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