Pink triangles and charred sonnets
Remember how I mentioned Gerald Allen? The republican from Alabama who proposes a law banning positive renditions of homosexuality in state sponsored...well, anything? The Guardian has interviewed him. It's a funny piece. Starts out with the usual introduction and review of his opinions with the very slight editorial slant we've come to expect from Europe's leading left-leaning newspaper. Then it just gets more and more hysterically opposed to him, quoting him directly to show how inarticulate and unknowledgeable he is, and hints more than a little that Allen is himself a closet homosexual:
I ask him, again, for specific examples. Although heterosexuals are apparently an endangered species in Alabama, and although Allen is a local politician who lives a couple miles from my house, he can't produce any local examples. "Go on the internet," he recommends. "Some time when you've got a week to spare," he jokes, "just go on the internet. You'll see."
Actually, I go on the internet every day. But I'm obviously searching for different things. For Allen, the web is just the largest repository in history of urban myths. The internet is even better than the Bible when it comes to spreading unverifiable, unrefutable stories. And urban myths are political realities. Remember, it was an urban myth (an invented court case about a sex education teacher gang-raped by her own students who, when she protested, laughed and said: "But we're just doing what you taught us!") that all but killed sex education in America.
And it just keeps going and going, showing how his law would ban big chunks of Shakespeare, showing how there is no idea how this law will be used in practice. And then, the grand finale.
Forty years ago, the American defenders of "our culture" and "traditional values" were opposing racial integration. Now, no politician would dare attack Cornelius Carter [a famous gay choreographer also profiled in the article] for being black. But it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people for what they do in bed.
"Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in it."
Of course, Allen was talking about books. He was just talking about books. He never said anything about pink triangles.
(Pink triangles were the sign gay people were made to wear in nazi concentration camps, their equivalent of the yellow star of David). It's like the writer of the article sat down, tried to write a sorta-balanced piece, but then totally cracked up in the face of the absurd, hyperbolic homophobia coming out of this senators mouth.
Normally, this school of journalism makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. If you compare someone to Hitler or mention that some political stance will inevitably "lead to Auschwitz," you know you can just pack your bags and leave credibility behind. There's a "law" of internet discussions called "Godwins law." It states that as any discussion involving politics grows longer, the probability of someone comparing their opposition to Hitler or nazis approaches one. A vital corollary to this law is that when this happens, probability of that discussion having meaning or value approaches zero. I've taken this law to heart, and hence usually run away screaming when this happens.
In fact, I can't think of a single instance (not involving neo-nazis or ultra-ultra-right-wing politicians) where the comparison has made sense. But here, it does. A man actually dedicated to regulating what people do in their bedroom out of love or lust. I don't understand these people, but I do understand that this idiot, who probably never read a book in his life, is proposing to regulate a part of society that will not let itself be regulated: sexuality. When that happens, either an extreme form of regulation (pink triangles) happen, or the out-of-sight version: a removal from view of the public eye, a few token arrests, books burned, cultures shut down, a whole slice of humanity being forced to turn concrete grey, don nondescript clothing and blend in with the walls so that people wont notice the lives they wish for under the camuflage.
I think in this case, the comparison is not just apt, but appropriate. I know I'm kicking down an open door here, but why don't we just call this guy a fascist, get someone else to take his place in the midterms, who will approve funding people going around with megaphones in small-town predominantly white, KKK-style christian neighbourhoods with megaphones shouting "WAAAAKE UUP!!!" at the top of their lungs, and everything will be okay. Y'know. Either that, or make sure "queer eye for the straight guy" gets national syndication. OK? It's either that or book burnings. Not an easy choice, I know.