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When is it legitimate for the Media to help "out" a gay person?

Almost never, I argue in my latest media column in the Rocky Mountain News. The column begins with the outing of minister Ted Haggard, and analyzes the history of outing -- from German government officials in the early 20th century, up to the present.

J. F. Thomas (mail):
Haggerd was actively campaigning for the Colorado anti-gay marriage amendment and an avid gay basher. The man who outed him did so because he found Haggerd's stance hypocritical. Should the press have ignored the guy and just let Haggerd continue to lie? If the guy didn't have tape recordings of his conversations Haggerd probably could have lied his way out of his predicament. And the press would have swallowed his lies whole.

At what point should the press stop ignoring someone who says, "this guy is a lying hypocrite and I have proof." Or is that never newsworthy?

Oh, and btw, what were the other grounds for impeaching Clinton? Surely, if Clinton committed other impeachable offenses besides lying to a grand jury, then Bush has committed them in spades.
11.18.2006 1:55pm
jab (mail):
What a hack job...

I loved how when discussing Michelangelo Signorile's point of view, Mr. Kopel cavalierly throws in "ayatollah" and "neo-Maoist"... way to completely and disingenuously sway the reader against a legitimate argument (not one I necessarily agree with) instead of actually honestly engaging it.

I also love how you conflate very different issues:
the "outing" of Ted Haggard and celebrity gossip... as if these are even remotely the same issues, or being done by the same people.

Oh, another doozie: "anti-heterosexist vanguard"!
Are you kidding me?? I laughed out loud and almost spit out my coffee... Mr. Kopel sounds like he's chanelling Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage.
11.18.2006 2:20pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Surely, if Clinton committed other impeachable offenses besides lying to a grand jury, then Bush has committed them in spades.


you're just saying that because I'm a republican.

...and don't call me Shirley.














:)
11.18.2006 3:16pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Mr. Kopel's op-ed is incomprehensible to me. If Haggard had been a crusader against pornography, would it have been improper to reveal a subscription to Barely Legal?

Or, closer to home perhaps, if he had been a zealous advocate of outlawing the private possession of handguns, would it have been okay to "out" him as regularly shooting his .357 in secret target practice?

Haggard was clear in condemning homosexual conduct. I note that the Wiki article includes an interesting tidbit (cited to Harper's Magazine):

Haggard focused ministry efforts on homosexuals early in his Colorado Springs ministry by frequenting gay bars and inviting men to his congregation.

Indeed.
11.18.2006 3:48pm
Minipundit (mail) (www):
I love how Kopel tries to construe support for any and all anti-gay legislation from a closeted gay person as not hypocritical, as long as said legislation isn't against gay sex. But what he fails to note is that Haggard had repeatedly condemned gay sex as such. That's textbook hypocrisy.
However, it's nice to know that Kopel has things on his mind other than his quest for the right to a hydrogen bomb.
11.18.2006 3:54pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
J.F. Thomas,

I'm curious can a drug addict who knows from personal experience the ravages of drug abuse be publicly against drug legalization?? If a person with a private drug habit they may or may not be trying to kick is publicly and strongly against drug use legalization do they deserve to have their private life outed? Is such a person a hypocrit?

If a person is an active homosexual in their private life, but presents themselves to the public as a normal heterosexual male and seeks public notoriety or office as this normal heterosexual male, should their private homosexual behavior be outed by press and investigators?? Is such a person a hypocrite?

Can a person who isn't perfect in their private life advocate publicly for laws and regulations that require more perfect behavior than they privately and personally possess without being a hypocrite??

It seems to me that the logical application of what you advocate with regard to Haggerd is to also be in favor of outing any closeted homosexual who seeks public office or to advocate publicly any leadership or policy position. Closeted gays present themselves in effect as normal heterosexuals, and they are by definition, or at least the definitions you seem to apply to Haggerd's situation, hypocrites who should be outed by the press and investigators. They are no more entitled to a private life and privacy than Haggerd was by application of your standards.


Asks the "Dog"
11.18.2006 3:58pm
jrose:
You argue that it is OK to out a senator who is a hypocrite in his public views. Why wouldn't that same argument apply to Haggard?

An even better argument than exposing a hypocrite, is to expose someone who uses his power to harm gays. Haggart falls within that justification as well. So would a senator who voted against DOMA. Your defense of such a vote on the basis of federalism doesn't hold because Section 3 of the bill precludes the federal government from recognizing state-sanctioned same-sex marriages, causing harm to gay people.
11.18.2006 4:03pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Today's NYT is revealing on Haggard's ethics:

A male prostitute had accused Mr. Haggard, one of the nation's most prominent evangelical ministers, of engaging in a three-year affair with him and of using drugs. Then, in a private emergency meeting, Mr. Haggard promptly confessed to the ministers — his handpicked board of overseers — that he had engaged in sexual immorality.

Now, the question was, what punishment did Mr. Haggard deserve? The board had two options: discipline him or dismiss him as senior pastor of New Life Church. Could he take a leave of absence, repent, receive spiritual counseling and return to ministry?

The answer became clear the next morning, the overseers said, when Mr. Haggard gave an interview to a television news crew as he pulled out of his driveway with his wife and three children in the car. He denied having sex with the male prostitute, and said he had bought methamphetamine but never used it. The overseers said they watched Mr. Haggard, affable as ever, smile grimly into the television camera and lie.

"We saw this other side of Ted that Friday morning," said the Rev. Michael Ware, one of the overseers. "It helped us to know whether this would be a discipline or a dismissal."


Regarding JYLD's question, Haggard was not just Joe Public, but a Christian pastor, who is expected to repent publicly and before God.
11.18.2006 4:05pm
jrose:
Can a person who isn't perfect in their private life advocate publicly for laws and regulations that require more perfect behavior than they privately and personally possess without being a hypocrite??

No.

Closeted gays present themselves in effect as normal heterosexuals

Maybe, maybe not. They may just be silent on the matter. Even assuming they are hypocrites, there is a distinction between being hypocritical in how you represent yourself versus taking a policy position.
11.18.2006 4:11pm
siobhansweebastard (mail) (www):
There's a big difference between outing someone who just happens to be a public figure by virtue of occupation, and outing someone who is a rip-off-artist.

Haggard basically stole from thousands of members of the National Association of Evangelicals by pretending he was something he wasn't. He stole their cash, he stole their trust and he pissed all over their values, while posing as a born-again saver-of-souls. Absolutely out the bastard! (Not that I even care minimally about the brand of oddball Christianity he and they represent).

If you're talking about outing Dave who does the weather on a cable channel, then no. Dave isn't in the business of deliberately scamming his viewers, and what he does privately should be his own business ... unless of course someone has evidence that he keeps body parts in his freezer.

I have a thing about posers in suits who claim to be representatives of the son-of-God. A lot of these born-again acts play on old lady's emotions so they can extract cash from their savings accounts. I find their claims and theology fraudulent for starters, in some cases ethically repugnant - but when you throw in street drugs and gay sex over the top of Hag's righteous condemnations of gay couples seeking to marry - then YES - bring out the big guns.
11.18.2006 4:20pm
siobhansweebastard (mail) (www):
There's a big difference between outing someone who just happens to be a public figure by virtue of occupation, and outing someone who is a rip-off-artist.

Haggard basically stole from thousands of members of the National Association of Evangelicals by pretending he was something he wasn't. He stole their cash, he stole their trust and he pissed all over their values, while posing as a born-again saver-of-souls. Absolutely out the bastard! (Not that I even care minimally about the brand of oddball Christianity he and they represent).

If you're talking about outing Dave who does the weather on a cable channel, then no. Dave isn't in the business of deliberately scamming his viewers, and what he does privately should be his own business ... unless of course someone has evidence that he keeps body parts in his freezer.

I have a thing about posers in suits who claim to be representatives of the son-of-God. A lot of these born-again acts play on old lady's emotions so they can extract cash from their savings accounts. I find their claims and theology fraudulent for starters, in some cases ethically repugnant - but when you throw in street drugs and gay sex over the top of Hag's righteous condemnations of gay couples seeking to marry - then YES - bring out the big guns.
11.18.2006 4:20pm
Chris Bell (mail):
This situation is different because it was his gay lover and not some outsider who "outed" him. Why can't the gay lover talk about his own sex life?

Completely different from third-party reporters running around trying to 'out' senators.
11.18.2006 4:30pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
Does Haggard's inability to meet the standard that he advocted suggest that said standard is wrong?

I note that lots of people argue for increased volunteering without doing much volunteering themselves.
11.18.2006 4:33pm
jrose:
Does Haggard's inability to meet the standard that he advocted suggest that said standard is wrong?

No, but it does argue for truth in advertising - as does your volunteering example.
11.18.2006 4:37pm
liberty (mail) (www):
If you are a drug user and advocate for your drug of choice to made illegal, don't be surprised if you are then arrested for use of the illicit substance...
11.18.2006 4:45pm
frankcross (mail):
How is it possible that the fraud he perpetrated on his congregation does not justify outing? The media is to serve as a whistleblower on misbehavior, not only in government, but in other institutions of our society. I don't think it was unethical to break the story on backdating of stock options, for example, so I can't see how it would be unethical to break this story.

