unique visitors since July 27, 2005

« Weekend Grist | Main | Peter Loves Peter »

October 21, 2005

Comments

North Dallas Thirty

Outing, my dear Robbie, is the last gasping, thrashing attempt by the gay left to hold on to some degree of political and social power and relevancy.

Think about it. From a political standpoint, no one cares what the gay left says or thinks because they know the unshakable rule of gay politics; the D or R after one's name, not the actions one undertakes, are what drives who receives the adulation and dollars.

From a social standpoint, no one cares what the gay left says or thinks because they know that the same Elizabeth Birch and Mark Leno, for instance, both of whom insist that gays will die without marriage and that anyone who opposes it is a worthless antigay Neanderthal poopy-head, are the ones who left the lipstick stains on the respective asses of Bill "DOMA" Clinton and John "Antigay State Constitutional Amendment" Kerry. As a result, now it has become not only chic, but downright "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive" to take rights away from gays.

Thus, when you've lost all relevance to the "Meet the Press" crowd, or even to the "O'Reilly Factor" crowd, you start doing your best to attract the "Jerry Springer" and "Air (We Hate) America" crowd. Outing has just the right combination of self-righteous hypocrisy and titillation to move the ratings dial on those types of programs.

Ethan

The outing is a horrible tactic. I was outed and was shortly there after kicked out of my house before high school graduation. Therefore I have a personal desire to see this practice ended. After reading the article you linked its obvious of the authors intention. It was not to out someone from Fox news, but to gain fame for themselves knowing the Left would circulate the writing. Personally I could care less if someone in the news media was gay or straight. I don't want to know their personal life because news reporting is supposed to come from a talking head devoid of personal influence.

Paul, Houston TX

Bullshit!

Essem

Outing is a complicated business. Making a simple one-size-fits-all rule might make the holder of the rule feel either radical or righteous, but I don't think it can make the question go away.

If someone is doing serious damage to gay people but is gay himself, there might be justification in outing him. If, for example, Pat Robertson were really gay, why would the value of respecting his privacy outweight the value of defanging him by outing? He's powerful and he's actively and damagingly homophobic. Cooper, on the other hand, is powerful but not homophobic. It would be better, perhaps, if he came out, but there is a moral difference between doing damage and not being actively helpful (in spite of the stupid manicheanism of the "not part of the solution, part of the problem" slogan).

The Red Queen shouts, "Off with their heads!" (Now that's a juicy image for archetypal reflection). Nice conservative homos hold out for privacy above all. It's also one thing to call for people to come out (Guerriero) and another to actually out them (Naff outing Smith). But like almost all moral issues, this one is not simple one.

I was outed myself, when I was a parish priest. Believe me, it's no fun. In my case, I turned it into a plus. My anger at feeling betrayed turned into a resolve that my outer (who did it entirely for spite, no political motives involved) would not win.

And by the way, when a person refuses to answer the question, it's a dead giveaway anyhow. What heterosexual ever has any hesitation about saying they're straight?

I'll shut up now.

North Dallas Thirty

Well, Essem, I'll use an example.

When Mike Rogers mounted his smear campaigns of allegations against Ed Schrock, sure, it made Schrock drop out of the campaign. However, the voters then went and elected Thelma Drake, who is as or even MORE antigay than Schrock, and who has the added virtue of being a grandmotherly-looking woman. Meanwhile, Schrock is now working as a congressional aide, arguably where his ability to do damage is magnified by the absence of publicity -- and who's to say he's not doing similarly to what you did, turning his anger into resolve AGAINST our cause?

What really bothers me is this, Essem.

If, for example, Pat Robertson were really gay, why would the value of respecting his privacy outweight the value of defanging him by outing?

Three problems with that:

1) Pat Robertson's entire case is that he has the right to disrespect the privacy of others because gays represent a danger to society. Why should we say that ANYONE has that right, ourselves included, because we consider them a danger to our society?

2) The "if" in your statement. If the only way we have to defang Pat Robertson and their ilk is to out them, the gay movement is doomed, because you have to be gay in order to be outed, and the vast majority of them are not.

3) Pat Robertson merely represents and taps antigay sentiment. Getting rid of him will not get rid of the antigay sentiment; as I pointed out above with Schrock, you only replace one bigot with a better bigot. People do not say, "Oh, well Pat was a hypocrite, so I'm going to be pro-gay"; rather, they are incensed at this person for lying and misleading them, adding further fuel to the fire that gays are out to subvert and destroy family values organizations. The person was at fault, not the policy they represent.

As I've blogged before, outing is a tactic born in the environment of the Beltway. It is counterproductive anywhere else.


Downtown Lad

Hypocrites should be outed.

