Take Five (Nasty, Brutish, and Short edition)

ONE: Tasty!

Knoxville restaurateur Martha Boggs, owner of Bistro at the Bijou, became a star this week after refusing to serve Tennessee state senator Stacey Campfield, a virulent homophobe who has repeatedly introduced his so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill in a ritual that can best be described as Nashville’s annual Running of the Bullshit.

As originally crafted, the bill would prohibit discussion of homosexuality in schools through 8th grade; a revised version would only allow mention of sexuality “involving human reproduction.” Clever, yeah? The revised bill recently passed the state senate and is headed for a vote in the house.

“When I saw him at the front door, I told him to leave,” Boggs said Monday. “It’s just my way to show support for the gay community and stand up to somebody I think is a bully. He’s really gone from being stupid to dangerous. I think he needs to know what it feels like to be discriminated against.”

Campfield recently upped the stakes in his homophobic vendetta with a January 26 appearance on Michelangelo Signorile’s Sirius XM OutQ radio show, a segment characterized by a string of offensive comments, viz:

“Well, [homosexuality] does happen in nature. So does bestiality. That doesn’t make it necessarily something that we need to talk about with children.”

“And there are children who are sexually confused, who don’t know, potentially may not know which way they are, and may be being pushed into a relationship of a homosexual nature that is not appropriate for them.”

“If some kid grows up – listen, so some kid wants to grow up – it’s not my choice personally – if some kid wants to grow up and say: Hey, I’m gay, more power to you. Knock yourself out. That’s not the jobs of our schools, to be advocating and pushing those positions on young children.”

“Heterosexuality – I hate to say this – the basis of our society, you know, you cannot let homosexuals – I hate to tell you this, it may be a tip for you, but they really can’t naturally reproduce.”

“It is scientifically proven that heterosexuality is scientific. It is natural reproduction.”

“I mean, I knew somebody who kept a squirrel caged up one time, and the squirrel started this – actually had, uh, relations with a stuffed animal. That does not make having relations with stuffed animals natural… Just because animals do it, we should not take our lead from the animal kingdom.”

“… most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community… It was one guy screwing a monkey, if I – if I recall correctly, and then having sex with a man…”

“Well, my understanding – and correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Science, on this – but my understanding is also it’s virtually – not completely impossible – it’s virtually impossible to contract AIDS, outside of blood transfusions, through heterosexual sex. It’s virtually impossible. If you’re having anal sex, yes, you – you’re much more likely to contract AIDS.”

“The homosexual lifestyle has been glorified in the media and everywhere else. I don’t think I’m – you know, it’s pretty well out there… Homosexuals represent about 2 to 3% of the population, yet you look at television, you look at – in television, in plays, in theater, it’s – 50% of the theater is based – I’d say probably more of that than 50% of the theater is based on something about homosexuality. TV shows, they’re a vastly overrated populace in the – in the – in the television industry… ”

“Anybody out there who’s listening, your 12 listeners on your show, you have them – you have them Google ‘average homosexual life span,’ it’s very short.”

None of this is shocking, since it comes from a man who attempted to join the Tennessee Black Legislative Caucus in 2005 solely for the sake of being able to accuse its members of being more racist than the KKK when they turned him down, and who introduced a bill in 2007 that would have required the issuance of death certificates for aborted fetuses. What is shocking is the frequency with which various Republican elected officials mouth ignorant, hateful rhetoric like Campfield’s, and the rarity of actions like the one Boggs took in response:

“I’m a married heterosexual woman,” Boggs said. “I had no intention of doing this for publicity, but he’s an embarrassment to the state. If more people voted, we wouldn’t have people like him in office.”

Bistro at the Bijoux’s Facebook page can be found here – please give Martha Boggs and her staff some love. And if you ever find yourself in Knoxville, head over to 807 South Gay Street (seriously!) and give them your business.

TWO: Rank Bigotry

West Point recently booked Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin (mercifully retired) to address its National Prayer Breakfast, sparking the same sort of controversy that has ensued from Boykin’s other public speaking gigs. The Academy’s decision to invite this poster boy for Islamophobia was explained (away) by West Point as an example of cadets being “purposefully exposed to different perspectives and cultures.” And West Point really spun the spin:

The National Prayer Breakfast Service will be pluralistic with Christians, Jewish, and Muslim cadets participating. We are comfortable and confident that what retired Lt. Gen. Boykin will share about prayer, soldier care and selfless service, will be in keeping with the broad range of ideas normally considered by our cadets.

Their comfort and confidence notwithstanding, that range of ideas got a little less broad when Boykin’s appearance was called off, a decision West Point would have us believe was the general’s:

LTG (Ret) William Boykin has decided to withdraw speaking at West Point’s National Prayer Breakfast on 8 February 2012. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the United States Military Academy will feature another speaker for the event.

If you’re wondering why Boykin’s name seems familiar, you might recall that he was Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence during the Bush years, and quite a fan of W:

“George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States,” Boykin told an Oregon congregation. “He was appointed by God.”

Well, at least he got the first part right. Bush ultimately had to chastise Boykin publicly over his penchant for revolting inanity like this:

In a speech at a church in Daytona, Fla., in January, Boykin told the following story:

“There was a man in Mogadishu named Osman Atto,” whom Boykin described as a top lieutenant of Mohammed Farah Aidid.

When Boykin’s Delta Force commandos went after Atto, they missed him by seconds, he said. “He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, ‘They’ll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.’

“Well, you know what?” Boykin continued. “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

Since his retirement in 2007, Boykin has continued to run around saying outrageous things about Muslims, and he gets paid to do so:

… he said there should be “no mosques in America”…; “Islam is a totalitarian way of life, it’s not just a religion”; “it should not be protected under the First Amendment”; Muslims operate “under an obligation to destroy our Constitution.”

Kudos to the warriors at VoteVets who spearheaded the effort to stop West Point from heaping disgrace on itself. Thank you all, once again, for your service. Continue reading Take Five (Nasty, Brutish, and Short edition)