Okay, so the whole world now knows that Elon Musk, King of Impulse Control Issues, tweeted a sleazy tabloid allegation about the attack on Paul Pelosi on Saturday, by a hammer-wielding assailant, in Pelosi’s SF home. Musk later deleted the tweet, but not before half the Internet had taken a screenshot and reposted it.
Reputable news sources repeated the scant information available from police and from the alleged assailant’s family: David DePape was born in Powell River BC, has been in the US 20 years or so, has struggled with emotional/mental-health issues most of his life, and has an online profile rich in QAnon and other ultra-right conspiracy and hate memes. The attack appears to have been politically motivated, since DePape was allegedly shouting “Where’s Nancy?” and “We’ll wait for Nancy!” during the attack.
Notorious MAGA/Q elected rep Marjorie Taylor Greene has publicly called for the execution of Nancy Pelosi in the past, in tweets since deleted (but preserved in screenshot by twitter-watchers). Nancy Pelosi has been singled out as a hate-object by the Far White, on and off, for the last decade or so.
LePape is somewhere around 40 years of age, Pelosi is over 80.
In response to this event and in this context, the sub-National-Enquirer-grade “news” outlet Santa Monica Observer alleged in a lead article the day after the attack — while the victim was still hospitalised with a cranial injury requiring surgery — that Paul Pelosi was drunk, and that the incident was a struggle with a male prostitute whom he had, presumably, invited into his home. This is pretty low sleaziness; it’s cruel and tasteless to publish it within a day of the attack; it’s yet another instance of the incursion of batsh*t craziness into public discourse; but what bothers me even more than all of this is the underlying message.
The underlying message of this allegation is that the media and public should not be so upset over the attack on Paul Pelosi. That if Paul Pelosi had sex with a man, no one should care much about what just happened to him. What the bottom-feeding Observer article is saying — just behind its outrageous, scandal-mongering headline — is that if Paul Pelosi had sex with a man he somehow deserved to be hit over the head with a hammer. That somehow this assault is okay, or less appalling anyway, if he was drunk and/or having sex with a man.
This is the equivalent of “but look what she was wearing,” or “she had a reputation for promiscuity” during discussion of a sexual assault.
And it is troubling on so many levels. First, it’s a big loud dogwhistle to every gay-bashing brownshirt wannabe out there. “Gay men deserve to be hit over the head with hammers. If a celebrity or VIP is gay then it should be open season on them. It should be no big deal. They had it coming.” That’s the implication of using this sleazy allegation as some kind of counter or rebuttal to nation-wide outrage at a violent assault on an eighty-year old man.
So I would like to say this, and say it loudly and often, and I hope other people will do likewise. I don’t give a rat’s arse if Paul Pelosi was cheating on his wife with men or women or inflatable toys. As long as he ensured there was consent and kept his hands off underage and vulnerable youth, whatever temptations he may or may not have fallen into, over the years or today, are between him and his wife and none of my damn business. I don’t give several rat’s arses if he had sex with men on the regular. That also is his business and his wife’s business and not mine.
Personally I doubt whether there is even one frail shred of truth in the Observer story — which I would call random mud-slinging, except that in a free and sane society, saying someone has gay sex should not be “slinging mud.” It should be no big deal, and no one’s business but their own.
Even if every word of it were true, it still makes me not one iota less outraged at what David DePape allegedly did in San Francisco, or how David DePape got there.
What I do care about is that a physically fit 40 year old man attacked an 80 year old man with a hammer. Which is a vile thing to do.
I do care that a mentally unstable person was wound up to the point of violence by a toxic cocktail of hate memes — imbibed over many years, eagerly served up by clever and wicked people deliberately leveraging the cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities of his demographic for profit and political strategy.
I do care that this attack, even if the attacker was a nut case, was politically motivated. And that it is not the first and will almost certainly not be the last.
I do care that craziness is being weaponised into stochastic terrorism by an ultra-right, neo-fascist breakaway Republican Party and their wealthy backers.
I do care that this stochastic terrorism is being unleashed with the intent to silence and intimidate political opponents of the ultra-Right anti-democratic programme.
I do care that oligarchs like Elon Musk are participating in that programme, using their celebrity status to lend a megaphone to vicious and unhinged gossip from contemptible sources.
I couldn’t care less whether Paul Pelosi is faithful or un, straight or gay or wavy. I care very much that stochastic terrorism is being used by a radical right-wing movement in the US (and elsewhere in the world) that has gone off the deep end into anti-democratic, neo-fascist ideation and praxis.
And I care that this right-wing faction has built violent homophobia into its programme, into the very heart of its programme, so that its trash-media shills can pump out headlines like “Paul Pelosi drunk with male prostitute”… in full confidence that in the minds of their audience, this will somehow make Paul Pelosi an un-person who deserves to die — or at the very least, that a crime against him should be taken less seriously than a crime against a strictly hetero public figure. This also is a vile thing to do.
The relentless firehose of baseless slanders, urban legends and conspiracy theories that is the Far White echo chamber — the nonstop Bullshit Factory of which Q nonsense is the flagship product — is bothersome and deeply fatiguing. So many lies, pumped out so fast that fact checkers can’t even keep up (which is the whole point). But it doesn’t even matter here whether that stupid trash-rag headline is true or false.
The real problem is the very notion that “revealing” this “shocking truth” should make any person feel any differently about the attack on Paul Pelosi.