On Rick Perry and Deborah Solomon (Yuck)

27Feb08

In which The Gay Recluse wonders if Deborah Solomon thinks we’re impressed. (Because we’re not.)

Usually we skip Deborah Solomon’s weekly interview in the Sunday Magazine, in which the notoriously harsh and arrogant New York Times critic tersely interrogates a publicity hound hawking a useless book about the latest nonsense du jour. But this week we made an accidental exception; in the course of doing some research on our favorite subject (i.e., gay stereotyping at The Times), we stumbled across the following exchange from this past Sunday’s version. The interview is with Rick Perry, the governor of Texas who has made a reputation for being an even bigger asshole even more conservative than his predecessor, _____. Herewith we present some of the exchange:

Solomon: Let’s talk about your new book, “On My Honor,” which draws on your experience as an Eagle Scout and champions the values of the Boy Scouts of America, to whom you are donating your royalties. Perry: Yes, to their legal-defense fund.

Which has been fighting the A.C.L.U., to keep gays out of the scouts. Why do you see that as a worthy cause? I am pretty clear about this one. Scouting ought to be about building character, not about sex. Period. Precious few parents enroll their boys in the Scouts to get a crash course in sexual orientation.

Why do you think a homosexual would be more likely to bring the subject of sex into a conversation than a heterosexual? Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders. When you have a clearly open homosexual scout leader, the scouts are going to talk about it. And they’re not there to learn about that. They’re there to learn about what it means to be loyal and trustworthy and thrifty.

But don’t you think that homosexuals might also be interested in being loyal and thrifty? The argument that gets made is that homosexuality is about sex. Do you agree?

No. Well, then why don’t they call it something else?

[End of excerpt. (Phew–that was rough!)]

Obviously, we aren’t going to waste our breath talking about why this Perry character is such a numskull, but we would like let Solomon know that 1) we really hate the way you refer to “homosexuals” and “heterosexuals” with such pseudo-scientific seriousness. If you have to talk about clumps of people — and we understand the need — it’s far better to use a Gawkeresque expression like “the gays” and “the straights,” which efficiently acknowledges both the utility and stupidity of such labels and the associated stereotypes and then lets you make your stupid point. Basically, if you’re still using “homosexual” in an unironic manner, you’re guaranteed to come off with about as much authority as a 1950s sex manual (but sadly, much less entertaining); 2) we don’t understand why, with all the great books blog posts being written, you (or more likely, your editors) had to pick an Official Asshole Republican to interview in The Times (wtf?). The problem with presenting this kind of exchange in such a restrained, diplomatic manner (even if you are a lil bitchy, whatev) is that it gives the impression that both opinions are equally reasonable, as if you both are discussing a choice between a cherry and apple pie. The only rational response to someone like Perry is, “Smell you later, you fascist, homophobic pig! Just because you might not like sucking cock, do you think that makes you better than everyone who does? WTF?” Seriously, if Perry were saying the same thing but in racial terms, do you think The Times would let him use their platform? We think not, and for good reason! and 3) although we don’t entirely doubt that your heart was in the right place, your attempt to defend “homosexuals” only made us feel like animals in the zoo (and that makes us sad.)

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