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Lawrence O'Donnell on the UK's Marriage Equality Vote and the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: VIDEO

Odonnell

In a segment on The Last Word, Lawrence O'Donnell lauded the UK House of Commons vote this week to approve marriage equality, highlighting the story of Oscar Wilde, imprisoned for "gross indecency" for homosexuality 118 years ago, referencing a poem Wilde wrote while jailed there.

Said O'Donnell:

"Tonight in England, Oscar Wilde would not have to hide in clefts in the rocks and would not have to weep in secret valleys.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Can't watch it on my phone, but point taken. It's so easy to become blase (the e should have an accent) about something that's such common news now. I find myself just skipping stories that once were unthinkable. Along with Wilde we can count the likes of Turing and so many other non-famous people who paid savage prices for defying religious and social bigotry.

    What's amazing is how smoothly society has transitioned, in a very short time, to acceptance. We have no symbolic leaders like King or Susan Anthony, there have been no relentless backlashes like with the black civil rights marches. Our battles and accomplishments have been in less visible ways. But they've happened so quickly from a historical standpoint. I couldn't have imagined this when I was in high school. Gay culture, ideas and imagery simply didn't exist in "good" society.

    We still have a long, long way to go to defeat injustice and prejudice, in others as well as ourselves. We owe it to oursleves to acknowledge the suffering of so many brave people, famous or not, who faced injustice and lost.

    And celebrate the freedoms we are winning all over the globe.

    Posted by: stranded | Feb 8, 2013 8:32:10 PM


  2. Two Loves, which the quote "the love that dare not speak it's name" comes from, was written by Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, not Oscar Wilde. The letter Wilde wrote in prison was called "De Profundis".

    Posted by: graphicjack | Feb 8, 2013 8:35:52 PM


  3. We love Lawrence!

    Posted by: Jim | Feb 8, 2013 9:31:51 PM


  4. Richard Ellman's thick, deep and profoundly moving biography of Wilde is most effective, I think, when talking about what happened to Wilde after his release from prison for the unconscionable act of not being better at hiding his affection for a bigot's son. Wilde was deserted by virtually all the world that had so acclaimed him in his younger life. He was a ghost wandering shunned by his peers on the left bank of the Seine. And if Ellman is correct that Wilde died of a sexually transmitted disease, he presaged a generation of victims to a later plague, also suffering the ignominy of societal scorn for homosexual desire. But he was a great man, and the bigots around him, like the Lilliputians of Gulliver's travel, have done nothing but make him larger in death, even, than he had been in life.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Feb 8, 2013 10:10:25 PM


  5. The discrimination and pillory of openly gay people is still very much alive today. I accompanied my 65 YO openly gay neighbor to H&R Block today to complete his yearly taxes. He was terminated in June from his HUD (Federal) job after 28 years of dedicated service. The preparer was jovial and said he had hoped my friend left the government for bigger and better things. My friend explained that he had been repeatedly gay bashed by his superior in front of his co-workers, in meetings and privately for the last five years and when he filed a complaint of discrimination against the man HUD Legal was quick to defend the Federal superior. Our neighbor suddenly found he was terminated under the false allegation of failing to follow a direct order - an order that never existed on paper and could not be evidenced by HUD at trial.

    "They wouldn't dare do that in Government, would they? " asked the preparer, dumbfounded. Absolutely. Today there remains little to no protections for openly gay Federal employees. Up until 2005 any Federal employee (nationwide) who admitted publicly to being gay could have been fired, removed from Federal employment and banned from any further Federal employment for being "homosexual". Obama has changed that somewhat with an Executive Order protecting gay Federal workers but Congress has not and the Executive Order is seen by many Federal officials inside the Federal departments as little more than a stop-gap or speed bump. For they can always claim to order an employee to perform a questionable duty and in a catch-22 fashion have the employee fired for failing to follow an undocumented direct order. HUD officials didn't care that they would lose their case before a Federal judge because their own jobs are well protected and we the taxpayer pay millions in legal salaries for bevies of Federal lawyers to protect them.

