Camille Paglia Unleashed

January 15th, 2009

It’s not exactly accurate to refer to Camille Paglia as “unleashed” because she’s never been on a leash.  She’s an intellectual, a professor, an author, a liberal, a feminist, an atheist, a Democrat, and a supporter of Barack Obama.  Yet she respects conservatives, even to the point of listening to and enjoying Rush Limbaugh; she’s critical of doctrinaire feminists; she’s doubtful about global warming; she strongly opposes the liberal tendency to suppress speech they disapprove of; she respects religion even though she doesn’t have religious faith; and she challenges gay activists on closely-held beliefs.  To say that she’s controversial is a gross understatement.  She is what an intellectual should be–an intelligent, educated person who has the courage and strength of mind to breach all boundaries of orthodoxy.  We could use more thinkers like her.

Paglia writes a column at Salon.com once a month.  Every third column is devoted to responses to communications from readers, resulting in a delightful variety of opinions on a wide range of subjects.  Gems from her January 14, 2008 column:

On Obama and the Blagojevich scandal:

…Obama’s future chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, the arrogant Chicago scrapper who was reportedly a conduit to the governor, already seems like an albatross who should be thrown overboard as soon as possible. Nobody wants a dawning presidency addicted so soon to stonewalling, casuistry and the Nixonian dark arts of the modified limited hangout.

On the relationship between the legislative and executive branches:

Surely both parties should be rooting for Congress to dig in its heels and assert its constitutional authority vis-à-vis the White House. The U.S. was meant to have a vigorous tripartite government, which has been weakened by the post-Nixon slide toward an ad hoc imperial presidency. The legislative branch shouldn’t roll over and play dead like a cutesy pound puppy.

On the other hand, …Congress has come across lately like a clumsy, flea-bitten bunch of “bozos.” Its poll ratings are lower than stinking swamp mud. I have a soft spot for the nimble Nancy Pelosi, a master of the ladylike stiletto thrust, but Harry Reid is a cadaverous horse’s ass of mammoth proportions. How in the world did that whiny, sniveling incompetent end up as Senate majority leader? Give him the hook!

On Sarah Palin and Katie Couric:

As I have repeatedly said in this column, I have never had the slightest problem in understanding Sarah Palin’s meaning at any time. On the contrary, I have positively enjoyed her fresh, natural, rapid delivery with its syncopated stops and slides–a fabulous example of which was the way (in her recent interview with John Ziegler) that she used a soft, swooping satiric undertone to zing Katie Couric’s dippy narcissism and to assert her own outrage as a “mama grizzly” at libels against her family.

And let me take this opportunity to say that of all the innumerable print and broadcast journalists who have interviewed me in the U.S. and abroad since I arrived on the scene nearly 20 years ago, Katie Couric was definitively the stupidest. As a guest on NBC’s “Today” show during my 1992 book tour, I was astounded by Couric’s small, humorless, agenda-ridden mind, still registered in that pinched, tinny monotone that makes me rush across the room to change stations whenever her banal mini-editorials blare out at 5 p.m. on the CBS radio network. And of course I would never spoil my dinner by tuning into Couric’s TV evening news show. That sallow, wizened, drum-tight, cosmetic mummification look is not an appetite enhancer outside of Manhattan or L.A. There’s many a moose in Alaska with greater charm and pizazz.

On the Fairness Doctrine:

If there’s anything that demonstrates the straying of the Democratic Party leadership from basic liberal principles, it’s this blasted Fairness Doctrine–which should be fiercely opposed by all defenders of free speech. Except when national security is at risk, government should never be involved in the surveillance of speech or in measuring the ideological content of books, movies or radio and TV programs.

On global warming:

…I have been highly skeptical about the claims for global warming because of their overreliance on speculative computer modeling and because of the woeful patchiness of records for world temperatures before the 20th century. …the global warming crusade has become a hallucinatory cult. Until I see stronger evidence, I will continue to believe that climate change is primarily driven by solar phenomena and that it is normal for the earth to pass through major cooling and warming phases.

On the question of whether homosexuality is a result of nature, nurture, or choice:

After the American Psychiatric Association, responding to activist pressure, removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973, psychological inquiries into homosexuality slowly became verboten. To even ask about the origins of homosexuality was automatically dubbed homophobic by gay studies proponents in the ’80s and ’90s. Weirdly, despite the rigid social constructionist bias that permeated the entire left, gay activists in and out of academe now leapt on the slightest evidence that could suggest a biological cause of homosexuality.

I myself believe (as I argued in “No Law in the Arena” in “Vamps & Tramps”) that everyone is born with a potential for bisexual responsiveness and that exclusive homosexuality is an adaptation to specific social conditions.

On higher education:

The American system of higher education has become an insane assembly line–bankrupting families to process hapless students through an incoherent, haphazard and mediocre liberal arts curriculum.

If you aren’t already reading Camille Paglia’s columns, you should start.  It’s well worth your time.


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One Response to “Camille Paglia Unleashed”



  1. cube |

    Paglia is one of my favorite liberals.


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