Letter: Yale’s alums are great comedians

I can’t really disagree with Matthew Ellison’s column in yesterday’s News criticizing the negative epistolary aftermath of the Yale Alumni Magazine’s startling report that there are homosexuals among us (“Old-fashioned bigotry,” Sept. 17). But I do have one complaint: Why the dour tone? Any survivor of English 120 will clearly recognize that these letters are the stuff of great satire. They’re even funnier than “Barack the Magic Negro.”

Let us all pause, for a second, and relish genius.

The octogenarian satirist Donald Conklin ’45, seconded by others of our elders, writes that “one day the straight students may become a minority [at Yale],” scared away from one of the world’s most coveted educations, it is implied, by the terror of same-sex hand holding. Think of the pain this must cause an Eli of that age who has witnessed with woe the steady usurpation of Yale’s white straight male Christian majority by The Others; it’s as if the admissions office eliminated the Jewish quotas all over again.

The younger comedian Stephen Schmalhofer ’08, in a poetic cipher I will charitably call Miltonian, will keep the scholars busy for centuries with his references to Yale’s troubled gay future and a Classical-sounding “plinth of Personal Identity.” The humor is subtle, but it’s there. It’s funny, you see, because plinths were common in Ancient Greece, and Greeks were immoral homosexuals. And that’s why the barbarians sacked Rome. Or something like that.

Of all of these men (yes, exclusively men), Paul Loomis ’60 deserves the Pulitzer for his wit. He is unapologetic. Being manly, he certainly doesn’t fear the pansy queers. His feelings are closer to “[d]isgust or repulsion … involving something deep and visceral,” he writes. For anyone skilled with the find-and-replace function on a word processor, this manifesto is versatile: Just replace the word “gays” with other short nouns like “negroes” or “Jews,” make some minor cosmetic changes, and voila — you have fanatical invective for any occasion.

Thank God we have alumni with a sense of humor.

Tyler Hill

Atlanta

Sept. 17

The writer is a 2009 graduate of Pierson College and a former news editor for the News.

Comments