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August 03, 2002

I'm still out of town on a top secret mission. Really. It's a secret. Top secret. Only my employers, close family, and some confidantes know what it's about.

But that's another matter, and I'll reveal the nature of my mission soon enough. But right now I want to address some of you who were kind enough to challenge me in a civil manner in the Comments section of my last post, as well as those of you who have no social graces. No need to name names, especially since most of you in the latter camp didn't have the testicular fortitude to use your real names.

Back to the slap-down at hand. There are two criticisms of my story about the airport revolt, offered by several people. The first is that I should know better than to show up at the airport only 45 minutes before my flight. The second is that I'm being a troglodyte homophobe by picking on the effete man at the ticket counter.

Like everyone else, for several weeks after September 11th I dutifully showed up two hours before my flights. Then the airports relaxed it to an hour. Then, a few months ago, the Wichita airport posted little signs at all its ticket counters, directing passengers to arrive at least 30 minutes before their flights. Last I checked, 45 minutes counts as at least 30 minutes. What's more, 45 minutes has always been enough time at the Wichita airport, except when American Airlines stacks three flights 25 minutes apart.

But that's not the critical point here. The point, the thing that sticks in my craw, is that the airlines have the gall to instruct us to show up 30 minutes early, and yet they lack the competence to live up to their end of the bargain. And that's what this is a matter of -- competence. A few simple methods would have moved that Wichita line quickly, and that means I wouldn't have needed to seize authority, which apparently gave a few of you uncomfortable tingly feelings.

This episode, in other words, was not a matter of too many people trying to go somewhere at the same time, or of passengers arriving 45 minutes early when we should have arrived three hours early. It was a matter of people with neither training nor incentive nor a willingness to exercise plain common sense being given veto power over a hugely important economic activity, with the rest of us refusing to question them because we conflate patriotism with kowtowing to someone in a polyester uniform.

Still, I can understand how many of you, not knowing the Wichita airport, would think I was silly to arrive only 45 minutes early. Up until this time, 45 minutes has been more than adequate. I'll certainly arrive earlier from now on, since I am confident that the Wichita airport's management will not accept my upcoming offer to connect them with a throughput optimization expert.

Others of you took issue with my characterization of the snippy little ticket counter clerk. Specifically, you thought I was making fun of him for being gay. I find this curious, because until I read your comments, it hadn't occurred to me that he might be gay. He acted like a girl, he had poofy hair, and he needed a good hard slap. But I don't equate these traits with homosexuality. Do you? It amuses me when the self-appointed apostles of sensitivity get snared in their narrow-minded conceptualizations of people. For the record, when I ridicule men who behave like sissies, it's because I don't like men who behave like sissies. The fact that you've equated girly with gay would appear to be your problem, not mine.

But thanks for reading. Kisses.

Posted by Woodlief on August 03, 2002 at 11:04 PM


sorry, dude, but it doesn't take much to see how your comments were intended to show that either (1) the guy behind the counter was a homosexual, or (2) he wasn't sufficiently manly enough for your tastes.

i guess i don't have a problem with (2), but let's assume he'd helped you. would you still have made the "hair salon" crack? i don't think so, and that proves the point of a lot of posters.

still, good post overall.

Posted by: paul at August 4, 2002 7:26 AM

Splendid post in the first place(Rebellion at the Airport) beautiful smackdown of the would-be defenders of girly boys here. It would appear to me that some of these people commenting wouldn't know a real gay man if he tattooed his sexual preference on his forehead, so ingrained are their PC stereotypes. I nominate 'Rebellion at the Airport' as the blogosphere post of the week. Bravo my brother!

Posted by: dawson at August 4, 2002 8:24 AM

Tony; Kudos for your airport revolt! This is the kind of people-power creativity that has made America great. If more people emulate your approach, the disasterous business model of our air industry, which is one root of the problem, will be challenged to improve. As for the srcurity, until transportation security is wrenched from Mineta-style PC crapulousness and put into the hands of grownups, the lines will be long, the surly 35-IQ prison guard rejects will continue to perform their best to delay and denigrate passengers while failing to discover 90% of the real dangerous weapons, and etc. Keep revolting!

Posted by: Frank Stevenson at August 4, 2002 9:01 AM

If enough of us followed your lead, we might be able to overthrow a silly regime that doesn't protect us in the least, causes massive consternation among the traveling public, and is doing serious damage to an airline industry which is losing billions of dollars a quarter.

Tony, you may have just found a way out of this recession -- taking our economy and our dignity into our own hands.

