A human being lives there–why I’m not joining the twitter party over a despicable figure’s sex scandal

I consider Dinesh D’Souza to be a thoroughly despicable figure in American public life. My view is shared by, well, anyone who has taken the time to become familiar with D’Souza’s statements and writings going back thirty years. The disgraceful bits certainly include D’Souza’s scurrilous attacks on President Obama shown in the sham documentary 2016.

Now D’Souza the self-avowed Christian moralist is entangled in some sex scandal that involves a relationship with a much-younger woman while he is separated from (but still legally married to) his wife. For this reason and others, he’s had to resign his million-dollar-a-year presidency of The King’s College.

Many of my friends are having fun on twitter and elsewhere clucking about it. I totally get that. I’m still not joining the snark.

In 1942, 1962, or 1982, there was genuine value in noting the many examples of conservative moralists who turn out to be hypocrites on matters of homosexuality, pornography, substance use, mistress’s abortions, and other matters. Sure, I would have outed avowed segregationist Strom Thurmond who fathered a child with an African-American woman who was one of the domestic help. But okay it’s 2012, guys. We know these stories already.

I’ve spent many years working on interventions for individuals trying to avoid or to recover from harmful behaviors that damage their lives and hurt people they love. In many cases, these behaviors are made more difficult to address by their furtiveness. Maybe it’s the upright Rotarian or the inner-city high school student who runs needless HIV risks because he’s in the closet. Maybe it’s the young mother struggling with a mental health problem who is too ashamed to seek help. Maybe it’s the heroin user trying to get clean, who, afraid to admit he has relapsed, shoots up alone in a hotel room, overdoses, and dies.

Dinesh D’Souza is an awful person. His misdemeanor sexual hypocrisies are far from his most surprising or his most damning character traits. I think we should resist the ugly pack mentality, which creates a permission structure for gleeful cruelty. Several years ago, Idaho’s conservative GOP Senator Larry Craig was arrested after apparently soliciting sex in an airport men’s room.  He was treated with a palpable lack of humanity by many people across the political spectrum.  I never thought much of Larry Craig. That episode still bothers me. The planet would have continued to rotate had Craig’s (mostly Republican) Senate colleagues allowed him to quietly retire rather than to railroad him out.

In The Human Stain, Philip Roth noted the dehumanization that accompanies manufactured scandal, suggesting that President Clinton should have hung a banner from the White House saying “A human being lives here.” Wise words, there. We will create a more humane society by treating each other with kindness and humanity. We won’t accomplish this goal by responding vindictively when a political adversary–even one as loathsome as Dinesh D’Souza–is unmasked as a somewhat hypocritical and imperfect human being. Many of us are.

Comments

    • Anonymous says

      Yes, thank you! When we stray from the intersection of care and kindness, we may find ourselves lost in the back streets and ally ways of inhumanity where humans tend not to choose to be humane! And yes, gleeful cruelty is not a humane trait for any caring and kind human being. Yes, D’Souza deserves collective scorn for his demeanor of damnation toward others now that we’ve discovered his fallibility. but anything akin to a touchdown dance is uncalled for, at least among the decent!

  1. Ebenezer Scrooge says

    There are two issues here, which I believe Harold wrongfully conflates: punishment and gleefulness.

    D’Souza’s rank hypocrisies–extending but not limited to sexual ones–should be punished as a simple matter of moral calculus. That he has been living in a state of impunity for many years doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be punished when the impunity is gone. Quite the contrary! He should be exposed, shamed, and humiliated: the only punishment that the general public can inflict on a person.

    Where Harold, IMO, gets it right is that punishment should not be gleeful. Punishment is suffering, and suffering is bad in itself. Nobody should enjoy inflicting suffering. D’Souza’s suffering is morally condign: he deserves punishment. But he also deserves empathy along with obloquy. It is paradoxical and a hard thing to do, but this is generally true for the human condition. Dinesh D’Souza: poor creep.

    • NCG says

      I wish we did live in a world in which being a hateful liar were punished by ostracism. Or at least, by exposure equal to the reach of the lie. I’d settle for that much in a minute!!!

