August 21, 2005

But what about that three-men-and-a-pie picture?

Underneath Their Robes sifts through the evidence, including that pie picture in the NYT, and concludes that the "Roberts is gay" talk is going nowhere.

My contribution to this talk was always about the NYT making him look gay, and I'm sure people at the Times are aware of this criticism. In that light, what do you make of the selection of that pie picture? I find it nearly impossible to believe they didn't know what they were doing. I'd guess they find it hilarious and perhaps justified by the failure of conservatives to do enough for gay people. And the deniability is intact as ever. It's just three men with a pie... and a mustache... and a glow.

The Times article is well worth reading, though, so don't just get distracted by the picture and the many mysteries that tempt you in. The articles tells what it was like to be a conservative on campus in the early 1970s:
"There was a 'Boy Named Sue' quality to being a libertarian or conservative at Harvard," said Mr. Norquist, referring to the Johnny Cash song and Shel Silverstein poem ("Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,/ My fist got hard and my wits got keen.") Conservatives at Harvard, he suggested, learned to be "tougher than anyone else." Unlike students on the left, he said, they were constantly being challenged.

"There was this cowardice of the center to criticize the left," Mr. Norquist said. "Somebody would make some left-wing comment and no one would challenge it, whereas if you made some right-wing comment, you'd get 20 questions. We grew up and we built tougher, smarter, better advocates on the right than the left did. You see this all the time: The left gets frustrated if somebody asks a second question."

Hmmm.... that's a thesis with a lot of explanatory power.

I was at the University of Michigan in the early 70s, and I can tell you that conservative students were untouchables.

IN THE COMMENTS: Many readers tell of the way conservatives acted and were treated at their colleges.

83 comments:

J said...

Maybe young Grover was being challenged not because Lefties are Big Meanies, but because his 'ideas' deserved challenge. Grover is, after all, apparently on record as not believing in evolution.

With that kind of sharp critical thinking, I wouldn't be surprised if most of his other ideas are similarly quackpottish.

Let's also not forget that many 'conservatives' of that era (well, a little before your time in Michigan) may well have been the lovely sort of folks sporting "Impeach Earl Warren" buttons & the like...and, of course, we can all pretend otherwise, but the source of that impeachment desire was clearly a little mid-fifties decision involving Topeka, Kansas.

And people like that, I'm sorry, probably deserve to be treated as untouchables.

Wade_Garrett said...

I don't see what the big deal is about this picture. Its more than 20 years old, and a LOT of stuff from that era looks "gay" today. Burt Reynolds, once the sexist man in America, now looks like all five village people rolled into one. Tom Selleck? Hasslehoff? The Dukes of Hazard, Starsky & Hutch? By that era's standards this photo is the definition of butch.

Wade_Garrett said...

To reply to Grover Norquist's comments: Judge Roberts seems like a very nice guy, who has friends of all stripes, who spent a lot of time in the library and looks back on Harvard with nothing but affection and nostalgia. Norquist, on the other hand, seems like exactly the sort of person who would walk around with an "Impeach Earl Warren" pin on his jacket.

When I was at Yale in the late 90s (admittedly different from Michigan in the late 60s!) conservative groups on campus used the same word - untouchable - to describe their place on campus. They would publish angry letters in the newspaper if they got a bad grade on a biology paper in which they had written about intelligent design; they would be the first ones in line to see a liberal speaker, then make barnyard animal noises during that person's speech and be thrown out by security, then write angry letters about being thrown out for exercising their right to free speech, and they would hold up all kinds of offensive picket signs on gay pride day. Their actions brought 'untouchable' status upon almost all campus conservatives, even polite and respectful ones who avoided talking about politics in mixed company. I felt bad for the Roberts types, but I feel as if the Norquist types brought untouchable status upon them.

Alcibiades said...

Hmm. I disagree with both J and terrence. When I was at Harvard for non-legal graduate education in the late 80s and early 90s, I certainly found a lot of these attitudes in place. A range of classes had a PC script underlying the theoretical approach of both professors and students. And if you wanted to diverge from the acceptable range of group think on these issues, you had to prepare yourself to do battle with several people all at once. Whereas people who diverged ever-leftward were challenged far less often.

I'm talking about seminar discussions, not barnyard noises [eyeroll] or fringe arguments, btw.

Look, we saw this exact phenomenon earlier this year at Harvard when Larry Summers dared to articulate an opinion outside of the comfort range of various people because it was insufficiently PC. And got publicly humiliated for his efforts.

So I find the point in the article both salient and auto-biographical. When you were a conservative at Harvard, you had a definite sense of your otherness from the intellectual norm and when you chose to advance arguments outside the norm in a rightward direction, you had to prepare for a barrage.

In the end, though, it turned out to be helpful. Though not for Larry, apparently...

Steve Donohue said...

I can tell you from personal experience that if you're a conservative on any of today's campuses, you had better bring your "A game" on a daily basis. You will be questioned on everything and by everyone- peers,teaching assistants, even professors. And perhaps while not definitely quantifiable in any meaningful way, I know that as a student if I need an easy grade, I should write from the leftist perspective. I think that all conservative college students have some professor horror story, or some story about getting gang-argumented in a class by a pack of rabid leftists.

Now these aren't hard-and-fast rules, but I'm not the only person to notice either.

Ron said...

Ann: I used to sit in the RC classes of my friends, (also at UM in the '70's) and the standard rejoinder to anything vaguely non-liberal was "That sounds like something Nixon would say." Discussion over!


The RC -- why get out of your bathrobe and slippers to go to class?

SMGalbraith said...

Since Earl Warren resigned from the Court in 1969, I doubt that these untouchables on the right were wearing "Impeach Warren" buttons in the 1970s.

So, the lefty posters are all liars!, liars!, liars! who are smearing!, smearing!, smearing! Roberts.

Er, sorry, just got back from Kossack land and the fever hasn't broken yet. And, of course, the "Impeach Warren" button reference was a jumping off point to indicate that the extreme right on campuses deserved to be ostracized.

Fair point; although the extreme left seems to be flourishing there. Some ideas are less heretical than others, I suppose. Another post for another time.

The larger point, however, is that, as we saw in the response to Ann's comments re Jamie Gorelick, the left in academia (and outside) was and is insular and because of their near monopoly in many departments incapable or unwilling to listen to dissenting views.

Yes, not all; I'm admittedly painting with a huge paintbrush. And the same thing occurs in institutions dominated by the right. Any ideology tends to suppress dissent - left, right, center.

The right actually benefits from this scenario. As we see with Roberts, maturing intellectually in a leftist environment requires that one sharpens one's views and opinions. Because someone questioning leftist views or, horrors, expressing rightist ones, is going to be grilled more aggressively than someone repeating the orthodox progressive line.

Anyone on the center right who went through college (Syracuse '82 for me) had similar experiences.

SMG

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

Terrence,

I guess I was at Yale a couple of years after you were (1999-2003) and I rarely remember campus conservatives being disrespectful to liberal speakers. I was part of various campus conservative groups and we never treated anyone disrespectfully. On the other hand, if a conservative speaker on campus showed up, the left would show up in full force and be as nasty and disrespectful as possible.

Here is an interesting anecdote from former Yale Free Press (conservative/libertarian) editor and now Hofstra Law Prof Julian Ku (of Opinio Juris Blog fame):

-----
Every once in a while, I am reminded of just why I chose to spend my four years at Yale as a conservative political activist. One of those moments occurred in the spring of 1993 after I had published my final issue as Editor-in-Chief of The Yale Free Press. I had been invited to participate in a panel on eroticism and taboo during Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Awareness Days (BGLAD). Before I could speak, I was denounced by a member of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Co-op, who read a list of my "crimes" against the gay community and demanded that I be removed from the panel. Had I been anywhere other than Yale, the situation would have seemed ridiculous. The two men sitting next to me were representatives of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which supports the legalization of sexual intercourse between men and boys (some related encounters with 8-year-olds). Both admitted to engaging in pedophilic acts. And the Co-op wanted to throw me out?. . .

Only later did I realize that conservatives at Yale must do more than simply stake out the Republican position on every campus political issue. With a substantial campus majority -- Dukakis received a whopping 88 per cent here in 1988 but only 46 per cent nationwide -- Yale leftists and liberals could afford to graciously tolerate our existence as the "other side." Even better, a "nice" conservative movement would allow them to congratulate themselves on being so open-minded and tolerant without requiring them to take us seriously. Hence, The Yale Free Press developed a unique in-your-face persona it has never quite shed.

As I near graduation, I wonder, Was it worth it? Four years took their toll. Promising friendships fell apart, nasty epithets were coined behind my back (my personal favorite: Julian "Ku Klux Klan"), and I received more than my share of angry letters, phone calls, and face-to-face confrontations. But the battle continues. Yale has institutionalized its major sources of campus leftism: the Women's Center, the cultural centers, and the Co-op. Even now, a new campus publication seeks to "reclaim the margin" and revitalize leftism at Yale.
----

Anyone who knows Julian personally, could attest to how clearly ridiculous the Ku Klux Klan nickname is.

I was a math major and most of the political philosophy and history courses I took were with either conservative professors or fellow travelers. But I did have one class in which a TA threatened those of us who wrote for the Yale Free Press (and actually did fail one guy and give another guy a D for what seemed to be nothing but ideological bias). I have some friends who were shot down in class because they dared to suggest that maybe socialism is not a good idea.

I do not think that there is an unbearable amount of abuse for conservative students on college campuses, but I think that there is some. I really loved my time at Yale and I do think that because I was on a predominantly liberal campus, I was able to better develop my own thinking and arguments. And in some cases, I changed my mind on certain issues and agreed with the Left. I had many many liberal friends (some on the radical activist left) and I think that I learned quite a bit from them. But there were also others who, upon learning that I am a conservative, stopped talking to me.

J said...

SMGalbraith, right, I know Warren was gone by the 70s, which is why my comment referenced " 'conservatives' of that era (well, a little before your time in Michigan)..."

At my college campus, the conservative groups mainly spent their time protesting, insulting & arguing against the gay groups on campus. lovely stuff too.

and people that hung out with the rightly deserved scorn.

I guess my point was just that there are certainly folks that deserve to be treated as untouchables for professing truly hideous or ridiculously uninformed (see Grover & evolution) views. and sure, there are always going to be people like that on both side. but pointing out some of grover's not-so-bright ideas might explain why his dumbass was treated the way he was.

Wade_Garrett said...

Exactly, J. I doubt Roberts was treated with any lack of respect because he seems to be less reactionary than Norquist, less extreme in his views, and a thoughtful, nice guy. Norquist was probably treated like an untouchable, but I doubt that Roberts was.

What a lot of people lost sight of is that the Ivy league schools aren't as liberal as Bill O'Reilly and Jerry Falwell make them out to be. They are neither Sodom nor Gemorrah. Brilliant conservatives teach and study there in large numbers -- just look at Yale law school, with Bork, Carter, et al!

Sloanasaurus said...

"....At my college campus, the conservative groups mainly spent their time protesting, insulting & arguing against the gay groups on campus. lovely stuff too....."

This is ridiculous. I was in Madison at undergrad and grad school for 8 years, and I do not recall "a conservative group protesting against and insulting gays." I challenge you to prove this. (and the KKK/Nazis coming to campus to march does not qualify as a campus conservative group - although I don't ever recall seeing them march either except in made for TV movies).

You can't just throw out lies like this and then use it to support some concluding comment.

in_the_middle said...

i was at madison from 1985-1989, and i very much remember the college republicans fighting against gay groups and staging counter protests to aids rallies. why? because i was a member of the college republicans at the time. as a conservative frat boy on a liberal campus (because i love challenges), i can assure you there were some very poisonous and hateful conversations among the cr those days. some of it spilled out into official club-sanctioned events.

and let's just say i left them behind for reasons of my own sexuality a few years later (but retain the general centrist principles)

a general comment about the NYT making someone look gay thing: ann, why is it a bad thing? you sure make it sound as if the NYT was out to get him by making him 'look' gay. that's about as mature as people who say 'that is so gay' as a derogatory statement about things.

focus on things that matter. i don't think roberts is a nutjob, and i don't CARE ABOUT HIS SEXUALITY. it should not matter. i wish conservatives and liberals could realize they are both equally guilty of the lame and quite bigoted stereotyping although both use it for different means to an end.

Alcibiades said...

"....At my college campus, the conservative groups mainly spent their time protesting, insulting & arguing against the gay groups on campus. lovely stuff too....."

Sloanasaurus, what I took from that was that was the only time J ever noticed the campus conservatives, he was happy more or less to see them corresponding to "type", as he has them classified.

I think it is interesting that the conservatives are trying to engage with the liberals in this thread, and challenge their notions about conservative experience in the academy and the liberals are essentially replying back that many of the conservatives they've observed "complying to type" are contemptible.

Elizabeth said...

Sloan,

Are you saying he's wrong about a particular campus, or in general? At my campus, in the south, from about 1985-1988, the attitude of the campus conservatives was quite hostile. I worked at our school paper, where we had opinion columns from the right and from the left, and the rightwing columnist continually used such terms as "fag" and "nigger" and "kike" in his work, and then would cry discrimination and bemoan political correctness when the editor would kill his column or tell him to revise it.

His buddies in the campus Young Republicans liked to wear t-shirts with two stick figures having anal sex, covered with the red circle and slash, and labeled "No Fags!"

The same folks would ride around campus screaming "homo," "fag," and "dyke" at students they perceived to be gay.

These are all things I saw and heard for myself, not second-hand reports.

Henry said...

Terence -- Harvard conservatives were writing letters to the student paper about intelligent design? In the late 90s? Is that true, or are you just free associating off j's initial comment?

The assumptions in the three initial posts in this thread -- that "many" conservatives of the 1970s were racists and that Norquist must have been one of them -- deserve a little more evidence, to say the least.

And they are also beside the point. Norquist's argument wasn't whether or not he deserved opprobrium, but the fact that responding to such made him a better thinker.

The assumption that a friendly conservative who spent a lot of time in the library would not have been challenged by a hostile intellectual environment also misses the point.

And just to reiterate -- the point is not who deserves to be treated as an untouchable.

Wade_Garrett said...

Look, I don't know what you mean by complying to type, but I do know that, at a place like Harvard, people who espouse creationism are made fun of, and that's how it should be. If you get your scientific knowledge from a 5,000 year old fairy tale, then you shouldn't be surprised or offended when people at the best university in the world treat you as if you're a moron. And I love how they refer to conservatives being "the queers on campus" as if everybody would automatically assume that means they were the outcasts. If what they say is correct, then they would have been the opposite of queers on campus, since the liberals at those schools are so welcoming of gays.

