No Respect There’s a line in the Rodney Dangerfield rap song “No Respect” to the effect: “I threw a party, but I wasn’t invited,” a state of humiliation that would seem to be technically impossible, which is what made it funny. And yet, in a case of life imitating art (“You call that art?”), the impossible has occurred. There is a conservative gay rights group called GOProud (who knew?) that’s way to the right of the Log Cabin Club—so far right, in fact, as to be a proud co-sponsor of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, an annual ritual of momentous importance for the ideologically purified wing of the Republican Party. In addition to Ann Coulter, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum, this year’s lineup includes the usual roster of evangelical leaders such as Gary Bauer (no Jerry Falwell this year)—and that’s where the trouble began (where else?). It seems these groups just weren’t happy with the GOProud sponsorship and threatened to pull out of the conference. The compromise solution? GOProud would remain a co-sponsor but would not be allowed to put up any speakers at the event, not a one. Which had to be a letdown, since speaking is pretty much what this event is all about. So the gay group will be allowed to lurk in the shadows, as if not there at all, at a party that they’re helping to throw.
“And Here’s To You…” Meet Iris Robinson, a Member of Parliament in Northern Ireland who’s involved in a nasty financial scandal. But first, to appreciate the relevance of this faraway kickback case, consider the following brief exchange between Robinson and a radio interviewer:
“Stephen Nolan: Do you think that homosexuality is something that is shamefully wicked and vile?
“Iris Robinson: Yes, of course it is, it’s an abomination.”
This came after she’d agreed that homosexuality makes her nauseous and should be loathed. These and other recent statements were seen as so incendiary—perhaps a hate crime under British law—that the Police Service of Northern Ireland opened an investigation into Ms. Robinson’s affairs, which is when they came upon the financial impropriety. Oh, the case involves a real estate deal and the solicitation of £50,000 from developers and failure to report this business interest as an MP. But the fun part is that the funds were being solicited on behalf of a nineteen-year-old Irishman named Kirk McCambley with whom Ms. Robinson was having an affair! As luck would have it, the devoutly Christian, gay-baiting Mrs. Robinson (as she’s now universally called) is a married woman whose husband is the recently installed first minister of Northern Ireland. (He could be in trouble for not reporting what he knew about the financial affair.) The sordidness of the sexual fling can be gauged by a few facts: Mrs. Robinson has known Mr. McCambley since the latter was nine, a neighborhood kid whose mother had died: “I worked at the butcher’s. … She looked out for me and made sure I was OK.” When Peter Robinson found out about the affair, his wife tried to commit suicide. And when it was over, Mrs. R. demanded a £5,000 kickback from Kirk McCambley for helping to arrange the transaction (he’s now the proud owner of the Lock Keepers Inn). People have been clamoring for Mrs. Robinson to resign, and so she will, according to a statement: “due to mental ill health.”
Exhibit C Faced with the prospect of a full-body scan at airport security, many U.S. travelers, being Americans, reacted with horror at the prospect of their “privates” being observed by a perfect stranger. The ACLU worried that it constitutes an invasion of privacy (well, yes…). Most travelers were resigned to the latest form of pat-down; but one group applauded the procedure with unexpected brio, namely naturists, nudists, and the clothing-optional community in general. Erich Schuttauf of the American Association for Nude Recreation offered that “full body scanners are a great way for Americans to loosen up.” And perhaps he has a point, as doubtless we’re all more comfortable taking our shoes off in public now than in those uptight, pre-Shoe Bomber days. In any case, this defense of body scanning unleashed a predictable backlash of slaps on the wrist, such as this comment by AlterNet’s Liliana Segura: “My advice to the AANR: Keep doing your thing, go back to promoting nudity and ‘Nakations.’ But don’t try to tell us that the TSA will help us all love our bodies or commune with nature or whatever.” True enough: for those in the know, it’s more about you and the security technician behind the monitor and whether there’s a vibe.
What’s in a Dungeon? Chalk it up to another of those small breakthroughs that might mean something, or not: A new video game version of “Dungeons and Dragons” called “Dragon Age: Origins” features a gay lovemaking scenario that players both gay and straight may have to navigate to win the D&D marathon (which takes sixty to eighty hours to complete). That this is the first mainstream video game to feature gay sex may be a sign of the times, but Christian groups reacted as if it were the latest Armageddon. Chelsea Schilling lamented in World Net Daily that the game “depicts two men in various sex positions in a secret scene of homosexual seduction.” Two things stand out here: in fact, the game depicts hetero as well as lesbian sex scenes, but it was only the male one that she and others objected to; and the use of that word “secret” to describe the scene. Actually, the game’s maker, BioWare, has been quite outspoken about the scene, which is intended “to celebrate player choice.” In any case, this is a game that’s played on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, so if it was supposed to be a secret, they didn’t hide it very well.
Flaunting the Law A number of prominent religious leaders (125 to be exact) signed a pledge late last year in which they agreed to disobey laws in support of gay marriage and abortion. The statement, which was signed by the likes of Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, declares among other things that “we will not bend to any rule forcing us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality, marriage, and the family.” Okay, fair is fair: Under their regime homosexuality was illegal for hundreds of years and was only struck down once and for all in the U.S. in 2003. We ignored their laws for centuries.