Featured Post

Cut. This. Crap. Out. [Updated]

Dear Itay Hod —

Hi.  I’ve never heard of you, but apparently you’re an anchor over at CBS* and you’re gay.  Good for you.

You, of course, have never heard of me.  Most people haven’t heard of me, so you’ve got plenty of company.  However, a regrettable side effect of your never having heard of me is that you didn’t read what I had to say a little while ago about outing people.

I don’t like it.

This is what I said then:

I will buy you a drink at the Chelsea bar of your choice (or, preferably, just mix you one myself) if you can find one single person whose mind was changed in our favor by this spiteful, hypocritical tactic.  Using gayness as a smear isn’t any less shameful when it’s gay people doing it, and if I thought so from within the big rainbow tent I have a hard time believing anyone on the outside found it particularly commendable.  Sure, fine… maybe we destroyed the careers or reputations of some of our enemies?  If that?  Awesome.  Just like I fail to see how banning marriage equality makes straight people’s lives any better, it escapes me completely how making our opponents’ lives worse got us any closer to achieving our real goals.

The reason I mention all of this is you clearly don’t agree with me.  You think outing people you don’t like is just aces.  And that’s what you’ve done (or, perhaps more accurately, “done”) with a puerile little bit of scuttlebutt.

what if you know a certain GOP congressman, let’s just say from Illinois, is gay… and you know this because one of your friends, a journalist for a reputable network, told you in no uncertain terms that he caught that GOP congressman and his male roommate in the shower… together. now they could have been good friends just trying to conserve water. but there’s more. what if this congressman has also been caught by tmz cameras trolling gay bars. now what if you know that this very same guy, the darling of the gop, has also voted against repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, opposed the repeal of doma, is against gay marriage; and for the federal marriage amendment, which would add language to the us constitution banning gay marriage and would likely strike down every gay rights law and ordinance in the country?

Are we still not allowed to out him?

Thanks for asking!  No.

First of all, you’re a journalist?  Silly me, I still thought that word implied the presence of some kind of professional standards.  Barfing up a bunch of sniggering gossip is more what I’d expect from a 12-year-old.

Next, I’d be super curious to know what goals outing Rep. Schock would accomplish.  Other than making things unpleasant for the Congressman himself.  Spite is not a particularly effective rhetorical motivation, and seeing the spite shimmering through your little dance of self-justification does not endear you to me.  And we’re essentially on the same side.

Yes, I’ve made jokes of my own about Rep. Schock.  Yes, one could argue that he’s brought a lot of it on himself, and following Tom Daley on Instagram is a foolish PR move.  Sure, fine, whatever.  But jokes are one thing, and insinuations are another.  Making accusations about people’s private lives in a public forum when you are a person of (some) prominence based on nothing but what some chum of yours said is transparently vindictive, childish and ultimately counter-productive.

Every single policy vote you list in your diatribe ended up being in the minority.  DADT is gone.  DOMA is gone. Marriage equality is the law in Rep. Schock’s home state.  Despite his opposition, the tide of history is turning quite rapidly in the direction of LGBT equality in general, and it’s not because our side has occupied itself with taking potshots at our closeted opponents.

I don’t care if Rep. Schock is gay.  I really don’t.  His side is losing, and they’re losing on the merits of their arguments.  Trying to pick off one enemy by using plainly distasteful, outmoded methods doesn’t count as an argument for us.  It only makes us look small.

Stop it.

Love,

Russell

*[Update: CBS is disavowing any relationship with Mr. Hod at this time.]

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

110 thoughts on “Cut. This. Crap. Out. [Updated]

  1. As a straight person who has faced none of the challenges that a gay man would have, I feel awful saying this: I disagree. And not only do I disagree, I disagree specifically because life should be uncomfortable for Aaron Shock. If he really does believe that conservative politics should trump the liberties that ought to be enjoyed equally by gay and straight citizens alike, he should have to explain that. In detail. Thoroughly. Completely. Entirely. Citizens should be allowed to make their legislators feel uncomfortable. Not discussing his apparent sexuality makes his life much, much easier for what purpose? To do him a favor? While simultaneously doing nothing for the people that are hurt by the policies that he supports.

    I suppose this is a throwback, in a way, to the tu quoque argument from several months ago. I continue to be unwilling to pretend as though we live in a vacuum where our actions should be disconnected from our arguments, where what we’ve done with our lives should be presumed to have no bearing on the positions that we’re taking.

    I recognize that this position of mine is widely regarded to be the incorrect one. But try as I occasionally do to talk myself out of it, I can’t.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I know we’ve sparred on the tu quoque issue before and to a certain degree, I think I at least see your point, especially in a country in which showing “animus” can judicially be a foundation for striking down bigoted laws. Mark Thompson made that point on one of your tu quoque threads, and I found it a good one. As to whether “animus” should be the standard is perhaps another discussion.

      Rather than reprise my general view that tu quoque’s, except in very bounded circumstances like Mark pointed out, are irrelevant, I’ll prefer to state the issue differently:

      In what ways are tu quoque’s relevant and in what ways are they not? Or in the case Russell mentions, what use do they serve and what use do they not serve?

      Your argument seems to be that outing Mr. Shock (of whom I have never heard, even though I live in Illinois….probably more a testament to my general ignorance of current events) makes the bigoted position weaker and less sustainable and therefore makes the same-sex-egalitarian position you and I share a least a little easier to realize.

      I don’t think you’re wrong, at least in the more immediate short-term, but at the very least there are two other considerations. One is more tactical. If we’re playing the long game for marriage and gay equality–and to quibble with Russell, parts of DOMA are still the law of the land, if I understand correctly–Russell’s concerns come into play. I’m not sure if anti-ssm’ers’ minds are going to change and in fact I can imagine a mindset in which their views would be further ensconced by such tactics.

