In my essay “Triberalism in last October’s issue of Chronicles, which detailed the hijacking of the Chicago Tribune in recent years by in-your-face homosexuals and other assorted leftwing counterculture misfits, I noted that there was still at least one Tribune writer who had the courage to thumb his nose at his paper’s new policy equating a predilection for sodomy with heroism: veteran columnist Mike Royko. While the Tribune was genuflecting before the April 1993 “Gay Rights March on Washington,” Royko pooh-poohed it as the fatuous nonsense that it was. And while the Tribune was haranguing President Bill Clinton to repeal the ban on open homosexuals in the military, Royko—one of the few remaining Tribune writers who actually served in the military—denounced the plan, calling it “a blue chip in the poker game of gay obsessives” to win total social acceptance. Now, it appears, the gay obsessives are out to make Royko pay for his heresy.

The director of something called the “Illinois Federation for Human Rights” recently demanded that the Tribune fire Royko, a living legend in Chicago journalism, for an episode of misbehavior—although not on grounds that would make sense to most people. It all started a week before last Christmas, when Royko drove while intoxicated near his home in the posh Chicago suburb of Winnetka and ran into another car. When police arrived on the scene and arrested him, Royko also struck an officer. (Sort of reminds you of Rodney King, doesn’t it?) In May, Royko pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, failing to yield the right of way, and resisting arrest. It was, sadly, far from being his first alcohol-related brush with the law, and the judge stripped Royko of his driver’s license for a year, placed him on two years’ court supervision, fined him $1,000, and ordered him to perform 80 hours of community service. At his sentencing, Royko, unlike Saint Rodney, was properly contrite, even to the point of thanking the Winnetka police for maintaining their professionalism during his arrest, and promised to fulfill his community service obligation by reading to blind people at a Chicago social service agency.

Most people, no matter how reprehensible they might find drunk driving and punching cops, would probably agree that this docs not sound like a man who needs to be fired from his job—but then, Chicago’s militant homosexuals and their allies in local politics and the media are not most people. Nearly half a year after the accident, and nearly a month after the sentencing. Rick Garcia, the head of the aforementioned “human rights federation,” suddenly demanded that the Tribune fire Royko—not for drunk driving, and not for cop-punching, but because Royko during his arrest had reportedly uttered “derogatory terms for homosexuals” to the officers and the ambulance crew! This tidbit of information, which had not previously been brought to public attention by anybody, first appeared in June in the Windy City ‘Times, Chicago’s official “gay” newspaper. From there, most local TV and radio outlets eagerly snapped it up and ran with it, as did the chief competitor of the Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times. The Tribune itself stayed mum. “It is a personal matter of Mr. Royko’s,” mumbled a spokesman for the paper. Rick Garcia would have none of it. If the hellish Royko were allowed to keep his job, Garcia whined to the media horde, “it shows that a bigot can be harbored and can find a position of prominence at the Tribune.” (During his arrest, Royko also reportedly called one of the officers “a loser” when he noticed that the cop had a surname of Croatian extraction. As of this writing, however, no outraged Croatian-Americans in Chicago have called the Tribune to demand that it fire Royko for bis “insensitivity” about the Balkan war.)

Most public figures probably would have clammed up in the face of this kind of pile-on; Royko, to his credit, gave it right back. He noted in his column the next day that the reason why he and his wife fled Chicago’s swanky “Gold Coast” for Winnetka two years ago was that after he wrote his column supporting the military’s “gay ban,” members of ACT-UP vandalized his home in the middle of the night, plastering it with stickers which called him a Nazi. As Royko pointed out, he never did get an apology for that criminal attack on his property; nor did the Chicago media take any great pains to publicize the incident, let alone condemn it. And Royko also raised a question which almost nobody else in the local media thought to ask: Exactly how did the Windy City Times get its hands on this story? It came, in fact, from the Winnetka police department’s official report of the accident—but, as I know from personal experience as a reporter who covered suburban Chicago police departments, the cops rarely if ever publicize such information. And certainly the Windy City Times doesn’t send a reporter up to Winnetka each week to leaf through police reports.

So what we had here was an inside job: somebody who had access to the police department and its reports got a copy of Royko’s file and relayed it to the Windy City Times, which then passed it off to the rest of the Chicago media—and, for good measure, other homosexual publications in New York and San Francisco. As Royko also pointed out, only one other person on the Chicago media scene—conservative radio talk-show host and Sun-Times columnist Tom Roeser—thought it relevant to ask who was responsible for leaking the report. The highly knowledgeable and reliable Roeser suspects operatives of Cook County State’s Attorney Jack O’Malley—a liberal, “inclusive” Chicago Republican and protege of former Illinois Governor James Thompson, who has always courted militant homosexuals, radical feminists, minority “activists,” and the other usual professional victim groups.

Of course, Royko is not likely to be fired from the Tribune, no matter how much the Rick Gareias of the world might whine for it. After all, firing Royko would provoke outrage—and canceled subscriptions—from who-knows-how-many thousands of readers who now buy the paper only to read Royko.