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    December 05, 2007

    Blogging H-free sex scandals

    Posted by: Chris

    Mikemchaneyfriendster An interesting debate is shaping up over how or whether gay media and bloggers will cover the arrest of gay Senate aide Mike McHaney (pictured here from his Friendster profile) for allegedly showing up for a three-way involving a 13-year-old male. I have argued that sex scandals like McHaney's illustrate the illogic and, at least, the over-emphasis on "hypocrisy" as the only factor in whether a sex scandal is newsworthy or blogworthy.

    I wrote:

    There can be little doubt that if McHaney were an aide to, say, Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott or some other anti-gay Republican, the blogosphere would be having a field day with the arrest. But as it turns out, McHaney works for gay-friendly Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat.

    The logic here is what fascinates me. It would be hypocritical for the aide to an anti-gay Republican to be busted as a sexual predator, but it's not hypocritical for the aide of a pro-gay Democrat. What does that say about pro-gay Democrats exactly? That we expect this sort of behavior from them and their staff? Or is that so long as you don't legislate morality, your own immorality and that of your staff doesn't "stick" on you?

    Matt over at The Malcontent points out the one-sidedness:

    Say what you want about Larry Craig, but no one is calling him a pederast.

    And herein lies one of the chief problems with the leftists who decide whom they choose to out based on their political party:  While they busy themselves with Republican closet cases and politicians who aren’t in favor with HRC, they tend to lose sight of equally bad or worse behavior in their own midst.

    Now comes a response from Joe.My.God, who has been among the first and most extensive with coverage of gay sex scandals involving anyone right of center politically. Joe passed on the McHaney scandal entirely at first, then posted about it in response to my report that McHaney previously worked as Joe Solmonese's scheduler at HRC. Even still, Joe posted mainly to explain why he thinks the scandal still isn't blogworthy:

    Sex crimes, gay and straight, occur every day. Does the gay blogosphere have a moral imperative to cover the crimes of relative nobodies, just because they work for politicians, especially when the perpetrators have no known anti-gay track record? I don't think so.

    I've exhaustively covered the stories of major hypocrites like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, and dangled unproven theories such as the recent Trent Lott hooker nonsense. But I've also left other unpleasant stories about Democrats and Republicans alone, for the reasons mentioned above.

    By Malcontent's standards (and probably Chris Crain's), my hands are not clean. There may indeed be some "meat" to the McHaney story, that remains to be seen, and Crain is absolutely correct that we need to call out our own, even if it damages the movement. I just don't agree that we've been doing that bad of a job.

    Joe's thoughtful post touches on the two central problems I have with how left-leaning gay bloggers handle the sex lives of those involved in politics (or, in Haggard's case, religion).

    First, this exaggerated focus on the importance of hypocrisy as the only newsworthy or blogworthy angle to the sexual conduct of those in politics leads to all sorts of horrible intrusions into personal privacy. Gay bloggers on the left routinely traffic in rumor and unconfirmed innuendo involving the alleged intimate details of the sex lives of those they "report" on, whether or not misconduct or a crime is involved.

    Second, these bloggers traffic in a double standard that says sexual misconduct is blogworthy only if it suggests hypocrisy; that is, only if it's committed by conservatives or those who work for them. Or, in the case of those bloggers who attempt to out conservatives and their staffers, no mis-conduct is required at all -- simply alleged gay sexual conduct, or even gay affiliation, such as showing up at gay parties or bars.

    Of course I understand that hypocrisy is newsworthy and blogworthy, but if sexual misconduct says something about the credibility of conservatives, why doesn't it say anything about the credibility of liberals when it happens to one of their own?

    If McHaney worked for Trent Lott, for example, we'd be told that the scandal reflects on the legitimacy of Lott's position on gay rights and moral values. Why doesn't the same hold true for McHaney's boss, gay-friendly Democrat Maria Cantwell? Is liberalism associated with a culture of permissiveness in which a Senate staffer could spend work time setting up a three-way with a 13-year-old?  Or in which someone with a history of sexual impropriety could be shipped around among a top gay rights group, two Democratic presidential campaigns and a U.S. senator without anyone raising a red flag?

    I don't necessarily think so, certainly about the permissiveness theory, but my point is it's one-sided and unbalanced -- and dare I say it? hypocritical -- to only make political judgments about the sex scandals of those you disagree with.

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    Comments

    1. Kevin on Dec 5, 2007 1:29:26 PM:

      As usual, you've put your finger squarely on the real story.

