Like me, Mark Steyn is a man who understands the critical importance of an attention-grabbing title. In his 2012 C-SPAN interview about his book, “America Alone,” Steyn credits his editor, Harry Crocker, for rescuing his book from a fate in bookstore bargain bins and onto the New York Times bestseller list by coming up with a great title. Steyn says his original name for the book was “far more artful and elusive title that [Crocker] thought was for losers and would guarantee we sold, you know, 2,800 copies.”
No, Steyn isn’t shy about packaging his product in an appealing way for sale to his audiences. In an essay entitled “There’s Noah Business Like Shoah Business,” he boasts of his own ability to customize his product for different markets much like Daily Show’s next host, Trevor Noah. Steyn writes, “[Noah] struck me as like a lot of chancers from around the Commonwealth, chaps who make a nice living tailoring their shtick to whichever corner of the Anglosphere they happen to be in. Yes, yes, I know, I do a bit of that meself.”
Steyn recognizes that the political punditry industry is, at its core, show business. And it makes perfect sense that he would because Steyn’s very first major writing gig was as a theater critic for an upstart British newspaper, the Independent, when he was twenty six. Steyn saw first hand that the top priority in show business has to be getting people in the seats or you aren’t going to stay in show business for very long. The best way to do that, of course, is to generate some buzz. In a 2006 interview with The Age, Steyn boasts about the attention he generated by raising the hackles of Saudi diplomat, Ghazi al-Gosaibi:
But driving people through the doors on opening night is just one part of a successful career in entertainment. The real heavy lifting involves putting on great shows to keep the fans coming back for more. Accomplishing that requires the art of illusion to get your audience to suspend reality and lose themselves in the false reality you construct for their entertainment. There is, to be sure, plenty of genius that goes into creating a magical performance. And as illusionists go, Steyn deserves a standing O. For here is a man who dropped out of high school at age sixteen to become a disc jockey (and by his own admission, not even a good one, he was fired), who never went to college, and who has no background or experience in anything save selling his words to help connect eyeballs to advertisements. And though he brings nothing to the table, here he is passing himself off as someone who has profoundly important things to say in the areas of climate science, social science, government affairs and foreign policy.
How does he pull it off?
Like every good showman, Steyn understands that a great performance requires you to get your audience feel something. If you can consistently provoke emotional responses whether it be laughter, fear, hatred, or outrage, you’ve gone a long way to getting viewers to buy into your illusion. Emotions are real, even if the stimulus is not. Over the years, Steyn has collected and honed dozens of tropes for eliciting reactions including cultural supremacy, nationalism, homophobia, racism and anti-intellectualism to name a few. Nothing new there. But Steyn has a special gift for gussying up these very ugly ideas with an air of respectability. Always dressed in a dapper suit, complete with a pocket handkerchief and an English accent picked up from his boyhood years in England, Steyn passes himself off as a well-educated man. The reality, as we pointed out, is that he is nothing of the sort. And, as a gifted writer and speaker, he’s adept at covering up his rather brutish, unsophisticated worldview and fallacious reasoning with elaborate rhetorical tricks and techniques meant to distract his audience from the fact that his ideas are, for the most part, nonsensical. And the real truth of the matter is that Steyn doesn’t actually care if you think he’s right or smart. The illusion Steyn is truly after is that you believe what he says matters, that he is influential. The more successful Steyn is at projecting his illusion as an important cultural figure, the more people he’ll have lined up out the door buying his product.
Another gimmick Steyn employs to disguise the fact he has no earthly idea what he’s talking about is character assassination. The trick is straightforward. Step 1: Find a vulnerable target who symbolizes an idea you wish to attack. Step 2: Present the target to your audience as the enemy and someone closely associated with the idea you wish to undermine. Step 3: Seize every opportunity to smear your opponent. Using this technique you don’t have to debate the actual idea, you just attack the person who represents the idea.
Steyn’s character assassination trick is greatly heightened by painting himself as a manly gladiator taking on his opponents to defend some higher principle. In so doing, Steyn becomes a protagonist for his legion of fans, someone they identify with. Just like bloodthirsty fans at a pro wrestling match, they don’t just passively watch the match unfold, they become part of the show, living vicariously through their hero, Mark Steyn. The Steyn fans go crazy when he yells bombastically into the mic, thumps his chest, and then proceeds to smack the heel to the ground. It’s all orchestrated political theater packaged by Steyn for consumption by the masses. For a shameless showman like Steyn, it’s easy fucking money.