It's no different than publicizing the fact that an animal rights activist secretly wears fur underwear.

Or if a very vocal vegetarian enjoys eating chicken.

It is 2005 after all. Being outed as being gay is not going to have the same negative ramifications that it would have had in 1985.

Essem

A cupla things. Your argument, NDT, seems to be twofold: one pragmatic/political, the other moral. The pragmatic one is that outing a public figure in politics just eliminates one problem for a worse one and does nothing to temper the underlying homophobia. That may happen, or it may not, in a given case. It's a judgment call about tactics and strategery. (Concerning your #2. I never said it was the only way; not even close).

Your second argument, the moral one, is that everyone without exception has the right to privacy about their sexual life. I certainly value my privacy and was, to put it mildly, mightily unhappy when I was outed. But I don't see privacy as an absolute right, always trumping other values. The more people choose to enter public life, the less privacy protection they can claim, I think, especially if power comes along with their public visibility. (That applies/applied to me, too). To take an extreme example, but one that illustrates the unlikelihood of privacy rights being absolute: would Jewish bloggers be acting immorally if they outed the head of a local neoNazi group as himself being a Jew? It probably wouldn't turn the neoNazi's into kibbutzniks and his second-in-command might be more of a rabid dog than he, but...so what? Wouldn't it be more than a little odd for the Jewish community to know among themselves that Adolf Jr was a Hebrew, too, and yet keep quiet about it?

Your position is simpler than mine, if I read you correctly. ("Outing is never a good idea. Just don't do it"). Mine is more liable to being abused because it requires human judgement,(eg partisan abuse of this by people like Mike Rogers),but it allows the use of particular tactic that may, in certain situations, be an important part of our community's self defense.

By the way, I've liked reading your blog and hope I'll run into you and your SF beau at the Noe Valley Bakery some morning; my office is right down the block.

Chad

DL... How the hell are Anderson Cooper, Jodie Foster, and/or Shepard Smith being hypocrites, thereby warranting a nice "outing"? It may not have any negative ramifications any more, but has it ever occured to you that maybe... just maybe... there's a reason they don't want people to know? And who the hell are you (or anyone else for that matter) to say that that reason isn't good enough?

torrentprime

All I have to say is this, to those self-righteous outers who think that their great "A-ha!" moment is worth violating someone's privacy: when the first child of a recently-outed man or woman is harrassed at school, or raped on the way home, or attacked while out with friends because their mom/dad just got outed, I want the assholes who outed him/her to be forced to go visit the child at the hospital and say, "Sorry you were attacked because of your parent's sex life, but it served my political purpose, so it's ok."
It is NOT just the man/woman at issue. They have lives, they have families, they have innocents around them who may get hurt in the crossfire. Outing is a horrible, disgusting thing to do to someone, and it is the last refuge of those who need attention.

Robbie

I tend to agree with NDT and disagree with Essem (that I disagree with DL goes without saying).

For the first part, there's the hypocrisy argument. As I asked in my post and have delineated in my previous blog, hypocrisy is a tricky thing. Who defines what is hypocrisy? I'm against hate crimes law. I don't believe an opinion should have extra bearing on a punishment. I think it violates the first amendment. If I were closeted, would that justify a deep violation of my private life? If my parents didn't know I was gay, and I sat out in the public sphere as an ardent opponent of hate crimes law, does that give someone the right to violate my privacy, my family's privacy, my very life because we disagree politically?

Someone like Downtown Lad argues yes. That I'm a hypocrite. How am I a hypocrite? My belief stems from my understanding of the Constitution. My sexuality has no bearing on that opinion. Is my sexuality a fixed, stationary opinion in and of itself? Do our immutable characteristics denote a default political position that must be adhered to at all times?

Does no one else find that proposition terribly frightening and at direct odds with the constitution and individual freedom?

Then there is the idea of "the community." No offense to anyone, but we live in a free society with a right to privacy. No one, no matter who we are or what we do, are under a mandatory obligation to be loyal to one community or another. I may be gay, but I assure you, I am not loyal to the gay community. There is a great deal I disagree with the community on. I do not adhere to their consensus, nor do I think your average activist has an even rudimentary understanding of constitutional law.

Again, these ideas and beliefs of mine are very much grounded in my ideas on government and the constitution. My sexuality does not enter the picture when I try to discern what the best law or course of action is. Why then, does my sexuality then suddenly create a special bearing, a special status?

Not only does my sexuality make me different (when we're told we're the same as anyone else), but the gay left argues it should make me a special target.

We do not know why one person or another is closeted. We do not live their lives. We do not know their families.

