Sort of. This heated discussion wasn't really about the issue of gay marriage, per se, but rather how O'Reilly characterized gay marriage opponents' appeals to religion. Last week, the Fox News host drew controversy for saying that traditional marriage advocates need to do more than "thump the Bible" when building a public case against same-sex marriage. After some conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, objected to what they perceived to be a disdainful tone from O'Reilly, the long-time anchor invited Laura Ingraham onto his show to talk about it. Things got interesting right out of the gate (via Mediaite):
This dispute really boils down to whether you think "bible-thumper" is an inherently anti-Christian slur, or at least somewhat disrespectful. I think it's safe to say that it's certainly not a descriptor that evokes a positive image of believers. O'Reilly, a Catholic, obviously feels strongly that he wasn't insulting Christians by using the phrase, while Ingraham argues that his terminology wasn't "helpful." For mounting her minor critique, the syndicated radio host was rewarded with multiple exasperated interruptions. O'Reilly pronounced himself "disappointed" in Ingraham for betraying her reputation for common sense, or something. I happen to agree with O'Reilly that gay marriage critics have largely failed to persuade the public on this issue, and that overtly or exclusively religious arguments aren't likely to do the trick in the context of public policy. But it's unfair and inaccurate to accuse all defenders of traditional marriage of doing nothing "but thump the Bible." The traditionalist side of this dispute has, in fact, advanced various arguments that have nothing to do with religion; they've drawn on elements like world history, legal precedent and the historical linkage between marriage and procreation. Many people are no longer convinced by these points, but that doesn't mean they aren't being made.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography