December 05, 2007
Blogging H-free sex scandals
Posted by: Chris
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.
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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