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The Daily Caller attempts to defend “corrective rape” comments by Joe Rehyansky

December 6, 2010

Last week you may remember I wrote a piece looking at an op-ed that appeared on the conservative blog paper, The Daily Caller.  In it, one time part-time magistrate and retired Army vet Joe Rehyansky, in amongst many derogatory and out-dated myths about gay men, also wrote a comment which for many, including myself seemed to be saying that lesbians should be permitted to join the army unlike their male homosexual counterparts but only if:

Straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream. (Daily Caller)

This particular piece was, as you may remember removed from the op-ed although the rest of the opinions of Joe Rehyansky stood.

Many, including myself, wrote about our disappointment that such a piece had been written in the first place and that it had been allowed online before the offending remark was removed by editors once a furore started on the internet.

Many, including myself also wrote with disgust that such a level of bigotry would exist and saw a parallel with the terribly sad and disgusting “corrective rape” crimes that take place in South Africa of lesbian women.  My piece highlighted, amongst others, the case of  “Eudy Simelane, a member of the South African women’s soccer team and an out Lesbian and advocate for GBLT rights. She was raped and murdered in 2008. ActionAid stated that this was a hate crime, and her murder was directly related to her sexual orientation.” (VATP)

The Daily Caller however would like one to think differently.

I read with interest an article that The Salon posted “The Daily Caller (sorta) defends crazy old bigot’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” column“.

In it, they post comments made by Daily Caller editor Peter Tucci in which he laments at the demonization of Joe Rehyansky:

Last week, The Daily Caller published an article by Rehyansky entitled, “Don’t hint, don’t wink: an immodest proposal.”  In the article, Rehyansky argues that lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the US military but gay men should not. He concludes with a sarcastic comment (since removed) saying that if lesbians were allowed in the military, male GIs would be able to turn them straight — or, in Rehyansky’s words, “convert them into the mainstream.”

Liberal bloggers took this sentence to mean that Rehyansky is in favor of raping lesbians in order to turn them straight.  What followed was a barrage of articles — written by bloggers based in at least six different countries — condemning Rehyansky for “advocating rape.”

Now fair enough the Caller wants to defend its op-ed and it’s columnist. But to blame bloggers for over-reacting to a post which calls for “giving straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream”, tell me Mr Tucci just how are we supposed to interpret that?  Did Mr Rehyansky mean straight soldiers should be able to talk to (harass) lesbian soldiers to convert, convince them that the penis really is the way forward??
As The Salon asks:
While it’s true that Rehyansky didn’t write “male soldiers should rape lesbians until they are straight,” calling his line “sarcastic” is the sort of defense you use when you don’t have a real defense. (And they removed that line from the column, so … they apparently didn’t find it very defensible last week.)
The Daily Caller goes on to say that the bloggers who all wrote scathing articles were somehow “gullible” and suggested people were blogging on “false information”.  Now if Mr Tucci would like us to believe that there was nothing wrong in the comments Joe Rehyansky made, then why did the editors see fit to remove what they now call a “sarcastic” comment, and saying that one needs to be questioning ones judgment when they try to claim that “Straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream” is just a joke and that the underlying issue of trying to convert lesbians is not advocating rape and is just a joke.  Again as the Salon says:
In the “conversion” fantasy of a straight bigot, the consent of the convertee generally does not enter into it. I’m not sure how, exactly, these lesbians will be “brought into the mainstream,” except against their will. So it seems eminently fair to me to argue that Rehyansky, in his entitlement and his bigotry, was making the case for rape, even if he was too foolish to understand that himself.
What is most amazing about the defense article from Peter Tucci is that instead of trying to defend Mr Rehyansky’s comments what he does instead is attempts to deflect attention to somehow say that the people at fault were those that got angry at the comments of a bigot, and not trying to claim that the bigot was right in what he said – except for calling Mr Rehyansky’s comments “sarcasm”.  I am sure if it had been a liberal blogger who had written that piece the Daily Caller would have been all over it like a rash claiming that this was indeed an advocacy of rape.
So Mr Tucci, let me ask this, if your op-ed was so right, and all Joe Rehyansky did was make a joke – and I have to question his comic taste if he thinks this is a conservative family values type of joke to make – why did you feel the need to retroactively edit the piece to remove it?  You lament about bloggers journalistic standards or lack of, yet can not explain why your editorial standards lack so much that you have to take a comment out of an article you previously sanctioned, even though you claim it “sarcasm”.
Because it worries me that instead of being able to defend the article, you instead attempt to demonize the bloggers who, within their right, posted their disgust at your article and your guest poster.
I think one of the commentators (GonePostal) on Tucci’s article rounds it up nicely when they state:
Well, it was a terrible article even without the last part, and if he’s not ready to stand behind his words, then he should get off the internet. He wrote an article that was insulting and based on ancient stereotypes. There’s so much else to get pissed at him about besides the implied rape of his last joke (which it was. It implies sexual assault of some kind, and going by the rest of his piece, I’d say he WAS advocating it, if not saying it outright). If he was joking, it was in bad taste. Just because someone is a veteran, it doesn’t make their opinion beyond criticism. Lot’s of terrible people were and are veterans. Why are you so worried about the internet because of this? Your site traffics in this kind of pile on anyway. ALL sites like this, of any political persuasion, pile on like this. The whole “it’s all rigged” thing comes to mind. Geeze, you’re a whiner!
So sorry Mr Tucci if we didn’t like your bloggers homophobic rants and sorry if we felt his “sarcasm” really was in poor tastes and sorry if us then posting about it spoilt your fun and cut off your echo chamber.
Actually I’m not sorry – you advocate it, you allow this up, don’t whine when the rest of us get pissed about it. If you can’t defend it, don’t blame us for your choice of op-ed writer. Your guest blogger wrote an opinion piece – we’re just expressing our opinion back!
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