Bill O’Reilly was really off point in his recent article, “A Gay Time at JCPenney,” claiming that the conservative group called “One Million Moms” was guilty of “witch-hunting against certain people” when they opposed JC Penney’s hiring of Ellen Degeneres as their new spokesperson.
The “One Million Moms” website urged JC Penney to “replace Ellen DeGeneres as their new spokesperson immediately and remain neutral in the culture war,” saying, “Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families.”
O’Reilly begged to differ, writing, “While I sympathize with folks not wanting to deal with homosexuality, I think the Moms are wrong.” He argued that “Kim Kardashian is a far worse role model than Ellen,” adding that “there are scores of media people who are celebrated for bad behavior. If the Moms want to be consistent in their outrage about dubious behavior, they are going to be very busy.”
Actually, a quick search of the Moms’ website indicates that they have been very busy, criticizing the fast-food restaurant Carl Jr.’s for a salacious ad featuring the aforementioned Kim Kardashian in 2010. They have also called on Macy’s to discontinue its “two-grooms” ad in a recent catalogue and they previously urged JC Penney to pull their TV ad featuring the new (and quickly discontinued) program “The Playboy Club.”
So, the Moms can hardly be accused of “witch-hunting against certain people” – unless by “certain people” is meant those who glorify extra-marital sex or who treat women as sexual objects or who celebrate homosexuality.
O’Reilly, however, compares the attitude of the Moms to that of the McCarthyism of the 1950s that “got a whole bunch of Americans fired from jobs because he said they were communists. There was even a blacklist in Hollywood that banished perceived leftwing job seekers from employment in the entertainment industry. That was awful and flat-out un-American.”
But is this comparison apt? And does O’Reilly really grasp the reason for the Moms opposition to Ellen? On both counts, the answer is no.
Writing in Time Magazine in 2007, gay journalist John Cloud noted that today’s kids are “exposed constantly to an entertainment culture in which gays are not merely accepted but in some ways dominant. You rarely see a reality show without a gay cast member, while Rosie O’Donnell is a coveted free agent and Ellen DeGeneres is America’s sweetheart.”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.