On Friday, E! Online reported that Today show film critic Gene Shalit “has been taken to task by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation over his negative review of the gay cowboy western, in which he referred to Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Jack, as a ’sexual predator’ who ‘tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts.’…GLAAD demanded an apology from both Shalit and NBC News and urged supporters to contact the network and complain.”

GLAAD said Shalit’s “predator’ statement “reflects a fundamental lack of understanding” of gay relationships and defames gays in general.

Is GLAAD admitting that gays tend to be predators? If so, it’s disturbing to think that the non-predatory gays I’ve known constitute the exception rather than the rule. Then again, if one were to listen to some of the gay comedians at New York City open mics, he or she would certainly get that impression. This screed doesn’t do much to allay fears either.

In its statement, GLAAD went on to quip, “It seems highly doubtful that Shalit would similarly claim that Titanic’s Jack ( Leonardo DiCaprio) was a ’sexual predator’ because he was pursuing a romantic relationship with Rose ( Kate Winslet).”

Ah, but there’s a difference between pursuing someone of the opposite sex who isn’t interested, and pursuing someone of the same sex who isn’t interested. The latter needs to be corrupted into going along, and Ennis wouldn’t be the first boy to get corrupted out of heterosexuality, if only for a spell. The corruptor, meanwhile, could certainly be characterized as predatory.

Gene Shalit (who, by the way, has a gay son) needs support this week; a Today show producer has already promised to bring GLAAD’s concerns to Shalit’s attention. You can email the producers at Today@NBC.com.