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Posts for December, 2010

Bristol Palin’s gay jibe at Margaret Cho

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2010

But for a mother with a fondness for money and fame, Bristol Palin could well be interchangeable with Jaime Pressly’s character on My Name is Earl. Only with less class.

Writing on Facebook, Bristol thought she’d make a clever little jibe at Margaret Cho. (The Improper)

Bristol, who denied having political motives for writing the post, closes with a stridently political message and a dig at Cho’s sexuality.

“You say you ‘don’t agree with the family’s politics at all’ but I say, if you understood that commonsense conservative values supports the right of individuals like you, like all of us, to live our lives with less government interference and more independence, you would embrace us faster than KD Lang at an Indigo Girls concert,” she wrote.

KD Lang is openly lesbian, as are the Indigo Girls. The implication is that this something Cho would readily respond to.

Klassy, Bristol.

I’m sure she thought that implying Margaret was gay was the snarkiest thing she could do. Because it’s pretty obvious that her family holds gay people in contempt. And considering her age… well, I very much doubt she came up with that “zinger” on her own.

But despite her utter tastelessness and “I’m better than you” attitude, Bristol probably believes what she says.

She clearly hasn’t the faintest clue about how the “commonsense conservative values” as practiced by her mother are miles from the the principles she’s been told that they represent. This foolish girl has never considered whether “more independence” is consistent with being denied the right to marry and how “less government interference” fits with being denied the right to serve your country openly.

The ironic thing is that if Bristol’s mother and her political allies actually DID stand for “less government interference and more independence”, then they would indeed appeal to our community. Sadly, what she really supports is less government interference in her life and much much much more in mine.

Klassy Bristol Palin

Timothy Kincaid

November 24th, 2010

Last night it became apparent just how little class the Palins have and just how insular and self-congratulatory that those who support them have become. Speaking with what was clearly the shared perspective of the Palins and their supporters, Bristol Palin answered a question about how it would feel to win, with ” It would be like a big middle finger out there to all the people out there who hate my mom and hate me.”

All of her competitors who have put months of training – with no days off – and who pushed themselves farther than their bodies really were ready to go, meant nothing. No, this was all about Sarah Palin and her Tea Partiers flipping off those who don’t support her.

That was too much even for her dancing partner and biggest cheerleader, Mark Balos, who looked off in the distance. And host Tom Bergeran had no idea what to say when the camera turned to him.

Bristol was the first eliminated last night.

(I corrected the exact quote)

The danger of Operation Bristol

Timothy Kincaid

November 16th, 2010

Bristol Palin is not a star. She is a girl who is the daughter of an influential politician, one that sharply polarizes the American public.

So her inclusion on Dancing with the Stars seemed contrived to me. Yes, DWTS has had political figures in the past – generally conservative Republicans – but they were of sufficient accomplishment to be considered public figures in their own right. Bristol, on the other hand, is only known for her mother’s political activism and only distinguishable from her siblings due to an unplanned pregnancy.

But televisions shows thrive from attention, and having Bristol Palin participate certainly does appeal to some viewers. So fine, let her dance.

I don’t hold Bristol’s parentage against her. I certainly don’t wish to be judged by the opinions of my relatives. We should give her the chance to prove her grace, agility, courage, connection and commitment and if she is the better dancer she should get our support.

But the problem with Bristol is that her support seems not to be based on the merits of her dancing, but rather on the merits of who she is.

And lets be real. Bristol Palin’s dance performances have been consistently lower in quality than those competitors who have been eliminated. Yes, she has improved and this week she was pretty good. But it isn’t her technique or entertainment value or “musicality” that has brought her back week after week.

By now, many of us have become aware of the gloating of social conservatives over Bristol’s continued presence on the show. Tea Party activists, and others, have touted what they call Operation Bristol, an effort to get viewers to ignore the dancing and vote for Bristol to “send a message” and flex their political power.

This week the show addressed the persistent rumors that Tea Party and other conservative watchers have been giving their votes to Bristol as a political statement in support of her mother. Bristol denied that motivation, offering her own:

“No offense to anyone else, but I’m not fake,” Bristol said in one of her pre-dance interviews. “People connect with me because they feel I’m real and I’m not typical Hollywood.”

But this is less of a denial than it is a rephrasing, use of a social code and terminology that would appeal to her supporters. It is an appeal not to blatant partisanship, per se, but to social divide: the “real” people v. the “Hollywood” elites. It is a form of class warfare that pits rural “values” against anyone that isn’t “like us.” This is the realm in which Rush Limbaugh excels – the division of people based on gut-level, but poorly defined, distinctions.

Nor does the language seem accidental or coincidental. Last week, entertainment gossip reporters were attributing nearly the same words to Sarah Palin.

“Sarah is making it very clear that she wants Bristol to win,” a show insider tells me, adding that Palin is tickled by the idea of taking votes away from the more “Hollywood liberal types” on the show.

“This is her chance to get even and show all those Democrats that a regular girl with conservative values and common sense” can win it all.

And, should anyone wonder, those who support equality for gay people (or who question continued institutionalize discrimination based on race, gender roles, or other identifiers) are “elites” and “Hollywood types” and not “real.” In fact, contempt for “Hollywood” is one of the central themes of anti-gay activists and those who object to entertainment’s embrace of gay people and lack of enthusiasm for religious conservatism.

It is no accident that all of Bristol’s competitors are “Hollywood.” This is not, after all, Dancing with the Common Folk. It is without question that Bristol sees herself in a different category from the other dancers, one that holds different perspectives and different social values.

And it is to those values that she appealed, in language that the “real” folk understand. Sending Operation Bristol into high gear.

And it may well put her into the finals – or even make her the winner.

But it also may kill the show. Few people – including “real” folk – want to watch a television entertainment show which evaluates and elevates competitors based on their political ideologies. And those in which class warfare determines support tend to eventually only have as viewers those who support the winning ideology and then, as “winning” becomes pointless, no one at all.

The producers of Dancing with the Stars gambled with Bristol Palin. By selecting someone whose “star” status was based solely on her political relationships, they may have drawn in some new viewers. But they may have also unleashed a dragon that they cannot control.

UPDATE: Talented dancer Brandi was kicked off the show by Operation Bristol. Rush Limbaugh has been gloating. Those who see the world strictly through the prism of the Culture War care little about merit or ability and are delighting that “their side” is shoving it to the “Hollywood Left.” It’s a rather sad reflection on the state of things.

I predict that Dancing With the Stars will lose ratings in the next season as people become disillusioned with the manipulation by producers and by partisan shenanigans.

Frum: Did California’s Marrying Gays Destroy Bristol Palin’s Marriage?

Jim Burroway

August 9th, 2010

Alaska was among the earliest states in the Union to pass a constitutional amendment in 1998 to ban same-sex marriage. Bristol Palin was nine years old at the time, which would be plenty of time to protect her marriage. Half her life, in fact. In another nine years she became pregnant and gave birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston on December 27, 2008. She never married. She and the boy’s father, Levi Johnston have been off-again and on-again since then, but they are now back off again

And according to David Frum, this is precisely why last week’s decsision striking down Prop 8 is a danger to heterosexual marriages.  I kid you not.

Update: Frum’s last paragraph says, “The harm feared from same-sex marriage has already arrived: Whether same-sex marriage is accepted or not, opposite-sex marriage as a norm and expectation has already collapsed.” Maybe I misread, but I took this to mean that regardless of what the court finally decides, at least some of the “collapse” is attributed to same-sex marriage. That’s the premise he cited at the begining, and it’s where he appeared, to me at least, to be at the end — after having dismissed the racial discrimination claims pretty effectively. But of course that wasn’t NOM’s argument. In fact, in addressing NOM’s argument, he called their warnings about the supposed superiority of opposite-sex parents rasing children “important and valid.”

Maybe I misread it, maybe he’s inelegant in wrapping this up. Thank God, being confused or confusing isn’t a crime. But I still find his position unclear, and I struggle to understand whether he thinks there’s any connection or not.