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No sense of

No sense of


As George Clooney makes clear in this issue's cover story, the famous "Have you no sense of decency?" retort fired at witch-hunting senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954 had a very specific context: The red-baiter had named as a Communist sympathizer a young associate of the Army's lead attorney, Joseph Welch, and Welch let him have it. Another McCarthy misstep: attacking iconic newsman Edward R. Murrow in a rambling televised rebuttal to Murrow's powerful report on McCarthy's excesses. That's the subject of Clooney's rapid-fire historical-allegorical movie, Good Night, and Good Luck.

What Clooney tells The Advocate that is not fully explained in his movie is that the Army's fury was aroused for another very specific reason: McCarthy's closeted lieutenant, Roy Cohn, had tried to strong-arm the military into reassigning a handsome young man whom Cohn fancied. His arrogance took him that one step too far. The Army fought back.

Cohn, the homophobic homosexual, and McCarthy, the un-American "patriot," were men with no sense of decency. Like the antigay crusaders we face 50 years later, they may well have had strong, sincere convictions about right and wrong. But their hunger for control and their lust to crush anyone opposed to them finally did them in. The more extreme their attacks, the more people were aroused from apathy to resist them. And the more resistance McCarthy and Cohn encountered, the more scurrilous their attacks became. With no sense of their opponents' humanity, they blithely demonized innocent people. And that's when they lost the country's sympathy.

Which brings me to the ill-named Traditional Values Coalition. As recently noted on, the TVC has a Web page devoted to "The Homosexual Movement and Pedophilia." It opens with a shameless falsehood: "The homosexual activist movement and organized pedophiles are linked together by a common goal: To gain access to children for seduction into homosexuality." It's too inhuman and outrageous an accusation even to address. To use Dick Cheney's words more accurately than he does, such desperate measures signal the "last throes" of a fringe movement that will resist equality to its last breath. The TVC knows that most fair-minded Americans no longer favor sodomy laws, antigay job discrimination, or stripping same-sex couples of equal benefits. So they're sounding the one note they know might get some attention: "They're coming for your children."

The problem is, most fair-minded Americans know that's a lie too. If there's any luring of children going on, it's the so-called ex-gay movement's relentless and harmful work at "seduction into heterosexuality," which is still messing with the minds of too many young gays and lesbians.

The hateful lies and demonic fury of the leaders of the far right will in time undo them. As we have seen in the past few months, when the United States has more important things to worry about than Adam and Steve--say, Katrina and Wilma, or Scooter and Tom--the antigay crazies lose the attention even of their supposed political allies. (Beware, Mr. Santorum!)

The current respite is not, of course, the end. The far right will continue to chase and trumpet victories for discrimination wherever possible and to bring harm to LGBT Americans and their families. But the march of history will eventually leave them in the dust--just as it did Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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