Shut up

by Ted on July 22, 2004

Need a fresh reason to dislike Bill O’Reilly?

O’Reilly scolds guest who outed gays, then calls judge a lesbian

Fox News Channel’s star talk-show personality, Bill O’Reilly, says he is uncomfortable with the practice of outing gay political figures–except, it seems, when he is doing the outing.

On his show Monday night, O’Reilly chastised guest Michael Rogers for maintaining a Web site publicizing the names of gay staffers working for politicians who oppose gay marriage….

But on the same show–and for at least the third time in the last year–O’Reilly described one of the justices on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as a lesbian, a claim that the justice herself, through a spokeswoman, denies.

For the record, I am opposed to outing, whether it’s done by Bill O’Reilly or by people on my side.

UPDATE: “I gave up the homosexual lifestyle four years ago.” Terrific New Republic first-person story on gay marriage.



JRoth 07.22.04 at 4:03 pm

I’m glad to get this comment in early: Rogers is not “outing” anybody. These staffers are (to my understanding) all openly gay. He is publicizing this fact, not revealing anybody’s secrets. The term “outing” refers to the nonconsensual revelation of someone’s secret sexual orientation. This is more like letting everyone know who your wife is, not who your mistress is.

Politically, I can only think that this would be comparable to publicizing the ethnic heritage of staffers to some xenophobic politician. It’s hard to come up with an actual historical comparison, although perhaps someone else can.


Ted Barlow 07.22.04 at 4:20 pm

I can’t pretend to know the specifics of all of the people on Rogers’ list, but I’d have to be convinced that all of these people are openly gay. If they’re like any other group of gay people that I’ve known, I’d imagine that some of them openly participate in the gay community, but aren’t out at work, or to everyone in their families. Some of them probably don’t want Google to find them on this list when they apply for their next job. Some of them may not feel that it’s an issue; they’d tell if asked, but don’t volunteer it.

Calibrating the appropriate degree of “outness” is a difficult decision, and a private one. I wish it wasn’t- I wish that gays were accepted without a second thought- but it isn’t that way. For me, it’s always been easy issue to draw a bright line on the issue, and say that it’s inappropriate to out people against their will.


mondo dentro 07.22.04 at 4:42 pm

Ted, are you opposed to outing even when done for those who are clearly are involved in a politics that exploits an anti-gay agenda?

How about talking about sex lives of heterosexual “traditional values” politicians who, by their private behavior, are known to be complete hypocrites?


q 07.22.04 at 4:57 pm

Personally I am opposed to outing of any sexuality at all, and the sexualisation of public discourse – Sex is a private personal matter and it should remain that way.

There is no need to discuss people’s sexual experimentation in a normal public forum, and people who do like Bill O’Reilly (among many others) are BOORs.


Ted Barlow 07.22.04 at 5:27 pm


Pretty much, yeah. I’ll look the other way when it comes to exposing adultery, but I thought that the case against Jack Ryan, for example, was ridiculous.


Katherine 07.22.04 at 5:41 pm

What’s he got against Sosman? She dissented. I guess it must be an “even the liberal New Republic”-type argument?

On outing, generally: how would this compare to making it public that a segregationist politician has an illegitimate mixed-race daughter?

It’s certainly not a perfect analogy–there’s a second person involved who may or may not consent, and there’s a difference between the staffer and the politician. But is it relevant at all? (That’s an honest question; I’m not sure it is.)


anthony 07.22.04 at 6:41 pm

I do not believe that sex is private at all, there is the old french creole proverb that goes tell me who you love and i will tell you who you are.

The personal is explicitily poltically, and when the highest politicians in the land are performing acts of hatred and destruction, i think it is our duty to stop them, using any means nessc.

The amount of hypcorisy (sp) needed to work for homophobic staff members when you yourself are queer needs to be noted, payed attention to, and done something about. It needs to be stopped.

One way of stopping it, and a legitimate way, as far as I’m concerned is outing. Frankly, I think the closet is too safe and too comfortable, and it allows for those who are the other to rise above where t hey would be stuck if they were not. I favour outing practically anyone, get all of that nasty purtian junk out of our collective unconciousness and talk freely about the issues as they need to be talked about.

