Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Sexual Immorality Undermines Credibility

A debate on Facebook has turned nasty between some gay guy and myself on a mutual friend's wall. The gay guy accused me of being a hypocrite just because I want Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign and because I believe that elected politicians should be held to a high moral standard. The gay guy disagrees. Not only does he disagree, but his view of men is warped. Basically, he seems to believe that ALL MEN are sexually obsessed deviants like Anthony Weiner. Maybe this is a delusion of a homosexual mind. After all, homosexuality is all about sexuality. So maybe its not surprising that some gay guy thinks that all men send pictures of their manhood to people. I think it says more about him than anything else.

No matter how many times I've tried to explain it to him, he can't seem to get it through his ignorant head that there is a difference between an elected official doing something like what Congressman Weiner was doing versus some private citizen who works in some corporate office. In one situation, the perve sending dick shots to women who place online ads generally does so under the cloak of anonymity, in the other situation, the perve has a high profile so anonymity is not possible, especially when he's bragging about being a Congressman and the next mayor of New York City! Anyhow, I had no idea that men actually do this, but based on reading ads on Craiglist from women seeking men, I'm astounded how many women state in their ads for men not to send pictures of their pride and joy. I really don't understand the mindset of a man who would do such a thing. Does this make me a prude? According to the gay antagonist, ALL MEN do this stuff and to claim that I don't do it makes me a hypocrite and a liar in his eyes. What an asshole! Someone is projecting big time.

This gay guy also claimed that the Navy was overrun by homosexuals or repressed homosexuals. He admitted that he didn't serve, but he "spoke to plenty of people" who were in the Navy. Yeah, right. I was in the Navy for five years and I saw no such activity going on. Guys were homophobic, that is true, but this homophobia doesn't automatically mean that they are closeted homosexuals. Some people are just uncomfortable with it. When I joined the Navy as a young 18 year old, I was homophobic to a degree. I admit to cracking a gay joke or two, or even using the word as a stand-in for "stupid." I've been solicited by two gay guys in the Navy and it was very uncomfortable. One was particularly scary because I was drunk and alone in my barracks room with the guy, who was much bigger than me. Thankfully, he didn't attempt anything, but I learned to be more careful about who I let into my barracks room.

A few years ago, when I went to pay my phone bill downtown, I got stuck in the Gay Pride parade. I had no idea that it was going on and I felt very uncomfortable. Some may think of me as a prude or even puritan, and maybe in some ways I am, but I am very uncomfortable with any form of in-your-face-blatant-sexuality. The Pride parade leaves little to the imagination and I keep wondering each year, "What is there to be 'proud' about?"

The novel I wrote based on my Navy experiences is probably the most sexually explicit story that I will ever write. When I got out of the Navy, I wanted to make sense of the organization because I served during a controversial time: the Tailhook Scandal and the Gays in the Military debate during the Clinton years. I found irony in the fact that the Navy held cross-dressing beauty pageants on the Equator during the most famous ritual (the Crossing of the Line ceremony), while at the same time, the Navy would discharge sailors who cross-dressed in private (during their off-duty and away from the ship time). Why endorse and encourage one but not tolerate the other kind? Also, the sexual harassment of women was seen as part of male culture while at the same time, the argument against allowing gays to serve openly is the fear of some guy crawling into one's rack at night to get it on. Its the mindset that I didn't get.

I once made a person laugh when I told him that all the guys were staring at some woman's body and all I kept wondering about was her intelligence, what she was interested in or thought about. I've always been attracted to women who stimulate my mind. Intelligence is sexy to me. Sexuality is a private thing and should be a private thing. That's what this gay guy doesn't seem to understand. Congressman Weiner did not keep it private. He was indiscreet and he was married. None of that matters to the gay guy, because I suspect that in gay culture, sexuality is the currency. Its a given. Its out in the open, in your face, just like a typical Gay Pride parade.

How difficult is it, though, to understand that a scandal of this magnitude has resulted in a loss of esteem for the Congressman? How can he be effective when millions of people know what his dick looks like? Or those silly poses of him in the House gym locker room? We are going to excuse this behaviour? Why? Because we like the way he votes? That's a bullshit answer. If I'm in favour of Republican politicians caught in sex scandals to resign, then for the sake of consistency, I'm also in favour of Democrats caught in sex scandals to resign. In 1998, I wanted President Clinton to resign after he admitted that he did have sexual relations with THAT woman, Miss Lewinsky. In retrospect, though, I'm glad that he didn't resign, though that does not excuse his behaviour. I'm all for holding politicians to a high ethical and moral standard. To not do so means that other politicians will test the limits of what they can get away with. Our permissive culture will lead to a degradation of morality.

