few doors up the street from our house live two men, older guys.  Both of them were at one time married to women, both have children and grandchildren, and now they are married [sic] to each other.  When California legalized gay marriage, they were among the first to take advantage of their newfound freedom.  We have lived as neighbors for more than 20 years.  They are ideal neighbors—quiet, helpful when necessary, and otherwise minding their own business—and what I cannot understand, indeed cannot hope to fathom, is how their relationship causes me—or Mr. Williamson—any harm whatsoever.

Please understand, this is not written to be confrontational, or challenging, or “anti-Christian,” or for any other reason than that I would very much like to understand how intelligent, thoughtful persons such as yourself and the other contributors to Chronicles can become so seemingly unhinged at something as simple as the relationship of my neighbors.  I truly cannot understand how my neighbors’ relationship poses any threat whatever to me, or the neighborhood, or the country, or to you.  I understand that it is different now—the old days of my youth, when we routinely belittled and mocked (and sometimes much worse) gay guys are (thankfully) gone forever.  But change is not always bad—and in this case I think it is all for the good.

I like to think of myself as reasonably open-minded, and if Mr. Williamson can explain how my neighbors constitute any kind of threat, I’m willing to listen, and even possibly to be convinced.

        —George Carney
San Gabriel, CA

Mr. Williamson Replies:

The fact that a man of Mr. Carney’s obvious honesty, decency, and superlative taste in literary journalism should find my remarks on homosexual “marriage” shocking demonstrates how subversive the Obergefell decision last June, and the concept of “gay marriage,” really are, while his reference to “hysteria” shows how shocking the forthright statement of plain truth has become in a dream world of illusion, propaganda, and mass-speak.  There is nothing “hysterical” about the word hysteria, bequeathed to us from the ancient Greek world of classical balance and philosophical sanity.  When I wrote that homosexual “marriage” is “insanity,” I was not reaching for the extreme term.  I was stating what I consider the clinical truth of the matter.

Having grown up in New York City around the time of the Stonewall riots, I am hardly shocked by the relationship in which Mr. Carney’s neighbors are living.  I am shocked that it should be accorded the legal status of marriage.  Marriage is a word invented to designate uniquely a human male and a human female in a sexual and social relationship with each other.  Two persons of the same sex cannot have a sexual relationship, because sexual relations are possible only between members of the opposite sexes.  When the word sex is applied to any other physical activity, abuse of language is added to abuse of biology.  When marriage is applied to any other social relationship, abuse of language is added to abuse of the divine order, what we call morality.  As a writer whose professional tools are words, the misuse of words disgusts and angers me.  As a citizen, it frightens me, as it frightened Orwell, because it threatens us all with unspecified but potentially terrible future harm, even though Mr. Carney isn’t aware of it yet.