A Conversation Continued … (Outing)

Yesterday, I took note of some remarks by James Taranto to highlight charity vs venom in responses of right to left. Blog neighbor Jason Kuznicki objected to the notion that outing was an anti-gay response by the left. He also asked me which was worse, anomymous sex or partnered, to which I replied the former.

Due to the router outage earlier, he was unable to reply. However, he kindly emailed me with a response which follows (below the fold) and my response to that will continue below.

You asked a question (going on memory) about outing anti-gay politicians who are themselves homosexuals. “Is it to teach them?” you asked.

I’d say that no, it’s not to teach them. It’s to teach the voters about their character. Some think that being in the closet and trying to hide homosexual impulses is wrong. Others, such as the writer you quoted, think that it’s noble, and far preferable to living as an openly gay man. The open homosexual quite clearly engages in the sin far more often and with less remorse. He also sets a bad example for others. I for example have encouraged dozens if not hundreds to come out, through my high-profile online writing.

Whatever one’s opinions on this question, I think it’s clear that few will be neutral. So why not let the citizens decide whether a person of this type should be their representative? Why not make it a matter of public knowledge, if you have credible evidence? Getting arrested trying to have sex in public is pretty relevant to deciding on a candidate’s character, no?

You write also that you think my own life is morally less bad than the life of someone who is closeted but who (rarely) seeks out anonymous sex, and who at least feels remorse about it afterward. On what grounds do you make this evaluation? It seems to me that once we accept homosexuality as morally disordered, we’d have to side with the person who struggles against it, not with the person who practices it openly and without apology.

First, neither Mr Taranto nor I said it was more noble to be a closeted gay man. Mr Taranto only noted that it was a logically consistent point of view. As a reminder, he wrote:

But there is nothing hypocritical about someone who is homosexual, believes homosexuality is wrong, and keeps his homosexuality under wraps. To the contrary, he is acting consistent with his beliefs. If he has furtive encounters in men’s rooms, that is an act of weakness, not hypocrisy.

Your point is that the outing is done not to teach the subject of the outing, but the voters. As a corollary one might assume that only those in public office might be “reasonably outed”. As I had remarked, I can understand that in the world of politics hard things are done. The point is one is doing, for reasons of policy and pushing a particular normative view, harm is being done to a gay (or bi-sexual?) man … as the outing him not by his choice is a harm. In a sense, as a Libertarian it seems to me you are bound to allow others their notion that engaging in same sex intercourse as sinful. However, it seems as well, you are choosing not to grant that freedom to a person who is actively gay (but closeted). In that view only heterosexuals are “allowed” to view that as normative, which Mr Taranto views as an anti-gay posture.

Outing is not the only solution to discrediting from office Mr Craig without attacking his choices. One might choose for example, not  “outing” Mr Craig, but not concealing his crime exactly either. For example one might choose to condemn Mr Craig for public indecency in a public restroom, but not choose to expound on any more details. That certainly is enough to condemn him in most voters minds against the qualifications for holding a high office of trust. The additional choice of “outing” is not necessary and an (anti-gay) act of violence against Mr Craig.

You questioned  my finding that what seems worse to me was that more rare anonymous sex (of either sort) is worse than more frequent monogamous (homosexual) sex. You wonder why. It is because I think the anonymous nature of the sexual intercourse in question is further from the ideal than the same vs different sex part. The path taken rightly by a person who has sexual attraction to the same sex is not one which I feel qualified to advise, I have more than enough to deal with finding my own crooked way. It doesn’t seem however that a it is a necessary conclusion that the only two options are “open and without apology” or “rare, anonymous, but repentant”.

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  1. Your point is that the outing is done not to teach the subject of the outing, but the voters. As a corollary one might assume that only those in public office might be “reasonably outed”.

    Yes. Also, a politician who has private, consensual sex with another man is quite a different story from a politician who breaks a law.

    In a sense, as a Libertarian it seems to me you are bound to allow others their notion that engaging in same sex intercourse as sinful.

    Of course. For example, observant Jews regard eating shellfish as sinful. I let them go their way, and I go mine. That’s just how things must be done, particularly in a republic with as many different cultural groups as our own. The state should enforce only that framework of law which allows us all to develop our own tastes, values, and aspirations in a way that does not impede anyone else from doing likewise.

    However, it seems as well, you are choosing not to grant that freedom to a person who is actively gay (but closeted). In that view only heterosexuals are “allowed” to view that as normative, which Mr Taranto views as an anti-gay posture.

    I don’t quite think I’m doing this. All I mean is that someone who routinely is attracted to and falls in love with other men really ought to be able to figure out the whole “gay” thing. Closeted gays may very well be against gay and lesbian equality, but I think they have less excuse than most.

    I think the anonymous nature of the sexual intercourse in question is further from the ideal than the same vs different sex part. The path taken rightly by a person who has sexual attraction to the same sex is not one which I feel qualified to advise, I have more than enough to deal with finding my own crooked way. It doesn’t seem however that a it is a necessary conclusion that the only two options are “open and without apology” or “rare, anonymous, but repentant”.

    Fair enough. While I don’t agree with your viewpoint, I at least can understand it and see that it is consistent. I would suggest the following, however: Straight men commonly report that having a wife gives them an outlet for what might otherwise become destructive sexual appetites. Indeed, Saint Paul urges marriage on Christian men for exactly this reason, and he advises celibacy only for those who are specially called to it.

    I think the same is true of gay men. Even aside from the devoted nonsexual love of a lifelong relationship, having a designated sexual outlet is a prudent step for just about all of us. Advising celibacy for everyone isn’t going to work, as Paul understood. Advising people to change from gay to straight may only very rarely work, if it works at all. Settled partnership seems the best way to go, then. It’s not just the least bad option — it is the best choice for everyone.