'What the hell is wrong with Bill James?'

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I received an e-mail from a friend this morning who, referring to Bill James’ latest round of outlandish gay-bashing, wrote, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” What my friend (who is a straight male, in case you’re wondering) was talking about was James’ refusal to sign on to a county commission resolution from chairperson Jennifer Roberts, praising N.C. members of Congress who voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. James didn’t just say, “Thanks but no thanks,” though; he grandly declared, to all and sundry who may give a rip what he thinks, that he is against “endorsing immorality and allowing military recruits to be preyed on by homosexuals.” In other words, to James, all gays are, by nature, sexual predators. (Fellow GOP commissioners Karen Bentley and Jim Pendergraph also refused to endorse Roberts’ resolution.)

As for my friend’s question about James, I don’t know what’s wrong with the guy except plain old-fashioned homophobia. At times, as I’ve written before, the commissioner reminds me of guys in high school whose jokes and put-downs often revolved around homosexuality: mocking queers, insinuating that others were queer, laughing at someone's shirt, shoes, haircut, whatever, because it was somehow, in some vague, unexplained way, queer. As a clueless adolescent who wanted to fit in, I often laughed along with the jokes, but the truth is, I never quite understood why others' sex lives should hold such interest. And I still don't.

Those guys in high school were doubtless going through the common, well-documented male teenage phase of defining their sexuality by acting macho and mocking feelings they’re terrified of finding in themselves. The real question here is why, for people like James, that type of insecure homophobia lasts past adolescence, eventually evolving into a bizarre, hateful obsession. We once named Bill James “the Generalissimo of local homophobes,” and if you’re relatively new to the city, now you know why.

The one good thing that comes out of this latest flare-up of gay-bashing is that it’s obvious that homophoic bigots are on the defensive these days. They may never give up, but nevertheless, these bigots are becoming increasingly irrelevant, as life passes them by. Let them wallow in their pre-‘60s, Ozzie & Harriet fantasy world; the rest of us will be busy getting on with life in the 21st century.

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