I am usually a Big Fan of Andrew Sullivan. His emotional instinct is almost always right on target. He’s been living with HIV for two decades and, as a Gay Man, the center of his universe is clearly his sexual identity as evidenced in his daily blog posts. Every once-in-awhile Andrew stumbles — and he fell hard last week by dismissing Mitt Romney’s youthful hazing of another student as a form of bullying — and his readers attacked and Andrew backed down, sort of, with a half-hearted and utterly bewildering defense of “Pranks” vs. “Bullying.”
Here is Andrew’s first recantation, followed by a strange example of what he believes makes for a proper school prank:
My readers, on reflection, are right. I apologize for minimizing the cruelty of this. Maybe it would help if I gave two examples of pranks from my high school days that qualify as pranks. We had a history teacher who had a simian-looking face: small beedy eyes a little too close together and a large round jaw. On his first day, whenever he turned his back to the boys, a chorus of monkey noises would come from the back-row. The next morning, he walked into the class to find a bunch of bananas on his desk. (He was white, by the way. This wasn’t racist.) This continued and continued and continued. It was brutal. It was cruel. But we were thirteen. And we thought it was funny.
I could not believe Andrew Sullivan wrote that awful example as a legitimate defense of his original Romney position. Andrew thinks it’s okay to make fun of someone’s inborn features — ape-like or not! — and that isn’t a vicious form of bullying?
Let’s change his scenario a bit and say the ape-faced teacher was actually Gay, and instead of bananas, the class placed cock rings and Astroglide on his desk. You know Andrew would be outraged by the behavior because the kids would be picking on something that was “born that way” and not chosen — and I ask Andrew Sullivan, “What’s the difference between being born Gay and being born with a ‘simian-looking face?'” Why is it okay to cruelly make fun of one but not the other?
Andrew’s second example is even worse. I groaned, and then screamed at his stupidity:
Then there was the teacher with a hearing aide. One morning, the usual suspects in my class organized it so that every student would mime talking and chattering as he walked in, while keeping deadly quiet. I couldn’t join in. I just sat there doing nothing. The teacher looked a little perplexed, took out his hearing aide and adjusted it upwards. The mimes became low murmurs. He turned it up some more. And then the signal was given: everybody scream! The teacher looked like he was having a heart attack, but mercifully recovered quickly and put us all in detention.
As a husband of a beautiful Deaf Wife, Andrew Sullivan dropped to the depths with this insensitive and inhuman example of a socially acceptable “prank.” Andrew thinks it’s okay to make fun of a hearing-impaired teacher? Let’s change the scenario again and make that teacher Gay and not hearing impaired, and instead of testing the teacher’s hearing behind his back, the students instead would start growing erections little-by-little in full view of the teacher. Then, in unison, the students would unzip their pants to show their throbbing cocks were, actually, inflated, multicolored, Qualatex Balloons! You know Andrew would be furious and would say the “prank” was actually cruel “bullying.”
Again, I ask Andrew Sullivan, “What’s the difference between making fun of someone’s hearing disability and their sexuality? Why is one more precious to you than the other? Why are the disabled a better target for your public classroom derision than homosexuals?”