Wednesday, October 14, 2020
The New York Times quoted a retail expert who used the phrase “sexual preference” to describe banal market research in 2015. Another 2015 Times piece profiling the fashion designer Marc Jacobs, who is gay, had no problem with the term. A 2016 essay on gays and lesbians’ experience in India deployed the phrase without qualification in the article’s copy. So, too, did a 2017 piece on “sapiosexuality” (the attraction to intellect regardless of gender or sexual identity). If this was all terribly offensive, the arbiters of such things didn’t seem to notice.
Nor did the AP observe its own guidelines. A 2015 dispatch quoted Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow affirming that institution’s aversion to “expressions of hatred” of all kinds, including those based on “sexual preference.” Their 2016 obituary for the musical artist George Michael noted that he had become an icon within the gay community even “before he revealed his sexual preference.” In 2019, a university professor who specializes in psychiatric genetics used the phrase to reinforce Sen. Hirono’s contention that sexual identity is “immutable” when discussing a recent “study of the genetics of human sexual preference.” As recently as June of this year, an AP report quoted an elected official in Oklahoma who used the term to demonstrate his commitment to anti-discrimination and equality.
Media is not alone in its ignorance. Academia didn’t get the memo either. Academic institutions—a field that is by no means dominated by religious conservatives—have published and continue to publish studies on the sociological, biological, and psychological aspects of human “sexual preference.” “High School Musical” creator Kenny Ortega used the phrase proudly in an interview with the LGBTQ magazine the Advocate a mere 19 days ago. And, of course, some of the Democratic Party’s leading lights, including people such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Joe Biden, have used the term as recently as this year. And all to the sound of silence from Judge Barrett’s critics.
We should not mince words. What we’re witnessing is a concerted, perhaps even coordinated, effort to manufacture an allegation of bigotry from whole cloth and to force previously neutral language to comport with that accusation. And all to assault the character of one politically inconvenient woman.
It's ridiculous and won't slow ACB's nomination down even a little bit.