Friday, June 25, 2004

It's Not The Hypocrisy, Damn It

Ezra Klein at Pandagon writes, about the Jack Ryan sex scandal:
Jack Ryan's private sex life, kinky as it may be, has absolutely no bearing on how good or bad of a senator he could be. Bill Clinton's private sex life, kinky and immoral as it was, had no bearing on how good or bad of a president he was. You with me? Good. Now, the reason liberals are cackling over the Ryan revelations is simple -- after spending the last decade beating Democrats with the club of "family values" and cutting down our politicians by exposing their private peccadilloes, Ryan's case exposes the flaming hypocrisy of the Republican Party. [...]

Sex doesn't bother me. Flaming hypocrisy that reveals a Party to have been politically motivated when they claimed moral outrage, does. And that's what I'm talking about here. if you can't get over the titillation aspect of the story, that's your own problem.
Ezra, and everyone else in the lefty blogosphere who's been tempted by that argument, needs to take another look at Jack Ryan's stipulated behaviors:
She said he told her that he had gone out to dinner with her that night even though he didn't want to and "the least I could do in return was go to the club he wanted me to go."

She described the second place as "a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling."

"Respondent wanted me to have sex with him there with another couple watching. I refused," Jeri Ryan continued. "Respondent asked me to perform a sexual activity upon him and he specifically asked other people to watch. I was very upset.

"We left the club and respondent apologized, said that I was right and he would never insist that I go to a club again. He promised it was out of his system."

But later, Jeri Ryan said, Jack Ryan took her to Paris where he again took her to a sex club without first telling her where they were going.

"I told him I thought it was out of his system. I told him he had promised me we would never go. People were having sex everywhere. I cried. I was physically ill. Respondent became very upset with me and said it was not a 'turn-on' for me to cry. I could not get over the incident and my loss of any attraction to him as a result.
"Respondent became very upset with me and said it was not a 'turn-on' for me to cry." This would be okay, if it weren't for the fact that Ryan made "family values" speeches? It would be okay for him to repeatedly pressure his wife to perform sexual activities she found degrading and humiliating, despite her strenuous protests, as long as he did not also align himself with the Christian Coalition? No. Jack Ryan's sex life has bearing on "how good or bad of a senator he could be," not because it's "kinky," but because he tried to force a woman to perform sex acts against her will. That's not kinky, it's abusive.

For heaven's sake, Ezra, the difference between consensual and nonconsensual behavior is not a difficult concept to master. Look it up.

Update: Unbelievable. According to Salatan, here's Ryan's defense: "She says three times over eight years [of marriage], we went to places that she felt uncomfortable," Jack Ryan said Tuesday. "That's the worst of it. I think almost any spouse would take that as, 'Gosh, if that's the worst someone can say about me after seeing me live my life for eight years ... ' then people say, 'Gosh, the guy's lived a pretty clean life.' "

Gosh, indeed. Who knew a "pretty clean life" included trying to coerce someone into having public sex at a club? Can we get that written in to the Girl Scout manual?