Huckabee Attempts To Explain The "Ick Factor"

June 28, 2010 10:43 am ET — Alan Pyke

In an appearance on Fox News this Sunday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tried to wriggle out of another insulting comment about the gay rights movement. This time, Huckabee justified his opposition to equal citizenship for LGBT Americans in part because of the "ick factor" inherent in homosexuality. Non-traditional couples don't deserve the same rights, Huckabee told the New Yorker, because "Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn't work the same."

Sunday, Huckabee tried to squirm out of that thinly-veiled bigotry by arguing that "That phrase was not mine, it actually is a phrase that exists within the gay community. But somehow it's okay if they talk about it, but if someone else talks about it, it's off bounds."


HUCKABEE: Well, that term actually comes from a gay magazine called The Edge in which, uh, the author Joseph Erbentraut interviewed professor Martha Nussbaum from, uh, one of Barack Obama's colleagues, University of Chicago, uh, she uses a term "projected disgust." He in the interview coined this phrase, it's in the article that he wrote in the interview with her. That phrase was not mine, it actually is a phrase that exists within, uh, the gay community. Uh, but somehow it's okay if they talk about it, but if someone else talks about it, uh, it's, it's off bounds. And it's interesting, the American Spectator, I thought uh, Joseph Lawler this week did a wonderful analysis of the hypocrisy and the duplicity of those want to on one hand, uh, push this issue, but then they really don't want their own discussion to be brought into the public square. It's, it's a little bit disingenuous on their part to make it. It's not the big issue for me.

Or to paraphrase: "Well Chris, let's talk about how I didn't invent this phrase, because I'm desperate to avoid talking about what I actually said."

That's a clever dodge, but Huckabee is the one being disingenuous. He cites the American Spectator to shift the conversation into the origins of the phrase "ick factor," but those origins are hardly relevant. Professor Nussbaum's concept of "projected disgust" and The Edge's catchier phrase refer to an indefensible reason for stripping gays of their rights.

What Mike Huckabee told the New Yorker — and what Huckabee will not deny — is that he opposes equality for gays because he thinks their sexual behavior is gross and unnatural.

No one is angry at you for inventing the phrase "ick factor," Governor (because you didn't). They are angry because you subscribe to the ick factor. It explains and, you hope, excuses your bigotry. And as national attitudes toward homosexuality and gay marriage soften, you will need more persuasive answers for voters who don't share your prejudice.