aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, December 23, 2005
Why accept the ghosted op-ed?
Julian asks this good question:
Why does nobody much seem to have a problem with the common-as-water practice of op-ed ghost writing? Sure, presumably the nominal author of a piece written by some research assistant endorses the contents, but isn’t it a little odd that editors who make “disclosure” and “transparency” professional mantras seem not to blink at running articles purporting to be written by one person and actually written by another? I bounced the question off a few D.C. friends who seemed to think that precisely because the practice was so common, it didn’t really count as deceptive: Everyone assumes that an op-ed festooned with a sufficiently famous byline (of someone not a professional writer, anyway) was actually penned by someone else. But I rather doubt that really is most people’s assumption outside the Beltway.
Yes, why not ”author name for famous byline?” Or at least ”famous byline with author name?” We can guess the reason: the commercial press wants the draw of the famous byline and the famous byline won’t do it without or is enticed by the solo credit.
UPDATE - James Joyner says:
People in important positions have subordinates who do most of the work, which the senior merely oversees. While it’s true that Abraham Lincoln found time to write the Gettysburg Address, we typically don’t expect presidents to write their own speeches. Similarly, if the chairman of General Motors is pleaing his company’s case in the op-ed pages of a major newspaper, we can be assured that he signed off on the column even if he didn’t write it. It’s not the wordsmithing that we care about but the message.
Conversely, when I read the column of a professional pundit, I operate under the assumption that I’m getting them. When I read George Will, Michael Kinsley, or Charles Krauthammer--or, for that matter, Kevin Drum, Andrew Sullivan, or Glenn Reynolds--I don’t do so in a vacuum but rather in the context of a relationship that I’ve built with them through the course of their writing. While the arguments they make in a given piece are still the main thing, their words are intertwined with their reputations.
Santorum’s a weasel
Intelligent design is becoming a hot issue in Pennsylvania’s Senate race. Rick Santorum, the Senate’s third-highest-ranking Republican, sits on the board of the Thomas More Law Center, which led the fight for ID in Dover, Pa. He also praised the Dover school district for trying to “teach the controversy of evolution.” Now that the case has led to a court ruling that eviscerated ID, Santorum says the center “made a huge mistake in taking this case,” and he’s going to quit its board. Santorum 2002: “Intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.” Santorum 2005: “I’m not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom.” Reaction from Santorum’s challenger: He’s an ideologue or a weasel, take your pick.
Faith in theater
The Times looks at the Roman Catholic church on West 49th Street known as the Actors’ Chapel and religious-minded actors who go there:
Religion and the theater, of course, have been connected since long before Jesus’ time, and performers of all faiths populate Broadway, where praying before performing or auditioning is common (if not always successful).
Some Catholics, in particular, feel there is a direct connection between the drama of the church and that of the stage. Father Baker, for instance, reminds some parishioners that “the Broadway experience is rooted in the great Western drama of the liturgy and of the beliefs.”
St. Malachy’s, a traditional Gothic-style chapel with a donated Steinway piano - which “God sent us,” Father Baker said - is just one of the Christian outposts for actors on Broadway and beyond. More and more, clergy members and Christian performers themselves say, those who are seeking out services are younger and more devoted to the idea that a religious rooting can be important, personally and professionally, in a famously tough industry.
Scott Porter, the lead in Altar Boyz is quoted on Christians’ harsh condemnation of homosexuality:
“I had a pastor tell me that if there are gays that work in this field, you have to condemn them,” Mr. Porter said. “And I asked him, ‘Why are you condemning them?’ I think you should be openly accepting and loving. People are changed from personal experience, not by someone condemning them.”
I’ll assume he means changed as in “made believers” as opposed to changed as in “made straight.” Either way it’s a welcome Christian viewpoint.
Being gay is a choice
A homosexual proclivity may not be.
Homosexual and gay are not synonymous; all homosexuals are not gay. Homosexual acts may be circumstantial - a man in prison, a drunken evening - or experimental and do not mean an individual is homosexual by nature. But experimentation can lead to the discovery of a homosexual inclination.
Once that inclination is realized, how it is addressed matters to all of us. Because then there is a choice to be made: to accept homosexuality or to resist and fight it. To embrace it is to become gay. To resist it leads to all kinds of trouble.
In Abraham Lincoln’s day, a more agrarian time when the family was the economic unit, gay was not a choice. Had it been, I’m persuaded beyond all reasonable doubt that Lincoln might have chosen it. And that he’d have been happier if he had.
Urbanization and mobilization - particularly World War II which brought women into the workforce and men together as it took them around the world - brought with it the beginnings of a gay identity. That identity is rooted in the collective experience of those who have gone through the difficult process of making the choice to embrace their homsexuality.
I saw Brokeback Mountain yesterday. Its peculiar achievement is to show straight America the cost to all of us when someone chooses not to be gay. For Ennis’s torment was not his alone; he shared it with Jack and Alma and their daughters and every woman he dated and every random person that fell victim to his wild outbursts of rage against the world.
Jack had a choice too, one that would not have made as tragic a movie.
Ennis was right when he said, “If you can’t fix it, Jack, you gotta stand it.” The heartbreak was in the way he chose to “stand it.” Ennis didn’t realize he had a choice. In the final shot, alone in his trailer, Ennis looks at a postcard of Brokeback Mountain tacked to a closet door. He closes the door.
What we must see, all of us gay and straight alike, is that it’s in our interest to help open the closet door. We must make the choice to come out of the closet and become gay an easier one; the obvious one. Because that’s the right choice, the good choice, the healthy choice, for our society and for all of us living in it.
RELATED: Here’s the full text Annie Proulx short story.