Does it matter that Jonathan I. Katz, one of the folks Obama appointed to figure out what to do with all that oil BP is giving away for free in the Gulf of Mexico, is a homophobe? What if he’s a out and proud homophobe? (Update: He’s been let go.)
Being a terrible human being doesn’t make you less qualified to fix an oil spill. But you don’t see Obama appointing even the most brilliant white supremacist to any old elite panel.
So here’s Katz, on his Washington University physics department page, in a piece titled “In Defense of Homophobia,” which rationalized hatred toward gays because they gave the heteros AIDS:
Homophobia is the moral judgement that homosexual behavior (most of the arguments in this essay refer specifically to male homosexual behavior) is wrong. Homophobia is not like ethnic, racial or religious prejudice, which deny the intrinsic moral rights and value of other people. Rather, it is a moral judgement upon acts engaged in by choice.
[…] What of those cursed with unnatural sexual desires? Must they forever suppress these desires? Yes, but this is hardly a unique fate. Almost everyone has desires which must be suppressed. Most men and women think adulterous thoughts fairly often, and find themselves attracted to members of the opposite sex to whom they are not married. Morality requires them to suppress these desires, and most do not commit adultery, though they feel lust in their hearts. Almost everyone, at one time or another, covets another’s property. They do not steal. Many people feel great anger or intense hatred at some time in their lives. They do not kill.
I am a homophobe, and proud.
(He goes on to defend the blanket ban on gay blood donations.)
More importantly, Katz is a self-proclaimed climate change denialist. So yeah, maybe that should be a disqualifier for a position that’s hinged on protecting the environment from man-made fuck-ups?
For what it’s worth, on college crank site RateMyProfessor.com, Katz is described as both “REALLY weird” and “Dopey, but knows his sh*t. Katz knows how things work. :)” And: “Pr Katz is the worst teacher I have ever had. I do not doubt his vast knowledge of the subject matter, but he is incapable of teaching in a understandable manner. He rambles and is often incomprehensible. His exams and grading are unreasonable. He is a bigot and self-pronounced homophobe, as evidenced by his inane article ‘In Defense of Homophobia.”
UPDATE: The Department of Energy says Katz is no longer part of the project. Internet win!