Erasing the Line
The recent death of Sally Ride spawned quite a number of articles and posts across the mediasphere. Somehow this has gotten mixed up in the recent Chik-Fil-A kerfluffle and metastasized into social-conservative outrage and mainstream pap, reflecting back off each other into infinity.
(Side note: is it just me, or has the comments section of Steve Sailer’s blog acquired an even higher concentration of knee-jerkers and bigots than normal? It’s starting to seriously detract from my ability to utilize his minority-voice views. He’s always attracted reactionaries, certainly, but to my mind the little bit of thinking that took place in the comments has been totally driven out. Anyhow…)
What caught my attention was a Yahoo! article entitled Why Aren’t There Any Openly Gay Astronauts?, which to a degree discusses why Ride kept her private life so… private. It also states that Ride’s sister is also homosexual (interesting) and named Bear Ride (ooookay). Back to topic: any notoriety is perceived as potentially detracting from NASA missions and acting as a deselection criterion in the view of the higher-ups, and most astronauts spent time in the military, which until very recently operated under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as official policy.
What I find disturbing is the attitude displayed by the activist towards the end of the article, an attitude that to my mind dimly recalls the self-proclaimed pro-gay activists who sought out and then publicized evidence that prominent public figures (celebrities, politicians, and so forth) were homosexual – namely, that people’s sexual orientations and personal lives ought to be made public, that they had a duty to publicize them, and that their being discreet about their private lives was a political betrayal.
What happened to the argument that what people do in private with consenting adults is no one’s business but their own? Lots of people maintain a strong division between their public and private lives, and not even because there’s anything unusual about them. But there is a concerted effort not only to cross that line, but to erase it, regardless of courtesy or decency.
Does Ride’s lesbianism make a difference to anything, really? Is is actually relevant or significant? I can’t see any way that it’s related to any of her accomplishments, which are noteworthy even if you don’t think the space program is worth much. So why should it be discussed at all? The “role model’ argument has never struck me as holding much water if it’s taken at face value; generally, it seems to serve as a smokescreen for the simple juxtaposition of a revered public figure with a controversial trait in an effort to get acceptance to “rub off” onto the controversy. If individuals want to make a social and political statement by revealing aspects of their private lives, that’s fine. But should we do this to people, as opposed to letting them make a statement (if any) on their own?
It doesn’t seem to me that it’s any of our business.