I am a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage because I believe in equal opportunity and freedom of expression and choice. My feelings on the subject are grounded in the interlocking confluence of reasons that compose my psyche.
The biggest reason I support same-sex unions is grounded in political philosophy: no one has the right to infringe on another’s bedroom. Many self-described social liberals may agree with this reasoning. Many may aggressively deride it. However, the chasm between these mindsets is often bridged by a universal and ironic derision of adulterers.
The pre-conception that superficial judgment is a valid and harmless form of vigilantism is thriving, especially in an environment that devours salacious celebrity gossip by which bottom feeder rags earn their dollars. But if we shift this discussion towards another public sphere, we arrive at the brutal dissection of those renowned piñatas — politicians.
For whatever reason, we feel as though the shortcomings of public figures award the freedom to pass along maliciousness. Some might say “it’s harmless” while others might say “it’s deserved.” But who are we to judge?
This is not to support cheating on the part of anyone. However, the rush to vilify politicians because of infidelity is baffling. In the Canada Day issue of The Peak, Estefania Duran argued that politicians who cheat on spouses are inherently compromised — their capacity for risk aversion now questionable. However, she casts no shadow on misbehaving, unelected officials such as CEOs or managers. Why not?
Apparently, Councilman X’s capacity to approve the building of a casino near my neighborhood is tainted because he betrayed his wife, while Hedge Fund Manager Y’s judgment is unimpeachable even as he manages my RRSPs. That’s an odd dichotomy.
Adultery, despite rendering the offenders social pariahs, is not a crime. The decisions or urges that drive one to adultery vary from person to person and, let’s face it, we as a species are pretty consistently given to messy actions irrespective of public standing. Issuing public apologies, the go-to response of politicians caught with their (metaphorical) pants down, is unnecessary. Yet we, as petty and indignant voters, demand placation.
In her article, Ms. Duran feted the Swedish PM for divorcing his wife because “their marriage was no longer working” instead of presumably running around on her. Who’s to say — and this is purely hypothetical — that politicians who cheat on their spouses are not caught in loveless, dysfunctional relationships sustained simply to present an appealing image?
We cannot know, nor do we deserve this information. But given that we voted them in, we feel their personal business is our business, as though we have a rightful claim on their lives.
Private indiscretions that do not impact an individual’s capacity to do their job should not affect their ability to keep that job. Of course, there’s another side to that coin. Anthony Weiner tweeted revealing, unsolicited photos. Clinton had sex with an intern. Eliot Spitzer dropped thousands of dollars visiting high-end prostitutes.
These men clearly violated laws or explicit rules governing workplace decorum — offenses that warrant termination. But private instances of infidelity are purely that — private. The emotional turmoil of cuckolded spouses is not assuaged by public outrage. Adultery’s fallout is the domain of the two pertinent players in an intimate drama; it does not belong on a public canvas.