Proper Manners: Outing Closeted Legislators?

Proper manners say outing is a violation of a person's privacy and not to do it. But when it comes to antigay politicians who lead double lives, Emily Post might make an exception.

BY Steven Petrow

May 16 2009 12:00 AM ET

The secret liaisons depicted in Outrage are the definition of hypocrisy. Of the dozens of posts about the film on my Huffington Post blog, the large majority favored outing the politicians. Wrote one young man: "If someone is homosexual and speaking [out] or voting against gay rights, they should be 'outed' to let voters decide if their hypocrisy influences their ability to govern. Same rules as if the ones who preach family values and [cheat] on their wife, or vote pro-life and send their daughter to an abortion clinic."

Take the case of the senator from Idaho, Larry Craig. Two years ago the married Republican lawmaker was arrested and pled guilty to "lewd conduct" in an airport sex sting involving a male police officer. In a subsequent investigation by the Idaho Statesman , three men alleged that Craig had initiated sex with them, including one who said he had oral sex with the senator in Washington's Union Station. Perhaps Craig's right to privacy might have greater currency had he not publicly supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have constitutionally prohibited same-sex couples from marrying in the United States. He has also voted against LGBT-inclusive hate-crimes and employment nondiscrimination legislation . Senator, you just can't have it both ways.

Back in her day, Mrs. Post added one final comment about why etiquette and manners matter to us all, again striking just the right note: "The structure of etiquette is comparable to that of a house, of which the foundation is ethics and the rest good taste, correct speech, quiet, unassuming behavior, and a proper pride of dignity." While we may get cross-eyed over which fork goes where, we should try not to forget that the best manners should rest on our highest ethics, and the valuing of the common good, known as society, over the individual.

Tags: Politics

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