And that brings us to our main event for today, Steyn vs. Mann. In Steyn’s latest essay, “The Ugly Misogyny of Big Climate,” we witnessed a perfect example of Steyn’s ongoing character assassination of climatologist Michael Mann, portraying him as a contemptible misogynist, complete with student groupies that we are supposed to imagine he uses for sex. It doesn’t matter how absurd Steyn’s assertion is. It doesn’t matter that Steyn originally got it wrong and the tattoo on Mann’s “female admirer” has a Keeling curve on her arm, not Mann’s hockey stick. No, this is theater. No one attends a pro wrestling match to get educated, you go to witness a spectacle, even if a part of you knows it’s staged. And imagining Mann using his rock star status as a climatologist to attract young, sexual partners is definitely a spectacle that gets you feeling something. As the once respected climatologist Judith Curry points out, it’s all very entertaining.
Steyn’s piece includes his usual muscle flexing to intimidate and bully his opponents. In a particularly repugnant paragraph, he paints science writer Greg Laden as Mann’s bottom. Steyn knows a lot of his fans haven’t evolved far past Neanderthals and as no qualms about throwing them some red meat:
Yay, Mark! You really know how how to “stick” it to those gay boys! Har, har! If this kind of gay bashing is OK by you, then consider yourself a great candidate for Steyn’s fan base.
After launching that gross rant, Steyn then drops back to pearl clutching mode. He pretends to swoon over a climate blogger, “Tamino,” for using the dismissive term “Aunt Judy” to reference climatologist Judith Curry. I guess after years of railing against feminism and political correctness, he’s finally seen the light. Next, Steyn chooses some random guy off the Internet, Brandon Shollenberger, who has no standing whatsoever in the climate debate, for debating whether “Aunt Judy” is a pornographic reference or not. It doesn’t matter if Shollenberger is a nobody. Shollenberger is the pro wrestling equivalent of the nameless heels in drab, one-piece wrestling outfits that our hero can roll over on his way to victory against bigger enemies. Similarly, Steyn launches an attack on anonymous commenters on Tamino’s blog, more nobodies in the climate debate who have absolutely nothing to do with Mann.
After setting the stage with these flimsy tales of sexism from the seedy underbelly of climatology, Steyn goes in for the kill by painting Mann as a misogynist, too, by pointing out that he retweeted some of my tweets. How does that make Mann a misogynist, exactly? Well, because in a comment I made in some obscure climate blog that Mann probably never saw, I quipped that Steyn and Curry might possibly be having a consensual affair together. Now I’ll admit it wasn’t very funny but it’s certainly not misogynistic in the least. How on earth is having a consensual relations with someone misogynistic? If in Steyn’s mind that makes me a misogynist, that actually tells you a lot about Steyn’t attitude towards women who sleep with him. It sounds like Steyn considers any woman who has sex with him outside of marriage to be a whore—that’s a very old-fashioned, misogynistic belief indeed. And, by the way, is this the same guy who just slammed Laden by insinuating that he was Mann’s gay submissive lover?
Steyn’s rhetorical strategy here is all shit recycled straight form the Bill Ayers smear attack on Obama in 2008. It wasn’t possible to paint Barack Obama as a bomb throwing domestic terrorist, so opponents played up Obama’s obscure connections to people that could be painted as bomb-throwing domestic terrorists no matter how weak the actual link was. But the strength of the connection doesn’t matter. All you need to do is place a little bit of doubt in your audience’s mind that your opponent is unspeakably evil and that’s good enough reason to start smashing them in the face.
Finally, Steyn attempts to smear Mann by claiming a culture of misogyny may run rampant through all of climatology by citing the lack of women within its ranks. Never mind that attracting women to the sciences is a larger societal issue that Mann has no direct responsibility for. But by Steyn’s way of thinking, the lack of women might mean climatology is full of misogynists and that might mean that Mann probably is too. It’s all complete bullshit, of course. It’s the same kind of faulty reasoning propagandists use to convince the public that because Obama comes from Chicago, that must mean he’s probably a corrupt politician. But again, logic doesn’t matter here. Tornadoes don’t really carry off little girls and their dogs to a magical land but it makes for a great story.
