May 12, 2010

Was the Wall Street Journal trying to make Elena Kagan look gay?

"A spokeswoman for the Wall Street Journal said today its cover art was not intended as innuendo about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's sexual orientation after the paper's front-page use of an image of Kagan playing softball provoked a mixture of irritation and amusement from gay and lesbian advocates."

Ha ha. This takes me back to 2005, when John Roberts was nominated and I wrote that the New York Times used photographs (and other material) to try to create the impression that John Roberts is gay:
Just look at the series of photographs they chose: young John in plaid pants, young John with his boys' school pals, young John in a wrestling suit with his fellow wrestlers, John with footballers, and -- the final pic -- John smiling in an all-male wedding photograph. The article also says Roberts married his wife when both were in their forties and that that their children were adopted.
There was a huge discussion on the internet at the time, much of it focused on the question whether plaid pants suggest gayness.


Whatever it means for a man, here's Gawker laying out "The Case that Kagan Is a Lesbian":
The haircut...
She's never been married...
She's opposed to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"...
She played softball...
She wears plaid: Okay, since we're digging out the circumstantial evidence, there is a picture of Kagan from 1977 where she is wearing a plaid, flannel shirt. Sorry, but, like softball, flannel=lesbian.
The mayor of Gaytown has endorsed her...
She's never denied the rumor...
Obama digs lesbian judges...
The gay establishment is suspiciously quiet...
CBS News reported it...
So, do newspapers use photographs and other signals to create the impression that a public figure is gay? I certainly think so. I think it matters mainly because of the way it creates the impression that the newspaper is not journalistically...  straight.

49 comments:

El Pollo Real said...

I think they're just stirring the pot, trying to create a vortex as they swirl down the sink.

Synova said...

It's the gay and lesbian advocates saying that playing softball means you're a lesbian, isn't it?

This sort of thing upsets me. We haven't worked against stereotypes at all and become more accepting of differences. All we've done is built smaller, ever more constraining boxes to shove people into.

Synova said...

Oh, and they weren't trying to make John Roberts look gay. They were trying to make him look like an unserious dork.

It's not the same thing.

former law student said...

I asked my wife if she thought the picture made Kagan look gay.

After she yelled at me for wasting time with stupidity on the Internet, she pointed out she had an identical picture of her mother. The only difference is that her mother, pre-WW II, was wearing a skirt as she stood at the plate.

vet66 said...

First Sotomayor now Kagan as overweight examples of the supposed 'best and brightest' the democrats can offer up. This simultaneously as the FLOTUS is attempting to restrict the diets of the rest of us. We have Pelosi who has apparently never seen a botox procedure she didn't like and Joe Biden with the cheshire grin full of more white than the porcelain on my Eljer toilet.

These people are shallow and totally out of touch with the rest of us. The politicians rely on manufatured looks to deceive the people they fail to represent while the educated elite trotted out to pass inspection for SCOTUS look like they spend too much time on the arugula and crustless finger sandwich circuit in perpetual feedbag mode.

I had two bowls of senate bean soup yesterday the effects of which reminded me that, in the end, they are bilious gas bags full of themselves.

wv: caticati of which I am unabashedly guilty.

Cris said...

I noticed that the NYT made a point of saying that in his junior year drama club production, Roberts played Peppermint Patty.

The Drill SGT said...

I care nothing abut whether Kagan is gay.

I do care if the WH lies about it

mRed said...

Am I safe with the photo of me in Madras shorts? Need to know so I can be comfortable with myself.

traditionalguy said...

My attention span for a scandal about a Professional woman's loving other women is fast fading. So long as she is not seducing married women, she is not harming anyone. If we want to impose a litmus test for heterosexuality in government jobs, then say so. The number of high State and Federal Agencies suddenly in need of replacement Administrators will probably astonish us.

mRed said...

SGT, I'm pretty sure that abut thing is for male homosexuals.

Dave said...

Are we sure the nominee is not just John Feinstein in drag?

Pogo said...

I fear Kagan's leftism, not her softballs.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well if SNL ever wants to do a skit on her maybe they can get Jon Lovitz to come back for a show.

/ducks

knox said...

I thought the plaid pants photo was a young Kagan until I read the post more closely. I was thinking "She looks like a dude, why in the world would Althouse put up this picture??" LOL

New "Hussein" Ham said...

The White House issued a statement announcing that Kagan is not gay, so there's no possible way she could be gay, or else that would mean that the White House had deliberately misled the Senate, which has the duty of vetting this nominee.

There is absolutely no way that the White House would deliberately mislead the Senate. And there is no way that Kagan would allow the White House statement to go unremarked upon if it was not true.

That would be extremely unethical of Kagan.

