Sunday, October 10, 2010

Everybody Hates Chez

So I kind of figured when I posted the piece on Tyler Clementi a couple of days ago that it would draw some fire. But unlike the times in the past that I've really kind of been willing to revel in the pissed-off comments of the Huffington Post peanut gallery, the subject of Clementi's death and teen bullying -- especially of gay kids -- is very serious and therefore deserves to be treated respectfully. For the record, the responses over at HuffPo have been fairly even when it comes to either appreciating the point I was trying to make or thinking I'm a raging asshole -- but here are some of the more noteworthy ones taking issue with my argument and, in some cases, my very existence on this earth.

"It would have been in better form if you had made a statement of common decency: gay kids are not wrong for simply existing; harassing and attacking gay kids is wrong. From the tone of your article, it doesn't look like you're willing to acknowledge that bit of common decency... Then you mock the suicidal deaths of gay kids by giving it a humorous title (complete with initial caps): "Summer of the Shark. Only with bullies."

-- SouthFlProf

There were a couple of people who expressed this sentiment -- that I just didn't appear remorseful enough about the fact that gay kids are getting bullied and that I needed to put some kind of disclaimer in the piece, or maybe several, stressing how opposed I am to violent prejudice or really prejudice of any kind. For the record, it's pretty damn sad that it's supposedly necessary for me to state something that should be unbelievably obvious: homophobia is wrong. It's also ridiculous to assert that it's my responsibility to spell out the mindset from which I'm approaching a subject. I'm not here to spoon feed people. Infer whatever you want from the spaces between the words. I can't worry about my meaning being misconstrued because of something I don't say -- especially when there are more than enough people out there happy to froth at the mouth because they misunderstand something I do say.

Case in point:

"It appears Chez Pazienza is taking the ReligiousRight side of the debate in not wanting to shine a light on a real problem. That's easy to do when you've never been the victim of such harassment. I was labeled as gay from 2nd grade on and never had a problem with it. I didn't give the bullies the satisfaction of power they thought their words had, not all kids can do that... There was plenty of bullying going on in this boy’s life before these 2 bullies took it to that level. Chez Pazienza would probably say there is no proof of that, because evidently, he’s never been on the receiving end of homophobia... This article reeks of NOM, Focus on the Family, Exodus International and all of the other far right “Christians” who teach homophobia to their children."

-- sprtakis69 (and no, I'm not making that up)

Yeah, that's me. Mister fucking Jesus.

"You have absolutely no understanding, appreciation or empathy for the hardship and emotional pain that many gays teens experience when trying to come to terms with their sexual orientation. Sure, Tyler died because Ravi and Wei maliciously invaded his personal privacy. That's the easy answer. But Tyler also died because Ravi and Wei, much like you, had no idea of how diffcult it is to be gay in a straight-man's world."

-- kato43

You know what I think is interesting? There are people out there who read this piece in HuffPo -- and who, I'm willing to bet, haven't read anything else I've written -- and automatically assumed I'm not gay. The level of righteous indignation generated by my apparently offensive tone and, once again, unwillingness to lay the blame for Clementi's death squarely at the feet of America's homophobic asshole demographic is pretty entertaining. But I find it odd that some people naturally assume that there's just no way a gay man would ever say the sorts of things I said in the piece. It takes balls to assert without proof of any kind that because someone doesn't conform to your notion of what a gay person is supposed to be like, and doesn't robotically spout the talking points you think he should when a given subject comes up, that he can't possibly be gay, have had a gay experience, relationship, whatever -- or even have a family member or close friend who's gay and whom he's watched face the difficulties associated with being homosexual in America.

Then of course there are those who just think I suck and who didn't like the fact that I picked on Perez Hilton:

"It is my assumption that Tyler couldn't care less about Pezez Hilton. One has nothing to do with the other. I think this was one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever read on HuffPo."

-- canadagirl76

Congratulations on drastically missing the point, but, hey, at least I know you're lucky enough to never have read any of Bernard-Henri Lévy or Andy Pemberton's stuff.

"'Tyler Clementi isn't really dead because he was gay'--You are so wrong and your whole obfuscating article is just off base and useless. Added up it trivializes Clementi's death. Go back to the drawing board, dude, you just don't know what you're talking about."

-- willrsf

"So you're using this young man's death as the basis for attacking Perez Hilton?! Cheap."

-- DevonTexas

And at the point where good intentions and a lack of any discernible rationality intersect, there's this:

"This was a good piece until you warped it by going after Perez Hilton. I'm for accepting anyone who jumps on the anti-bullying bandwagon at this point if it saves the life of one gay kid. Perez Hilton, for all his flaws, is doing the right thing. Just like you are. We need to stand united against bullies and let them know that enough is finally enough! We won't take their crap anymore and we won't allow them to hound any more gay teens to death... I'm just tired of reading about gay teenagers offing themselves. And what I read was that Perez Hilton says he shares that view. I don't care who the allies are or what they've done in the past. If he's willing to join us in opposing the bullies now, let him join the war. We can't afford to reject anyone who's willing to help us --- our children are dying NOW."

