Are you familiar with the term ‘death rattle’ ?
“Moriarty rarely smiled, and then usually to terrify some poor victim. The first time I heard him laugh, I thought he had been struck by a deadly poison and the stutter escaping through his locked jaws was a death rattle.”
Those words are used by Kim Newman to describe the protagonist in her novel “Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles.”
“Death rattle” is what the medical community recognizes as the beginning of the end. It’s a gurgling sound produced by air passing through the air passages of a dying person as fluids build up in a patient who is too weak to clear the throat.
The death rattle is a clear sign that death is near. The sound being heard around the country as the barriers to marriage equality continue to fall is that of the anti-gay movement being “struck by a deadly poison and the stutter escaping through its locked jaw.” In other words, a death rattle.
Take for example the recent gurgling noises from the throat of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson. After using graphically obscene words to describe homosexuals, Robertson was asked by a GQ reporter to elaborate on his views about immoral behavior.
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” said the Duck. He compared homosexuals to people who engage in sex with animals. His words were the gurgling sound of a dying idea trying to clear itself through a duck’s throat.
All of this happened even as a federal court judge in conservative Utah ruled that the US Constitution provides equal protection for homosexuals and that the religious views of some cannot be a pretext for denying civil rights to others.
The death rattle was heard when a Cheyenne church showed the door to their Boy Scout troop because the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow gay youth to participate in scouting. The troop was chartered with the First Congregational Church more than half a century ago, in February of 1959. But that lengthy relationship meant little as a dying view of the world made one of its final desperate gasps.
Ironically, the church made its decision after the BSA partially reversed an earlier decision, which would have disallowed gay youth from joining a troop. That revised decision also sounded like a death rattle when it carved out a senseless exception for scout leaders. Based on anecdotes and disproved research, the Scouts said gay boys can join but gay adults cannot be scout leaders.
Then there is the spectacle of the Methodist church conducting a trial in which one of its ordained ministers was charged with violating church policy by performing his son’s wedding to another man. A church Bishop announced Rev. Frank Schaefer had been “defrocked.” She said, “As one church of Jesus Christ we must commit ourselves to engage in ongoing prayer and reflection, sensitive, peaceful dialogue and diligent study, so that we can better understand the needs and concerns of LGBT members and their broader community and so that we can more effectively and lovingly minister to all people in the name of Christ.” What?
Her words remind one of Professor Moriarty. “The stutter escaping through (her) locked jaws was a death rattle.”
The death rattle is sounded all the louder as this decision conflicts mightily with the theological teachings of the Methodist seminary I attended. The Iliff School of Theology teaches it’s the rules of the church, and not Rev. Schaefer, violating scripture.
The death rattle could be heard when Liz Cheney mixed political expediency with family relationships. Mary Cheney’s marriage to Heather Poe has outlasted Liz’s political ambitions. You know death is near for the anti-gay movement when the politics of homophobia begin to interfere with family values.
Prediction. Before 2014 is gone, the anti-gay movement in America will be dead.
The death rattle heard all over this land signals that its death is at hand. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.