Can Camille Paglia Just Shut Up Now?

There was a time in my much younger days when I found Camille Paglia interesting, but the feeling has long since been buried by a thousand furled brows and mutterings of “WTF is she talking about?” Her appearance on Laura Ingraham’s radio show to talk about this Duck Dynasty crap is a perfect example. First, she declares herself the definitive voice on this:

“I speak with authority here, because I was openly gay before the ‘Stonewall rebellion,’ when it cost you something to be so. And I personally feel as a libertarian that people have the right to free thought and free speech,” Paglia, a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Thursday.

“I’m gay, so I can say something egregiously stupid.” No, it doesn’t work that way. I think people have the right to free thought and free speech too, but that has precisely nothing to do with this situation. How does someone get to be a Serious Intellectual without understanding the difference between government action and private action? And no, being gay does not give you any “authority” when you say stupid shit like this, any more than Erik Rush being black makes it okay for him to spout bullshit.

“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades,” Paglia said. “This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.”

I agree with her on college speech codes, but what does that have to do with this situation? Public universities are bound by the First Amendment; media corporations are not. And seriously, fascist AND Stalinist? Didn’t you forget “terrorist” and “Marxist” in that tired, moronic screed?

"You have to be really dumb to consider climatology, glaciology, astronomy, ecology, biology, palaeontology, botany, ..."

Christian Con Man Disproves Global Warming
"No one asked your boner, cupcake."

Fox News Tries to Explain Away ..."
"Lemme guess -- you're an engineer."

Christian Con Man Disproves Global Warming
"Bacterial enzymatic decomposition also produces heated outhouses."

Christian Con Man Disproves Global Warming

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John Pieret

    If A&E ran … oh, I don’t know, say a Cracker Barrel Restaurant as a place of public accomodation … its attempt to penalize Phil the pill might be unlawful. But it doesn’t. Phil has no right to be on an A&E show anymore than I do and neither of us are deprived of services usually provided to the rest of the public.

    utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist

    I’ll take Academic Bullshit for $1,000, Alex!

  • hunter

    Paglia was a has-been before she ever got started. I had my WTF? moment with her long, long ago, when I finally read something she had written and realized is was pure gibberish.

    And no, I don’t know how someone like her manages to garner a reputation as “serious.”

  • zenlike

    The title of the linked piece perfectly summarises my thoughts on that first quote:


    • hunter

      If you have to say you speak with authority, you don’t.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    How does one furl one’s brow?

  • And no, I don’t know how someone like her manages to garner a reputation as “serious.”

    I blame Derrida. For lots of things. But mostly, for a flood of opaque pseudo-intellectuals who deliberately confuse their listeners into mistaking obscurity for insight. His inheritors are people like Paglia and Kurtzweil.

    I suppose we could blame Hegel for Derrida, for that matter.

  • pacal

    Paglia has been shrieking about political Correctness for 20+ years, joining in the 100 decibel level, frothing at the mouth hysteria that so many so-called “Conservatives” have been writhing about in.

    She also specialized in attacks against Feminism. Amusingly at the same time she shrieked about how “intolerant” and P.C. the Feminists were she, Paglia screamed about how we must “smash” Women Studies in the university and how P.C. “Fascism” must be suppressed.

  • marcus



  • caseloweraz

    Pierce R. Butler: How does one furl one’s brow?

    Good catch.

  • iangould

    Camille knows where of she speaks, 99% of the mainstream media have been denying her her freedom of speech for the past decade or two by completely ignoring her.

  • cry4turtles

    Corporations acting like people. Who’d thunk it???

  • I heard Camille Paglia got her start by saying a few sensible things in defense of sex-positive feminism, and against certain right-wing anti-porn feminists. Since then, however, she’s moved on to saying incoherent pretentious stupid bullshit about other things of which she’s far less informed, just to keep some attention focused on herself. I’m starting to wonder whether she’s died and been replaced by a random sentence generator.

    Another part of her schtick is pretending to be the last remaining voice of pure ancient Hellenic culture and philosophy, talking down to everyone else from that (Doric or Corinthian?) pedestal and pretending to be the Supreme Out-Of-Box Contrarian, bravely resisting the tyranny of Political Correctness and acceptance of objective reality. And sometimes this long-out-and-proud lesbian takes to lecturing gay men about the unnaturalness of their desires. I kid you not.

    She also calls watching a football game her “Pagan Ritual,” probably to make herself feel more butch than us REAL Pagans. (There’s lots of wierd and downright silly Pagan traditions, to be sure, but I’ve never heard of one that involves football.)

    Molly Ivins had at least one good takedown of Paglia’s bullshit. I’d look for a cite, but I’d rather not ruin my Christmasaturnamithrakwanzannakayulestice spirit by reminding myself that Molly Ivins is dead and Paglia (or the Pagliabot) is still alive.

  • Crudely Wrott

    Twenty five or probably more years ago I bought a book of hers that was widely promoted. That I don’t even recall the title implies its impact.

    What I do recall is that, after reading it quite carefully, some parts repeatedly, I did not feel any more informed than before I placed the order and cut the check.

    It languished thereafter on a bookshelf that I no longer have. Pity for anyone who found it and tried to read it.

  • John Pieret


    Is this the Molly Ivins piece you were thinking of? (I’m wasting time at work so I have no Christmasaturnamithrakwanzannakayulestice spirit at the moment):

    There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, “Poor dear, it’s probably PMS.” Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, “What an asshole.” Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia: Sheesh, what an asshole.

  • raven

    AFAICT, Paglia is the Eric Rush or Phylis Schlafly of women.

    Most of the time she is just incoherent. The rest of the time she is getting paid to put down women as an anti-woman woman.

    Time had an essay of hers this week. I read a few paragraphs and said, WTH? Read them again. Said WTH? It seems to be one gigantic poorly made strawperson that she haphazardly torched and the fire went out.

  • Pierce @5:

    I can only surmise that a sharp object and a strong constitution are involved.