What does 'exposing' their hypocrisy get you? Nothing

What does 'exposing' their hypocrisy get you? Nothing
John Stewart and Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm, Image via Screengrab.
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There’s a video going around in which Jon Stewart interviews a man – it doesn’t matter who he is – who believes the government has on obligation to protect children. For this reason, he said, it’s right for states to pass laws against exposing minors to the “sexual nature” of drag shows. (There are 35 bills in 15 states so far to regulate drag.)

Stewart, on hearing that the government has an obligation to protect children, pounced hard. The host of “The Problem” told his guest the No. 1 killer of kids these days is not drag queens. It’s guns! He said:

“What you’re telling me is you don’t mind infringing free speech to protect children from this amorphous thing that you think of, but but when it comes to children that have died, you don’t give a flying fuck to stop that because that shall not be infringed.”

The video clip appears to have been greatly satisfying for many liberals. MSNBC ran this: “How an incredible Jon Stewart interview exposed the GOP's 'freedom' hypocrisy.” Critic Marcie Bianco wrote: “For all the hypocrisies Stewart revealed in his skillful peeling back of the onion’s layers, his exposure of conservatives’ hypocrisy about the cherished American value of freedom clearly struck a nerve.”

It shouldn’t be satisfying.

The illiberals seeking to regulate the freedoms of drag queens don’t care about hypocrisy, much less the opinions of liberals who take great satisfaction in seeing it “exposed.” For these illiberals, it makes sense for the government to be hands off guns but hands on drag queens. Hypocrisy is rooted in liberal values – fairness, equality and everyone playing by the same rules. Are we supposed to believe people who are OK with mass child death care about fairness? Are we supposed to believe exposing unfairness will change things?

Why are these liberals asking us to be fools?

Let’s pull back from this infantile focus on hypocrisy to consider what these illiberals are saying, instead of what they are not saying. What they say they see when they see drag queens read stories to kids in public libraries around the country is a threat to children. They say they attempt to “sexualize” them, even “groom” them.

“I believe that the LGBTQ community and drag queens have the right to assembly, to organize, but they do not have the right to organize with prurient interest in front of children,” Brandon Prichard, an illiberal legislator from North Dakota, told The Economist.

That Prichard blurs the fundamental differences between drag and LGBT-plus people tells something else. What they say they see when they see drag queens and LGBT-plus people is the same thing.

They are not. Drag is an art form. Its purpose is to entertain. LGBT-plus people are people. Their purpose is theirs to decide.

But to illiberals, these are distinctions without differences, and what I want to know is why we are not focusing on that. If we did, we’d arrive in a place far more politically useful than accusing illiberals who don’t care about equity and fairness of being unfair.

Not only are drag queens and LGBT-plus people the same thing from the illiberal point of view, but they are also equally bad. Drag queens “sexualize” children. LGBT-plus people do, too. Together, these factors ask us to ask another question, which is: what is good?

Normal is good, right? What’s normal? Since drag queens and LGBT-plus people are the same thing and the same bad, normal would be things that are not drag queens and not LGBT-plus people. Heterosexuality is normal. Not-heterosexuality, let’s call it, is not.

That suggests things that are not-normal must be made normal. It’s therefore incumbent on the state to sort this problem out. The government must protect the normal, outlaw the not-normal. It must protect heterosexuality, outlaw not-heterosexuality, with the concrete effect being outlawing people for being who they are.

From the illiberal viewpoint, such criminal jeopardy is easily remedied. If not-heterosexual people don’t want to be abnormal, and therefore don’t want legal exposure, they can just stop being who they are. They can stop pretending to be something they’re not. If they won’t do it voluntarily, well, the government has obligations.

If the state has such obligations, that means it must enforce sexuality. So accusing not-heterosexuals of “sexualizing” children makes no sense, because one way or the other, children are being “sexualized.” The difference is that “sexualizing” them heterosexually is fine (normal) while “sexualizing” them not-heterosexually is not.

It’s a choice.

Because it's a choice, we should ask: what is the government protecting kids against? It’s not the “sexual nature” of drag queens and LGBT-plus people. Normal heterosexuality, which is acceptable, is still a sexuality. One way or another, the kids are being “sexualized.”

So what is the government protecting kids against?

From the freedom of choosing.

The illiberals believe they can choose, but no one else can. They believe everyone else must have their choices made for them. So stop accusing them of hypocrisy. They don’t care. Accuse them of using the state to deny kids the power to choose their own destinies.

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