Monday, February 02, 2015

The Politics of Dissimulation and Coercion

* Lawmaker Threatens to out 'Hypocrites' on Gay Marriage

Two days ago an Alabama politician made news with a threat to expose "family values" politicians who are "hypocrites".

On the 23rd of January, a district judge struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. In the wake of that a number of conservative Alabama politicians began speaking against judicial activism, for family values, and against same-sex marriages.

Enter Democratic Representative Patricia Todd. She is the only openly homosexual member of Alabama's legislature. And she is fed up. Over the weekend she threatened to "out" family values conservatives she sees as hypocrites. Writing via Facebook, she said, "I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about 'family values' when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have."

Other comments by Todd include:

  • "I'm sick of the hypocrisy. If you start disparaging my community, and I know that you are not exactly the family values person that you put yourself out to be, well, then, beware."
  • "If certain people come out and start espousing this rhetoric about family values, then I will say, 'Let's talk about family values, because here's what I heard'."
  • "One thing I'm pretty consistent on is I do not like hypocrites. If you can explain your position and you hold yourself to the same standard you want to hold me to, then fine. But you cannot go out there and smear my community by condemning us and somehow making us feel less than, and expect me to be quiet."

Same-sex marriage supporters are "high-five-ing" Todd's denunciation for hypocrisy and bold stand for the cause. But here's what I think.

  • For many politicians "family values" is not a conviction, but a mere point of political expediency.
  • People who support family values should live family values. If sex outside of marriage (including homosexual sex) is wrong, then affairs are wrong (and hypocritical for those who say sex outside of marriage is wrong).
  • Representative Todd may or may not believe that sex outside of marriage itself is wrong. If she has been having sex with her partner in Alabama, then she has been having sex outside of marriage -- because they are not married in that state. I doubt she believes she is doing anything wrong.
  • Politicians who ran and were elected on "family values" should support and vote for "family values," even if their personal lives are not consistent with those values. I suppose I'd as soon have an inconsistent correct vote as a consistent incorrect one.
  • Even the sincerest of Christians struggle to live up to the standards they profess (and Christians hold no copyright on hypocrisy).

Is Patricia Todd's threat a type of honest governance, or a form of bullying in order to get what she wants? Is this more of the political mudslinging we've come to expect, while annually decrying it? Most likely, it was an unchecked angry reaction. While initially claiming to know that family values representatives are having affairs, she later admits, "I don't have direct knowledge..." It is rather amusing and somewhat hypocritical that she assumes an air of a moral superiority in exposing someone's affair, while deriding others who have an air of moral superiority as hypocrites! And if she doesn't have direct knowledge of any affairs, does she simply intend to start shooting and see what she hits? Apparently she is not a proponent of "gun control"!

Atheism and gay rights promoter J. T. Eberhard admits he is torn over Alabama lawmaker who has vowed to expose the affairs of “family values” colleagues, making another good point -- "If you weren’t willing to expose someone’s extramarital affairs before, then maybe you shouldn’t do it to get a political leg up." Is Todd actually concerned about right and wrong, or just dipping into the old political tool bag? Such a tact, according to Eberhard, "makes us look like self-serving blackmailers." If it is wrong enough to expose, shouldn't it be exposed whether one can make political hay from it or not?

Dissimulation is a low way of living, and coercion is a lousy method of legislating.

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