What if a pastor was a secret participant in satanic rituals? That wouldn't be illegal but surely would justify a story letting his congregation know of his behavior, would it not?
11.18.2006 5:06pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
If a closeted politician, pundit, celebrity, etc. uses their status to condemn gays or gay rights then I would say they are fair game.

Of course you should make sure they are actually gay first.
11.18.2006 5:11pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I'm curious can a drug addict who knows from personal experience the ravages of drug abuse be publicly against drug legalization?? If a person with a private drug habit they may or may not be trying to kick is publicly and strongly against drug use legalization do they deserve to have their private life outed? Is such a person a hypocrit?

Disregarding the fact that I am offended that you are comparing homosexuality to drug addiction; I would say that a drug addict who conceals his battles with drugs while advocating stronger, or the weakening of current, laws, is indeed a hypocrit. As would someone who protests embryonic stem cell research yet has availed themselves of in-vitro fertility treatments in order to get pregnant.

Of course I have pretty high standards. Back in the day I thought it was pretty hypocritical of all us liberals who were all for boycotting South Africa during apartheid but still insisted on buying diamond engagement rings.
11.18.2006 5:13pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Disregarding the fact that I am offended that you are comparing homosexuality to drug addiction

It's clear that's not what he's doing and your potshot is pointless. Reasoning by analogy is perfectly legitimate, and if you disagree with the analogy then say why rather than profess your offense to prove how sensitive and correct you are.

I would say that a drug addict who conceals his battles with drugs while advocating stronger, or the weakening of current, laws, is indeed a hypocrit.

In what possible way is that hypocrisy in both directions? One who has a drug habit and advocates decriminalization might have an obvious conflict, but how is that hypocritical?
11.18.2006 5:44pm
RMCACE (mail):
Explain to me how he is not a hypocrite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6rSjrBhUIA
11.18.2006 5:53pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"...Christian pastor, who is expected to repent publicly and before God."

Granted, I'm sort of a "non-denominational" Christian who hasn't been to church much since starting college/law school, but where does the "publicly" come from? I've never heard that before...
11.18.2006 5:55pm
Peter Wimsey:
It's clear that's not what he's doing and your potshot is pointless. Reasoning by analogy is perfectly legitimate, and if you disagree with the analogy then say why rather than profess your offense to prove how sensitive and correct you are.


No, that's *exactly* what he's doing. That's how reasoning by analogy *works*: you compare two situations you find similar and reason from there. In this case, "the dawg" found a similarity between drug addiction and homosexuality. Whether the comparison is offensive or not, or apt or not, may be in the eye of the beholder - but denying that there is a comparison reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how reasoning by analogy works.
11.18.2006 6:03pm
Perseus (mail):
The attempt to expose hypocrisy is frequently just as much about "defining deviancy down" as it is to uphold standards.

How is it possible that the fraud he perpetrated on his congregation does not justify outing?

Following the older English common law rule, because outing Haggard is libelous, and the very likelihood that he violated the standard makes the charge all the more libelous.
11.18.2006 6:12pm
Bulgaroktonos (mail):
The fact that he claims homosexuality is wrong, but practices it does not make him a hypocrite. He's only a hypocrite if he claims to think homosexuality is wrong, but doesn't really believe it.

Is the fact that he had practiced homosexual activity enough to prove that he doesn't truly think it is wrong? I don't think so. All people, especially religious people, should recognize that it is possible for a person to believe something is wrong, and still do it. People are weak, people sin, even people who know what they are doing is wrong.

Now, it is entirely possible that Ted Haggard is a hypocrite. Either because he doesn't really believe that what he did was wrong, or because he believes he is allowed to do it and others aren't, or because he believes he is entitled to forgiveness and others aren't. Still, it is not as simple as saying he preaches against homosexuality, but practice homosexuality, therefore, he is a hypocrite. Not being able to live up to your ideals is not hypocrisy, it's human nature.
11.18.2006 6:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm not a Christian, but isn't one of the foundational belief of Christians that everyone is a sinner? I assume Haggard never told his congregation that he was perfect. So in what way did he "defraud" them by not being perfect?


As a more general statement, how exactly is it "hypocrisy" to engage in behavior while arguing that said behavior ought to be illegal (*)? How far does that extend? If I take the mortgage deduction on my taxes while arguing that the tax code ought to be changed to eliminate it, am I a hypocrite?


(*) For that matter, did Haggard ever argue that homosexuality ought to be illegal? Or just that the state shouldn't recognize gay marriage?
11.18.2006 6:32pm
jrose:
The fact that he claims homosexuality is wrong, but practices it does not make him a hypocrite. He's only a hypocrite if he claims to think homosexuality is wrong, but doesn't really believe it.

I dsagree, because of a reason you gave:

or because he believes he is allowed to do it and others aren't

Isn't that that the obvious conclusion?
11.18.2006 6:38pm
Goober (mail):
I'm bewildered by Kopel's point. What principle of journalistic ethics could make it unethical to report the "outing" of a gay public figure? You might disagree with and even blame the person actually doing the outing, but I can't imagine how you get from there to a principle of self-censorship, that reporters should pretend they never learned of the outing.
11.18.2006 6:46pm
jrose:
If I take the mortgage deduction on my taxes while arguing that the tax code ought to be changed to eliminate it, am I a hypocrite?

You should at least be honest about your behavior - which is what outing is all about. Whether or not there is a reasonable explanation (and I think in this case there is) for what may appear to be hypocrisy can then be debated after full disclosure.
11.18.2006 6:51pm
frankcross (mail):

While I'm not familiar with the details of his arrangement, I'm pretty sure that he had a legal and moral duty to inform someone at his congregation of the nature of his sins. The fact that he was fired is some evidence of this. If they considered him merely another sinner, I don't think they would have fired him.

I'm not saying they should have fired him. Perhaps they should have simply considered him a sinner. But that wasn't how they felt. And I'm pretty sure he knew how they felt. Like if he perhaps practiced Wiccan rituals. He should tell them if he does.
11.18.2006 7:46pm
DukesOfHaggard:
The only compelling argument given here for outing Haggard is to inform his congregation. After all, they are the ones possibly being defrauded, not the general public.

In general, I find outing to be unethical. Coming out is a difficult and highly personal step, the timing of which is properly determined by the individual in question. Outing someone is an act of greater emotional violence than condemning homosexuality from the pulpit. To be outed is a painful and damaging experience, not a liberating one. Anyone who has already come out knows this -- which reveals the disingenuous motives of the outers.
11.18.2006 7:48pm
Proud to be a liberal :
What about Mr. Haggard's wife? Assuming that she did not know of his participating in sex with a male prostitute, isn't she better off knowing that her husband has engaged in potentially unsafe sexual practices that may have put her own health in jeopardy?
11.18.2006 8:00pm
Fishbane (mail):
It is true that he's possibly not a hypocrite, but he was certainly living under a double standard - one for himself, and one for everyone else.

And I do think there is a nonzero cost to the country to have people engaging in either behaviour heavily involved with public policy debates, whether or not they act out of sincerity/weakness or simple megalomania.

One way to approach this is by looking at a different analogy. If I smuggle diamonds while publically calling for a diamond importation band, I'm pretty sure what people would call me. I don't think the difference of opinion here is based on the economic motive, rather a tacit acceptance that being gay is something one _is_, not something one _does_.

Thoughts?
11.18.2006 8:12pm
Bulgaroktonos (mail):
I don't think its clear at all that he believes that homosexual conduct is acceptable for him, but not for others, which is what is needed for him to be guilty of being hypocrite or living under a double standard.

That line of reasoning assumes a very specific connection between what he does and what he believes, and I don't think we can assume that. It is entirely possible that he participates in homosexual acts, and simultaneously believes his conduct is morally wrong. We can not assume that any person believes that everything they do is morally right.

Advising people not to a thing and doing it yourself is not necessarily hypocrisy. It only becomes hypocrisy if you believe that you are allowed to do it, while others are not. I can't know what Ted Haggard believes about his own conduct, and it's incredibly judgmental to assume he's being hypocritical when we can't, ourselves, know for sure.
11.18.2006 8:44pm
jrose:
I don't think its clear at all that he believes that homosexual conduct is acceptable for him, but not for others

Then, why was he keeping it a secret?
11.18.2006 8:53pm
Bulgaroktonos (mail):
Whether or not he kept it a secret is irrelevant. There are two possible scenarios here. Scenario A: Haggard preaches that homosexuality is wrong, but practices homosexuality because he believes in his heart that is right, at least for him. Scenario B: Haggard preaches that homosexuality is wrong, but practices homosexuality because he succumbs to temptation.

In either scenario he keeps it secret because he wants to avoid the resulting scandal. The outcome of revealing it is the same in either scenario. This might be a sin, a prideful desire to avoid the shame of having your sin revealed to the world, but it doesn't really speak to his state of mind regarding homosexuality.