      The second consideration is a bit more principled. Outing is based at least partially on the idea, or at least it tends to reinforce the idea regardless of the motivations of the one doing the outing, that being gay is somehow shameful, and embarrassing people with the “gay” epithet not only exposes a certain sort of self-righteous hypocrisy, but also reinforces the notion that being gay is something to be embarrassed about.

      Maybe at the end of the day, you and others of good will might determine that the considerations are a cost worth paying for the ends they will achieve. I’m not necessarily against means-ends calculations myself. But I come down on the other side and suggest the costs are not worth paying. Of course, I recognize that as a straight person, I’m obviously not one who feels the animus, so others’ mileage may vary.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • 1. Outing isn’t about changing the mind of bigots. My general impression is that somebody settled into the viewpoint that “Teh gheys shouldn’t be a-marryin!” isn’t going to change their mind because the representative that they themselves have voted for ends up being gay.

        2. Nor is outing about shaming a person for their sexuality. Rather, it is about shaming them for the political positions that they have taken. Aaron Shock, in other words, shouldn’t be ashamed that he is gay (and I doubt anybody is arguing otherwise, save those that argue anybody gay should be ashamed of being so). He should be ashamed of repeatedly voting to hurt a community that he himself is a member of.

        Perhaps though shaming/ashamed are the wrong terms. The issue is more one of accountability. He needs to thoroughly explain why his own community should be sacrificed to achieve conservative goals. Asking him to do so might bring shame upon him, but that’s something that he was apparently willing to risk.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I see your point, but mine is not so much that outing is about those things, although perhaps what I wrote gave that impression.

        It’s more that the practice of outing can have the bad results I pointed out. It reinforces the notion that homosexuality be shameful, and it can, I suspect, harden some people’s views against the pro-gray rights positions.

        To your point about accountability….maybe I agree. But here we’re running again into the problem of what functions tu quoque’s serve. I suspect that Mr. Shock has already explained his reasons for going against the interests of “his” community. And those reasons stand or fall regardless of whether he’s gay or straight.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • I must also disagree. In my mind allowing a gay GOP representative to advocate for denial of basic rights is not OK.

      If Rep Schrock is Gay then I am fine with that on a personal level. However his hypocrisy needs to be pointed out and he should be accountable for it.

      Bet all those Tea Partier types feel duped so that is a plus.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • I agree that his anti-gay positions were morally wrong. But that’s really not the point. Those positions are morally wrong regardless of whether or not he’s gay. He could be 100% straight, and it would have still been wrong for him to oppose gay equality.

        But the mere fact that he has morally wrong views is not an excuse to “out” him.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  2. As you know, I disagree with you here.

    Now, I do respect the closet. Why? Because for many years, I relied on it for my own survival. I was a powerless and very frightened gay teenager in a deeply conservative family. I’d been assured that I would be disowned if I ever “turned queer.” So I stayed in the closet for many years. It was the only way I could survive. When I became financially independent, I came out. And in the meantime, I was careful not to spew anti-gay hate, not to contribute to anti-gay organizations, and not to vote for anti-gay policies or candidates.

    If Aaron Schock is in the closet, he isn’t in there to survive.

    Schock is an adult, and – unlike me as a teen – there is absolutely zero chance that he’ll wind up a homeless street hustler if he gets outed. On the contrary, he’ll get a book deal and a few months’ vacation – I’m thinking Maui – which he will undoubtedly spend with a very, very hot young guy. And then he’ll spend the rest of his life as a highly paid political consultant. He’ll land on his feet, in short.

    If he is closeted, then he is in there for one reason and one reason only – to hurt my family and yours. Outing him will not hurt him, except in all the ways that he so richly deserves.

    And if he isn’t closeted? Well, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being gay. Do you?

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • But what does this accomplish for anyone? It makes gays look like we make ourr political points by peddling in petty gossip and engaging in character assassination. It advances no causes, merely attempts to mau-mau someone we don’t like into… what? Changing his vote? Coming out? Resigning so an equally-offensive person can take his place?

      We counter his presumed hypocrisy with our own, by wielding hidden gayness as a weapon when we otherwise would recoil from anyone else doing so.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • &

        As a straight, I worry that there is another (perhaps?) unintended aspect with outing that I am really uncomfortable with.

        I can never shake the feeling that when someone is outed, even by the gay community, that part of the reason it is expected to be mainstream news is the unsaid assumption that person is somehow now lesser. To me, outing coverage always seems to have the same tone as when it is revealed that a public figure was once arrested for shoplifting, or at one time declared personal bankruptcy.

        It’s like I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, the have-cake-and-eat-it Adam Sandler vehicle that simultaneously piously stated that being gay should be OK with you while giving it’s audience ninety minutes of jokes about how totally gross being gay was. That’s what most outing reportage looks like to this straight, anyway.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • As far as I can see, the biggest societal effect of outing people for combining homosexual behavior and anti-homosexual political fervor has been to make anti-homosexual political fervor suspect to the nation as a whole. People who don’t have clear moral opinions in either direction seem to devote more energy now to wondering if rabid anti-gay politician X is just working out his own self-hatred issues, and less to wondering if rabid anti-gay politician X has a point. I think the defusing of the “wondering if X has a point” crowd, and shifting them to “wondering what secrets X is keeping” outweighs whatever pettiness or etc, from a gamesmanship point of view. Groups like Focus on the Family used to have a moral weight with the general population (moral weight that they don’t have now) which they wielded in the service of pushing people to accept their ridiculous moral imprecations against various things that are actually morally good. Widespread outing of people with political impact who were vocally anti-gay was, I believe, politically effective in that way.

        And I don’t think all outing is equal. If a person engages in sexual behaviors with someone, and then engages in loudly and publicly denegrating those behaviors and all who openly engage in them, I think that the person they slept with has *every right* to say, “Fish that noise, I have no shame in saying that I slept with this jerk… except maybe that it turns out he’s a jerk.” And I don’t even have a problem with media providing such indignant ex-bed-partners with an equal outlet. That’s a form of verbal self-defense, it seems to me, AND a valid consequence of someone’s actions. If you (obviously not YOU, but some random you) sleep with someone, and then denigrate their sexuality – or “civilly” but actively work to ruin their future happiness – it seems more than fair for them to say “Jeez, that’s such bullshit,” every bit as loudly as you are targeting them. Why should they have to keep your secrets when you can’t be bothered to treat them with respect? Self-defense is valid emotionally, not just physically.