All of this silliness places us squarely outside the realm of science and into the world of political theater and entertainment. It’s all a show concocted by Steyn to help him flog his books and promote his reputation as a brave champion of free speech, expanding the illusion that he is a genius capable of going toe-to-toe with a scientist and is anything but a know-nothing high school drop out who likely doesn’t know basic algebra. Of course, it’s impossible for Steyn to debate Mann over the actual science so Steyn has to drag him into the arena of public opinion where Steyn can assassinate Mann’s character. There, Steyn is not constrained by rules of engagement such as math, logic, or science. He’s free to throw any dirty trick at Mann that he wishes.
So I think it’s high time we turn the tables on Mr. Steyn and bring to light rumors about his true sexual orientation. Now, I frankly don’t care if Steyn is gay or not. What he does in the privacy of his own bedroom is absolutely none of my business and I most certainly would not look down upon him if he was gay. Unlike Steyn, I am supportive of gay rights and their fight to enjoy the same rights as straight couples.
But it would be rather embarrassing for a man who stakes out ground as a brave gladiator to be so afraid about coming out of the closet and facing his own sexuality, wouldn’t it? Imagine the delicious irony of discovering all his self-promotion as a tough guy was driven by his own deep-seated insecurity of the homosexual urges he equates with cowardice. And if it could be demonstrated that Steyn has set up an elaborate public persona with the express intent of hiding the shame he feels about his sexual orientation, that, my friends, would be quite a blockbuster. It might help us pull back the curtains back on Steyn’t grand, Oz-like illusion.
So let’s explore this idea, shall we?
First, let’s look at Steyn’s formative years. Other than owning up to being a high school drop out we know very little about Steyn’s early years. Why did he leave Canada as a child and move to England? Why did he drop out of high school? It wasn’t because he had other golden opportunities awaiting him. After leaving high school, he went on to become a low-paid DJ . And Steyn’s a smart guy, he probably didn’t drop out because he was dumb. No, there had to be something else troubling the young Steyn. Was it drugs? Or was Steyn struggling with something else? I googled high and low for an answer but turned up nothing. I endured the first half hour of his C-SPAN appearance and neatly evade the question of his upbringing on his C-CPAN interview with a story about how he ended up in New Hampshire. I even reached out to Steyn on Twitter to ask him. As you might imagine, I heard nothing back from him. It all prompts me to wonder just what is Steyn hiding here? Why is there so little information available about his turbulent youth? Usually stories of overcoming great odds to become what you are today help you connect with fans. What were his personal obstacles and and how did he overcome them? I think a lot of people would love to know.
Unfortunately, we don’t know anything else about Steyn’s early years. He does say that after he was fired as a DJ he started writing about show tunes to scrape together money. And then, somehow, he pops up as a theater critic for “The Independent.” How exactly did Steyn land this gig and what led him down this road? What was Steyn doing and who did he associate with in the intervening years between dropping out of high school and becoming a theater critic? It’s all rather mysterious but we do get a hint in Steyn’s recent essay, “Birth of the New,” about Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn Jenner. Steyn writes, “I’ve spent a lot of my time around theatre and music and areas that attract those who feel ‘different.’” Steyn doesn’t elaborate as to whether he was one of those who felt “different” or not.
A few years after his start as a theater critic, Steyn coauthored a book. Was it a hard-hitting polemical book about politics? Nope, it was about the Broadway musical, Miss Saigon. His next book, released six years later, was called “Broadway Babies Say Goodnight: Musical Then and Now.” Steyn boasts the book was “on a list of ‘Twelve Books Every Gay Man Should Read’.” Steyn is also the author of “Mark Steyn’s American Songbook Singalong,” which Steyn promotes on his website with a quote that describes the book “a wonderful romp through the careers of Dorothy Fields, Jule Styne, and Cole Porter.”
