Ahem. That was my first drunken blog last night - what a milestone!
Turns out, my debut in the NBR was slightly more than a passing mention, and I was *actually* zinged in Ben Thomas and David Young's column, so I figured that I should defend my honour with something a little more substantial than claiming that they do not amount to half the man their pseudonym (Neil Falloon) is.
For those of you unfortunate enough not to have a copy of the NBR with you on a Sunday afternoon, Thomas & Young said that my claim that there are gay National MPs was "as overblown and cliched as the allegation that some Labour MPs might be lesbians", that "the story had the odour of an urban legend", and questioned the veracity of my claim.
First, the story of the MP with the secretary is rather dated, hence Thomas & Young's inability to find a male National MP with a male secretary. Now, it may be that this MP has been rehabilitated from his sodomite ways since then, and was a born-again conservative heterosexual when the CUB came along, but I doubt it.
Second, I don't think it's such an outrageous claim to say that some National MPs are gay. In fact, it borders on mundane - just as it's a given that numerous Labour MPs are gay (though not all of them are openly gay). Neither claim is overblown, and while the latter is cliched, the former isn't so widely circulated.
But those are reasonably nit-picky things. Where I feel my honour needs defending, though, is where T&Y said that I claimed the Gallary had deliberately "suppressed" the story, and counting my words towards a "vicious whispering campaign", with all that that implies.
My purpose in writing down that story was to highlight a genuine dilemma - scores of journalists have a lot of dirt on politicians, and choose not to report it (as opposed to suppressing it) out of respect for the privacy of politicians' private lives - this respect is something that I regard extremely highly.
Yet, there are situations when what certain politicians say seem to display disingenuousness and hypocrisy, but you'd only know it if you know the "dirt" on them. How can you report on the hypocrisy (which is a perfectly valid target) without opening the floodgate on the muck?
This has been my solution. I think that the MPs in question need to know that their private lives stay private due to the integrity of (most of) the press, and they need to show some respect for this, in return.
They can't take it for granted that they'll always have the benefit of this protection, and they should realise that they are testing its limits when they demonstrate contemptuous hypocrisy in their public personas.
[Gay Republicans is on at the Wellington Out Takes film festival this Sunday. Check out http://www.outtakes.org.nz/2005/wgn/schedule.php. It's really good, and a fantastic insight into the conflict between political loyalties and self-identification. Probably most enlightening for gay Nats; everyone else will probably just find it really funny and stupid. Ah, the pink elephant - how appropriate.
(Sorry, Aucklanders, the last session was yesterday; and it's not going down to Christchurch).]