So, she must be straight.

She cannot be a lesbian, or else that would mean that she too is participating in a conspiracy to mislead the United States Senate.

So, therefore, she is straight, and there will be no people coming forward with evidence that she is gay or to claim that they had lesbian sex with Ms. Kagan.

Won't happen. Or else Ms. Kagan's nomination would go down in flames.

former law student said...

Althouse Blog In-class Quiz

Hemingway's "Soldier's Home" (1925)

Determine from the following passage if Helen, the sister of the returning WW I soldier Harold Krebs, is a Lesbian.

Vocabulary words
Indoor: Indoor baseball was the original name for softball.

His sister sat down at the table and watched him while he read.
"We're playing indoor over at school this afternoon," she said. "I'm going to pitch."
"Good," said Krebs. "How's the old wing?"
"I can pitch better than lots of the boys. I tell them all you taught me. The other girls aren't much good."
"Yeah?" said Krebs.
"I tell them all you're my beau. Aren't you my beau, Hare?"
"You bet."
"Couldn't your brother really be your beau just because he's your brother?"
"I don't know."
"Sure you know. Couldn't you be my beau, Hare, if I was old enough and if you wanted to?"
"Sure. You're my girl now."
"Am I really your girl?"

Fred4Pres said...

If a kid wore plaid trousers (calling them pants alone is rather gay), he would be called gay but that did not mean he was actually gay. Don't most gay men have the fashion sense not to wear plaid.

I do not care who Elena Kagan is doing it with (my guess her trists are occasionally with Ben & Jerry).

Scott M said...

@Fred4Pres

I care fare more about her Constitutional views, but in the interest of timely quips...

do not care who Elena Kagan is doing it with (my guess her trists are occasionally with Ben & Jerry).

OCCASIONALLY?

Bob From Ohio said...

"flannel=lesbian"

Q:What's the difference between a whale and a lesbian?

former law student said...

Plaid slacks are not a gay marker unless thousands of golfers are gay. Plaid doubleknits were widely worn in the 70s -- an Indian coworker of mine wore plaid highwaters every day. (One of the younger guys dressed as "Babu" for Halloween. "Babu" did not notice.) He was a husband and father, so probably not gay.

MadisonMan said...

I'm surprised at how short Kagan is.

Why aren't there more tall people on the court?

Synova said...

The actual purpose of the softball photo is probably that it shows a slim, athletic, Kagan. IMO she doesn't look butch in that photo at all.

And I thought that having a few pounds was supposed to make a woman look maternal and comforting.

lemondog said...

Who cares her sexual orientation.

Maybe she is asexual.

Why would the Judiciary Committee care?

re: John Roberts, Googling shows plenty of 2005 comments insinuating 'gayness.'

c3 said...

We're ok as long as we don't ask Ms Kagan if she's a lesbian and if she doesn't tell us she is. That approach will work best for everyone.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Why would the Judiciary Committee care?"

They don't. Nobody on the Judiciary Committee has ever asked about Ms. Kagan's sexual orientation.

However.

If the White House has joined Kagan in conspiring to mislead the Senate about an issue - any issue - then this would raise troubling questions about the Kagan nomination and about her ethics.

So, Elana Kagan cannot be a lesbian and there can be no evidence that surfaces to suggest that she and White House officials have been conspiring to mislead the United States Senate.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"We're ok as long as we don't ask Ms Kagan if she's a lesbian and if she doesn't tell us she is."

That moment has passed.

The White House has issued an official statement claiming that Ms. Kagan is straight and assuring the United States Senate that press accounts outing Ms. Kagan were false.

They could only have done that if the White House and Kagan worked together to provide this information to the Senate. (White House officials couldn't release that information unless they'd asked Kagan her orientation and she told them her orientation.)

They've worked together, conspired if you will - to provide certain information to the Senate, even though no Senators have asked about Ms. Kagan's sexual habits.

So, there simply cannot be any evidence whatsoever that could possibly come up that leads anyone to the conclusion that Ms. Kagan joined White House officials to mislead the United States Senate about any issue.

That would, after all, sink her nomination.

So, clearly, she is heterosexual.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

knox said: I thought the plaid pants photo was a young Kagan until I read the post more closely.

I thought the same thing at first glance. Then, my second association was that it could easily be a black & white of Kurt from Glee. (Who is a ridiculous gay male stereotype, in case you don't watch the show, which is really fun, BTW.)

- Lyssa

Lem said...

I seem to remember something about Roberts child playing and dancing and either Andrew Sullivan or some other gay activist point to that as a sign that the child was gay.

Kirstin said...

Let's have Kristin Chenoweth and the creator of "Glee" weigh in.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Lookit that. She bats as a righty. Probably hits to right field, too, judging by her stance at the plate. Wonder if she throws right as well.

