Let's not feed the outrage industry

So I was on Bob Bruce’s Radio Experience the other day. He asked me what bothers me most about the drive to clean out the Iowa Supreme Court.

My brain, such as it is, jammed with answers. I rambled on until it seemed best to stop. I’m not sure exactly what I said. This is common when you mix me with microphone.

Afterward, I thought about it some more.

And what bothers me most is that we’ve lost sight of how this saga started, and what it was about in the first place. It was about gay and lesbian Iowans who wanted civil marriage licenses, conveying the same sort of legal recognition on their families that many of us enjoy. They wanted the rights and privileges that come attached. They wanted the intangible pleasures of being hitched for real.

So they asked for licenses, and were denied under Iowa’s defense of marriage act. They turned to the courts, where questions of constitutional equity are settled. They won at the District Court level. Then, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that our government failed to make a compelling legal case for denying these couples equality.

Couples got married. The story could have ended there.

Instead, we’ve witnessed the swift fabrication of a vast industry of outrage, built with the clear intent of making us forget those couples and see this issue as being all about us. It’s all about our traditions and our marriages, our right to vote and our Constitution, our demands and our anger. It’s about activist judges and Republican politics and growing the influence of our most righteous crusaders.

A judicial retention drama was manufactured to sustain this industry, market its message and keep it profitable. Its leaders know that kicking David Wiggins off the Supreme Court has no impact on the legality of same-sex marriage. But it keeps their coffers full and names in the news.

They need that to achieve the main goal, and that is to use Iowa’s constitution to sever legal ties binding these Iowa families, deny civil rights to future couples and shove all of them back to the days when they lived as less than full citizens of their state. I’m convinced they won’t succeed. But outrage sells, so I don’t expect this factory to shut down any time soon.

You can vote any way you want, for any reason you want. It’s your right. But understand that a no vote will help sustain and grow this outrage industry. That bothers me. Maybe it bothers you.

n Comments: (319) 398-8452; todd.dorman@sourcemedia.net

Like what you're reading?

We make it easy to stay connected:

to our email newsletters
Download our free apps

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.