This is entirely different from conservative politics. About half of my college teammates were conservative, and the liberals on the team were always willing to engage them in thoughtful, intelligent debate. The "Wall Street Journal" conservatives were always taken seriously and treated with respect and welcomed into the conversation. Judge Roberts fits into this group. Notice that Judge Roberts is not a member of the Federalist Society and looks back on Harvard very fondly. He doesn't feel as if he was made out to be a villain on campus.

The Christian conservatives were not. At a secular liberal arts university that values learning, scientific research and the exploration of new ideas, those students who espouse creationism and the evangelical line on gays are going to be out of place. If you want to go to a campus dominated by people who share THOSE beliefs, they can go to Liberty or Bob Jones University.

Wade_Garrett said...

Woodbury -- I went to Yale, and yes, that did happen at Yale in the late 90s. I can't speak for Harvard, I was just relating my experience as a graduate of a university often lumped in with Harvard in conservative's attacks on those elitist liberal schools in New England which turn out flip-floppers like John Kerry and George W. Bush.

Sloanasaurus said...

In-the-middle: I was at Madison from 86-91 and I just do not recall an organized rally where people were chanting "down with gays" or anything remotely related. I do remember vocal reactions to all the pink triangles planted on Bascom hill or to liberal protests... However, "Frat Boys" yelling "fag" while they are drunk and hanging out on Langdon street on Saturday afternoons is far different than claims of an organized hate rally.

Brendan said...

Jesus, that pic looks like a Fire Island cookoff. The guy in the middle screams "total queen."

I too was at UW-Madison from 85 to 91, and the biggest "controversy" I can recall was some frat conducting a mock slave auction, which sent the lefties into a tizzie. Instead of merely punishing the frat (duh), administrators decided to punish all undergrads with mandatory diversity courses to be completed before graduation. Thankfully, I was grandfathered out of it. On the other hand, if you were a campus leftist, you could freely bash CIA recruitment, Reagan, the Contras, SDI, and any campus speaker to the right of Stalin--with zero fear of interference or reprisal. I defy anyone to go through back issues of the Daily Cardinal or Badger Herald and find three or more instances of conservative groups shouting down liberal speakers or otherwise making their campus visit miserable. Didn't happen, 'cause I was there.

Ed said...

"liberal arts university that values learning, scientific research"

A liberal arts university that values scientific research? How amusing. If they valued scientific research, then they would be a technical institute, not a liberal arts university.

Wade_Garrett said...

I've sent this link to ten people since lunch, and asked them what about it strikes them as odd. So far none have mentioned that it seemed homoerotic. Most said something about how it cast him in a wholesome, all-American, regular-guy light. A couple did ask if there were any other photographs -- because it was odd to use a photo this old, in which Roberts isn't even the focal point, as the article's only illustration.

Freeman Hunt said...

I went to a private liberal arts school less than ten years ago. I don't remember there being any conservatives at all aside from the economics professors. (I'm sure that there were some--just never saw them or heard about them.)

I do remember that some Christian group (not necessarily conservative) used chalk to draw religious symbols on the quad. I was a rabid secular humanist liberal at the time, so I jerkily got my own chalk and went out with some friends the next night to draw a hook in the Christian fish's mouth. Everyone thought that that was so clever. It was idiotic. We were all just a bunch of self-righteous jerks.

I think that part of the reason that we were so self-righteous was that no one ever challenged our beliefs. The professors just cheerleaded us on.

And by the way, I'm a right wing, Christian, pro gay rights, evolution believing, libertarian Republican. A lot of people in these comments seems to incorrectly equate conservatism with religious fundamentalism.

Ann Althouse said...

in_the_middle: You asks why it matters if the NYT deliberately tries to make someone who is not openly gay look gay. (Let's assume the NYT actually did that.) You don't see what's wrong with that. I think picking a stereotypically "gay" looking picture would be wrong even if the person was openly gay. It's not proper journalist to introduce caricature like that, especially if the goal were to try to undermine support by riling people who are prejudiced against gays . My opinion about this is utterly unrelated to whether I think gay people should serve on the Court. (If you're at all familiar with this blog, you know I do.)

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

The Yale Daily News did have one (conservative) columnist during my time who considered it amusing to be as offensive as possible. Even though dozens of other conservative students tried to become columnists, the News would reject them in favor of this guy. Not until he graduated, did the News have any one else representing the conservative side. My personal belief was that the News purposely had him be the columnist to make conservatives look ridiculous. I'm a libertarian. I had lots of Christian conservative trad friends. All of them were scandalized and disgusted by the things that this guy wrote.

I do think that at times, the campus papers will in fact take the most disgusting flame-throwing jerk they could find and make him their conservative columnist. It's convenient. If that's who the enemy is, it's easy to get support for your side.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

If someone who believes in Creation is an idiot and does not deserve to go to an elite university, how about someone who believes that gun control actually prevents crime, how about someone who thinks that Cuba has an advanced healthcare system, how about someone who thinks that the government can spend endlessly with no consequences in sight, how about someone who thinks that state ownership of the means of production is efficient, etc.?

I love how the dogmas of some conservatives are fair game for ridicule, but not those of campus leftists. My time at Yale, I have heard all of those arguments made by lefty students, with nothing but approval from the others, even though all of those claims are false. Some students actually went to Cuba, were guests of the Cuban government, and then reported back in the campus paper how wonderful it was over there.

Please, people of all stripes will fall back on their prejudices despite the evidence to the contrary. It's just human nature. From what I recall, campus conservatives were much more open minded and interested in actual discourse and debate than students on the left.

Ann Althouse said...

Yevgeny: It sounds as though the liberals in control might just as well have been writing an Onion-style bogus editorial to ridicule the people they opposed. How shameful!

kc said...

Permit me to suggest that a further good has been created: as ordinary persons change their behavior and drop the screaming queen poses, the real queens will stand out more.

Wade_Garrett said...

Yevgeny: I assume you are referring to Brooks Eubank?

The more I think about the three-men-and-a-pie picture, the more I think it is like Sherlock Holmes' dog that didn't bark. Is that photo all that it takes to reignite a discussion of whether or not Roberts is gay? If so, then I think that a lot of people have a lot of things to say about the New York Times, or the liberal media, or whatever, and this is merely an excuse to say it. Because if you look at the photo without knowing its context, it is totally inoccuous. I bet if I looked in my photo albums, my father and I each have 20 or 30 such pictures of ourselves. My roommate's family had a place on the Vineyard; I bet there's a photo of me with my roommate and a third guy with our arms around each others' shoulders on the vineyard. If I looked long enough I could probably find one with a pie, or better yet, a fruit tart, or a dill dip in a loaf of sourdough bread.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

Yeah, that's exactly who I am referring to!

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

Prof. Althouse:

One would think so. But I've actually met the guy, so I know he was real, though he does seem like an Onion character.

Ann Althouse said...

Terrence: It's not the existence of the picture but the NYT's choice of it that is at issue. If the Times wrote an article about your dad and selected the gayest-looking picture in your family album, that would be the equivalent!

nk said...

Aw, for crying out loud. What have you bloggers descended to? (Not "we", even though I am a blogger, because I do not stir s__t like this.) Is there no decency? Is there no shame?

Sloanasaurus said...

I found my undergraduate life at Madison actually more itellectually honest than Law School. I will never forget my first day of law school. I was excited for the intellectual debate with smart people from various backgrounds. Instead law school was the ultimate racist institution. There was a special society for every "minority" group. Each group had a special bulletin board at the school. (Of course there was no white male group.) There was little debate over issues. The debate was mostly one sided and intellectually dishonest. I never experienced these groups or this kind of racism as an undergrad. Perhaps it existed, but undergraduate life was just too big for anything to have much of an effect.

