aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Stop looking South! II
Uh, this is from New Jersey:
Junior Matthew LaClair, 16, said [public school] history teacher David Paszkiewicz, who is also a Baptist preacher in town, spent the first week of class lecturing students more about heaven and hell than the colonies and the Constitution.
LaClair said Paszkiewicz told students that if they didn’t accept Jesus, “you belong in hell.” He also dismissed as unscientific the theories of evolution and the “Big Bang.”
Pop the question. And report the answer.
Early in October I wrote a post that I thought framed Outing in an original way.
In it I explained that to accept that being called ‘gay’ is defamatory necessarily carries with it the assumption that there is some legally definable harm that comes as a consequence of being gay. Either our society has a ”straight-person’s privilege” protected by the courts or you cannot be defamed by being called gay.
Further, I argued, there is a ”straight person assumption” that carries with it that illegitimate “straight-person’s privilege.” That, too, should be eliminated in a just society. And with it the notion that ”outing” is a violation of privacy.
Pleased with my post, I sent it to a couple of my more conservative blogger buddies and waited for their impressed reply. You might guess that I waited in vain. They replied alright but were far less impressed than I might have hoped. The email dialog and posted responses left everyone more or less affirmed in their same previously held position.
Ha! I thought. Look at them! Mired in their unchanged position! Not budged a bit by my brilliant reasoning! Unwilling to consider different points of view! Closed to new ideas! Too smart for my own good, it did finally occur to me that my position had remained every bit as unchanged as theirs. So I sat and simmered; nary a post through what has been a banner season of outing chatter.
Until today. Using as occasion the SoVo piece reporting objections to CNN’s scrubbing (both transcript and video) of Bill Maher’s outing of Ken Mehlman on Larry King, I proclaim the latest iteration of my position on outing: Ask the question; report the answer.
I realize this is no revolution in my thinking; I’ve only budged a bit. But it is genuine ongoing considered and thoughtful evolution. The position is not original to me, it comes from Chris Craine:
Homosexuality has gone from the love that dare not speak its name, to the sex that dare not be asked about. It’s telling that a reporter who wouldn’t hesitate to ask a straight celebrity about who he’s dating would consider asking the same question to a closeted celebrity as prying into his sex life.
In reality, asking a female celeb if she has a girlfriend is no more and no less intruding into her bedroom than asking if she has a boyfriend. And simply asking “the question” and reporting the answer is not the equivalent of “outing,” as many in the mainstream press seem to believe.
Outing involves reporting that someone is gay despite their refusal to answer the question or their insistence that they are straight. It’s understandably controversial, and involves weighing the supposed hypocrisy of the closeted public figure against how private the evidence is of the person’s homosexuality.
It’s not outing to merely ask the question and report the answer. It’s what journalists do every day. And in those answers, the public can draw its own conclusions.
Atlanta is cool
Some cities will do anything they can think of to keep young people from fleeing to a hipper town. [...]
[A] report released this week by the Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, which showed Atlanta leading the pack among big cities, while other metro areas, like Philadelphia, hemorrhaged young people from 1990 to 2000. (In this competition, surveys that make a city look good are a favorite opening salvo.)
In that decade, the Atlanta study said, the number of 25- to-34-year-olds with four-year college degrees in the city increased by 46 percent, placing Atlanta in the top five metropolitan areas in terms of growth rate, and a close second to San Francisco in terms of overall numbers. Charlotte, N.C., also outperformed Atlanta, with a growth rate of 57 percent, the second highest in the country after Las Vegas.
Atlanta a close second to San Francisco? Around here they say that Atlanta’s not part of Georgia. And there they hesitate to venture outside the perimeter:
Atlanta has some strong advantages, of course. There are some 45 colleges and universities in the metro area. The Cartoon Network is based here, as are scores of companies in the technology and entertainment sectors. The music industry is another draw for the creative class. And the city has large international and gay populations, considered strong indicators for popularity with the young and restless.
The purple South
I watched Thomas Schaller, author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South, on the Nov. 22 Washington Journal last night (start at 46:25). I was unimpressed.
Netroots Democrats decry the culture of the DC political consultant and hold Schaller, who went to school in North Carolina, lives in DC and researched his book in five states (Ohio, Wisconsin, Montana, Colorado & Arizona - not a Southern state among them) in high esteem.
To me he comes off as a standard-issue consultant cum tactician ("politics is really economics...and you spend where you can win"). Is their real goal not to eliminate the consultants but rather to replace them with their own?
On Monday, Facing South wrote in Purple America, Purple South:
Note in particular the battleground of the South. There are the strong “red” or Republican patches running through such areas as northern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia; the Georgia and north Florida coast; and southeast Kentucky.
But even more striking are the deep shades of blue, such as most of Arkansas and Tennessee; a belt slashing through the piedmont of Georgia, South Carolin and North Carolina (the South’s fastest-growing area); and Appalachian counties in the Virginias.
The concentrations of red in the South are on par with the swaths of scarlet one sees in the Midwest/Plains (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma) and the upper West.
It’s amazing to see so many blogs in the Democratic Party camp writing off the South in an attempt to position themselves as “realistic,” when the reality of fierce party competition in the South couldn’t be more clear.
A year ago I read Mo Fiorina’s Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. He’s still speaking to me when he observes that “The simple truth is that there is no Culture War in the United States.”
As a nation we remain closely divided, not deeply divided. Schaller notwithstanding, that observation most emphatically includes the South.