I'm guessing most of you aren't religious. I could be wrong, but this a guess. From most the perspective of most of Christian theology, the "hypocrisy" of committing sin while believing it to be wrong is a fact of life. It's not something to be celebrated certainly, but it happens. Everyone has weakness, everyone gives in, everyone sins. From the Christian perspective, it is impossible for anyone to practice everything they preach, as it were. This is a natural result of struggling with the expectations of God.

This might not make much since to some raised in a secular context, where you form your own moral beliefs. In that system, you make the rules, so breaking them is naturally hypocritical. If you're trying to impose someone else's rules on your life and fail, it's not the same.
11.18.2006 9:07pm
DukesOfHaggard:
To "Proud to be a liberal":

We don't know enough about Mrs. Haggard's situation to say whether she is better off for knowing. Perhaps she would have preferred the blissful ignorance of the status quo to the media microscope she now lives under.

But setting aside that objection, are you suggesting as a general rule that it is morally acceptable to publicly expose adulterers? Or possibly that we are even morally compelled to do so? That seems to be the logical conclusion of your argument.
11.18.2006 9:10pm
Jiffy:
Bulgaroktonos writes


The fact that he claims homosexuality is wrong, but practices it does not make him a hypocrite. He's only a hypocrite if he claims to think homosexuality is wrong, but doesn't really believe it.


Says who? A definition of "hypocrite" from Merriam-Webster Online:


a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings


Pretty much describes Haggard, no? Further, I don't think Haggard's false rightousness can be excused by the Christian acknowledgment that "everyone's a sinner."
11.18.2006 9:14pm
lucia (mail) (www):
This hypothetical bothers me:

But does anyone really believe that if methamphetamine was still legal in Colorado, and if Colorado had Nevada-style legal prostitution, the media would have ignored the Haggard story?


Who knows what the media would have done in this hypothetical which requires both a) Colorado enacting Nevada style prostitution and b) legal methamphetimine usage? Maybe the press just used Haggard'd felonies as an excuse to report the story that happened to out him. Or maybe they reported a story on the well known ministers / anti-gay activists criminal behavior, which happened to involve what appeared to be homosexual trysts.

The fact is, if the minister had hired a female prostitute and for her services with methamphetimines, they would certainly have covered this story. Are they supposed to alter this policy simply because the prostitution has a homosexual aspect?

I agree that the press should never out someone simply for the purpose of outing them. That said, there is no reason to bury a story that would otherwise be reported simply because it happens to reveal homosexuality. This one would have been reported anyway. It was. That's the way it should be.
11.18.2006 9:32pm
Bulgaroktonos (mail):
If you want to go to the dictionary the definition of hypocrisy is : a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not. Under this definition, Haggard would only be guilty of hypocrisy if he said "I never have sex with men" or if he didn't truly believe homosexuality was bad.

This is pretty much exactly as I was defining it. Given that the dictionary has inconsistent definitions of hypocrite and hypocrisy, why don't we look somewhere else?

The assumption behind the charge of hypocrisy is that there is something wrong with believing one thing and doing another. Namely, that you are misleading people about what you believe or that you are holding yourself to a different standard than the rest of the world.

This problems don't exist, however, if we assume that Haggard genuinely believes his conduct to be wrong. In that case, he has not mislead anyone, nor has he held himself to a different standard, he has simply failed to live up to his own standards. Thus, under this assumption, Haggard might have be guilty of being a hypocrite by a sloppy dictionary definition, but he doesn't seem to have the same moral failings associated with being a hypocrite as the term is generally used.

Also, there is very little than can't be excused under Christian acknowledgment that "everyone's a sinner." The whole point is, that statement applies to EVERYONE. From a Christian perspective, accusing someone of hypocrisy or self-righteousness is not some magical way to get around the teachings against being judgmental. It would be just as wrong of me, as a Christian, to denounce him for being hypocritical, as it would be for me to denounce him for having sex with another man.
11.18.2006 9:36pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Under this definition, Haggard would only be guilty of hypocrisy if he said 'I never have sex with men'..."

Well, as it happens, that's exactly what he said. My dictionary (Oxford American) defines hypocrisy as "the practice of claiming to have moral standards to which one's own behavior does not conform." You could put Haggard's picture in the margin next to this one, as far as I'm concerned.
11.18.2006 9:53pm
therut:
Not really. He preached Gods standard. Not his. Not his belief but that of the bible. No christian can claim their own moral standard as their moral standard is set by God. And all have fallen short. If your idea of hypocristy were accepted every Christian would be a hypocrite.(which I have seen those critical of Christianity do alot) But they aren't. They are SINNERS and admit it all the time. I have done or do things I know are wrong that I would tell others not to do from Gods standard. If you do not say you do the same then you might be lying or a hypocrite or God himself.
11.18.2006 10:47pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Where does Haggard claim to have moral standards to which his own behavior does not conform?

All I have found is that he (1) states that the Bible condemns homosexuality, and (2) opposes same-sex marriage. Both of these opinions could easily be held by an openly gay man and even a gay rights advocate. Can someone please spell out the hypocrisy for me? Has Haggard issued other statements that justify calling him a hypocrite?
11.18.2006 11:19pm
ReaderY:
Although this individual case has its own angles, I don't see why in general homosexual behavior should more secret than other types of behavior. The Lewinsky affair (among many other episodes) comes to minde. One could argue that the sexual behavior of politicians generally should not be subject to public scrutiny, but that genie's been out of the bottle for a long time. Isn't it a bit unrealistic to suggest that it be uncorked? The idea that speech should involve a considerations of public decency seems a bit old-fashioned, to put it mildly. Where on earth will society get its entertainment? After all, supplying us with bread requires work.
11.18.2006 11:36pm
jrose:
All I have found is that he (1) states that the Bible condemns homosexuality, and (2) opposes same-sex marriage. Both of these opinions could easily be held by an openly (my emphasis) gay man and even a gay rights advocate.

I agree. But Haggard was in the closet - and that is the whole point of outing him.
11.18.2006 11:39pm
CLS (www):
I read Kopel's column. And I have mixed emotions. First, I do not see Haggard's rights being violated. Though I do tend to think that a person's private sex life is not the public's business. Of course conservatives never felt that way when Clinton was president.

But I think some of the column is pure nonsense. He says that the reason some gay congressman voted for the Defense of Marriage Act because support for federalism saying "the Constitution should not be interpreted to force a state where gay marriage is not legal to recognize a gay marriage contracted in another state.." Well, we can debate that. But the Defense of Marriage Act forbade the federal government from recognizing gay relationships in any matter. So Mr. Kopel can go overseas and meet a woman (hypothetical in case he's married here) and marry here there. She can then come back to the US as his wife. A gay man can go to Canada and meet a Canadian and marry him there but is forbidden to bring his spouse back to America. That is not federalism to me.

And it gets even more bizarre when we realize that most the same congressman who supported the Defense of Marriage Act, supposedly in some principled stand for federalism, then turned around and support a constitutional amendment to destroy federalism when it came to gay marriage. I suggest that they their target in both cases remained the same -- gays. I don't see such flip-flops as proof of a commitment to federalism.

And anyone who can seriously write about "the agenda of the anti-heterosexist vanguard" is (what is the rule about obscenities here??). What a disappointing column. And to think I once bought and promoted heavily a couple of his books. Oh, well, I won't make that mistake again.

Does this defense of a private sphere as opposed to the public sphere cover other issues? That is is Mr. Kopel's logic applicable to non sexual issues as well? Apparently not. Publicly Rosie O'Donnel supports gun control. That is her public stand. In private she had an armed bodyguard for her children. Mr. Kopel had no hesitation in outing her as a hypocrite on the gun issue. But then Mr. Kopel likes guns.

I have to say that Bulgaroktonos seems to have a definition of hypocrisy which basically makes it almost unheard of. But even by his own extreme definition Haggard is a hypocrite. He said "Haggard would only be guilty of hypocrisy if he said, "I never have sex with men."" In fact he said that he never met Jones, (then admitted he had), said he never had sex with Jones (but told his church board he had) and publicly said he never engaged in any sexual immorality and "any" would include homosexuality. So he did say he never had sex with men when in fact he had been doing so for at least 3 years that we know about.
11.18.2006 11:43pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
Or, closer to home perhaps, if he had been a zealous advocate of outlawing the private possession of handguns, would it have been okay to "out" him as regularly shooting his .357 in secret target practice?


Apropos of that question, I refer readers to this David Kopel classic:

Syndicated columnist Carl Rowan, who last week wounded an intruder who had taken a dip in his swimming pool, said he was forced to shoot the young man in self-defense before the police arrived. The U.S. Attorney's Office said yesterday that Mr. Rowan will not be charged with assault. Instead, prosecutors reinstated charges of unlawful entry against two of the intruders. The U.S. Attorney's office said it would let the District of Columbia authorities decide whether Mr. Rowan should be charged with possession of an unregistered firearm.

