Tuesday, November 25, 2008

David Letterman: why slander is no joke

In a previous post, I called out David Letterman for his anti-gay comments during an interview with James Franco about his role in the movie Milk.

I have noticed comments in numerous other blogs minimizing his "antics" and chalking them up to the "usual infantile behavior" of late-nite insomnedy.

Now I don't get TV reception (I saw this video online), so maybe you're right. That means that the other episodes presumably feature Letterman wearing black face and eating fried chicken, reading his top-ten list of ways that Jews control the world, and telling stupid wetback jokes.

Or could it be that it's just gays that are still fair game for slander and slurs?

There was nothing funny about Supervisor Milk's and Mayor Moscone's assassinations. It was a hate crime even more heinous that that of Matthew Shepard, because in addition to ending the lives of two great men, it targeted the then sole out gay public official (and any "traitorous" straight public official who dared to join him) and with him the promise of hope for a long persecuted group of people.

Dan White was a mentally ill person who resigned from the Board of Supervisors because he was not being paid enough to support his family. His supporters had no such excuse. White Catholic working class, crushed in the recession, gentrified out of the City, and shoved aside by more succussful competing sociopolitical interests, applied great pressure to White to get back his (i.e. their) place at the table. Sickened that some perverted freak had the Mayor's ear (it was indeed Milk who persuaded Moscone not to give White his job back), they (through White) lashed out. Given the anti-gay sentiment (that I well remember) of the time, he had every right to think that the broader public would side with him as well.

They did, buying his Twinkie defense, and he served only five (of seven) years in prison. The White Night riots that ensued at the minimal sentence, along with the prior Stonewall Riots in NYC, launched the gay rights movement, which has continued uninterrupted to this day as we fight for same-sex marriage and an end to senseless expulsion from the military.

Dan White was a straight man who clearly needed to be "less drunk" to kill two men than to kiss one (with this image certainly known to him and fresh in his mind from only three years prior, in what would become a perverse bit of irony).

The Twinkie Defense seems to have morphed into the "I was so drunk" defense, and inured ears do not bristle at it. If so, it is time to de-ure those ears.

Harvey Milk did for gays what César Chávez did for Latinos and what Martin Luther King, Jr. did before them for African Americans, yet I don't hear David Letterman ridiculing those men on national TV.

Watch the movie Milk (released on December 5). If after that, Letterman's jokes about being drunk enough to kiss a man playing Harvey Milk still fail to trigger your gag reflex, then it is not just David Letterman who should be ashamed.

3 comments:

Scott said...

Now I don't get TV reception (I saw this video online), so maybe you're right. That means that the other episodes presumably feature Letterman wearing black face and eating fried chicken, reading his top-ten list of ways that Jews control the world, and telling stupid wetback jokes.

Or could it be that it's just gays that are still fair game for slander and slurs?


Non sequitur?

Isn't there any possibility that the "truth" resides somewhere between the two extremes you've suggested?

Dan Weston said...

Isn't there any possibility that the "truth" resides somewhere between the two extremes you've suggested?

Is there? This is the essential question. Some men like broccoli. Some men like other men.

Some view these both as preferences, so naturally they will never understand why gays become obsessed with the second and not the first. They will not be convinced otherwise.

Some view the second as an essential orientation, so naturally we are incredulous that anyone else would confuse the two. We cannot be convinced otherwise.

Some don't really care. They just want to enjoy their privilege as long as possible without having to pay too big a price for it. They take a free jab when they can, but can be shamed when the spotlight is on them. They hide their theft behind humor. It is this humor that needs to be defanged and exposed for what it is: cowardice.

Non sequitur? You answered that question the moment you asked it. If you have to ask...

Scott said...

Your response is way too much for a Thanksgiving morning. I surrender.