Now, we can’t leap to the conclusion that because Steyn enjoys show tunes that he’s gay. We aren’t suggesting that. But we are all familiar with the cliché that gays love theater and show tunes. However, you should understand that it goes a little deeper than that for Steyn. Writing about show tunes is his deep, real passion. He doesn’t really care for churning out polemical books and appearing on TV. That’s the his full time gig for putting food on the table. Steyn is like a Hollywood movie actor knocking out pablum for the masses but always yearning for the opportunity to perform Shakespeare in the Park for elite sophisticates. Steyn’s first love is for the theater and show tunes. And this is just part of the evidence we will present to demonstrate that Steyn isn’t exactly the kind of man he’d have us believe. Once we get done connecting all the dots, the full picture gets more obvious. Remember, the fact that Mann works in a male dominated profession doesn’t make him a misogynist but it certainly doesn’t help him.
So anyway, another queer thing about Steyn is that he’s very obsessed with reminding the world of the importance of “manliness.” It’s a theme that runs through his polemical pieces. And Steyn is quick to equate a lack of spine with many slurs associated with homosexuality. When you start paying attention to it, you being to realize just how really fucking weird it is. Here’s just a short list of references I found with a few google searches:
- In a 2002 article, “Anti-war wimps, step aside,” he uses the term “sissy-boy.”
- In 2004, he has an article entitled “Terminator or girlie man,” with John Kerry being the “girlie man” whom he disparages for throwing a “limp-wristed” pitch
- In a 2009 column, “No Laughing Matter,” he says, “I am saying you’re a fairy if you think the state should police our jokes.”
- In a 2005 essay, “It’s the Demography Stupid,” he disparages “sissy Dartmouth College arms-are-for-hugging type”
- In 2013 piece, “The Age of Intolerance,” he bemoans our “pansified culture”
- In a piece last year called “Gutsy Aficionado,” Steyn recounts a conversation he had with Rush Limbaugh decrying “limp-wristed politically correct progressivism.”
- Earlier this year, Steyn went on television to attack the “pansified” Western media.
“Sissy-boy?” I mean, who still talks like that? For a supposedly educated man, he’s using vernacular from the era of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s just not normal. And after reading any number Steyn’s pieces like the ones above, you’ll soon uncover his constant refrain that the most muscular, aggressive solution is always the best foreign policy solution for America and its allies. Let there be no doubt that Steyn is absolutely the toughest show-tune-loving theater critics you’ve ever witnessed.
Homosexuality and homosexual activism is a subject Steyn takes on quite frequently. And just like a self-loathing gay afraid his cover might get blown, he takes the position that the mainstream acceptance of homosexuality is a sure sign of societal decay. And he’s even coined a term for homosexual advocacy: “Big Gay.” The gays are on the move and Steyn wants to be sure you you know he rejects the push for gay rights. Whether it’s the acceptance of gay marriage, gay traffic signals in Vienna, or even just the incessant chatting up of gay culture, he’s against all of it. Instead of endorsing gays, Steyn takes the much manlier approach to gay rights. He thinks a gay person’s place is in the closet, where they can remain quietly respectable, neither seen nor heard, but always on the ready to be called a “fruit” or the butt of a tasteless joke.
As we all know, recent history is littered with men who took a tough public stance against the gays and the gay lifestyle as a way to mask their own homosexual urges. There’s men like the Reverend Ted Haggard, Pastor Eddie Long, Larry Craig, and Mark Foley to name a few. It certainly wouldn’t be a stretch for Steyn to be of the same ilk. Just like the other aforementioned hypocrites, he seems to go out of this way to express anti-gay sentiments and oppose gay rights.
Another odd thing about Steyn is that for all manliness he likes to claim he possesses, he has decidedly unmanly tastes in film. For example, he is a big fan of movies that generally appeal to women, like “The Bridges of Madison County.” In a recent review of the film, Steyn writes,
“Twenty years ago, I took a woman of the opposite sex to The Bridges of Madison County. My mistake. By about 20 minutes in, I was melting into my seat, moaning at the screen and longing for Clint to take me in his manly arms and carry me to the back of his pick-up. ‘You’re dribbling over the popcorn,’ hissed my date. In mitigation, I was one of the last in the house to fall for his weatherbeaten charm.”