    1. Double T on Dec 5, 2007 3:16:19 PM:

      Chris,
      What is in the water in South America?

      1)…….Or in which someone with a history of sexual impropriety could be shipped around among a top gay rights group, two Democratic presidential campaigns and a U.S. senator without anyone raising a red flag?.......

      He has a HISTORY or are you just peddling in rumors?

      2)………..If McHaney worked for Trent Lott, for example, we'd be told that the scandal reflects on the legitimacy of Lott's position on gay rights and moral values…………..

      LOL, really? Now who the hell would say this?

      3)………..Why doesn't the same hold true for McHaney's boss, gay-friendly Democrat Maria Cantwell? Is liberalism associated with a culture of permissiveness in which a Senate staffer could spend work time setting up a three-way with a 13-year-old?........

      Ok Jack-Ass. Being GAY and GAY-FRIENDLY is not permissiveness and it is not pedophilia.

      I CAN NOT BELIEVE YOU WROTE THIS.

    1. Citizen Crain on Dec 5, 2007 3:41:11 PM:

      Double T: Find a way to tone down the rhetoric or you won't find me responding to your comments anymore.

      As for the substance of what you wrote, I was offering hypothetical arguments and made a point of saying I did not agree with the permissiveness theory. Did you miss that?

      My point, which you didn't deal with at all, was IF one is arguing that political judgment can be made based on the sexual sins of the staffer (or pol himself), then the same has to be true for pols of all stripes (and their staffers).

      If you disagree with the theories I offered about liberal permissiveness or coverup, then it sounds like you actually AGREE with me that you can't jump to political conclusions based on sexual conduct or misconduct.

    1. Geena the Transgirl on Dec 5, 2007 5:06:31 PM:

      If the allegations are true, let's hope this is the first and last time this individual tries to entice a minor into a sex act or hook-up.
      The dude was busted at lunchtime last Friday. Does that mean he was doing this from Cantwell's office?

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Dec 5, 2007 5:39:35 PM:

      Furthermore, JMG's definition of "hypocrisy" relative to staffers is employing someone who practices behaviors that you support laws against.

      Since Cantwell ostensibly claims to oppose pedophilia and supposedly has supported laws against it, isn't she then a hypocrite for employing a pedophile?

    1. Double T on Dec 5, 2007 6:16:35 PM:

      Chris,
      Please allow me to tone it down, a bit.

      Sexual Sins of the Staff. Hmmmm.

      It would depend on how high up we're talking.
      Is it a policy maker/advisor, or the office copy boy.

      This is not black and white, there are shades of gray.
      I agree with you that you can’t judge a politician be the misdeeds of a low level staffer.
      If it a staffer he/she goes to lunch with every day and is passing legislation. Yes, I would swing the dirty end of a stick at them.

      I confess you’ve lost me on your train of thought on a coverup.

      NDT,
      Yes Cantwell would be a hypocrite if McHaney came to work everyday talking about his NAMBLA meeting or wearing a shirt that reads, “I bugger 13 year olds”.

      BUT (this is a stretch) if he kept it a secret. Me thinks the woman is not a hypocrite.
      ………………………………………………………….
      Chris, if you looking for new subject matter, you can write about how Sen. Cantwell is being victimized by this.

      I’d say that’s fair. Don’t you agree?

    1. mkf on Dec 6, 2007 3:52:24 AM:

      [this was also posted on jmg's blog]

      after looking at both sides of this issue, i can't seriously fault the lefties here. i mean, yeah--if this guy'd been a staffer for an anti-gay "strong christian values" politician, then naturally the liberal blogs would've run with it, and they and their readers would've gotten a gratifying little shot of schadenfreude out of a story about a hypocrite getting his due, but that's about it--we're talking a low-level staffer here, not a major policymaker.

      if, on the other hand, the right chose to use this story to point out that "see, we're not the only ones with pervs in our midst", i could see that too, because god knows the libs use incidents of this type concerning a republican to bolster their underlying theory that conservative "repression" by its very nature breeds the sort of perverted hypocrisy that manifests itself in just such behavior.

      but no matter how legitimate the right's argument may or may not be on that particular point, i don't see any reason for them to expect that the left should make it for them.