      So I very much enjoyed your comment, even though I haven’t read anything by D’Souza in a million years and I don’t know if he is in fact a hateful liar. And I didn’t know he was a sexual moralist either. I just remember he hates integration and didn’t offer me any valuable analysis at that time, which is why I stopped paying attention to him.

  2. John G says

    but ‘holier than thou’ is such an agreeable position, it’s not surprising that so many people adopt it, particularly when they already detest the ‘thou’.

  3. says

    For years, D’Souza has been a blue nose moralist about all things sexual, pimping for “traditional” values. So now we find that he’s involved in an affair that is adulterous even under the more limited Old Testament definition. (Both D’Souza and his paramour are currently married.)

    This is not the same the Clinton/Lewinsky matter. Here, D’Souza’s bread and butter as a commentator was his constant castigation of others for not toeing his line on matters sexual. The gleeful cruelty is not the product of his adulterous relationship. Rather, it is triggered by the public revelation of his gross hypocrisy. Schadenfreude is perfectly justifiable under the circumstances.

    • Warren Terra says

      He’s not just a moralist on these issues – he’s a professional moralist on these issues. As in, $10,000 a pop from Christian student groups to come to their event and harangue them about the importance of adhering to strict Christian moral values, and about how it’s OK to despise and abandon all the poor folks, third-worlders, and American ethnic minorities because they lack those strict Christian moral values. Why, if this raging hypocrite weren’t snaffling up that cash, the Christian student group might have spent it to promote a social vision of helping the sick, the halt, and the lame.

      He has thoroughly crafted this rod for the beating of his back – and as he has done so, he has accumulated millions of dollars with which to soften the blows. You need have no sympathy for him.

      • 28 Percent says

        $10,000 a pop from Christian student groups to come to their event and harangue them about the importance of adhering to strict Christian moral values, and about how it’s OK to despise and abandon all the poor folks, third-worlders, and American ethnic minorities because they lack those strict Christian moral values and if American Christians don’t root out the Sodomites, the Muslims will burn us all

        Fixed. You’re welcome.

  4. says

    Thank you for this — I had a very similar reaction to the news about D’Souza. In the last couple of years I’ve gotten into pretty heated arguments with friends about the propriety/ethics/utility of pouncing on news of a political opponent’s sexual life for political gain. I’m not entirely decided about it, but as of right now my view is fairly close to the position that it is NEVER appropriate to drag in a public figure’s sex life for political gain, and that includes even when a prominent conservative is outed as a closeted homosexual. However, in a case like that I’m not nearly as certain in my own mind, I’m willing to discuss that.

    My concern is not for the D’Souzas and Craigs of the world. My concern is for the public discourse. One clarifying event for me was the Mark Sanford situation where, amid all the weeks and week of distasteful sniggering over his affair, the more information that came out, the more I began to think, “Why are we making fun of this? The man found a true love in life.” etc and it became really unclear to me why this man was the subject of ridicule.

    So right now my position is this — if you are a committed progressive or liberal, every single time that the headlines are dominated by a “sex scandal” of ANY description, that is a setback for our side and a win for the stupid moralists who would unpleasantly dictate so many things about public life. If you oppose the bowdlerization of school textbooks and the censorship of public libraries, then every time you participate in a scandal where the underlying point of view in public is, “how dare this person deviate from the norm, or have a sexual secret?!” — then you are aiding and abetting the moralists. I think it’s a bad idea, and the “proper” progressive position, insofar as I can discern what it is, should be, I AM NOT INTERESTED IN THE SEX LIVES OF POLITICAL PLAYERS, PERIOD. — PERIOD. As I said earlier, I can see a partial exception in the public embarrassment of closeted conservatives, but even there my gut says it’s not a great idea in the long run, and I participate semi-unwillingly.

    • Wido Incognitus says

      1. In the D’Souza case there is also the issue of hypocrisy. I acknowledge that hypocraisy is not that important, but it is more than just sexual morality itself.
      2. As I remember. I thought people were laughing at Sanford not as a form of angry punishment for his personal mistakes, but because the whole thing was legitimately funny. Running off to a different continent without telling people where you are going when you are governor of a state? And the alibi was hiking the Appalachian Trail? And the cliche of an attractive South American woman? And that weird interview he gave about love? I mean, if it made him happy, that’s great, but it’s still pretty funny.
      3. I assume you would also make an exception for nonconsensual sexual behavior, but maybe I’m being a jerk and that goes without saying.

