The Washington Post has a pretty wonderful story today on how the right wing is reacting to Caitlyn Jenner: awkwardly, in the case of Republicans who’d like to be president someday, or, among pundits, with a full-on, “fling yourself on the floor, pee your pants, hurl your sippie cup and cry for mama”-style tantrum.
Transgender issues always have a way of making social conservatives very, very uncomfortable, but as the Post story makes clear, their befuddledness and lack of grace dealing with Jenner’s public transition is really something. As the Post puts it, Jenner’s transition is weighted with symbolism for them, in a bad way: “To them, the widespread acceptance of Jenner’s evolution from an Olympic gold medalist whose masculinity was enshrined on a Wheaties box to a shapely woman posing suggestively on the cover of Vanity Fair was a reminder that they are losing the culture wars.”
Not one of them has managed to respond appropriately: not Mike Huckabee, who tried a shitty joke about how he wished he’d thought to pretend to be trans to look at girls’ boobs. Not Rick Santorum, who got in trouble with his own base for this comment last month: “If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman. My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are.” He later had to clarify that he wasn’t advocating for a “change in public policy” or treating transgender people like regular human beings or anything. Heavens no.
And then we have the pundits, who are flecking their outrage spittle far and wide on this one: Rush Limbaugh thundered that the GOP shouldn’t allow liberals to “redefine normalcy” by... letting a trans woman exist, I guess, adding that it’s all part of a sinister plot to make Republicans into “the new weirdos.”
“These people have a very serious problem, and they need treatment,” Limbaugh added. “They need help, not encouragement.”
That’s also the line from Bryan Fischer, once the American Family Association’s issues guy and now just a guy with some issues, who’s busy telling anybody who’s listening that he won’t refer to Caitlyn as “she.” Via Right Wing Watch, old man yells at cloud:
“If you want one snapshot of just how corrupt, how morally corrupt, how morally bent, how morally twisted, how morally confused, how morally bankrupt we have become, all you’ve got to do is take a look at the cover of Vanity Fair magazine,” Fischer said on his radio program today.
“My heart, frankly, goes out to Bruce Jenner,” he continued. “I’m not going to call him Caitlyn Jenner because that’s not his name and I’m not going to refer to him as a she. He’s a he. He’s a he in every single solitary cell of his body, he will be until the day that God calls him home. So he’s a male in every single cell of his body, so he’s always going to be a he in the terminology that I’m going to use. I’m never going to refer to him as a she because that would be a lie.”
Cool opinions like that are thick on the ground, including this one from some lady at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who repeatedly calls Caitlyn “he” and writes that *some people* are having trouble not calling her “he.” That may be because —theory — some people are sentient garbage cans who have been given columns in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where they’ve been given free reign to write confused bon mots like, “Just know that, for every person cheering your courage, there are others wishing you were a bit more of a coward.” (There’s a similar piece over at The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s panic room, that is so dumb and bad I can neither link to it nor finish reading it.)
Blessedly, though, in this morass of pants-shitting, we have Alex Jones, who is less of a pundit and more of your garden variety whacko. Jones is a man who believes that every single world event is a black ops propaganda conspiracy COINTELPRO covert warfare perpetrated by the U.S. government. In this context, his take on Jenner is providing a rare moment of comic relief: you will be relieved to hear, as Salon notes, that he believes she’s just one part of a vast government operation to turn us all gay.
Yeah. Jones has a longstanding theory, too brain-twistingly stupid to go into at any length here, that the government is deliberately trying to cause homosexuality with “estrogen-mimickers,” by which — I think — he means BPA, a chemical found in most plastics. (There’s evidence that BPA, and even containers advertising themselves as BPA-free, do leach hormone-altering chemicals. The government’s not trying to make you gay.)
For Jones, as Salon writes, Jenner is just one more cog in that vast and increasingly addled scheme:
On his Tuesday broadcast, Jones discussed Jenner at length and folded her into his “estrogen-mimickers” conspiracy theory, and then added a new layer to it. He began by acknowledging “studies that some people have a woman’s brain inside a man’s body, or a man’s brain inside a woman’s body.” Fine. But then he added that it’s “especially because of all the chemicals in utero early on in the development — I mean some of that’s going on. And the hormones in the food. It’s on the record that it confuses every other advanced form of life.” So, basically, some people are transgender because of “hormones in the food” and in-utero chemicals. Uh huh.
It gets worst.
“The agenda behind all of this,” Jones continued, “Is to confuse society and break everything down and make the natural systems — the set default systems basically anathema.” Again, Jones’ ongoing buggaboo is that LGBT people are the unwitting consequence of a sinister agenda by the government, and possibly the Illuminati, to upend the so-called norms of society for a variety of reasons, including population control.
I guess this is to say that while you’re busy deleting Facebook friends for saying things like “getting plastic surgery isn’t bravery,” just remember that it could be much, much worse.
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Image via Vanity Fair