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    Ann Rostow: Elle Se Prend Pour Qui, Elle?

    By Ann Rostow–

    Elle Se Prend Pour Qui, Elle?

    I’m not big on jumping down the throats of politicians when they stray a little from the party line or raise money from a corporate source. Life is complicated. Not all corporations are evil. Good lawmakers need to compromise and make deals. That said, what the hell was Kyrsten Sinema doing fundraising in Paris when she should have been negotiating her way to a yes vote on Build Back Better? 

    We (our vibrant GLBTQ etc. community) were all so pleased when she edged her way into the Senate, a bisexual woman with a flair for fashion and an “I’ll do it my way!” shake of the head. “You go girl!” we told her in a mass spiritual pat on the back three years ago. 

    Speaking for myself, I just sort of assumed that a snappy queer-ish Democratic woman was a person I could mostly take for granted. Sure, she might vote for some Arizona water table scheme, or maybe support a developer who wants to put some houses on a mesa. But overall, she’ll be on our side, right?

    Not. 

    Don’t get me wrong. I think Joe Manchin is just as bad, and furthermore, I am annoyed at people who give him an excuse because he’s from conservative West Virginia and has been more forthcoming about his rationale. Both of these characters are posturing, self-proclaimed Mavericks looking for accolades from a huge centrist silent majority that no longer exists, if it ever did. No one’s applauding either of these bozos, but at least Joe is, last I saw, in the D.C. area on his houseboat. As of mid-October, Sinema was in frigging Paris on a boondoggle that I’m guessing is going to raise one dollar for every ten euros she spends. Because, well, Paris. 

    Plus, didn’t she recently host a “retreat” at an expensive spa while claiming she was having foot surgery? I think I have botched those details, but the point is, Sinema seems to be enjoying the trappings of power more than the responsible exercise thereof. 

    I just heard a speaker discussing the Maverick family, and was reminded that the original Sam Maverick refused to brand his cattle, likely out of indifference since ranching was a side business for him. The wild cows, picked up and branded by others, were called Mavericks. It’s not a bad persona. But if you’re going to present yourself as someone who can’t be pigeonholed, it helps to have a heroic past—let’s say, shot out of the sky in combat and held for years as a prisoner of war under barbaric conditions. 

    Leaving Las Vegas

    So, my wife Mel was reading a Facebook post by a sixty-something woman who has a habit of walking through a cemetery as a shortcut during her neighborhood strolls. One evening she ran into a bunch of teenaged girls who were hesitating at the cemetery gate. 

    “We’re a little scared,” one girl admitted as the woman opened the old gate and led the group along the path. “Aren’t you?”

    “Well, I used to be … ” the woman said. “When I was alive.” 

    According to the woman, the girls fled.

    Bwah hah hah hah hah!!!

    Oh, and apropos of nothing, I was quite struck by the saga of Corey Lewandowski’s fall from grace after his jaw-dropping assault on the wife of a big GOP donor a month ago. I’m sure you’ve heard this already, but our favorite boorish thug bragged about his dick size, groped and relentlessly pursued this woman, drunkenly telling others at the same Vegas party that he, Corey, personally controlled who Trump would or would not endorse. After the woman’s husband asked for his $100,000 to be returned, Lewandowski was fired from his job running the main Trump Superpac, and was declared persona non grata in MAGA Land to boot. 

    But here’s why I bring this up. The woman’s name was Trashelle! Trashelle Odom, to be exact. What parents would do that to a child, and why wouldn’t Trashelle change her name the minute she turned sixteen, or whatever age you have to be to address the court on such matters? 

    What’s her nickname? It’d better be “Shelley.” 

    Paging One Million Moms!

    In the course of scouring around for bits of GLBT news, I read that a large group of female fans want the TV version of Supergirl to have a gay affair with another character on the CW show, Lena Luthor. It seems these two are very close and the fans believe they are in love but the writers won’t develop the romance. 

    I have never watched this show, but I learned from my research just now that Supergirl’s sister on Earth, Alex, is involved with a woman named Maggie and they are a couple. My initial reaction to this information is that the Supergirl fans are asking for a lot. They already have a lesbian love affair between major characters, and now they want another one? This seems greedy to me. Plus, it will turn the show into a Super L Word. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    This whole topic reminded me of something. Hmmm, I mused, didn’t I just read about Superman being bisexual? This could turn out to be a major section of my column. A quick turn on the Google machine revealed that it’s Superman’s son who will be having a bisexual affair in a comic book coming your way soon. So, close enough. 

    Further, Eternal hero Phastos is set to be the first openly gay Marvel hero and I’d tell you more if I had the time and inclination to pursue this topic beyond its natural limits.

    In a Washington Post op-ed on comic queerdom, John Paul Brammer informs us that GLBT heroes are gaining traction: 

    “Take Loki, a recent Marvel show in which the Norse god of mischief is revealed as gender fluid via a brief glance at an ID card, and a line of dialogue about past relationships with both princesses and princes. This also takes place in a ‘multiverse’ with many different versions of Lokis of assumedly different genders. One is an alligator.” 

    You have to admit, it’s not much of stretch to be gender fluid if you are a multidimensional being that sometimes takes the form of a reptilian predator. But still, it’s nice that fantasy writers are giving us a thought. 

