The Republican Party alienates women, immigrants, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, which is not a smart move if you want to win elections. The latest salvo in the culture war comes from Wisconsin.
by Roy Steele
In 2011, Alex Rowlson wrote a story for a Canadian LGBT publication called Fab, that was critical of gay men for expressing a bias within the context of searching for a sex partner or life partner or a ‘friend with benefits.’ The article was entitled Not just a preference - Alex Rowlson goes head-to-head with the troubling terminology of our desires. Alex wrote:
We’ve all been there.
You visit a hookup or dating website, cruise somebody’s profile and are confronted with the list: no fats; no femmes; no Asians; no blacks; masc only; my age or younger; str8-acting, you be too; non-scene; and on and on. What we find is a lot of hate when all we want is head.
“Gay men have forgotten how to have sex,” says Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, editor of the forthcoming anthology Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? “For so long that was supposed to be something gay men were good at, but I’m not so sure anymore. They might be good at the technique but not the openness. Sex should be about opening possibilities, not closing them off.” The negative language so prevalent on Craigslist and Grindr seems to signal that the culture of sexual liberation has been replaced by sexual segregation.Alex’s essay* was controversial then and is now. The topics he addressed ignited a contentious debate within our community five years ago, and I don’t know when or if the issues he highlighted will ever be resolved. Most people like to sweep controversy under a rug because they don’t like the conflict associated with confronting our inner- selves. It’s much easier to live in denial and accuse a perceived opponent of being stupid or wrong.
Culture War Part 73: Here We Go Again
A Wisconsin Republican State Senator recently read Alex’s essay because a University of Wisconsin Sociology lecturer included the essay in a class syllabus. Writing for The Associated Press, reporter Todd Richmond wrote that state Senator Steve Nass was shocked and offended by the explicit nature of the essay.
A Republican legislator warned Thursday that a University of Wisconsin-Madison instructor’s decision to assign an “offensive” essay on gay men’s sexual preferences could have budget ramifications for the entire UW-System next year.
Steve Nass, vice chairman of the Senate’s higher education committee and a frequent UW critic, said in a letter to UW leaders and regents that lecturer Jason Nolen assigned the essay to his sociology class this week. The 2011 article argues that gay men should be less discriminatory when selecting their sexual partners and contains profanity and vulgar references to oral sex.
Nass demanded UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, UW President Ray Cross and all the regents read the essay and give him their thoughts on it, warning that their answers will play a role in evaluating the system’s 2017-2019 budget.
“Since students at UW-Madison are required to read this offensive material it is only appropriate that as leaders of the system you also read this offensive essay and respond with your thoughts on its educational value,” Nass wrote. “Does it represent the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea? Is this what the people of Wisconsin should expect when paying taxes and tuition to support the UW System?”
The Homophobic State Senator’s Threats Are Outrageous
When I read about this Senator’s reaction to the essay I wasn’t surprised but I was outraged. As I’m apt to do, I decided to register my dismay and wrote to the GOP culture warrior last Friday.
Dear Senator Nass:
I read that you are threatening to take punitive action against UW Madison, one of the most highly regarded public universities in the United States, because you were offended by a sexually explicit essay related to gay men that’s required reading for a UW Sociology class.
If an essay on heterosexual or homosexual sex was mandatory reading for young children, I would be concerned too, but that’s not the case. This essay will be read by ONE class of adults enrolled in a university course.
It’s clear that you want your discomfort and animus for sex and gay men to be forced on others to influence the course curriculum, limit academic freedom, oppress free speech, and censor written material. That sounds like the perfect storm that heaven sends right to the American Civil Liberties Union.
I read that you asked, “Is this what the people of Wisconsin should expect when paying taxes and tuition to support the UW System?” Do you think your constituents elected you to go to Madison to obsess about a course essay that you dislike due to your antigay bigotry and hate. Do you represent everyone in your district or just the few that you are comfortable with?
Despite your antigay bias, I have to give you credit for maintaining a keen interest in the sexual habits of homosexuals.
I would like to share an academic research study with you. Research teams from three leading Universities studied human behavior, and specifically the intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies. They concluded that fear, anxiety, and the strong aversion that some seemingly heterosexual people hold toward gays and lesbians often times grow out of their own repressed samesex desires. You might want to take a look at that.
