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Book News for Friday, January 23, 2009

  • Let's Lie about Sex, Baby: Perhaps you've heard — since it has actually made the national news — that Portland's first openly gay mayor, Sam Adams (no relation to the beer), was caught in a horrifying sex scandal of astronomically disgusting proportions.

    Brace yourself: two consenting adults had perfectly legal sex.

    Somehow, I suspect, life will find a way to go on.

    Unfortunately, during his campaign, Adams lied about his brief sexual relationship with a then-18-year-old man (Adams was 42 at the time). And therein lies the rub.

    Luckily, the intrepid reporters at the Willamette Week smelled blood in the water (and bragging rights, perhaps) and went a-huntin' for the TRUTH.

    Adams has admitted to the relationship and apologized for the lie. Some people who have yet to be publicly outed for lying about who they have or haven't slept with are nonetheless screaming for his head on a platter — or, at least, his resignation.

    Others have much more well-reasoned arguments, mainly those who are creeped out that Adams went to such elaborate lengths to cover it up — as Frances Miller wrote in an email to local gay/lesbian newspaper Just Out:

    What gets me is not just that Sam lied, but the elaborate concoction of that lie....He wrote a letter to the city saying he was a target of a smear. He said he was a mentor. He said he was innocent of an attack against his character and his sexuality. How dare he use his orientation as a tool of deceit.

    Dan Savage, who writes the Savage Love sex advice column and lots of books, has a different take:

    When Bill Clinton lied — under oath — about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern, lefties argued that Clinton's lies were understandable and excusable because he had a right — that we all have a right — to keep his private sexual conduct private. Unless a politician is breaking the law (Sen. Vitter, Gov. Spitzer), or guilty of rank hypocrisy (Sen. Craig, Rev. Haggard*), it's no one's business where he sticks his dick.

    I think the "scandal" is a non-starter, but as every politician knows, in the wrong hands even non-stories can erupt to biblical proportions. (See Kerry, John — Swift Boats.) As liberal as Portland generally likes to fancy itself, suburban minivan families still don't want to imagine their precocious teenagers getting "buggered" by their mayor. To a certain faction of liberals, "gay" is fine as an abstract concept, but when you start connecting body parts, it makes them awfully uncomfortable.

    I can't say Adams's defensive tactics are what I would have done, but I defy anyone to tell me they'd have done something better in his position. The ideal might have been to say, "None of your f---ing business" — but that kind of honest, straight response in the political arena is a lot like throwing bloody meat to lions.

    Tonight there's a rally in support of Sam Adams at 5:30pm in front of City Hall. There's also a Facebook page set up in support of the mayor — and, to be fair, there's also at least one blog urging him to resign. Join (or not) where you see fit.

  • Free to Be: Yesterday saw a victory for free speech advocates in the U.S., as Shelf Awareness notes:

    [The Supreme Court decided] on Tuesday not to review a lower court ruling that struck down the Child Online Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1998 and fought by [the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression], the Media Coalition, Powell's Books, A Different Light bookstores and others ever since.

    From Publishers Weekly:

    Among the groups that supported the ACLU was the Media Coalition and its executive director David Horowitz applauded the final outcome. "The Supreme Court's decision not to hear this case is a strong affirmation of its long held view that the government cannot ignore the First Amendment rights of adults as a way to protect children,” Horowitz said. The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression had joined with Media Coalition in fighting the law because it was concerned that the display of sexual content on their Web sites, whether from jacket art or book excerpts, could subject them to prosecution.

    The ACLU has more information, and many more legal documents, on its site.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven...
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  2. A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of... Used Trade Paper $15.00
  3. Reflections on Freedom of Speech and... Used Trade Paper $6.95

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