Sorry Jon Stewart, The South Isn’t As Gay Tolerant As You Think

south-flagThe other night, ‘The Daily Show’ featured a rather silly video in which they sent a fake gay couple to Alabama and Mississippi in a skit about Nate Silver’s prediction that those two states would be the last to legalize gay marriage. While it was an amusing skit designed to get some laughs (and Nate Silver seemed to be in on the joke as well), we shouldn’t take this as proof that the residents of two of the most conservative states in the United States are going to sign off on marriage equality any time soon.

Go ahead, watch the video. In it, almost everyone seems to be either supportive or completely indifferent to the fact that the couple in front of them isn’t heterosexual. If you were to take it and/or the three paragraph “article” by The Huffington Post seriously, you’d come away with the idea that the South is surprisingly tolerant and just waiting to extend equality to all via the ballot box.

Let’s make one thing clear — indifference (grudgingly or otherwise) does not equal acceptance or support. There are many people here in Louisiana and throughout the country who think the whole LGBT thing is unnatural and even sinful, but they’ll mind their own business for the most part. There are others who aren’t open to taking a “Walk On The Wild Side” or having a gay pride flag flown on a city-owned flag pole, but they aren’t actively trying to shut down gay nightclubs or businesses, either.

Attitudes towards individuals they actually know or identify with (in this case, two stereotypical rednecks who just happen to be holding hands) are also different than their attitudes towards the LGBT demographic as a whole. If ‘The Daily Show’ had used a flamboyantly gay couple that looked like their wardrobe came from Banana Republic instead of last summer’s clearance aisle at Bass Pro Shops, I’d wager a guess that some of the responses (especially without a camera present) would have been quite a bit different.

As for the marriage proposal in a Waffle House, as someone who has worked in one and eats there on a regular basis, a gay marriage proposal ranks very low on the scale of unusual things to happen while you’re hungover and waiting for your order of hashbrowns scattered, covered, chunked with scrambled eggs and toast. No, we’re not all backasswards homophobic rednecks down here in the Deep South — there are some very open-minded and liberal people here. But let’s not pretend just one comedy clip proves indifference equals support, which translates to marriage equality propositions on the ballots in the near future.

Nate Silver is right, and without a landmark Supreme Court case or the ruling of a very brave judge, gay marriage will not be legal in Louisiana, Alabama or Mississippi any time soon.

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  • Ser

    The whole gig started with both states not going to legislate marriage equality any time soon, if ever, and mentioned some of the laws they have.

    TDS went for the joke ‘which state is the worst about this’, but when they tried to come to an ultimate conclusion through the fake gay couple in the streets, it showed people not all that shocked or hostile and so they went with that. I thought it led to a funny look at the difference between ‘on the streets’ and what the politicians do. Or maybe that was what they were aiming for all along.

    It would have been stronger if at the end they had referred back to that difference and to the actions of the legislative power. And Silverman’s ‘even in these states 30% support gay marriage’ statement got a bit buried (I don’t think 30% is all that much and that could have been pointed out). But ultimately they go for the comedy first, so having them end with the b*tt-joke instead is to be expected I guess. And it’s actually their job.

  • Really Now

    Again, we’re taking Jon Stewart to task for a comedy show instead of real news shows. How are our expectations so high of this show?

    • Matthew Reece

      That expectations are so high for Jon Stewart tells you all you need to know about the establishment media. Whether it is MSNBC, CNN, Fox, or something else, people are waking up to the fact that it is all propaganda.

  • Dontbeajerk

    Wait, so let me get this straight: The Daily Show’s skits are not factually accurate, and are, in fact, nothing more than skits?

  • Joe_B_112

    While I understand the point the author may be trying to make here….IT’S THE DAILY SHOW!! Does this guy think every time Aasif Mandvi is shown outside the Kremlin or The White House in an interview that he is ACTUALLY outside those places? Journalistic integrity is hardly a concern on a show that states OPENLY that they are a comedy show first. Really?

  • iheartmytho

    I think if they had gone to a more rural area of the South, the response would have been much different. So rural that there isn’t a Waffle House. I live in the South too and I know many Southerners who are OK with LGBTQ people. Some are even good friends with them. But despite this, they still can’t get behind the idea of gay marriage. Most of the people I know like this are very religious and believe in the biblical ideas of marriage (but oddly are never in favor of polygamy).

    • Matthew Reece

      Don’t forget the Levirate marriage, the male rapist and his victim, or the male soldier and female prisoner of war.

  • Denis Antoine

    I found Stewart’s clip at least showing the “glass half full” view of the matter. Fact is, nowhere, never, will there be the kind of bosom-hugging acceptance being requested by Mr Schewitz. As a gay man living in the south myself, I’ll take indifference over all-out hostility any day of the week!

  • MJMazzarone

    As if FOX news is any more credible for news then the Daily Show.

  • Passerby

    omfg people taking a parody show seriously
    i love it
    its like people thinking Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert aren’t comedians

  • Artos

    who cares its a satire comedy show, i dont expect them to actually do real reporting