The SMU Prof and The F-Word

There's been an interesting drama developing in the pages of SMU's The Daily Campus this week involving the university's Spanish lecturer George Henson. It began when the student paper reported that Henson showed up to work Monday to find that someone had scrawled the word "FAGGOT" across his office door in McFarlin Auditorium. More specifically, the word was written across the rainbow-colored ALLIES sticker on Henson's door--ALLIES being an on-campus organization "formed by faculty, staff, and students with the intention of providing visible, tangible support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning members of the SMU community," according to its Web site.

The openly gay Henson told the Campus, to which he contributes, that he believed the graffiti was the result of a piece he wrote on March 24, in which he discussed a proposed bill that would push the national debt limit to $9 trillion. "Bush and Republican congressmen are acting like crack addicts who found someone else's debit card with the pin number written on the back," Henson wrote. Seems harmless enough. But the professor's a regular Bush-basher, and he figures that maybe he pushed someone a little too far this time. As he told the Campus in Tuesday's paper:

"If this was the work of a Bush supporter who was upset by my criticism of the Bush administration. It doesn't surprise me that this would be their response. This is a perfect example of the tactics that Bush and his supporters have always used against their critics."

On Wednesday, Henson sorta, kinda, not really backed down from that damning generalization in a column titled "Bush administration's homophobia." In his wide-ranging piece on the subject, which veered from his own experience to Karl Rove's "smear" tactics to Republican National Committee head Ken Mehlman's sexual preferences, he wrote:

"Admittedly, it is unfair to lump all Bush supporters together in the same barrel of fish. Not all Bush supporters are homophobes and vandals. Only some are. The fish, as they say, does rot from the head down."

Then yesterday, the Campus' editorial board published a column damning the act as a hate crime. It had one of the worst leads ever--"Intolerance is one of those things that Ed Board finds...well, intolerable"--and didn't even mention Henson till the second paragraph, but nice to see the kids making an effort at enlightenment.

Maybe. In today's Campus, Todd Baty, a sophomore studying history and music, writes that he's appalled--appalled--that Henson "would even speculate as to the political orientation of the perpetrator." But here's the best part:

"For all we know, Mr. Henson could have written 'faggot' on his own door to gain publicity for his statements."

And the circle is complete. --Robert Wilonsky

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