Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The New Times and the Napster

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2006 at 10:43 AM

I like the Phoenix New Times. Usually. And I am highly appreciative of the fact that the paper has recently taken a very critical look at Gov. Janet Napolitano. That's awesome.

However, in at least one case, the paper has gone too far.

In "The Bird" (Nov. 2), writer Stephen Lemons delved into something that's admittedly much talked-about, albeit rarely in the media: The governor's sexual orientation. I'll let you read the column for yourself, but here's my summary: Lemons basically makes a bunch of butch-woman jokes (he calls Napolitano "Manet"), leaps to the conclusion that Napolitano's probably a lesbian, and caps the column by recounting how he asked her about her orientation during a press conference, citing the fact that she's on the record opposing gay marriage as a justification.

There are a lot of revealing tidbits in the column. I think it's great Lemons exposed the lapdog quality of some Capitol media members. And he gets points for being willing to put in print questions about Napolitano's sexual orientation that—let's face it—are rampant.

But after thinking a LOT about this column—a LOT—I have to say I don't care for it.

First off, Lemons—in an attempt to be snarky and amusing—crosses the line into being mean. I am in favor of snarkiess, of using profanity, even justified name-calling. But he goes way, way too far here. He comes off as sexist and anti-lesbian—I don't know why he just didn't come out and use the term "dyke"—and, in the process, masks what are some valid points.

The biggest flaw in his column, however, is the fact that he basically leaps to the conclusion that Napolitano's a lesbian, without citing any evidence—other than the fact that she's single and manly. While some in the gay community are opposed to outing people, when it comes to public figures and hypocrisy, I am not, and Lemons' point—it would be hypocritical for a lesbian to oppose same-sex marriage, presumably for political purposes—is right on, except for the fact that he produces no proof or even hard evidence that Napolitano is a lesbian. All he has is the fact that Napolitano is unmarried and butch.

Is it possible Napolitano is a lesbian? Sure. If so, is it appropriate to hold her feet to the fire for opposing gay marriage? Yes. (Although one can be lesbian and opposed to gay marriage, I suppose.) But until Lemons—or anyone else—comes up with proof that Napolitano's a lesbian, we have to take her word for it that she's not, don't we? After all, being manly and single does not make a woman gay. And to say so is wrong.

The Bird deserves to be plucked for this piece. And it's a shame, because in between the nastiness and the unsubstantiated assumptions are some really good points that need to be made.

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