      • says

        Right — nonconsensual behavior of that sort would seem to be a matter for the criminal courts, and should thus be treated as any other criminal matter occurring to a public figure should.

        Hypocrisy…. here’s the thing. Once you open the gate to include hypocrisy, you let everything in. So I’m going to be a very tough judge on that issue. D’Souza’s views aren’t wrong because he too deviated from them, they’re wrong because they’re wrong. I think a healthier attitude would be to judge a surgeon by his or her ability to heal, a plumber by his or her ability to fix a pipe, and a politician by his or her ability to propose and prosecute political ends. Our way of thinking about this — that politicians must have squeaky clean sexual lives — have the effect of eliminating from the public realm many inventive and highly useful people. The people who hoot over some politician’s sexual life are unknowingly disqualifying people from the arena. In the case of progressives, I think that tendency tilts heavily against us and in favor of the stupid conservatives we oppose.

        • g says

          The people who hoot over some politician’s sexual life are unknowingly disqualifying people from the arena.

          D’Souza is not a politician. He makes his living from his writings and his “ideas,” which all have to do with sexual morality. His moral standing is the area of expertise he claims.

          So in a way, he is worse than a lousy plumber – he’s like the bad plumber who commands a high fee due to the cost of code compliance, but who actually routes the blackwater drain from his own house into his neighbor’s creekbed.

      • says

        I basically agree with you about Sanford but the fact is he was pretty much hounded out of public life. Ditto Spitzer, and there you have the hypocrisy issue again. In both cases, legality aside and with Spitzer that’s a very complex issue, I don’t really see why it’s any of our business, and as a *pragmatic* matter, progressives end up losing in the long run every time a scandal like this dominates the headlines. That’s my opinion. These scandals are a conformist impulse, not an inclusive impulse. Progressives should stay away.

  5. Wido Incognitus says

    1. I agree with you to the extent that political arguments based on hypocrisy (as opposed to ideological inconsistency itself) are foolish. We are all sinners. I already knew that, and that has nothing to do with whatever is right or wrong.
    2. Additionally,, I believe that people who have made mistakes (even and especially mistakes far more serious than D’Souza’s midemeanor sexual hypocrisies) shoUld be treated with some form of love.
    3. However, there are people who do not “know these stories already.” They are content to attribute superiority in personal morality to the people on their side, and it is important to point that that is not obviously true.
    4. Another way to interpret “a human being lives here,” is to emphasize “here,” to remind you that Bill Clinton was living in the White House when he was being investigated for perjury and obstruction of justice relating to sexual affairs with other women while he was married, so that there are really more fitting targets for your sympathy. It was probably foolish to impeach Clinton for those things, but I only feel bad for the lost resources of congress and the news media as opposed to feeling sorry for Bill Clinton (although I do have a humane love for him as a sinner, although I would have a similar humane love for him even if he had not made those particular mistakes, and a sense that it is really not a big deal because everybody makes mistakes and many people make far worse mistakes. These are entirely different from pitying him for his punishment while he was living in the White House. Was I supposed to assume that his guilt was enough? Or was his discipline from the Arkansas Bar supposed to be enough but the Starr investigations were too much?). I know I am not being clear, but whatever.

    • NCG says

      No. Clinton was investigated for committing on-the-job sexual harassment. Lewinsky never had anything to do with that, as their activity was consensual. Starr had no right to expose her private business as he did, and no matter how much pro bono work he does, he will never make up for what he did to her and to this country. No, no, no. And I still think it’s unlikely that exposing Clinton that way was fair either. But a private person? Definitely not.

  6. says

    I am so torn about what you wrote.

    You see, I do not trust the human beast. We are natural pack animals, far too willing to trot gleefully behind the snarling (perhaps pheromone dripping?) alpha who howls the message that resonates with us. In that mad rush it doesn’t matter who or what gets trampled, savaged, ravaged, or killed in that mad dash. Our weakest, youngest, poorest, oldest, and most vulnerable all get left behind in the surge, lucky if all they end up is hungry. My impulse is to help *these* folks; my charity in time, money, and devotion goes to them.

