If you ask a liberal, “when is it okay to call a gay man a f*ggot?” he’ll probably tell you “never” – but as an employee of the national Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of LGBT Republicans and our allies, I can tell you we hear it a lot, and most often it comes from self-identified Democrats. Don’t believe me? Ask Richard Grenell, or Ken Mehlman, or Mary Cheney. We’ve heard it all.
It seems that there’s something about being conservative which, in the minds of certain liberals, negates basic standards of decency. Whether it’s the constant digs at Meghan McCain’s weight, the sly insinuation that Ann Coulter is transsexual (something these usually so-LGBT-friendly people are surprisingly quick to use as an insult – frankly, with Ann’s record of inflammatory remarks, it’s probably more insulting to the trans community) or the suggestion that men like Michael Steele and Herman Cain are somehow insufficiently black, slurs and stereotypes that generally have no place in polite company are directed with disturbing frequency at minorities on the right. This week, the target of this peculiar justification for abuse was conservative commentator S.E. Cupp, who drew the wrath of Hustler magazine by daring to simultaneously be an outspoken conservative and an attractive woman.
I had the pleasure of meeting S.E. at the Log Cabin Republicans 2011 “Spirit of Lincoln” Awards Dinner. She was witty, friendly, obviously intelligent – her light-hearted but incisive political commentary to end the evening was well-received by all, contributing greatly to the success of the event. I wasn’t at all surprised to see her recently use her platform at the New York Daily News to declare herself as a “proponent of gay rights” while calling for gay America to up its standards in the wake of President Obama’s “evolution” on marriage equality.
“Gay America shouldn’t have to wait and it shouldn’t have to grovel. Gay people deserve better than to be a political chit. I just hope they remember what they’re fighting for — it’s not about winning one (straight) man’s approval. It’s about winning equal rights.”
Unfortunately even this statement of support for equality couldn’t inoculate S.E. from the special treatment reserved for minorities – women, LGBT people, people of color – who dare to defy liberal orthodoxy. Hustler tried to demean S.E. by photoshopping her image to make it appear that she was performing oral sex on a man, pairing it with the crude headline “What Would S.E. Cupp Look Like With a **** in Her Mouth?” and commentary about how she “read too much Ayn Rand in high school” and how “her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas.” There can be no doubt that this piece was intended to punish S.E. for her beliefs.
While Hustler’s disclaimer admitting that the picture is false says it “is not to be taken seriously for any purpose,” any woman who has fought for the respect of her peers knows that this sort of sexualization is a very serious thing, indeed. S.E. called into Glenn Beck’s radio show to comment on the picture, saying “It will be out there forever…The fact that I work very hard and I’m an Ivy League educated woman with a pretty good job doesn’t matter when you look at a photo like this.”
Whatever your politics, the implications of this image should be chilling for any woman. The men at Hustler didn’t like what S.E. said, so they tried to silence her, sending the message that she should shut her mouth, preferably by sexually servicing a man. Of course, the image was created without her consent – but she’s a female Republican, so she had it coming, right? She should have known that by being vocally pro-life, she was inviting this kind of “joke” about “avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.” She asked for it.
No, she didn’t deserve this, and the fact that she’s conservative does not make it ironic, funny, or excusable. Thanks to the freedoms that we all enjoy, the same American freedoms that S.E. tirelessly defends, Larry Flynt and Hustler have the right to do what they do – but that doesn’t make it right. And anybody who truly believes in equality knows it.
If you’re reading this S.E., a message from all of us at Log Cabin: Illegitimi non carborundum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
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