Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Softball- or political hardball?

Wall Street Journal has been catching flak for publishing a picture of SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan playing softball: Was it code language (code image?) calling her a lesbian? Yes, says Cathy Renna, a former spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamatio- "It clearly is an allusion to her being gay. It's just too easy a punch line." No, says Journal spokeswoman Ashley Huston- "If you turn the photo upside down, reverse the pixilation and simultaneously listen to Abbey Road backwards, while reading Roland Barthes, you will indeed find a very subtle hidden message."

I'll admit to being not qualified to judge. In the first place, I seem to be a bit tone deaf to code language- for example, I didn't get that complimenting a fellow senator for being very articulate was racist code language. My first thought seeing that picture was, "Cool- a Justice who's regular folks, playing softball and drinking beer, (One follows the other, right?), not another martini-sipping relic of earlier times, no more headlines like Supreme Court clueless about pagers, texting and e-mails..." I took it as a play on "stepping up to the plate"; "switch hitter" didn't occur to me. To tell the truth, I still don't quite get a relationship between softball and lesbianism; I've played softball with women that I had very good reason to believe were heterosexual.

My second thought was code language or not, what difference does it make? I was remembering an exchange many years ago with a friend who did not yet understand the difference between a libertarian conservative and the religious right. I had been admiring a K. D. Lang tune, and was asked, "Does it bother you that she's a lesbian?" I said, "Well, it's not like she was going to f*** me, anyway- who cares?" This isn't the 1940's- we have out of the closet elected officials nowadays; does it matter to anyone other than the obituary writer who will someday write, "She is survived by..."?

Is she gay? Or has she just not found a guy she wanted to marry? I don't know, and I don't care. And you know what? I don't think the general public cares, either. The public is often underestimated. I'm remembering a ABC TV segment where actors were sent into a sports bar in New Jersey- a gay couple, and a provocateur couple to make homophobic comments. Much to the surprise of ABC, the regular patrons of the sports bar challenged the nasty comments the provocateurs were making, and demanded that they leave.

I have a novel idea- instead of asking her why she isn't married, how about asking her about her opinions on the extensions of the commerce clause, or her criteria for eminent domain?

1 comment:

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Interesting that David Souter has never married, but it's no big deal. But when you have an unmarried woman,...

The other big issue people have been citing is "lack of judicial experience" -- that she's never served as a judge. Well, neither did Earl Warren.