- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2000

'In the crosshairs'

"As I've stood in the crosshairs of those who want to shoot down our Second Amendment freedoms, I have realized that I'm not the only target, and firearms are not the only issue.

"What is at stake is much bigger than firearms or any one man. A cultural war is raging across our land, storming our values, assaulting our freedoms, and killing our self-confidence in who we are and what we believe… .

"With an unrelenting barrage of criticism, Americans have been assaulted and robbed of the courage of their convictions. Our pride in who we are, and what we believe, has been ridiculed, ransacked and plundered.

"And the result is a willingness to tolerate the erosion of our freedom. Any time a citizen of the United States of America, arguably the freest people on this earth, is shamed into silence because he or she embraces a view at odds with cultural elitists, that citizen has been taken 'captive.' His freedom has been curtailed."

Charlton Heston, from his new book, "The Courage to Be Free"

Facing the truth

"If you grew up in the 1970s, then you remember a time when the very phrase 'staying together for the sake of the children' sounded hopelessly Victorian.

"Unhappily married couples, so the thinking went, were doing their children a favor by divorcing… . Dish-hurling, name-calling parents were bad for kids, sure, but so were repressed parents who lingered in tepid marriages under the misguided assumption that a mother and father together were always better than either alone.

"Divorce was a crisis from which children would quickly bounce back.

"For years, this notion hung on more or less unassailed in dinner-party wisdom, psychological textbooks and sitcoms. Only in the last decade or so has it begun to seem more self-serving than truthful and for this dawning recognition we owe a great deal to the work of psychologist Judith Wallerstein.

"She, more than anyone else, has made us face the truth that a divorce can free one or both parents to start a new and more hopeful life and still hurt their children… .

"[In her new book, 'The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce'] Wallerstein concludes that 'contrary to what we have long thought, the major impact of divorce does not occur during childhood or adolescence. Rather, it rises in adulthood as serious romantic relationships move center stage.' "

Margaret Talbot, writing on "The Price of Divorce," in Sunday's New York Times Book Review

Gay TV

"[T]oday, in 2000 A.D. (After DeGeneres), gay characters are so common on television, so unexotic, that their sexual orientation has become all but invisible to most viewers.

"It is, in a sense, the ultimate sign of acceptance: Gays, like blacks and single moms before them, are now allowed to be every bit as boring (or smart or stupid or ruthless or whatever) as anybody else on TV… .

"This year, as NBC rewards two-year-old 'Will & Grace' by moving it to its Must See Thursday-night lineup … Fox will be introducing 'Normal, Ohio,' starring John Goodman as a gay dad. CBS, meanwhile, is working on two new gay-themed sitcoms … as well as a series that will bring Ellen [DeGeneres] herself back to network TV.

"Expect more gay-themed shows on cable, too, from Showtime's adaptation of the British gay comedy-drama 'Queer as Folk' … to HBO's forthcoming versions of Tony Kushner's 'Angels in America' and Moises Kaufman's 'The Laramie Project,' about the Matthew Shepard murder.

"Add all this to the number of gay characters that appear in ongoing roles on TV series this season 13 of them, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's most recent count and you begin to see how much has changed."

Benjamin Svetkey, writing on "Is Your TV Set Gay?" in the Oct. 6 issue of Entertainment Weekly

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