And yet, it doesn't seem to matter. We want our political goals, the well-being of others be damned. It doesn't matter whose life is destroyed, as long as we get what we want. And if we have to become sexual McCarthyists, digging into private lives, gathering evidence for the public accusation, so be it.

Does not the gay left understand how disgusting this is? How evil? how against the idea of sexual privacy and freedom?

Do they have such a hard on for their personal political goals that they will become hate-filled monsters wrecking lives to attain their selfish ends?

Sorry, I'll not have any truck with it. Ever. It's beyond the pale.

I'll not even keep friends with someone who outs another. There's something hate-filled and broken and ugly in the people willing to do such things, and it ought to be looked down on, shrouded in shame and disdain.

Yet it's not.

It's sad some people have reached that place. All they bring is hurt and destruction. All under the banner of "progress."

It's sickening.

North Dallas Thirty

Essem, that was a very good capsulization of my position ("Outing is never a good idea. Just don't do it").

Now, relative to yours:

Mine is more liable to being abused because it requires human judgement,(eg partisan abuse of this by people like Mike Rogers),but it allows the use of particular tactic that may, in certain situations, be an important part of our community's self defense.

If you were the one administering it, Essem, I would have much less trouble keeping that tactic around, because I know two things -- one, you have the judgement to use it intelligently, and two, you have the self-control and regard to make it the weapon of last resort.

However, you're not, and I personally see your position as being akin to the NRA arguing against trigger locks and background checks as being unnecessary, an insult to responsible gun owners, and an impairment of one's right to self-defense. While that is a true argument, the simple fact is that the consequence of guns being placed in irresponsible hands is catastrophic. I am willing to compromise the gay community's defense by forswearing outing if it keeps sociopaths like Mike Rogers and John Aravosis, and even normally-rational folks like Keith Boykin from misusing it.

Now, for these points:

But I don't see privacy as an absolute right, always trumping other values. The more people choose to enter public life, the less privacy protection they can claim, I think, especially if power comes along with their public visibility. (That applies/applied to me, too).

That attitude, Essem, more than any other, is why good people leave or refuse to enter politics. It is also why what we have left for politicians and politicos fall into one of two categories; those for whom the lust for power trumps everything else, or those who truly don't care about anyone's opinion other than their own.

Wouldn't it be more than a little odd for the Jewish community to know among themselves that Adolf Jr was a Hebrew, too, and yet keep quiet about it?

One illustration I particularly like for why we should do something like this, Essem, was given to me by a very wise theology professor in college who was a bit of an activist himself. When we were talking about Jesus's command to turn the other cheek, he had us get out of our chairs....then pointed out how, in order to turn your cheek, you have to stand your ground. He then reminded us of how, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi put this into practice by realizing that people can rationalize fights, but not attacks on defenseless targets, and that the only way to make yourself a defenseless target is to stand your ground.

One other thing we could learn from King and Gandhi is that both of them took pains to ensure that their followers realized that their battles were with ideologies, not with people.

By the way, I've liked reading your blog and hope I'll run into you and your SF beau at the Noe Valley Bakery some morning; my office is right down the block.

Thank you, and I look forward to it!

Essem

Thanks for the spirited exchange, Robbie and NDT. I'm sure we could go on, but I think I made my position clear, as you have yours. One nice thing, which I find happens with the more righty types but not so much with the left side of the dial, is that we didn't call each other names and instead addressed the issues. (Although I don't know if Robbie would have a drink with me since I haven't ever outed anyone, but don't hold an absolute prohibition against it). It's one of the reasons I turned right. Thanks for that.

Robbie

Naw, Essem, I have no problem with people's politics even if they're the opposite of mine. If I closed myself off to everyone who disagreed with me, I'd have no friends whatsoever.

However, I do think outing is very much a form of McCarthyism, which is a word I'm really reluctant to use. If you set me down at a cocktail party with someone like Mike Rogers, I would probably have a very difficult time keeping myself under control. Someone like that, with a gleeful willingness to mess with someone's life, someone who takes an almost sinister joy in inflicting hurt and distress while using sexuality to do it - I wouldn't have a single nice thing to say to them.

Stephen

Outing is justified only in one circumstance: When an internalized homophobe takes public stances against homosexuals that harm the GLBT community. PERIOD.

taylor Siluwé

What a wonderful exchange here. I was pulled this way and that on the issue ... but I finally settle on this: Outing is nasty weapon, like a little nuke. It should be used carefully.

Very carefully.

I like the 'stand our ground' reference, but I'm not so sure its appropriate here. We are actually having the 'ground' eroded from beneath our feet ... and therefore proactive defensive tactics are in order if we are to remain standing at all.

Just my humble opinion.

The comments to this entry are closed.