News Flash: Republicans Donít Like Gay People!
The tongues wagged with the veneer of outrage: why, Ann Coulter called John Edwards a faggot! Who would have thought we would have heard such a thing? It’s just shocking, TV news anchors cried.
But no, it’s not shocking, and that’s the really sad part. Anybody who has grown up in a part of the country dominated by Republicans knows that the word “faggot” is used early and often, and not in the hip, ironic, and postmodern way you might hear the word said in Manhattan. Ann Coulter is using this word because she depends on liberals to be shocked and upset by it, sure, but also because it sounds familiar, comfortable and legitimate to a significant part of the country. News flash, people: Most Republicans Don’t Like Gay People! And I’m not just whistling Dixie here: I’m talking about what Republicans say themselves. Only 9%-12% of Republicans say that gays should be able to marry and have the same consequent legal rights as straight people. 58% of Republicans oppose any legal status whatsoever for same-sex couples. 65% of conservatives say they view gay men unfavorably, and 63% report unfavorable opinions of lesbians. In the latest available General Social Survey (available for your review through SDA at Berkeley), 65.9% of Independents who said they were closer to Republicans than Democrats, 57.1% of those who said they were Republicans but not strongly, and 69.9% of strongly-identified Republicans reported that “sexual relations between two adults of the same sex” was “always wrong.”
The focus I see lately on getting people to stop using words — “faggot,” “nigger,” “dyke,” “traitor,” “wetback,” “bitch” — is mystifying to me. Why should Ann Coulter apologize for using a derogatory word to express venom against the sort of person she despises? It is, for once, honest on her part, just like it was honest of Michael Richards to express his venom against black people with the use of the word “nigger.” What exactly will get fixed if everybody masks their venom with nicey-nicey words? The only thing that will be addressed is our awareness of what people really think about others in this nation, and that awareness will counterproductively decline. Rather than focusing on the words people use, let’s put our focus on what people believe, how they behave toward one another, and how those beliefs and behaviors affect the safety and liberty of others around them.
It boils down to this: the problem isn’t that Ann Coulter said “faggot.” The problem is that Ann Coulter and a majority of Republicans are in favor of laws that restrict the safety and liberty of their fellow Americans. The solution is to make sure that such Republicans are put out of power, so their inclination to act out against gays, lesbians, and other groups they don’t happen to like remains purely personal. And that, finally, is yet another reason why we need to support progressives and vote them into office.
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