“O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!…
Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that feed among the lilies…
How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, delectable maiden,
You are stately as a palm tree and your breasts are like its clusters.
I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches. O, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine and the scent of your breath like apples and your kisses like the best wine that goes down smoothly, gliding over lips and teeth.
—”Song of Solomon”
Whether King Solomon was committing art or indulging adolescent fantasies is a matter of opinion. But he was the king, after all, and nobody was going to tell him that his character was lacking or that he was out of touch with community values. And so, thousands of years later, we can still read his libidinous musings in the Old Testament. And I have yet to hear any Christian — no matter how pompous, pious, or blue-nosed — complain that there is something wrong with that.
Eugene Platt is not so lucky. First, he is not the king. And second, he lives in House District 115, which has never been known for its love of literature. Platt is a poet with six volumes of verse, four anthologies, and a book of fiction to his credit. More importantly, he is also a candidate for the District 115 House seat, challenging incumbent Republican Wallace Scarborough.
Last week thousands of District 115 residents went to their mailboxes and found a glossy, four-color flyer with headlines screaming of a threat to their civilization and way of life:
Contains References and Explicit Language
Published by a Candidate for State House.
Eugene Platt Scandal
Rocks Race for State House
Local Author, Candidate
PROMOTES DEVIANT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
In Erotic Poetry Collection
Is this the Kind of Character
We Want in Columbia?
The fiery text of this broadside describes the “disgust” in learning that “during the usual course of candidate research we uncovered something disturbing lying just beneath the surface of a seemingly gentle mannered man.”
Of course, what the unidentified authors of this tract “uncovered” was in plain view in every bookstore in Charleston. “Platt is the author of at least two collections of poetry, interestingly enough entitled Summer Days with Daughter and Original Sin, which contain entries of a sexually explicit nature …. Platt describes sex acts and details thoughts and emotions surrounding erotic encounters.”
The authors then offer samples of Platt’s wicked words. So sit down, gentle reader, take a deep breath and read from “The Last Tryst”:
Our weekly passion spent, we fall apart on sheets
Illicitly stained before us by legions of lovers like us,
and savor mirrored forms lying side by side overhead.
Beside the bed a digital clock signals, then,
the end of another hour of stolen bliss — and I plea;
Not sufficiently outraged? Then read these lines from “Blue Robe.”
lying awake, i await
my position is that of rest,
but my attitude is anticipation.
the shower has washed away foreign odor.
the brisk toweling has you tingling.
There is also some talk about “prize your thighs, the comfort of pillow-soft breasts and for blissful rest, the support of firm buttocks.”
Now do you understand why Eugene Platt is unfit for public office? The broadside seethes, “Mr. Platt has demonstrated a leaning toward highly questionable behavior and, at best he has clearly shown the citizens of District 115 just how out of touch he is with their traditional values.”
The kicker in all of this is that it was done in the name of a candidate who has been demonstrably carrying on a highly public and adulterous affair with another married member of the House of Representatives. (See City Paper, August 9, 2006.) Of course, Wallace Scarborough will claim nothing to do with this silly and scurrilous little flyer. His name is not on it, even if his fingerprints are all over it. It was printed and distributed by South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a far-right political action committee, which draws most of its funding from the New York-based Fund for Democracy, targets Democrats and moderate Republicans with secret smear campaigns, and has sued the State Ethics Commission for trying to regulate its behavior.
These are the people who are trying to decide the District 115 race. Don’t be fooled. They know as much about integrity as they know about poetry.