    1. david on Dec 6, 2007 8:36:25 AM:

      Chris -- good points. I find blogs like Joe My God to be less about ideas and more about personality. After reading it for a while I noticed that Joe posts items that show off his (embarrassingly out of date) PC-ness and his commenters echo him like followers. This kind of blogging tells us nothing about any issue but says everything about the individual bloggerego and his blogophants. Where are critical gay bloggers who exmaine issues and encourage intelligent (and often divergent) commentary? They sure aren't found in blogs like JMG!

    1. Tim C on Dec 6, 2007 9:07:58 AM:

      I find this story completely un-newsworthy, except from the most voyeristic viewpoint. There is no evidence that either his current employer or any previous employers had knowledge of his antics, and he's not in any position to influence policy on anything. He's just some guy in some job whose sexual proclivities have ended him up in trouble with the law. How many other people did that happen to on the same day? How newsworthy are they? Why are we wasting time on this other than to point out how badly you can screw up your life with one poor quality decision. This guy is ruined for a long time, but then so are all those guys MSNBC catches on it's desiring-sex-with-young-girls -cam. The only difference is that this guy is gay and those guys aren't.

    1. Randy on Dec 6, 2007 9:31:47 AM:

      I think you are right on with regard to the whole "what should be considered bloggable by the hypocritical gay bloggers who think this is not bloggable but Senator Craig is not.

      It does not help the gay identified communities case one iota to split hairs and yammer about hypocrisy when the issue is personal responsibility being played out as a public figure.

      Foley and McHaney are homosexual ephebophiles, Haggard lied and betrayed and Senator Craig broke the law (sexual lewdness.) They are all hypocrites in that each of their positions were positions of leadership. Leaders are all expected to live to a higher standard. Not go rape 13 year old boys, chase pages around on the internet, seek public sex or hire male prostitutes.

      The issue isn't about the narcissism of what bloggers think are newsworthy but about personal responsibility and how no one seems to think it applies to them but they are the arbiters of it for everyone else.

      I think, the bloggable theme in all of this is personal responsibility and if the gay identified community can't take personal responsibility for "their own" they are just as guilty as anyone they call a conservative hypocrite.

    1. Randy on Dec 6, 2007 9:40:22 AM:

      oh and an addendum... I feel bad for all four of these men. They certainly deserve the justice that has come and is coming. That said, none of us are above being human and doing stupid things. It might sound trite but it's true,"there but by the Grace of God go I."

    1. Double T on Dec 6, 2007 1:20:19 PM:

      Randy,
      The Grace of God has nothing to do with this.
      If you're talking about the Blind, fine, Grace of God.

      Here, we're talking about the rape of a 13 year old.

      Here, we're talking about monsters that hunt children.

      You want to offer up a prayer. How about praying for the victims of pedophiles

    1. Randy on Dec 6, 2007 1:33:59 PM:

      I do pray for victims of pedophile/ephebophile "Monsters" ... and for the pedophile (justice and freedom.)

      You never know where grace and mercy can manifest. I don't think it is wrong to pray for both but thank you for pointing out that we need to be concerned for the victims first.

      I do stand corrected, that is the first order of business and the issue of personal responsibility comes after that.

    1. Randy on Dec 6, 2007 1:40:14 PM:

      Well... actually the issue of personal responsibility is always present which includes sacrificial service and giving....

      but that is a huge thread drift... back to McHaney and Gay bloggers. Sorry Chris.

    1. Citizen Crain on Dec 6, 2007 5:48:34 PM:

      mkf: You're being descriptive more than analytical. The point isn't just to describe how the left and right-wing blogs will react but whether they are justified in doing so -- if not based on journalistic standards (since they choose situationally whether they are deemed to apply) then based on whether they're justified in using these scandals to score bigger policy points.

      I have been saying that the elevation of "hypocrisy" as the only angle to consider in discussing the sexual conduct of those involved in politics has resulted in all sorts of violations of personal privacy, the cheapening of political discourse and a huge exaggeration of the relevance of someone's personal sex life in discussing the merits of their policy positions, including in matters of gay rights.

      If the leftie blogs are unwilling to cast any aspersions on Cantwell so long as she fired the staffer quickly and condemned his alleged misconduct, then they shouldn't also if McHaney worked for Trent Lott or some other anti-gay pol.

      If, more likely, they will smear anti-gay pols with the sexual sins of staffers but innoculate (or ignore) the sexual sins of those who work for pro-gay pols, then the bloggers themselves are guilty of hypocrisy and we should all discount the significance these scandals ought to have in politics generally.

      And, for the record, that's what I'd do: discount their significance.

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