    To see someone who not only was in that pack, but sought to lead it, and profited from it, brought down by the pack? It is so very, very hard to re-humanize someone who so actively sought to de-humanize so many (just sample a little of his Dartmouth Review oeuvre), instead of chanting to push him forward into the maw of public derision and ruin.

    Harold Pollack, you are a mensch, a human of the first water. For you, I’ll try.

  7. Wido Incognitus says

    1. I do not want to jump to conclusions about what D’Souza may actually have done.
    2. Also, there is some evidence that the people at King’s College were just unhappy with D’Souza’s self-promoting at the expense of actually encouraging the grouth of the school.

  8. Steve Davenport says

    I was just watching D’Souza on Bill Maher, from one of my favorite moments of Maher’s show. Maher confronts D’Souza for not coming to his defense: Maher was eventually fired from ABC for stating that the 9/11 suicide were not cowards (in that they were willing to die for their cause), yet transcripts show that he was agreeing with D’Souza’s remarks to the same point. In the clip (starting around 6:00), D’Souza tried to distance his comments from Maher’s, but the host does not allow it. http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/bill-maher-takes-apart-dinesh-d-souza-over

  9. says

    Yes, I echo the kudos for you taking this position and making this important point. I’ve long despised D’Souza particularly, and I do feel much schadenfreude about his downfall — I really am not going to apologize or feel ashamed about that and I don’t agree with you on the “he’s a human being, too” basis.

    But, like others, I’ve long been uncomfortable with the reaction to cases like Craig’s or Sanford. And my primary reason for this is one that you don’t mention and that none of the commenters have, either: that what I think happens with a large segment of the left is that these occasions somehow allow people on the left to indulge themselves in widely-shared bigotries that they otherwise avoid (or avoid expressing publicly) and decry. A very clear example of this … hypocrisy … is the clear misogyny directed against conservative women.

    To my mind, a lot of the condemnatory discussion about Craig on the left was evocative of some deep homophobic sentiment. I read leftists rhetorically shuddering in revulsion at the idea of being hit upon in a men’s room, with a complete lack of awareness of the similar rhetoric made by the homophobic right, or introspection about the lack of stigma associated with heterosexual advances toward women in public places, or about the sociology of an oppressed group forming liaisons in such places, or the history of vicious homophobic enforcement against such activity by police departments, or, hell, Stonewall. People who were nominally friendly to gay rights and even, amazingly, some self-identified gays were happy to join in on vicious, mocking rhetoric about Crain specifically with regard to his behavior at the airport restroom, and not about his hypocrisy … which was the ostensive rationale for vilifying.

    That’s the most self-evident example, but I think that it’s representative of a more general phenomenon. I think there is still among the left a latent puritanical sexual morality that will occasionally bloom into full-view when it can be normalized in the context of crowing about a conservative’s sexual hypocrisy. And always, relentlessly, the argument is that the criticism is of the hypocrisy, not the activity. And yet the language used inevitably follows the conventions of pejorative language about the activity, and not limited to the hypocrisy. So we talk about D’Souza “having an affair”, “cheating”, “having a mistress” when we would otherwise never use such language describing someone involved with someone else after they’ve separated from their spouse but not divorced. Such things are commonplace. Would many of the very culturally conservative evangelicals use such language? Well, probably. But given that we otherwise find such views regressive, even offensive, it’s hard to understand why we’d echo their words and framing.

    But then, really, we have to go back and ask ourselves about all that misogyny directed at Palin or Coulter. Why is it that many people on the left will use the language of threatening sexual violence, and even gleefully, when they’d be up-in-arms when such language is used by someone on the right? It’s hypocrisy and a lack of self-awareness about our prejudices and bigotries, about what’s still there even when we think we’re free of it. About what indulging in hatefulness often reveals about our inner-selves.

    Regardless, that such things still go largely without objection, that the left will, for the most part, use the language of sexual repression and patriarchy to gleefully condemn D’Souza, the language of homophobic bigotry to condemn Craig, inadvertently sends a sort of a message that normalizes this amount of latent bigotry, that implicitly encourages liberals to be as lacking in self-awareness of their inconsistencies and hypocrisies in morality that they, ironically, so vilify conservatives for.