Surprising that Andrew Sullivan isn't all over that.

edutcher said...

Since when is plaid an indication of homosexuality? Used to be, plaid was as macho as you could get.

One presumes the Pythons and 'the Lumberjack Song' was the turning point, although walking into a Highland Fair and saying so might prove hazardous to your health.

former law student said...

Plaid slacks are not a gay marker unless thousands of golfers are gay. Plaid doubleknits were widely worn in the 70s

Hah!

You stole my point. I don't think a guy was allowed on a golf course in the 70s if he was wearing plaid pants.

WV "fazen" German plural of fazer in the 23rd Century; as "ein fazen, drei fazen, Herr Kapitan Kirk"

former law student said...

I didn't mean to skip over this:

-- the final pic -- John smiling in an all-male wedding photograph.

All-male wedding photograph? Could John be, not Catholic, but an Orthodox Jew? Worse yet, could he be a closeted Muslim?

Where else do you see wedding guests separated by sex/gender/sex/pick one/whatever?

Clyde said...

Next question: What kind of car does she drive? Subaru station wagon? PT Cruiser? The world wants to know...

albert venn dicey said...

John Roberts looks very cure in those pants!

Synova said...

"Where else do you see wedding guests separated by sex/gender/sex/pick one/whatever?"

I only got married once but the photo session was longer than the ceremony and absolutely the wedding party was separated by everything possible to separate them by. Picture of the groom and groomsmen, bride and bridesmaids, couple and parents, bride's family, groom's family, etc. etc.

"I seem to remember something about Roberts child playing and dancing and either Andrew Sullivan or some other gay activist point to that as a sign that the child was gay."

No judging there. No pressure for kids to conform to the box society wants to put them in. Nope.

We look back at slavery, at women as second class citizens, prejudice and discrimination and those oppressive gender roles and the pressure to conform and we're appalled.

And the "solution" has been to make more boxes but smaller, to force everyone into. A woman can't be "mannish" or even single without being assumed to be lesbian. A little boy can't love to dance without being gay.

People can't even just have friends anymore.

Lynne said...

So plaid=gay?
Jeez, don't tell the Scots.

I own two red plaid flannel shirts and one set of long red flannel underwear. My husband likes me in the shirts and finds the long undies unbearably sexy.
I'm not gay.
But then he is of Scottish origin.
And neither of us plays softball.
???????????
Perhaps I should submit a detailed description of our wardrobes and activities to various bloggers in order to settle this important question.

Ann Althouse said...

"She bats as a righty."

I thought you were trying to say "She is as crazy as a right-winger" in a purposefully ungrammatical style.

Apparently, I really am as crazy as a right-winger.

Alex said...

What would Titus do?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Why should I care?

Her apparent support of executive power? -- probably a plus. Her interest i "redistributive" rights to freedom of speech depending on the volume of that speech and its potential "harm," another story.

America began to fall apart when things like sexuality were pushed out of the libertarian closet and into the arena of public discourse.

The political may often be personal, but the personal should not really be political.

That she might be a carpet cruncher is of no interest to me.

The rest remains to be discovered during confirmation hearings. If I'm prejudiced against her, it's because she's another damned academic, not because she might be a bean flicker.

The second is far more important than the first.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

The second is far more important than the first??

[punctuation corrected]

ricpic said...

Softball is the giveaway. Ever see a less than butch women's softball pitcher? Case closed.

lemondog said...

Jennie Finch

Methadras said...

She looks like Quagmire!!! That's all I care about.

jeff said...

"Where else do you see wedding guests separated by sex/gender/sex/pick one/whatever?"

Pretty much any wedding there is a photographer at.

"The haircut...
She's never been married...
She's opposed to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"...
She played softball..."

But does she drive a Subaru Forester?

ricpic said...

I drive a Subaru Forester and I'm not a lesbian...I think.

Regarding FLS's long Hemingway quote: among his other oddities Hemingway was sure fixated on the brother-sister thing.

Ralph L said...

I had a pair of green & white plaid trousers much like Roberts' when I was that age, and I'm not ... thin enough to wear them now. They were hand me downs from my brother, who's been happily married for 22 years next month.

JAL said...

Not worth commenting on.

Kev said...

From the linked story:

"I think it's strange that you'd go back 17 years to dig up a photo of someone who's one of hte most photographed women in the world today," said Jenna Lowenstein, communications director for the National Stonewall Democrats.

"One of the most photographed women in the world"?? I'd never heard of this woman until about two weeks ago.

But then again, I'm just a hick from flyover country, so what do I know? (Or maybe it's just that I'm not a political junkie; let's go with that.)