Posted by: Gary at August 4, 2002 9:12 AM

Your initial post was a fine example of a man living up to a principle that many people have a problem with i.e. serving your own best interest.

That you rebelled against the "sheep mentality" that was expected of you is definately applauded. However, you did provide an excellent example of said expectation.

The clerk and security personel were themselves not doing thier jobs, looking out for YOUR best interest, and were sheepishly following orders to the detriment of that interest.

Your comment regarding the clerk in no way stereotyped him. You described him in as unflattering way as you could because of his comment, not nessecarily because he was "effete". Had he not made the comment you most likely would not have described him as vividly.

Opinionated, rational, and enterprising. A fine example of an American.

Posted by: Dale Stevenson at August 4, 2002 10:08 AM

Do you suppose that if the clerk had been dressed in overalls and drawling, your inevitable takedown of him would have drawn howls of "insensitivity toward rednecks?"

Posted by: Brian at August 4, 2002 10:48 AM

It's a noble lie to believe a poofy haired sissy at an airport could easily be straight. The gay men you know must all be soldiers. You are just feeling a twinge of regret. You knew he was gay and you cussed his girly manners.

Homophobia doesn't make you a bad person. Like every other phobia it is an uncontrollable feeling of disgust or fear. Sissy boys, or the sight of two guys kissing, give you the willies. Fine, I don't like spiders - I have to leave the room when I see one. My reaction doesnít offend spiders. Gay men do get offended when they notice your fear/disgust. You have to make an effort to hide your contempt for unmanly males (who probably aren't aware of how girly they are). You don't have the option of squishing them with your foot.

Posted by: Joe Stocker at August 4, 2002 10:56 AM

After reading the last comment I had to chase my eyebrows all the way to the ceiling. I would *really* like to know how Mr. Stocker can say such things with straight face.
>It's a noble lie to believe a poofy haired sissy at an airport could easily be straight.
What, pray tell is a "noble lie"? Lying is about the least noble thing I can think of, it takes no honor to lie, and is frequently the way of life for those without a conscience, decency or nobility.
>Homophobia doesn't make you a bad person
This is disingenuous, as it assumes that Mr Woodlief's characterization is the symptom of a none-existent psychological aberration. "Homophobia" is not a recognized medical condition, it is a code word for "you don't approve of my lifestyle, so you must be sick".
> Gay men do get offended when they notice your fear/disgust. You have to make an effort to hide your contempt for unmanly males (who probably aren't aware of how girly they are).
Ok, where to begin on this one, it is just chock full of fisking goodness. I am not responsible for making sure that I never offend someone. They have the option, if I do so, 1)of not associating with me, 2) talking it over with me as adults, perhaps there was just a misunderstanding? or 3) giving as good as they get, at which point we both go our separate ways. If a man, gay or otherwise, is not aware of how they are perceived, then he must not own a mirror or a TV. And I would beg to differ with you on your first point, that gay men are obviously sissies and vice-versa, *that* is a very prejudiced view and reveals a great deal about how you think.

Posted by: Kat at August 4, 2002 11:57 AM

This one is fantastic (the semantic sense of the word): You knew he was gay and you cussed his girly manners. Your presumption of sexual orientation is amazing, considering you were not there, never met the person in question, and prescribe yourself to an amazingly rigid definition of what a homosexual should act and look like--the stereotyping absolutely scintillates in that post.

The operative part of homophobia is phobia, defined as an illogical fear. It has nothing to do with disgust, as disgust is not fear. Using the word "disgust" in a definition of homophobia renders "phobia" null and void, making your argument just a waste of text.

Then again, you prescribe to the PC camp, as this sentence makes clear: "You have to make an effort to hide your contempt for unmanly males." Why? Why are people being intructed and coerced by PC-aholics to deny the self and be something they aren't? You only increase the animosity and possible misunderstanding if you force people to deny themselves.

Posted by: addison at August 4, 2002 2:14 PM

The airport security system needs to disappear. Flat out, get rid of the metal detectors. Get rid of the polyester-uniformed security guards.

Give me back my Gerber Easy-Out. Give back the cuticle nippers, knitting needles, letter openers.

Sniff for explosives in the checked baggage, but allow a combination or a random choice of PET or trained dog, or other technology, or simple manual search.

Let the pilots be armed. Have an air marshal if you insist, but let the pilots be armed, and the attendants too, if they want.

Posted by: Fuze at August 4, 2002 2:21 PM


Keep your eyebrows on.

A 'noble lie' was my pompous way of saying it is pc flattery to claim effete poofy guys are not obviously gay. You are right, there is nothing noble in lying - but heck, people do it all the time and sometimes they do it to be nice.

