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April 23, 2003

Okay, for what it's worth, here's the gist of my correspondence with Mickelson.

I wrote what tried to be a fairly calm but very pointed e-mail.

Essentially I told him I was outraged that he was orchestrating a hate campaign against children and I told him I thought he should be ashamed for providing "entertainment" by acting like a bigot and using his public forum to pass off his own backwoods prejudices as fact. I told him that I knew it was easier to take cheap potshots at a group who couldn't defend itself, that it was easier than learning real issues and formulating real responses, and I accused him of "knee-jerk bigotry." I also told him that I thought Clear Channel should get him and his problems off the air.

He responded with a link to his "response" of Basu's column and told me he'd expect a more balanced review of the matter, unless "of course, you are a member of the mind-numbed, vase, left-wing conspiracy."

I responded (how tedious it is to recap conversations this way) with an objection to his language and informed him that his own rhetoric would sound a lot more intelligent and be a lot more persuasive if he avoided childish name-calling. I also said I'd be happy to hear his side of the story and would read the link he provided.

He responded, in fact, with an apology and explained that most of the e-mails he'd received had seemed to be from "Tourettes sufferers" and that he was responding in kind to them.

(I don't doubt that his accusation is true and I'm really rather annoyed by the revelation. I can assure you all that an e-mail or letter that avoids four-letter words and at least pretends to be a response to the issues instead of a mindless spewing of reactionary bile is going to carry a lot more weight than a hate note.)

I'm just saying.

To return to our story, I checked out his "response" again, wrote a 3,000 word objection, realized he wouldn't read it, cut it down to the bones, confining myself, once again, to objecting to inflammatory and pointless name-calling, objecting to his conspiracy-theory references to some mythical "gay agenda," objecting to his reference to Kinsey as "junk science", and pointing out that the "traditional morality" he was supposedly defending is a fluid and frequently unattrative object that has, in fact, been used to oppress a lot of people. I also demanded to know some facts surrounding the actual event.

His response was, again, polite, considering that the topic of our conversation centered around me considering him an offensive bigot. He provided an additional link (Dr. Judith Reisman*) to support his contention about Kinsey, pointed out what while his "response" was short on facts and discussion of the actual issues, so had Basu's column been, and sidestepped the question of "traditional morality" with a reference to god (I'm not interested in debating religion with him).

(* Whose undergraduate and doctorate degrees, I should point out, were both in Communications and not, as you might expect, sociology, psychology, or psychiatry.)


It was at that point that I realized that, even though it's quite possible to see Reisman's opinions just from the names of her books and articles, I'd have to actually read them (ick!) and then go find, read, and reference opposing viewpoints, in order to continue the conversation intelligently.

I also realized that I'd inadvertently allowed Mickelson to change the topic of conversation from hate-mongering against children to his view of homosexuality, and I couldn't be less interested in his personal beliefs. (There are no Thought Police and I think that's just fine. We can't legislate correct thought, only correct behavior.)

In fact, once I had time to follow all of the links in the response Mickelson wrote to Basu's article, I realized that even though he was responding to me politely, there was little or no possibility he and I would find common ground for conversation.

There was nothing even remotely inflammatory in the student club flyer that started the whole farce. (I find the reference to the school-supported religious club pretty much as offensive as Mickelson found the Gay and Lesbian club.)

He also cited the Family Research Council, an anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, anti-any religion but Christianity group that's also pretty much anti-everything liberal, to support his opinions.

Anyhow. I figured out from that and from his other response* to Basu's column, the one in which he advises gays and lesbians to go back in the closet if they don't want to be harassed, that there was no possibility of actually learning anything about his views beyond what he'd already told me, that he thought he was on god's side of morality.

(* He makes a couple of odd references to Kinsey defining people by their sexual preferences rather than their genders that make no sense to me, but are probably from something Reisman wrote. In some odd way, he also seems to be saying that if these kids didn't decide about their sexuality until they were older, maybe they wouldn't decide to be gay. It's all very surreal.)

Anyhow. I'm way off-topic, aren't I?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:42 AM