Queerbashing in the media didn’t begin or end with the same-sex marriage debate. We suffered irrational, hysterical attacks for generations from the usual hoary monsters.
The Sun’s ancient green-eyed troll, Claire Hoy decried AIDS activists as not caring “if the results of their sexual depravity threaten the public.” His monstrous colleague, Christina Blizzard, referred to Buddies In Bad Times Theatre as mounting “live sex shows.” Barbara Amiel once suggested that hating queers should be a right.
The latest snot-smeared goblin to drag its club up Church St is the National Post’s Rachel Marsden. She recently moved to Toronto from Vancouver, shucking the vacant lot of West-Coast debate to lay waste to what she bizarrely labelled the “Forest Hill faux cons.” As she wrote in a National Post column in June: “Do you find this column rude and obnoxious, to the point that you’re going to go to your champagne party tonight and tell all your friends how shocked and appalled you are? If so, then you’re either a faux con or a liberal, because both believe in diluting and euphemizing straight talk.”
Marsden speaks her mind, even when she seems to be out of it. She arrived in Toronto last spring, a bee apparently permanently parked up her bumhole. One of her first clubbings took place at the Alexander Wood statue. Wood – a magistrate who owned land in the gay village in the early 1800s and is commemorated at Church and Maitland – was never a hero, then or now. But his hapless humanity can’t help but spark a twinge of empathy for his vulnerability and Carry On Constable methods of conducting criminal inquiries, as he searched for an alleged rapist by inspecting the genitalia of local young men.
Yet Marsden joylessly pens Wood talk that’s as blunt as it’s geographically vague, calling him a “Toronto-area pervert.” She’s shocked and she’s appalled. “This,” she fumes, “in the middle of the city’s supposedly family-friendly tourist district.”
Gee, you know I never thought of Church St as family-friendly. She has a loopy recipe on how to make the fag world more family-friendly: “For kids, that should mean lots of pretty rainbows and purple Teletubbies – not an illustration of something that could pass for a scene out of the Michael Jackson trial.”
Other rightwing columnists had their political convictions; Marsden actually has a criminal one. She was convicted in 2004 of stalking a Vancouver radio show host (she got a conditional dischcarge). Telling weensy fibs is another hallmark. She once issued a press release stating that she’d managed the election campaign of loopy, tape-recording Tory MP Gurmant Grewal, prompting Grewal to issue this denial: “She helped a little as a volunteer, but not too much.”
Homosexuality isn’t the only bicycle-riding hippo in Marsden’s circus of contempt. She has the same opinions as all the other rightwing goofs, including the eerily ignored David Frum. A man with a variable heart, he’s abandoned Canada more times than anyone can remember, running first to the Wall Street Journal editorial board and then coming back home, then scampering off to join George W Bush’s speech-writing staff. Then he came back again. He goes, he comes back, he goes, he comes back – it’s like a tiresome bolo-ball game. Each time he goes he complains that Canada has been destroyed by the Liberal Party and Canadians’ moral laziness, huffing and tooting like a stricken steamboat no one much wants to rescue.
Marsden has similar sights on the US, freely claiming that Toronto is a stepping-stone to New York. She’s been appearing frequently on Bill O’Reilly’s opinion show on Fox News. There, her beat is taking a poo on all things Canadian with such regularity you could set your watch by it. (The absolute pit of gormless Canadian colonialism is sucking up to foreigners by shitting on your home and native land.)
In the pursuit of American fame no rightwing backside is too plump or spotty to kiss. She gushed to O’Reilly after Fox News received approval to set up shop here. “Fox is exciting. It’s challenging TV. It’s interesting TV. It’s fiery debate – everything that the CBC really is not.”
Since taking on Alexander Wood, Marsden has gone on to slay two other major injustices of modern life: recycling and safe-schools programs. She’s promised readers more of the same high-kicking tough talk. “The old news media’s problems,” she wrote recently, “can be summed up in two words: biased and boring.”
That’s the core of it, I think. The opinions are predictable. You could have stopped listening to right- or leftwing commentators years ago and still not have missed a thing. What it’s really about is putting on a show. I suspect Marsden is more committed to entertainment than any political agenda. Her kind aren’t so much political evangelists as trained sea lions, honking out angry little jingles on a row of bulb horns to earn applause from foreigners. Bashing the gay community is just one more familiar ditty.