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Of Mary Cheney and Bookstores

Just returned from my neighborhood Barnes & Noble where I bought Mary Cheney’s book Now It’s My Turn: A Daughter’s Chronicle of Political Life, a book I have been looking forward to reading since I first learned of its impending publication. I knew I couldn’t buy it at A Different Light, my local ostensibly gay bookstore, since BoiFromTroy reported that the book “wasn’t available” there. While he did not find books by this openly lesbian Republican (at the “gay” bookstore), he did find books by straight leftist Noam Chomsky*. I have long since stopped shopping at that bookstore since they prominently featured books by another disingenous straight leftist.

As I said in my comment to Boi’s blog, the “bookstore certainly has the freedom to carry whichever books it wants. And I have the freedom to shop elsewhere.” That’s why I went to Barnes & Noble today to buy the book. As usual when I visit a Barnes & Noble, I delight in the diversity of their selection.

Not only did this bookstore carry Mary Cheney’s book, but they also carried books by other thoughtful conservatives like Victor Davis Hanson — and books by blowhards of the left as well as those of the right. I laughed out loud when I read the blurbs on the back of a book whose subtitle, “Voices of Dissent and the Risk of Speaking Out,” suggests a certain left-wing paranoia. I may lament that my critics do not address the arguments I raise in my posts and often deliver broadsides against me (and others on the right), but I wouldn’t even suggest their attacks pose a risk to my speaking out.

Yet, while Barnes & Noble delights in books of all political perspectives, its rival Borders has chosen not to stock the April/May issue of Free Inquiry because that magazine published 4 of the Mohammed cartoons. Now, just as the West Hollywood bookstore, Borders is free to stock whichever magazines it chooses. And I’m free to shop at Barnes & Noble because that bookstore doesn’t let intimidation get in the way of the pubications it carries. (H/t to Tammy Bruce for reminding me of this story on her Talk Radio 790 KABC-AM radio show Saturday.)

I was delighted to learn that Lambda Rising, a gay bookstore I frequented when I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, is carrying Mary’s book. They were even trumpeting that on their front page when last I checked. Kudos, Lambda Rising.

It is a sign of how politicized our gay culture has become that I would offer kudos to a gay bookstore for carrying the book by the lesbian daughter of the Vice President of the United States.

By so politicizing their selection, my local gay bookstore not only loses a sale from the books they refuse to carry, but by making gay conservatives feel unwelcome, they also discourage us from browsing — and gaining sales from treasures we discover while idly looking around. It was in so browsing nearly a decade ago in Washington’s Lambda Rising that I chanced on Robert Hopcke’s Jung, Jungians & Homosexuality, a book with which I was then unaware. I bought it, just as I bought a book by Hanson which I discovered while browsing in Barnes & Noble today (after having picked up my copy of Mary Cheney’s book).

Just like Borders, my local gay bookstore will surely lose business by discouraging bibliophiles like me from shopping there.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):

*I wonder if that bookstore’s owners are aware that Chomsky recently paid tribute to the terrorist organization Hezbollah, whose policies on gays are certainly worse than those of Mary’s father — an outspoken opponent of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

My Greatest Blogging Disappointment

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 7:28 pm - May 14, 2006.
Filed under: Blogging

One of the greatest disappointments I have had about blogging is that after putting time and thought into a serious post which I hope will generate serious discussion, some reader will comment and dwell on some particular in the post while ignoring my argument altogether or attack me for something I didn’t say or bring up some beef he has with the Bush Administration, the GOP, or conservatives in general. And in some cases, either our defenders (or even Bruce or myself) will take issue with that critic and then lead the discussion away from the subject of the post. The conversation that I had hoped to engender would, alas, not come to pass.

Not until 75 hours after I had asked for examples of Log Cabin criticizing Democrats when a reader, 59 comments into the thread, provided one. This is not to say that we haven’t had good discussions without ad hominems which have gone off topic (from the post to which they’re attached) because we have, even in the thread to that post on Log Cabin. It’s just to lament that we don’t always generate the kind of discussion this medium can and (in my mind) should inspire.

