To the editors:
Oh god. I’m in Reader response hell. I have dreaded this, however Tracy Baim’s response to my outing letter [May 24] has now trapped me into responding weeks later to issues the readers have long since forgotten.
The story so far–Outlines has reported the names of closet gays who are felt to be politically incorrect often with little more proof than the person’s name mentioned by what Outlines calls activists but I call thugs, informers and hooligans. Defending their policy on WBEZ, when asked by the moderator how they avoid slander and libel suits, Outlines said the paper reports on “what people say at rallies or bars” and simply report those comments! Then, members of the staff began outing people on the air over the objections of the host. All the while claiming they were against outing. (Including naming a former governor). In Tracy’s phony letter to the Reader of June 7 the first few paragraphs were spent denying the paper supported libel and slander, until one read to the end of the second paragraph when they admit they most certainly have reported names as news. This is what a lawyer calls positioning. If they report the names, they claim it is news, that is a legal nuance meant to protect the paper with no regard to journalistic ethics or human emotions.
At the same time the paper claims that there is no comparison between celebrities and politicians having their sex lives paraded before the public and the writers for Outlines hiding their name. If Tracy really does not see the connection she should not be an editor. Period.
It is also funny to me that she defends hiding her writers’ names but refuses to answer specific charges–has Outlines been used as a source for supermarket tabloids or not? I have the issues, Tracy. I collect gossip publications from the old Confidential to Fertile la Toya and the Star. I have the issues Outlines was quoted in. Answer the question (or call your lawyers so they can find a convoluted way to defend your practice). The thing that really bugs me is that the tabloids are always placing snitches around celebrities and their kids–in Chicago when a game-show host’s son was at college one tabloid was offering $10,000 for any dirt anyone could find on the poor kid. Outlines gives information away for free!
I also know staff people at the Star, the Globe and other tabloids. I have respect for them because they don’t deny the kind of reporting they do. They are honest about it. Unlike Outlines. Outlines fraudulently claims they protect the names of their writers to be diverse, but don’t mind “reporting” the names of conservatives or celebrity role models’ true sex lives as news. So much for diversity. Let’s say they support a diverse far left, god help the moderates or people trying to make a living. Outlines does not have a conservative on their staff. They are liars.
I did not write the letter to Baim and Outlines because I consider their double talk and deliberate distortions easy to see through. I really could care less what their response is. If they would like to debate the issue, anytime or anyplace we can split the door. Fine with me.
One of my best friends of over 16 years is Kenneth Anger, filmmaker and author of Hollywood Babylon. I don’t mind what people say about the dead. I myself do not believe that a society that claims to believe in free speech can also support libel and slander laws. But I also believe there is a responsible way for a society to conduct itself which does not include political terrorism. Outing or otherwise. (After I made those comments in an article I wrote on gossip publications, two magazines called me names and made accusations against me just to see if I meant it. So I know what it is like to be a target).
Tracy, the intellectual trampoline-like jumps you have to do to justify what you are doing should be a warning that your politics, your “reporting” of people “outed” is wrong. If you don’t support it, quit printing the names. If you are truly a diverse publication I dare you to show me one article your “paper” ran in support of the Gulf War. Or shut up.
I repeat the warning I gave on May 24. Those who support the politically correct movement should scrutinize the outing movement which punishes the incorrect. It began there. It has hit the campuses. It will backfire against the far, far left. It is a public relations nightmare. Don’t do it. The same week my letter appeared in the Reader Nat Hentoff and the Village Voice ran articles criticizing using sex as a political tool and banning free speech on school campuses. The backlash is starting, not from the right, but from concerned citizens and publications from the middle and left.
Give me freedom or fucking kill me.