Law School really confirmed to me that that the liberal establishment was intellectualy bankrupt.

During the OJ Simpson trial, it seemed as if the entire Black Law Student Association was congregated in one room to hear the verdict. When the verdict came the room erupted in screams of joy......the real victim, OJ Simpson, was free.

I wonder if they meant it?

Brendan said...

I have to believe that between 1970 and 2005, Roberts took at least one photo with a woman by his side. Can the Times not find one?

Catty L., esq. said...

Conservatives on my campus, Wellesley, are far from 'untouchable'. Students with Bush or pro-life signs have had their doors defaced and their inboxes flooded with insulting emails. I have had nasty, often vulgar and usually personal, comments written on my bulletin board, and I've received plenty of name-calling email for organizing a Conservative Awareness Day.

The CRs here have a binder full of photographs, copied letters, emails, essays with prof's unnecessarily political comments, etc. showing the threatening intolerance. The College President has seen the evidence several times and refuses to reprimand anyone or even make a public statement.

It's not that universities are 'liberal' or 'conservative' - the problem supercedes party affiliation. The issue today is a matter of the university's official world view, and for most that is a Marx-based materialism with a healthy dose of political correctness. Everything is relative, everything is unquestionable, everything is labeled.

I once tried discussing the biological basis of gender (it seems like a ridiculous topic, but not to a feminist) with a leftist friend who called me 'anti choice and anti women' because I noted that homosexuality has no biological function from a Darwinian standpoint, and thus, must be bad.

The untouchable groups at elite New England Schools: Pro-Choicers, Dworkin-style feminists, ethnic groups (at Wellesley, our black students group is the only organization exempt from the open membership policy. Three cheers for discrimination and exclusion, I suppose), 'peace activists' -- recycled Vietnam and Palestinian protesters.

Note that the College Democrats aren't on the list. Many profs are critical of US party structure all together and dislike the Democratic Party.

Elizabeth said...

Catty,

It's a shame your friend chose the easy route of name calling instead of debating the Darwinian assumption--there's a lot of room to debate Darwin's culturally shaped assumptions about gender roles and homosexuality.

But really, "Dworkin-style feminists"? I haven't seen one for at least 15 years. I'm on a Women's Studies faculty and I can't think of a single colleague who doesn't think Dworkin is insane--sad, and intriguing, and important in a historical sense, but batshit crazy.

Pogo said...

1. While any male will have photographs that could be interpreted as gay, or at least insufficiently hetero, The NYTimes certainly has access to a large selection of photos of Roberts, yet has selected among them a certain type. Why? I do not for a second believe the Newspaper With The Transparent Agenda has no motive at all. It chose these images to convey something. What, pray tell, would the intended narrative be?

2. It's reminiscient of John Edwards' (he of the effete coiffure) accusatory outing of Cheney's daughter in the sniffing tone of Not that there's anything wrong with that. It has always made me wonder why the gay community never objects to being used as a cudgel against the Left's oponnents, much as it reveals their secondary status among the doyens of the left. That is, why are they not discomfited when they see what the Left really thinks about them?

Henry said...

Terrence -- Point taken & my apologies for doubting you. I guess I'm surprised that intelligent design was that popular that far back. That's too bad.

* * *

In regards to the photo, could it be possible that the New York Times simply picked the picture for a laugh?

Pogo said...

Re: In regards to the photo, could it be possible that the New York Times simply picked the picture for a laugh?

I suppose so, but the article was apparently meant to be serious, so it is inconfruous. And this is the NYTimes appearing to do 'the news', not Slate, The Daily Show, or The Onion doing comedy.

Pogo said...

"incongruous"

Elizabeth said...

Pogo,

John Edwards didn't "out" Cheney's daughter. She's been out for years and years. She worked for Coors as their gay liaison, and was quite public about her sexual orientation, as well as her longtime relationship. "Outing" means to reveal someone's sexual orientation, not to refer to it once it's already known. The uproar over Edwards' remarks was among the cheapest display of political humbuggery I've ever witnessed.

Pogo said...

Re: "Outing" means to reveal someone's sexual orientation, not to refer to it once it's already known. The uproar over Edwards' remarks was among the cheapest display of political humbuggery I've ever witnessed.

She is hardly a national figure. While her sexual orientation was widely known amongst Washingtonians, here in the hinterlands it was not common knowledge. The debate was the first I'd ever heard of it.

And if it was indeed such non-news of such non-interest, and just boring old data, why the sudden fourth quarter last down interest by Kedwards? The humbug here is the denial by the Dems that they meant anything at all by it, of course. Well, we ALL know she's GAY, not thet there's anything WRONG with that, I am sure VP Cheney is Proud of his GAY LESBIAN daughter who is GAY.

Elizabeth said...

The interest in the 2004 election was tied to the fact that many states were voting on anti-same-sex marriage amendments, and that Bush was touting his support for a federal amendment. That conservatives--of both parties, mind you--are content to make political hay out of homophobia, is relevant. Mary Cheney's being gay was well-known during the 2000 election as well. Your own ignorance of that doesn't mean much. Edwards' reference was ham-handed, but certainly not an "outing" nor an attack on gay people.

Pogo said...

Re: Your own ignorance of that doesn't mean much. Edwards' reference was ham-handed, but certainly not an "outing" nor an attack on gay people.

Oh, of course not. I am sure you can share data to back up your claim that everyone but me knew she was gay back to 2000.

If this was indeed common knowledge, then exactly how was Edward's reference "ham-handed" as you say? He was just "celebrating" her very lesbian gayness, was he not? How could that be wrong?

I suggest rather that Roberts and Mary Cheney share the same problem, by Leftist standards. If gay, they vote the "wrong" way. Just like how Justice Thomas is assailed for not being authentically black.

It's the old Democrats method of demonstrating forbearance (not tolerance) of the other. Blacks, gays, women, and other non-white males can behave however they wish, but only as long as they vote Left. Otherwise, they will be pilloried for that trait.

They remain second class citizens, however, as witnessed by the MSM reaction when a "protected" class acts in ways other than prescribed. So a gay conservative justice is attacked; a gay liberal justice would be "celebrated".

XWL said...

I know i'm a little late in the game on this but I was wondering about Prof. Althouse's use of the term 'Untouchables' to describe campus conservatives.

the term can have two meanings that are nearly opposite of each other.

There is the Elliot Ness version of untouchable which suggests an elite group that are unassailable in their convictions and qualifications.

Or there is the Hindu Caste original meaning which implies that they are of such a lowly social order that merely brushing against them as you pass by does damage to your soul.

If you get around to reading these comments again I'd like to know which you meant cause it seems people have been interpreting your comment both ways in there subsequent comments.

Or maybe Prof. Althouse was being clever enough to embrace the ambiguity and she viewed the treatment of conservatives encompassing both definitions, they were social outcastes who by their outcaste status had to develop superior rhetorical skills since they were in the habit of defending unpopular decisions.

Elizabeth said...

Pogo,

Surely you can't be astonished that leftists, like those on the right, are concerned with voting?

Mary Cheney was discussed during the 2000 election. I can't help it if you missed it. One issue was that the rest off the family was trotted out over and over during campaign activities, while she and her partner were kept offstage.

Your description of leftwing hypocrisy is self-serving. It's insane to think that as a gay woman concerned with how our government and political parties address civil rights, that I won't take issue with gay Republicans. Don't worry--they're big boys and girls annd can argue for themselves. I think it's telling how conservatives don't give a hoot about gay people until there's an opportunity to get artificially huffy over those mean leftists attacking those poor, well-behaved gay Republicans. Your concern for gay people goes no further than using this issue to make a little political hay.

tcd said...

