Updated: Noah Rothman’s Bizarre, Hypocritical Defense of Homophobia
Noah Rothman, Mediaite’s resident right wing moll, in a new article claims:
You can gauge the scope of a movement’s influence by the causes they adopt, and the cultural left has set their sights pretty low in recent months.
While not controversial in its own right, it is controversial in light of the position of the gop and the plank of the modern right (homophobia? check..misogyny and chauvinism? check… thinly veiled racism? check…).
Noah does not stop by suggesting that the left are simply intolerant; he goes on to claim:
the latest row over former Washington Post “WonkBlog” columnist Ezra Klein’s decision to hire a young writer by the name of Brandon Ambrosino for his new venture, Vox Media. Klein’s hiring of the 23-year-old aspiring writer for a one-year fellowship inspired a backlash utterly disproportionate to the scale of his infraction.
And what was his infraction? Ambrosino, an out gay man, refused to conform to the expected stereotypes to which progressives believe a gay man should kowtow. Worse still, he challenged and disconfirmed their biases on a regular basis.
Hear that left wing bigots? Your bias against homophobia is ‘disconfirmed’, not true, nonsense, and that makes you a bigot.
He rests his argument on claims that Ambrosini is not, in fact, a homophobe:
Ambrosino compounded his sin in the eyes of the reactionary left when he defended the likes of Alec Baldwin who was accused, himself, of being a homophobe when he used anti-gay slurs in one of his regular fits of rage. But an actor who has enjoyed a storied career in New York City’s theater scene, Ambrosino thought, is unlikely to be a bigoted caricature.
Before we dissect the actual homophobia and anti-transsexual mutterings of Ambrosino, let’s have a look at Rothman’s hammering of liberals for calling Baldwin homophobic:
MSNBC’s newest host, Alec Baldwin, is in some hot water - again - for allowing his basest impulses to overrule his better judgment. When confronted by a paparazzo on the streets of New York City recently, Baldwin let loose a stream of sexually explicit and homophobic slurs. This behavior has become commonplace with Baldwin. But now that he is no longer an eccentric actor but a cable news host, the former 30 Rock star is being held to a higher standard.
The actor’s new role as an on-air host at a cable news network requires, some would say, that he conduct himself in a fashion consistent with the standards of the network he represents. Indeed, some media personalities are no longer laughing at Baldwin’s antics.
The fact that the Baldwin incident has not yet been addressed is shocking. This is hardly an isolated incident. MSNBC knew what they were getting when they hired Baldwin, and should have been prepared to discipline him when - not if - the next torrent of expletives came streaming from the actor’s unfiltered subconscious.
Yes, that is the same Noah Rothman, calling out MSNBC for not directly addressing Baldwin’s homophobia.
However, let’s not pause on what appears to be shocking hypocrisy; let us move on to Ambrosino’s remarks that Noah feels so desperate to defend, and seems to infer harms the left when they criticize them.
His gross distortions of mainstream gay views and stunning lack of fluency in the basic language of gay equality reveals him to be little but a feckless provocateur. His mischaracterization of 20th-century philosopher Michel Foucault—Ambrosino warps the philosopher’s idea that sexuality is a “social construct” to justify his view that gays choose their sexuality—has gotten him called out by academics. But his use of nonsensical phrases like “intersexed crossdressers” (intersexuality, a medical condition, has nothing to do with cross-dressing) and penchant for referring to transsexualism as a “sexual choice” (it’s not about sexuality) show that his lack of familiarity with his subject matter runs even deeper.
A 23-year-old graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Ambrosino has earned his name as a journalist—and his coveted spot at Vox Media—by being the gay writer who comes to the defense of gay-rights antagonists.
He most recently stirred up a storm by proclaiming, at The New Republic, that homosexuality is a choice and that he has chosen to be gay.
Time magazine gave him space to call gays the real bigots for piling on Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who had equated homosexuality with bestiality and said gays weren’t going to heaven (still, Ambrosino says he wouldn’t mind going fishing with the guy).
