Alex Blaze

Hypocrisy isn't such a good thing

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 03, 2007 6:41 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Alexandra Pelosi, fundamentalism, heterosexual privilege, hypocritical motherfuckers, Ted Haggard

(Here's an old post I wrote about Ted Haggard back in January on my old blog. It seems relevant to the whole Larry Craig debacle. Gawsh, my blogging's changed a lot since back then when I had just gotten started, but I'm thinking the main ideas still apply. Enjoy! ~Alex)

The Advocate has an interview with Alexandra Pelosi about her HBO documentary Friends of God. She touches on something that I've been thinking about:

We talked about gay marriage. He said, "I think the gays should be lobbying for civil unions, because that's more doable." He wasn't a hater. And I know everyone likes to talk about how he was a hypocrite, but I think Stephen Colbert said it best [originally about Mark Foley]: Ted Haggard is not a hypocrite--he didn't try and gay-marry anyone. He knows homosexuality; he preached from the pulpit that homosexuality is a sin. That's what he believes because that's in the Bible. Now, he did it...that doesn't mean he didn't know it was a sin.

OK, this touches on why I think that the hypocrisy narrative related to outings like those of Ted Haggard is both inaccurate and ineffective in trying to get queer equality.

Alexandra Pelosi basically says why it's inaccurate: Ted Haggard didn't try to use any of the rights that he opposed, like same-sex marriage. These sorts of Christians think that homosexuality is sin. They believe that every single human being sins. When they commit this specific sin, it's not hypocrisy; it fits quite neatly in the way they see the world. In fact, it bolsters their view that homosexuality is a fleeting desire, part of the fall from the grace of God that can be solved through salvation and prayer (ignoring his repeated attempts at praying away the gay, which they do). And Ted Haggard as a closet case is much closer to their ideal than Ted Haggard as a out and proud gay man would be.

Second, it's not an entirely effective way to interpret the phenomenon of gay homophobes. Let's think about Lisa, the hypothetical person. Lisa is big on getting people to donate money to breast cancer research. She tells everyone she meets about how important it is to get money for this sort of research, tries to get sponsors for her to Race for a Cure, and vocally laments the lack of such funding from the government. But she herself, even though she lives quite comfortably, doesn't donate any money at all to breast cancer research. She's just plain selfish.

Does this make Lisa a hypocrite? Absolutely. It would be much better if she donated money. But she would also cease to be a hypocrite if she just stopped being such an advocate for breast cancer research. Supposing there were no way to pry this money from her hands, would it be better if she just shut up about the whole thing? What if she were effective at getting people to donate?

This is the way heterosexists view Ted Haggards. You can even read about it in their press releases, how the views that a certain politician holds and his or her legislative actions are far more important than his or her personal actions. They have a built-in answer to the hypocrisy charge that is quite persuasive, if one buys into heterosexism.

A better way to frame these instances is to label it for what it really is: a direct refutation of their argument that "homosexual actions" are simple whims and that sex is unimportant. Here are people who would absolutely choose not to be queer, not to have extra-marital sex, and keep their hands to themselves if they could. No doubt about that. Haggard tried to pray away the gay, as he said in his public statement just after Mike Jones outed him. But he couldn't. If he couldn't, how are we to believe that anyone else can?

By speaking the language of fact, truth versus untruth, instead of the language of morality, we stand a better chance of interpreting this situation in a way that conservative Christians can understand. They already think that we're morally bankrupt, and they have a more than logical answer to that interpretation, so it's not going to change any minds.

While I've said before that heterosexism is more than just a lack of information, it's also something that can be changed. It's a world view that people invest a lot of energy into, but if we seize on opportunities like to show the obvious (to us) contradictions in heterosexist thought, we can change a few minds.


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Michael Bedwell | September 3, 2007 10:47 PM

1. Alexandra Pelosi is a hack. Her first fame came from filming George Bush running for President in 2000. If she was not apparently the dumbest spawn of the Pelosi Democratic dynasty [not only is her mother Speaker of the House but her grandfather was also a congressman and mayor of Baltimore as was an uncle] she would burn every minute of this documentation of herself as just another one of the millions abandoning reality as Bush fils smile fucks them. It is Paris Pelosi's first publicly released sex tape.

2. Her second sex tape was about the 2004 Democratic primaries campaign. But she was so disappointed that Kerry et al. weren’t as skilled as lunchtime Lotharios or as willing to smile fuck her as Georgie that she mocked some of them and said she, again the daughter of a Democratic dynasty who had, like the rest of us, had four years to see what her former successful seducer was really like, announced she might not even vote. Just how much of a hack example of the very incestuous media process she criticized she is can be found at http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/recount/article/72/

3. It was her third sex tape that documented her seduction by self-described Christian evangelicals, particularly her conquest by Hoosier-born Ted Haggard. Having been reared Roman Catholic and among wealthy liberal intellectuals unlike most of her subjects she compared it to studying natives of a foreign land. That’s as kind an analogy as one can agree with for she came away, despite her arrogant, ludicrous assertions to the contrary, knowing little more than when she first crossed their borders.

Haggard was SHOCK not like a drooling, ranting Fred Phelps she expected. Were she a real journalist rather than Alexandra in various Wonderlands she would have easily discovered Haggard’s written instructions to his huge flock about how to tone down around reporters any behaviors that might seem “bizarre… spooky or weird.” And, here she was, interviewing the memo’s author and master communicator himself. But even Phelps, whom she did not interview, would probably have ended up with the same kind of Valentines she publicly sent Haggard, whom she called her “leading man,” if he, like Haggard and Bush whom Haggard once said is only different in values from him in the kind of car he drives, whom he is credited with having helped put in the White House, had simply been nice to her. In other words, Alexandra is an easy lay.