>Homophobia is a code word for "you don't approve of my lifestyle, so you must be sick"
Tony cussed the guy for being a big girly poof. Jamey, or whatever his name is, didn't have his lifestyle on display. He was a camp, obviously gay guy doing his job (badly, I know). If 'Jamey' had been screwing a guy over the counter I would defend Tony's right to shoot Jamey.

>I am not responsible for making sure that I never offend someone.
Sure, go ahead and offend who you like. It's a free world. Sneer at every gay guy you meet. I was trying to say homophobia is an emotional response, based on fear and disgust; itís a phobia and not a form of ignorance. What the heck is wrong with being an effete man? Tobyís reaction to this guy was phobic. No big deal.

>gay men are obviously sissies and vice-versa
I never said that. Sissies, camp queens, trolley dollies are nearly always gay men. Tony knew this guy was gay. Gay men are not always sissies but the differences between gay men and straight men are obvious to gay men (and yes I would know). Itís disingenuous (hey, thatís another pompous word) to claim gay men are impossible to tell apart from straight men. Itís nice. Itís flattering. But itís like saying Islam is a religion of peace. :)

Posted by: Joe Stocker at August 4, 2002 3:24 PM

the revolt part of post was stirring. tony sounded like he handled himself in a very logical, adult, but forceful fashion. good for him. airport drones (and others) turn their minds off to do their mindless jobs, i suppose it's a defense mechanism. tony had every right to confront that mindlessness, and manipulate circumstance to achieve his objective; he did it politely and without harming others. kudos.

that said, i do take exception to the "girly man" remarks, though i admit i have been guilty of such remarks myself. "he acted like a girl." in what way, tony never mentioned. he mentioned poofy hair, an effeteness, and a self-pitying remark made when tony thought a tony-pitying remark should have been made.

homophobia, i don't know. pc, i don't know. taking one's anger out on another, with lurid adjectives that didn't really describe the man's offending actions, however, indicate condensending perceptions that we all know are not christian in their basis. i would have agreed with tony if he made rude remarks about the guard that wouldn't let him go ahead of the others to catch his flight at the metal detector station. but upon rereading the original post, i saw no offensive or stupid acitons on the part of the poofy-haired man, other than saying "i have to put up with this every day," and acting like a girl. i don't see why acting like a girl enables tony to take out his wrath (even if it's here, in cyberspace, with disdainful and arrogant adjectives).

anger is one thing. bigotry is another.

Posted by: skippy at August 4, 2002 4:23 PM


You are right. Homophobia originates not out of fear or anxiety Ė as true phobias do Ė but from feelings of disgust. But we are stuck with the word homophobia. But it is not a phobia. It's not like running from spiders. There is no such word as "phobic".

Tony doesn't like effete men. His reaction to poofy hairdressers isn't rational but it isn't homophobic. Gay men are all as butch as female Bulgarian shotputters.

Posted by: Joe Stocker at August 4, 2002 4:41 PM

Yeah, and that big-nosed, money-grubbing guy named Solomon, who just tried to overcharge me for my dress, I had no idea he was Jewish. How can you possibly be calling me an anti-semite?

Posted by: AXBrocklehurst at August 4, 2002 7:14 PM

A favorite quote I have from President Regan is that the 11 most feared words in the English language are "I am from the Government and I am here to help you." That was my reaction after the Government promised to beef up security at airports. Unfortunately, there are going to be lines at airports now, just like are going to Post Office, Department of Motor Vehicles or motor vehicles. Plus, don't overlook the additional $7 per ticket tax you pay for this new service. Tsk, tsk.

Jim Petersen

Posted by: Jim Petersen at August 4, 2002 7:17 PM

Anyone who equates "girly boy" with gay obviously hasn't spent any time in San Francisco. A goodly number of gays look like they could rassle a grizzly bear while bench pressing a Cadillac.

Posted by: Ken Summers at August 4, 2002 8:21 PM

To paraphrase the late Dean Martin: "Everybody offends somebody some time." The effete security guy offended Tony. Tony's comments on his effete manners offended other people. Their accusations of homophobia offend me.

Round and round and round we go.

