Thursday, May 12, 2005

Public, Private Lives

Spokane Mayor Jim West's biggest crime was not actually a crime.

In my book, his biggest transgression was things like proposing legislation, while he was a state legislator, that would have banned gay people from teaching.

While anti gay attitudes are not crimes, politicians can be held accountable for them at the ballot box.

These recent revelations about West's secret dabbles in gay chat rooms and so forth should serve as a wake up call to voters about a significant number of anti gay politicians. Struggles with an issue, in one's personal life, will often lead to harsher perspectives about that issue in the person's public life.

Of course it must be said that not all opposition to gay rights, or right wing politics, is rooted in two faced personal lives. It's just that a certain percentage is.

While prejudiced stands, and the motivations for those stands, that a person takes could not be considered crimes in our free society, voters should be advised and hold politicians accountable.

Different From The Log Cabins

I have a few friends who loosely labeled West a "Log Cabin Republican."

That is far from the truth.

The Log Cabin Republicans are an organization of openly gay people who also support many of the principles of the Republican Party. Some folks feel this is an oxymoron, but there are actually quite a few supporters of the Log Cabin movement.

That is a totally different world from the two faced life of politicians who are conservative in public life while having a secret private life. Basically Log Cabin Republicans tend to be out of the closet.

Still they may support conservative causes such as lower government spending.

Some Log Cabins might even oppose civil rights legislation, for gays, because of a basic philosophy of "libertarianism." Opposition to the government regulating who a private employer should hire. This opposition to civil rights laws would also apply to nondiscrimination laws about race and other things.

While I don't endorse most of Log Cabin thinking, I do understand the big difference between that and politicians who are revealed as hypocritical when their private lives become known.


Anonymous said...

Why is it that the most vehement homophobes of the Republican Party keep getting outed as self loathing gays? As Jon Stewart said recently on "The Daily Show", the new hot place for guys to meet isn't gay chat rooms, it's anti-gay websites!

Anonymous said...

There's a great column by Mark Morford of SF Gate at that really puts the West scandel in perspective.

Theslowlane Robert Ashworth said...

Radio says that Spokane will have a recall election Dec. 6. I don't have an opinion on whether they should, or should not recall the mayor. I don't live in Spokane anyway.

Last month, my bicycle tour brought me through that city where I met one community volunteer who felt some compassion for the mayor and was a bit uncomfortable with everyone jumping onto a bandwagon to hound him out of office.

On the other hand, another person, I talked to, basically said he brought this on himself.

I honestly don't know how I would vote, if I lived there.

Anonymous said...

So Spokane finally ousted Jim West, and the Times reports that it might actually make residents more open to gay rights. The guy has colon cancer which has now spread to his liver, so you feel kind of sorry for him, but with him being that sick, it might also be for the better.

However, I can't help feeling this represents a turning point for the gay community, in that closeted self-hating gay politicians who promote anti-gay agendas are increasingly going to become a thing of the past. There is simply too much scrutiny on the information superhighway; as Andrew Sullivan notes, privacy is dead. And that's not a entirely a good thing, but more a double-edged sword.

Still, I think that it is entirely possible that twenty years from now even a place like Spokane can have a gay candidate running for mayor with a broad cross-section of support.

Anonymous said...

Former Spokane Mayor Jim West has finally died. Yes, he was a
scoundrel and a hypocrite, but I feel sorry that 1) he had colon
cancer and 2) that he died under such ignominious circumstances, with a recall election throwing him out of office following embarrassing revelations in the press. At the least I hope he had come to terms with himself and his life before he died.