In early April last year, I wrote:
He who controls the language shapes the debate: In the same week the Associated Press announced that it would no longer describe illegal immigrants as "illegal immigrants," the star columnist of The New York Times fretted that the Supreme Court seemed to have misplaced the style book on another fashionable minority. "I am worried," wrote Maureen Dowd, "about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don't even seem to realize that most Americans use the word 'gay' now instead of 'homosexual.'" She quoted her friend Max Mutchnick, creator of "Will & Grace":
"Scalia uses the word 'homosexual' the way George Wallace used the word 'Negro.' There's a tone to it. It's humiliating and hurtful. I don't think I'm being overly sensitive, merely vigilant."
For younger readers, George Wallace was a powerful segregationist Democrat. Whoa, don't be overly sensitive. There's no "tone" to my use of the word "Democrat"; I don't mean to be humiliating and hurtful: It's just what, in pre-sensitive times, we used to call a "fact." Likewise, I didn't detect any "tone" in the way Justice Scalia used the word "homosexual." He may have thought this was an appropriately neutral term, judiciously poised midway between "gay" and "Godless sodomite."
At any rate, the H word is now officially over. The New York Times reports:
That five-syllable word has never been more loaded, more deliberately used and, to the ears of many gays and lesbians, more pejorative.
" 'Homosexual' has the ring of 'colored' now, in the way your grandmother might have used that term, except that it hasn't been recuperated in the same way," said George Chauncey, a Yale professor of history and an author who studies gay and lesbian culture...
Some gay rights advocates have declared the term off limits. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or Glaad, has put "homosexual" on its list of offensive terms and in 2006 persuaded The Associated Press, whose stylebook is the widely used by many news organizations, to restrict use of the word.
George P. Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has looked at the way the term is used by those who try to portray gays and lesbians as deviant. What is most telling about substituting it for gay or lesbian are the images that homosexual tends to activate in the brain, he said.
"Gay doesn't use the word sex," he said. "Lesbian doesn't use the word sex. Homosexual does."
These days, gays are too busy parenting and being Congregational Church ministers to have any sex. They leave that to you heterosexuals, who, as the term suggests, are obsessed with it. During the "Duck Dynasty" brouhaha, the GLAAD enforcers, outlining the terms of re-education camp to Phil Robertson, put it this way:
"We believe the next step is to use this as an opportunity for Phil to sit down with gay families in Louisiana and learn about their lives and the values they share," the spokesman said.
Phil Robertson never said a word about "gay families", gay parenting, gay housekeeping, gay carpooling, gay churchgoing, gay recycling, gay Little Leaguing or anything else. Instead, he confined himself to the observation that he personally found a woman's vagina "more desirable than a man's anus". But apparently it's totally homophobic to suggest that gays occasionally take time out of their hectic schedule of gay soccer-coaching to enjoy anal sex. Professor Lakoff is right: We are witnessing the de-sexualization of homosexuality.
~Another thought from that year-old column of mine:
So gay marriage will provide an important legal recognition for an extremely small number of persons who do not currently enjoy it. But, putting aside arguments over the nature of marital union, the legalization of gay marriage will empower a lot more "vigilance" from all the right-thinking people over everybody else.
Mr. Mutchnick's comparison of the word "homosexual" with "Negro" gives the game away: Just as everything any conservative says about anything is racist, so now it will also be homophobic.
And so it has proved. It's homophobic to say someone's homosexual. It's so cold ...so clinical ...almost as if it's some kind of genetic condition the settled science has settled on.
I mentioned the other day the latest initiative of Obama's totally gay foreign policy:
Secretary Kerry: U.S. To Send Scientists To Discuss Homosexuality With Ugandan President
Indeed. Washington is dispatching platoons of fully credentialed LGBT experts to explain to Yoweri Museveni that he's got the wrong end of the stick. Brendan O'Neill has more:
We used to teach them, among other Biblical things, that it's a sin to sleep with a member of the same sex; now we tell them that it's a sin to think it's a sin to sleep with a member of the same sex.
I foresee massive class-action suits a decade or two down the road. Much of Africa is happy in its homophobia and has no desire to be weaned off it. In Canada, the well-meaning chaps from the government and the Christian churches who sought to teach the Indians and Inuits the advanced ways of the white man wound up getting sued for "cultural genocide". I fear a similar fate awaits John Kerry's "scientific experts" peddling neo-imperialist gay outreach in the Dark Continent.
~Speaking of the LGBT community, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Suleiman abu Ghaith was convicted today of conspiring to kill Americans. The guilty verdict came despite the fact that Sulaiman had an impeccably diverse legal team:
Zoë J. Dolan is proficient in Arabic, has lived in the Middle East and is the only member of the defense team with a government security clearance, entitling her to review classified discovery materials in the case and attend classified hearings.
But Ms. Dolan, 36, has another distinguishing attribute: She is transgender, an aspect of her personal life that she says she has not raised with Mr. Abu Ghaith...