At The Atlantic, Ambrosino threw his hat in the ring for the founder of his alma mater, who blamed September 11 on gays and accused them of trying to “recruit” children; Ambrosino says liberals like Bill Maher have slandered the Moral Majority founder and says, in Falwell’s defense, that the guy with the “big fat smile” probably wouldn’t have had him stoned to death if he’d known about Ambrosino’s sexuality.
Ambrosino also defends the views of ex-gay therapists and same-sex marriage opponents, whom he says aren’t motivated by bigotry.
In The Baltimore Sun, Ambrosino went after the guys in “butt-less chaps and high-heels” at gay-pride marches who earn society’s prejudice with their “hypersexual antics”: “I think there is a subversive power in living out my gay life in a way that seeks to emphasize the common ground I share with straight communities,” he wrote.
“I don’t want to participate in an event that seeks to highlight how countercultural I am.” Unsurprisingly, the religious right has been thrilled to find an acolyte among the fallen.
So Rothman wants all you liberals to understand: calling out Duck Dynasty, and Phil Robertson, and Ambrosino, and Falwell as homophobic or bigots is wrong, and amounts to bigotry.
The harm, Rothman, concludes, is to the left for intolerance of intolerance, not to the right for intolerance of sexuality and gender:
The lesson is becoming clear: the perpetually aggrieved can be, and often are, safely ignored. A once powerful movement, which apparently sees its relevance sustained only by the number of careers it is able to end, has been almost entirely marginalized, even if they do not recognize that fact yet. They have become as effective as those foolish cultural conservatives who were moved to boycott Coca-Cola over a harmless, multi-cultural Super Bowl ad –- which is to say, not at all.
But the cultural left’s predicament is worse than that of the cultural conservatives’. The social conservative is reminded regularly by coastal media and entertainment elites that his views are far from vogue. The progressive bounty hunters are, however, utterly convinced of their relevance and have their views regularly reinforced by their most influential contemporaries.
This is of course nonsense, as I wrote in ‘on the tolerance paradox.’
It is that simple - ethics applies different criteria to different principles. Yes, while this makes the idea of tolerance somewhat subjective, when the ethics tend to be universal the anterior principle should simply not be tolerated.
an example of this is gay rights.
When a religious person attempts to use the ‘tolerance paradox’ to defend their use of discrimination they violate the ‘objective universal ethics of non-discrimination’ and therefore, there simply is no paradox.
Their rights to tolerance apply only insofar as they do not violate the personal rights of another for any reason. It does not matter if the reason is homosexuality anymore than it matters if it is because they have blonde hair. The religious person has violated the others universal ethical principle of not discriminating against anyone for any reason. It is also not redundant to point out that here the principle claimed by the religious person is also highly subjective meanwhile the principle of non discrimination is highly objective.
A simpler understanding could be surmised from music:
You have every ethical right to not enjoy the music of Jon Bon Jovi. while your dislike is highly subjective, it does not violate the universal ethical principles of anyone else, so hate on brother……
however, you have no right to refuse to sell Jon Bon Jovi a samosa simply because you dislike his music. It does not matter if you feel that violates your rights, your hatred of his music is subjective, and his universal right to not be discriminated against is objective.
There simply is no paradox because they exist in different criteria, and therefore are not mutually exclusive.
There simply is no paradox of tolerance in relation to bigotry due to someone’s gender nor sexuality, because intolerance of bigotry directed at gender or sexuality exists as a different ethical principle than intolerance of said bigotry.
Rothman is simply defending bigotry, and did so while contradicting his own intolerance of Baldwin’s homophobia.
Noah responded to me on twitter in relation to the contradictions:
Noah Rothman @NoahCRothman
that network’s silence on that issue was hypocritical given editorial stance, but I’ve never called for a broadcaster’s job.
Noah Rothman @NoahCRothman
I called Robertson’s remarks homophobic, too. Also, defended both’s right to work. Think that’s consistent.
I think it is only fair to post his response, I also tend to think it ignores the substance of the contradiction….