Are people mad? Are people actually mad, and stupid? I don't mean to get all pious and superior, but I've read the things Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have been saying about IVF-conceived children, and honestly, all I can think to ask is "are people stupid?"
In an interview with Italian news magazine Panorama, Dolce and Gabbana (or Gabbana and Dolce, if you want to stick one to advertising) said that children conceived through IVF treatment were "synthetic" and "chemical," and that the only true family was the "traditional one." "We oppose gay adoptions," the pair said. "No chemical offspring and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed."
I mean, how stupid is that? These remarks were made by two very famous people, and during an interview with a magazine. So, how many mental roadblocks must they have had to smash with their...thought-car before getting into this situation?
First they had to consider – or rather, fail to consider – that they were equating people's children to calculators, or McFlurrys, or anything else that comes from a machine. Second, they had to neglect to realise that the people they were criticising, i.e. gay couples and "non-traditional" families, were people that, thanks to myopic, patriarchal social systems, have already been marginalised for hundreds of years.
And thirdly, they had to fail to realise that, once people began to criticise them for their remarks, the best thing would have been to apologise, shut up and go back to making clothes nobody can afford. But they didn't. They didn't realise any of this. They just kept making and making and making their stupid noise.
Beside the point - and fraught with peril
But debating what Dolce and Gabbana, purveyors of perfume you buy at Christmas to give to people you don't care about, actually said feels almost besides the point - confronting ignorance of this magnitude, in general, seems fraught with peril. Of course it's stupid. Of course it's wrong. And of course you don't get to tell people what kind of partner, or family, or child they can have, least of all if you're one of the owners of a multi-million pound fashion business, and therefore as connected to today's social issues as the Voyager-1 space probe.
But as much as I'm saddened that people still think they have the right to comment on how other people should have sex and raise their family, at the same time, becoming personally indignant about Dolce and Gabbana's remarks, even writing this article, feels like a strange kind of signal boosting, as if by speaking out against them, I'm giving them publicity – I'm opening a door for more people to read, and possibly be convinced by, their comments.
We have to and always should confront discrimination, but even acknowledging something as stupid as what Dolce and Gabbana said lends it a kind of sideways credibility. It feels like a fool's errand. Calling IVF-conceived children "synthetic," and espousing nothing but a "traditional family," in this day and age, is so utterly stupid it belies interrogation. Arguing with these views would be like trying to explain to your dog why it shouldn't eat chocolate – you just can't penetrate with reason this level of ignorance.
So maybe it's best just to ignore these people, just as they ignore the realities and struggles of the people they criticise. Every week on the internet there's another famous racist, or sexist, or homophobe and I sometimes wonder whether it's all done deliberately.
Who actually cares about fashion? Who actually wakes up and thinks about having anything to do with Dolce and Gabbana? But this week we're all reminded of their names and what they do. It might be by negative association, but Dolce and Gabbana are in the popular conscience – they're being advertised.
So maybe we should just leave it, and let these f-wits yell into the world without echoing our reply.
But boy, does that feel like a cop-out. I'm not the first person to question the validity of the opinionated media, to wonder whether lambasting someone in a widely distributed column is actually just going to help get the other guy's point across, but perhaps I'm the first to say this: carry on. Yes, I worry that by responding to Dolce and Gabbana, either in writing like this or on Twitter, Facebook, wherever, is merely providing them credence and publicity.
But I worry more about the rights of the people these dickheads verbally attacked. It may sometimes seem like a dogpile, as if columnists and users of social media are pouncing on the people who make offensive remarks, just to give themselves a sense of satisfaction, but it's better that than homophobia going unchecked. These attitudes need to die. And I'm not particularly concerned about the way that they're killed.
Ed Smith writes about games, films and culture for IBTimes UK. He has also written for The Observer, Vice, New Statesman and Edge magazine. Find him on Twitter @mostsincerelyed