Crossing Twitter with gigantic cultural events can always be counted on to bring out the worst in the already bad. Two Super Bowl tweets were particularly vile. First there was former FEMA director Michael Brown cracking a joke about fights in the Superdome, which just happened to be the site of his monstrous Hurricane Katrina failure — a joke that requires both hubris and idiocy. Second was Todd Kincannon, former head of the South Carolina GOP, joking that the Super Bowl ”sucks more dick than adult Trayvon Martin would have for drug money” — a joke that requires racism and idiocy.
Lesson one, racists have an awful sense of humor. Lesson two, even in 2013 with no rational reason, some people are going to remain racist jackholes.
I don’t believe that as a country we are more vile today than we were in the past. It’s impossible to look back on American history as some sort of bucolic existence that’s only recently begun a slide into vituperation, although that doesn’t stop tea party revisionists from trying. Politics and culture wars have never been pretty. But I do think that, as our culture and government continue to progress on race and LGBT issues, the few remaining restraints of decorum on those who oppose it will continue to fall away.
Being LGBT people, we’re fairly used to being targeted by the vile. Most of us would instantly think of the Westboro Baptist Church with their children holding ”God Hates Fags” signs. Personally, I think of them more as small-”e” evil, a convenient anagram. Westboro’s vileness comes straight out of its insanity. Given that their decades of protests have garnered far more sympathy for LGBT people than they have stoked hatred, you have to assume they’re crazy.
Further along the scale, you have the ex-gay movement of damaged people who make their careers trying to spread their damage to others. Are they vile? Yes. Dangerous? Definitely. But for me they inspire as much sadness as anger, watching people so filled with self-loathing that they would rip their own souls from their bodies.
Speaking of the soulless, we have people like Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, so determined that his conception of religion is the ultimate truth and so fearful of married homosexuals that he would rewrite the Constitution as a Vatican document. Being human, some of us will always ignore the lessons of religious history; doing so willfully is particularly vile.
Then we have people like Lindsey Graham, the Senate’s least eligible bachelor from that previously mentioned South Carolinian Republican Party. We all have these guys in our home towns, who whether they’re gay or not internalize the hatred and turn it back out on others, something rather more harmful when it’s happening in Congress. It’s vile, to be sure, but it also calls for a small amount of pity.
While there’s no upper limit on vileness in D.C., one person does seem to be trying to hit it. That would be Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who just a few years ago was being touted by my gay Republican friends as a reasonable man who would be open to working with us. Instead, we have a man who has built his brand the past 15 years by pretending to be honorable, yet acting the opposite. We have a senator whose only motivating factor appears to be petty revenge for losing a White House that he proves daily he didn’t deserve. We have a politician who would happily scuttle the immigration reform he’s championed in order to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens.
For McCain, there is no closet, no inner hatred that might elicit some sympathy or understanding. There is simply his own self-regard and aggrandizement. That’s what makes him truly vile.
Sean Bugg is the co-publisher of Metro Weekly. He can be reached at sbugg@MetroWeekly.com. Follow him on Twitter @seanbugg.