Purple-faced custodians of our collective moral fibre yesterday railed at EU plans to crack down on sexual-orientation discrimination.
"Why should it only be the homosexualists, lesbonites and transylvanians singled out for special treatment?" blurted one dissenting MEP who voted against the blueprint.
"We demand gay rights for all," he said.
"Or something," he added.
"No, it's not that, it was... It's so confusing. I'm confused."
"No, no! Not like that," he continued, anticipating a question that hadn't - yet - occurred to anyone.
"It's just that sometimes..."
He tailed off with a knot in his throat, as if suppressing a long-buried memory - perhaps of a college-days forbidden tryst, of such purity and bliss, a coupling all too brief that in a different world, a different time, could, nay would have meant happiness unfettered, not this existence that he knew in the core of that fond reminiscence was a sham. That other future, the parallel life that couldn't have been, was too... free. Too unsure. "Unsafe," as his father had once said. Daddy had meant it ethically and sociologically. But his son knew he meant it individually, too, perhaps even as a threat.
He swallowed the thought back down, down where it belonged, coughed its reverberations away and reassured himself by touching the knot of his tie, and smoothing the lapel of his suit jacket. The armour was in tact. The reflection had lasted a mere second. The plenary had barely noticed.
"Human rights are for all," he concluded with confidence returned and a fine spray of spittle, reaching ostentatiously for his voting card from his wallet. It was then he caught the eyes of his offspring, gazing indifferently up at him from a photo. 'Family,' he thought to himself. 'Family, that's it.'
"And I don't want my daughters growing up under the agenda of some..." he smugged into the void, back on script. Contained. Sure. Safe.