But don’t take my word for it. Paris Pelosi convicts herself in terms of what willful self-delusion and babbling nonsense she brings to the discussion of evangelicals and gay equality when she can say both, “I think they cause pain to the gay community, and you can’t ignore that,” AND “I have nothing but admiration for these people and respect for them. I don’t think they are dangerous or trying to take over the country like a lot of people think they are.” Nancy, your daughter has a lot a ‘splainin’ to do.

4. Unlike Alexandra, I, like Haggard, was reared among Hoosier Holy Rollers so I dare suggest I understand him and them a little better. One of my uncles was an Assembly of God preacher. His father, my paternal grandfather, wouldn’t even allow his children to play Checkers for he equated it with gambling. He, as most of my family on both sides, would have considered the way Haggard’s wife and most of the women in his former congregation dress and wear cosmetics as sinful and harlot-like. Attending movies were forbidden and my mother prayed for forgiveness when she finally bought a television to keep me from spending all my free time in front of the neighbors’ set.

I have a half-century old recording of my maternal grandmother “speaking in tongues” that no science can explain. I have seen aunts “fall out” “under the Spirit.” Attended a service at which a young cousin was told the grotesque liquids she had just regurgitated were demons that had been cast out of her. Haggard attended Oral Roberts University, founded several years after my mother pushed my paralyzed father in his wheelchair to a healing service being held by Roberts under a huge tent. In tears, she rolled my father home no different than when they came only to have her best friend tell her that Roberts had not failed, that God had not failed, but that he was still paralyzed because my mother had not had enough faith. Sidebar: one of Roberts sons committed suicide because he was gay.

5. Haggard not hypocritical? No, he did not try to “gay marry” anyone, but he did confess to having some kind of homosexual behavior and he preached against all homosexual behavior. “We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It’s written in the Bible.” Whether his amounted to nothing more than being turned on by Mike Jones non-erotically massaging him or “around the world in 80 ways” with Tina as his private dancer, Haggard, as Jimmy Swaggart confessed before him, had ‘sinned.”

But, in his case, hypocrisy exists on both sides of the pulpit. While Swaggart’s star in the evangelical mediaocracy fell to almost nothing as did his fortune from the faithful because he broke the rules of his probation by the Assemblies of God overseers and was accused of sinning a second time, his initial treatment—just as the treatment of his fellow Lousianian Repug Sen. David Vitter by his party was different than the treatment given Sen. Craig—Swaggart was initially treated differently than Haggard because, like Vitter, his sin was with FEMALE prostitutes. [Louisiana continues as a common denominator for Haggard began his eventual Colorado Springs 14,000-member megachurch New Life there in his basement.]

Male prostitute chasing Haggard was fired by his congregation even though one of their core religious beliefs is that, regardless of what one has done, sin is washed away with repentance, and the sinner must be embraced with forgiveness. They may well forgive him but they still kicked their empire’s creator’s ass to the curb. In their own words, “permanently.” Which would not have happened if it had been a female prostitute, if they weren’t so consumed by homophobia and if your assertion that, “the views that a certain [person] holds and his or her … actions are far more important than his or her personal actions” to them were not so patently wrong.

Similarly, your eagerness to imagine that a significant number of them will choose to suddenly believe that prayer/God has no power over homosexual desires and that, therefore, they are somehow morally neutral just because Haggard previously failed to pray what he called “the dirt” away shows no understanding of how these people choose to think. Just as my mothers loving friend broke her heart by blaming her, not prayer, not faith healing, not Haggard’s mentor Oral Roberts, not God, for my father’s continuing paralysis. You confuse “heterosexist” “thought” with religious absolutism and dogma. By asserting, “By speaking the language of fact, truth versus untruth, instead of the language of morality, we stand a better chance of interpreting this situation in a way that conservative Christians can understand,” you might as well encourage someone to try to communicate with someone speaking Italian by speaking Mandarin, At least they, unlike homosexualists and evangelicals, could benefit from hand gestures.

How does such hypocrisy benefit us? By weakening our enemies, our ONLY hope for the many that cannot, will not be enlightened. Attendance at New Life Church services, where people also once worshipped Haggard, has dropped 20 percent since he was expelled. Contributions have fallen 10 percent. They have had to terminate at least 44 employees. All of that translates to less money and staff to apply toward spreading homohatred. Haggard was also fired as head of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals. It’s safe to say he no longer is welcome to dial in to their weekly conference calls with the White House. “Harper’s” magazine once named him and Focus on the Fascist Family’s James Dobson as the two most powerful evangelicals in America. ONE HALF of them is now begging for money [strangely despite his considerable payments from his last days at New Life and a home valued at $700,000] and to be taken seriously again. Haggard’s successor at NAE avoids the limelight and halls of political power that Haggard sought, and, while also anti gay marriage, stunned the evangelical world by effectively telling Dobson to go fuck himself when he insisted the NAE fire an executive Dobson thought too soft on “the great moral issues of our time.” He’s said, “Ten years from now, I hope evangelicals are known not for their politics, but for their faith.”

Meanwhile, his New Life successor, makes unmistakable digs at Haggard in his sermons—“[WE] go home to our FAMILIES”—but insists he will not touch “hot-button political issues.”

Mike Jones be praised.

But other "sinners" aren't denied their civil rights, or full equality under the law.