David Benkof likes to portray himself as a courageous man who tells difficult truths about gay life. Originally, he agreed to defend his many outrageous anti-gay positions on an August 22, National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association (NLGJA) panel. I was also scheduled to appear and was prepared to challenge his irrational and inflammatory arguments.

Unfortunately, Mr. Benkof announced today that he is withdrawing from the event unless I “switch to a different panel.” In an e-mail exchange, he told me that I should also pay for his plane ticket, even though I am paying my own way. (This was odd, as he boasted he was making a lot of money publishing in mainstream news publications)

To pull out at this late date and demand “travel welfare” highlights a deep character deficit and shows Benkof’s fear of a direct challenge to his lightweight arguments.

In my view, Benkof is only capable of fooling the uninformed and gullible with sophistic arguments that show his utter lack of knowledge and cluelessness to historical precedent. Benkof understands in his heart that he is deficient in intellectual heft and academic discipline and thus must avoid face-to-face exchanges of ideas. His cowardice is understandable, considering the flimsy arguments that he would be forced to defend – but still disappointing. It seems Benkof would rather hide behind the Internet and lob rhetorical bombs, than sit in the hot seat and answer questions about how he misrepresents himself, misquotes people and distorts the truth.

If I had to lie and mislead people as much as Benkof, I’d be shy about debating in public too.