-- Jdaddy1951

How desperate do you have to be to want a guy like Perez Hilton backing your cause? Look, make no mistake: Perez Hilton sanctimoniously posturing about how the cyber-bullying of gay kids has got to stop is like R.J Reynolds taking out ads suggesting that people quit smoking. The one who's part of the problem can't also be part of the solution -- and you shouldn't accept it if he tries to be.


darryl said...

I read the original and never thought it was offensive -- I thought you made your point ( in your style). But without a doubt, you can - never - write anything more amusing than the someone choosing the name "sprtakis69". LMAO

And stop using my FB profile picture

John Foley said...

The comment section at HuffPo is an ignorant cesspool.* It can be highly amusing, but should not be taken seriously. Anyone to the right of Dennis Kucinich might as well be Dick Cheney.

*They're hardly alone in this.

toastie said...

You know how has it's retard box at the top of a story? Maybe HuffPo needs one, too. "Author known for satire (perhaps with a link to a definition of "satire"). Recommended for Grade 11 Reading Level and Higher." I guess the idiocy apparent in HuffPo comments is a testament to HuffPo's success and growth (much of it probably due to the 80% of its content that exists to compete with US Magazine...which I understand is probably necessary for HuffPo to turn profits.)

I like that you don't change your writing style for your audience. Do you ever consider doing that...dumbing stuff now, making it more "sentimental"? Not a suggestion, just curious how one who writes for a living thinking about this problem.

Izar Talon said...

What the FUCK?! There was neither anything offensive NOR incorrect in your essay at all. And what you said about Hilton was completely accurate. He IS a bully, and a tasteless and juvenile one at that.

Bullying isn't anything new, and it isn't confined to straight kids bullying gay kids. I was the victim of bullying all throughout my childhood. I was even called gay more times than I can count. My girlfriend can attest that I am not, but the point is that being called a fag is just another tool in the bully's arsenal. They will use anything at all to hurt people, and it doesn't matter if it is true or not. There isn't some kind of epidemic of gay kids being targeted for bullying, it's just something the media has chosen to focus on recently. And that is a totally valid point: why has it become trendy for the media to focus on it recently, when it has gone for so long ignoring it? They act like it's something new that they've just uncovered, when it's been a problem forever.

The only thing that IS new is the kind of "entertainment" that Perez Hilton espouses and promotes, which is the very reason that these kinds of juvenile bullying pranks are being pulled and driving people to kill themselves out of anxiety and desperation. So yes, he is undeniably at fault for popularizing this kind of shit. How the fuck can anyone defend him? Is it just because he's gay that any attack on him is seen as homophobic and automatically has to be defended by the trendy Left? Since when does being gay render one immune to being an asshole, or even simply wrong?

These people strike me as the types of hipsters who embrace a Leftist stance because they see it as anti-establishment and cool. Like the majority of hippies who didn't give a shit about actual causes except loose sex and easy drugs.

And it makes me sick.

I'm a Lefty, but not this kind of trendy hipster Leftist who seems to populate the HuffPo comments section way too much. I guess you could say I'm more the Bad Religion and Operation Ivy type type rather than the U2/Bono type. The kind who cares more about the message rather than looking pretty and getting good press.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

"You know what I think is interesting? There are people out there who read this piece in HuffPo -- and who, I'm willing to bet, haven't read anything else I've written -- and automatically assumed I'm not gay."

Don't worry about those people, buddy, we know the truth.

What, too soon?

Chez said...

I write for a living, Toastie?

And I wasn't the one who spent the past two years on a little boy sex tour of Bangkok, Matt.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Hey! That's unfair ... it was 3 years.

J. Dack said...

"We need to stand united against bullies and let them know that enough is finally enough! We won't take their crap anymore and we won't allow them to hound any more gay teens to death"


I love the internet. People really enjoy shouting from the podium of their keyboard about how we should "take a stand."

How is this person taking a stand? By posting comments on web sites before storming off to seethe by the water cooler?

We can't stop bullying over sexual orientation any more than we can stop bullying over being fat, wearing off brand shoes, or having zits.

People will be rotten to one another until the last one of us on this rock exhales its dying breath.

Jeremy said...


This reminds me of my time in newspapers. I always knew I'd written a good editorial when folks on both sides of a divisive issue were accusing me of being a "shill" of their opponents.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much why I don't see the internet as this egalitarian wonderland that most people would seem to think it is. The vast majority of people are pretty much dumb and don't have much to add. I think I remember reading something from Drew Curtis where he was basically arguing this point. I think it might have had more to do with Web 2.0 shit (user generated content) than comment sections but I can't remember. Anyway if you're looking for anything other than unfiltered stupidity it's best to avoid the comments section pretty much anywhere. HuffPo just happens to be less "lol" and internet memes and more endless nitpicking liberal outrage.

Also the irony of posting in an internet comments section about how internet comments are generally pointless and should just be ignored didn't escape me.