        However, I agree with you, Russell, that gossipy second-hand outing isn’t morally acceptable. One does not stoop to the worst behaviors of one’s antagonists merely because it feels satisfying to do so. And gossipy second-hand outing isn’t self-defense, it’s bullying. Whether or not the target seems impervious to the attack doesn’t improve the behavior.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • As far as I can see, the biggest societal effect of outing people for combining homosexual behavior and anti-homosexual political fervor has been to make anti-homosexual political fervor suspect to the nation as a whole.

        I can see that argument. It may cause some people to stop thinking, “This guy really believes this! It must be important, and maybe I should feel passionately about it,” and start thinking, “I wonder if this guy is trying to manipulate me.”

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • People who don’t have clear moral opinions in either direction seem to devote more energy now to wondering if rabid anti-gay politician X is just working out his own self-hatred issues, and less to wondering if rabid anti-gay politician X has a point.

        Sure, but we’re really at the point where the obvious answer to “does anti-gay politician X have a point?” is “Of course he doesn’t”. Perhaps it once did the LGBT community some good to shift the question, but that’s no longer the case.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  3. Maybe it would help to wargame through the strategy to see the likely result. I sometimes do this with clients who propose courses of action that I think are foolish. “What if we did exactly what you propose? What would be the likely result?”

    Here, one of two things might happen from outing this particular Congressman. And the decision is whether his constitutents care that they can no longer ignore that he’s been secretly gay all these years.

    If they do care about it, then it’s fair to assume that they care about standing athwart the advance of LGBTQ rights, and that they want a representative in Congress who will advance their flag. Which would explain the Congressman’s voting pattern juxtaposed with his personal life. Should that be the case, then he will be replaced by someone more anti-gay in his legislative agenda. That hardly seems like a victory.

    If his constituents don’t care that he’s secretly gay (as they shouldn’t and probably don’t) then outing him doesn’t much matter and he’ll get re-elected because he’s the incumbent. So then, a legislator who for whatever reason has already been voting against advancing LGBTQ rights despite being gay himself will have been pissed off by someone purporting to be advancing the gay rights movement. That hardly seems like it would change his future voting pattern.

    …Not to mention that as a journalist, Mr. Hod’s job is to investigate and report the news, not to advocate for a particular policy agenda. Sure he can have opinions about things, but in the execution of his professional duties, he needs to set that aside to a substantial degree in favor of doing his job. That’s part of what it is to be a professional.

    The OP mentioned both of these points, but I think they bear repeating and fleshing out.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • “Not to mention that as a journalist, Mr. Hod’s job is to investigate and report the news, not to advocate for a particular policy agenda. Sure he can have opinions about things, but in the execution of his professional duties, he needs to set that aside to a substantial degree in favor of doing his job. That’s part of what it is to be a professional.”

      I don’t think these are as easily separated as people seem to think they are and we might be better off without thinking as such. In Europe it is pretty much accepted that newspapers and magazines have partisan positions. The Guardian, Le Monde, the New Statesmen are on the left. Le Figaro and The London Times are on the right. The Independent (UK) is centrist. Everyone accepts this. Our Newspapers used to be equally partisan. It is only fairly recently that the idea of journalism as being non-partisan emerged and it seems to be an explicitly American ideal.

      Even if it advances an agenda, I think showing the hypocrisy of people in positions of power and influence is important even if it is not neutral. Why is it wrong to point out the hypocrisy of preachers and others who do not act as they preach. Osama Bin Laden preached against the decadence of the West and we allegedly found tons of porn in his bunker. Is it wrong to point out that a homophobic preacher solicited a male escort? Or that someone who preaches abstention from drugs and alcohol was caught smoking weed and buying whiskey?

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Why is it wrong to point out the hypocrisy of preachers and others who do not act as they preach. Osama Bin Laden preached against the decadence of the West and we allegedly found tons of porn in his bunker. Is it wrong to point out that a homophobic preacher solicited a male escort? Or that someone who preaches abstention from drugs and alcohol was caught smoking weed and buying whiskey?

        My general approach–or at least my *ideal* approach–is to start from the assumption that it’s wrong, and then to try to justify it for some higher or at least legitimate goal, perhaps with some nexus as to how the given hypocrisy is relevant to the discussion at hand.

        In other words, I’m conflicted. Perhaps my conflict comes from a realization that I am deeply flawed. I have certain notions of right and wrong and violate them repeatedly. Now, I’m not by almost any definition a public figure like a preacher or politician is, so that’d change things a bit.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • One lawyer to another: Have you ever had to advocate for a client’s position that was personally distasteful? Ask the court for something your client had a good legal claim to but which you thought was not particularly moral or just? If not, then when you eventually do (for you will, most assuredly) that will be a test of professionalism. But it’s actually not that hard to do; you are not your client, after all.

        So too is the journalist not the story. Segregating opinion from analysis, reporting from participating, is not something that a thoughtful professional should relegate to the realm of “so difficult it’s effectively impossible.” Some situations may be more challenging than others, true, but part of being a “professional” means adhering your own conduct to an accepted set of ethical standards, particularly when doing so is difficult.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Burt, the program Hod worked on at CBS was basically “Gay People News, for the Gay People Channel brought to you by Gay People, sponsored by CBS”. Insofar as “pro gay” is partisan, his job was very much to be partisan.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  4. If often seems that there is an assumption among people in favor of outing that the folks they out are easily switching between two seemingly incongruous lives. On the one hand, they denounce gays and attempts to offer gays equal rights. On the other, they are gay. I would venture to guess it is far, far more complicated than this. Maybe they haven’t fully come to terms with their sexuality. Maybe they are still attempting to make sense of their sexual or emotional urges and their political, religious, and personal beliefs. I assume these peoples lives are far more difficult than they are often made out to be. I think they may be tortured by trying to make sense of it all. I don’t think we can simply disregard them as selfish jerks who are trying to hurt other gays. I think that is too simple. People stay in the closet for a number of reasons and, ultimately, their sex lives are their own.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  5. Thank you, Russell. My problem with outing people is twofold. First, there’s the point you made, where it makes the outer seem petulant and childish, and it gives creedance to the idea that being gay is something that that is worth hiding. I suppose there are people in this country (and others) who agree, but I think the tide is turning there.

