Last week NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay — spectacularly, in the pages of Sports Illustrated. He did so not because he had been arrested in a men’s room or outed by a news site, but because, as he told SI, he wanted to “start the conversation” that would make it easier for young gay athletes to pursue careers without hiding their essential natures.
Rightbloggers were happy to join the conversation — to tell us what a lousy player and human being Collins is, and to complain that no one was willing to listen to their contribution.
Collins’ coming-out got a ton of buzz, and NBA players and other athletes rushed to congratulate him. Politico reported kudos from Presidents Obama and Clinton. Sports reporters wondered how the league and fellow players would react, and whether the revelation would be good for his career. In other words, it got the kind of reaction you’d expect in these heady times for the gay rights cause.
Rightbloggers looked at it differently. No, there wasn’t a lot of overt gay-bashing; that’s pretty much out of style, and even most rightbloggers know it. True, their fans don’t — as you can see by their comments at sites like Free Republic (“It’s all a setup. He is part of the larger effort to let O’Backdoor out of the closet”) and The Conservative Treehouse (“That’s sad that we live in a world where if you’re no good at your job you get to keep it because of the color of your skin or because of your sexual preference”). But these days even people who move their lips when they read can be taught to read between the lines.
Another thing rightbloggers know is that the gay thing works more for Democrats than for Republicans these days — which may explain why rightbloggers couldn’t bring themselves to treat Collins’ announcement as good news.
One approach was to announce that they didn’t care, in the sort of clenched-teeth-and-fists way people do when they’re actually really pissed.
Fox News’ Todd Starnes tweeted that “The NBC is turning into GLEE” and “Have any professional athletes announced they are heterosexual today?” “Apparently, in today’s day and age, it’s a laudable achievement to publicly proclaim that you are having sex with someone of the same gender,” snarled Debbie Schlussel. “…At least, you’d come to that conclusion if you listened to Ellen Degeneres’ daytime talk show audience’s loud cheers and applause when she mentioned it… You’ll never hear Ellen Degeneres’ moronic audience ever cheering Israel, where gays have more rights than anywhere in the world. Because Ellen would never want to offend Muslims who hate and want to execute her and her fellow gays…”
Schlussel also said, “for the record, I don’t care what you do behind closed doors. It’s none of my business, so don’t shove it in my face” in the middle of her 447-word rant on the subject, and invited readers to “check out my tweets on the topic from yesterday (follow me on Twitter).”
“Someone said the magic word ‘Jason Collins’ that triggered Obama’s ‘pander’ impulse and he quickly returned to the podium to singe the praises Jason Collins and the LGBT community,” grumbled The Right Scoop. “Who can blame him? After all, gotta keep that money flowing.” (Gay people are rich, see; why else would anybody be nice to them?)
“The media got what they’ve been clamoring for weeks, the first Gay player to come out in a team sport,” said Samuel Gonzalez at The Last Tradition. “Too bad Jason Collins is an irrelevant player that mostly rides the bench for the equally irrelevant Washington Wizards… So what’s next? Will the media hint that the first ‘good’ player is getting ready to come out the closet?” Regrettably, Gonzalez did not challenge Collins to a game of Horse.
“Did he risk anything?” asked Ann Althouse. “His revelation comes at the end of his lackluster career, he’s receiving plaudits from everyone on up to Barack Obama, and since his college days, he’s had powerful political friends including Chelsea Clinton and (his erstwhile roommate) Joe Kennedy… And how about those Clintons and Kennedys and — as long as we’re listing American dynasties — Bushes? There are no giants here. Why are the figures on our national stage so lacking in greatness?” Maybe we’re just not challenging them enough, Professor Althouse.
