As far as apologies go, it sucks. But for cranky suburban columnist Dick Yarbrough, it will have to suffice. Thank goodness his wife appears to have more sense, or sensitivity, than he does.
Yarbrough went with the “I have a gay friend” tack when he responded to critics who took offense to a recent column. You know that line – I can’t be anti-gay; my gay friends tell me so. Critics were bothered that Yarbrough compared gays to people who cruise the state in hoop skirts and offered offense to the notion that the accomplishments of gay Georgians actually be taught to students learning the history of their state.
So the gays went all old school in return – firing off letters to the editor complaining about Yarbrough’s column, which appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal and its sister newspapers in the Neighbor Newspapers chain.
In his July 27 column, Yarbrough said that he’s kinda sorta sorry if anyone was offended by his offensive stereotypes.
There is a fallacious, salacious and slightly audacious rumor afloat that I can be a tad politically-incorrect at times. Moi? Knock me over with a (organically-grown) goose feather. I’ll have you know that some of my best friends are (fill in the blank) and (fill in the blank), not to mention (fill in the blank.) On rare occasions, I have even been seen in public with (fill in the blank.)
Where this tale may have gotten started was when I took a swipe recently at the Socialist Republic of California and even my own beloved State of Georgia (who says I’m not fair?) over their approach to education – assuming either state has an approach to education. Some gay supporters in Atlanta thought I was picking on them and let me know they were displeased. One even called me an “old fool.”
Of course, he then pivots and plays the victim by asserting that his religious friends are now criticizing him. Why? He doesn’t really spell that out.
Truth in advertising requires me to say that I got more mail from readers – including gays – who thought the column was a hoot than I did from fussbudgets, proving that a sense of humor knows no race, creed, color or sexual orientation. If it is any solace to my gay friends, the Bible thumpers are on my case now and they have a near-monopoly on humor-impairment, but don’t give up.
Then Yarbrough offers another insult – this time not aimed at the gays of Atlanta, but the city itself. Really? It’s difficult to figure out if Yarbrough is impetuous or just doing a poor job at translating his dated humor to print. Either way, it’s irksome.
Fortunately, Yarbrough’s wife steps in and warns him to be kinder and gentler. So Yarbrough says he’ll take up the call for more politically correct verbiage, yet then goes on a mission for the remainder of the column attempting to find a suitable population to target his humor built on stereotypes. Of course, there’s him playing the victim again – wondering if it’d be OK to pick on Fox News, Sarah Palin and old white men instead of the gays.
No, not really. And you probably want to avoid calling Michele Bachmann a hateful bitch. But if you’re picking up those weekly Neighbor Newspapers, should you expect something more than a cranky old white guy still stuck using his outdated stereotypes as humor?
But hey, at least he’s stopped calling for attack dogs to chase gay men out of Marietta parks.