    My other issue here is that we (well, not we…I don’t live in IL, nor do I vote GOP, but someone…) elected him for his politics. Much like I don’t care if Bill slept with Monica or if he inhaled some years back, or for that matter who Kennedy was diddling back in the day; gay or straight, personal life is personal, and I feel like something should remain personal. Just because we CAN expose someone as gay doesn’t mean we should. My personal life is no one’s business but my own (fortunately, no one actually cares about mine), but the same courtesy and human decency should be paid to others, regardless of celebrity or public office.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  6. It is fairly well-known that almost all of the Big Hollywood studios were founded and run by Eastern European Jews or first-generation Jewish-Americans. Either way, they were very aware of their Jewishness and somewhat to very ashamed of it. They did not quite deny it always but they went to great lengths to make sure movies were not too overtly Jewish seeming or had Jewish themes. This is despite the fact that the first talkie was the very Jewish, the Jazz Singer.

    It is also fairly well-known that there was a lot of open anti-Semitism during the 1930s and not only in Europe but in the United States. Critics of the New Deal called it “The Jew Deal”. The book Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting contains lots of examples of anti-Semitics phamplets and books that were published in the United States about the “nefarious” Jewish control of Hollywood and how Jewish smut-peddlars were corrupting the innocent youth of America. This is stuff that would make Dr. Gobbels proud. Because of all of this many of the Jewish executives in Hollywood refused to speak up about Jewish persecution in Europe in the days leading up to WWII. Even after the Holocaust, many still fought tooth and nail against movies like Crossfire* and Gentlemen’s Agreement which sought to raise awareness against anti-Semitism.

    I imagine that outing is a kind of action against this kind of reaction and am sympathetic to it. I concur with Jason about the need for the closet for teenagers though.

    It would be nice if one day someone can be openly gay but otherwise a social conservative and fiscal conservative and welcome in the GOP but there is something very noxious about what people like Aaron Shoock and formally Ken Mehlman do or did to homosexuals.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • You raise some good points, but as per usual, I’m going to disagree with part of what you say rather than point out the many points on which I do agree:

      I imagine that outing is a kind of action against this kind of reaction and am sympathetic to it. I concur with Jason about the need for the closet for teenagers though.

      It would be nice if one day someone can be openly gay but otherwise a social conservative and fiscal conservative and welcome in the GOP but there is something very noxious about what people like Aaron Shoock and formally Ken Mehlman do or did to homosexuals.

      My disagreement, or perhaps it's a proviso, is that people should be able not to have to publicly disclose their sexuality if they choose not to. The closet might be fine for teenagers, but it should also be fine for anyone who just doesn't want to make it public.

      Of course, that's not really at issue in this discussion or in most meanings we assign to "closet" when it comes to being gay. It's not that it's merely nice not to have to disclose your sexuality, it is, as Jason K. says, a survival mechanism for teens (and, I'd add, for adults who aren't financially independent…..there's still a lot of discrimination out there). In other words, I see where you, Jason, and Sam are coming from. We're not there yet.

        Quote  Link

      Report

  7. Often I think these discussions about outing, specifically, ignore or at least downplay the context in which public discussions or speculation about public persons’ sexual lives are happening. One of the points Michaelangelo Signorile, who wrote the book on outing, made was that the refusal to discuss a given subject’s homosexuality happen simultaneously with very public discussions or speculation about that subject’s sex life. Hollywood is an old hand at this, insisting on studio-arranged marriages to quell rumors of homosexulatity, planing gossip column items about who-is-dating-whom to throw people off the scent.

    I rarely see people who say that outing should never be an option also say we should never, ever discuss any public person’s sexual or romantic entaglements, or make equally bright-line distinctions about when it isn’t appropriate to discuss those and when it might be. The announcement of engagement to marry? Is it okay then to say, well, if male Politician X is now engaged to Random Woman Y, then we can all safely presume he’s straight? Or should that also never be an option?

    The only reason outing is an issue is because Ordinary People (whether in a League or not) presume heterosexuality unless or until confronted with evidence to the contrary. This is perfectly understandable, given that most people are heterosexual. It also lets politicians like Aaron Schock skate by on the presumtion without ever having to announce publicly that he is, in fact, heterosexual. And in fact, I have no idea whether he ever has announced that. But I have seen speculative gossip items about who he is or isn’t dating, and all the potential partners have been female. Schock is in a bit of unusual situation for a politician because he’s pretty and he’s unmarried; therefore the press (using an expansive definition, incorporating all that the press is) comments not just on his policies but also on his personal life. This is not new, this has been happening since he was a candidate. I have no idea how many of those items orginated from Schock’s own public relations people or the GOP’s P.R. machine, but given that gossip columns tend to “[barf] up a bunch of sniggering gossip” at least as much as they engage in original investigative reporting, it’s probably a safe bet that a fair number of those items did originate from P.R. hacks hired to make sure people don’t forget about Aaron Schock.

    If you want to say that Schock’s personal life should be off limits, that people shouldn’t care who he might be dating, much less who he is sleeping with or even whether he is having sex, and the press should never comment on that, fine. I could go with that. The fact is, though, that such discussion has never been off limits and I haven’t seen Russell or anyone else complaining about that until someone questions whether Schock might not be heterosexual at all. Then it gets called “crap.”

