The Passion of the Kaus


Mickey Kaus is defending anti-Semites and homophobes again. Funny how often he does that. His only comment on the Gibson case is in defense of the rabid anti-Semite. Like the bigot he defends, Kaus also has, shall we say, some issues around homosexuality. He even trotted out the old "narcissist" trope this week. What's next? Protecting children from gay "recruitment"? Kaus defends his friend Ann Coulter's bigotry, and it's worth unpacking his argument. The claim that Coulter is making and Kaus is seconding - that same-sex love is inherently more promiscuous than heterosexuality - has a simple, logical rejoinder: lesbians. Where are the lesbian bath-houses, Ann? Where's the rampant lesbian promiscuity? Aren't lesbians homosexual? Or do we just deploy these terms broadly, whenever they can be used to stigmatize an entire minority?

The phenomenon Kaus and Coulter are pretending to deal with is called testosterone. It's called men - gay or straight. And Peter Beinart is right: by inherently equating homosexuality as such with promiscuity, Coulter is peddling an old homophobic slur, and Kaus is backing her up. Her point about Bill Clinton - that because he is promiscuous he is somehow gay - is a revealing inversion of the truth. The truth is that many gay men are acting like Bill Clinton, because, like Bill Clinton, they are full of testosterone, and, like Bill Clinton, they can get sex when they want. Clinton gets it and has gotten it because of his charm and his power (which he regularly abused for sexual harassment purposes). Many straight men would do the same if they could get away with it. Can you imagine the lines for straight bathhouses if women were as eager to get it on with strangers as men are?

Gay men get it because their emotional and sexual universe is all-male and so twice as testosterone-laden as the straight male sexual universe. There are no straight women to direct and restrain their sexual drives and, in forty-nine states, no social institutions strong enough to support their relationships. Coulter's real issue is with men, not gays. But she and Kaus tellingly displace this issue onto homosexuality as such - because that is the classic bigot position. In the bigot's mind, everything is always the minority's fault. (Notice how Kaus also sees the gay-defender as a "bully"; it's an almost clinical case of prejudice, the way many majorities feel terrified by a tiny minority among them). For bigots, the testosterone problem that is universal among men is somehow inherently - and not just circumstantially - unique to gays. Every discomforting aspect about human nature, in the bigot's mind, becomes associated with a minority they already despise. For Gibson, war is about the Jews. For Kaus and Coulter, promiscuity is about the gays.

In fairness to Mickey, however, he supports civil marriage for gay men, the only social institution that has been known to restrain and direct testosterone to more satisfying and stable long-term ends. He's admirably honest about his own visceral discomfort around gay men - and supports gay civil equality. It's a shame he can't cope with gay men, but that's his loss, not ours. Coulter, for her part, has no real opinion about it because she has no real opinions about anything. She's a performance artist. She says what pays. If she were to support gay equality and actually back up her claim to "like gays," she would, alas, lose part of her base and the mucho moolah that comes with it. And so she's against it: her accountant made the call. Mickey's act, meanwhile, is becoming sadly more transparent. To paraphrase Hitch on Mel Gibson, if someone confesses "visceral surface revulsion" at gay sex one day, accuses gays of narcissism the next, and minimizes anti-gay violence the day after that, I have to say that if he's not an anti-gay bigot as such, then he's certainly getting there.