Though Ms. Dolan does not mention her gender transition to clients, she said, she believes that her background has helped her better represent them, particularly those who have lived on the margins.
Like in a cave in the Hindu Kush.
"While I may not know specifically what it's like to be in their shoes," she said, "I do understand what it means and how it feels to be marginalized."
The number of openly transgender lawyers in the United States is perhaps in the hundreds, said M. Dru Levasseur, director of the Transgender Rights Project at Lambda Legal, who knows Ms. Dolan and calls her a "fierce advocate..."
Diversity in the bench and the bar has long been a widely held goal; in New York, for example, Senator Charles E. Schumer, whose office recommends judicial appointments to the White House, has regularly focused on adding women and minorities, including gay men and lesbians, to the federal bench.
And now even al-Qaeda is celebrating diversity: poor Suleiman's defense team includes a transgender woman, a Jew who wears a Palestinian keffiyeh, and the son of attorney and convicted terrorism-supporter Lynne Stewart.
Before Suleiman is taken away to start a decade's worth of appeals, I thought I'd tip my hat to a man who had a cameo role in my writing a decade or so back during his heyday as Osama's publicist. For example, from my book The Face Of The Tiger (personally autographed copies, he pleads pitifully, are exclusively available at the SteynOnline bookstore and go to support my fabulously lawyered-up pushback against Michael Mann), here's how things looked at the end of June 2002:
He's back! Or he will be. Any day now. Just you wait. 'I want to assure Muslims,' said bigshot Islamofascist Suleiman Abu Ghaith the other day, 'that Sheikh Osama bin Laden . . is in good and prosperous health and all what is being rumoured about his illness and injury in Tora Bora has no truth.' He's tanned, rested, and ready to rumble.
'America,' warned Suleiman, 'must prepare itself and fasten its seatbelt.'
Wow. These guys don't just slash the throats of stewardesses, they memorise their lines. And it seems they've made sure that Osama, like your tray table, is stowed and, like your seat back, is in an upright position. Or so our friend Suleiman claims. If it is Suleiman. His words were on an audiotape delivered to al-Jazeera, and al-Jazeera claims to have identified the voice as that of Suleiman, the baby-faced al-Qa'eda sidekick who briefly became a famous face on the news bulletins last September and early October and has apparently survived the rumours of his own demise in December.
And here's a little piece of satirical whimsy from around the same time. The al-Qaeda board meeting, summer of 2002:
'Look at this," said Sulayman abu Ghaith, tossing last Sunday's Observer down on the table. The headline read "Bin Laden plans fresh terror for September" and the opening sentence was chilling: "Terrorists are planning a series of spectacular attacks on American, British and Israeli targets to coincide with the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Centre on September 11 last year." "You can't buy publicity like that!" crowed Sulayman. "We will rain down death upon the Great Satan!"
But I wasn't the only non-executive director of al-Qa'eda to be unimpressed. "That's what you said before the Fourth of July," sighed Walid. "And Easter, and Christmas, and Hallowe'en. What are you going to tell them on September 12th after another big nothing?"
"This is just what you were like at the East Midlands Gas Board in the Seventies," said Hafiz, who goes back with Sulayman a long way. "You said you'd be there Tuesday, I'd take the day off, no sign of anyone, so I'd call up the 24-hour helpline when it re-opened at 11am on Wednesday and you'd promise it would definitely be Friday, and then on Monday morning I'd ring again and you'd say a week on Thursday."
"That's not fair," protested Sulayman. "I was the most feared gasman in Nuneaton."
"You were pulling this stuff all the time when you were George Michael's agent," pointed out Ibrahim, who used to be at DreamWorks. "I lost count how often you'd promise, 'No, no, this next album is really the big comeback, honestly'."
"Hmm," said Abdel. "What's Osama make of this plan? And why isn't he here? He hasn't made a board meeting in months. And whatever happened to that big new video you said would be out by now?"
"Well, er, we pushed that back to the fall season," said Sulayman. "We didn't want to get into some silly box-office thing with Men in Black II. And Sheikh Osama wanted to reshoot a couple of..."
"Jews?" I said hopefully.
"...scenes," he said. "But you can ask him yourself. He's waiting in there..."
"The broom cupboard?"
"For security," said Sulayman. "I'll just get him." He disappeared into the cupboard and a minute later Osama came out. I found it hard to contain my shock at how he'd aged: his snowy-white beard looked like that of the infidel Santa on my last shopping trip to Macy's.
"Sulayman's staying in the broom cupboard," he said in a muffled voice, "to, er, count the brooms. Inventory. But let's get down to business, praise be to Allah."
Walid leaned over and yanked Sheikh Osama's beard. To my astonishment, it came off, and there was Sulayman!
"What kind of saps do you take us for?" sneered Hafiz. "US immigration?"
So long, Suleiman. Surely better death in the Hindu Kush than a decade of appeals with no one but a Jew and a transgendered infidel for company.