OK, first, before we get to obvious gay sentiments here, we have to ask why, exactly, does Steyn go out of his way to point out that he took a woman to the movies? Unless you’ve got kids, who else would a grown, heterosexual man go to the movies with? Does he really think we would ever imagine a manly man like him taking another man to see one of the chickiest flicks of all time? And why does he describe her as a “woman of the opposite sex”. Why, what else would she be, a “woman of the same sex?” Steyn seems a tad overzealous about stressing to his readers that he took a woman to see this film. Secondly, it’s very odd that Steyn recommends this film as a good Valentine’s Day movie. Let me remind you that this is a film filled with the possibility of surreptitious sex between two strangers who meet on a chance encounter. I suppose for someone turned on by the idea acting upon a secret urge for forbidden, anonymous sex in a public bathroom it makes for a perfect Valentine’s Day movie. But as a good romantic movie for the average couple to go see? Yeah, not so much. And finally, as a heterosexual male who happened to catch pieces of this movie (no way in hell I’d ever sit down and watch it never mind actually pay to see it in theaters), I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that the thought of Clint Eastwood carrying me off into his “manly arms” never entered my mind. I can also unequivocally tell you that even as a straight man secure in my own sexuality, I would never even joke about being romantically attracted to a male lead in a movie. No way, no how.
Steyn has other very strange tastes in movies. What was his favorite French film of the 21st century? You guessed it, it’s “The Closet.” The movie is about a straight man who pretends to be gay. As a straight, homosexual, I can only imagine what the significance of a film like that is. I’ll let Steyn spell that out for you. We’ll just point out that in his review of the movie, Steyn seems extremely comfortable quoting derogatory snippets from the movie like “faggot” and “fag hater.” He also even uses the term “fag jokes” rather blithely. I guess it’s kind of like how African American hip hop artists are given a free pass on the “n word” in their lyrics.
And littered throughout Steyn’s writings are “dog whistles” that will slip past the radar of his straight fans but that prick up the ears of his gay readers. Take this passage, for example, from Steyn’s 2003 piece, “There’s no stopping them now.” Steyn writes:
“Alas, my own taste in gays is hopelessly old-fashioned. I’ve hung around the theater most of my adult life, and I love the likes of Cole Porter and the eccentric English composer and painter Lord Berners. These are the fellows who thought homosexuality was one of those things ‘Too Good For The Average Man,’ in the words of Lorenz Hart’s sly lyric–too special for the masses. These days, the gay movement insists it’s as average as any man, if not more so. Watching the two chubby gays being wed by a gay vicar on the steps of the courthouse in Vancouver the other day, Cole Porter would have wondered what on earth was the point of being homosexual.”
Read between the lines and what Steyn is clearly indicating to us is his predilection for dabbling in short-term flings. This makes sense as Steyn is likely involved in a lavender marriage to maintain appearances and he prefers his gay partners to be closeted as well. The passage also informs us that Steyn’s view of gay love is something deviant and lustful act that he indulges in from time to time, but it remains a behavior he feels deeply ashamed about, tries to suppress, and something he would never consider letting define who he is as a person.
Perhaps the most obvious dog whistle I uncovered was Steyn’s account of how Judy Garland’s version of the Harold Arlen classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” came to pass. In fact, he referred to to the song as a “dog-whistle down the decades.” The number has very deep meaning for the Oz-like Steyn. At the very end of his piece, he quotes the song’s final stanza:
These words, Steyn tells us, are “heartfelt and true and irresistible.” The significance these lines would have to a gay, closeted man ashamed of his own sexuality are obvious. Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” Steyn feels trapped in a drab world where he has to carry his burden of his secret sexual desires. Steyn longs to fly “beyond the rainbow.” The rainbow, of course, signifies the prison of homosexuality he wishes to escape. He dreams of being like the other happier, heterosexual bluebirds. Steyn pines for “normalcy” that he believes will make his world a much brighter and colorful place.
Finally, I want to point out that I’m not the first person to feel that Steyn may be hiding his homosexual urges from the public. In an online poll, a full 40% of respondents have stated that the feel Mark Steyn is gay. I should hasten to add that the online poll is not scientific. But as Mark Steyn teaches us so well, the masses don’t really give a shit about actual science.
Update, August 24th: You really shouldn’t miss Mark Steyn’s wonderful (cough) rendition of “Goldfinger.”
Such a cold finger beckons you to enter into his web of sin. Don’t go in!
Golden words he will pour in your ear
But his lies can’t disguise what you fear
Beware of his heart of gold
His heart is cold, his heart is cold
He loves only gold, only gold
He loves gold
Don’t go in, his web of sin
He loves gold, this heart his cold