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Op-ed: Liberal Is the New F Word

Neal Medium
“Those fucking liberals are ruining this country!” That was the message my friend heard while flipping through Film Comment at the local newsstand recently. The vitriol originated from the salesman behind the counter in the midst of a "discussion" with a security guard. “These fucking liberal professors,” he said, referring to nearby UCLA, “are screwing these kids up!”

My friend swung to action, telling this jerk his political opinions don’t need to be yelled within earshot of customers, especially with obscenities attached to them. A screaming match ensued and, regardless of the content of his message, the  periodical-pusher’s impolite publishing career is now over.

The tone and swearing riled my lesbian friend, she says, but I think it also had something to do with that word: liberal. When imbued with fury from someone, it can feel like a personal attack against LGBTs. "The liberals are ruining the country!" your drunk uncle ranted last Christmas. Is he talking about their support for Obamacare or their support for us? It's certainly liberals pushing for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and fighting for our right to marry. Sarah Palin certainly thinks liberals are on our side, which is part of the reason she hates them.

This airhead, who can't name a national newspaper, recently spouted off on Pope Francis. Unlike his predecessor, who was gunning for every gay person in the world, Francis makes a point of downplaying the Catholic Church's fixation on our supposed evils, even saying the church has been "obsessed" with stamping out same-sex marriage and abortion. That stance is way too radical for the Nincompoop of the North; Palin stuck her high heel in her gaping mouth by recently saying the Pope has made "some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me." Liberal, you say, Sarah? Why don't you just say what you mean? She's not referring to the pontiff's stance on illegal immigration or health care reform; she's saying the pope doesn't go hard enough against reproductive rights and LGBT equality.

I'll try to take solace in the fact that in 2013, Palin can't come out and say, "The pope should be defrocked because he's too soft on the queers." The world is too P.C. for her to say that now. At least, according to people like her who feel that way.

I was recently interviewed for an MTV News article about Eminem and his continuing denigration of gay people via lyrical slurs ("My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/That'll stab you in the head/Whether you're a fag or a lez."). Like most people quoted for the article, I said F words were beneath the rapper — who previously stated support for LGBT rights — and his use of them hastens his slide toward Irrelevant City. The comments in response were eye-opening. I actually expected a barrage of F bombs, but instead there were quotes like this:

"Shut the **** up, this is ********, Em makes fun of EVERYONE, let me repeat, EVERYONE, not just homosexuals. Every race, religion, gender, stereotype, all of it. He doesn't mean for it to be taking so ******** personally. Stop getting butthurt about stupid **** and focus on the real problems in society."

When someone declared they're over Eminem, someone else responded with, "That's how I feel about the P.C. police. It's his music and it's a free country."

It's "P.C." to be bothered by someone saying they want to stab you because of who you are? If you're upset about Eminem's lyrics, you're "butthurt." Sounds like code for, "Stop being so sensitive, fags."

But back to our friend at the newsstand; was his anti-liberal rant just P.C. speak for "these pro-gay professors are poisoning today's youth?" Can you be a conservative who hates liberals with an intense ferocity, but still have a soft spot for LGBT rights? Sure, there are gay Republicans and LGBT-supportive GOP members, but someone who refers to those on the other side of the aisle as "fucking liberals" harbors a lot of hate. When you manifest that much antipathy toward one group, it usually bleeds over to others.

These are some recent comments from Tea Partiers on John Boehner's Facebook wall: "Asshole crony libtard." "Caving fascist sell-out." "Idiot fascist devil." "Cowardly Muslim-loving Marxist." Something tells me these people aren't marching in Pride parades.

Would my friend be as upset if someone ranted about "fucking conservatives?" Maybe not. I can't blame her though: in every instance I've heard someone use that phrase, they were lamenting the right wing's attempt to deny equality to women, gays, or transgender people. So when you're pushing around your green bean casserole at Thanksgiving and your drunk uncle starts jabbering about those "Godamn liberals in Congress," put your fork down and ask him what exactly he means by that. Those "fucking liberals" have your back; you should have theirs.


NEAL BROVERMAN is a columnist for The Advocate and the editor in chief of Out Traveler. Follow him on Twitter @nbroverman.

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