Thursday, October 07, 2004

So the mainstream media seems to be slowly picking up on the story that Alan Keyes's daughter may be gay. Newspapers have mentioned that Keyes was asked about it at a debate with Obama on Friday, and someone brought it up on the post-debate discussion I listened to on talk radio Tuesday night. I feel a bit weird about adding fuel to the fire, but it's out there, so I'm going to post about it.

In general, I'm pretty opposed to dragging politicians' kids into political campaigns. I am the first to admit that I'm totally biased on this question. As a kid, I knew a bunch of children of politicians, and while their parents' (actually, in every case I can think of, it was their father's) jobs gave them opportunities that I could barely fathom, I still didn't envy them. There was a sense in which they fundamentally lost the right to be their own people: they always had to be conscious of their status as accessories, of the ways in which their every move could be scrutinized and critiqued and made to reflect on their parents. They lost their right to privacy, and the scrutiny was often most intense at the times that would otherwise be most stressful, such as when their parents split up or were accused of some sort of wrongdoing. I realize that considering the many things that less-fortunate kids deal with, this hardly seems like a national tragedy, but I saw it cause a lot of misery, and I don't think that misery can be justified by the supposed benefit. I actually don't think there's a lot of correlation between people's ability to govern and their ability to raise polite, smart, tea-totaling, abstinent, good-looking children. For the most part, interest in politicians' children has more to do with the prurient culture of celebrity, I think, than in anything politically substantive. In the overwhelming majority of cases, I just don't care what candidates' children do, and I don't think you should care, either.

There is, I think, a big exception to that rule, and it has to do with hypocrisy. It is, I believe, ok to point out when politicians are exempting their own kids from the difficulties they impose on other people's children. It's ok, for instance, to point out that a whole lot of politicians talk a good line about public education but send their own children to private schools. It's fine by me if you want to discuss the fact that politicians will have the resources to procure abortions for their daughters even if abortion becomes illegal in the U.S. I feel horrible for Jeb Bush's substance-abusing daughter, Noelle, and I think that Bush is right to suggest that her difficulties could happen in any family. But at a time when whole families can be kicked out of public housing if a single member is convicted of drug possession, it's worth pointing out that poor folks can be rendered homeless for committing exactly the same offense for which Jeb Bush argues he should be given a pass. If he shouldn't be held responsible for his daughter's drug problem, why should other people face such draconian punishment? If a policy is supposed to be fair and humane, I think you can ask why politicians don't think it should apply to their nearest and dearest.

But here's the thing. I've seen no evidence that Alan Keyes is a hypocrite. He doesn't think that his daughter should be the only gay person who is granted civil rights. Assuming that Keyes's daughter is a lesbian, he thinks that she, like every other gay and lesbian person in the U.S., should be a second-class citizen. He thinks that she, like every other gay and lesbian person, should be denied the right to have a family that is recognized by the state.

Now, I think Alan Keyes is a thoroughly reprehensible person for being willing to oppress his own daughter. Dick Cheney, who is of course also reprehensible, at least has the decency to seem chagrined about running on a ticket that seeks to deny his kid basic civil rights. But as incomprehensible and abhorrent as Keyes's stance on his daughter is, I think it's unlikely to lose him much support if it becomes public. Less than 25% of Illinoisans plan to vote for Keyes as it is. My hunch is that most members of that tiny fringe are as rabidly homophobic as he is. Sadly, they would probably approve of his willingness to impose his hateful agenda on his own daughter.

So I don't see any great benefit to publicizing this rumor, even if it's true. And I think it could cause a lot of suffering to the daughter in question. It's hard enough to be the gay child of a rabid homophobe. It would really stink to have the whole world know that your daddy loves the sinner but hates what he considers a sin and you consider a fundamental part of your life.

So why am I blogging about it, you ask? Well, not very many people read my blog, so I don't feel too bad about it.

In other news:

  1. Someone got to my blog by googling "Jack and Bobby" and "anti-Catholic." Is Jack and Bobby anti-Catholic? I stopped watching after the first episode.

  2. The stool samples came back negative for parasites. This is, despite the general disgustingness of parasites, not the result for which I was hoping. I have to call the doctor tomorrow and figure out what to do next. I'm currently trying to convince myself that this is all in my head and that I am somehow subconsciously making myself throw up. That would be crazy, but crazy is preferable to sick.

  3. I have actually volunteered to haul my ass to a swing state and volunteer for Kerry. This is particularly perverse behavior, because I don't even like Kerry. I don't expect him to be a very good president. It's purely about getting Bush out of office before he appoints Supreme Court justices and ruins the country for the next thirty years.

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