    Can someone explain to me why this isn’t a double-standard?

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • 1) The person presenting the “information” about Schock isn’t, from what I can tell, a gossip columnist. He is ostensibly a “serious” journalist.

      2) Since you ask, I generally find gossip about the private lives of public officials unseemly. I don’t typically comment about it because it usually doesn’t pertain much to issues I care about. In this case, it pertains to a much greater degree, and implicates a much-used polemical tactic by people on my side of a major civil rights issue.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • The problem I have with your perspective, Russell, is that you are refusing to engage with the fact that such speculation does occur, whether or not you think it pertains. Outing does not occur in a vacuum, which is how you are treating it. It occurs in the context of a great swirling misama of assumptions, gossip, journalism, policy-making and political calculation. To say ‘outing is always wrong’ makes no sense in the context in which outing happens. You seem to want to pretend that none of that other stuff matters, that it is unimportant that people will assume someone like Schock is heterosexual unless he or someone else says he isn’t. You seem to want to pretend that it doesn’t matter how much someone like Schock does or doesn’t manipulate (through the PR apparatus that is explicity designed to manipulate) the process of building and maintaining the image he wants to project, that it doesn’t matter how much someone like Schock benefits from that manipulation and from that basic (but frankly baseless) assumption. Somehow, through some logic I can’t follow, none of that matters enough to criticize or call out, but outing does.

        If a “serious journalist” were writing a profile of a politician, interviews friends, colleagues, former employers, family members, and even exes, and produces a thoughtful, in-depth profile of that politician that happens to skip over the fact that said politician isn’t the heterosexual he claims to be, is that, in your view, okay? If so, why should sexual orientation be singled out as the thing about which no “serious journalist” should ever contradict the politician’s carefully constructed narrative? If not, then how can you claim that outing is always wrong?

        This raises all kinds of other questions for me, like at what point does it, in your view, become okay to discuss a closeted person’s sexual orientation? Never? After death? After retirement? Should speculation about the nature of J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson’s relationship still be off limits? At what point does the existance of instances of homosexuality get erased from history because of your antipathy to outing?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Let me see if I can answer the substance of your question by defining a bit better what I consider “outing” to be. I don’t consider it to be reporting on the details of a person’s life as part of an in-depth profile. That’s simply reporting, and what journalists do.

        Heck, I don’t object so strenuously if people who have actually had sex with the person in question reveal it. As Maribou has said somewhere in this comment stream, people are entitled to share the details of their lives with whomever they choose. The guy who had sex with Haggard could serve as a decent example, thought I also agree with Burt that the glee everyone evinced as they danced around the bonfire of Haggard’s life up to that point was a bit much.

        What I object to is someone reporting (or, in this case, “reporting”) that someone is gay as the only salient fact, and doing so solely for the purpose of undermining that person’s standing within a community they don’t like. As in this case and the case I wrote about earlier, it’s often based on rumor. And often, as in this case, it seems designed to do nothing more than damage that person.

        Writing a biography of J. Edgar Hoover? Write away. That’s what biographers do, and presumably the book won’t just be “Gay J Edgar Hoover: Details of his Gayness.” It would be about him, of which his purported gayness (or whatever) was just a part. But Hod is doing no such thing. The only other details of Schock’s life he’s mentioning are the ones that make clear just why he doesn’t like him. (And Schock isn’t uniquely homophobic in that regard, he’s merely toeing the line of an appallingly homophobic party.) The only new thing he’s telling us all is that Schock is gay, and even that he’s telling us based on a gossamer-thin thread of gossip and who the man (inadvisably) follows on Instagram.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  8. I admit, I really think it’s funny when someone who has been a champion of, say, stopping anthropogenic global warming is found to do stuff like whirlwind trips to the other side of the world or have four-figure electrical bills for their homes. Heck, when Ted Haggard was outed, I remember feeling something akin to glee. It was just *THAT* perfect.

    Now, I admit: all of that is because of the comedy that spills out of hypocrisy rather than anything having to do with the merits of environmentalism or the closet or whatever.

    If I may make a horrible comparison, meeting a gay guy is like meeting a guy whose lifelong career is infusing gins with various flavors. Nice to meetcha and all that, but that’s really not my bag.

    But, goodness, if I find out that you’re one of the biggest champions of Prohibition and I find out that you infuse gin on the side? You’d better believe that I’ll pass that tidbit of info on. I’ll probably be laughing at the same time.

    BUT! AND HERE’S THE POINT! I’m not laughing because of the gin. I’m laughing because of the Prohibition.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • Haggard was perfectly consistent. He preached that gay sex was such a powerful attraction that it would cause people to completely lose their moral compass, because for him it did: viz. weekends built around hookers and meth. He’s no more a hypocrite than a alcoholic who preaches sobriety while occasionally falling off the wagon.

        What he preached was stupid and false, of course, but not at all inconsistent.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • He’s no more a hypocrite than a alcoholic who preaches sobriety while occasionally falling off the wagon.

        Sure, if he were just a quiet Joe trying to get thru his day the best he could. But he wasn’t. He was a minister at a church. So the analogy only makes sense if we consider those recovering alcoholics who want to ban liquor and tell people from their position of Authority within the Church of Sobriety that drinking is a sin punished by flames. And then admit they their future after-life will be a hot one.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I think haggard was conflicted, if that’s what you’re getting at. And that he is and was struggling to accommodate conflicting desires. Which is why I made the initial comment that spurred this subthread. If we judge him negatively, it’s because of the context under which his personal conflicts manifested and became public.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Hmmm. This is an interesting discussion.

        He was saying “Gay sex destroys lives. I’ve seen it.”

        But it’s only because he continued to believe that gay sex was wrong that that conclusion was realized for him. If he didn’t rejected either one – the belief that gay sex was a sin or his own desires – then it wouldn’t have destroyed his life.

