February 18, 2005

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CIX

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

The following is a dark, dark scourge. Some of it is probably in poor taste, but Dick brings that out in me. For the record (again), as a libertarian-minded conservative, I don’t care a whit about anyone’s sexuality or what they like to do for fun so long as everyone’s of age, they behavior is consensual and nobody’s getting hurt. I’m still opposed to gay marriage though I favor civil unions. But, I digress.

I mention this because some of the commentary below can, and probably will, be used against me to label me a homophobe or worse. Read properly, if anyone’s a homophobe here it is Richard Cohen. When you get to the end of this Scourge, look at who is condemning gay men for being gay men. I thought about not writing this out of sensitivity to the issues involved and not a little concern that my intent will be misconstrued, but ultimately decided that Dick had to be spanked. Not that there’s not anything wrong with that.

And so Richard Cohen comes out of the closet with A Warning, From Gays to Gays:

Or, My Eyes Gays Over:

Much of life's wisdom is contained in a single piece of dialogue in George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan":

And thus the prime motivating factor behind the paucity of wisdom in Dick’s remarks is revealed.

… the exchange between the Inquisitor and the Chaplain during the trial of Joan of Arc. The Inquisitor orders the Chaplain to sit down. When the Chaplain indignantly refuses, the Inquisitor says, "If you will not sit, you must stand." To that, the Chaplain says, "I will not stand," and flings himself into his seat.

Brilliant! Now where’s my Guinness?

Often, as Shaw knew, the best reason to do something is that someone else doesn't want you to do it.

Isn’t this an absolutely perfect summation of the Left, whether today’s moonbats or the Shavian Fabians?

Tragically, this juvenile reasoning partially accounts for the apparent upsurge in HIV infections among gay males –

Not to mention the decline and fall of the Democrat Party.

… and the emergence of a virulent new strain that has health officials plenty worried.

Not just health officials, Dick.

Simply put, it is the determination of some gays -- a minority, but a substantial one -- to disregard all the rules for safe sex because being gay, they think, means you don't have to follow any rules at all.

Somehow, I can only imagine the flack I’d catch if I phrased something so carelessly. As only Dick Nixon go to China, apparently only Dick Cohen can speak truth to the powerless. Tricky Dick. So tricky.

That's just plain dumb.

Stupid is as stupid does.

My guru in such matters is Charles Kaiser, the author of "The Gay Metropolis."

You need a guru for this?

For a long time now, this writer of both renown and common sense has been pleading with his fellow gays to -- my words here -- grow up.

How terribly insensitive – must be a Republican.

Unprotected sex is reckless, and unprotected sex between gays who are already HIV-positive will sooner or later produce a super strain of the disease. That may already have happened.


Kaiser is not alone in his apprehension. Larry Kramer, maybe the most famous of the gay writer-activists, and HIV-positive himself, has also been calling for restraint -- to no avail, it seems. The emergence of drugs that have vastly expanded the life span of men who are HIV-positive has given some gays a sense of invulnerability. That, coupled with a Shavian determination …

Ha, I used Shavian first.

… not to be told what to do, …

And we all know how much the Left loves to tell people what to do. No wonder Dick’s all bent out of shape.

… leads too many gays into unsafe sex practices.

Oh, please. So it’s not really their fault that they so casually disregard common sense rules of, uh, engagement.

A common philosophy, according to Kaiser, goes like this: "I am not subject to the rules."

But just let some Rethuglican dare to say that careless promiscuity in the gay community is a problem…

For too long now heterosexuals have kept out of this debate.

Hmmm…, now why would that be?

Many of us have been protective of gays, seeing them primarily as victims of discrimination.

Uh huh. I rest my case.

We have been encouraged in our protectiveness by the calculated homophobia or pathetic ignorance of several Republican administrations, which continues to this day.

Damn, I’m scourging this as I read it but it’s eerie how well I’m anticipating what comes next – except, of course, that I’ve been doing this on and off for nigh on three years now, and there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to Dick.

Just recently, for instance, the new secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, warned PBS against airing an episode of the children's show "Postcards From Buster" because it showed a family headed by a lesbian couple.

You know, Dick, there’s a huge difference between preaching to the choir on POV and preaching to the pre-pubescent on “Postcards From Buster.” Gee, and I thought you were all against trying to sell things to kids – or was your self-righteous indignation limited to Joe Camel?

She undoubtedly will get a medal from the president for this.

Or not. But yeah, how dare those Neanderthals try and maintain what’s left of what they consider to be the last shreds of traditional family structures while resisting the proselytization of their children. Tell you what Dick, if she gets a medal from the President for this, I'll apologize and give up blogging; and if she doesn't get a medal for it you apologize and quit writing your columns. How about it?

Other medals will be awarded for the continuing effort to keep young people as ignorant as possible about sex and, especially, contraception.