In the meantime, please leave your anti-LGBT feelings out of the public square. It’s not nice, it’s insensitive, it’s unwelcoming, it’s discriminatory, it’s mean, it’s inhumane, it’s ill-mannered, it’s bigoted, and unbecoming for an elected representative of the people to behave so badly. And leave UW alone.
Other Thought Leaders Were Outraged By The Threats Too
I can’t find evidence that Senator Nass has any support to penalize the University of Wisconsin because of this class assignment. In the LaCrosse Tribune, columnist Jourdan Vian writes about the Senator’s hypocrisy.
This is the same Wisconsin senator who spent last January and February attacking officials at UW-Whitewater for describing blackface as racist and offensive, because he thought it was political correctness run amok.
“President Cross needs to stop wasting time appeasing the political correctness crowd demanding safe-spaces, safe-words, universal apologies for hurt feelings, and speech/thought police,” Nass said in a statement to The Capital Times, according to a Jan. 26 article.
However, his statement above sounds like he’s joined the thought police he was so dedicated to decrying. His letter essentially states that these UW officials should think the same way as he does about this essay or he’ll get his colleagues to cut their funding so fast their heads will spin.Robby Soave is an Associate Editor of Reason.com who writes about higher education and criminal justice reform. Writing for Reason’s ‘Hit & Run Blog’ he shines a light on the Senator’s threats, and specifically notes the negative impact to civil liberties and academic freedom.
Here’s a rather predictable story of government-induced campus censorship: A Wisconsin state senator issued a veiled funding threat against the University of Wisconsin because a sociology instructor included an essay about gay sex in the course materials.
The object of Nass’s wrath is an article assigned by Jason Nolen, a lecturer in the sociology department. The article apparently discusses racial discrimination in gay hookups.
It seems entirely appropriate for students to read that article for Nolen’s class, which is titled “Problems of American Racial and Ethnic Minorities.” Students aren’t babies. They can handle sexual content.
Nass, however, implied that he might block funding to the university because of the article. His threats violate the university’s academic autonomy, damage the culture of free inquiry and expression so essential to a healthy campus, and suggest an anti-gay bias (which, I mean, come on: it’s 2016, we even have a gay Hikaru Sulu now!).
The Republican Party’s Hypocrisy Is The Rule Rather Than The Exception
The Republican Party has been telling the American people since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 that they are conservatives who believe in smaller government and less regulation. That’s a great marketing slogan, and they even convinced me to be a registered Republican for many years.
I think many Americans are finally waking up to realize that the GOP has been lying to voters for the last twenty years. Republicans want to regulate access to restrooms, and make it as difficult as possible for gay people to get married. They pass laws to regulate a woman’s reproductive organs while limiting their access to healthcare. They introduce voter I.D. laws to make it difficult for racial minorities to vote, and keep calling themselves the ‘party of Lincoln.’ The last Republican administration in Washington used fear and hyperbole to justify two never-ending wars that have cost trillions of dollars, leaving American taxpayers stuck with the bill.
Senator Nass and his threats reflect a much bigger problem. We see the same forces at play in Mississippi and North Carolina and Georgia and South Dakota. They are still attacking the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and are stepping up the war on women by doubling down on their sneaky legislative agenda to make access to family planning clinics as difficult as possible. They call our president a racist, and criticize the Black Lives Matter Movement, as police officers shoot unarmed African-Americans and gun violence disproportionately claims the lives of healthy black men.
The GOP Isn’t The Party Of Lincoln Or Reagan Anymore And Never Will Be Again
I’m fed up. You’re fed up. We are all fed up - there’s no doubt about it. The Republican Party is in trouble and their future is at stake.
We hear too much hateful and divisive rhetoric, and almost all of it comes from the Republican Party. I’m so glad that Americans are finally starting to wake up and smell the coffee, and that’s largely because of the incendiary nature of the Donald Trump campaign. Regardless, if more people notice things are likely to change.
I can feel it but it’s impossible to predict when we will witness real change, because that’s going to involve voting most Republicans out of office.
It’s starting to happen now and we’ll have to wait and see when the yell turns into a roar, but the Republican Party is dying. Alienating the LGBT community, women, people of color, and immigrants, is never a smart move, especially if it kills your political party.
straight talk in a queer world. jiveinthe415.com
© 2011 - 2016 jiveinthe415.com
*NOTE: If you would like to read all of Alex Rowlson’s excellent essay, you can do that by CLICKING HERE.