        Alsotoo, if he embraced his sexuality, then his being “outed” back in the day would have – or at least could have – been a liberating event.

        The hypocrisy stems from his admonishments against the desire, since the outcome of acting on those desires is surely not life-destroying. I mean, if evidence has anything to say about it.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Alsotoo, if he embraced his sexuality, then his being “outed” back in the day would have – or at least could have – been a liberating event.

        For what it’s worth, it appears that his outing has been somewhat liberating.

        Seriously. Check out http://tedhaggardblog.com/

        His most recent post takes on the Duck Dynasty thing.

        I daresay he’s a better person and, from where I sit, a better *CHRISTIAN* than he used to be.

        He’s downright usable as an example for what we (ideally) want to happen after an outing.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Based on the evidence closest to him, his own life, it’s a much stronger desire than straight sex, in fact irresistible, and since it’s impossible either to ignore or to pursue licitly, leads to meth-fueled vacations with hookers. That’s foolish, but not hypocritical.

        And not even unusual. People who preach against gay sex often say that without strong societal norms against it, pretty soon everyone’ll be doing it. I think that tells us a lot more about them than they realize.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • he’s deliberately acting on the desire

        Do you actually know that? Do you think he deliberates on the issue and concludes, “yes, I should act in the desire”? Or is it possible he can’t control the compulsion, and evem as he’s acting on it he’s aware he shouldn’t?

        Perhaps you’ve never had desires you wish you hadn’t, and that you could not always resist. If so, count yourself a fortunate person.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Oh James. Of all people to make this criticism, it’s you! The “subjectively determined rationality” guy. The “people know their own desires than anyone else” guy.

        Really? You want to get all sickological with a liberal??!!

        OK, with that out of the way… I don’t know what it could possibly mean to say that a person acts on a compulsion for gay sex which they can’t control except to say that they have a desire for gay sex.

        Is there more to it than that?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Wow, Stillwater, your response manages to avoid the one word I was specifically critiquing, and make a laughably misguided comment on dubjective utility. Very impressive. I cede the field, and exit the discussion lest we once again go deep down the rabbit hole of a “discussion” in which we repeatedly talk past one another.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • James, I apologize for the glibness of that response. After I posted it I realized that there you might be talking about a different topic than I initially thought. Sorry about that.

        And don’t go on account of me. I want to hear what you have to say about this stuff and promise I won’t play any weird, liberal, Stillwatery tricks.

        I only bring those out when the heat is really on.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • He’s telling people not to do something to which he considers himself addicted, lest they become addicted too. If you heard that from a meth addict who keeps relapsing, would you call him a hypocrite because he obviously likes meth?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Mike,

        Sure, I get what you’re saying. From his pov, it all made sense. I’m not adopting his pov tho. I’m criticizing him for the limitations he imposed on himself, limitations that he was very much an agent in pursuing and preserving. For whatever reasons.

        I mean, maybe he’s just a tragic figure. But only because he didn’t do things that were – ostensibly – within his control. If a person’s life is destroyed by meth and they can’t control that addiction, then maybe there’s a sense in which that’s tragic. But if a person’s life is destroyed because they can’t admit to themselves that they like gay sex and admitting it could actually improve the quality of their life, then … well … maybe that’s tragic too, but it’s a different type of tragedy. Especially when he had a position of influence on others to prevent them from taking actions which would also improve the quality of their lives.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • Of course the guy who champions doing something about AGW who…gasp….uses airplanes is only a hypocrite if he said nobody should ever fly again or says that nobody use electricity. Now if he had said those things then the criticisms are fair. If he hadn’t even made those claims and people were nailing him for things he didn’t advocate or suggest then there is a term for that involving the word “strawman.”

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • To step back for a second i’ve had people raise this hypocrisy issue about the G Man before. My question has always been “did he say no one should fly?” If he did than he is a hypocrite. If he didn’t say that then he isn’t. Did he say “no one should have a big house (and buy renewable energy credits to help off set his energy use)?” Again is he did say that then he is a big ol H and if not well then he isn’t. Every time i’ve asked what he said that makes him a hypocrite no one has been able to tell me what he said that made him a hypocrite. I’ve heard plenty about how he wants every one to ride horse drawn carts and live like the 18th century while he eats raw dolphin under 100000 watt light bulbs on this throne made of ivory. Or more directly one of the common screams of those who don’t believe in AGW is that there is a conspiracy to impoverish america so a few rich people can get richer and take over everything. The dinks don’t even get that , you know, that is what the ACA if for.

        I never saw his flick. I’m a science nerd so i’ve followed the info about AGW for years before then. My experience is that people only bash G because he has the kind of personality that makes it real easy and he is an avatar for everything to do with AGW. Bashing him means not having to worry about AGW because he is whatever he is.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It’s not even “both sides do it”. It’s “moralists getting caught with their pants down are funny”.

        After that, the issue of how much effort people put into explaining how, “seriously, the guy just has a wide stance” is also usually fodder for humor.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It’s “moralists getting caught with their pants down are funny”.

        So, Al Gore’s educating people about climate change makes him a moralist?

        You’re adopting a pretty wide stance there yourself, JB.

        Do your attempts to educate people about smaller government make you a moralist?

        If not why not?

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • Actually, you would be laughing because of the gin, unless you were laughing about the prohibition before you knew about the gin, which I’m guessing you weren’t. So at the least, you’re laughing about the combination of the gin and the prohibition, not just the prohibition.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • No, I was agreeing that the combination was what was funny. Someone enjoying a G&T isn’t particularly funny either.

        It’s when they argue that people should go to jail for enjoying G&Ts and then are found enjoying a G&T that the humor is allowed to bloom.

        Of course, we might be talking about a bootlegger situation, in which case the comedy doesn’t show up at all (but, you know what, it seems the requirement to “out” the person moves from “potentially questionable” to “laudatory”).

