Yesterday afternoon I heard Chris Matthews say something on Hardball that made me do a double-take. First, he showed a clip of George Clooney and Brad Pitt simultaneously congratulating Julia Roberts and poking fun at Sen. Larry Craig. I have to admit, I laughed at the clip, though I have been recoiling at the amount of coverage his actions have received. I find the money and manpower expended to “catch” tea-room specialists (guys who solicit sex in public places) to be an almost total waste. I didn’t always feel this way, truth be told. I think I ruined a man’s life long ago by arresting him for just this sort of thing. He was a local surgeon, and a very mild-mannered, thoughtful person. Nevertheless, I didn’t let him go and I will always be regretful of that fact.
So, yea, I laughed at the clip. But then Matthews said something so strange I made it a point to record the 6:00 pm show just to make sure I had it right. He said that the Craig “incident” made him “side with gay marriage.” He went on to say “if we don’t show these people some respect, how can we ever expect them to respect themselves?”
That statement, meant, I think, as a conciliatory gesture to the GLBT community, was about the most patronizing and insulting thing I’ve ever heard Matthews say. (And thats saying something)
I wanted to email Matthews and inform him that most men who participate in public solicitation are NOT homosexuals. Linking this practice to “self-loathing” homosexuals is not only misguided, but is patently unfair to gay couples who face real hardship by being denied the right to form legal unions. If same sex marriage was suddenly legal in all 50 states, does Matthews really think there will only be men with “narrow” stances using public toilets?
Whether he meant to or not, Chris Matthews tossed up a line that was totally uncalled for, and in doing so, dismissed the entire GLBT community as a bunch of predatory, self-loathing losers. I have friends that have been barred from the hospital rooms where their partners lay dying, and others who built a life with their partners and amassed an estate only to lose it to greedy, hateful “family” members. Not one of these friends suffers from low self esteem, I can assure you.
I hope I’m not being nit-picky here. I do my level best to avoid sounding shrill, and I do not revel in public ridicule, regardless of the political Party the subject identifies with, or represents. I never thought Larry Craig should resign over his arrest. I’m not interested in people’s sexual peccadilloes. To paraphrase Amanda Peet’s character on Studio 60, now we all get to be unctuous American gossip-bitches. A Nation of Willie Geists. Shudder.