We’ve made note of various Republican slanders and lies in the current election, so to be fair we should consider a case where the left has been equally bad. Mitch McConnell has been a Republican senator from Kentucky since 1984. A staunch conservative, McConnell has been dogged throughout his career with rumors that he’s a closeted gay or bisexual. In particular, there is a longstanding rumor (almost certainly false) the McConnell was discharged from the army in the 1960s as a result of his sexual orientation. As Mark Kleiman notes on his blog Same Facts an independent political group in Kentucky (not the Democratic party) is playing up these stories in order to defeat McConnell’s reelection bid. (For a particularly vile ad, see here).
Is McConnell a closet case? If he were, would it be ethical to out him, especially considering his anti-gay voting record? Or do the anti-McConnell ads cater to the homophobia of the electorate (in the way that some right-wing ads about Barack Obama cater to anti-Arab feelings)?
These are all good questions but I think we should take a broader perspective:the problem with outing McConnell is that the categories “gay” and “straight” really make no sense. Let’s say McConnell did have gay sex in the army: that’s true of lots of men and women, many of whom are ostensibly straight in civilian life!
I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that everyone is basically bisexual. The form our sexuality takes is contingent on social and psychological factors but in the right circumstances any of us could have sex with either gender. In a healthy society, “straights” would acknowledge the “gay” side of their personality and “gays” would also admit to having “straight” tendencies. It’s not just Mitch McConnell that needs to be outed, it’s the whole human species.