    • Wido Incognitus says

      1. You “echo words and framings” to show hypocrisy (which I agree is not that important). Otherwise, the hypocrisy argument is very difficult to make. It is, at least in theory, a lack of self-awareness, but an “act.”
      2. Additionally, I am not so certain that what you describe as sexual repression, patriarchy and homophobic bigotry are as worthless as you suggest that they are. Especially in the case of how criticism of homophobia is blending into criticism of “gay panic.” The revulsion that a heterosexual male feels at male homosexual activity is entirely separate from a bigoted disdain for people who enjoy homosexuality. I do not think that it is not entirely backwards to expect gay men to adjust their behavior based on the fact that most of the men whom they encounter are deeply revolted by the concept of doing what they may propose doing, especially if it is in a bathroom, where the behavior is public in that it is to or near to peeople you do not closely know but private in that people do very private things in bathrooms and is not at all a place where a woman would expect to be propositioned by a man. To get back to the immediate issue, monogamy (yeah, yeah, D’Souza was separated) is valuable as a way of preserving stability within families and equality across society.
      3. A moderate liberal attitude would be that people may have their own opinions about issues of sexual behavior (to use this as an example) but that there is no reason for society to give an advantage to any of those opinions. The attitude you suggest in your comment is one that is against any personal preference by anybody that understands hierarchies of behavior. It is censorious, and I detect it in a lot of so-called liberal politics.

  10. Byomtov says

    OTOH, I would like to snark about King’s College, if I may.

    Here is an institution which, according to the Post article, “aims to shape young Christians,” and yet thought it appropriate to name the loathesome D’Souza its President, no doubt because he was effective at raising funds in right-wing circles. In other words, they were happy to profit from his earlier activities, no matter how dishonest, and only let him go because of what would strike most of us as a fairly minor indiscretion at worst. Maybe they should spend some time rethinking their moral standards.

    • Peter Montgomery says

      Amen. So much of the Religious Right has abandoned concern for truth – winning political battles is much more important. And they accuse the left of having an “ends justifies the means” mentality! D’Souza is useful to the far right for many reasons. They value his willingness to spout politically useful B.S., and of course making millions doing it is a sign of God’s blessing. As long as he continues to have usefulness, doors will be open to him on the far right. Ask Ralph Reed.

  11. Brett Bellmore says

    I’ve always had a problem with the hypocrisy attacks, in light of the fact that the best way to immunize yourself against them is to not admit to having any morals. Hypocrisy may be the tribute vice pays to virtue, but are we better off if vice doesn’t feel the need to pay the tribute?

    Anyway, this seems awfully like going on and on about how you’re not going to talk about something. You don’t want to talk about something, maybe you should not talk about it?

  12. says

    Here’s the thing. Dinesh is more than just another moralist who got caught in hypocrisy. That would be a dog bites man story with limited value. I have some sympathy for the closet cases like Craig who worked diligently to make the lives of gay Americans harder while essentially being a closeted gay man. None of us is without a dark side. But, Dinesh has been since his days with Laura Ingraham at the Dartmouth review a vicious liar and propagandist of the first order who gleefully attacked, smeared, and deceived with a conspicuous lack of concern for the people and persons he attacked. I believe a reasonable person who has regularly read his work can easily believe the goal of Dinesh and people like him is not to engage in bare knuckle politics like Karl Rove. The clear intent of his work is to incite hate and violence towards liberals, gays, atheists and everyone else Dinesh doesn’t like. So when he gets caught banging another hateful scold that is not his wife, I don’t feel very charitable. I have no tears for people who lie and encourage hate with the consistently of Dinesh.

    • says

      With some toning down, as Xian at Balloon Juice put it:

      when Sam Alito’s beloved “Concerned Alumni of Princeton (against coeducation)” couldn’t find a single undergrad in the Reagan 80s to edit their idiotic right-wing Dartmouth Review clone they imported this toad to publish his drivel on our campus and nobody read the thing—dude’s been crapping in my watershed for far too long

  13. T-Rex says

    Mr. D’Souza doesn’t need us westerners to tell him about karma. But in his hubris (to mix cultural metaphors), he might have forgotten how it works.

