Yesterday was such a strange day. I had a coffee and a lunch following an appearance on The Strategy Room, and in the middle of this, a reporter from Fox called — he was doing a story on the Perez Hilton mess and would I, being an openly gay man, comment? Sure, I said — so, this is the article that Joshua Rhett Miller wrote. Here’s the quote from me, which despite not being verbatim, is close enough to what I actually said:
Leonard Jacobs, editor of The Clyde Fitch Report, an arts and politics blog, said any racial or sexual slur is offensive, but questioned Hilton’s standing within the gay and lesbian community.
“Not only is he not helping the gay cause in any way, more pertinent is he’s not helping his own cause any either,” Jacobs told FOXNews.com. “By doing it, he essentially dissipates whatever credibility he might have had not only as a media figure, but as an openly gay man.”
Jacobs, who is also openly gay, said he never considered Hilton a spokesman for gay rights. If given the chance, Jacobs would suggest that Hilton stick to “doing gossip,” he said.
“Did it offend me? I don’t really care what Perez Hilton says or thinks,” Jacobs said. “He’s the celebrity version of a heroin addict.”
If I hadn’t truly been giving an opinion on the fly, I probably would have devised a more gasp-inducing insult. Then again, who’s making the real bucks here? Certainly it isn’t me: Hilton, who established his reputation by learning how to draw little cocaine dots on people’s noses as part of his gossip blog, is the one who got paid to query Carrie Prejean on her views of marriage equality, so I’m sure he can nurse his black eye all the way to the bank — I’m quite sure his traffic had jumped in the last 48 hours.
Meanwhile, it’s not as if I don’t understand what’s really behind the Fox story. No offense to Miller, who was more than personable and exceedingly polite, but what he didn’t include was the phrasing of his first question, which implied that Hilton is a spokesperson for gay rights. Hence the description that I “never considered” him such a figure. In addition, I also realize that the story is about reciprocity: Hilton humiliated the right-wing Prejean on national television and now the person who put the saintly bigot in such a career-damaged position has been pummeled (by a member of the Black-Eyed Peas’ posse) because he called Will.I.Am an antigay slur.
All right, to some degree turnabout is fair play. But, I wonder, why isn’t Fox News — or come to think of it, any other network or newsgathering organization — offended that Hilton would be pummeled? In what context is violence good or necessary or positive or helpful? Just for a parallel story, this reminds me of what I experienced last week on The Strategy Room. There was much chatter about Rev. Wright and that idiotic comment he made as to why President Obama is shunning him: “them Jews aren’t going to let him talk to me.” One of the other commentators on the program, a pastor (I regret that I don’t remember his denomination) who knows and had recently interviewed Rev. Wright, tried to explain the line as misunderstood and therefore decontextualized by the media. It was a classic “What he meant to say was…” moment and it didn’t fly. I looked the fellow square in the eye, then turned to catch the attention of Harris Faulkner, the host (who may lean to the right but is never anything but fair in her treatment of all guests and subjects), who graciously gave me the floor. “As the only Jew on this panel,” I said, “I ask you: Under what circumstances is “them Jews” acceptable civil discourse? Once more the pastor tried to, well, not so much defend Rev. Wright as defang him in retrospect. And so I repeated: Under what circumstances is “them Jews” acceptable civil discourse? Needless to say, I didn’t get an answer because the answer is bloody obvious.
Well, bloody obvious clearly brings us back to Perez Hilton. I understand that Fox’s intent is a little bit of “gotcha!” and “ha! ha” and “you deserve what you get,” but I wish Fox had assigned a story that asks under what circumstances using the word “faggot” is acceptable civil discourse. Indeed, under what circumstances is pummeling a man who uses such a term acceptable? I say that the answer is none. Zero. Period.
Equally offensive is Hilton’s latest statement on the matter:
…The other night in Toronto, after feeling physically threatened by a verbally abusive Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, I chose the most hurtful word I know to hurl at him. I was in an out-of-the ordinary situaton and used a word that I would not utter under normal circumstances. My intention – however misguided it may have been – was to stand up for myself and tell this belligerent man that I had enough of his badgering and was not going to continue to let him berate and intimidate me. I wanted to hurt him with the word I chose, not anyone else. Unfortunately, the one who got hurt was me…”
Well, you know what, Perez? Learn some other words. Because the ones you used reveal you to be what everyone in Hollywood already knew that you were: a gay man without class. And that’s lower than nothing.