        But I was finding the Elmer Gantry part to be funny.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Okay, so the combination, like I said. But not not the gin and not the just prohibition, like you said. And, laughing about the combination of gin & prohibition is laughing about gin, especially when you’re not laughing at prohibition & no gin (and, I suspect, are in fact more likely to be laughing at gin & no prohibition than prohibition and no gin).

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Gin can get you through times of no prohibition a lot better than prohibition will get you through times of no gin.

        And for some folks the only thing that’ll knock the edge off prohibition-based anxiety is a good stiff drink.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  9. I’m not a big fan of outing, even for celebrities and people in the “public”. Those in the public eye are expected to make public comments and have those comments reported. One big caveat to that are politicians. You are elected on the basis of your public statements and promises. Damnit, if you take a public position, especially if your actively work towards achieveing that position legally, etc., and it turns out you don’t practice what you preach, I’m all for breaking out the pitchforks and any blowback you get is well deserved. If you don’t have the courage of your convictions, don’t say anything or get out of the business.

    It’s like the Gary Hart fiasco. He publicly dared reporters to follow him. They did. He got busted fooling around. Burn baby burn.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  10. I dislike outing but frankly I can’t get exercised at all about outing politicians. Actors, artists, businessmen off limites but politicians? I just can’t get them off the fair game dart board in my mind.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  11. Okay… I clicked through some of the links via the update and I’m confused.

    How certain are we that Schock is gay?

    How much of this certainty is based on outdated gay stereotypes (e.g., his dress, penchant for shoes, etc.)?

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • How certain are we? Why, I’m glad you asked!

      We’re not at all certain that he’s gay. All we have is second-hand, unsourced natterings from someone who doesn’t even (it seems) represent himself accurately. Plus that Schock is buff, cute, an eye-catching dresser, and for some reason decided to follow Tom Daley on Instagram.

      Is he gay? Who cares? Will outing him win us any votes in a referendum to overturn a marriage equality ban? Does it make us look good in any way? Would he have dated me, even if I were single and living in the DC metro? The answer to all these questions is “no.”

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Ha!

        What bothers me is that if these stereotypes were offered up by a straight person or someone more hostile to LGBTQ folks, we would probably (and rightly) attack them for it. “It’s wrong to say that all gay men are snappy dressers and that all snappy dressers are gay.”

        Yet when this guy indulges those very same stereotypes, we’re supposed to take him seriously? That seems wrong.

        I get that stereotypes can be used differently in-group and out-group. But this isn’t two gay chums sharing humorous banter. It is one gay man using superficial stereotypes to publicly question the sexuality of someone he doesn’t even know.

        I agree more broadly that it shouldn’t really concern us whether or not Schock is gay. But it should concern us — or at least does concern me — that not only is Hod attempting to out someone, but he is doing so based on (as you say) unfounded second-hand reports and stupid stereotypes.

        I wish that I photographed as well at Mr. Schock and could pull off some of the pants-shirts combination he does. And I would hope it wouldn’t cause others to think differently of my stated sexuality.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • And that’s precisely my point.

        If Rep. Schock were to face a GOP primary challenger who insinuated that he was gay based on the exact same stuff Hod used in his odious little attention-seeking Facebook piece [Strong work to you, Mr Hod! Mission accomplished!], the gay community would be up in arms about the reprehensible recourse to stereotype and using someone’s personal life as a smear. But because it’s one of our fellow ‘mos doing the insinuating? Dan Savage and Josh Barro are falling all over themselves laughing about it on Twitter.

        Har-de-frickin’-har. Grow up, you two.

        And I also wish I photographed nearly as well as Mr. Schock. I am, at least, just as good a dresser when I put my mind to it, though.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I will say that I was… struck… by Schock’s appearance when I clicked through. In a positive way. I tend to think of Congressmen as middle-aged shlubs wearing the same old tired navy or gray suits. He is anything but.

        Which doesn’t make him gay. It just makes him… ya know… handsome. And well dressed. Perfectly good enough reasons to hate him without going all pseudo-homophobe.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I think this hits of what is perhaps the most important thing: They’re not reporting that someone is gay. They’re not reporting that he was arrested for having gay sex at a truck stop. They’re dealing in so much stereotype and innuendo and privacy invasion here that if it were anything but going after a politician who votes in a manner very unfavorable to gays, would be condemned.

        I haven’t read through all of this… but has anyone defended this aspect of it?

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • I wouldn’t categorically say “no, there’s no scenario.” But I would suggest at the very least that we balance what raising the issue does against what it doesn’t (or what the one doing the raising is trying to accomplish).

      As you might tell from my comments above, however, I’m reluctant to rely wholly on this utilitarian calculation. I think we still disagree, but I’ve edged closer to what I understand your and ‘s position to be. I wouldn’t call it “vigilante” justice, but there’s something I really don’t like about it, and maybe that’s just my squeamishness about acknowledging that politics is sometimes hardball.

      In some ways, this reminds me of a conversation I had with a pro-gay rights friend when Prop 8 was passed. He suggested that pro-ssm’ers try to engage in a politics of innuendo by highlighting some of what he believed were the wackier aspects of LDS theology and beliefs. I objected that doing so would be a bigoted move and wrong regardless of its utility. He admitted there was something unsavory about it, but he still thought that if doing such a highlighting campaign be useful, it should be done.

      That situation of course isn’t exactly comparable to what we’re discussing here (after all, we’re not talking about smearing an entire group of people who adhere to a particular religion). But I think it’s in the same ballpark inasmuch as we’re doing something not entirely right. At least that’s my view.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Because I so aggressively think that actions matter more than words, I cannot help but continue to think that the Aaron Shocks of the world are owed nothing, especially given how little quarter he himself is willing to extend as evidenced by his voting record. If he has no problem demonizing gays again and again and again, I don’t see why his own (apparent) sexuality should then be off limits.