Elizabeth,

Edwards' comment about Mary Cheney was not ham handed. It was meant to hurt the Bush/Cheney re-election efforts because Democrats like to think that all conservative voters are raging homophobic racists who would hold Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter against the Bush/Cheney team. What most Democrats don't realize is that most conservatives are not single issue voters and we are perfectly able to navigate complexities in all matters.

Now back to my experience in college. I attended Wayne State University in Detroit, MI from 1998-2005 (yes, it took me five years but it was because I was a dual degree major in English & Chemistry). I can't say that I was a conservative at age 18-23 but what I can say is that I let common sense and decency guide my opinion and behavior. I do remember a few incidents in my English classes when the most conservative student was shouted down by the rest of the class and the professor would sit there & do nothing. I never really participated in these discussions because I don't think I was politically aware at the time. I mean I was too busy trying to keep afloat of my courses and maintain my 3.7 GPA. I do remember CRs passing out pamphlets and getting them shoved back into their faces by other students but never once do I recall CRs screaming obscenities at anyone gay or straight.

Elizabeth said...

TCD,

Unfortuntately, that complex world view allows so many conservatives to say "ho hum" to issues of their fellow citizens' civil rights. As for your college example, I'll not hestitate to agree that there are examples of bad behavior on the part of students and instructors on both sides of the political spectrum. I have no doubt that your anecdotes are true, but rest assured, so are mine.

Because I've seen examples of boorishness on both sides of the fence, as an instructor, I am quite iron-fisted about maintaining decorum in my classes when students express their views and try out various arguments. While my politics are leftist, I don't hesitate to take students to task for poorly argued positions, liberal or conservative.

Pogo said...

Elizabeth,
Re:It's insane to think that as a gay woman concerned with how our government and political parties address civil rights, that I won't take issue with gay Republicans.
That confirms my suspicions, of course. In fact, you define 'gay Republicans' as antithetical to 'civil rights', finding it "insane" that a gay woman could consider otherwise. Which was my point exactly: leftists "own" protected underclasses, who must toe the line or be attacked.

Re:Your concern for gay people goes no further than using this issue to make a little political hay.
Wow, and I thought that was what Edwards did.
How exactly did I make political hay about this? And when?
P.S. My concern for gay people extends to members of my family, too.

patrick said...

Let me a piece here since I am one of those (horror of horrors!) gay conservatives. Elizabeth is largely correct about the gay bashing. I, too, was a student at a major southern university in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Shortly before I entered college, the CRs spent most of its time focusing on issues other than homosexuality, such as challenging the anti-anti-Communism of the left, opposing sanctions against South Africa, supporting the contras, and so on. I know this because I grew up in the same town as the university. However, shortly after I entered the university, the CRs ended up spending most of its time battling the student gay group on campus, including attempts to have the group defunded and/or derecognized by the University. My freshman year, the CR president telephoned a threat to the gay student group office. The incident was reported in the campus newspaper, but the university never discovered the identity of the caller to the best of my knowledge. My sophomore year, the CRs chose to flood campus with stridently anti-gay posters all over campus, including the stick figure engaging in anal sex mentioned above.

Because the CRs began to focus almost exclusively on the gay issue and ignoring almost everything else, and I was slowly dealing with my own sexual issues at the time, I found it totally impossible to participate in the CRs or the conservative movement on campus. This was unfortunate on many levels, perhaps most importantly because, as a conservative exile and (more importantly decidedly non-liberal), I became intellectually homeless, unable to find the mentors that I needed. I later became the head of that highly criticized gay student group, but again as a conservative, I was somewhat of a fish out of water there.

The conservative movement, as a whole, has changed significantly since those days. Conservatives are now much more likely to be pro-gay rights, or if not pro-gay rights at least not personally non-hostile towards openly gay people. George W. Bush today appoints open (or not-so-open) gay people to significant positions. Such conservatives were almost non-existent in my little world in the late 1980s, since most conservatives I knew seemed to take the view that homosexuality, especially with the advent of AIDS, was a vice that the State had an obligation to ruthlessly suppress. We still have the Family Research Council, the Concerned Women for America, and other "religious right" organizations who hostile towards gays, but even they have been forced to moderate their rhetoric and their political goals somewhat in order to have their voices heard in the body politic. That's a major change.

Elizabeth and others mention the Mary Cheney incident as well as other "outing" incidents in the past few years by the left. As someone who loathed the tactics of conservatives using someone's homosexuality to tar a political opponent, I find infuriating and distressing to see liberals using the same tactic against conservatives. It is even more disconcerting when I see some leftists write and utter the most graphic homophobic sentiments believing it is perfectly ok because the homosexual in question is on the wrong side of the political divide. When leftists use that kind of vile language, they betray their true feelings about homosexuals despite their professed support for gay rights. They remind me of the CR president who phoned in the nastygram to the gay student group several years back. While some of the conservatives who professed concern for Mary Cheny were totally disingenuous, you will understand, nevertheless, why I find the use and abuse of Mary Cheney by Edwards and others to be wholly objectionable.

Elizabeth said...

Pogo, you seem to know what I think, and ignore what I say.

I will continue to argue with gay Republicans when I think their strategies and behaviors set back progress on gay rights. That's not attacking or owning a class of people. What kind of blather is that, anyway? Gay people aren't a monolithic block, and our disagreements will break along many fault lines; party membership is just one (I'm an Independent, because I despise the idea that Democrats take the gay vote for granted, for example, so I recognize what you're getting at with saying that the left has its own homophobia to deal with.)

As for making political hay, I refer to your original comment about Edwards "outing" Cheney. That's all. He didn't attack her, it wasn't an outing. She's out. He was stupidly trying to point out the hypocrisy in how the GOP courts its socially conservative base--please, tell me you're not going to pretend that the GOP is big, gay friendly tent!

The reaction, that it was unseemly to mention Cheney's daughter is gay backs up what I find objectionable--the subtext there is that it's fine to be gay, but don't "shove it in our faces" or some other "love the sin but hate the sinner" remark that fits. And that's where I part ways with gay Republicans. What's the sense in trying to part of a group that sees you as a disease, or something to be ashamed of, hidden, and kept in a closet? When I see the GOP change, then I'll change my view accordingly.

Ann Althouse said...

LeRoy: I mean the caste sense.

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: I think it's more than that. It's the use of a personal fact about someone to try to make political hay. If Democrats are going to try to use someone's being gay for their purposes (because they think conservatives are prejudiced), they should be condemned for that. I also condemn the people who are prejudiced against gays. Wasn't it scurrilous to try to hurt McCain by saying he had a black child? There's nothing wrong with having a black child and anyone who thinks there is is repulsive, but the people who try to advance their political interests by alerting those prejudiced people of the fact are also repulsive.

Elizabeth said...

Patrick,

Your story offers much food for thought. I am not ultimately persuaded that today's conservatives are more likely to be pro-gay rights, because the legislation and public policy that they make just doesn't support that. But I admire your character in holding to your identity, both as gay and conservative, in the face of what you dealt with in college. I also reject the kind of homophobic, and sexist and racist in the case of Condi Rice, comments I've seen from too-hip leftist commentators. None the less, I can count on them at the ballot box when the marriage amendment comes up for a vote, so I'll stick to my side of the aisle. And if we went to Lexis Nexus to tally up homophobic namecalling from pundits and public figures on the left and right, which would outweigh the other? I'll put my money on the rightwing.

