Drool Britannia

Rupert Murdoch caught in love nest!

It's an instructive denouement to a scandal that began last month, when Welsh Secretary Ron Davies was forced to resign after a man robbed him and made off with his car, which contained some government documents. Since the incident occurred in a gay cruising area, the victim was considered far from blameless, and the whiff of a national security breach gave The Sun an excuse to dredge up the ancient specter of a gay cabal. For all the good it did them, Murdoch's minions might as well have tried flogging The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Still, before we break into a chorus of Yankee Doodle Dandy, let's consider that, while homosexuality is not a crime in Britain (unless you're under 18, involved in a threesome, or disposed to s/m), it remains against the law in 20 American states. What's more, the Brits picked up the term gay mafia from the U.S. Of course, it's only used here to defame the meager ranks of out tycoons in Hollywood and the rag trade. We're kinder to our few out pols than to consider them part of a queer conspiracy, but that's because Americans are much more passionate about movies and clothing than they are about politics.

Britain's agriculture secretary, Nick Brown: The Sun preferred to show him in a hairnet.
Britain's agriculture secretary, Nick Brown: The Sun preferred to show him in a hairnet.

The recent spate of media-stoked sex panics demonstrates that, while the world is changing, the press room remains an atavistic place where decisions are made by the only mafia that dares not speak its name: the leadership class of straight, white, affluent males. The more intensely their power is questioned, the more righteous their moral outrage becomes. And just when you think you've heard it all, they tell you more. Fresh from its pledge to stop outing gays, The Sun offered its readers a new scandal last week. Seems a certain fire chief from Manchester is facing the sack for telling new recruits: "I'd rather be gay than black." Which proves that, when all is said and done, the myth of the powerful poofter is far from dead.

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