The only real obscenity in this whole business about Congressman Anthony Weiner is the idea that his sex life is a public issue. He's not George Alan Rekers, the Baptist minister who made his own sex life an issue by campaigning against gay sex and then taking a male prostitute to London with him on vacation.
That's just different. You make your own sex life public by propagating the idea that it's any of your damn business how other people have sex. Denouncing and dehumanizing other people over sex makes you a legitimate target if you're also a hypocrite, which the denouncers always turn out to be.
There's none of that in Weiner's background. Before this story about his online indiscretions, he was a serious New York lawmaker and politician, best known outside New York for denouncing hate speech on YouTube. He got a little bit of beyond-New York press by withdrawing from a mayoral primary in 2005 even though he had a right to a run-off. For that he got pats on the back for gentlemanly behavior in New York, but it was the sort of thing that's a little hard to figure out from this far away, if only because New York is a little hard to figure.
He lied about the online indiscretions with, among others, the Beaumont-residing sister of former Texas Ranger Ben Broussard. So what? It's about sex. Sex is private. Sex is nobody's business. Of course people lie about sex. They have a right to lie about sex. They should lie about sex, because we don't have any damn right to ask or to know about sex. If we ask, we deserve a lie.
Do you really want the public voting thumbs-up or thumbs-down on your sex life? What a horrible prospect.
So we think there's something funny about his sex life? There should be something funny about everybody's sex life. If there's nothing amusing about your sex life, you've got yourself a bad sex life. If your sex life is ready for prime time, you should give up sex. You seriously missed the boat somewhere.
We are ridiculous, vulnerable, grand, heroic, pathetic, noble, venal, silly, lonely and born again in our most private expressions. That's what privacy is for. People who lie to protect their privacy are committing a moral good. People who pry into other people's privacy for no good reason are committing a great evil.
Oh, sure, what about the French guy? First of all, the French guy is not accused of indiscretion. He's accused of rape. C'mon. We all know the difference.
Secondly, we need to go a bit cautiously there, as well. Especially where the accusation is of a crime we all want to be known for opposing, there is a great pressure for public denunciation even before the facts are known. And the facts are never known until the trial, in any story.
I have been a reporter all my life. I have covered a whole lot of trials. It's often a very humbling experience for reporters. There in the clash between adversaries, under rules born of a millennium of common law, we see truths emerge that quite often are directly contrary to the pictures we have been painting all along in the media.
We do not know what the French guy did. We do know what Weiner did. And we should be ashamed of ourselves for knowing it.
We know what perversion is. We know it in our guts. Sexual predation on children or on any person who can't defend him- or herself or who just doesn't get what's going on is perversion. We also know what betrayal is. It's terrible. Betrayal moves beyond the realm of privacy when it threatens the welfare of others, usually children. I think we all get that.
But beyond those things, the only real perversion is people sitting around thinking and talking unhappily about how other people screw. People who think like that need to go see a doctor.
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