The Thinking 

Weiner’s Sins and the “Yecch” Factor

June 9, 2011



Obviously, a reader’s comments contending that Rep. Weiner should not be scrutinized for his private behavior are absurd. Still, they have caused me to wonder about the widespread reaction to these events.

Why, I wonder, are we responding to his behavior with so much interest and outrage when tweeting sexual pictures to young women is perfectly in line with the philosophy of life we all know liberals hold? Had Rep. Weiner refused to apologize but simply come out publicly and said that sending pictures of his member to pretty girls makes him feel fulfilled and that no one should judge him for he sexual choices, he would at least have maintained a bit of philosophical coherence. When he apologized (if that is what he did) he lost even the bit of integrity seeking such philosophical coherence would have afforded him.

Second, I wonder why conservatives (even traditionalists) are responding these incidents with any energy at all given that Anthony Weiner has, throughout his career, advocated genocide against the unborn. He has for years championed the murder of children and yet most of us never heard of him until he engaged in a little penis-tweeting. It appears we have become so inured to the horror and evil of advocating abortion that it doesn’t even register with us.

Laura writes:

 At View from the Right, Lawrence Auster examines the inconsistency Youngfogey describes. The Weiner scandal is a perfect example of Mr. Auster’s “Unprincipled Exception.” He writes:

… Why, in our hyper-liberal society in which all consensual conduct between adults is allowed and is indeed a sacred right under the Fourteenth Amendment, does it even matter what Weiner did? Under the code of liberalism, what is wrong with having consensual online sex talk with a woman? Under the code of liberalism, what is wrong with sending lewd photos of oneself to a woman with whom one is having a “sexting” relationship?

Again we see the enormous power of the Unprincipled Exception. Liberals happily go along with and approve every kind of disgusting sexual and expressive behavior, both in media and in real life, under the liberal principle that people are free to engage in any behavior they like, so long as they don’t use force or coercion. But then, on the occasion of some other behavior which for some unaccountable reason offends them terribly, the liberals suddenly go “Yechh!!” and demand that that the person who did this disgusting thing be brought to account. There is no rationale to it at all. There is no evident reason why liberals defend and approve some consensual sexual behaviors, and condemn others. It all comes down to the instinctive, inarticulate “Yecch!” factor.

He continues:

I should add those liberals–you occasionally see them on blogs and hear them on talk radio–who have been saying that Weiner did nothing wrong and that society owes him an apology for intruding in his private life and forcing him to lie about it, have a point. They are being consistent in their liberalism. They have no problem with the moral chaos which proceeds from their liberal principles, and they don’t cowardly seize on the “Yecch” factor to escape from it. But such consistent liberals are a minority and none of them is in the establishment. 

                                                  — Comments —

Fred Owens writes:

Benjamin Franklin was an admitted ladies man, who made his way gleefully through the court of Versailles when he served as our ambassador. And don’t even imagine the evenings jaunts of one Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Do we put him aside and have the Declaration of Independence re-written by a lesser author?

We don’t elect saints to Congress, and we need to think of the men and women in this country who avoid public service because they could not abide the scrutiny that comes with it.

Privacy, both for public officials and common citizens, is becoming a scarce commodity. Your blog does a great service by protecting the nurturing warmth of the homestead. Privacy and domesticity are inseparable. At your website we can discuss and debate meaningful topics without the maudlin confessions and false intimacy of so many talk shows and tell-all Twitter posts.

Let Weiner’s humiliation serve as an example to us all — that the Internet is a useful tool, but true love dwells in the home, and dwells in the hearts of those who seek it.

Laura writes:

I’m shocked that you would equate the soulless, lewd, coarse interactions Weiner had with women on the Internet to any non-marital affairs of Jefferson and Franklin. As was said in a previous entry, Weiner is a flasher. Publicly exposing oneself was normally considered a crime and getting pleasure from publicly exposing oneself is a sign of serious sexual perversion.

I would be outraged if journalists did not disclose this information to voters. As I said before, the private man is the public official. If a congressman had engaged in lewd sex acts with his wife in the privacy of his own home that would be no one’s business. But Weiner did this on the Internet, a very public place.

Adriana writes:

Obviously we should hold politicians to a higher standard than we would hold normal people. Obviously. 

Look at it this way: if your alcoholic neighbor routinely cheats on his wife and defaults on paying his bills, that’s none of your business, right? Right. You can’t fix him or his relationship with his family/bill collectors. That said, would you let this neighbor borrow $1,000? Would you let him babysit your children? Would you let him accompany your wife on a business trip? 

Probably not. 

It’s the same situation. When people are in public office, they’ve committed themselves to serving the public. The information we receive about their private lives is an excellent proxy for how they will behave with OUR private lives, which are essentially in their hands. Couple these indiscretions with the knowledge of how the Internet works, and we should really expect better of these people. Even if Weiner’s photos were “accidental” (and they weren’t), do you really want someone who makes such mistakes in a position of power? 

Also, Mr.Owens said: “He flirted and then he lied about it.” 

Excellent. So what else is he lying about?

Mr. Owens writes:

I have interviewed many politicians and written stories about them for community newspapers. I know a hundred tricks to get people to divulge embarrassing information and to trap them into making inconsistent statements — statements which can then be called lies. These interviewing tricks are stock-in-trade for big city reporters. But I never used them. I worked in small towns and most of these politicians were just local folks who were trying to be of public service…. Maybe I wasn’t such a crusader for truth, but I often tried to make these people look good, and sometimes averted my eyes, so to speak, at their known failures. We did have a town clerk who was a friend and neighbor of mine, and when it was determined that she had been embezzling town funds for her gambling habit, we had no choice but to make that news public — but we took no pleasure in it. This woman moved out of town afterward, but her son still lives here and this crime is never mentioned.

I don’t know to rank Congressman Weiner’s failures alongside other crimes and sins. I agree that it was wrong and that there should be consequences for his behavior. He failed to protect his own privacy, so public discussion is appropriate. But I still call for kindness toward human failings.

Laura writes:

Weiner was not tricked into saying anything false about himself. He admitted to these Internet transactions. Let his friends show kindness toward his failings. That’s what friends, not voters, are for.

Adriana writes:

I agree with Laura. Mr. Weiner was not tricked into lying, nor were his words twisted, and so Mr. Owen’s point is irrelevant. 

It’s not necessarily the public’s place to pass moral judgement on Mr. Weiner, but it’s also not unreasonable to call for his resignation. One can still be “kind” toward someone without wanting them to be in a position of power. I like plenty of people who aren’t paragons of virtue — but that doesn’t mean I want them to lead society. 

Sexual infidelity of any kind is particularly troubling. If a politician can’t even keep his/her promises to his spouse, why should we expect that he’ll be able to keep promises he’s made to the public? Sure, it’s possible that someone is more committed to the promises he made to the public than he is to the promises he’s made to family, but it’s not likely. 

It’s like saying “Why not let that known embezzler guard the treasury?” Sure, it’s possible that they won’t steal any money from it…but it’s not likely.



Share:Email this to someoneShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest0Share on Google+0