I suppose the disagreements I've had with fellow progressives and liberals is bothersome for them to hear a liberal Democrat arguing from a moral standard. However, when a person is elected to represent a district of about 700,000 citizens and make laws that we have to live under, the least they can do is abide by a moral code. If they cannot do so, they have no business running for office. It is clear that Congressman Weiner has a developmental problem. It cannot be a normal thing for him to be doing what he's doing. If any of my male friends do this in private, then I seriously do not want to know about it, otherwise I will lose respect for you.

That's what the gay guy can't seem to understand, no matter how many ways I've tried to explain it. I have no aspirations to be a leader, nor do I consider myself a follower. I am content to defer to someone else's leadership, though. However, because I live by a pretty high standard and moral code, whenever someone in a leadership position (or position of authority / power / prestige) above me has a moral lapse, I lose all respect for them and become very defiant. I generally hold people to the moral level that they claim to have, so if they violate it, the deal is off.

But in another example, when I was in the Navy, a buddy and me decided to splurge on a hotel room in Corfu, Greece rather than return to the ship that was anchored out. When I saw my buddy standing on the balcony in nothing but his underwear, calling out to the Greek women and female British tourists, I was horrified and lost a great deal of respect for him. Especially since he was getting married a few months later. Our "friendship" cooled off after that episode. I just don't like seeing people act that way. I don't know where my intolerance of it comes from. Perhaps because I've seen the way some men have treated my mother. When we lived in Omaha, Nebraska, one male neighbour used to stand in his living room naked when my mom walked past his house. In Germany, a guy who worked for my dad would call our house drunk making sexual comments. I've also heard derogatory comments directed at Asian women, as many American males seem to think they are nothing more than cute, girlish, sexual playthings to have fun with (but not marry). Or maybe its because I consider sex to be an extremely private matter between two people that should be held sacred. I don't get the sexual aggression some men display. Its psychological for something else that the perpetrator is avoiding.

One episode in the Navy that still burns in my memory was when a Chief Petty Officer told me to my face that the reason why liberals don't make good sailors is because they (we) are incapable of following rules / orders. A year or so later, this Chief Petty Officer faced a Captain's Mast (a legal procedure where the Captain of the ship acts as the judge, jury, and executioner) for having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female shipmate of a lower rank (called "fraternization" in Navy parlance). He was a conservative (reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh) who could not follow the Navy rules against fraternization. Of course I lost the little respect I ever had for him. I never went to Captain's Mast during my enlistment. For a liberal, I've always been good about following orders / commands.

In another episode, when I was new on my first ship, I had received a letter and photo from one of my female penpals I had been writing to since the eighth grade. A Chief Petty Officer looked at the photo and the first thing he asked me was "Does she take it up the ass?" I was stunned by such a question that I didn't know how to respond. I've never had that kind of conversation with my penpal, nor did I even know that people had sex that way. So, I responded, "No, she's not that kind of girl." The Chief got offended and shot back, "So you're calling my wife a slut?" I was stunned. I wasn't even thinking about his wife. It was a case of Too Much Information. Unfortunately, whenever I saw his wife at special functions, only one thought floated in my mind: "So, she likes to take it up the ass!" The Chief totally disrespected his wife when he said that remark.

Is this the kind of world I want to live in? The answer is no. Hell no. Serving in Congress (or the Governor's office, or the Presidency, or the high profile Ambassadorships) is an incredible honour and privilege. If a politician cannot conduct himself (or herself) like a mature adult who respects the sanctity of his marriage, then he needs to go. He has no right to make laws that affect the rest of us. He has no right to draw a salary that is funded by our taxes. Not to mention the awesome health care benefits, travel expenses, staff salaries, and free postage. And plenty of holidays and recesses. Why should an overgrown adolescent be given all of that? Its not right. Character is what you are when no one's looking. Integrity matters. Accountability is absolutely vital. If we want a better government with high standards of conduct, then we must demand the removal of any member of Congress when they fail to live up to those values. By enacting such a moral standard, it serves notice to others who think scandal won't come to them. A culture of permissiveness only guarantees that more scandals of this kind will continue to happen. We can't afford to tolerate this kind of behaviour anymore. Its time for people to grow up.

1 comment:

T said...

The lying about all of it did him in. His transgression is far less serious than that of Clinton, Viter, Ensign, even Mark Foley. Too bad. Weiner's voice was strong for progressives.