Off On A Tangent- Dave’s Corner: Bedfellas vs. Terrorist Goodfellas

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.
“Bedfellows” by Harry Turtledove (F&SF, June 2005) may be the most talked about story of the year . . .
and conceivably the most dangerous story in F&SF‘s history.


Dave Truesdale

At a mere five pages, “Bedfellows” is political satire. In it, President Bush (“W”) and Osama bin Laden (“O”) are gay, deeply in love, and are being married in Massachusetts by a judge. They gush over each other, expressing their love verbally and physically, with deep kisses in front of many reporters and photographers. O is depicted as the more intelligent, dominant one, speaking English better than W, several times correcting W’s grammar or choice of words, while W “nods like a bobblehead.”
Extremely broad brush satire to be sure. Sophisticated? Imbued with classic, intellectual wit? No. 
So here are the three broad brush takes on this story:
From the American Left:
1. Guffaw funny if you dislike Bush intensely; just what you’ve been hoping to read in today’s pretty much saccharine SF magazine pages–politically speaking. 

It’s like this:  You know, Goddamn, it’s about time someone said something about Bush in SF
“This one is definitely going on my preliminary Nebula ballot, Karl. S***, and from Harry Turtledove, of all people. Kickeffing-ass! 
From the American Middle/Center:
2. Regardless of which political persuasion you may adhere to–unless you’re an ideologue (i.e. an unquestioning true-believer, kool-aid drinker [think Jim Jones and mass suicide, for those of you old enough to glim the reference] from the Left or the Right)–you’ll perhaps chuckle at least at the mental picture this story draws. Pretty funny on a superficial, non-serious level. And you can see the sting on both sides. I mean, you gotta have some objective humor in your life, regardless of what you believe politically. Just the image of Bush and Bin Laden being gay and getting married is over-the-top funny on an immediate, knee-jerk level. 
From the Muslim Right:
3. For those of the Islamo-fascist persuasion (i.e. Muslim terrorists), this story is guaranteed to enrage. (Remember S. Rushdie and the million dollar contract put on his life for certain things he wrote?)  Homosexuality is scorned in strict Muslim societies. Far more than in Christian-oriented cultures like our own. Showing Bin Laden as a homosexual is an outright heresy of the worst kind, and to portray him not only as gay but in love with, smooching in public with, and marrying his hated enemy, George W. Bush, is more than unthinkable. It is an outrage perpetrated by the Infidels of Western culture, and yet another example of why we all must die.
Image“Bedfellows,” seen as a drive-by, hit and run, political cartoon (which is what it is), gets a Right On! laugh from the American Left (and other leftist politicos from Europe and elsewhere), a mere chuckle for its superficial image from centrist folks, and outright hatred from Muslim terrorists and their religious/fascist sympathizers. 
None if this, however, disturbs me as much as the editorial blurb at the beginning of the story. The editorial remarks invoke the classic real-life story of when Military Intelligence came to John W. Campbell’s office because of a story written by Cleve Cartmill, wherein the author describes how to assemble an atomic bomb–just when the U.S. was in the middle of the Top Secret Manhattan Project during WWII. It was subsequently pointed out to M.I. that the information they thought had leaked was readily available from public sources.
So now, my friend Gordon Van Gelder seems to believe he might be visited from someone in our own government, for the manner in which President Bush is portrayed in “Bedfellows.” 

I propose putting the beliefs of the highly respected, esteemed editor of F&SF to the test. I throw down the gauntlet and offer him this public challenge. Send a copy of this story to the FBI or the CIA or whichever relevant agency in our government he desires. At the same time, send a copy of “Bedfellows” to a Muslim terrorist website–there are several to be found; which one doesn’t matter.
Let’s sit back and see who shows up at Mr. Van Gelder’s editorial office (or home) first. If I am wrong, then what harm has been done? Mr. Van Gelder will have proven his point that Free Speech is in danger from our own government (make that the Bush government), and he can most certainly have the last laugh on yours truly. The thing is, if I am proven correct, then it will most certainly not be a laughing matter.

What do you say, Gordon. Put your beliefs to the test in front of the whole world?