I believe that gay people owe what advances we enjoy right now to the willingness of gay people, starting in the late 1970s, to come out of the closet, to be there in front of their friends, families, neighbors and coworkers, and bust the myth that gays are some anonymous, mythical other. So in that respect, I am glad for the existence of the Log Cabin Republicans--they have broken through the message to stay in the closet and be a stealth gay. Good for them. But I still disagree with their politics, because I'm not conservative! And when I see those politics as harming gay people, I plan to keep saying as much.

It's not just about marriage--what concrete policy has the GOP supported in favor of gay people? Employment rights? Housing? Social Security? What about the fact that most of the state anti-same-sex marriage amendments went much further and rolled back other forms of contracts and protections gay couples could enter into with one another? What about the CDC's policy, under this administration, that agencies receiving federal dollars must dance around references to homosexuality and homosexual sex in AIDS prevention training materials? Not too pro gay, that.

There's nothing wrong with liberal and conservative gay people differing and challenging and arguing with one another. I'll join you, though, in rejecting the idea that the left gets a free pass on its rhetoric, that straight liberals are automatically free from critique for their language and behaviors toward gay people, liberal or conservative.

Elizabeth said...

Ann,

Thanks for mentioning the McCain attack. That's a good example, and just one of many personal attacks that we could reference. I guess that we have different lenses on what constitutes an attack. When I saw that debate, my first reaction was that Edwards had a point to make and blew it in how he approached it. And that's just one of the things that disappointed me in the Kerry-Edwards campaign. As a result, Edwards became the topic, rather than the fact that the GOP wants to both flog the gay menance issue for their fundie base, while expecting the rest of us to figure out that Cheney and Bush don't really believe all that stuff so it's safe for moderates to vote for them.

What I take from your remarks is that you sincerely see Edwards' remarks as having been an attempt to rouse the anti-gay right with a mean-spirited "hey, this guy has a gay daughter" reminder. Fair enough. Seen through that lens, it is offensive. Either way, it sure did backfire, and I'd expect someone as smart as Edwards to have figured that out when the tactic was proposed.

Overall, I have no problem asking Mary Cheney how she feels about the GOP overwhelming opposition to gay rights. She was a bigwig in her father's campaign! She's a player in the game, not some innocent person in the stands. She got her paycheck from Coors based on her sexual identity, and worked there as part of a public effort to amend Coors' poor public relations with gays, so it's a little late now to act as if mentioning her sexuality is impolite.

At the same time, I have some limited sympathy for her, because I can't imagine what it must be like to be pulled between family and personal loyalty at such a high-stakes level in such a public way. I have experienced my own family divisions, however, so my sympathy has limits.

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: Take into account that Kerry too made a point of referring to Kerry's daughter "who is a lesbian," said as if it were a slur. If it wasn't a deliberate plan, I'd be very surprised (and would consider them unbelievably inept!). And I really don't think opposition to gay marriage is the same as being against gay people generally. Remember that "don't ask don't tell" was a Clinton thing.

Elizabeth said...

Ann,

Is Kerry's remark a slur on Mary or Dick Cheney? My heart's not in arguing for Kerry, sadly. I think they woefully mishandled that issue.

You can make an argument that opposing marriage isn't equivalent to opposing gay rights, but you'll find the two go hand in hand pretty frequently. Have you read the texts of any of the state-level amendments that passed in the 2004 election cycle? By and large, they're not laser-targeted at marriage; they're expressions of anger at the past few years of gains in rights, in particular the Lawrence decision. The underlying message is "so, we can't arrest you for having sex, but we can make your lives hell." Most of these amendments call into question things like partner benefits, insurance benefits, civil unions, domestic partner registries and include incredibly vague and expansive language that could be read to include pretty much any contract or arrangement between two unmarried people. If the real issue was simply marriage, these amendments wouldn't be so broad.

Clinton's policy was a terrible betrayal of gay Americans. Clinton did some very good things for gay people, primarily in simply being willing to freely associate with gay people and speak of gay Americans without irony or coded language. But he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, and he acquiesced to Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and he will be held responsible for both by history. DADT was a debacle in many ways, if you think back to the period. I'll be wrong on some details, but in general, Clinton's first few months in office were no honeymoon. He kept blowing it with his appointments (Lani Guinier, the former Playboy bunny, a nanny-gate appointee that I can't recall). And the military was antagonistic to him; he hadn't earned any respect in those quarters, so he didn't have the juice to go in and change the policy. Nor did he have the support in Congress. DADT blame is shared by many, including Colin Powell and Sam Nunn. But DOMA I have no problem sitting right at his feet. He could have vetoed it and taken the beating later. That was his choice, and another reason I switched to Independent from Democrat.

Elizabeth said...

One more point--

Blame is also due the gay rights movement leaders that pressed for a change in the military policy as soon as Clinton entered office. The opposition ate that up, because they knew he'd lose, and they pressed it as well.

I think the marriage action in San Francisco had a similar effect in motivating the anti-gay right to push marriage amendments in so many states during the national elections. The timing really worked for the anti-gay campaigners. But at an emotional level, I will never, ever forget how I felt seeing those images of people lining up joyfully with their friends and families to publicly avow their love and allegiance to their beloved, nor will I forget how humble and moved I was by the straight allies who formed a national movement to deliver flowers to the couples lining up at City Hall. I want that back. For that week or so, it was easy to ignore how venal the backlash would be.

Clinton's promise to end military discrimination was like that, and I have to wonder how much he understood about how important that promise was--likewise Gavin Newsome. Did they understand the big picture? Or was it about political capital? I want to think it was a bit of both.

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: You ask "Is Kerry's remark a slur on Mary or Dick Cheney?" Kerry's remark was meant to work as a slur, even though it's not a slur. Years ago, racists called people "n***** lovers" — who was slurred there? It's the same move. I might say Kerry slurred himself, as he was essentially saying: I am a low politician without principle, doing whatever I can to try to win.

Elizabeth said...

Ann,

I'll agree that slurs reflect on the speaker, not the target. There's no shame in being called a n****lover or a lesbian, nor any shame in being either. So indeed, Kerry and Edwards were boors in their attempt to make an issue of gay rights via Mary Cheney. But for all that, I still believe the Cheneys to be hypocrits for kowtowing to the social right when the dignity and rights of their own daughter are on the table, and I have no objection to that being made part of the campaign. They should have been clear and not tried to sidle up to that point disingenously.

The Bush-Cheney ticket is no stranger to saying and doing anything, no matter how foul, to win, as you reminded us with the example of McCain. They treated him like dirt in 2000, and it wouldn't be the last time they'd question a Vietnam veteran's patriotism or sanity.

Wade_Garrett said...

None of my gay friends were in any way offended by the way in which Kerry and Edwards referred to Mary Cheney during the debates. Also, lest we forget, Cheney was not visibly upset by Edwards' comments. Only after Bill O'Reilly and others went off about how insensitive they perceived Edwards' comments to be, and Karl Rove sensed an opportunity to make 'political hay' out of Edwards' comments, did Cheney start to act outraged, like the police captain in Casablanca who was shocked to find that there was gambling going on in this casino.

Wade_Garrett said...

For years, Mary Cheney was paid a lot of money by Coors to promote its product to the gay market. For instance, she rode floats in gay pride parades with Mr. Leather 2001. The fact that those 'in the hinterlands' didn't know about it doesn't change the fact that it was a very open thing -- you didn't have to be in the beltway to know about it. I knew about it, and I haven't even lived within 400 miles of the Beltway.