Many people charged Mr. Rowan with hypocrisy because he has been a longtime advocate of strict gun control. In a 1981column he advocated "a law that says anyone found in possession of a handgun except a legitimate officer of the law goes to jail -- period." In 1985 he called for "a complete and universal federal ban on the sale, manufacture, importation and possession of a handgun (except for authorized police and military personnel)."

But Mr. Rowan's middle-of-the-night experience appears to have taught him what many Americans already know: You can't always count on the police to be there to protect you. Many ordinary citizens have had the experience of calling "the authorities" for help -- and having that help arrive too late
or not at all.

...

Anti-gun columnists live in a bizarre world where guns are objects of terror and where American citizens are too mentally unstable or clumsy to be entrusted with them. Perhaps the incident at Mr. Rowan's swimming pool will remind such columnists -- and their readers -- that in the real world, one cannot always count on the police to come to one's aid. For that reason, many American households choose to own guns, and virtually all of them do so responsibly.


http://www.davekopel.com/2A/OpEds/Rowan-Case.htm

Now, I wish to make a few things clear. First, the column I quoted above dates from 1988. That's almost twenty years ago, and twenty years is a long time. It's entirely possible that Mr. Kopel would not write the same column today that he did in 1988. Second, while Mr. Kopel uses the incident with Mr. Rowan as the basis of his column, Mr. Kopel is not the one who "outed" Mr. Rowan. A distinction could certainly be made between outing someone, on the one hand, and discussing someone who has already been outed. Indeed, Mr. Kopel's most recent column is full of references to Mr. Haggard's homosexuality even as it argues that his homosexuality should never have been made public. Finally, Mr. Kopel's 1988 column wasn't about whether it was right to report on Mr. Rowan's use of a gun, it was about whether it was right for Mr. Rowan to have the gun. So in that regard, it's not directly on point.

For my money, I think when an individual injects himself into the national debate on a particular topic, the public has a right to know his biases. In that regard, I see outing Mr. Haggard -- who chose to make himself a national voice on the proper treatment of homosexuality as a public policy matter -- to be no different from, for example, reporting that a Congressman who favors purchasing more F-16s owns stock in Lockheed Martin, or that a Senator who favors raising income tax rates takes advantage of tax loopholes (my conservative friends seem to know more about the 1040s of people like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry than I know about my own!)
11.18.2006 11:44pm
Ramza:
I think its important to consider degree if we are going to discuss Religon and hypocricy. How large of a degree is a certain act of sinning is? And how much effort you put into it being critical or lambasting the act. Degree makes a huge difference in how big of a hypocrite you are.

Haggard preached that gay sex is a behavioral choice and immoral, this is why he was for Amendment 2 in the 90s. The colorado amendment that forever prevented non heterosexual orientation to be connected with discrimination laws. This amendment was later struck down by the US supreme court in Romer v. Evans.

To see some statements by Haggard check out this link done by his local paper.

http://www.gazette.com/display.php?id=1326048&secid=14
11.18.2006 11:49pm
jrose:
nor has he held himself to a different standard, he has simply failed to live up to his own standards

Wouldn't demanding others to meet a standard that you secretly do not meet be hypocritical? OK, maybe you have a technical, semantic argument to the contrary, but it has no relevance to the propriety of outing.
11.18.2006 11:57pm
Pink Pig (mail):
Re: When is it legitimate for the Media to help "out" a gay person?

Why did you put the word "help" in there?


[DK: It means "assist." For example, if a prostitute outs one of his client, the media assist/helps the outing by giving attention to the prostitute's claims.]
11.19.2006 12:08am
Ken Arromdee:
For my money, I think when an individual injects himself into the national debate on a particular topic, the public has a right to know his biases. In that regard, I see outing Mr. Haggard -- who chose to make himself a national voice on the proper treatment of homosexuality as a public policy matter -- to be no different from, for example, reporting that a Congressman who favors purchasing more F-16s owns stock in Lockheed Martin

Consider this: When is the politician's private behavior is different enough from his public voice that he deserves to be outed for it? There's a whole range. If the politician calls for the execution of gays and is gay himself, that's hypocritical. If he just calls for no gay marriages and is gay himself, that's less clearly hypocritical (especially if he doesn't want his own gay relationship recognized as a marriage). At the other end of the extreme, consider a closeted politician who doesn't allocate enough funds to some neighborhood where a lot of gay people live; someone outs him because he thinks this decision is homophobic and hypocritical.

(If you think that that's a stretch, consider under what circumstances black people get called race traitors right now. And imagine gays being outed for similar "betrayals".)

The problem is that the people most willing to out the politician are likely the ones with a preexisting beef with him. These people are motivated to out him just to cause damage, regardless of any actual hypocrisy. Essentially, the people doing the outing will have a conflict of interest in deciding that the politician deserves to be outed. So if you encourage such outing, it'll go down the slippery slope, eventually getting closer to the gay neighborhood funds example than to the gay execution example.

(And the F-16 example is more like outing a closeted homosexual who is publically in *favor* of gay marriage. The politician is supporting something that unknown to the public, would benefit himself.)
11.19.2006 12:26am
plunge (mail):
CLS, I think you basically just sold me on the idea that Kopel is not only all wet on this, but a hypocrite to boot. And that's saying a lot, considering that I mostly agree with him on the issue of outing being a bad thing and something the press should generally choose to avoid getting involved in.
11.19.2006 12:29am
Andy Freeman (mail):
I'm still waiting for someone to explain the relevance of hypocrisy.

It's reasonably common for folks to not live up to the standards that they preach. We rarely think that that inadequacy tells us anything about the virtue (if any) of those standards or whether they have the "right" to advocat them.

Does the relevance depend on the subject matter?

BTW - I'd like to see some evidence that Haggard believed his own conduct was acceptable, that he should be treated differently for some reason. Rowan did say that it was okay for him to do things that he criticized other people for doing.

>>because he believes he is allowed to do it and others aren't

>Isn't that that the obvious conclusion?

Nope. It's common for folks to hide behavior that they believe is unacceptable so it's unreasonable to interpret "hide" as evidence for "is acceptable for me" without some other evidence.

Do we have any actual evidence as to whether Haggard felt that his own behavior was acceptable?
11.19.2006 12:45am
jrose:
It's reasonably common for folks to not live up to the standards that they preach. We rarely think that that inadequacy tells us anything about the virtue (if any) of those standards or whether they have the "right" to advocat them.

The issue isn't the virtue of the standards or the right to advocate for them. The issue is advocating for them while hiding.

>>>because he believes he is allowed to do it and others aren't

>>Isn't that that the obvious conclusion?

>Nope. It's common for folks to hide behavior that they believe is unacceptable so it's unreasonable to interpret "hide" as evidence for "is acceptable for me" without some other evidence.

His secrecy implies he believes he should be able to do so, whether or not he finds it acceptable.
11.19.2006 12:51am
Perseus (mail):
The purpose of full disclosure is to identify possible conflicts of interest that would benefit an official at the expense of the wider public. How would Haggard benefit by not being able to obtain a SSM? The case is similar to opposing the F-16 while owning a bunch of stock in Lockheed Martin.
11.19.2006 12:58am
Bulgaroktonos (mail):
The argument is not technical or semantic, it gets to the heart of how we treat other people. Do we take this as a chance to acknowledge the common human failings that are at the heart of this, or do we sit back and say "Hypocrite!" and sit in sanctimonious judgment of Haggard for having the audacity to preach his morality while remaining human, like the rest of us?

I think this is an incredibly important choice we have to make. On the one side, you have the option of love, compassion, and understanding and on the other you have schadenfreude. I happen to think this is an especially important time to exhibit understanding, since Haggard taught values that many people disagree with. In this case, it's easy to criticize him, since you already dislike him. I myself don't agree with Haggard's positions on homosexuality, but I still think its important not to assume that he's a hypocrite, just because he can't live up the standards he thinks God sets for him.
11.19.2006 1:15am
BobNSF (mail):
Very, very few people get outed by gay "activists". Hardly more than a handful in a decade. Most of the recent attempts to publicize the extraordinary number of gay staffers in hard right-wing GOP congressional offices involve people who are only in the closet to the public and, perhaps, to the members of the religious right they so closely work with to squash gay rights. All in all, gay people are remarkably respectful of the closeted pols. The article doesn't do justice to the issue and the debate within the gay community about it. Neo-Maoist, was it? Pffffff.

So many are focusing on Haggard's preaching. His preaching, damaging as it is to his congregation, isn't the issue, his political leadership against gay rights for well over a decade is why he should have been outed.
11.19.2006 1:34am
BobNSF (mail):
Bulgaroktonos,

There are a lot of truly anguished gay people who are really, REALLY trying to lead heterosexual lives. They may "fail" and "succumb to temptation" every now and then. That doesn't make them hypocrits. Making anti-gay politics a central aspect of your life and leading state-wide and national organizations focusing on denying and rolling back gay rights might not even tip one into the hypocrit category.

