At a time when cognitive dissonance is the rule in the political world it's a welcome breath of fresh air to hear someone - anyone - speak clearly. When it comes from a liberal it is all the more welcome. And one of them is lobbing truth grenades at will.
Her name is Camille Paglia. Best known as the author of the 1990 book "Sexual Personae," she's 51 and teaches in the humanities department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Every other week in the online magazine Salon she responds, usually at considerable length, to readers' questions about social, cultural, and political matters.
True, many of Paglia's views range from the liberally mistaken to the morally repugnant. She twice voted for Bill Clinton and "fervently support[s] most of [his] domestic agenda." She feels that the tumult of the 1960s was, by and large, a good thing. She's an extreme sexual libertarian who favors legalized prostitution and lowering the age of consent to fourteen. In the early days of Monicagate, she argued that "a man of power is going to be a man of very high sexual energy... I want someone in the White House who would love to have sex with ten different people in three days."
But credit Paglia for intellectual integrity: She really does believe what she says. Better still, she doesn't suffer fools lightly in a PC-dominated world. On that score Paglia often hits the bullseye, especially when she takes on conventional leftist wisdom regarding gay issues. (Though she's a lesbian, she's no friend of homosexual activists.) Even though Salon is best known for its ongoing, vigorous endorsement of Hillary's "vast right-wing conspiracy" theory, insight is valuable whatever its source, and not a few of Paglia's salvos sound as if they were penned by Cal Thomas or Robert Novak.
When then-Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry flayed Sen. Trent Lott for Lott's supposed "backward... thinking" that homosexuality is sinful, Paglia blasted McCurry for manifesting "the arrogant elitism for which liberal Democrats have become notorious" and decried liberals' tendency to treat "Christians who revere traditional scriptural teaching [like] ignorant rubes."
Asked about the newspaper advertisements which maintain that homosexuals can reject that lifestyle - ads which have come under attack from the militant gay community - Paglia stated, "If some or many gays can... make a fundamental shift of sexual orientation, more power to them. I respect their will and courage." In another column she declared, "The... liberal media dogma that [homosexuals] are 'born gay' is an absurdly premature claim based on fragmentary and inconclusive evidence."
Paglia disdains homosexuals' claim to victimhood ("I loathe the outrageous way that gay activists routinely conflate the oppression of gays and blacks") and contends that in reality, gays aren't besieged, they're privileged ("Entertainment, media and the arts are nonstop advertisements for homosexuality these days"). She also believes that "heterosexuality is and always will be the great human norm" and, therefore, cautions that "gay activists had better realize that all their shouting and bullying, aided and abetted by the manipulations of the liberal major media, will not make the conservative opposition to homosexuality magically disappear."
It's interesting to note Paglia's frequent references to the media and specifically to media bias, a topic she also broached in commenting on the arrest of gay singer George Michael for public lewdness. The seamy details of the Michael story, she wrote, were "carefully suppressed by the liberal major media [because the incident was] dangerous to the gay image? It threaten[ed] to expose the sexual realities of gay male life" - i.e., rampant promiscuity - "to the multitudes."
Other Paglia positions that wouldn't be out of place in National Review or Human Events:
-Barry Goldwater was the target of a "vicious media
assault" in 1964.
-"[Military] training standards have been notoriously relaxed in order to accommodate women, [and] overall... readiness has been compromised."
-"The Clintons are sanctimonious hypocrites - Protestant Pharisees... who jettison half the Ten Commandments at the limousine door."
-"Most of [Rush Limbaugh's] critics - who attack him without listening to him - completely miss his Rabelaisian humor."
-"I am personally furious with [author and conservative apostate] David Brock... because I went out of my way to defend his solidly researched 1994 book, 'The Real Anita Hill,' [which] was then under vicious attack by those cozy media insiders, Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, whose own 1994 book, 'Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas,' was in my view a shallow piece of PC crap."
You may not find Paglia on the speakers' roster for a Christian Coalition gathering, this year or ever. Nonetheless, when a liberal deviates from the increasingly intolerant party line, he ought to be commended for doing so. It goes for Chris Matthews on Clinton, Juan Williams on Clarence Thomas, or Camille Paglia on common sense.