Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blame-Shifting Without a Clutch

Fellow blogger and friend GayPatriotWest has a good piece up today covering the ongoing saga of apparent restroom frequenter Senator Larry Craig.

But I have a quibble with the thrust of several statements he makes.
The real issue here is not as much hypocrisy as it is absence of judgment. I don’t think Craig sees himself as gay. When his desires for same-sex sexual contact pass after each of his liaisons, he may just assume they’ve gone away and won’t come back. All that said, only he knows what he feels, but I would daresay he has experienced a lot of shame and emptiness and likely struggles to overcome his longings for same-sex contact.

Obviously he has not fully integrated whatever feelings he has for men into his life. Maybe when he’s not seeking sexual contact with other men, he sees himself as straight..........

Some on the left will say that his political views demand that his conduct be made public. In coming days (as is already happening), much ink will be spilled (and pixels generated) on how his conservatism forced him to remain in the closet, leaving such clandestine encounters as his only means to act on his feelings and his desires for same-sex intimacy.

It’s unfortunate that a man aware of his own such longings did not, in his public life, show much understanding for gay people.

My disagreement: the need for sex does not equal a need for intimacy.

From empirical examples like clients of the "D.C Madam", sociological studies of prostitution, police reports of George Michael, and female jewelry party conversation (long story), one thing should be obvious; even when there is an immediate and obvious source of intimate contact and an acknowledged public relationship, people are still looking for and grabbing other tasty morsels from the sexual buffet table. Indeed, for many of these men, the reason they cheat is less the absence of available intimacy than it is the fact that they're bored with what they have and are looking for something more exciting.

And that's what I think happened here. This wasn't a need for intimacy or any particular degree of relationship; Larry Craig needed to get off, and this is what did it for him. The fact that it happened with men does not make him gay, any more than the fact that several gay men I know have had experiences with the fairer sex makes them heterosexual; what one prefers sexually does not necessarily preclude other possibilities, and what one chooses at a given point in time may have no relevance to earlier or later.

However, as GPW demonstrates, the temptation here is to take that basic fact -- Larry Craig couldn't or wouldn't stop himself from soliciting public sex -- and turn it into something more useful for one's agenda, either the "Republicans are all closeted and hypocrites" meme of the gay left, or the softer, "This wouldn't have happened if Larry Craig hadn't been forced to repress his true self" that GPW uses here.

But that's not a good idea, for several reasons; it paints a picture of homosexuality involving some sort of invitation or imperative towards having public sex, it ignores the contradictory fact that openly-gay individuals have been caught doing the same (and worse) as did Craig, and -- perhaps worst of all -- it makes a full-bore assault on the intelligence of heterosexual voters by implying that, if gays had marriage and public acceptance just like heterosexuals, they would never have public sex or cheat.

Tell that to Wendy Vitter.

In short, making Craig's behavior a result of anything else other than his own arrogance and/or stupidity diverts responsibility for his actions away from Craig and onto those who happen to share the characteristics arbitrarily blamed for it.

No sale.

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