“I hate gay people.” “I’m homophobic.” “I don’t like to be around gay people.”

I did a google search for these phrases, and lo and behold, it seems that the only people on earth who would say such things are a bunch of anonymous yahoos commenting on random web forums. Not even former NBA star Tim Hardaway has shown up yet. Now that Hardaway says he “shouldn’t have said ‘I hate gay people’ or anything like that,” perhaps the Google Gods will expunge his remarks from the algorithmic record.

“I hate gay people.” George W. Bush didn’t say it. None of the folks in Congress who oppose employment non-discrimination for gays have said it. Marilyn Musgrave (R – Colorado), the author of the Federal Marriage Amendment, didn’t say it. Don Wildmon, who wants to purge the GOP of gay staffers, didn’t say it. Jerry Falwell, who thinks gays and lesbians are responsible for 9/11 and that Tinky Winky is a purple purse-carrying faggot, didn’t say it. William F. Buckley, who once suggested that gay men with AIDS be tattooed on their buttocks, didn’t say it.

Heck, not even Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington has said it. He’s in therapy for using an “anti-gay slur,” so perhaps he’s learned not to say it. Ted Haggard hasn’t said it, but now that he’s “completely heterosexual,” maybe he will say it.

Poor Tim Hardaway, the loneliest homophobe. Where’s his parade? Where’s the American Family Association, the Concerned Women of America, the faculty and students of Liberty University, Focus on the Family, Exodus International and the Catholic Church? Where’s the Indiana state senate, which just this week passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Where’s Florida GOP boss Jim Greer, who thinks that a gay marriage ban is such a “fundamental value” and principle of the Republican party that he’s willing to make war with Gov. Charlie Crist over it? Where are the 60%+ of American voters who routinely show up at polls to approve anti-gay initiatives? Where are the Republicans, who have made anti-gay politics a raison d’etre?

Maybe these folks don’t hate gay people the way that Hardaway does. Maybe they just want to cure them, to discriminate against them, or practice their religious freedom against them, or ban them from marriage, schools, churches and armies. Maybe, instead of hatred, they feel disgust, revulsion, contempt, pity, scorn, terrible anxiety, envy. Maybe they’ve even learned to tolerate gays, as long as they stick to making clothes and canapés on Bravo and keep their bars and sex away from public view.

My point: There’s something unseemly about all the attention showered upon Tim Hardaway and Isaiah Washington’s little anti-gay outbursts. In the grand scheme of things, these guys are nobodies; their statements do nothing, unlike the kingpins and elected officials of the right-wing whose words have a tendency to become state policy. Hardaway and Washington do happen to be black and particularly blunt, and so they will be taken out to the woodshed by the PC police, by GLAAD or NBA commissioner David Stern or some ABC exec. They will enter rehab, “examine their feelings,” and learn the weasel words of tolerance and diversity. A fine example will have been made, and then business will go on as usual.

What is that business? Hardaway said it. “It [homosexuality] shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.” Maybe he should have said just that.