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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Friday, November 01, 2002

Let's Just Settle This Now

OK, Andrew Sullivan says the Simon ad is gay-baiting. Mark Kleiman agrees. Orrin Judd says, no way. Pretty heavy thinkers. So, to add my piece of lint, let me first repeat a bit of the ad in question. This has been run in Latino districts in support of Simon for the California gubernatorial race .

"The 30-second Spanish-language radio ad, paid for by the Republican Party of Glenn County, features the dinnertime conversation of a couple identified as Panchito and Lupita. Over a plate of enchiladas, the couple discuss a laundry list of problems with Democratic Party.

"I am scared that Democrats are supporting abortion . . . and they are teaching our children in the schools that homosexual practice is OK," says the male voice, "instead of using those hours to teach them to read and write."

OK, I do not know the specifics of what is being taught in California schools. But my very first reaction to this ad is "Well, aren't they?" In NYC, there was a furor when a school board introduced "Heather Has Two Mommies", meant to promote understanding of lesbian couples. I presume California to be at least as progressive in intent, and I expect there are some dissatisfied parents as a result.

So, out in California, is it not the case that, from time to time, schools promote the notion that homosexual practice is OK? Teaching tolerance, yes? And perhaps there is some question as to the priorities of the educational system, as suggested in the ad.

So if Republicans decide to test the reaction of Latinos to this particular educational concept, is that not why we have public policy discussions? Who is being smeared by this? Who has been outed? What is the innuendo? What is the allegation? Where is the gay-bashing? Or is any disagreement with this agenda "gay-bashing"?

Look, this ad may be stupid. It may backfire. Teaching tolerance in schools makes sense, and I wonder whether this is a calm and sensible method of broaching a difficult subject. But why don't Democrats stand up and say "Damn right we do, and proud of it!"?

Or, as Orrin wonders, is this something we just don't talk about?

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