Having an on-going, monthly hook-up with an escort isn't how "anguished" people "fail". They usually act out in ways more reminicent of McGreevey's reststop adventures. Trust gay people to know the difference between a "slip" and a booty call.
11.19.2006 1:41am
Ken Arromdee:
Very, very few people get outed by gay "activists". Hardly more than a handful in a decade. Most of the recent attempts to publicize the extraordinary number of gay staffers in hard right-wing GOP congressional offices involve people who are only in the closet to the public and, perhaps, to the members of the religious right they so closely work with to squash gay rights.

Isn't this equivalent to "very few people get outed by gay activists. Well, a lot of people get outed, but most of those don't count"?
11.19.2006 1:54am
Ramza:
Isn't this equivalent to "very few people get outed by gay activists. Well, a lot of people get outed, but most of those don't count"?

Since we are talking about the proper place for the media in outing, I don't think the "a lot of people get outed, but most of those don't count" people (man is that a mouthful) don't matter to this discussion, for there outing isn't important enough to be newsworthy. A person must be recognizable or related to an important subject to be considered newsworthy, most average joes and janes dont' fall under this catergory.
11.19.2006 2:06am
BobNSF (mail):
No, it isn't equivalent to that at all. If your family knows you're gay and your friends know you're gay, and your boss (U.S. Senator) knows you're gay, you're not in the closet.
11.19.2006 2:09am
Perseus (mail):
I would call it Machiavellian rather than Neo-Maoist. But the point is that the practice is simply a down and dirty political tactic that feigns outrage over alleged hypocrisy in order to advance an agenda.
11.19.2006 2:47am
Constantin:
So what I gather here is that a good number of posters here think outing gay people is okay when they think it's okay, and not okay when they think it's not okay. Yeah, that seems like a good rule.

What about a closeted gay man who doesn't openly argue against marriage rights for gays, but doesn't really advocate for them, either? Is he fair game?

I'm probably the millionth person to mention this since Foleygate, but it sure is interesting to note where the zeal for demonizing gay guys seems to be the most fervent these days. It ain't the Rush Limbaugh Show.
11.19.2006 2:58am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I think the citation of past Kopel posts helps illustrate the difference between mere imperfection and hypocrisy. Haggard failed to live up to his own standards; he didn't say it was okay for him to be gay but not for other people to be gay (*). But O'Donnell actively advocated different standards for herself and other people. She thought people -- except for her -- should be forced to rely on the police for protection. Ditto, apparently, for Rowan.



(*) Everything cited by Haggard above, incidentally, was about gay marriage, not about whether homosexuality itself should be illegal.
11.19.2006 4:23am
Strom Thurmond (mail):
Isn't it Ironic that those doing the outing of gays also profess to be the most supportive of them? You never saw Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan talking about someones Lesbian daughter during a nationally televised debate. As long as J. Edgar ran the FBI efficiently who cared what he did with Clyde after hours?
11.19.2006 9:30am
jrose:
Do we take this as a chance to acknowledge the common human failings that are at the heart of this, or do we sit back and say "Hypocrite!" and sit in sanctimonious judgment of Haggard for having the audacity to preach his morality while remaining human, like the rest of us?

I think the citation of past Kopel posts helps illustrate the difference between mere imperfection and hypocrisy. Haggard failed to live up to his own standards; he didn't say it was okay for him to be gay but not for other people to be gay

This argument that a person who fails to live up to his own publicly-advocated standard, and keeps this failing a secret, is somehow excused because of "human failing" or "imperfection" to the point the secret should remain private, is lame. Gee, so long as I condemn myself in my heart (in private, of course), everything is way cool??

How one might sit in judgment of the behavior (be it anger or sympathy) should not sway us from the necessity for transparency in public debate.
11.19.2006 11:29am
CLS (www):
I also find it strange that Kopel titles his link "When is it legitimate for the media to help "out" a gay person?"

The media reports the news and for most people blatant hypocrisy is news and most people see this case as hypocrisy.

Why is there an assumption this is "help" and to whom is this help being given? Kopel does seem to imply that the "outing" issue is forced by gays and the help is being given to them. He writes: "In the contemporary gay press and blogospher, a person can be outed or blackmailed if he or she....." And he writes: "Whether outing helps gay rights is questionable." I suggest these comment indicate he thinks gays out closeted gays and that pretty much covers the issue. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The media helped "out" Bill Clinton for adultery, they helped "out" Jim Bakker for the same, they helped "out" Jimmy Swaggart for his actions with prostitutes and porn. Ted Haggard is not the first one to suffer media scrutiny for moral hypocrisy.

Kopel seems to be saying that in the Haggard case the media was trying to "help" gays out someone. Were they "helping" church workers when they outed Bakker? Were they helping prostitutes when they outed Swaggart? Were they helping bimbo interns when they outed Clinton? Were they perhaps showing a Right-wing bias when they went after Clinton?

Now the reality is the media isn't particularly trying to help anyone. They are trying to sell juicy stories. The main motivation is to sell papers or get ratings. It is profit. And I have no problem with that. I do think it ethically questionable to out someone. And certainly the gay community debates this and is very split on the matter.

But most gay people are not outed by angry activists. Public figures who take antigay stands might be more likely to face exposure. But the typical closeted gay person is not a public figure and many of them are outed constantly. And rarely is it by gays. In fact it is often done by the Haggards of the world.

There are countless cases of major campaigns by the religious community to seek out and discover who is gay and expose them. Fundamentalists encourage the exposure of gays in the military and want them discharged. And hundreds of such people are "outed" every year. The Ted Haggards of the world have endorsed such outing. The sniffing out and exposure of gays is not shunned by the Religious Right. And there appears to be precious little debate about it as well.

One might argue that the gays who out figures on the Right are merely adopting the ethical premises of the people they are exposing. Perhaps they shouldn't but lets not pretend they invented it.

I would feel less uncomfortable aboubt Kopel's piece if he noted that most victims of outing are not moral hypocrites like Haggard but gay people just trying to live their own lives. To write a full column on the exceptional while ignoring the typical seems to imply another agenda on his part.

Some of the victims of these routine outings were badly need Arabic translators. But the military outed them, with the support of conservatives, and then ousted them. I don't even want to seem to put these victims in the same category as Haggard. They were not campaigning against anyone. They were just minding their own business -- something the Religious Right is incapable of doing. And while these incidents far outnumber the cases of a gay activist outing a hypocritical Religious Right leader Mr. Kopel doesn't say a word about them.
11.19.2006 11:46am
Harry Eagar (mail):
I am a newspaper reporter, and I had a chance to out a homosexual in the past campaign. I didn't do it, because he had never said anything about sex one way or the other.

If he had, I would have.

Kopel's reporting leaves a lot to be desired. It turns out -- there's been reporting on it summarized at www.obscurestore.com -- that other news outlets were alert to the possibility that Haggard was homosexual quite a while ago but did not think it was established well enough to report.

There was, then, no rush to judgment.

Anyhow, I can guarantee that reporters and editors are going to pay exactly no attention to the arguments I have read here, no matter how subtle. If a man talks loudly, he'd better walk the walk.

This does not apply merely to intimate personal behavior. Just this month, the national press has been all over real estate transactions by Reid and Obama that were obviously not criminal. Those stories were, in my opinion, much less defensible than the Haggard outing, yet Mr. Kopel did not (as far as I know) write about them.


[DK; I'm well aware the Jones had been shopping his story around the Colorado media for months. The focus of my column was not on "outings" where there is insufficient proof; rather the first paragraph of column raised the question of whether outing is ethical when there is sufficient proof, under ordinary journalistic standards. You're right that my column has not addressed media coverage of the alleged Obama and Reid financial issues. The column is supposed to focus mainly on Colorado coverage, not on how wire services etc. cover non-Colorado issues.


Another commenter criticizes me for not writing about the outing of gays in the military. Again, my column is required to cover Colorado media issues, not gay policy in general. If Colorado investigative reporters had been trying to out gay military personnel, I would have criticized their actions. The only time I've written about gay policy issues per se was in 1992, when I wrote that the gay rights argument could still be valid even if it were proven that being gay is not genetic.]
11.19.2006 12:57pm
Ken Arromdee:
The media helped "out" Bill Clinton for adultery

Bill Clinton was not outed by adulterers who felt that adultery itself is okay, but that he needed to be outed because his public policies were anti-adultery.

And this matters because outing someone for behavior you directly consider wrong, rather than hypocritical in connection with his public policies, is far less prone to slippage of the "he didn't allocate enough funds to the gay neighborhood" type.
11.19.2006 1:04pm
Nate F (mail):
Ken Arromdee --
Do most people not think that hiring a prostitute isn't "directly consider[ed] wrong," regardless of the gender of that prostitute?
11.19.2006 1:56pm
Nate F (mail):
Pretend that didn't have a double negative in it.
11.19.2006 1:57pm
Toby:

Bill Clinton was not outed by adulterers who felt that adultery itself is okay, but that he needed to be outed because his public policies were anti-adultery.