    I know what you, dear readers, are thinking. They just wouldn't do that. And even if they did surely someone, some law or governing body would stop them. No one could be that cruel or heartless but the truth is - homophobic Federal officials (and employees) thrive in the employ of the Federal Government.

    Our neighbor appealed and the termination was overturned after months of expensive litigation and an 4-day trial where 8 HUD lawyers degraded and belittled my neighbor at every juncture. Federal employees who had witnessed the derogatory attacks were deftly dismissed from testifying because the threat of loss of their own Federal positions and if that wasn't enough the bevy of HUD lawyers relied on various Federal laws and statutes to keep them off the stand. Still, our neighbor presented 81 pieces of documented evidence and the court had no alternative but to overturn the termination order and grant him reinstatement rights but little good that has done.

    At 65 the chance of finding a position with any Federal agency is near nil. He has applied for more than two dozen positions with nothing to show but a "thank you for applying...". The court could not compensate him for the discriminatory acts even though an Executive Order is in place. Compensation can only be granted under Congressional law and there is no such law. Congress still believes gay people should not be employed by the Federal government much less protected by Federal law against discrimination in the Federal workplace. Obama did not include compensation for gay discrimination in his Executive Order.

    So you can see discriminating against openly gay citizens of good honorable standing is very much alive and well within our government. In fact, the Federal homophobes clap their little hands together in glee every time they can get a gay Federal co-worker marched out the agency door, pink slip in hand.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Feb 9, 2013 12:09:11 AM


  6. That was simply a beautiful tribute to the one of the worlds greatest whits, Mr. Wilde .. Alan Turing, another great thinker, who may have saved the UK from Germany was another man the crown destroyed for being gay . It's time England stopped destroying their greatest minds and embraced ALL it's peoples

    Posted by: MarkBoston | Feb 9, 2013 2:20:45 AM


  7. OS2, you have done an admirable job presenting the case for your friend. If you can possibly take it further, to the ACLU perhaps, do so for all of us. What you have made clear is outrageous and completely unsuspected.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Feb 9, 2013 3:23:43 AM


  8. Thanks Lawrence, that was a powerful piece.

    I have always admired Oscar Fingal O'Flaherty Wilde.
    That's why I have posted a pic of the Monument to Oscar in Dublin on my Blog page.

    And that's why once in Pere Lachaise Ceretry in Paris I stole some flowers from the grave of Chopin ( he had too many ) and put them on Oscar's incredibly beautiful tomb... (by Epstein).

    Thanks to Oscar and all who came after we now dare to speak and defend our love by name.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 9, 2013 7:02:54 AM


  9. Lawrence O'Donnell is a POS even if he is supportive of gay rights. Stop falling at the feet of anyone who says our name kindly. Lawrence O'Donnell despises most of you, not because you are gay but because you aren't simple minded idealists who think that we can drop our borders, shut down the military, and sing Kumbaya with Islamic terrorists who want to kill us all unless we submit to the will of Allah. Lawrence turns a blind eye to the reality of the attack on our culture and civil society from within, because the reality is in conflict with his philosophy. You see, Lawrence O'Donnell doesn't believe in bad people, which is probably why he supports us faeries. Faeries are good! But seriously, Lawrence O'Donnell, Rachel Maddow, Amy Goodman, Ezra "talk like a valley girl oh no you did-dint" Klein, and Ed Shultz are the people you should be watching. None of them support the US COnstitution. None of them support Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association, or the right to keep and bear arms. Why are these people the ones we turn to for media support?

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 9, 2013 7:19:35 AM


  10. Amy Goodman opposes freedom of speech? You are insane. In your world, did William O. Douglas oppose freedom of speech as well?

