The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, August 14, 2004

FOLLOWUP ON MCGREEVEY

Two of my more dedicated readers take issue with some/all of my initial post on the resignation of New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, after he disclosed his homosexuality in a public statement. Jack from TigerHawk thinks liberals like me are raising a red herring by making McGreevey's coming-out a central issue in the matter, citing a possible harassment suit that may soon be filed against him (McGreevey claims it was consensual), and some sort of social nepotism involving McGreevey. And Hovannes of RIL takes issue with my "victimization" of McGreevey, saying right after citing the same issues Jack does:
Somehow, this doesn't seem like the right story for gay-agenda-activists to rally around. Even if McGreevey had resigned for the sole reason of him being a homosexual, he would still have no one else to blame but himself. The judgment that his sexuality might have an impact on his ability to lead was one he made, not one that was made for him. Had he been removed from office on the basis of his sexual-orientation, there would clearly be a case to be made.
Leaving aside the paranoia inherent to the classification of those who seek equal rights for all in that opening sentence, it's a bit of strawman, since pretty much everybody, regardless of where they stand on sexuality, was initially (and for the most part, still) puzzled by McGreevey's announcement.

The last sentence provides us with some interesting, yet flawed goalpost-placement. The implication here is that it would take the removal of an official due specifically to his/her sexual orientation for us wacky gay-friendly liberals to have a point. Guess what: No. Like it or not, McGreevey's sexual orientation is a significant complicating factor to the situation. And given my numerous gay friends and family members, it is the aspect of the matter with which I'm most interested. Coming out publicly is not like disclosing the sale of illicit arms to a dictatorship or something, it's about who you are.

But in general, this idea of "victimization" on the part of the "gay-agenda-activsts" is just your usual right-wing advantageous paranoia. Hovannes is quite right when he says that McGreevey's asessment of his ability to lead in the future was his own. But let's take one of those other examples I cited...

Former Arkansas Senator Tim Hutchinson cheated on his wife of 29 years . . . with a staffer, eventually divorcing his wife and marrying her in 1999. You can argue the specifics if you want, but that's certainly analogous enough for our model, at least in scope of action. With all of this coming to light, Tim had a decision to make: Given the political/social climate, would those actions and their implications have a detrimental effect on Hutchinson's ability to represent his constituents?

Hutchinson decided "no", and ran for re-election in 2002, a tight race he lost by, if memory serves, just two percent. Hutchinson's asessment of his future, just like McGreevey's, was his own, and had to have been, at least in part, informed by the cultural values present in his state. If McGreevey had an affair with a female member of his staff, I do think it's possible that his judgment of his future may have been different.

Which brings me to my point which, sadly, was missed the first time around earlier in the week. I'll try this again. Like I said, America still has a ways to go on tolerance, but by resigning, McGreevey isn't really helping. McGreevey leads New Jersey, which is right next door to Santorum Country, so it's not like the "eww, two men" sentiment is that foreign from the area. Unfortunately, from a political standpoint McGreevey's resignation plays into the continuation of that sentiment. I will continue to think that his coming out in the process of resigning was a personal, more than political choice (to thine own self be true), but the political reality of his choice is still there.

It was at this point when I finally realized that the only reason I was linked to was because some people wanted to make a pre-conceived argument and had to shoe-horn mine into an ill-fitting strawman. Tomorrow I will be at the Marin Renaissance Faire pretty much all day, so don't expect posting from me until at least Sunday evening. Goodnight everybody! Huzzah!

P.S. Again, if Ahhnuld groped men instead of women, would he be Governor today?

P.P.S. Regarding the threatened harassment suit, was it just a game of chicken? Since lawyers for the accuser, Golan Cipel, seem reluctant to elaborate on the case, and Cipel himself may not even go forward with it at all (McGreevey's resignation would have no effect on Cipel's need for financial restitution), it could be.

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