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Furore over Hitchens's sapphic slip

When is a lesbian not a lesbian? When the person in question is a gay, Catholic, conservative blogger by the name of Andrew Sullivan, it would seem.

For when Sullivan was stuck for words on an American news discussion programme last week, he was confronted by the acerbic polemicist Christopher Hitchens. "Don't be such a lesbian," intervened Mr Hitchens. "Get on with it."

Mr Sullivan paused. Mr Hitchens looked to the floor. And the MSNBC Tim Russert Show merrily continued with its analysis of the role religion and the preacher Jeremiah Wright have played in Barack Obama's election campaign.

The internet has since exploded with speculation, mystification and more than a little anger regarding Mr Hitchens's use of the L-word.

In an email to The Independent on Sunday, the commentator wrote: "Don't know what came over me: the dear boy did suddenly seem extremely sapphic, yet I think my intuitions must have been scrambled all the same, since what I was actually thinking was: 'Andrew really wants to have Barack Obama's fucking child'. Clearly some confusion of categories on my part."