EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the March 28, 2005, issue of National Review.
“Heteronormative”: There’s a word to add to your vocabulary. Very, very soon you’ll be hearing it a lot.
On February 26, Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of Hollywood star Will Smith, sparked a fierce little controversy at Harvard after receiving an award. In her thank-you speech, Pinkett Smith told the story of her life. She described how she had grown up as the child of two teenage heroin addicts and overcome adversity to build a successful career and a happy marriage. She concluded:
“Women, you can have it all–a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career. They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. You can do whatever it is you want. All you have to do is want it.”
What could possibly be offensive about this message?
According to a complaint issued by the Harvard Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance, as reported by the Harvard Crimson, Pinkett Smith’s words “implied that standard sexual relationships are only between males and females.” “Our position is that the comments weren’t homophobic, but the content was specific to male-female relationships,” said one of the Alliance’s co-chairs. The other added: “I don’t think [Pinkett Smith] meant to be offensive, but I just don’t think she was that thoughtful.”
The organizers of the award ceremony agreed to apologize for the offensive remarks. PC silliness from an out-of-the-mainstream campus? Possibly. But then there’s this: On March 3, the Boston Globe took Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to task for “insisting that every child ‘has a right to a mother and a father . . . ‘” In today’s context, the Globe argued, praise for the traditional family can be understood only as “ignorance” or “mean-spirited politics.”
And finally, this: Prodded by its famously high-handed courts, Canada is now amending its laws to accommodate same-sex marriage. The province of Ontario has passed a law deleting the words “wife,” “husband,” “widow,” and “widower” from every statute in which they appear. The federal same-sex-marriage bill now before the parliament voids the term “natural parent” wherever it occurs in Canadian law and replaces it with the term “legal parent.” Should the federal bill pass, motherhood and fatherhood will have been deprived of all juridical meaning in Canada–and children will belong to any adult or group of adults to which the state may wish to assign them.
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