Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is he or isn't he?

By Heraclitus

By now you've probably all heard that Michael Rogers, a gay blogger and activist, has claimed that Larry Craig, a Republican Senator from Idaho, is teh gay. Craig, as you've probably also all heard, has three children and nine grand-children, and has dismissed the allegations, through his spokesman, as "laughable." I don't automatically believe Rogers, but I also don't see why he would pick such a relatively obscure target if he were just looking to embarass a conservative, anti-gay Republican. It's interesting to me that Andrew Sullivan has said nothing about this, given that he has discussed the question of forcible "outing" in the past, always negatively. I'm not inferring anything from his silence, I'm just wondering what he would say.

Meanwhile, whether you believe the claims or not, the right-wing response has been predictable. Apparently, "the Left hates gays," and it's simply an outrage that someone would be discussing a politician's private sexual practices in public. Glenn Greenwald does an excellent job of exposing this latter piece of horseshit for what it is, giving an extensive list of all, or at least many, of the right-wing's recent obsessions with Democrats' sexual lives (at the top of the list is, of course, the Cleanis). This sentence should give you a sense of GG's post: "
That Bush followers are drowning in the most transparent and rancid hypocrisy is hardly news."

What to make of this? I think the frenzied right-wing spinning does not make Craig's denial more feasible. I'm assuming that GOP insiders know when a Republican is gay, as they seemed to with Foley, and any response other than bemused dismissal makes the claims seem true. According to Shakespeare's Sister, Craig has been denying rumors that he's gay for 24 years. On the other hand, Craig's own response was indeed bemused dismissal. I don't think he could have handled it any better. So, my own thoughts are that there's really no way of telling, and since I don't really care if he likes men or not, I don't plan to think about this anymore after finishing this post (but then why am I writing it? When in Blogistan...). But I do enjoy seeing so many mendacious right-wing bloggers squirm and squeal.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has now weighed in on the outing, which he doesn't even suggest might be mistaken (although that's really beside the point he's making). Sullivan characterizes this outing and others like it as
"using tactics that depend on homophobia to work, that violate privacy, that demonize gay people." It obviously violates privacy, and that is of course an ethical objection one could make to this kind of thing. But I'm not sure how it relies on homophobia or demonizes gay people. Surely a major point of such outings is to humiliate the outee, to expose his hypocrisy, and this is clearly cruel. But presumably an important goal is also to show how stupid it is to try to judge people on their professed sexual orientation. It could be that as a straight man, I just don't understand the psychology of the outing. But on the face of it, I don't see how this "demonizes gay people," since the only people who will think Craig is a horrible person for liking other dudes are already homophobes. Meanwhile, the charge of hypocrisy is always a powerful one, and outings like this may indeed chip away support for the anti-gay wing of the GOP, both within its own ranks and especially among more moderate folks. To some Craig might seem like a monster (assuming he is gay); to others he just seems pathetic, and another example of why homophobia in our society is so stupid and destructive. I'm not saying I support this practice (I really don't have a principled stand on it either way), I just don't see, at this point, how it demonizes gays.

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  • But presumably an important goal is also to show how stupid it is to try to judge people on their professed sexual orientation.

    So, you think an important goal in the blatant violation of this man's privacy, the possible destruction of his family life, the possible suffering and humiliation to his wife, children and grandchildren, is to teach Rogers *audience* a lesson?

    Emperor, your clothes out for that shrinkage issue though.

    Sorry to be childish but all the creative spin in the world isn't going to change the fact that Rogers used Craig's supposed homosexuality as political bludgeon to try and destroy him.
    "Outers" - no matter whether they are right wing or left wing, are pathetic scum who have no regard for others privacy or for the pain and harm they cause to the outed and their family and friends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:29 PM  

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