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November 06, 2007

Wishful Projections

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Fairly often I come across the assertion that "homophobes" are actually repressed homosexuals.

I'm inclined to doubt that the claim is generally true, though there's no reason to doubt that it might be true for some individuals.

But for the moment let's assume that it is true.

Now let's generalize and posit that anyone with a strong dislike of some form of human behavior secretly harbors such behavior himself.

Seems perfectly reasonable, right? Surely the case of attitudes regarding homosexuality can't be unique.

Therefore, it would be perfectly correct to assert that people who hate Republicans are really repressed GOPers.

I knew you would agree.



posted by Donald at November 6, 2007


this one seems clearly inspired by a personal event. lol like an annoying liberal who happens to be gay. every gay i've met personally has been a rampant socialist. i think gays more blindly vote democrat then even black people do. on one level it's understandable cause of the 2 major parties, the democrats are at least somewhat more gay-friendly. i actually know a lesbian who's a hillary clinton supporter which boogles my mind cause the clintons have the most fiercly anti-gay history in public life of all mainstream successful democrat poltiicians. maybe they're better then bush but they aren't going to be that much better, that's for sure. i'd love to meet more libertarian or conservative gay people in my life but i think cause of the 2 party system and the need for people to fit in, it's not gonna happen.

of course, not all homophobes are closet cases. but there have been quite a few so the stereotype is not with some substance. specifically with hardcare christian conversatives who live in very unexcepting envirements their whole lives and don't know any better. you can't just shrug an over generalization cause an annoying liberal gets on your nerves. stereotypes come from something, however unbalanced they may be.

of course, i've heard many 2 bit "you hate what you are" philosphies from hippie liberals in the past which can be ridiculus. i've gotten into arguement a few times over though not about homophobes. basically what it boils down to is: there is such a thing as rightous anger. just cause i may i may detest child molesters or nazis doesn't make me one of them, being another example.

Posted by: t. j. on November 7, 2007 10:25 AM

There is another side to the constant accusations that people are "closeted homosexuals." Any disagreement with the radical gay activist (or readical feminist) agenda is also considered proof that those who disagree are actually closeted homosexuals.

I think that the kids learned this in their diversity indoctrinations in college. See the recent row over the Residence Life program at the University of Delaware. I know that my daughter got pounded with the gay activist indoctrination at Antioch.

The tactic here is to equate the experience of gays (and suburban women according to Betty Friedan) as the same as blacks in the Jim Crow south. Once any argument is couched in the terminology of discrimination, the kids learned in their diversity indoctrination, you win by screaming "bigot" at your adversary.

Kids born to 60s hippie parents got fed up with the attempt to canonize blacks. They found a way to portray themselves as sainted victims and they loved it.

Read Mark Steyn's e-mail for a full blast of the "you're just a closeted queer" rhetoric of the left. Every one of these people screaming these denunciations seems to believe that they invented the trope.

You cannot believe how fiercely the kids were indoctrinated in the diversity crap in college. People who are pounded so relentlessly with that crap often become enforcers of doctrine. It sort of like the old parental saying: "I got the crap beat out of me when I was a kid. So, you are going to get the crap beat out of you, too."

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on November 7, 2007 10:40 AM

On the one hand, homosexuality and a set of political beliefs are not analogous at all, for obvious reasons.

On the other hand, your conclusion might not be as ridiculous as it's meant to seem. I'm thinking of radical leftists who reserve the vast majority of their hatred for moderate liberals, maybe because they can see in them what they consider undesirable tendencies in themselves. Obviously this casual observation doesn't prove anything.

Also, I don't think many people really believe that homophobes are repressed homosexuals. It's more of a juvenile taunt.

Posted by: BP on November 7, 2007 10:41 AM

Well, what's sauce for the goose...

Posted by: ricpic on November 7, 2007 11:19 AM

the most elegantly slamdunk points are usually the most concise.

Posted by: roissy on November 7, 2007 11:30 AM

Well, liberalism lacks the juice and pizzazz of libido, wouldn't you agree? Got to have the dynamo for repression.

Posted by: Don McArthur on November 7, 2007 11:34 AM

No, I just don't agree with their lifestyle. They're always trying to push their immoral agenda on everyone. I mean, it's fine what they do in the privacy of their own homes, but leave me out of it. Not to mention their disrespect for the institution of marriage!

Republicans, that is.

Posted by: JW on November 7, 2007 12:47 PM

I think many of us have stronger negative reactions to traits we see in others that we dislike (or fear) in ourselves than we do to those traits we may see as flaws but that strike less close to home. Being aware of something we see as a flaw in our own personality make-up we can be hyper aware of it when we encounter it in someone else.

I'm less sure this carries over into political positions, but it is at least plausible. If so, would that make Rush a closet feminazi?

Posted by: Chris White on November 7, 2007 1:12 PM

Yes, this particular example of leftie ad-hominizing really does lend itself to parody, doesn't it? Consider the following (exclamation points included to indicate authorial astonishment at the depths of insights afforded to him by the LAP):

LAP - Leftie Ad-hominem Postulate
Anyone with a strong dislike of some form of human behavior secretly harbors such behavior himself.

Therefore...people who hate homophobes are really homophobes themselves!

Which means that people who hate homophobes actually hate homosexuals!

But if they actually hate homosexuals, they must be homosexuals themselves!

So anybody who accuses someone of homophobia must actually be a self-hating homosexual!

But anyone who hates himself must actually want to be himself!

Which he is!

Quod erat demonstrandum!

Like I said...insight. Wow.

Posted by: PatrickH on November 7, 2007 2:16 PM

Fairly often I come across the assertion that "homophobes" are actually repressed homosexuals.

What's so brilliant about that claim is that it turns homophobia in on itself, so that if it gains enough traction, people will be afraid that if they say anything homophobic, others will think they're gay.

I don't think your "closet Republican" analogy holds, though. It's hard to imagine holding Republican beliefs while simultaneously being ashamed of holding said beliefs. If you hold those beliefs, you ipso facto don't find them shameful. On the other hand, being gay is not a belief, it's an orientation, so it makes perfect sense that people could have that orientation while simultaneously thinking homosexuality is sinful and perverted.

Now, I don't think that every homophobe -- or even most -- are closet homosexuals. But maybe a great number are terrified by the reality that sexual orientation is not 100% either-or. I think this hypothesis is bolstered by the fact that attractive men are often accused of being gay -- it's classic projection. An otherwise straight man finds Tom Cruise to be kind of attractive despite himself... and so he shouts that Cruise is gay.

Posted by: JewishAtheist on November 7, 2007 2:26 PM

So then you're 2Blowhard's closet liberal, right? Glad we got that straight (heh).

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on November 7, 2007 2:28 PM

Congratulations Donald!! From a group of people who always have an opinion whether we should or've left us speechless. You stumped the panel!!!

Posted by: annette on November 7, 2007 2:56 PM

Playing the straight-faced patsy here and taking your question at face value ...

I actually think there sometimes *is* something to the idea that lefties who hate the GOP have a little something weird going on. I'm not sure they're closeted Repubs, but ... Well, I've known an awful lot of lefties who are transfixed, obsessed, consumed by, appalled-fascinated by, whatevered by Republicanism, and in such a way that it isn't just a matter of "I like my team and root for them against your team," but more like ... obsession.

What to make of that? My own hunch is that it has to do with taboo. Whatever it is that they imagine conservatives and Republicans are up to and stand for is the ultimate taboo for them. 1) They project it (whatever it is), 2) They're hypnotized by it (whatever it is). 3) They return to it obsessively, over and over. Just as Puritans are obsessed by sex and pleasure, certain lefties are obsessed by Republicanism.

They're working *something* personal out, in other words.

But that leaves the question open: What is it they're working out? I don't really know the answer to that question, but I have a theory, which is that they're absolutely horrified by (and envious of) the idea of a life lived without guilt.

Well, it's a theory. But FWIW it does jibe pretty well with a lot that I've observed.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 7, 2007 4:26 PM

For the record, I have no secret, repressed desire to be:

1) any life form that crawls on its belly
2) Britney Spears (#1 and #2 may be a single item)
3) a chocolate-covered orange cream
4) President of the United States

Not sure your theory works with real bullets, but your aim is dead-on target!

Viva la slam dunk! (agreeing with Roissy)

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on November 7, 2007 4:41 PM

t.j.: looky here
Dorian is a unforgetable to meet.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 7, 2007 5:07 PM

If I hate the majority of these commenters, that probably means I hate myself. With that said...

This is all about consequences. I have nothing against homosexuality because it does not negatively impact me in any way. I have a lot against GOPers because their idiocy has a significant impact on me (unfortunately). Why a lot of GOPers are so strongly and negatively impacted by homosexuality, I can't say...but I can assume.

Posted by: slag on November 7, 2007 5:11 PM

What a lovely, pithy serve, Donald! It made this Big Fat Liberal laugh out loud.

As to any real truth there might be innit, I'm'a go with the JewishAtheist's take on the sitch: provided you subscribe to the position that homosexual orientation is born, not made, it stands to reason that some poor souls born into less-than-tolerant circumstances would kick up a fuss over the actualized proof of their deepest fear.

The rabid hatred amongst my more demonstratively anti-Republican pals I ascribe to their intolerance of...intolerance. Moral outrage made (sadly) ironic.

I have no proof, of course, but I'm willing to wager that all real, rabid hatred is rooted in intolerance. Which, if you boil it down to its simplest element, is usually fear and occasionally sociopathy. The former can be dealt with by reducing distance and scale; the latter is really terrifying.

I do like MB's theory in parts. I'm guessing most Big Fat Liberals have, at least once, looked at what it would be like to be on the other side and thought longingly, restful that looks. How orderly.

Not that we'd admit it or anything.

Posted by: communicatrix on November 7, 2007 5:47 PM

Homophobe? I think the issue is not fear so much as repulsiveness, and then you need to distinguish between the behavior and the person who is known to engage in it.

The same thing applis to Islamaphobe, only in this case fear is the right word, and it applies to the belief-system, not the nominal believer necessarily, since the average Muslim was born into his religion, and does not take his religion -- or what is distinctive about it -- too seriously.

Personally, I fear the Muslim religion, and do not want to see it widely established in this country. It is not compatible with a liberal and open society, in my opinion.

As for homosexuals, as long as they don't hit on me, I've got no problem.

Posted by: Luke Lea on November 7, 2007 6:11 PM

"Envious of the idea of a life lived without guilt..."? If one advances policies that makes gays and blacks second-hand citizens, one should feel guilt. As a liberal I don't support those repressive policies. In fact, I work against them. This allows me to feel less guilt. Guilt, like all emotions, has its uses. But it's not a comfortable feeling, so we do what we can to lessen it. If voting for the current Republican agenda allows you to live guilt free, then -- well, this is a free country. Vote your conscience.

Posted by: Fred Wickham on November 7, 2007 6:14 PM

Recently I've been expanding my blog hopping and have read many comments by proud neo-cons. If there is something to this theory then it would appear that there are a HUGE number of Leftist obsessed conservatives out there working through some serious issues. Many of them seem quite rabid in their vehemence.

This gives us the mirror image of the equation; being blind to the similarities between those who spew venom at whatever Bush or Cheney might do or say and those who attack every utterance of Hillary et al. One can only try to appreciate the absurdity of the situation.

Posted by: Chris White on November 7, 2007 6:59 PM


Of course reading a few of the commenters here, even on this very thread, you could turn that analogy topsy-turvy and still have it ring true.

It's almost like political Mad-Libs. The blanks are the issues in question and the side being demonized.

[Blank] is just another horrible idea with its roots in [blank]! The [blanks] are dead set against what this nation was founded on and hope only to destroy it with their [blank]! Their lack of logical coherence is because of their misguided belief in [blank]. I'd laugh at the idiot [blanks] if they weren't so dangerous. Truly the moral failings of [blank] is apparent to anyone with a mind and two eyes! It harkens back to the totalitarianism of [blank].

It works whatever the political affiliation.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on November 7, 2007 7:04 PM

I have no reference for this whatsoever, but I recall hearing about a study being done in which they hooked up straight men's, um, private parts to some kind of monitor and then showed them gay porn -- and the ones who expressed the most homophobia were the most turned on.

As I say, I don't have a reference, but . . .

I do know that with my own children, my buttons are often most firmly pushed over things I later realize are things I don't like about myself -- and wish they wouldn't be like me in that respect . . .

Posted by: missgrundy on November 7, 2007 7:17 PM

For anyone who's interested in shame, guilt, and American politics: Here's a book I found really interesting. You can buy a used copy of it for a penny. One of the author's main contentions is that there's a clash in the U.S. between an old shame-based tradition (WASPs, Anglos, Germans, etc) and a newer, often Catholic and Jewish, guilt-based approach to life. The author sees the '60s as that moment when the guilt crowd wrestled control and power away from the shame crowd. FWIW, of course, but I found it convincing and provocative.

Here's a bit someone wrote about the book:

"Stuart Schneiderman (1995) makes interesting distinctions between shame and guilt. Shame occurs when we fail to follow certain rules or perform certain roles in fulfilling our social obligations. It's not doing what we are supposed to do. So, when we feel shame, we feel bereft and isolated for having failed our group or community. An airline might fail to ensure the safety of the passengers in its care or a person may fail to live up to her word. Shame cultures, he argues, educates its members by showing them how to do the right thing.

Guilt, on the other hand, occurs when we do something we are not supposed to do, when we commit some kind of act that is prohibited by society. Guilt feels like the anxiety or dread we experience when we anticipate some inevitable punishment for having broken a law or rule. Guilt cultures tell us what not to do, listing the various wrongs we should not commit. Guilt cultures educate its members by socializing them into fear of consequences for doing the wrong thing."

Here's a good article about how guilt has been replacing shame.

Posted by: MIchael Blowhard on November 7, 2007 7:51 PM

t.j.- I'm a gay, little "l" libertarian. Nice to meet you.

everyone else- As far as the idea that homophobia is a sign of homosexuality: it's just a rhetorical trick. All it does is make someone who's already uncomfortable feel even more uncomfortable.

I've never heard anyone say anything like, "I knew I was gay because I didn't like gay people."

The whole homophobia = closet case thing is so overdone. Pretty much anyone that says it is either mindlessly repeating something they heard or just saying it to be controversial.

Posted by: Jason on November 7, 2007 11:37 PM

An alternate theory of masked identity is that people displace their repressed feelings onto their pets, so if you really need to know, check to see if the person has a "gay dog."

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on November 8, 2007 12:03 AM

"Therefore, it would be perfectly correct to assert that people who hate Republicans are really repressed GOPers."

There's a kernel of truth here.

I've long regarded myself as a conservative. I will certainly acknowledge resentment at the Republican Party as they've turned away from conservatism during the Bush years and increasingly become a Stalinist cult-of-personality. I don't think I'm alone on this either, as the movement from a 50-50 dead heat in the country to a 60-40 or even 70-30 split shows. (Yet another way in which Karl Rove was appallingly incompetent, from an old school Republican point-of-view.)

Posted by: Hal O'Brien on November 8, 2007 2:43 AM

Haven't had a chance to read the thread, but it's true of me. I was a snotty little Republican shit up until age 15, and I'm ashamed to this day of some of the things I said and thought then. I still hear people saying these thing too, though seldom in public.

I'm one of the few people my age (60) who can say that about libertarianism too. Through my mother I have a family connection to the first Libertarian presidential candidate, John Hospers (her second cousin or something like that). I never had any contact with him (except a family gathering he almost came to), but libertarianism couldn't have been a liberating new idea for me. It just seemed like Republicanism-plus.

By now my immediate family and I are all Democrats, a change that started around 1965-1970. Most of my cousins are still moderate Republicans, though, but Bush might turn them too.

On the gay question: often churchy, very nice boys turn out to be gay. They seem nice because your daughters are safe with them. They're frequently meticulous and well-groomed too. In politics they might sincerely be Republican just because it seems more proper, though using church and conservativism as protective coloration might be a factor too.

End of stereotyping.

One of the funny things about the gay Boy Scout controversy is that back in the day, Boy Scouts weren't supposed to be heterosexual either. I remember scouts as being absolutely all male where you weren't supposed to think of girls at all, and the merit badges were almost all for stereotypically male activities (no cooking or child developent merit badges, for example. There's a Family Life merit badge now which I think is new.)

Posted by: John Emerson on November 8, 2007 7:01 AM

Whatever it is that they imagine conservatives and Republicans are up to and stand for is the ultimate taboo for them.

What do you mean by "imagine"? Were we imagining the PATRIOT act? Were we imagining the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens(and now the attempt to cover it up by granting immunity to the companies complicit in that act)? Were we imagining the torture of not only "terrorists", but others in Gitmo? Were we imagining "No Child Left Behind" where the government REMOVES funding from schools that aren't doing well? Were we imagining an invasion of a country to dethrone a dictator THEY put in place? Were we also imagining most of the contracts to rebuild what we tore down going to companies owned by the same people we imagined told us there was an actual reason to invade Iraq? Were we imagining the mission was accomplished four years ago, yet we're still engaged in the mission? Were we imagining Bush essentially declaring war on Iran and in the same breath equating it to WWIII? Were we imagining the last 7 years of "christians good islamists evil" they've been spreading? Were we imagining a bill that, while admittedly flawed, would have at least provided health care to 2 million kids being killed in the last hour by a vain moron who killed it solely because he couldn't take ANY credit for it? Were we imagining that those same putzes claim to be the party doing things "for the children"? Were we imagining the 2 trillion dollar surplus we had when monkey-boy took office has become a 7 trillion dollar deficit? Were we imagining when they claimed they're the party of "fiscal responsibility"? Were we imagining their corruption of eminent domain to take people's houses in favor of giving the land to businesses? Were we also imagining those same businesses backing out of the deal moments after all of the houses were knocked down? Were we imagining a concerted attack on the homosexual population by suggesting they don't have the right to be married? Were we imagining a concerted effort to suppress ANYONE who disagrees with them? Were we imagining the support of faith-based initiatives in direct violation of the Constitution? Were we imagining the active stifling of science in the areas of global climate and stem cell research? Were we imagining the constant decrying of human welfare systems while all the while handing out corporate welfare faster than candy at Halloween?

Holy bat-shit! I must've been imagining the last 8 years entirely. When they told me in HS that you could get flashbacks from acid, I didn't realize a couple of hits back then could result in the complete loss of almost a decade. Thanks for bringing me out of it, I'm going to have to start reviewing recent history. Obviously I've been so wrong. They MUST be the party that's attempting to advance the human race.

Okay, sarcasm's over. Your point about latent republicanism holds some level of truth to it. I admit to having been a staunch 'pub in a past life, I even voted for monkey-boy twice. Back when Clinton was in office and I was working to get them in charge, I thought "hell, it couldn't possibly be any worse under them". Holy shit, has ever there been a bigger delusion? Oh, yeah, that's right: the 24% of Americans who still think they're doing a good job.

Your analogy is almost a good one, but the assumption in it is that homosexuality is a "choice" or "lifestyle" rather than how people are. Homosexuals like Haggart and Craig grew up in families and communities where homosexuality was something to hate, and thus their internal strife by their natural desires are in direct conflict with who they perceive themselves to be. They then must adopt a stance of utter hatred in order to "prove" they themselves aren't gay. The study mentioned by missgrundy shows some significant evidence for this. Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative ARE choices. They're choices made by experience and the anger directed by one group toward another are fashioned from that experience. They're also choices that can change. Me, I was wrong when I believed in the stated (but not followed) 'pub ideologies. Does this make me a liberal or Dem? Nope, but it does mean I will never vote for another 'pub as long as I live. And, since we're stuck with a two party system, that means I have to vote for the lesser of two evils. If the devil himself ran against a 'pub, I'd vote for him.

And, can't it be said that your hated of liberals hides your own liberal tendencies?

Posted by: Upstate Guy on November 8, 2007 10:14 AM

Upstate -- Fun rant, and I don't disagree with much of it. (Don't mean to be stepping in for Donald here, just can't resist yakking to a fellow Upstater ...) But the discussion's not about who to vote for, let alone whether GWBush & Co. are stinkers (no disagreement there either). It's about psychological mechanisms. And, for what it's worth, I hang around a lot of high-powered Dems and lefties, many of whom have barely met any conservatives in their entire lives, just as many of them have almost no experience of mid-American life. They're ignorant of what they despise and love dumping on, they rely on fantasy and projection to fill in the blanks, and they do so in a way that suits their own psychological needs more than it conforms to reality. I'm sure there are lots of Dems who have good concrete and feet-on-the-ground reasons to disagree with GOPers, but just as certainly there are many Dems who live in a world of their own imagining.

Hey, funny story: I was yakking with a book-publishing guy. He was expressing distaste and envy about a woman in the business. "She's a Republican, I think," he said. "Oh, yeah, how do you know?" I asked. He looked at me as though he couldn't believe I couldn't see the signs for myself. "Because she enjoys herself too much," was his explanation.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 8, 2007 11:42 AM

In 1992 I worked in a small office where I was the middle guy between Boss Lady and Clerk Lady (save the obvious jokes, please). One day I came in and Clerk Lady was almost beside herself with outrage--

Clerk Lady: "That Republican bitch!"

Me: "What do you mean?"

CL: "We were talking about the elections, and I told her I can't stand Bush."

Me: "O-kay . . ."

CL: "And she said, 'now's your chance to vote him out!'"

Me: "I'm going on break."


Posted by: Narr on November 8, 2007 2:07 PM

In one of those weird synchronicity things, I had penned this post, and discovered this one when I was looking for the quote from Shouting Thomas (which I didn't find).

Short version. My post is my comment to this post.

Posted by: yahmdallah on November 9, 2007 11:40 AM

I'm gay, and I agree with you to a point. I don't always buy that homophobia is literal fear.

I actually prefer to call it what it is: hate, contempt, dislike.
You hate and dislike gay people. So you post this on 2Blowhards, and commenters get to pile in and comment how despicable gay people are, as if there are no gay readers here.

But it reveals a lot about the hater. Why are you so concerned with my sex life? Why do you care?

Oh, I see: you think all gays are mincing fairies, clearly visible and obsessed with ass-sex. And socialists too.

I can pass as straight, and do, easily and often, without effort.
I actually don't do the things your fevered imagination imagines gay people get up to. Not all gay men fuck each other.

Your assertion that people who oppose the rotten Republican policies that have brought us to where we are today ..secretly are ghastly Republicans.. Well perhaps gay people, and their friends and families, oppose the constant Republican efforts to demonize and dehumanize us at every chance. I won't even mention the astonishing amount of GOP gay sex scandals that seem evergreen.

I'd like to ask how this is comparable. I'd like to ask why you find gay people so incomprehensible, so vile. Your whole point is how ridiculous it is that gay people feel so hated they even have a name for it.

Thank you, Donald Pittenger, for adding constructively to the dialogue, your gratuitous contempt is noted, believe me.

I've enjoyed reading 2blowhards for interesting cultural commentary, but this isn't the first time where the site suddenly lurches into how detestable gay people are, and the comments section thrums with agreement. Disheartening.

Posted by: Deschanel on November 10, 2007 3:39 PM

Did I miss something? I guess I saw a few people making specific comments about their feelings about gays, but not some massive flaming of how evil gays are or something.

I've always taken the whole "if you're rabidly anti-gay, you're a closet case" line as the political rhetoric version of a schoolyard taunt, and thought little better of the "homophobia" label. These are rhetorical tricks which make discussion harder and serve to silence or embarrass people.

For whatever it's worth, I support gay rights and gay marriage. I just think those rhetorical tricks are dishonest.

Posted by: albatross on November 10, 2007 6:05 PM

Deschanel - Since Donald seems to be caught up in composing a big posting, I'll step in here ... Glad you come by and sometimes enjoy what you encounter. But in this particular case I'm completely puzzled. What do you find in Donald's posting that expresses anything in the way of gay-hating?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 10, 2007 7:13 PM

I tried this years ago on a Dawkins-supporting homosexual. If homophobes are really repressed homosexuals, as he was loudly proclaiming, it followed that he and Dawkins were repressed theists. And if the degree of repression is directly proportional to the rabidity of the prejudice, he and Dawkins must want to worship very badly and be repressing it very hard.

Posted by: RuleofKen on November 14, 2007 1:50 PM

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