No he was outed because he perjured himself in a sexual harassment case. Clinton's adultery was a provable example of his regular inapropriate sexual relationships with subordinates and thereby was germaine to that case
11.19.2006 2:27pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
J. F. Thomas,


Disregarding the fact that I am offended that you are comparing homosexuality to drug addiction;



Your offense is found in your superficial consideration of the various analogies given.

There is absolutely no comparison between homosexuality and anything, including drug abuse, in the analogies I gave. Each analogy is an example of someone doing something in their private life that is different from/in opposition to their public life/public positions.

The supposed basis for attacking Haggard was he did something in private different from/in opposition to his public life/public positions. My analogies are all valid examples of other forms of doing one thing in private and another thing in public. They make absolutely no comparison between homosexuality and anything else.

As I stated your offense is the result not of what I wrote or intended but of the apparent chip on your shoulder and the superficial manner with which you considered the several different analogies I presented. (actually you gave one analogy superficial consideration and ignored all the others which apparently didn't even merit even superficial understanding before making your response above.).


Peter Wimsey:

See above, and read for comprehension this time.

Says the "Dog"
11.19.2006 2:52pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> His secrecy implies he believes he should be able to do so, whether or not he finds it acceptable.

No, it doesn't.

When an alcoholic drinks in secret, no one says "he thinks that drinking is okay". In fact, it's more common to hear the other conclusion, that "he thinks that his drinking is wrong, but can't help himself, and hides it".

Since jrose is going to disagree, perhaps he'll tell us how a person who believes that homosexual behavior is wrong but happens to be unable to stop himself from engaging in it behaves. Does jrose really believe that such a person will not hide acts that he believes to be wrong?

Yes, people do hide things for other reasons as well.
11.19.2006 4:29pm
jrose:
Since jrose is going to disagree, perhaps he'll tell us how a person who believes that homosexual behavior is wrong but happens to be unable to stop himself from engaging in it behaves.

Let's assume you are correct. As Harry Eager said, "[i]f a man talks loudly, he'd better walk the walk". "I can't help myself" is not an excuse that justifies privacy for a person who has made the issue public.
11.19.2006 4:44pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
If he were going to heterosexual prostitutes, this question wouldn't even arise.
11.19.2006 4:58pm
r78:
It is a indicator of just how low the morals in this country have sunk that people think it is wrong to reveal that a pastor who spouts venom against gays is, himself, gay. (And, sorry boys and girls, 3 years of man on man sex counts you as gay, not just "weak" or some other trifle.)

No different, I guess than all the lard-ass members of the 101st keyboard brigate who think it is okay for them to prattle on about what our military should be doing and who take offfense when anyone points out the fact that they haven't ever served. The fish rots from the head, as the saying goes.

I saw a book the other day by some blowhard that actually purported to defend hypocricy - that it was a good thing. The disconnect between reality and rhetoric among some in the nutty right is so bad that it verges on mental illness.
11.19.2006 5:01pm
Tony2 (mail):
Outing someone is an act of greater emotional violence than condemning homosexuality from the pulpit. To be outed is a painful and damaging experience, not a liberating one.

Wow, that's a stretch. There is a short road from "condeming homosexuality from the pulpit" to teenagers committing suicide from the emotional abuse that his condemnation enables. Haggard's ruined life is nothing compared to the many, many lives he helped ruin by treating homosexuality like a disease.
11.19.2006 5:09pm
SKlein:
The "Haggard is a hypocrite" argument is maddening. If it was simply a question of hypocricy, it would be about the failings of one man and not much of a story. Haggard was properly outed because it demonstrates that Haggard (and his evangel-idiot minions) are wrong and, moreover, making public arguments that they know to be wrong. One's right to privacy does not protect that.
11.19.2006 6:15pm
Some Anonymous Coward:
Though I do tend to think that a person's private sex life is not the public's business. Of course conservatives never felt that way when Clinton was president.

How the Clintons invited Ken Starr into their private lives

...There is one sense in which the president deserves what has happened to him: He and his political allies are the people who made it possible, who created the legal mechanisms by which his private life became a matter of public, legal record....

The vast expansion of criminal law--something the president failed to bring up in his State of the Union address, lest it undercut his shrinking-government lie--is among the most important, and most threatening, trends of recent years. But Monicagate is not built on criminal law. It arises from the expansion of a civil offense: sexual harassment.

Media-savvy but legally unsophisticated liberal commentators, such as radio talk show host Tom Leykis, make a passionate, and fairly persuasive, argument about Clinton's presumed affair: It may be bad, but it's a private matter. It's between Bill, Hillary, and Monica. It's none of our business. It certainly doesn't belong in court. "Why are we asking questions about the president's sex life?" asks Leykis. "Why is that relevant to anything? Why should the president be put in a position of having to lie about something that's none of our business in the first place?"

Why indeed? The tempting answer is, Because you asked for it. Demanded it. Screamed and yelled and waxed indignant. You dedicated the 1992 Democratic National Convention to the cause. Remember "The Year of the Woman"? It was a media frenzy. And the number one agenda item was a ban on any hint of sexuality in the workplace.

Writing cheap symbolism into real law is a dangerous thing to do. But Congress did it in 1994. Ratifying the view that sexual harassment is too serious a matter to be governed by normal legal constraints, the very same Democratic Congress that reauthorized the Independent Counsel statute rewrote the rules of evidence. The new rules allow a defendant's sexual history--not just previous allegations of harassment--to be dragged into sexual harassment suits. (The plaintiff's history, however, was made inadmissable.)

So the president of the United States can be asked, under oath, about his sex life. It doesn't matter if the sex was consensual or even if the woman made the first move. It doesn't have to be harassment; indeed, no one claims anything of the kind in the Lewinsky case. But Congress chose to make every intimate detail fair game. And if, like many a cheating spouse, the president lies to cover up adultery, he is guilty of a serious crime--perjury, a potentially impeachable offense....
11.19.2006 6:29pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Tony2,

Homosexuality is either a behavorial choice (i.e. one chooses to be a homosexual or to engage in homosexual conduct) or homosexuality is something a small percentage of the population is born with and is not a choice. If they are born with it and don't choose it, then it certainly has at its root some genetic, hormonal, or other biological cause. As a small minority of the total population of those born, it is unquestionably correct to say that this deviance from the norm is a biological defect or biological error, in effect. Either that or homosexual conduct is merely a behaviorial choice (i.e. conduct that one chooses to engage in/prefer.).

Says the "Dog"
11.19.2006 6:35pm
Speaking the Obvious:
Dog,

By definition, only a small percentage of the populace fall higher than 2 standard deviations above the mean in intelligence. It is widely recognized that at least some portion of intelligence is genetic. Would you describe people high on the right skew of the Bell curve of intelligence as having "a biological defect or biological error, in effect"? The terms "defect" or "error" are normative, and not related to the frequency of occurance in the population. To use these terms in a scientific and not normative sense would require you showing us, not that they occur infrequently (the gene for blue eyes occurs infrequently) but that they lead to death and diminished procreation. Yet it seems they've been in the gene pool for many eras.

Or perhaps you're just a bigot.
11.19.2006 6:51pm
Ramza:
Homosexuality isn't a defect or error in a scientific definition of those two words. Now under certain moral perspectives it may be a defect or error, but not from a scientific perspective.

It is a deviation or different from the norm of the population. But in science just being different isn't a bad thing unless it leads to the death of an individual.
11.19.2006 6:55pm
AAE (mail):
Outing is never legitimate. It only causes pain for the outed person's family, and it is a rhetorically and logically weak way of defeating anti-gay policy. Someone please tell me how outing Ted Haggard has negated his arguments (such as they were) against gay marriage, equal rights for gays, etc. So he's been revealed to be a hypocrite; whoop dee doo! Everyone's a hypocrite on some issue or another.

At the end of the day, charges of hypocrisy don't defeat arguments against gay marriage. They just make delegitimize the particular advocate; they don't counter the advocate's position. At some point outers will run out of closeted homosexual hypocrites to out, and then they'll have to actually get down to the business of countering their oppositions arguments. That will be a tough day for them because they'll actually have to think rather than spread Wonkette/Page Six/Gawker fodder.
11.19.2006 7:53pm
r78:
Another reason to out Haggard - perhaps the best reason - is that he was a leading advocate of the theory that gay people can "change their evil ways" with the help of the good lord.

If Haggard - with his thousands of parishoners and the support of the leading lights of the so-called evangelical movement - can't win in his "battle" with his "sinful ways", it certainly does tend to undercut the theory that average gay christians can "reform" through prayer.
11.19.2006 8:20pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Haggard was properly outed because it demonstrates that Haggard (and his evangel-idiot minions) are wrong

Really?

Suppose that a MADD official was an alcoholic and secretly drank. Would that prove that MADD is wrong to oppose drunk driving? How about if said official drove drunk and killed someone? (For the record, I think that MADD goes way too far.)
11.19.2006 9:45pm
Tony2 (mail):
it is unquestionably correct to say that this deviance from the norm is a biological defect or biological error, in effect.

