James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pat Sajak on Outing Hypocrites

Since I don't watch Wheel of Fortune, whenever I hear the name "Pat Sajak" my thoughts turn to Vanna White, and how impressed I am that she's able to keep her job as a game show model for so long. And then by association I think how similarly impressed I am that Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight is still around. I give credit for both women for putting themselves into a position where firing them in exchange for someone younger was out of the question. So you see, when I think of Pat Sajak, I promptly forget about Pat Sajak. Then I saw this opinion piece (via Pat Buchanan's blog) in which Sajak says,

There is much debate in the gay community on the subject of “outing”; that is, disclosing someone’s homosexuality without his consent . . . There is, however, a growing in-between position which says “outing” is justified if the person being exposed is a hypocrite. For example, if a crusading moralist or an anti-gay marriage Congressman is leading a secret gay life, it’s okay to make that public.

I would be in favor of that middle position if we could apply it across the board. In other words,, if we’re going to “out” hypocrites, let’s go all the way. If a Congressman opposes school choice for his poorer constituents while sending his own kids to private schools, let’s “out” him. If a politician or celebrity complains our taxes aren’t high enough while he hires the most aggressive accountants to minimize his own taxes, or takes questionable deductions to do the same, by all means, let’s “out” him. Minimum wage? Illegal immigration? Does their public stand match their private actions when it comes to their own domestic help? If not, “out” ‘em.

What about those who want to legislate diversity in our schools and clubs and organizations and work places? Great, but let’s check out their offices and club memberships and circles of acquaintance and make sure they don’t need to be “outed” as well. Let’s take a close look at our rich members of Congress (and there are a lot of them) who speak out about a middle class crisis, and let’s be sure they (and their family business entities) treat all their employees with the same generosity they would demand of others (salary, benefits, health care, etc.). Otherwise, “out” they go!

Let’s make sure Second Amendment opponents (or their bodyguards) don’t own guns. Let’s be certain those who complain about executives’ wages apply the same standards to themselves. Let’s change the rules to make every law Congress passes apply to its members as well. If not, “out”, “out”, “out”.

Let’s “out” the Hollywood star who lectures us on the environment while living in multiple homes, flying in private jets and riding around in limousines, or the athlete who rails against government neglect of the poor while lending his name to $100-plus basketball shoes marketed at that same audience.

Most people keep more than their sexuality in the closet. So, if we’re going to open that door to root out hypocrisy, let’s open them all.
It seems to me that conservative do this a lot, or at Limbaugh did in the 1990's (when I listened to him because I thought we were on the same side). Al Gore was nailed for sending his kids to private schools in 2000. Clinton's first Attorney General nomination was withdrawn after reports of illegal domestic help (and maybe the second as well), giving us Janet Reno.

Perhaps what Sajak is saying, however, is, "let's not go down that road at all, let's not 'out' people." Often when people get "outed" and nailed for hypocrisy, the claim doesn't stack up. Taking a stand against gay marriage while engaging in homosexual activity is not hypocrisy, nor more than standing against polygamy when one is married with a couple of mistresses on the side. Hypocrisy is rather demanding that homosexual acts or adultery be illegal while unrepentedly engaging in them: let's legislate for the plebians but don't enforce the laws on ourselves. But sexual behavior and marriage are two different issues.

Moreover, one can take a stand against this or that version of "school choice" while sending their own kid to private schools. People deserve "choice" in that they should be free to leave the public school system, but they're not entitled to "choice" in the form of taxpayer-funded school vouchers. So we should be careful, when we level the charge, that we know what the actual position of the person we're exposing.

Another example: one could favor tighter border control while at the same time not feeling obligated to obey cumbersome and immoral laws regarding employment. If one adopts a "none of my business" attitude toward the origin or status of prospecitve employees, and wants to pay them in cash, that's nobody else's business. And it's also a separate issue from whether the country can afford continuing the present levels of immigration.

Yes, there are indeed a lot of real hypocrites among limousine liberals when it comes to, say, the minimum wage and illegal aliens. I'm just saying that if we "out" people for hypocrisy, we should be careful not to do it willy-nilly. We mustn't jump to conclusions, and paint people with a broad brush.

For me, the issue comes down to advocating laws of compulsion and prohibition. That is itself damning, regardless of one's personal behavior or past history. Hypocrites may be more infuriating than than the consistent, squeaky-clean true believers, but only marginally so; straight arrows have no greater right to cram their values down our throats than anybody else - and they're insufferable.

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