Earlier today, I deleted a comment where the critic refused to address the substance of the post, misrepresented my position in a recent post and then smirkingly recited a list of Democratic talking points. That wasn’t the only thing he misrepresented. Clearly, like a number of our critics, this reader, who hides behind his anonymity, is more interested in attacking us than in engaging us. I have always wondered at those readers who spend so much time on this blog only to pay so little attention to the points we raise, wondering instead (as did that reader) why we didn’t talk about what he wants us to talk about.

If he doesn’t like what we have to say and prefers we blog about something else, there are other countless blogs he can read which may address items of his concern. Not only that. The very tone of some of these critics is not one of argument but of animosity.

In my recent post on Ken Blackwell, I raise, what I believe, is one of the most pressing issues for gay Republicans — what do we do when our party nominates a candidate with whom we agree on the issues, but who publicly attacks gays. Even if Michigan-Matt is right (that Blackwell’s “comments were taken out of context . . . and misconstrued“) and that question doesn’t apply to Ohio’s gubernatorial nominee this year, the dilemma remains. Only a handful (Matt among them) chose to take my point seriously. Alas, that others used the post as an excuse to bait rather than as a means to understand gay Republicans.

To be sure, many of our critics — and our defenders — have used the comments thread to promote a serious discussion of a great variety of issues, not always limited to the issue addressed in the post. Perhaps I go on too much about this, but there are few things I enjoy more than a good conversation, particularly with those who have different views than my own. As an undergraduate, my favorite Political Science professor was a Marxist whom I visit whenever I return to Williamstown. In my last semester in law school, I chose a course with my second favorite law professor (one of the most liberal members of the U-VA Law faculty) over one (which met at the same hour) with my favorite professor (a conservative) because I thought I could learn more from teacher with whom I frequently disagreed.

I would hope that our critics who visit this blog regularly would come here for a similar education. And while there are a handful who do — and who raise thoughtful objections to our ideas — all too many would rather attack us than understand us. And that is truly unfortunate. An unhappy sign of a decline in civil discourse.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):

Odd Blogging Week

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 6:33 pm - May 14, 2006.
Filed under: Blogging,Gay Politics

While it seems I’m back to regular blogging, this past week has turned out to be a rather odd blogging week for me. No sooner do I take issue with Andrew Sullivan for seeing only the dark side of the Bush Administration, that he acknowledges (what I have called) the president’s mixed record on gays — and the Vice President’s opposition to the president’s support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Barely forty-eight hours after I ask for examples of Log Cabin’s criticism Democrats, its national Executive Director Patrick Guerriero provides one — joining national gay groups in taking on Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean. Kudos, Patrick.

I might have caught that story earlier had a number of ideas for posts come to mind when the story broke (on Wednesday). I rushed home from my errands to turn the brainstorms I had while stuck in traffic into posts where I could communicate them to our readers. Back home, I was so busy writing, I barely had time to check the web. And the one brainstorm I had that morning, a post I dashed off in a matter of minutes got (thanks to an Instalink) more attention than a post I had been working on for nearly a week.

Then, finally, on Friday, when I had lots of time to post and ideas in my head for several short posts, our site went down and I couldn’t post, so I ended up watching two DVDs instead of writing.

Then, two posts which I did not promote got picked up by other sites, my post on immigration by the Washington Blade‘s blogwatch (albeit with a misleading and somewhat inaccurate title) and my post on Jerry Lewis by Pajamas Media. I guess it just goes to show that we can’t really anticipate which of our posts will strike a chord with other blogs.

Sometimes, I’ll have, what I believe is a great idea certain to get people talking, only to find that it gets limited attention in the blogosphere. Other times, I’ll whip off a post in a matter of minutes without expecting any reaction (e.g., my post on Barney Frank and Eason Jordan) and find that it helps generate a blog-storm.

I’ll just keep on blogging and delight that at least some of my posts generate serious discussion — or momentary amusement.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):