Pink Herring & the fourth persona: J. Edgar Hoover's sex crime panic

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61 Scopus citations


During the 1930s, sexuality significantly shaped J. Edgar Hoover's public discourse. In response to a homosexual panic that plagued the nation's men and endangered his public persona, Hoover engaged in a passing performance. His masking rhetoric employed the pink herring, a tactic that manipulated a moral panic about sex crime to stabilize gender and sexual norms, divert attention from his private life, and silence an invisible audience that I term the fourth persona.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-244
Number of pages17
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Homosexual panic
  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • Passing
  • Persona
  • Sex crime

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


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