Every single mutation that led from flatworms to human beings was a "biological defect or biological error". Defects and errors are the bread and butter of all living systems. Species that do not produce defects and errors go extinct.

Unless you're a creationist, in which case there is nothing to discuss.
11.19.2006 9:46pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
>>Since jrose is going to disagree, perhaps he'll tell us how a person who believes that homosexual behavior is wrong but happens to be unable to stop himself from engaging in it behaves.

>Let's assume you are correct.

No - let's assume that I'm wrong. How does such a person behave?
11.19.2006 9:48pm
jrose:
No - let's assume that I'm wrong. How does such a person behave?

If a person believes it is OK to have gay sex when they publicly preach it is not, they likely will hide the fact they have gay sex. If a person believes it is not OK to have gay sex, but can't help himself, he too will likely hide.

Either way, outing is justified for a person who talks loudly but doesn't walk the walk.
11.19.2006 10:12pm
RGS (mail):
Interesting to see so many people who think the end justifies the means. Unfortunately, that can come back and work against one just as much as it may initially work for one's advantage. If we are to have any functional right to privacy, then it is going to have to apply across the board. That makes 'outing' anyone - homosexuals, people who used drugs, or had abortions, or an extramerital affair, or whatever someone disagrees with at the moment a legitimate target. Do we really want to go there? I don't. Outing is never acceptable. Period.
11.19.2006 10:17pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
Haggard was not outed as a homosexual. He was revealed as a hypocrit.
11.19.2006 10:20pm
jrose:
If we are to have any functional right to privacy, then it is going to have to apply across the board. That makes 'outing' anyone - homosexuals, people who used drugs, or had abortions, or an extramerital affair

For a person who makes public policy and takes a public-policy stand against any of the above, transparency in the public debate supports that person losing his privacy.
11.19.2006 10:22pm
Ramza:
Right to Privacy? This episode wasn't like some paparazzi who follows celebrities around or who takes pictures of somone without there will. No it was between two consensual lovers, a prositute and the man who paid him. Haggard "rights" weren't violated, for the person who outed him was the other person connected to the exchange, not some third party.
11.19.2006 10:40pm
Lively:
Here's a link to Haggard's letter to his church.

It says:

.....the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.
11.19.2006 10:53pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
it is unquestionably correct to say that this deviance from the norm is a biological defect or biological error, in effect.

I think those ripples in the water are where The Dog jumped in way over his head. Dogpaddle, Dog!
11.19.2006 11:01pm
BoBo (mail):
Dog's analogy to drug addiction and homosexuality is the perfect example. Don't drug addicts need our help? Don't homosexual addicts need our help? It's one and the same ball game, folks. Where's our compassionate conservatism?

BoBo Out.

P.S. Can Dale offer any thoughts about how drug addiction and homosexual tendencies might be similar or disimilar?
11.19.2006 11:58pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> If a person believes it is OK to have gay sex when they publicly preach it is not, they likely will hide the fact they have gay sex. If a person believes it is not OK to have gay sex, but can't help himself, he too will likely hide.

In other words, hiding doesn't distinguish the two beliefs. And yet

>>because he believes he is allowed to do it and others aren't

> Isn't that that the obvious conclusion?

Now that doesn't seem so obvious.

>>I don't think its clear at all that he believes that homosexual conduct is acceptable for him, but not for others

>Then, why was he keeping it a secret?

Perhaps because he believed that it was wrong.

Must an alcoholic reveal that about himself if he wants to say publically that drinking is wrong? (I don't think that drinking is wrong.) Is it hypocritical for an alcoholic to have that belief?
11.20.2006 12:17am
Harry Eagar (mail):
If, as RGS says, outing is never acceptable, let's think of some past examples:

Sen. Eagleton and his mental disease.

Rep. Wayne Hays and his floozy.

President Nixon and his tapes.

Homosexuality makes bad cases because so few people seem able to deal with it equably.

Mr. Kopel limits himself in Colorado issues. What about the outing of plagiarizing college profs? That has been a Colorado issue. I read quite a bit about it here and elsewhere. I saw people rushing to the prof's defense on various grounds, but I don't remember anybody claiming his privacy was violated.
11.20.2006 1:48am
Fearmonger (mail):
I agree it possible that Haggart is not a hypocrite.

However, I think it is far more likely that he is. To me, a three-year year tryst with a prostitute is not a mere "fall to temptation," but rather an indication that Haggard truly believes homosexuality is right for him, while publicly condemning it for everyone else. I guess only Haggard himself knows for sure.
11.20.2006 2:46am
Public_Defender (mail):
A more accurate analogy than drug abuse would be a Jew who publicly pretended to be Christian in an antisemetic country while at the same time preaching that Judaism was disordered, as well as that that Jews should be denied all state benefits (including state marriage).

P.S. Can Bobo offer any thoughts about how anti-semetism and anti-gay bigotry might be similar or disimilar?
11.20.2006 5:29am
Arbusto Spectrum:
Personally, I think this topic would be more interesting without the quotation marks around the word "out" -- i.e., "when is it legitimate for the media to help out a gay person."


A more accurate analogy than drug abuse would be a Jew who publicly pretended to be Christian in an antisemetic country while at the same time preaching that Judaism was disordered, as well as that that Jews should be denied all state benefits (including state marriage).

Why is this the case? If one believes that (i) differences in brain chemistry may predispose some people to abuse drugs, which has a fair amount of scholarly support, and (ii) that there is a biological basis underlying homosexuality, the drug abuse analogy may not be so bad.
11.20.2006 9:11am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oscar Wilde--who would know--observed that hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

Condemning hypocrisy is a whole 'nother game.

Those who are uncomfortably aware that they are scum-sucking bottom-feeders and don't show up well compared to ordinary people, and look really bad compared to those whose virtue level is extraordinary have a problem. Fixing themselves might mean giving up something fun--fun to them, I mean--and is not on the menu. However, if they can find an example of hypocrisy, they can use it to discredit the virtue. No virtue, no problem.

Also, those with no standards can safely accuse those who have standards and fall short, since, having no standards, they never fall short and the tool can't be turned to use on them.

Those with an atrophied sense of shame will not agree they've screwed up. They "grew", or they exert themselves to explain why the situation is different this time.

But they still reserve the right to point at those who try, and fail, even if, in trying those who try come closer to an ideal.
11.20.2006 9:44am
jrose:
Must an alcoholic reveal that about himself if he wants to say publically that drinking is wrong?

Yes.

Is it hypocritical for an alcoholic to have that belief?

If he hides his alcholism, I'd say yes. Only as a matter of semantics which has no relevance to outing, it might not be.
11.20.2006 12:58pm
jrose:
Fixing themselves might mean giving up something fun--fun to them, I mean--and is not on the menu. However, if they can find an example of hypocrisy, they can use it to discredit the virtue.

Or they may honestly believe all along the supposed virtue is no virtue at all, and use hypocrisy as the means of showing that many others reluctantly agree with them.
11.20.2006 1:07pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Tony2


Every single mutation that led from flatworms to human beings was a "biological defect or biological error". Defects and errors are the bread and butter of all living systems. Species that do not produce defects and errors go extinct.



I don't disagree with your response as it is stated above.


Unless you're a creationist,


Creationism, (i.e. belief in a creator) and belief in science and the theory of evolution as a possible explanation of the development of already existing life forms on this planet to higher more complex life forms are in no way mutually exclusive.

The theory of evolution only applies to the development of more complex life forms from simpler life forms. The theory of evolution does NOT deal with the creation of the universe, this planet, or how the initial life forms from which other life forms may have evolved arrived on this planet. The theory of evolution pre-supposes and assumes from its very first application existing life forms some of which are able to survive and adapt to their physical surroundings.

So you see, belief in science in and evolution is not mutually exclusive to a belief in a creator and a belief in creation. Evolution could be, in effect, a law of nature like gravity and the speed of light, it may be nothing more than a tool used by or initially established by the creator as part of his creation.

Try not to be so close minded about the idea of a creator and those who may believe in the creator and a creation.



Speaking the Obvious:


Or perhaps you're just a bigot.


Or perhaps you're just a heterophobe.

Says the "Dog"
11.20.2006 1:52pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
jrose.

Not sure I follow. If the scum-sucking bottom feeder doesn't believe that, say, matrimonial fidelity is a true virtue, why would he bother trying to diss it by pointing out somebody's failure to live up to it? Seems to me he'd diss it directly instead of going around the barn.
11.20.2006 2:57pm
jrose:
If the scum-sucking bottom feeder doesn't believe that, say, matrimonial fidelity is a true virtue, why would he bother trying to diss it by pointing out somebody's failure to live up to it?

