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Melting Cheney’s cold, cold heart

Dick Cheney concocted a bogus reason for war in Iraq and led his pliable president into turning his nation into an illegal torturer. Thus he was a monster.

He also believes, as he plainly expressed last week in answer to a question at the National Press Club, that gay people ought to be free to wed as they wish and that states ought to be allowed to permit gay people to marry each other.

One of out three is, well, better than zero out of three.

The sinister former vice president must have a soft side and it must be for his beloved younger daughter, Mary, a political operative who is a lesbian and lives with a lesbian partner with whom she parents a child.

Mary is a remarkable young woman, by which I mean a gay Republican. That would seem to be impossible, like a thriving newspaper or a drug-free home run king.

As for Dick, he seems to provide vivid evidence that bigotry, hatred and bias are byproducts of social ignorance and that familiarity systematically destroys them even in the coldest and hardest of hearts.

I’ve said before and say again: Shame and ridicule don’t work on bigotry and hatred. Familiarity and knowledge do.

Hatred and bigotry borne of ignorance are the only logical explanations for this emotionally entrenched opposition to any right by two people of gay sexual orientation to engage in their own blasted business and choose to marry each other.

People say it’s a sin, this male-male or female-female marriage. Whether it is or isn’t is irrelevant to the greater point, which is that we don’t legally forbid other things many people believe to be sinful.

We have legal drinking of alcoholic beverages. We have legal smoking. We have legal gambling. We have legal nakedness on the stage and big screen. We have legally permitted lyrics of a sexual explicit nature in our popular music. Yes, we have legal abortion. We have legal killing, both in war and as a form of punishment for criminality. We essentially have decriminalized possession of certain actually illegal drugs.

We say a gay marriage is an ill-advised union. Whether it is or it isn’t is irrelevant to the greater point, which is that we have ill-advised unions every day to which we stand idly by. Indeed about half the marital unions in our society will formally fail and even more than that are ill-advised and effectively failed.

People get married too young and do so legally. They get married without sufficient financial resources and do so legally. They get married to people who abuse them physically or emotionally or show clear signs of that proclivity, and they do so legally.

People stay married, and do so legally, only for financial reasons or only for the supposed sake of the kids or only because a religion that mostly fails them presumes to command them through the supposed aegis of God to stay married.

This tragic pattern of human behavior is especially prominent in the section of the country defined as red-state and in the Bible Belt, where the irony is rich. Despite the pervasive preaching about the sanctity of marriage and the condemnation of divorce, this region leads the nation in divorce rates.

Basically our prevailing attitude seems to be that we have enough trouble in our own marriages to worry about anybody else’s, except, that is, in the case of two people of the same gender who want to get married, at which point we invoke our ignorance, hatred and bigotry simply because we don’t like or approve of the way these people engage privately in their physically romantic entanglements.

Even Dick Cheney sees the hypocrisy and nonsense in that, which ought to signal that there’s hope for the even the meanest among us. The monstrous former vice president stands as a beacon of hope for what education can do.

John Brummett is an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and author of “High Wire,” a book about Bill Clinton’s first year as president. His e-mail address is jbrummett@ arkansasnews.com.

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