aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
A hidden life
I owe some conservative friends a post on outing; I’ve been reflecting on my position as current events keep it more alive in public discussion than ever before. A good thing.
It was in that context that I viewed Frontline’s A Hidden Life an investigation of the Spokane Mayor Jim West scandal. I don’t know what I expected, probably affirmation of my posted opinion that West was a hypocrite who deserved his outing. And that critics of the Spokane-Review were just plain wrong.
I came away with more questions than answers. The documentary (in its day after news meeting discussion of the program this morning The Spokesman-Review’s Steven Smith called it a docudrama; not by my definition) cast serious doubt on whether West was even misusing his office. It certainly was a gripping portrayal.
Smith posted a Spokesman-Review response in two parts that point out some factual errors, none so serious as to substantially alter my opinion of the program. The comments should be read as well. And the program’s producer Rachel Dretzin was in a Washington Post chat this morning. The transcript is here.
Once all that settles in, it might just color that outing post I promised my friends.
Campus bias is rare in PA
The Chronicle (subscription) reports that the Republican lead committee to document the liberal-professor-means-liberal-proselytizing trope did not:
A special committee of the Pennsylvania legislature that investigated complaints that liberal professors had treated conservative students unfairly has issued a draft report that stops short of calling for a statewide policy guaranteeing students’ rights to academic freedom. But the report recommends that Pennsylvania’s public colleges and universities review their own policies and ensure that students’ rights to free speech are protected.
The report was drafted by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Academic Freedom in Higher Education, which plans to vote on it by the end of this month.
The panel was established in July 2005 to investigate claims that professors’ ideological views were influencing what they taught and how they treated students whose views clashed with their own (The Chronicle, July 7, 2005). The committee held four public hearings over eight months. While the draft report says the panel was urged to endorse a statewide policy guaranteeing students’ rights, it says the committee felt such a step was “unnecessary” because violations of students’ academic freedom “are rare.”
I’m waiting to see if Michael will comment. In the meantime, check out the text of his talk on academic freedom presented at Penn State last January.
Let them see us
Alas, it was Connecticut:
Lamar Outdoor Advertising has turned down posters for an exhibit of Polish art in Hartford, Connecticut because they feature same-sex couples holding hands.
Real Art Ways is featuring an exhibit of young avant garde Polish artists including 24-year old Karolina Bregula. Lamar’s Hartford office has originally agreed to the billboard campaign, but turned down the images of Bregula’s when it saw it.
Lamar’s regional vice president Steve Hebert said the company had offered the gallery five free 12-foot by 25-foot billboards at no cost. The billboards usually would rent for $1350 each.
Hebert told 365Gay.com that he was concerned the images could invite vandalism. He said that three other billboard designs featuring works by other artists had been approved.
Real Art Ways says that if the company rejected a billboard because it featured same-sex couples it did not want to take any ad space with the company.
“Let them see us” is the campaign’s slogan. Lamar, out of Baton Rouge, LA, is the same company that rejected the billboards in Georgia.
Whistling Past Dixie
In a Salon article analyzing the gay marriage win in Arizona, Glenn Greenwald summarizes Schaller’s book:
All of these trends give Democrats more ammunition with which to turn the GOP into a regional party, the party of the South. University of Maryland, Baltimore County, professor Thomas F. Schaller argues in his new book, “Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Do Without the South” that “Democrats should forget about recapturing the South in the near term and begin building a national majority that ends, not begins, with restoring their lost southern glory.”
As Schaller pointed out in Salon Tuesday, “the South is the most religious and evangelized region of the country, making it the most fertile ground for a socially conservative message.” Schaller contends in “Whistling Past Dixie” that the majority political and cultural views in the South are so distinct from the rest of the country that “the Democrats’ near-term goal should be to isolate the Republicans as a regional party that owns most of the South, but little else.”
In his Salon piece, Schaller explains the rise of Republicans in the South as a function of race, religion, gender, and that we are the least unionized and the most rural region of the nation.
It’s become clear that I have no choice but to read Schaller’s book. I have no objection to its formulation as summarized by Greenwald, but I’ve seen it used for simplistic southern bashing.
For now I’ll say that my continuing call for Democrats to show up in the South is not that they should pander or cave; rather it’s that they should have the courage of their convictions and show up to give support and sustenance (as Dean has done) to the many liberals that are here.
LATER: Kos chimes in. After quoting “Tom Schaller, former dKos contributing editor” he concludes:
Now, this doesn’t mean we need to abandon the South, belittle the South, mock the South, piss on the South, or ignore the South. A national party with a real mandate needs to be competitive in every corner of our great nation. [...]
The difference is between need and want. We don’t need the South to win congress and the White House. The short-term Democratic path to victory clearly runs outside Dixie.
But we want to win those states because no truly national party can anyone behind. And we won’t.
I’m down with that!
I’m as critical of the Catholic bishops’ document adopted yesterday that struggles to come to terms with gay people as Pam is. But I’m sitting here thinking that the fact that they’re grappling with it the way they are means we’re winning this battle.
I was surprised and pleased to find that one of those quoted questioning the approach was from here in Georgia:
A few bishops voiced concern Monday that the guidelines, on which a final vote is expected Tuesday, would not help them reach out. Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah, Ga., said the distinction between calling homosexuality a disordered inclination and insisting that gay people are not disordered would be lost on gay men and lesbians.
“I think that is quite reasonable for the heterosexual, but for the person with the inclination it will be very hard to accept,” Bishop Boland told the conference. “To apply it pastorally can be quite difficult.”