Monday, September 28, 2009

Is there such thing as "ethical" outing?

I found this article on Alternet about Mike Rogers, a reporter who is outing gay-republicans that push for anti-gay legislation. At first I was irritated, because I felt that outing these politicians was intrusive. Yet, as I read on and considered his rationale behind outing the politicians, I honestly gained a little appreciation for his mission. I do not condone what he is doing, but my disapproval does not revolve around the specific information he reveals about these politicians, but rather about personal information, in general, being brought to the public's attention. In response to a question probing the ethics of outing politicians, Rogers responded:

"First of all: Regardless of what they would like, politicians don’t get to decide what stories about their lives will be reported on. That’s not how it works. Whether it’s taking money from the treasury, bribing people, whatever it is - the guy in office doesn’t get to say, ‘Don’t write a story about this, but write a story about that.’"

I see some validity in what he is saying. After all, reporters write about nearly everything a politician does. Why not sexuality? Yet, I feel that it is fairly unethical to write on anyone’s personal life. Additionally, there are repercussions for being gay, and it can be very politically damaging sometimes, more so than reporting on an affair or someone’s drug use. By outing someone you are subjecting them to discrimination and the possibility of losing their job.

Many states in the U.S. still have no legal occupational protection against being discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. Therefore, people can be fired on the basis of being gay, and it is completely legal. If someone were to out an employee at some store in Texas and they got fired for it, many would be enraged with the person who did the outing, so why is it acceptable for Rogers to do the same thing on a national scale? I am still a little torn on how I feel about what Rogers is doing. In the end, I would rather less information be shared. However, if reporters are going to reveal personal information about politicians, the same standards should be applied to all. With this in mind, I am interested in other views on this article and subject.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad you posted this Lettie. It's super interesting. I did not know this was going on. I too am unsure of my stance on the issue. On one hand, the politicians did chose to run for public office, on the other hand you made an excellent point about the potential repurcusions on being outed. This is definitely something I will have to follow and see what what happens with it.