Caitlyn Jenner was speaking at the College Republican Federation Of Virginia gala on Friday when someone asked her about the shooting of representative Steve Scalise.
Scalise was shot last Wednesday by a man who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary last year. The shooter, James Hodgkinson, expressed fervent hatred of Republicans, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton on his social media accounts.
Jenner started by saying that “nobody deserves” that kind of violence, but decided to make light of the situation. “Fortunately the guy was a really bad shot… liberals can’t even shoot straight,” Jenner said, receiving raucous laughter and applause from the room.
[Ed.: The video was posted to the College Republican Federation Of Virginia’s Facebook page. It looks like they have taken it down. We have replaced it with a video of the moment posted on YouTube.]
Perhaps she wanted to seem like a “cool” LGBT person who can join a room full of Republicans in gay jokes. I’d imagine that speaking in front of a group of people who organize in part to limit your rights would create a weird psychological dynamic.
Maybe the decades-old jokes about how liberal men aren’t really masculine (conservatives aren’t big on the distinction between sexuality and gender) are just such a part of her politics that she doesn’t even notice them anymore. It’s like when Ann Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot” even though no one thought he was actually gay: her point was that liberal men aren’t real men, haw haw haw.
Or maybe Jenner hasn’t gotten over the homophobia she talked about with Ellen two years ago.
Who knows. It’s never an appropriate time to make jokes where gay people are the punchline, but doing it when talking about a tragedy just feels even more inappropriate.
Update: I’m noticing that there’s disagreement about whether this was a gay joke, which to me is pretty obvious. So I’ll parse it.
If she had said “liberals can’t shoot straight,” then the joke would be ambiguous. She’d be saying that liberals can’t shoot correctly – “straight” – and maybe making gay joke, maybe just making fun of liberals’ lack of skill in shooting guns.
The word “even,” though, means that liberals can’t do anything “straight,” because liberals spend a lot of time doing things in a not-straight way. It’s a double entendre, and a really stale one at that.
Also, everyone laughed. Just saying “Liberals are not good at shooting guns” isn’t a joke. There was a double meaning and everyone in the room got it.
Now I hope that by explaining the joke in detail that I totally ruined it, because it was a terrible joke in the first place.