        But also, it is worth noting that his (apparent) sexuality isn’t being raised as a critique of the man himself, but rather, a lense through which to view his actions. If a local legislator named Tommy O’Reilly was repeatedly voting to prevent the Irish from marrying, from joining the military, from receiving benefits, from adopting, I don’t think it would be out of bounds for people to at least raise an eyebrow. I really don’t see the difference here, save for the absurd benefit of the doubt routinely extended to despicably hypocritical social conservatives.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • One answer is that the treatment we give today’s despicably hypocritical social conservative might be the treatment that other people give to tomorrow’s despicably hypocritical me.

        I have feet of clay on a number of issues where I think there are moral wrongs. Now, I’d like to think that I don’t pull a Mr. Schock and assume the mantle of anti-immoral thing on which I have feet of clay (not that being gay is immoral, but in his worldview,* apparently, it is). Still, I would be embarrassed and ashamed and disheartened if the composition of my feet on those issues were generally known. Perhaps that’s because I have a dishonest disposition. Not that any of this is an argument against your position here, although it might be an argument against indiscriminate outing, which you certainly don’t seem to be arguing for.

        *I’m talking about the hypothetical Mr. Schock here. There seems to be a real question that he actually is gay and it’s seems to be largely assumed that he’s a fervent anti-gay politician who gay baits all he can only to get elected and that he’s not just a regular ole anti-ssm politician. I’m not sure the distinction matters. But I just wanted to point out that I am (and maybe we are) making some assumptions here.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It seems there are at least two ways to take your “actions speak louder than words” standard.

        One is to suggest that Mr. Schock’s voting record (his actions in Congress) deserves to be condemned regardless of whether he’s gay or straight. In that way, I agree.

        The second is to suggest that Mr. Schock’s (apparent) gayness adds somehow to the contempt we show for his voting record. Or to put it another way, if Mr. Schock is straight or more abstemious or whatever would qualify in our book are morally righteous, his voting record would be something and somehow less contemptible.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • If his name was Tommy O’Reilly and he routinely voted an anti-Irish party line (if such a thing existed) would it be to mention the apparent disconnect between the man’s apparent lineage and his voting record?

        People seem to keep saying that Schock isn’t obligated to vote in the interest of gay citizens just because he himself is gay. I agree. But he should have to explain why he is voting against the interest of gay citizens if he himself is gay. That isn’t an unfair thing to expect him to account for, is it?

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • , would you accept “I vote the way I do because that is what I perceive a majority of my constituents to prefer. I am a representative, which means that my job is to represent my constituents, not necessarily to vote as I would personally prefer on all matters.”?

            Quote  Link

          Report

      • If we limit what we’re doing merely to entering in Mr. O’Reilly’s Irishness or Mr. Schock’s orientation into the discussion, then…..maybe I’m on board.

        But even in those cases, I can’t imagine, from a utilitarian point, that we get much traction out of it. I can, in fact, imagine a lot of cases where the identity of the politician might aid his or her position:

        Mr. O’Reilly might gain a certain credibility by saying, e.g., “hey, I’m a son of Irish immigrants, and even I support this anti-Irish measure.”

        A hypothetical (out) gay person might say, “hey, I’m gay, but even I oppose gay marriage because my traditionalist view of marriage is more important.”

        We don’t have to go far to find real-world examples, here. I understand that LULAC sometimes supports, or has supported, immigration restriction from Latin America (I might be wrong here…..someone can correct me if I am). Phyllis Schlafly’s campaign against the ERA was probably helped, rather than hurt, by the fact that she’s a woman. At the Volokh Conspiracy, I once read someone (an author, not a commentator) say with the online version of a straight face that the fact that many tea partiers supported Herman Cain means that their opposition to Obama is not based in racism.

        Of course, none of my examples involve closeted people or people who are passing. And maybe that changes the calculus, but even then, we’re dealing with eliciting a set of reactions and consequences that may be different and not have the utility we think it will have.

        And if we’re going to go about exposing people’s private lives and the utility is not all we hope it to be, then maybe we should think twice about doing so. Maybe not thrice, but at least twice. We are doing something that is hurtful to the person, and no matter how useful doing so is to a greater cause and no matter how much, in some cosmic sense, that person may *deserve* it and no matter how much he/she might actually grow stronger and confront some inner demons, we are still doing something hurtful. And if the offenses must come, woe unto us by whom the offense cometh.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I believe if his name O’Reilly, outing him as a mick would be entirely superfluous, so the analogy doesn’t really apply.

        I’m with Pierre on this. His actions are his policy votes, and we can certainly criticize that. That’s sufficient.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Burt,

        Of course I would accept that, because that presupposes he gets asked questions about the apparent contradiction, rather than letting him have his cake (political power via rank, oppressive conservatism) and eat it too (an apparent private life that stands in opposition to his public voting record) all for the sake of some sort of decency that the man has hardly earned.

        I am trying to imagine a scenario in which I think that less information is better, especially a political one, but I’m struggling to come up with one. I’m sure there is an obvious answer. Beyond my fundamentalist view on the superiority of action to word, I tend to believe that those who want to get into politics basically chuck their right to secrets. Unfair, perhaps, but if you’re going to wield that power against people, accountability is an awfully useful weapon in response.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  12. I’m curious…

    Suppose we learn that Schock is indeed gay. But that he grew up in a family that threatened to disown him if he were. And despite what he might know in his heart and his mind about who he is, he has resisted acknowledging as much for fear of the very real repercussions from his family and friends. So in response, he has overcompensated. “You think I’m gay? Did you see how strongly I disapprove of gay marriage? You think I’m gay? Did you see my efforts to block the repeal of DADT?”

    Suppose we learned all that… would that change the minds of any of the folks in favor of outing him?

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • I suppose this blog thread has run its course, but it’s a snow day and I have little to do…..

        I think Sam’s and others’ points aren’t just about Mr. Schock, but also about whether it is ever acceptable to behave “badly” here? They’ve convinced me that there might be such cases, at least in some circumstances. I am, however, wary of drawing a line about when and where such cases might be.

          Quote  Link

        Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *