A lot has been made about how shameful and embarrassing it is that a gay soldier stationed in Iraq was booed during the GOP presidential candidates’ debate last night in Orlando, Florida.
That’s fair. It would be shameful and embarrassing for an American audience to boo a soldier who was putting his life at risk for others — an act which is the highest form of love, according to Jesus Christ.
But is that really what happened?
That is certainly the story many in the media want to tell about it. Here is the version I heard driving through Kansas City traffic this morning:
“So here’s this guy, right, this soldier, and he calls up from Iraq and says he’s gay, and asks what the candidates’ position is on guys like him. And the audience totally boos him! This soldier is over in Iraq for them, and they boo him! Unbelievable!”
But, alas, that’s not what happened. Watch the video.
1. For one thing, the audience didn’t boo. A couple of people booed, from what it sounds like. Those people should not have booed. But the fact that they did is hardly a national scandal.
2. For another thing, the soldier didn’t ask the candidates’ positions on gays in the military. He said: “Under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”
That is an extremely contentious, loaded way to put the question. It assumes that the repeal of the current law, which military manuals call “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass” is progress, and that those who believe otherwise aren’t interested in continuing the Democratic process but “circumventing” it.
So, while it would not be okay to boo Stephen Hill for being gay, as the Catechism makes crystal clear, it is not clear that his sexual orientation was the reason for even the few boos he received.
Hill’s question was meant to create heat, not light. The fact that his words did what he intended is probably no great surprise to him — and it shouldn’t be to us, either.