Tea bags for two
Sex, lies and the further deterioration of public discourse
According to the online Urban Dictionary, the term “teabagger” has multiple meanings. It’s the second definition that will be our primary concern here: A teabagger is “a man that squats on top of a [woman’s] face and lowers his genitals into her mouth during sex.”
I don’t know about you, but being a dude, that sounds pretty good to me. Thus my confusion earlier this year when liberals began referring to members of the right-wing “Tea Party” protest movement as teabaggers. Why should these found-under-a-rock cretins get to have all the fun?
Of course, that’s not what liberals really mean when they use the term. What they really mean is that the mostly male rednecks who populate the movement are “teabagees”—think Glenn Beck dangling the family jewels in Sean Hannity’s slobbery piehole. References to fellatio work as epithets only in the context of what Rick Santorum might call “man-on-dog” action.
Therefore, when a liberal news anchor such as Rachel Maddow uses the term, she’s quite clearly practicing homophobia, a fact made all the more perplexing by her status as a lesbian. Interestingly, references to cunnilingus don’t work as insults, perhaps because every last one of us wouldn’t mind seeing Maddow and, say, Jodie Foster go at it.
That sounds a little bit like sexism to me, but I digress. What I really want to talk about is racism and how it relates to the Tea Party movement.
Several weeks ago in this space, I profiled former KFBK talk radio host Mark Williams, who’s become a nationwide figurehead for the Tea Party movement (see “Patriots and scoundrels,” September 3). I managed to get through the entire column without using “teabagger” once, primarily because it’s derogatory, but also because I just can’t imagine Williams teabagging his lovely wife, Holly. Or maybe I just don’t want to imagine it.
Anyway, last week, in the wake of peckerwood Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst during President Barack Obama’s address to Congress, liberals began branding the right-wing attacks on the president as racist. This applies particularly to Mark Williams—Google “Mark Williams is a racist” and see for yourself.
Now personally, I think that’s going a little bit too far. The president agrees with me. Appearing last Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Obama told host John King that while there may be a handful of racists in the Tea Party movement, he thinks most of its members have legitimate beefs with his administration, and they have a perfect right to express those complaints, as ghastly as that expression has been at times.
When I met Williams and his wife at Cesar Chavez Plaza shortly before the Tea Party Express left the station, the first thing he did was hand me his business card, adorned with the by-now-familiar Obama-as-The Joker illustration. When I pointed out that the image, which depicts a black man in white face, was in extremely poor taste if not racist, Williams informed me that Vanity Fair had done the exact same thing to former President George W. Bush.
It’s worth noting that Dubya is a white guy, so it’s not precisely analogous. But rather than racism, I think it’s much more emblematic of the subterranean depths to which our political discourse has descended, across the political spectrum. What bleeds leads, as Williams more or less told me, and that goes for Keith Olbermann’s frequent use of “teabaggers” as much as it does for that idiot holding up the sign with Obama in tribal garb at the September 12 demonstration in Washington, D.C.
C’mon, liberals, tell me you don’t smirk, if just a little, every time you hear the word “teabagger.”
What’s problematic about all this is that we’re really all on the same side. As Williams noted, “The little guy believes the fix is in.” For all his anti-government, free-market rhetoric, one of the former KFBK host’s primary complaints is government deregulation of the radio industry, which has limited the number of radio stations and made it near impossible for little guys like Williams to find a slot. If he has to peddle hate for a living, well, a fellow has to eat.
And now we’ve reached the proverbial teaching moment. It’s time for both sides to ratchet it down. Since the wing nuts aren’t likely to go first, I’m calling on all liberals to stop referring to the Tea Party movement as “teabaggers.” At the very least, it will make my sex life a lot less confusing than it already is.