Certain people take such pride in being offended at so many things that people with, like, SKINS can shrug off without a second thought, that an increasing number of skin-wearing people find it more effective to offend them deliberately until their heads explode, than to try to educate them that they're driving themselves and everyone else crazy with their "I have an absolute right not to be offended" crap, and really ought to stop.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at August 4, 2002 8:22 PM

Well said, addison, Ken and Kevin. I have a question, tho'. Why is it "pompous" to use proper English? Maybe I should be offended, since you are obviously calling me "pompous", and I prefer the more down-to-earth label "educated" ;)

Posted by: Kat at August 4, 2002 10:03 PM

I think I haven't been clear enough in my description of the ticket counter clerk, nor did I give enough detail about our interaction with him. First, he did not strike me as gay. He had a wedding ring, in fact (I know, this isn't a solid indicator of heterosexual status). He behaved like a thirteen year-old girl -- pouting because the line was so long and people were grumpy, complaining to his co-workers when customers failed to follow his confusing directions (he would alternately call people on the earliest flight up, then complain if they got too jumbled near his counter, yet he made no effort to group them in a separate line).

I took a dislike to him because he was rude to my wife. Had he been just some guy on the street, I would have dropped him. My wife went to the counter to see if people on the earliest flight were being called to the front, and he told her they were. So, we pulled all our stuff out of line and went up to the front. Then he barked at my wife for moving to the front of the line. Apparently what he intended was for people on the early flight to wait in line until he called for them, at which point they were supposed to raise their hands, so he could call forward the person closest to the front. She had interpreted his words to mean that we were all supposed to come to the front. She tried to explain this to him, and he cut her off, lectured her about how lines work, and then told us to wait to the side.

This was the cause of my animus toward him. The fact that he acted like a teenage girl in desperate need of a slap was the source of my "girly" comment. I should have explained all of this in the original post, but to me the interesting part was what happened with the security guard. Next time I'll be more clear.

Wonderful discussion, by the way. It's delightful to be surrounded by so many politically incorrect folks. Can you imagine what this discussion would be like if we were all in a graduate seminar together?

Oh, that's right -- we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Posted by: Tony at August 4, 2002 10:31 PM

Sorry Kat. I made a comment on what I thought was my own pompous choice of words. Looking back, I see I unconsciously picked up 'disingenuous' from your text. It wasn't a deliberate taunt.

Posted by: Joe Stocker at August 5, 2002 5:06 AM

fabulous discussions here, on two widely variant topics (effete=gay? and airport security=incompetent). I think Tony made his point well about why 45 minutes should have been more than enough time to make his flight, had the security drones actually been actively making an attempt to do their jobs intelligently (not that that's ever going to happen), but no one has mentioned the other poor saps who were standing there in line in front of him who would have missed the flight also. How long had they been there? An hour? Hour and a half? And they still would have missed it had Tony not 'taken charge'

I have to also toss a bouquet of admiration for what he did. I hope others will follow his example, until *maybe* those in charge of airport 'security' Get It.

As for whether not particularly caring to deal with effete men makes you 'homophobic', does the fact that I don't particularly care for morbidly obese women make me 'hippophobic'? If I don't like bikers, does that make me 'harleyphobic'? This 'phobia' name-calling is just a snarky little way of taking a jab at someone with different values using what we referred to as 'name-calling' on the old playground. It's a cheap shot, and extremely weak to boot.

Posted by: wylie in norman at August 5, 2002 11:47 AM

Joe, no blood, no foul. I had hoped the wink at the end would let you know that there were no hard feelings. It's just that stereotypes are a pet peeve of mine. I've known gay men that I never would have guessed, they had to tell me, and I've known very sweet men who seemed a bit "feminine" and were totally straight.
I had originally intended to relate a story of an experience I had on my very first time flying about 19 years ago. I was in Canada when Flight 103(?) was blown up over Scotland, and not knowing airport protocol at all, I asked the people at the desk how I would make my flight in time when there were 200 people in line and 1 metal detector. They told me to walk along the line, ask if anyone else towards the front was on my flight, and ask if I could join them. A very nice couple let me in behind them, I made my plane no problem, and got home safely. It worked 19 years ago, and if I found myself in the same situation I'd do the same thing today.

Posted by: Kat at August 5, 2002 6:21 PM

Amazing! You write a long piece about your experience at the Wichita airport and in the process make a single sarcastic remark about how one guy looks. As a result, half your respondents want to turn your site into a forum on what a queer looks like. If they weren't writing about men who sodomize one another, I would have to characterize their responses as "puritanical" (not to mention humorless, pedantic, and tiresome).

Tony, don't start kowtowing to this anal-retentive (pun intended) segment of your audience.

Posted by: jim at August 6, 2002 12:57 AM

You should get the bill of rights printed on metal for your next flying expedition!


Posted by: mister johnson at August 22, 2002 11:05 AM