    • Warren Terra says

      I don’t understand this. I believe D’Souza was raised in a prosperous Catholic home, and attended Catholic schools. I have no reason to think he is likely to be better informed about Karma than most readers here; indeed, many outspokenly fervent followers of a particular religion don’t delve especially deeply into other religions, not even when their great-grandparents or the servants in their childhood home followed those religions.

  14. JS says

    I never thought much of Larry Craig. That episode still bothers me. The planet would have continued to rotate had Craig’s (mostly Republican) Senate colleagues allowed him to quietly retire rather than to railroad him out.

    Are you even aware that Craig didn’t actually retire, and served out the last 16 months of his term? He recanted his resignation four days later.

    Meanwhile, talk to me about David Vitter. John Ensign served out about two years after his scandal broke into the news, only resigning just before Federal charges were filed against him.

    • Joe says

      Exactly, JS. Without the loud, public humiliation, Craig wouldn’t have retired. People let up on Vitter too soon.

  15. Betsy says

    If people struggle with harmful beahviors and their struggles are made worse by furtiveness, it’s because of disgusting devils like D’nexh d’souxa (who has, by the way, a fucking ridiculous name) and their worthless, made-up morality judgments, which are the bread and butter of their colossal, bottomless need to grift.

  16. Herschel says

    Hypocrisy in itself should offer no license to leap upon the hypocrite exposed, with glee or vindictiveness. Hypocrisy is an attribute of humanity that all humans share. “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one.” But the smarmy little hypocrite who conducts public campaigns, who actually constructs an entire career, railing against the faults he finds in others that we later find in absurdly greater measure in him–I think he’s fair game. Bill Clinton may have betrayed his marriage vows, but he hadn’t spent his entire public life lecturing others about the sanctity of marriage vows. Frankly, I find Dinesh D’Souza so repulsive and such an affront to human dignity that I would revel in whatever indignity and humiliation might be heaped upon his vile little self, and if I could contribute just one extra little sting to his degradation, I would absolutely cross the street to do so.

  17. says

    D’Souza should be punished with shame and humiliation – “gleeful cruelty” – for supporting destructive and bigoted social norms, failing to adhere to those norms while claiming civilization itself depends on adherence, and for believing that these moral imperatives apply only to others. Gleefully cruel shame and humiliation of people who behave like Dinesh D’Souza might help keep other people from behaving like Dinesh D’Souza. After all, he himself found this a useful tool when applied to others, and this petard makes a damn fine hoist.

    Bill Clinton, for all his faults, genuinely wants to improve the lives of his fellow human beings – all of them. D’Souza does not – he is a reactionary hack who became wealthy saying out loud, cruelly if not gleefully, that some human beings have more value than others. Comparing his humanity with Bill Clinton’s is offensive.

    Dinesh D’Souza deserves no sympathy whatsoever, and I’ll save mine for those who do.

    • says

      This, yes, absolutely.
      To grant the d’Souzas — and the Vitters, Sanfords, Gingriches, Ensigns, the whole vile lot of them — any slack whatsoever in these matters is both politically counterproductive and morally indefensible.
      That they are human beings, and [ostensibly] responsible adults, not only doesn’t excuse them from the condign consequences of their choices and acts, it requires, indeed demands, that we treat them exactly as their whole careers of hateful rhetoric — directed always at others, never themselves or their own — would have us do.
      To do otherwise is to insult their very humanity and adulthood — freedom from responsibility is what we would grant a child, or a person with diminished capacities.
      I’m sure that d’Souza himself would be the first to agree with me.
      And if we should happen to enjoy a few chuckles along the way — well, hey, we’re only human.

  18. Wido Incognitus says

    Never mind. I have long thought that arguments about hypocrisy are a worthless relic. All they show is that somebody else has more demanding values than you do. I guess I was just distracted on this by my dislike of Dinesh D’Souza’s work, as I understand it.

  19. Maynard Handley says

    It seems to me that the appropriate way to think of this is like Rawls.

    Someone like Clinton accepts (at least this is his political persona, to some extent) that humans are flawed, and wants to live in a world where even the weak and flawed are protected and helped. So it’s fair to ask him to live in such a world when he turns out to be weak and flawed.
    Someone like D’Souza refuses to accept that humans are weak and flawed, and insists that they be punished for transgressions. It seems only fair that he should have to live in this world that he promotes.