Stacy Swimp asked, “IS HOMOSEXUAL N.B.A. PLAYER TRYING TO ‘GUILT’ NBA INTO A NEW CONTRACT?” suggesting that Collins was using his sexuality as a play for affirmative action against NBA owners, whom Swimp apparently believes regularly give away money on this basis. “If [Collins] is not picked up as a free agent, he gets to play victim and claim it is because he is ‘gay’ rather than the fact he is scrub,” said Swimp. “How desperate can one be. Good grief… By the way, let me say this in capital letters: ‘HOMOSEXUAL AND GAY HAVE NO COMMON MEANING.’ I am tired of the left hijacking words trying to redefine language and culture.”
PJ Media’s Hannah Sternberg tried a little jiu jitsu: She noted that Collins had said in his announcement, “I don’t let my race define me any more than I want my sexual orientation to. I don’t want to be labeled, and I can’t let someone else’s label define me.” She predicted, “Collins is going to ruffle a few feathers in the gay world for that comment.”
He hasn’t, but why did Sternberg think he would? Because Collins’ announcement “normalizes gayness, instead of letting one counterculture, ultra-liberal, activist niche own the image of homosexuality,” she explained. “If you can be a gay NBA star, why not a gay conservative?” Bet you never thought of that, libtards! “Jason Collins: thanks for making them mad,” added Sternberg. “It’s time someone shook this place up a bit. And I don’t mean the hetero-normative sports world. I mean the liberal-normative gay world.”
Too bad Sternberg didn’t send her strategy map to fellow rightblogger Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com, who spent the week telling everyone how incensed he was that people were congratulating Collins on his alleged bravery. “Our standard for heroism has dropped quite a bit since Normandy,” he sniffed on Twitter. (Ahem.) Also: “If the only way you can make Sports Illustrated is by announcing your sexual proclivities, you’re a bad player.”
Later Shapiro explained that he was trying to help gay people: “The media coverage also does young gays and lesbians a massive disservice,” Shapiro wrote. “There is no surer way to keep young gays and lesbians living in fear than tacitly telling them that those who surround them despise them.” Why couldn’t they understand what a friend Shapiro is to them?
When questioned by Piers Morgan, Shapiro asked, “Why do you hate Americans so much, that you think this is such a homophobic country, that when Jason Collins comes out it is the biggest deal in the history of humanity?… You’re British and a lot of folks have said that we should send you back because you’re British.”
Offering further proof of America’s tolerance, ESPN analyst Chris Broussard explained on the air that gay people can’t be Christians because “if you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”
“Now that takes courage,” said WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah. “These days, that’s risky business,” because the gays run everything. “I think he required more courage than the basketball player did,” said Jennifer Morse, President of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute. In fact, Morse said Broussard “sounds like a spokesman for the Ruth Institute,” a high honor indeed.
At Western Free Press Christopher Cook pushed for the libertarian approach of ending government recognition of marriage — not because he didn’t believe in marriage, but because of liberals.
“I understand the impulse to have the authorities codify something that is so healthy for society,” said Cook… “Unfortunately, because of the deconstructionist and revolutionary characteristics of the left, we never will. They will always seek to destroy. Destroying the family has been a utopian statist objective from Plato to Rousseau and Robespierre to modern progressives. They will never relent. And the state is their weapon… If we take it out of government’s hands, we take it out of the left’s hands.”
Cook’s headline for this was “A Conversation on Gay Marriage.” This, too, became a rightblogger schtick: If you called them on their attitude toward gays, you just weren’t interested in the conversation.
“Here’s what [Collins supporter] Chris Evans and liberals don’t like: serious conversations about words and their meanings,” claimed Douglas Ernst. “…When someone wants to agree on a definition of ‘marriage’ before discussion starts, they are ‘homophobic.'” So unfair!
At Pantheos Alan Noble complained Broussard had been given a bum rap. “Broussard did not reveal his personal position on the issue, [gay ESPN writer] LZ [Granderson] did, and he clarified it,” said Noble. “…Broussard answered, because he was asked.” And if his clarification sounded like anti-gay prejudice, well, he could hardly be blamed for that — because he was having a conversation: “If we call anyone who sees homosexuality as a sin a ‘bigot,’ then the conversation shuts down immediately… If we can label a moral belief ‘bigoted,’ then we no longer need to pay serious attention to it.”
