Nixon’s views on gays come as no sur­prise

Throws around slurs lib­er­ally in record­ing with his top aide

Chicago Sun-Times - - News In Brief Metro -

Archie, Nixon and Har­vey

think it’s time for those who voted against the ban against gay mar­riage to sit and re­flect on their great shame and their shame in their grand­chil­dren’s eyes if they con­tinue that sup­port. We’ve got to have equal rights for every­one.”— Sean Penn, ac­cept­ing the Best Ac­tor Os­car.

Penn’s right, you know. Twenty or 50 or 100 years from now, Amer­i­cans will won­der why there was ever a fuss about gay mar­riage. “You mean to tell me it was banned in the early part of the cen­tury? That’s crazy.”

On the morn­ing af­ter Penn’s victory, I lis­tened to the YouTube au­dio (the “video” is just a still photo) of a Richard Nixon tape from May 13, 1971. I’d first heard about this tape when Norm MacDon­ald men­tioned it on Howard Stern’s show.

Nixon is talk­ing to his aide John Ehrlich­man. The pres­i­dent is grous­ing be­cause he had tried to get a base­ball game on TV but in­stead had come across “a movie” about a guy named “Arch.”

“The damnedest thing I ever heard, two mag­nif­i­cent, hand­some guys and a stupid old fel­low and a nice girl— they were glo­ri­fy­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity,” says Nixon.

Nice to know Nixon was so comfortable in his het­ero­sex­u­al­ity that he could talk to Ehrlich­man about “two mag­nif­i­cent, hand­some guys.”

Ehrlich­man ex­plains it’s a TV show. The pro­gram in ques­tion is “All in the Fam­ily,” which had de­buted a few months ear­lier and by the end of the year would be­come a rat­ings sen­sa­tion.

Nixon goes into a detailed de­scrip­tion of an episode in which Archie Bunker dis­cov­ers a ma­cho for­mer foot­ball player is gay.

“God, he’s hand­some, vir­ile, strong, and this and that. . . . They’re talk­ing . . . and then this fairy comes into the bar.”

Archie’s son-in-law tells Archie the ma­cho guy is gay. Archie laugh­ingly tells this to his friend— who tells Archie it’s true.

“I turned the god­damned thing off,” says Nixon. “I couldn’t lis­ten to any more.”

“Now, that’s real fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment, isn’t it?” says Ehrlich­man.

Nixon: “I don’t mind the ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. I un­der­stand it . . . but god­damn it, I do not think you glo­rify it . . . any more than you glo­rify whores.

“Now, we all know that peo­ple go to whores, we all know . . . peo­ple have weak­nesses . . . but god­damn it, what do you think that does to kids? What do you think that does to 11-and 12-year-old boys, why is it that the . . . Boy Scouts . . . we con­stantly had to clean up the staffs to keep the god­damned fags out of it. . . .

“Do you know what hap­pened to the Ro­mans? The last six Ro­man em­per­ors were fags.”

This was the mind-set of the pres­i­dent of the United States in the early 1970s, just be­fore a man named Har­vey Milk moved from New York to San Fran­cisco.

Nixon: “Let’s look at north­ern Cal­i­for­nia. . . . You know what’s hap­pened in San Fran­cisco?”

Ehrlich­man: “San Fran­cisco has just gone clear over.”

Nixon: “The Bo­hemian Grove . . . is the most faggy god­damned thing you could ever imag­ine. . . . It’s just ter­ri­ble. I mean, I don’t even want to shake hands with any­body from San Fran­cisco.”

Har­vey Milk wasn’t a saint. But he came out, and he stood strong in an era in which the leader of this coun­try was telling a top aide that he didn’t even want to shake hands with any­one from San Fran­cisco. Ku­dos to Gus Van Sant, Dustin Lance Black, Sean Penn and every­one else in­volved in the mak­ing of “Milk.”

And shame on those who think God is telling them to protest gay mar­riage.

Mon­key busi­ness

An il­lus­tra­tion ac­com­pa­ny­ing a col­umn in Sun­day’s Wash­ing­ton Post mag­a­zine de­picts an ape car­ry­ing off a smit­ten woman while a man stands by, de­jected.

The Post ran an “ed­i­tor’s note” that said: “The head­line, il­lus­tra­tion and text of a . . . col­umn . . . may cause of­fense to read­ers. The mag­a­zine was printed be­fore a widely pub­li­cized in­ci­dent last week in which a chim­panzee at­tacked and badly mauled a woman. . . . In ad­di­tion, the im­age and text in­ad­ver­tently may con­jure racial stereotypes that the Post does not coun­te­nance. We re­gret the lapse.”

OK, the in­fa­mous New York Post car­toon link­ing the chimp in­ci­dent to the eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­age was un­funny and racially of­fen­sive. The Wash­ing­ton Post il­lus­tra­tion? It ac­com­pa­nied a hu­mor col­umn about a study that said women were turned on by bonobos (apes) hav­ing sex. The tim­ing of the il­lus­tra­tion was un­for­tu­nate, but there’s noth­ing racial about it.

No mat­ter. If you’re a car­toon­ist and you’re even con­sid­er­ing putting a chim­pape-what­ever into an il­lus­tra­tion, I guess you bet­ter think twice. Cu­ri­ous Ge­orge wouldn’t stand a chance in 2009.

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