The title, if you were wondering, is from a bit of a Lewis Black skit that a friend referred to when I mentioned the whole "Sally Kern is a homophobe" thing on a messageboard.
First, what happened.
Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern (who authored the bill that I disagreed with in yesterday's post) was invited by a group of Republicans to give a speech regarding her views on homosexuality, which was secretly recorded by someone there and then posted on YouTube by a D.C. gay rights group, Victory Fund. It's since been all over the internet and I'm actually the last person with a blog to comment on it, but whatever. Throughout the speech, she makes assertions that she can't back up with actual evidence ("The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation. It's just a fact."), statements which might be factual but which ignore possible causes (noting that homosexuals have a higher rate of suicide, but ignoring the fact that part of that is likely because there's a huge stigma imposed by people like State Rep. Kern which is responsible for at least some of that rate discrepancy), things that ignore all of society except the issue of homosexuality ("Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades."), some vague moral panic rhetoric (They're after the two year olds! Gays are more dangerous than terrorism!), some weird conspiracy theories about gays taking over city councils (in my home town of Pittsburgh, which I wasn't aware of, but maybe it was a side plot on Queer as Folk) and claims that students lives are being ruined by joining Gay-Straight Alliances and not judging people solely on who they sleep with.
Most of it's logically fallacious, and it's clear that State Rep. Kern doesn't like homosexuals or homosexuality, and that's totally fine with me. Her religion tells her she shouldn't, and I'm all for people believing whatever they want to believe so long as they cannot force their beliefs upon anyone else. Unfortunately, she can, but even that's sort of ok. A lot of people have been calling for her censure by the Oklahoma House, demanding her resignation and demanding that she apologizes. Thankfully, she hasn't resigned and hasn't apologized, and to my knowledge she hasn't been censured (though I imagine that takes a bit of time). And, frankly, she's probably right that she couldn't have said those things in public (rather than at a meeting where she was asked to say them) and therein lies what bugs me about this whole thing.
She should be able to say whatever she wants. Sure, she's a state representative, but that doesn't mean she forfeits the right to free speech. If anything, it's more important for her to be allowed to say whatever she wants, and this kind of honesty should be encouraged. She said a lot of things I disagree with and a lot of things that I think reflect poorly on her ability to function as an elected official (the "gays are more dangerous than terrorism" is my favorite bit, because it just implies that she has no concept of priority. To borrow another bit from Lewis Black to illustrate, who's a fine comedian but by no means my favorite which is why it's odd I've now brought him up twice, "Gay marriage is on page six of things we need to worry about, after 'Are we eating too much garlic as a people?'"). But none of that matters. She should say whatever she truly feels and she should be encouraged to do so.
Censuring is an empty act. It's pointless and accomplishes nothing. Luckily, we live in a place where we're allowed to choose the people who represent us by casting ballots. If someone says something insane that we disagree with, we don't need everyone in the house to tell them they've been naughty and that they made people sad and they should learn to be more secretive about their opinions. We are free to throw their asses out of the legislature. What Sally Kern did is exactly what politicians should do. She let her electorate know precisely how she feels. So now Oklahoma voters can either say "Sure, I agree with that, and your wacky ideas for getting kids to be awarded credit for answering demonstrably incorrectly on science exams by government force is right up my alley. I'll re-elect Sally Kern" or they can say "My God. I'm being represented by someone who's way too concerned with what consenting adults do in bed, prioritizes 'who's sleeping with whom' above 'terrorism' on the list of things to be worried about, who wants to change reality by fiat and who is trying to use her position of power to foist her specific religious ideas on the rest of us. I'll pull the lever for the other guy."
That's the beauty of living in a free society with free elections. You enter into the marketplace of ideas and if someone's obviously batshit crazy and obsessed with minutae, you can elect not to have them represent you, because they don't accurately represent your opinions. Or, if she does accurately represent how you feel, you can vote to keep her in the legislature, where she can divert any resources that would be going to keep you safe to make sure Bill and Frank don't shack up and annihilate society. Take funds away from protecting the citizenry and make sure they aren't allowed to express their love for each other publicly and give each other power of attorney. I personally could not care less about what Bill and Frank do, where they express their feelings or what legal rights they feel like sharing. So I'd vote against her. That's just me though.
Bill and Frank shacking up and annihilating society made me think of "gay antimatter" and then I realized that it's probably a subject that's been explored extensively in some twisted Star Trek fanfic out there, which indicated that I should probably sleep.