    Posted by: melvin | Feb 9, 2013 8:09:48 AM


  11. It's a good piece. The only thing that struck me as 'off' is that O'Donnell used Wilde's description of "The love that not dare not speak its name" as the love of an older man for a younger one, harkening back to Plato, Ancient Greece and Rome. Perhaps that's what Wilde's ideal was, and in any case his persecution and imprisonment was a shame, but isn't what the modern gay rights movement and marriage equality are about.

    Posted by: Caliban | Feb 9, 2013 10:34:23 AM


  12. Wilde was persecuted for being a gay man, something that was changed years ago. Marriage equality is a very different thing to the criminalisation of homosexuality and putting the two together shows he really doesn't understand the case AT ALL.

    Posted by: Isaak | Feb 9, 2013 11:50:27 AM


  13. David Hearne is a Republican troll.

    Lawrence O'Donnell, thank you for this wonderful segment.

    Posted by: Jay | Feb 9, 2013 11:55:24 AM


  14. Oh course they're related, Isaak. Wilde was sentenced to 2 years hard labor and Alan Turing was "chemically castrated" for being gay. In comparison, the UK is on the cusp of recognizing same-sex unions as equal in all ways to heterosexual marriage, a vast change from the hiding and crying Wilde wrote about.

    Posted by: Caliban | Feb 9, 2013 12:14:54 PM


  15. for those that couldn't already tell, "david hearne" is really Catherine Martin, and she's down in that well saying all the things her captors want her to say so she doesn't get the hose again.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Feb 9, 2013 4:08:28 PM


  16. Another moving and powerful Last Word from Mr O'Donnell!

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 9, 2013 4:10:26 PM


  17. It seems unlikely that Wilde would have made use of a same-sex marriage law. I don't think Bosie was in it for the long-term, and he seemed to enjoy the company of other young men on the side as well.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 9, 2013 4:49:40 PM


  18. Bosie was lucky. The prosecutor could have gone after him since he was as guilty as Wilde.

    Posted by: simon | Feb 9, 2013 5:40:59 PM


  19. @kiwi Mildly amusing.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Feb 9, 2013 11:59:17 PM


  20. @OS2GUY,

    Well said. And it's not just federal or public sector employees, it's employees / workers in general in America. American workers have insufficient rights under the law, especially employees at will. Federal workers at least have more rights, as do union workers. But most American worker, over 80%, are employee's at will, and whether most realize it or not [I don't think the vast majority do] can be fired at the pleasure of their employer, for no reason at all. Many people think they have far more legal rights under labor law than they really do, and it comes as a rude shock when stuff like what happened to this gentleman occur.

    I hope the gentleman makes out OK. That's a very rough position to be in at 65, even worse when your considered too old by many employers, yet too young by the government to collect SS.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 10, 2013 12:07:20 PM


  21. @ Jay & Little Kiwi, Why pick on one of your own?

    Lawrence is a respected straight ally and visible LGBT-positive person of faith but does that mean that everyone in favor of equality has to support him? David may be against the delicate sensibilities, consensual approach and sometimes effete nature of a bicoastal urban elite that Lawrence and most of the others represent. The fact it has been a reliable source of allies and across-the-board social justice activists doesn't automatically prove the superiority of all its features over the tougher terrain of the heartland. Does everyone have to pander to a stereotype of the "sensitive gay guy"? Is he not allowed to support other Republican policies? It's hard enough to be queer and take the heat from outside, without back-biting from liberal Democrats. In any case gay rights will be the mainstream position of both parties within 10 years- there just aren't the votes for the GOP to continue to fight it. How can talking about captors and hosings be anything but hateful?

    It seems as pointless to me as the in-fighting between minorities over "sellouts" who vote GOP or express rightwing opinions.

    Posted by: taxizumklo | Feb 12, 2013 2:30:07 AM


  22. This is a good show but who can challenge?

    Posted by: live games | Mar 18, 2013 9:36:39 AM


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