What bothers my gay friends about Bush and Cheney is not that they are intolerant, because they're not. Its no secret that, in their private lives, the Cheneys love their daughter and treat Mary's girlfriend as their daughter-in-law. Similarly, Bush has gay friends, including some to whom he has been close since college. At his 35th Yale reunion, he actually shook the hand of a former classmate who had a sex change operation to become a woman, and told him that he was happy that he was finally able to express himself in the way he had always wanted to.

If they toed the conservative line on this issue, I think that gay people would accept it and say, 'someday things will change.' But they get angry when Bush and Cheney tell rabidly conservative audiences exactly what they want to hear, and then act tolerant when a mainstream audience is watching. And they have a right to be.

Elizabeth said...

Terrance,

Well said. Thanks.

Pogo said...

Terrence said: Also, lest we forget, Cheney was not visibly upset by Edwards' comments.

Not to you maybe. The group I was with saw something quite different: a barely controlled rage.

The fact that gay people noticed Mary Cheney in ads or parades directed towards gays made her 'out' among the gay community, but that means little for the straight crowd. One shouldn't confuse a solipsistic or gay worldview with common knowledge.

At the time, William Safire in the NYT wrote:
Until that moment, only political junkies knew that a member of the Cheney family serving on the campaign staff was homosexual. The vice president, to show it was no secret or anything his family was ashamed of, had referred to it briefly twice this year, but the press -- respecting family privacy - had properly not made it a big deal. The percentage of voters aware of Mary Cheney's sexual orientation was tiny.

Gays express solidarity with the Left because they seem to be accepted there. But the NYTimes photos on Roberts and the Kedwards use of Mary Cheney should suggest to you that your acceptance is very tenuous indeed, contingent on a lockstep agreement with The Party. Just watch what happens when a gay person disagrees with the Left: anything goes in attacking that person. Why this doesn't register with gays is puzzling.

patrick said...

Elizabeth and others:

If one defines pro-gay rights on the issues that you mentioned, then of course on a national basis the Democratic Party is a stronger supporter of "gay rights" than Republicans, though you will find that in Blue State America there often isn't that much difference between the two. Of course, when it comes to the issues that are priorities with the gay rights establishment, sometimes I share those priorities and sometimes not. If I don't share those priorities, then obviously I am not going to muster any outrage at the Republican Party for not sharing them either.

What I was referring to above is the distance that the conservative movement has come from where it was 20 years ago. For instance, 20 years ago, the inclusion of sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws was simply beyond the pale in the mind of almost all conservatives. That has changed for the conservative movement except, of course, among the hard-core social conservatives. Gay rights, even if embraced by a minority of conservatives, can now be reasonable discussed and considered. Even more has the human element changed: homosexuals, once discovered, are not totally ostracized by conservatives as they once were. Where the human element has changed, there is much less support for anti-gay crusades.

Those who live in the leftwing bubbles of university communities or gay meccas may be forgiven if they say "so what" but it in fact makes an enormous practical difference in the Battle of Ideas on a more global basis.

As to Mary Cheney, it is true that her lesbianism was a matter of public record. The fact that it was a matter of public record is really beside the point in my view. The problem is less that she was "outed" but that her homosexuality was used by Edwards and others to discredit her and her parents by (a) openly suggesting that they are "bad parents" beccause of their views on gay rights and (b) deviously trying to suppress support for Bush-Cheney among the hard core anti-gays by exploiting their prejudices ("Cheney has a gay daughter, so you can't trust him on family values") No matter how one slices it, Edwards was pointing out the fact that Cheney was a lesbian to make her and her father odious in the eyes of others. That is what I find objectionable and dangerous. It is not in any gay person's interest, save the most cynical and devious, to use a person's homosexuality as a basis for making him or his family odious. If my parents ever enter public life, I do not want my homosexuality to be used as a basis for discrediting myself or them for ANY reason. Certainly, Lynn Cheney was openly furious at Kerry-Edwards for trotting out Mary Cheney's lesbian for a cheap political shot.

Finally, there is nothing "hypocritical" about the Cheney family insofar as I am aware. To put it bluntly, if a person believes that homosexuality is immoral, or that same-sex marriage isn't marriage, then he shouldn't change his mind simply because his daughter is a lesbian. Exactly how the Cheney family deals with the fact that Mary Cheney is a lesbian with a female partner, I don't know, but it is their own business and concern, and not of any legitimate public interest.

Elizabeth said...

Pogo,

Safire is wrong. You know how to use Google; type in Mary Cheney 2000 and you'll find a number of articles in mainstream press on Mary Cheney during the Bush-Gore campaign.

And hie thee to a dictionary to look up solipsism. You're way off.

tcd said...

Elizabeth and Terrence,

You accuse conservatives of being intolerant but what are you doing when you attack Mary Cheney because she's a conservative gay person?

I'm a conservative and I'm not homophobic. I just don't think that homosexuals should be given special group status. I don't think any group should be given special status and I'm an Asian woman. When people look at me, I want them to see a human being not an Asian woman, or an immigrant or an affirmative action candidate. Instead of "gay rights", how about just plain old "human rights"?

Correction on my previous post: I attended Wayne State from 1993-1998. (God, I must be really old to get that wrong).

Elizabeth said...

Patrick,

I'll agree that the evolution among some people in the conservative sector is good, and belongs on the continuum of gay rights, and I won't even go so far as to say "so what?" though it's tempting. I am reminded of Oliver, asking, "please sir, may I have some more?" But you're putting the most rosy view possible out there and I wouldn't possibly settle for what you see as progress. I'm not in a gay mecca, either; I'm in the deep South. Your red/blue, elite/average folk formula isn't accurate in my experience.

As for the Cheneys, they're not only public figures, they lead our nation. That makes their position on gay rights very, very relevant to me. Bore, or Chore, (just following Pogo's cute little portmanteau of "Kedwards") represent, in a microcosm, what is most disturbing to me about conservatives who aren't socially right wing. They don't do anything to advance their party on social issues. They're collaborators.

patrick said...

"As for the Cheneys, they're not only public figures, they lead our nation. That makes their position on gay rights very, very relevant to me."

Fair enough. Then base your vote on their public positions on gay rights and leave Mary Cheney alone.

Wade_Garrett said...

I'm straight, but for what its worth, is anybody suggesting that gays be given special status? I don't see how a court declaring that anti-sodomy laws violate the constitution gives anybody any special status; rather, it takes away a special status. Nor do I see how any special status is given to gays by the Massachusetts Supreme Court holding that, if the state is going to provide marriage benefits, it needs to let everybody get married, not just straight couples. Aren't those upholding the Constitution? Where are the small government conservatives when certain members of the right want to tell Americans who they can and cannot sleep with?

Also, for the record, I was not criticizing Mary Cheney for being conservative. My criticisms were aimed at her father and George W. Bush.

Pogo said...

Elizabeth: And hie thee to a dictionary to look up solipsism. You're way off.
Sure.
"The theory or view that the self is the only reality."
"the belief that only one's own experiences and existence can be known with certainty"
"the view that I and my ideas alone exist"
In other words, "oneself" is the entire universe.
So, your point is what exactly?

Elizabeth: Safire is wrong. You know how to use Google...
Indeed I do. So where are your articles supporting your contention that (1) Safire, A NYTimes writer, is wrong and you, Elizabeth are correct, and (2) the majority/most/lotsa people already knew about Mary.

Pogo said...