Not to mention the total lack of idle time they’ll have constructing strawmen to torch – Devil’s work and all that. With all due respect, and believe me it ain’t much, Mr. Cohen is sadly confused. Wasn’t he just lamenting casual promiscuous sex amongst gay males? Is it really so wrong to think that the promotion of some types of sex education and the ready availability of contraception to 15-year-olds might be justly construed as promoting casual promiscuity amongst those least prepared to deal with the consequences?

While it is not remotely possible that any gay man over a certain age is not conversant with AIDS and its consequences, that may not be the case with, say, a 15-year-old about to become sexually active. He or she needs to know about risky sex and how to avoid disease.

Or, everything you always wanted to know about risky sex but were afraid to ask because your parents might kick the #&*% out of you. As the father of a 14-year-old daughter, allow me to say that Richard Cohen can go &%@$* himself.

Think of it as driver's ed for the body.

Yes. No doubt. That’s exactly the image I was thinking of as most appropriate for 9th graders.

But while gays clearly have their enemies, that should not mean they are immune from criticism.

What insight! I find it utterly amazing that anyone gets paid to write crap like this.

The fact remains that a portion of the gay population -- maybe 20 percent, Kaiser estimates -- conducts itself in ways that are not only reckless but just plain disgusting.

Who’s being judgmental now?

Unprotected, promiscuous sex in bathhouses and at parties and using drugs such as crystal meth to prolong both desire and performance are practices that should be no more acceptable for gays than for heterosexuals.

Who said they were?

Gays don't get some sort of pass just because they're gay.

Brilliant! More Guinness! But why not? It works for Democrats.

About 40,000 Americans a year continue to be infected with the AIDS virus. While their lives can be prolonged, it can be only at considerable cost -- and not forever, either.

This is a tragedy for so many, but last time I checked, none of us are living forever.

An increasing number of AIDS victims are heterosexual black women …

NY Times: AIDS Epidemic! Women, Minorities Hit Hardest!

… but most are gay men.

Somehow, this seems to border dangerously close to wishing some other unfavored group was afflicted instead.

Whatever they are, they are first and foremost human beings.

At last, something we can agree on.

They are entitled to their own sexuality, but not to behavior that endangers others, costs us all plenty and, too often, entails a determined self-destruction that too many heterosexuals overlook.

Doh! Darn overlooking heterosexuals.

Back in the 1970s William Ryan of Boston College popularized the term "blaming the victim."

And Richard Cohen is still struggling to figure out what it means.

It gave voice to a needed concept, but it also silenced critics who saw that sometimes the victim needed to be blamed.

Real victims never need to be blamed. Politicized, institutionalized victimhood is another matter. Dick sure has some weird ideas about “need.”

This is the case now with gays when their behavior is both stupid and reckless.

I don’t normally equate stupid and reckless with victims.

When they're victims of discrimination, they need to be defended.

As long as they are victims.

When they're victims of their own behavior, they need to be condemned.

Condemned? My goodness, this sounds as though it could have come right out of the mouth of Pat Robertson or Alan Keyes. Perhaps Mr. Cohen has heard, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Or perhaps he hasn’t.

Posted by Charles Austin at February 18, 2005 12:07 AM

Well, aside from condemning gays, he also works in the mandatory slam at Republicans, and especially this current administration.

Do these people really believe that Republicans want to kill off the gays, or is there a tiny little core of knowledge that they are full of shit? Just curious... but I tend towards the latter interpretation.

It must be difficult to evaluate the victim in question, to determine whether he needs to defend or condemn him. On the other hand, he could be full of shit here, too.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at 12:17 PM

unprotected sex between gays who are already HIV-positive will sooner or later produce a super strain of the disease.

I'm having trouble with the biological proof behind that sentence. Either I'm reading it wrong, or viruses don't work exactly like Mr Cohen thinks they do...

Think of it as driver's ed for the body.

When I took driver's ed in high school, we had a guest speaker from the DoT who showed us graphic pictures of what happens when you race a train, and what a quarter on the tracks can do to a bystander. I wouldn't be inherently opposed to an HIV-positive speaker in sex ed with a powerpoint presentation. Before you kill me: there was a girl in my 9th grade biology class with two kids. And my baby sister knew she was a lesbian when she was 13 (if she'd been male, or had taste in women as bad as my taste in men, I would have died of ulcers by now).

Posted by: Tanya at 08:17 PM

Tanya, I probably should have taken your first point farther, but I'm not sure why you think I'd want to "kill" you. Mr. Cohen tries, badly, to make a point that so many others have tried to make -- that some segments of the gay community are foolishly and ridiculously promiscuous without regard to the consequences. Of course, if someone who voted for Bush or supports the liberation of Iraq tries to make this point they get labelled a homophobe. As I noted in the Scourge, only Dick Nixon could go to China, so apparently only Dick Cohen can criticize the behavior of some gay men.

Posted by: charles austin at 11:28 AM

No, no. I meant don't kill me for wanting them to show graphic pictures of dying aids victims to your daughter (and others) in sex ed class. I know you aren't a homophobe, Charles.

Posted by: Tanya at 05:42 PM

Tanya, no problem. I know you voted for Bush. Twice.

Posted by: charles austin at 10:25 PM