    And let’s note, this is even more fair than Rawls — D’Souza gets to choose the world he wants to live in AFTER he is born and knows who he is and where he stands, not before, and with this knowledge, he chose the world of the hyper-moralist.
    It is no more unfair to take joy in his fall than it is unfair to see some plutocrat toppled by a legal loophole that he actually paid the legislature to implement.

    • says

      We should stop pretending Clinton espoused sexual liberalism. He fired Joycelyn Elders and ran ads about how proud he was of DOMA. The man was a southern social conservative who exercised his male prerogatives, just like the others.

  20. Andrew Laurence says

    Hey, I believe that human beings are flawed and often fail to live up to their own values, and shouldn’t be demonized for it, but D’Souza has never shown any signs of believing that, so now that he’s proven it so by his own actions, we have every right to point out his “transgression” as _further_ proof of what an asshole he is. It would, however, be unseemly to revel in it, any more than one should revel in having used deadly force, to deadly effect, against an armed intruder. After all, a bad thing did happen, and that’s not happy news.

    On the other hand, D’Souza has not violated _my_ moral values. Separated people can be expected to have sex outside of marriage, just as unmarried people can. If his partner was married and not separated, _she_ transgressed my moral values, but D’Souza didn’t. And even so, in my value system, adultery is a marital problem, not a societal problem, and should be no concern to anyone but the parties involved.

    • says

      I think (depending on the details of your moral system) D’Souza has still transgressed, namely by lying. He has held himself up, implicitly at least, as someone who does not believe that separated people should have sex outside marriage. He has vilified liberals like you as morally substandard for believing that such behavior is OK. So for him to engage in such behavior — unless he forcefully and publicly denounces it as wrong and himself as a wrongdoer — is a transgression.

  21. NCG says

    Not to sound Pollyanna, but I have to say, sometimes going through a hard time can make a person better. I would just like to take this moment to fondly remember how classy Ted Haggard was when his privacy was egregiously violated (and his wife’s). In all the self-abasement (which was hard to watch b/c it seemed to me a straight affair would have been forgiven quickly, though in light of D’Souza, maybe I’m wrong about that?), he never trashed the other man, afaik. I really liked him a lot for that. Character is the thing. People can still have it even if they make mistakes.

  22. BevM says

    I don’t know if any of you are constantly bombarded by forwarded emails and Facebook posts from right-wing friends and acquaintances. I am. And believe me, they keep sending (mostly) false or at least “spun” crap about anything and anyone even vaguely “liberal” in their view. But they don’t enter into honest discussion. And they will NEVER admit that Bush made long-lasting and disastrous mistakes, or that various Republican politicians and icons who have moralized and pontificated on matters of family values, sexuality, etc., have been “caught” violating the tenants they’ve been spouting about and getting votes for. And I gather that their preferred media probably isn’t going to make much mention of transgressions by right-wingers – probably they’re not going to repeat it ad nauseum until it hurts. So it’s hard to resist the impulse to try to rub noses in such things, even if, like me, you don’t give a rat’s behind about the actual facts of the sexual behavior of elected officials or pundits who’ve been riding the holier-than-thou gravy train for years.

    My better angel agrees with Harold. My human nature can’t help feeling that needling the asshats and rubbing it in when one of their favorites falls off the train can’t be all bad.

  23. eserwe says

    I think I might be able to feel some sympathy for D’Souza if he were to indicate in a credible manner how he has learned from this episode that we are all fallible and sometimes do things that hurt others. That indication would have to include some acknowledging of, and expression of regret over, what he himself has done in the past. Until that happens I’ll just register as an observer that he is being consumed by the same flames he made a pretty good living off stoking.

  24. Bloix says

    What, you’re worried about D’Souza’s feelings? This is a wealthy and well-funded public figure we’re talking about. The goal of the public outrage is to discredit D’Souza as a public figure. If he decides to withdraw into ordinary anonymity the outrage will diminish immediately. If he wants to continue to playing a public role, then his hypocritical personal behavior remains a fair point of criticism.

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