If the topic weren't marital fidelity, but rather a controversial topic such as sexuality where there is no agreement on the virtue, a gay-rights advocate (no scum-sucker she) might try both a direct approach and outing the hypocrites.
11.20.2006 3:30pm
BobNSF (mail):
Why people cast about looking for "analogies" to homosexuality is beyond me. One need look no further than heterosexuality for a really, really good comparison. Of course, it's just like alcoholism, too...
11.20.2006 4:24pm
Proud to be a liberal :
Regarding homosexuality, there are two diametrically opposed views:

First, the gay sex is morally (or otherwise wrong) and that individuals should abstain from gay sex and instead either abstain from sex or transform themselves into heterosexuals. Under this view, homosexual marriage is wrong because it condones immoral behavior and provides social support for individuals who are gay, encouraging them to stay gay. Further, gay people should stay in the closet.

Second, homosexuality is a natural occurrence and that therefore individuals who are homosexual should be treated equally and have the same right to a long-term legally recognized relationship as heterosexuals. Under this view, there is no reason for anyone to stay in the closet.

One question in the fight against gay marriage has been how are heterosexual marriages harmed by gay marriage. Haggard's own case gives an example: marriages of homosexuals who have chosen to stay in the closet and be as heterosexual as possible for them would be threatened by gay marriage. If homosexual sex is okay, then there is no reason to be in the closet or to stay in a heterosexual marriage.

A friend whose husband decided he was gay thought that she would have been much better off if her husband had decided he was gay before he married her; then she would have had the opportunity to marry someone with whom she could have stayed married until death did they part.

As for outing, the problem with infidelity of any kind is that it takes two to tango, and sadly, people become very vulnerable to blackmail if they engage in infidelity with people who have no discretion. Obviously, Haggard's hooker was not trustworthy. (Just as Bill Clinton should have realized that Monica Lewinsky was not a person of discretion).
11.20.2006 5:06pm
PeterH:
As I read through the thread, something struck me -- it is as though people are assuming that all hypocrisy is the same, and that it is either bad or isn't.

Haggard is a hypocrite.

But, exactly about what is he a hypocrite? If he believes that all homosexual activity is a choice, and a sin, and is inherently evil, and condemns himself for his own "weakness" in engaging in it, then it isn't hypocritical to condemn others for the same behavior he condemns in himself. He is a hypocrite to the degree that he does or doesn't pretend that he is morally pure.

And to the degree that he either actively misled others or allowed assumptions that they made to stand (like not telling his wife about all this) then he is a liar. Honestly, I suspect he was far more likely to be what I would call "hypocritical" --deliberately saying one thing about himself and acting another way -- regarding things like fidelity and propriety and "traditional family values" than about homosexuality per se.

I don't know enough about his ministry or style to know whether he went out of his way to announce things like "I am a sinner just like all of you" or "None of us are perfect in following in the Law, but we still have to try."

I would jump the fence in a heartbeat if it were shown that Haggard actively pitched someone out of the congregation or a position of authority if their homosexual actions came to light.

My outrage is pretty much reserved for the people more like Foley, who openly and publicly (bars, public events, large private parties) live a "homosexual lifestyle" and then expect everyone to keep quiet about it, even when he is actively working against them, and with and for people who are doing so.

The Haggards of the world, I feel more pity for. He is a victim of the same system that led him to propagate the victimization. It is sick, sad, and pathetic. Doesn't mean that I think he was right, or justified. Just that his situation was different than the other.
11.20.2006 6:31pm
BoBo (mail):
Public Defender:

"P.S. Can Bobo offer any thoughts about how anti-semetism and anti-gay bigotry might be similar or disimilar?"

I tried to post my answer, but it was deleted by the server or the moderator. Sorry.
11.20.2006 6:36pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Bulgaroktonos:
Not being able to live up to your ideals is not hypocrisy, it's human nature.

But not being able to live up to your ideals while pretending that you do (and that everyone else should, as well) is hypocrisy.

DukesofHaggard:
Outing someone is an act of greater emotional violence than condemning homosexuality from the pulpit. To be outed is a painful and damaging experience, not a liberating one.


I'm not sure about the first sentence. Do we have any idea how much pain and suffering Haggard's apparently repeated jeremiads against homosexuality caused to gay and lesbian youth in his congregation, how many frightened and confused parents were led to psychologically terrorize their own children by sending them to someplace like "Love in Action" or even throw them out of the house? We have zero information about that. His condemnations of homosexuality could have caused much deep psychological damage in many, many people. Outing him caused deep pain to him, and lesser his wife and his children.

as to your second sentence--liberation and pain are not opposites. Indeed, liberation is often painful and damaging at first. Gerry Studds is reported to have said that being outed was the best thing that happened to him. And despite the pain right now, being outed may well be the best thing for Haggard and his family.

Bulgaroktonos:
Do we take this as a chance to acknowledge the common human failings that are at the heart of this, or do we sit back and say "Hypocrite!" and sit in sanctimonious judgment of Haggard for having the audacity to preach his morality while remaining human, like the rest of us?


There is one more option, better than either of the ones you offer: See this as an opportunity to stop seeing homosexuality per se as a failing. Talk about hos this is just one more case that shows how the closet far too often compels good people to publicly misrepresent themselves and hurt those who love them.

Kopel's column is just one more attempt to redefine the problem as outing, whereas the real problem is the closet and the social climate that makes the clset seems necessary. The closet is never legitimate. It only causes pain for the closeted person's family.
11.20.2006 6:37pm
BoBo (mail):
If anyone wants my answer to PD's question, e-mail me here: superboboman_bobobobo_sirbobo@yahoo.com
11.20.2006 6:45pm
Chimaxx (mail):
I just want to clarify: I can't imagine outing anyone, myself. I hate the closet and what it does to those living there and the people who love him or her, and have compassion for the closeted.

Let's be clear: Haggard's closeted life--and all the lies that cascaded from that initial lie about about and probably to himself--was already poisoning his relationships with his family and flock before he was outed. It always does. To maintain the closet for years means learning to be a good liar, and that's always corrosive to the individual and his or her relationships with others. Haggard may not think so now--with his careeer, his influence in this administration and the other pieces of the false man he was whirling up out of his grasp--but Mike Jones has done him a favor in the long run, if only he can accept the truth of it.

Again, don't let Kopel or others spin this into a discussion of outing. Outing is not the problem or the issue. The problem, the issue is the closet. The closet is corrosive all by itself, and without the closet, outing has no power whatsoever.
11.21.2006 11:49am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Haggard claimed that homosexuality was a bad thing, and destructive to the soul. Alas, he was speaking from experience, it appears, and was trying to help others avoid going down the path that he was on.

Haggard should have, he first realized that he had a problem with this, gone to the elders of his church, explained that he was having serious problems, and taken a leave of absence from his position. About half of those homosexuals are seriously interested in change find reparative therapy successful in changing not just behavior, but also orientation. I would think Haggard would have been part of the group that really wants to change--and would have the best chance of doing so.

I'm never keen on the idea of "outing" someone, but the right thing for Mike Jones to have done was to confront Haggard and say, "Why are saying what you are doing is a sin? Shouldn't you either stop one, or stop the other?"
11.21.2006 1:51pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Clayton:

1. Those success rate figures are a lie. Exodus and Narth claim success rates of 30-50% while providing absolutely no evidence to back it up. And the catch is in the "seriously interested in change" phrase. It's easy to retroactively claim that most of your failures simply were not seriously interested enough in change. The famous Spitzer study--nearly all the participants of which were hand-selected by Exodus and Narth before the study even began--found only 14% claiming a change in behavior, roughly a third of whom were "struggling," a third of whom were "happy" but celibate, a third of whom (4%) claimed a change of orientation (all but one of whom was an ex-gay counselor by occupation, and that remaining one refused a follow-up interview.)

2. Apparently Haggard had tried repeatedly before. In his letter to his congreagation he referred to this as a "lifelong battle," said he had sought assistance "in a variety of ways," and while he had stretches of "freedom," nothing proved effective, that he had been "warring against it all of my adult life."

Isn't it time to lay down arms and stop the internal warfare, to admit that it's not his homosexual desires, but the attempts to contain them, take up arms against them, hide them and lie about them that not only is corrosive to his own soul, not only prevents him from having an honest and genuine relationship with anyone, male or female, but also pushes him to publicly demonize this desire for connection and love that is right and normal and good, causing pain to untold others.
11.21.2006 3:45pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Correction: In my haste I confused two studies together.

The numbers I cited= above come from the study by Shidlo and Schroeder. It is the only independent study that has examined orientation.

Spitzer reported somewhat 66% of the men and 44% of the women had achieved "good heterosexual functioning," but admits that his study sample was not representative, that it took 16 months to accumulate 200 study subjects hand-picked by NARTH and similar groups, that 60% of the patients had labeled themselves bisexual upon entering "therapy," and that no long-term studies had been done to assess long-term "conversion." Spitzer's study addressed only behavior, not orientation.

So if short-term behavior change of, yes, roughly half, of a hand-picked subgroup of those the various conversion therapy considered most likely to succeed is your measure for success...
11.21.2006 4:52pm