Bonfire of Inanities

Girolamo Savonarola

Girolamo Savonarola

I got my first hate mail. Well, not actually mail and not my first, but I’ll explain that later. My first hate comment since I began writing this blog on LGBTQ topics in January was short and to the point: “Dirty fag.” I can’t say I was surprised, except perhaps that it took so long. (In seven months I’ve had over 3100 views by visitors from 67 countries.) One friend even noted it was a sign that I’m “reaching the right audience, and not preaching to the converted.”  True enough, and an apt metaphor.

The cowardly act of schoolyard name-calling was hidden behind a curious Twitter handle: Girolamo Savonarola. In case you’re not up on Italian Renaissance history, Savonarola was a 15th century Dominican friar who castigated the rich and powerful in Florence with fiery apocalyptic sermons. His reform campaigns included the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities, in which objects deemed “occasions of sin” were burned – masks and carnival gowns; playing cards and musical instruments; “immoral” books by Ovid and Boccaccio; paintings by Botticelli.

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Munchkingate: Political Ding-Dong!

Wicked Witch of the EastFor many years I co-hosted a local Amsterdam LGBT radio show called Alien. We broadcast live for two hours every Sunday evening. On April 3rd 2005 we canned our usual extraterrestrial opening jingle. Without warning or explanation of any kind, we simply began with the entire Munchkinland sequence from the film soundtrack of The Wizard of Oz, including the two rousing choruses of Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead. The message was clear: Pope John-Paul II had died the day before.

Disrespectful? Yes. That was the point.

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