    Pryor Restraint

    Moving right along, when I read the name “William Pryor,” I am thrown back in time to the George W. Bush administration, when Democrats managed to block the Alabama jurist’s nomination to the federal appellate bench for several years.

    Pryor is one of these very conservative Roman Catholic lawyers, a demographic that now monopolizes the High Court. He also wrote a brief to the Supreme Court on the 2003 sodomy case from his position as Attorney General of Alabama, noting that: “This Court has never recognized a fundamental right to engage in sexual activity outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage, let alone to engage in homosexual sodomy,” and warning that a constitutional ban on sodomy laws would send us down a slippery slope towards legalizing “prostitution … necrophilia, bestiality, incest, and pedophilia.” 

    He was also anti-choice and just not someone our side wanted to see sitting on the second highest court in the land. Eventually, however, Bush gave him a recess appointment to the Eleventh Circuit when Congress was out of session, and he was confirmed by the Senate under a deal worked out in 2005. 

    Pryor has been on Trump’s shortlist for the High Court, and I guess we can be thankful we’ve escaped that outcome, not that we have any reason to be relieved by the three Trump justices. At any rate, he has now hired a law clerk, a 26-year-old graduate of the Antonin Scalia Law School (at George Mason U), which gives you an idea of the type of candidate he favors. This woman, Crystal Clanton, has one of those problematic social media histories that older people avoided naturally and younger people are learning how to sidestep. 

    “I hate black people. Like f— them all … . I hate blacks. End of story,” she texted a friend in an undated moment that she says she can’t remember. According to an op-ed by Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post, Clanton is also accused of posting a photo of a random Arab with the caption, “Just thinking about ways to do another 9/11.”

    I guess my problem with this is Clanton’s seeming inability to say, not that she doesn’t remember every texting this comment, but that she would never have done so. At the risk of minimizing the amount of overt racism floating through our society, I suggest that the percentage of people who would text such a thing is very small. There’s a larger group that would think such a thing but not express it. And then there are some who might hint at such a thing out loud.

    But then there are the ones who would basically scream it to the rafters like Clanton. Of that group, I’m also guessing that a sizable number of them would later issue a general apology to the world, admitting they were young and stupid and insecure, and racism made them feel powerful. Or something like that.

    That leaves a small and nasty cohort. Why do we care? Because Pryor has sent a dozen or more of his clerks to clerk for High Court justices. And Supreme Court clerks can become extremely influential. This woman is on a ladder that leads to dizzying heights and it’s kind of extraordinary that this “I hate black people” text hasn’t knocked her off.

    Shades of Gray

    It’s people like Crystal Clanton that keep me from jumping into the fray on the side of those who have had enough of campus censorship, the whole idea of “triggering,” and the general all-or-nothing attitude on liberal college campuses and some other places.

    You may have avoided the latest hoopla at Yale Law School, for example, where, to put it bluntly, a conservative student was threatened for a party invitation that used the term “trap house” as a joke to describe the location. The dean of diversity told this guy, first of all, that the conservative Federalist Society was “triggering” for many students, second that “trap house” was a racist image, and third that these “missteps” might follow him through his career if he didn’t apologize. 

    Don’t get me wrong. The Federalist Society brings us people like William Pryor. But I’m sure the ACLU is a “trigger” for the conservatives on campus. Trap house is racist if you assume only Black people inhabit the urban underworld. The party host rightly declined to apologize, leaving Yale flapping its wings, clucking about free speech and claiming that no threat was issued. 

    I would love to agree with those on the right who say cancel culture has gone too far. But then I read about Crystal Clanton. Or I hear about the school administrator in Texas who was caught on tape telling teachers to make sure that if they taught about the Holocaust, for example, they included the “other side.” There are reasons to hold people to standards of righteous behavior. That doesn’t mean it’s my way or the highway. It means people have to be held accountable.

    Worst State Ever?

    Finally, speaking of Texas, it has just become the tenth state to ban transgender kids from participating in K–12 sports, but to my knowledge, it was one of only a handful of states to propose laws that banned transgender boys as well as girls. I am honestly not sure whether any of those other ones have also passed. The laws that I’m familiar with are those measures aimed specifically at transgender girls, but I just read the full text of the Texas version, and it’s pretty clear-cut. You can only play team sports under your birth gender. Ergo, the girls’ teams will now be forced to welcome transgender boys.

    This would be more of a problem if there were more transgender kids, fully transitioned, intent on playing sports at bigoted high schools. But like the other states that have enacted these types of laws, no one could actually point to a specific conflict in the Lone Star State. Even at the college level in a state as large as Texas, there aren’t more than a few dozen transgender athletes, none of whom are smashing records or bullying teammates or causing whatever damage these lawmakers purport to mitigate. 

    A few years back, Texas required a transgender boy to wrestle with the girls, even before this law was enacted. Under these circumstances I would love to see another case of a big athletic transgender boy forced against his will to play ladies tennis, or take up field hockey. No, of course I don’t want the kid to suffer. I just want those lawmakers to explain themselves. 

    arostow@aol.com

    Published on October 21, 2021