The Last Candid Man

A Homophobe Hides Behind His Right to Discriminate

This reasoning has always been a rationale for bigotry, and that's how most of his audience reacted. The protests accelerated last week, when nearly half the law school's students signed a statement pledging not to contribute to the university after they graduate. This tactic could spread to the alumni as a whole, which is no doubt why Silber has reacted with rage. He accused the protesters of exhibiting "a taste for coercion rather than persuasion"—as if his own decisions haven't been coercive. But when faced with effective dissent, the last candid man's first reflex is to portray himself as a victim of censorship.

Of course, Silber has consistently come out for censoring expression he regards as unconscionable—and not just at BU. He blasted a judge for granting a transgendered student the right to wear a dress at school. He demanded that NAMBLA be banned from the Internet (though the group has never been linked to any crime). He urged citizen action against lewdness on TV, even as he blasted GLAAD for boycotting Dr. Laura's show. Silber's view of civil liberties brings to mind the adage about politics: Where you stand depends on where you sit.

You can say the same about candor: It's a virtue when it affirms your values, but not when it threatens them. Tom Wolfe, that coy defender of the real man's faith, wrote a novella called Ambush at Fort Bragg that rationalizes the murder of a gay soldier by his fellow recruits. Wolfe's honorific for these men is "Lords of testosterone." No wonder he calls Silber "my favorite politician."


Footnote to the above: On October 14, a federal district court ruled that a high school in Indiana cannot bar students from forming a gay-straight alliance. The ruling echoes similar decisions that the federal law protecting Bible clubs in high schools also applies to gay support groups. Is Boston University next?

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