What does surprise us is just how badly put together Tubbs's review is. Time and blood pressure do not permit us to run through the whole thing, but here is a sample paragraph:
... Nussbaum writes that the politics of disgust has been used "for a long time" in opposing gay rights. But that view cannot be right. The most prominent initiative in the gay rights movement thus far relates to same-sex marriage, and it made inroads only in the 1990s. Before then, no one needed a broad strategy to oppose gay rights, because there was no national movement to oppose. (The AIDS outbreak in the 1980s led to demands for greater medical resources, but not to national demands for "marriage equality.") In fact, for most of the 20th century, gay rights and the gay lifestyle were rarely discussed in public because it was considered unseemly or vulgar to talk about intimate life there. Such strictures applied to everyone, as Rochelle Gurstein has shown in her remarkable book The Repeal of Reticence (1996).
What? This is a bit like suggesting that Al Sharpton started the civil-rights movement. Or like saying that there were no gay people in the world before I met my old neighbor Bobby and his friend Jim. Or any other stupid and historically-ignorant thing that you want to say.
It seems to us that Tubbs is willfully foreshortening the movement for gay rights, which by any reasonable account was already underway by the time of the Stonewall riots in 1969. The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were both creatures of the 1950s, and in 1962 the state of Illinois had decriminalized gay sex. What Tubbs would like readers to forget, apparently, is that the gay rights movement began not with the present bid for marriage equality, but with something far more fundamental: the hope that gay people could socialize without being assaulted, and have sex without committing a crime. And it seems that he would like us to forget the early opposition to this, including famously Anita Bryant's career-ending crusade in the later 1970s.
The sentences beginning "in fact ..." are worse than nonsense. They are a distraction. Yes indeed, people used to be more reticent about discussing their sex lives, and Tubbs hopes that his readers, once reminded of this fact, will be moved to nostalgic resentment of the present over-disclosing era. Fair enough, but irrelevant. Because in private, people did indeed talk about their sex lives, and the evidence for that is ample -- if it weren't true, none of the key Modernists -- think Joyce, Lawrence, Hemingway -- would have had anything to work with. The first half of the 20th century was largely devoted to asserting a public (and printed) place for language that had previously been kept private (and spoken). But so what? This has -- here's the point -- nothing to do with gay rights. Or at any rate, not directly.
The rest of the review is just as shoddy. Tubbs, who has degrees from Penn State and Princeton, is probably a reasonably smart guy. And that is what makes us so angry. Writing in the American Spectator, he is pretty clearly trying to please his ideological comrades, rather than to actually think through the matters at stake in Nussbaum's book.
None of this, by the way, should be taken as an endorsement of Martha Nussbaum. We haven't read her book, and don't expect to. For all we know, she might be the new Voltaire -- or the next Bulwer-Lytton. It doesn't matter to us one way or the other. All we ask is that a reviewer, even one hurrying to reveal her folly to the world, not make such a fool of himself.