P.S. to Elizabeth: While I found a number of articles supporting Safire's point, I found no poll data demonstrating either position. You're welcome to try, but belittling me because I'm not down with the current "Who's Out" list is sort of, well, solipsistic. (Sorry.)

tcd said...

Terrence,

If you aren't criticizing Mary Cheney, then why did you write "For years, Mary Cheney was paid a lot of money by Coors to promote its product to the gay market" ? Was this not a subtle dig at her, i.e. benefiting from her "gayness" but then not toeing the gay party line by being a conservative? Maybe I'm reading too much into your comments but that was the impression I got from your comments.
Also, I don't buy for a minute your argument that gay rights is about fighting for "benefits". Gay couples get way more benefits from employers than heterosexual couples ever do/did. I remember that my husband and I had to get married before his employer would allow him to add me onto his health insurance policy, but his gay co-workers could add boyfriends, live-in lovers, roommates whenever they wanted. Are you telling me that was not a special privilege? No, I think gay rights is about turning traditions upside down and to hell with the side effects to society at large.

Wade_Garrett said...

I have gay conservative friends, including one of my best friends. However, they are Republicans in spite of their party's attitude towards gays. For him, foreign policy, federalism, tax policy, etc trump gay rights in determining party affiliation. He's also working to get more of his fellow Republicans to accept gays, and that's fine.

But, conservative leaders with gay children, and there are many, who nonetheless toe the party line on gay issues bother me. Its fine if the Cheneys are conservative on every important issue, but when they follow the Christian right's lead on gay issues it makes me think of them as the gay equivalent of Uncle Toms.

Ted - that is in fact a bizarre policy that your office has in place! However, it doesn't rise to the level of a federal issue. 'Activist judges' didn't 'legislate from the bench' to make it that way!

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

Terrence and Elizabeth--

I think that many (if not most) conservatives were upset with Lawrence because they didn't believe that the law was unconstitutional. Thomas makes it explicit that he thinks that the law is stupid. Scalia also hints it in his dissent. The question is about constitutionality not what is good and what isn't on policy grounds. And by the way, I agreed with the Lawrence decision. But I do not think that conservative complaints about the decision are the result of biggotry. Rather, I think, it is the result of the Court pretty clearly substituting its own policy preferences for actual Constitutional Law.

Finally, do you think that my opposition to the Lambda Legal Foundation's position in the Boy Scouts case means that I am hostile to gay rights? I just happen to think that a private organization (that is not even a place of public accomodation) has a right to discriminate on whatever grounds it wants to. I think that sometimes the fight for gay rights goes too far and encroaches on the freedom of people to think what they want and associate with whom they want.


tcd--

Your example of gay couples getting benefits that straight couples couldn't is not a good one. The only reason that employers allow gay partners who are not married to get benefits is that gays cannot get married by law. If gays had the option of marriage such as the one you have, I am certain that employers will immediately change the standard to marriage not just domestic partnership. So, yes, it does make the requirement weaker. But somehow I don't think that it's by choice on the part of the gay community. I'm sure that they would rather have the ability to get married.

Pogo said...

Terrence Re: ...it makes me think of them as the gay equivalent of Uncle Toms.

Wonderful. Thank you. That was precisely the point I was trying to make. The leftist forbearance of gays, blacks, and other minorities is contingent on lockstep support of The Party.

Woe to the Uncle Tom who dares to transgress or think independently.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

One more thing... I wonder why it is hypocrisy for someone to believe that homosexuality is a sin and should not be encouraged by our laws and yet having good friends who are gay and loving one's gay daughter.

Imagine believing that alcoholism is sinful and yet being friends with an alcoholic. I am not saying that homosexuality is like alcoholism and neither do I think that homosexuality is a sin. I am just saying that that's how some conservative Christians might view things and that might explain Bush's and Cheney's (although Cheney is not really a hardcore religious Christian... he comes from the more libertarian Western/Goldwater wing of the Republican party) seeming acceptance of gay friends and children while supporting policies that are not friendly to gays.

tcd said...

Yevgeny,

If gays are already getting benefits under domestic partnership rules then why are they fighting to redefine marriage? Is it not a special privilege that gays are able to claim domestic partnerships but I have to get married to get the same benefits?

Henry said...

"But, liberal leaders who are Roman Catholics, and there are many, who nonetheless toe the party line on abortion bother me."

Actually they don't bother me, but I thought I'd try out the parallelism.

I don't like the conservative party line on gay issues; the issue of whether those conservatives with gay relatives constitute a special case for censure is a rather complex issue, I think.

Actually I don't like the Democrat party line on gay issues much either -- you know, the one that stops just short of supporting gay marriage for political reasons.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

tcd--

Suppose this was a case of interracial marriage prior to the Loving case. Suppose that Virginia banned interracial marriage, but some employers allowed employees who are in an interracial relationship (but not married, since that's prohibited by law) to get the same benefits as intraracially married couples. Would it be special privileges for blacks who are in a relationship with whites to get those benefits? Would it be weird for them trying to fight miscegenation laws?

I am not saying that the push to allow gay marriage is the same as the push to end miscegenation laws. I'm just saying that your special privileges argument is a generic one and not specific to gay marriage per se. Rather, it could also be used to oppose benefits for interracial unmarried couples in pre-Loving Virginia.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

tcd--

Suppose this was a case of interracial marriage prior to the Loving case. Suppose that Virginia banned interracial marriage, but some employers allowed employees who are in an interracial relationship (but not married, since that's prohibited by law) to get the same benefits as intraracially married couples. Would it be special privileges for blacks who are in a relationship with whites to get those benefits? Would it be weird for them trying to fight miscegenation laws?

I am not saying that the push to allow gay marriage is the same as the push to end miscegenation laws. I'm just saying that your special privileges argument is a generic one and not specific to gay marriage per se. Rather, it could also be used to oppose benefits for interracial unmarried couples in pre-Loving Virginia.

tcd said...

Yevgeny,

You're right on both points:
1. gay marriage does not equal ending miscegenation laws
2. my argument re special privileges is too generalized.
And yet, why redefine marriage when domestic partnership provisions are already in place?

By the way, I really enjoy your comments on this thread and the thread re Jamie Gorelick(?) where you do battle with some very mean commentators. Thanks.

Elizabeth said...

Yevgeny,

I realize there are conservatives who opposed Lawrence on the grounds you state, but it's also true that social conservatives simply oppose it for legitimizing homosexual behavior. I think you may be overstating the legal mindset of the average person who just is unhappy or uncomfortable with gay people. If the word bigotry sounds too harsh, use something else, but I doubt they'd be happy with the same result--ending the laws that can be used to prosecute gays for having sex--under better legal conditions.

I too have no objection to the Boy Scouts or any church or organization setting their own membership policies, so long as my tax dollars do not then go to fund their activities. I shouldn't have to pay people to discriminate against me.

Pogo--sigh. Safire is wrong because he says only pundits knew Mary Cheney was gay before Edwards mentioned it in the 2004 debate. I suppose he could be right, but only if by pundit he means anyone who reads a newspaper or magazine, or who watched the Cheney-Leiberman debate in 2000.

tcd--I think your question about why marriage since there are domestic partnerships is fair, and I believe you are misinformed about what benefits go along with domestic partnerships. They generally do not approach those of marriage, they are not respected outside of the area in which they originate--not even from county to county within a state, for that matter, and most of the anti-same-sex marriage amendments that have been passed during the past year have also been aimed at these partnerships.

I hate bugging out of this vigorous discussion, but the semester has begun and I'm still working on my syllabi.