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jeff whitty's leno letter, and a civil debate

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i'm not sure if you're aware, but jeff whitty, book-writer of 'avenue q,' wrote a letter to jay leno asking him to stop the gay jokes on 'the tonight show.' i think it's a pretty good letter, but it does have some problems. i think jeff would have done better to use his own excellent joke writing as an example of how gay jokes -could- be used on the show. david cross did this extremely effectively in his open letter to larry the cable guy.

instead, it looks like jeff is asking jay to banish gay jokes altogether, when anyone who's seen 'avenue q' knows, jeff is a big fan of gay jokes. jeff really needed to focus on the very fine line between the tone of a gay joke that implies acceptance and one that encourages derogatory mockery peppered with superiority.

tvsquad, a blog i read and comment on regularly, posted an entry about jeff's letter, and asked readers "So what do you guys think? Is Leno a closet homophobe or just some guy who tells crappy, easy jokes?"

one of the comments was from landon howell, who posted this:

"So what do you guys think? Is Leno a closet homophobe or just some guy who tells crappy, easy jokes?"

Or maybe Mr. Whitty is simply too sensitive.

Actually I think it's a mixture of easy jokes, an overly sensitive homosexual, and an American public that, as a majority, still doesn't really know what to think about homosexuality as a whole.

I for one do not agree with homosexuality, however I have no hatred towards homosexuals themselves. [As a sidenote: I have many homosexual friends... they know my thoughts on the issue.]

I think that Leno should learn to come up with some more original material. But I also don't think we should hand the microphone to every individual who gets his/her feelings hurt but jokes.

Becasue, well, that's what they are folks - jokes. And I think that the American public is smart enough to know the difference between indepth reporting of a life decision such as homosexualty, and a 15 second stereotypical sound-byte from a comedian.

so, if you know me, you know this drove me crazy. so i wrote this:

hey landon,

i agree that leno's jokes are easy - but beyond being easy, they are deliberately exclusionary. they slyly afford those bigoted audience members the chance to laugh at those they hate rather than having their supposed understanding of homosexuality challenged. they are most definitely not 'just jokes.'

also, i'm curious about your gay friends - have you -really- talked to them? have you told them your true feelings about their 'choice?'

as a gay man myself, i'm so perplexed when someone says they 'don't agree with homosexuality.' what don't you agree with? i don't agree with many homosexuals myself - the whole fauxhawk thing? bad idea. but to not agree with homosexuality? what does that mean?

it seems to be a subtle way for you to say that we've all chosen this life of persecution, marginalization, and immorality. it's a subtle way for you to say any abuse piled on us, be it offensive jokes, gay bashing, bullying at school, should not come as any shock to us because we decided to live our lives this way.

landon, i don't want to put you off - because i -really do- think you should talk to your gay friends some more. find our their stories, and find out about the pain of gay adolescence and coming of age. once you know more about it, and because i know you respect your friends, i'm sure you'll come to see the issue differently.

landon wrote back with this:

Joe they do know how I feel, I've explained my position many times. Also, I'll try not to turn this TV Squad comment into a "Gay vs Straight" post. Because it isn't that... I'm just trying to explain my stance.

Simply put (and it's your responsibilty to do research on this topic, because I simply cannot explain my entire situation through a tv blog comments section.)

I DO NOT believe homosexuality is a choice.

I DO believe that each individual is born with certain characteristics... some are more athletic, some are intellectuals, some have more homosexual feelings and tendancies.

I believe these tendancies are wrong due to the fact that homosexuality is not in line with God's teaching through the Bible.

(This is where everyone sighs, thinks I'm an idiot. This is also where you have read what I have to say, then do some research of your own.)

I believe that God is real because of what was fulfilled and testified through Jesus Christ. I believe that what Jesus Christ said is fact and can be trusted because he lived a perfect life, died, and was resurrected... thus conquering death. I believe these events happened because there were eyewitness accounts that have been documented on more than 5,000 pieces of paper, Egytian papyrus, lamb skin, etc. I believe these can be trusted for multiple scientific (yes.. factual) evidence.

HOWEVER... should you chose not to believ in God and claim to believe in a Darwinsim mode of thought... I've also got an
answer for you.

Darwinsim is "survival of the fittest"... which would make homosexuality a recessive gene... which means that said gene would have been killed-ff millions, if not billions of years ago.

So... not matter how you slice it, homosexuality either A) Doesn't exist (Darwinsim) or B) Exists, but must be dealt with like any other temptation (Creationism)

Let me say, however, that anyone who claims that "God hate gays" is wrong. God loves you ust as much as he loves me. No less... no more than he loves anyone else.

I know I'm gonna get ripped for this stance... but I don't care. Chances are, most of the people who don't believe in Christ have actualy never read the Bible... or any other religious/spiritual book for that matter.

Book to read:
The Case for Christ (written by an award-winning athiest who set-out to disprove Christ/God/etc then actually proved the existance of Christ/God/etc... and ended up becoming a Christian)

Ladi - To answer your question... I love my homosexual friends, but do not love the sin they struggle with.

Example: I love my uncle, but to not love his alchoholism.

my reply:

hey landon,

thanks for your lengthy and detailed response - i guess it outlines the basic conflict between our camps: i will always feel it is my given right to pursue happiness in the orientation i've been genetically disposed to, and you will always feel that, while i have that right, i am acting against god's law.

should i jump into the darwinism bit? eh, why not! screw jay leno!

ok so, darwinism - that's a whole other conversation. i don't understand your logic that because it may or may not be a recessive gene, it 'doesn't exist.' recessive genes are only 'killed off' when they are selected, i.e. when something happens to specifically kill off all the gay people. and yet despite all of human history, despite disease and persecution, gay children continue to be born in small percentages in every culture and at every level of society. kinda makes you think there might be some purpose to it, doesn't it? (i actually have a theory about this purpose, but that's for another time)

i can't tell you how disappointing it is that you would equate a love i might feel for another human being with an addiction or vice like alcoholism. if you insist on seeing it as a 'crime against nature,' i hope you see it as a victimless crime. i hope you at -least- acknowledge that healthy gay relationships exist, and that being gay and living a worthy, dignified life are not mutually exclusive things. i suspect that you do acknowledge this, and this is why you are able to remain friends with your gay aquaintances.

anyway, you do seem like a cool guy. if you didn't, i wouldn't think it worth writing all this.

landon replied:

To joe:

Glad you understand my view point... I understand and respect yours as well. I challange you to pick up 'The Case For Christ.' I'm not trying to "un-gay" you... simply challanging you (like I challanged myself) to understand just *why* the Bible is so important, and why it *can* be trusted.

he offered to continue the discussion in private emails, which i may. i may also check out the book, at barnes and noble - i won't buy it. but i am curious, and as ever, skeptical. i'll post updates here.

i really think engaging in thoughful conversation with people like landon is extremely important. if we don't, gay people become abstract ideas, and thus increasingly easier and easier to target, ridicule, and debase.

of course what this means is that my own perceptions of what it means to be a devout christian must also be challenged. this should get pretty interesting.

2 responses to “jeff whitty's leno letter, and a civil debate”

  1. Anonymous landon 


    ...thanks again for the civil discussion. Always feel free to contact me - you have my emaill address.

    And just know... any Chrstian who claims God doesn't love homosexuals hasn't read the Bible all the way through. He loves us all... even if we don't love him back.

    Again... thanks for the discussion.

  2. Anonymous Michael Ditto 

    On the genetic part (if a "gay gene" is ever found)--

    Having a gene does not automatically mean that one will have a particular trait. Genes tend to effect probabilities, not certainties. Having the breast cancer gene doesn't mean you're definitely going to get breast cancer. And having the red-headed gene (which is double recessive by the way, and yet all the redheads haven't been killed off) doesn't mean you'll have red hair.

    There does seem to be a genetic probability component for homosexuality, because having the gene for left-handedness tends to reduce one's probability for being gay (yes, there are fewer gay southpaws than straight southpaws). But there is also mounting evidence that it's a combination of genes and in-utero conditions (hormones or other factors) that determine sexual orientation.

    If it were purely genes, gayness would clearly run in families, and that's just not supportable. But the data on such a small and spread-out population is quite frankly crappy, and until the whole of the gay and straight population feels comfortable answering personal questions about their sex lives to some stranger calling on a random sample, all studies will be fundamentally flawed.

    There are gay people (lots of them), for instance, who share this commenter's point of view--and those people would never answer questions about themselves honestly.

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