I know that those weren’t Bill O’Rielly’s motivations, but do you know what ? If he made another self hating dyke squirm inadventently in her own complaceny, i figure he did a good thing.


John M 07.22.04 at 7:50 pm Bill O’Reilly & Fox – Since there are a fair amount of Brit and int’l contributors to and readers of this blog I’d like to ask this question – O’Reilly and Fox seem to think that getting Fox to be seen as widely as possible throughout the world will help “foreigners” get the right message about America and its intentions (will help the Bush administration). My own experience (I’m an American) shows that the exact opposite is likely to be the outcome – a quick survey of my friends in Germany and elsewhere in Europe tell me that they are quite appalled by O’Reilly’s mix of self-righteousness and arrogance and ignorance – and that this reinforces the impression that some in America have lost their minds – This said I think Fox SHOULD be viewed as widely as possible, not because of its message, but because governments should not be in the business of regulating news broadcasts (as in Canada).


vernaculo 07.22.04 at 8:13 pm

Hypocrisy should be exposed. But endangering people’s lives, reputations, or livelihoods, to further your own political agenda, is weak, unless you take on the responsibility for what ensues. It’s drafting unwilling conscripts, acceptable in dire moments, but social fascism the rest of the time. “Outing” people doesn’t bring them into the light necessarily, but it does make them vulnerable to the chaotic viciousness of an ill society.
Not all social contexts are equal. We don’t live in the media, or in the political spaces, the virtual realities, occupied by activists.
The American soul is festering with sexual pathologies. Jerking away bandages and scabs isn’t going to be a therapeutic move for all concerned.
There’s too much revenge and retaliation in the catharsis. The goal isn’t the raw truth of existence smacking people in the face, the goal is health, healing.

“governments should not be in the business of regulating news broadcasts”
But who should? The “free” market? The public? No one?
Should students be in charge of their own educations? In grade school? Isn’t the news kind of an ephemeral education? If the news media are analogs of our primary senses, don’t we need a discriminating mind directing them? Otherwise it’s just this infantile jumping, from one bright stimulus to the next.


anthony 07.22.04 at 9:51 pm

The problem is that the only way to stop the festering is to let the wound breathe.

The only way to stop homophobia is to recognize that their are queer folk around, in impt positions doing impt things.

The vital thing is to make sure that instutions will become open to all sorts, and by having some people being willing to hide and make polite makes it impossible for the rest of us to have those jobs and be those people.

Those in power will chose those in closet over those in the streets, unless we make it impossible for them to be in the closet.


bob mcmanus 07.22.04 at 9:58 pm

The answer to Fox is to carefully document their bias, and then take criminal action against the Republican Party and White House for illegal campaign activities. Or something like that, I don’t know the law. But coordination between Ailes and the WH has been documented. The recent memos are additional evidence. I would like see the Repubs hit with a few billion in fines.

That some gays are partially or completely closeted, unwillingly due to adverse consequences in the workplace, makes me feel like I am tolerating or condoning apartheid or discrimination. If Chris Matthews was Jewish, but couldn’t tell anyone for fear of losing his job, it would simply be an unacceptable society needing immediate adjustment.

On the other hand, many people engage in sexual practices they would rather not be known to their co-workers. I have been, since the subject came up, trying to carefully see how bondage and discipline differs intrinsically. Dick would rather the world not know that Lynne wields the whip.


Lindsay Beyerstein 07.23.04 at 2:00 am

I don’t endorse “outing.” Ted is absolutely right. Everyone’s sexual orientation should be considered private (and all of our inferences about the sexuality of others should be discounted as speculative at best).

The only exception is for those who have made made some kind of public commitment or announcement, whether through marriage or other means. Even then, I’m not really comfortable with outing anyone. Better to stick to the issues and avoid statements that might be construed as intimidating or shaming.


schwa 07.23.04 at 3:05 am

anthony — That’s funny, I always thought the great battle against homophobia was all about getting a bunch of self-righteous, ideologically driven blowhards out of my pants and out of my bedroom, not merely about letting in another bunch, not even a bunch whose agenda I’ll freely admit to liking somewhat more.

Comments on this entry are closed.