Of Hypocrisy and ‘Homophobia’
Stephen Colbert pulls the pin on a politically incorrect grenade
Stephen Colbert is a poofter, a pansy. He’s light in the loafers. He’s a flaming fairy. He’s gayer than the front row at a Bette Midler concert.
If I wanted to insult Stephen Colbert, I might have called him a lot of things, but “cock holster” probably wouldn’t have come to mind. By the standards of Stephen Colbert, however, there are no standards, so I can call him any slang synonym for homosexual and still hope to get a network TV contract.
Alas, my phone isn’t blowing up with return calls from CBS executives, which probably means you won’t see “The Stacy McCain Gay Joke Show” on their fall schedule. And I had so much material ready . . .
Being almost as notoriously heterosexual as President Trump, I wouldn’t be much offended at being targeted by an anti-gay slur. It’s an odd thing about what are commonly called “homophobic” insults: Who’s insulted?
If you’re not actually gay, why would someone call you a faggot? Is he trying to start a fight? Aren’t anti-gay insults, when aimed at a target who is not even suspected of homosexuality, just a way of saying, “I don’t like you”?
OK, you don’t like me, so you call me a faggot. And then what?
How am I expected to react to this non sequitur? Call the Civility Police and report you for violating the law against homophobia?
Oh — wait a minute! Homophobia is not actually against the law. It’s a free country, and you have a right to your own opinion. No law requires you to like me, or to be polite to me. Calling me a faggot is rude and also incorrect, unless you’re using “faggot” in the down-home sense of the word, i.e., someone who probably won’t kick your ass for calling him a “faggot.”
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). The same source has other advice I could recommend, but for now let’s focus on the Christian teaching of non-violence, which requires the faithful to endure insults without retaliation. As children, we all despised the tattletale who would complain to the teacher if someone said a naughty word, whereas now there are adults who are professional tattletales, getting paid to enforce politically correct speech codes. Our university campuses now routinely erupt in riots over rumors that Ann Coulter or Charles Murray might show up and say something the student activist types don’t like. But I digress . . .
If I am not gay, and you know that I’m not gay, what is your purpose in calling me, for example, a “cock holster”? It’s just an insult, not a hate crime and, since I’m not going to draw my pistol and shoot you for insulting me, the only thing you’ve done is to signify your own rudeness.
On the other hand, what if you called a gay man a “cock holster”?
Barry Manilow recently announced his homosexuality. Has Stephen Colbert called the legendary pop balladeer a “cock holster” yet? Has Colbert said anything similar about Elton John? Was Colbert making gay jokes when George Michael died? Have I somehow overlooked Colbert’s history of remarks indicating his negative opinion of homosexuality? If we don’t have any reason to believe Colbert is anti-gay, then why the social-media uproar about his alleged expression of “homophobia”?
Shall I ask some more rhetorical questions? Or is my point obvious? Why is it off-limits for Stephen Colbert to insult the President by the sarcastic suggestion that he is providing sexual favors to Vladimir Putin? That’s all Colbert’s “cock holster” insult was, really — a vulgar way of accusing Donald Trump of being a servile henchman for the Russian president.
So, again, why the uproar? Major media outlets and Democrat politicians have claimed that Trump is a Putin puppet, and all Colbert did was to express this in crude terms. If saying crude things about Republicans is now a career-ender for show-business types, there’s going to be an awful lot of unemployed people in Hollywood pretty soon. No, I don’t think LGBT activists have suddenly decided that it is impermissible to use coarse language against President Trump, but rather two other motives are at work:
- Protecting the power of “homophobia” as an accusation — LGBT activists thrive on their power to intimidate anyone who opposes them. They use the threat of boycotts against advertisers to deprive conservative broadcasters — Fox News, talk radio, etc. — of revenue, and have been known to boycott corporations whose executives donated to organizations that oppose policies advocated by LGBT activists. If these groups fail to condemn Colbert’s “cock holster” insult about Trump, they risk forfeiting their credibility because, as Josh Jordan remarked, “If a late night host had said this about Obama, every activist group in the country would be calling for their job — and they’d get it.”
- Colbert broke the first rule of LGBT Activism Fight Club, which is that nobody is allowed to talk about what being gay actually means.
In the context of political correctness, the “sex” part of “homosexual” is treated like the area on old maps marked, “Here Be Dragons.” We are required to pretend to believe that being gay is about some inscrutable thing called “attraction” — a mystical quality of sentiment, beyond anyone’s power to explain or describe — rather than being about sexual activity.
Colbert’s “cock holster” joke transgressed that unwritten rule. Now, let it be noted that no one would like to have their intimate personal relationships discussed in direct and specific terms. My wife and I have six children, conceived by processes familiar to anyone who has studied biology, and I would consider it insulting if someone described our relationship in such, uh, vivid terms as Colbert applied to the Trump-Putin relationship.
Ah, but wait! When heterosexual men talk among themselves, sometimes they are quite boastful in this regard, aren’t they? Indeed, didn’t Trump’s braggadocio about his sexual exploits cause a huge scandal last fall? Many expected the recording of Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush to destroy the Republican’s campaign, but it didn’t. Why? Because that’s how guys talk. Or maybe not all guys, but certainly such conversations are common enough among guys that most voters (including women) were not surprised. Really, does anyone believe that if we had secret recordings of Bill Clinton’s conversations with his buddies, it wouldn’t be as bad as Trump?
