Hello, and welcome to another day in the Inferno, where Pulitzer-prize winning playwright David Mamet is on Fox News decrying the pedophilic impulses of school teachers.
Discussing the very real and not at all made-up or nakedly homophobic moral panic over “grooming” in schools, Mamet told Mark Levin, “This has always been the problem with education. Teachers are inclined — particularly men, because men are predators — to pedophilia.” Mamet, who, once again, has won or been nominated for the most prestigious awards in play- and screenwriting, offered this pile of QAnon MadLibs for context: “If there’s no community control over the schools, what we have is kids not only being indoctrinated but groomed in a very real sense by people who are, whether they know it or not, sexual predators. Are they abusing the children physically? No, I don’t think so, but they’re mentally abusing them and using sex to do so.”
In the short clip, Mamet also says that the “grooming” trouble started when whatever strictures governing education “broke down” and “the schools said, ‘You know what? We have to teach children about sex. why? Because what if they don’t do it at home?’”
So, just to recap, Mamet, the author of Sexual Perversity in Chicago, believes that teachers are unwitting pedophiles using “sex” to mentally abuse and groom children. Groom them into what you might ask. Well, as this conversation happened in the context of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill — which forbids teachers from discussing sexual orientation with students in any way and has largely been decried as discriminatory — one can only assume that Mamet believes, as have many homophobes before him, that queerness is linked to sexual predation.
And Mamet’s comments on Fox News were stunning, of course, but those who have been paying attention to the playwright-turned-conservative-fearmonger shouldn’t be entirely surprised. The lauded writer’s hard pivot to the fascist can be traced back to a 2008 Village Voice op-ed he titled, “Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal.’” In this remarkable piece of self-congratulation masquerading as self-reflection, Mamet describes coming to the epiphany that humans are not really good at heart after all, writing, “The Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests .”
In the years since, Mamet has written multiple books on the apparent foibles of liberalism, including such titles as The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture and Recessional: The Death of Free Speech and the Cost of a Free Lunch. Do all of those Republican buzzwords mean the content of the books contain exactly what you think they do? You bet.
While the right wing’s gay-grooming-pedophile culture war escalation may seem to have sprung up out of nowhere in the past few months, this anti-LGBTQ myth has decades of history behind it. Its most famous proponent was Anita Bryant, who successfully campaigned against an anti-discrimination law in Dade County, Florida, while arguing that “a particularly deviant-minded [gay] teacher could sexually molest children.” Well, that certainly rings a bell! Surely Mamet, a regular commentator on society and culture, would be familiar with this old chestnut, as well as the decades of activism and medical research that have disproved it.
Speaking to right-wing reactionary outlet, Breitbart, in 2020, Mamet praised Donald Trump as a great president and called the left-wing’s response to him “psychotic.” It seems a bit rich for a guy to diagnose left-wing opposition as mental illness and whine about liberal indoctrination on Fox News while swallowing whatever reactionary talking—point the GOP happens to serve up wholesale, of course. It also seems a bit wild to see a devout Jewish man embrace a political party that’s made a comfortable home for neo-Nazis. And it’s bananas to watch a celebrated writer do all of this without realizing the abundant irony.
Somebody should really write a play about this.