One of the (several) reasons I have long since stopped reading Andrew Sullivan’s blog (which was once the first blog I read every day) is that, shortly after the president announced his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment (support we have repeatedly criticized, here for example) , his posts have become increasingly emotional and less and less responsible. On February 24, 2004, his response to the president’s announcement more closely resembled a child’s temper tantrum than it did a rational response to a bad policy.
It seems the Andrew’s overly emotional responses to bad policies and bizarre comments on gay issues is par for the course for gay activists. I noted here how “easily outraged” the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was when they pitched a fit at the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts. That group’s hyperbolic rhetoric obscured its valid criticism of the Vatican’s proposed “instruction” preventing the ordination of gay men as priests.
The reaction of some gay activists and media types to Today show movie critic Gene Shalit’s description of Jack Gyllenhaal’s’ Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain as a “sexual predator” seems similarly hyperbolic. The more I think about that description, the odder it appears. As the comments section to my previous post on the topic indicate, it appears that way to a number of our readers as well.
That said, given Gene Shalit’s past writing on his gay son, it’s clear this film critic does not harbor anti-gay sentiments. Yet, both GLAAD and Advocate, the magazine which first published Shalit’s piece, both defined the remarks as anti-gay. Odd word choice, yes, but anti-gay, no. After all, there are gay sexual predators (just as there are straight sexual predators). Identifying someone as such is thus not per se an anti-gay statement.
Because Shalit has already made clear that his son’s sexuality did not alter his feelings for the younger man, GLAAD should have given him the benefit of the doubt. Instead of posting a hysterical press release, demanding that people contact NBC and demand that Shalit apologize, they should have contacted him privately and asked for a clarification of his unusual description. Or perhaps even reached out to his son. Their release made clear that Shalit had an openly gay son.
In short, GLAAD, like so many gay activists reacting to other slights (or perceived slights) against gays, overreacted to what, in context, seems to amount to no more than a poor choice of words. Instead of issuing an angry press release, they should have found a more diplomatic (and less public) means to address Mr. Shalit’s comments.
With this release, they become increasingly like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, decrying a threat where there is none. And like that boy, they are less likely to be taken seriously when they draw attention to real threats.
Andrew Sullivan would be wise as well not to get so excited by similar imperfections in the world at large.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com