We know that heterosexual men often talk about sex and women in ways that they don’t talk when women are present, because this would be considered disrespectful to women. La Rochefoucauld said that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, and the traditional sense of decorum in discussing sex could therefore be viewed as a form of male tribute to women’s (presumed) greater virtue in terms of sexual behavior.
Rhett Butler: The war stopped being a joke when a girl like you doesn’t know how to wear the latest fashion. And those pantalettes, I don’t know a woman in Paris who wears pantalettes anymore.
Scarlett O’Hara: Oh Rhett, what do they — you shouldn’t talk about such things.
Rhett: You little hypocrite. You don’t mind my knowing about them, just my talking about them.
Are LGBT activists latter-day Victorians? Are we forbidden to mention the specifics of homosexual activity lest we offend their sense of decorum?
No, that’s not it at all, as anyone familiar with gay culture knows. Gay people talk in quite raunchy ways about sex, and LGBT activists are eager to have the subject of gay sex taught in specific ways in public schools.
The uproar over Colbert’s “cock holster” joke is about public relations. We are witnessing the consequences of a propaganda campaign.
The ordinary homosexual doesn’t mind discussing, among trusted friends, his or her preferences in ways that would make Colbert’s vulgar joke seem tame by comparison. However, the LGBT political movement is as hypocritical as Scarlett O’Hara about her pantalettes when it comes to discussion of the specifics of homosexual behavior intended for a general audience. Here the LGBT commissars enforce the party line with Stalinesque zeal, lest anyone say anything that might inspire criticism or opposition.
During the long campaign that led to the 2015 Obergefell ruling, the LGBT argument generally, and for same-sex marriage specifically, was that homosexuality is an innate characteristic — the “born that way” thesis. Therefore, homosexuality was analogous to racial identity, as a matter of civil rights law, and opposition to policies advocated by the LGBT movement was analogous to segregations defending Jim Crow. Whenever the term “homophobia” was coined, and whatever it was originally intended to mean, by the late 1990s, liberal journalists had adopted this as a word to be deployed quite casually — almost haphazardly — to describe any number of phenomena. This was what the social and political subtext of the 1993 Seinfeld episode “The Outing,” in which a well-meaning reporter assigned to write a magazine profile of Jerry Seinfeld mistakenly assumes that he and his friend George Costanza are homosexual lovers. The famous punch line — “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” — highlighted the difficulty posed to people in disavowing the accusation of “homophobia.”
By the early 1990s, LGBT activists had shrewdly maneuvered heterosexuals onto the strategic defensive in the War of Ideas. In a society where liberal arguments about “rights” have for many decades been based on claims that minorities are suffering oppression from the majority, the accusation of “homophobia” implied collective guilt on the part of heterosexuals. Media coverage of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, to choose one famous example, never questioned the claim of activists that Shepard was no merely the victim of two small-town hoodlums, but that he was a victim of “homophobia” — a hate crime, the responsibility for which could be placed at the feet of everyone who did not support the LGBT movement’s agenda. If you bought into the narrative that the media presented about Matthew Shepard, you might have believed that his killers were young Republican activists who had just left a Baptist revival meeting where the evangelist’s sermon had inspired them to go murder a gay man. In point of fact, Shepard was murdered by a couple of petty hoodlums, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, who had nothing to do with either Republican politics or evangelical Christianity. The town of Laramie, Wyoming, was depicted in the media as Ground Zero of a plague of anti-gay violence in the American heartland, and Matthew Shepard was elevated to a secular sainthood, a martyr who suffered for our collective sin of “homophobia.”
How do we plead not guilty to such a serious accusation?
Are heterosexuals allowed to exercise our Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when the Thought Police arrest us on suspicion of “homophobia”? Are we permitted to invoke the Miranda warning? Anything we say about homosexuality can and will be used against us in the court of public opinion, so heterosexuals are advised to remain silent and demand to have our attorney present during questioning. How did the Thought Police acquire the authority to accuse Stephen Colbert of “homophobia”? And why would any conservative cooperate with the LGBT witch-hunters who are trying to destroy Colbert? Yes, it’s fun to see liberals hoisted on their own petard, but there are limits to the pleasures of schadenfreude.
Public discussion of sexual behavior has been artificially restrained — limited by a politically inspired type of censorship — that is being enforced by terroristic intimidation tactics. The accusation of “homophobia” is used to silence discussion that does not conform to the public-relations goals of organized LGBT activist groups. We are being told, in effect, that we may only hold certain opinions about sexuality and gender, and are expected to censor ourselves — not to make reference to facts that the activist groups don’t wish to acknowledge — less our (perhaps unintentional) expressions of anti-gay “hate” should inspire violence or unjust discrimination.
For many years now, this regime of political correctness has silenced not only opposition to certain policies favored by LGBT activists, but has also silenced dissent within the gay community. Lesbian feminists in particular have criticized the “born that way” thesis, and there are many gay people who (believe it or not) vote Republican because they dislike socialists and radical Muslims more than they dislike Christian conservatives.
We must defy the bogus constrictions of neo-Victorian hypocrisy, and if the #FireColbert witch-hunt is the occasion that inspires a revived concern for free speech, I say we need more offensive gay jokes, and not less.
Robert Stacy McCain is the author of Sex Trouble: Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature. A journalist for more than 30 years, he is a correspondent for The American Spectator and blogs regularly at The Other McCain. His ongoing research and reporting about feminism have been sponsored by blog readers’ contributions to the Shoe Leather Fund.