Noble then found a still higher road: Though the liberals unfairly refrained from conversing with them, Christians should stay positive: “Identifying ourselves as the victim only plays into the kind of unproductive and uncharitable rhetoric of power that we are reacting against.” Instead, “let’s agree with LZ and Broussard that we need to be able to have these conversations in an adult and loving way.” We believe in the power and glory of Christ — you believe in demonic buttsex; let’s chat!
“As homosexuals come out of the closet, Christians go into it,” said George Neumayr of The American Spectator. Though Broussard was neither fired nor publicly reprimanded by the network for his remarks, he offered a “clarification” after the event containing no hint of apology, which Neumayr nonetheless described as ” Soviet-style.” “Political correctness, as the new puritanism, harbors the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is holding a Christian thought,” burbled Neumayr. “Broussard, if he wishes to continue his career in sports journalism, will have to undergo PC-style reparative therapy and adopt a more appropriate level of enthusiasm when future canonizations of homosexual athletes occur.”
Another, bigger media figure came out against Collins: Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast announced that the player had once been “engaged. To be married. To a woman,” and suggested that Collins had not told anyone about this, presumably to preserve his homosexual cred and flow of sweet gay cash.
The news attracted predictable outrage. “Even if he was ‘born that way’ (another lie) then stringing his fiance’ on was reprehensible,” fire-and-brimstoned Eternity Matters. “Jason Collins ‘outs’ himself, but fails to tell ex-fiancé he’s gay,” headlined Timothy Whiteman of the Examiner. “Benghazi? Let’s Talk About Collins Instead… Unlike the four Americans killed in the al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Obama took time out of his busy schedule to place a telephone call Collins…” Etc.
It turned out Kurtz had missed that Collins had in fact previously talked publicly about his life with women and his engagement, which led to Kurtz and The Daily Beast “parting company.” “Daily Beast dumps leftist Howard Kurtz,” announced Fire Andrea Mitchell. “It would be interesting to know which powerful Democrats, if any, interacted with [Daily Beast boss] Tina Brown over the downfall of Howard Kurtz,” said Ann Althouse.
Now, you may wonder why those rightbloggers who subscribe to the niche brand of conservatism known as libertarianism didn’t defend Collins. A few of them did. But, as we mentioned, liberals are associated with gay rights, which makes it tough for libertarians to greet even this great public advance for the cause of liberty as an unmixed blessing.
Take Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, the preeminent libertarian rightblogger. When Collins announced, Reynolds said, “GIVEN ALL THE UNCLOSETED FEMALE ATHLETES, ISN’T THIS A BIT SEXIST? ” When Collins’ ex said she hadn’t known he was gay, Reynolds headlined, “WAR ON WOMEN.” When Kurtz went down, Reynolds complained of “HOWARD KURTZ’S DEFENESTRATION,” and that the press should have been covering homosexual athletes in the 1970s, making them the real bigots. Later: “ONE UPSIDE OF GAY MARRIAGE: Messy celebrity gay divorces!” No ass-pats from Reynolds for Collins.
And at libertarian flagship Reason, Matt Welch said that while, sure, it was “a wonderful, watershed day for people… to live as open and free as they wanna be,” he was very concerned that people were saying mean things about Broussard because, as some parent-brand conservative had said, “If such comments aren’t expressed, a real conversation can’t be had.” Welch added, strangely, that “sometimes engaging with the I’m not ready to go that far just yet crowd brings out the best in activists. See, for example, Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter From a Birmingham Jail.'” We wonder which King opponents Welch imagines Broussard resembles; there remain plenty of them who think King wasn’t much of a Christian, either.
It may well be that the overwhelming majority of rightbloggers are cool with Collins’ sexuality; they may even be quietly rooting for full acceptance of gay people in society. In fact, in a way they may be more anxious than most to reach that utopian future — because then they’ll have gotten past this awkward historical moment in which, for political reasons, conservatives can’t just be happy for Jason Collins.