I want to tell you what a politically neutral, entirely non-homophobic rant looks like on Twitter.
For the purposes of this exercise, please imagine your name isn't Tony Stark, but George Stark.
"I'm gonna find you, George Stark, you toxic little queen, and I'm gonna f*** ... you ... up."
Wait, I'm not finished.
"If [sic, probably wanted to say 'I'd'] put my foot up your f***ing a**, George Stark, but I'm sure you'd dig it too much."
Should you have been too busy celebrating, say, the Supreme Court's finely nuanced judgment on the indefensible nature of the Defense of Marriage Act, you might not have been aware that these tweets were really sent by actor Alec Baldwin to a Daily Mail reporter named George Stark.
Stark had accused Baldwin's wife of tweeting merrily during James Gandolfini's funeral. The Mail blames a Twitter time-stamp misunderstanding. It admits the article was wrong.
However, Baldwin chose to use Twitter to publicly attack Stark and, to many eyes, assault his alleged sexuality. (He has since closed his account, not for the first time.)
Oddly, Hollywood, as well as much of the media, has been starkly silent.
Even more oddly, Baldwin claims that no, no, there was nothing at all homophobic about his Twittering.
He issued a statement that read, in part: "My ill-advised attack on George Stark of the Daily Mail had absolutely nothing to do with issues of anyone's sexual orientation."
Baldwin could (and still, presumably, might) sue Stark and the Daily Mail for their admitted false accusations. But he went to Twitter first.
Increasingly, Twitter has become the public court in which cases are tried and personal judgments are made and fully expressed.
Had Baldwin been Mel Gibson, Jim Caviezel, John McCain, Bill O'Reilly or even Paula Deen, tweeted vilification would have flowed. Pressure would have been exerted.
Prominent gay journalist Anderson Cooper, for one, has begun to wonder why it is that Baldwin seems to be excused. Andrew Sullivan has too.
More Technically Incorrect
However, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation offered an interesting excuse: "Alec Baldwin is making it clear (to GLAAD) that the intent behind his tweets does not excuse his language, especially at a time when there were 11 incidents of violence against gay men in New York City just last month. As we all work to end such senseless acts of violence, allies like Baldwin are right to use these moments to reinforce support for the community and LGBT equality."
Baldwin has used Twitter before to express his displeasure at whatever happened to be displeasing him at the time -- American Airlines, for example."
Yet GLAAD seems entirely happy that he explained he is on its side. He must have merely been having just another temporary anger aberration.
The conclusion has to be that anyone can say anything they like about anyone else on Twitter, as long as -- afterward -- they affirm their own socio-political orientation.
It's almost as if the speech itself is redundant. We who read know what they really mean, don't we?
In freedom, there isn't only freedom of speech, there's also freedom of interpretation.
Many might interpret (even on Twitter) that Baldwin speaks with an entirely forked-up tongue.