Don't let their political stripes fool you. These moralists are every bit the true believers as their Bible-thumping forebears
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you…
Don't just look to your right, my friend. The 'sex police' are closing in from the left as well, and they're every bit as dangerous.
It is the height of irony that just as the U.S. finally shakes loose from decades of repression by the moralists on the right, the emerging power of the Net has given rise to a new breed of sex police, this time from the ideological left.
Ever since the Puritan Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, a certain portion of the American populace has always been fearful that someone, somewhere might actually be having some sexual fun. To put a stop to such heresy, the states enacted all sorts of regulation against 'deviate sex,' 'acts against nature,' and laws forbidding sodomy, adultery and fornication.
When technology threatened to outpace these 'sex police,' they procreated more regulation, this time prohibiting the sale of condoms and birth control, sex toys and abortion. Whatever the claims about life beginning at conception, these laws were really about making the consequences of sex severe enough to discourage its attempt.
The regulations were aimed, conveniently enough, at the sexual conduct of 'others'—those who failed to heed the Good Book's supposed commandment to enter into heterosexual marriage and copulate only for the purpose of procreation.
No doubt, some decent proportion of these sex police were true believers in the moral law they used police power to enforce. Fortunate to be born heterosexual and inclined toward monogamy, these laws worked well enough for them, and they no doubt believed those filthy 'others' would benefit as well, if only they'd pay heed.
Then came the sexual revolution of the ླྀs and ྂs that freed the great majority of Americans from the notion that sex must be confined to marriage and procreation. Not far behind was the Gay Liberation Movement, which extended that argument to the minority of us born homosexually-inclined.
With some strategic help from the U.S. Supreme Court, the progressives won the battle. In the 1960s, the Court struck down laws that prohibited the sale of condoms and birth control, first to married couples and then to singles. In the ྂs, down came most abortion laws.
Then, after the Reagan Revolution fizzled, the Court struck down sodomy laws in the landmark case of Lawrence vs. Texas, effectively erecting a zone of privacy around that most private of personal decisions, relating to sexual intercourse and intimacy.
But now that zone of privacy is under threat from an entirely new version of 'sex police,' mostly gay men with an unrelenting penchant to tongue-wag. In their minds, the scarlet letter 'A' has been replaced by the scarlet letter 'H,' since hypocrisy rather than adultery is the ultimate sexual sin in their crosshairs.
These new moralists aren't Puritans by any means, but they are true believers nonetheless—so convinced of their own moral authority that they would ( ab ) use the power of technology to invade the sexual privacy of others in ways their Bible-thumping forebears could only dream of.
As a gay newspaper editor, I heard from them with growing frequency. One week they'd be shopping a recording on a gay phone sex hotline by an anti-gay Virginia congressman. Another week it would be compromising photos on the anonymous personal profile of a conservative journalist, who's openly gay and among the country's most effective gay rights advocates, but who's committed the sin-crime of writing something about sex they deemed inconsistent with his personal sex life.
The rise of the blogs freed these sex cops of having to deal with annoying journalist-gatekeepers, so now they can go directly for the jugular, or for the groin more often than not.
To read their blog posts, and the chorus of comments calling for more 'red meat' closet cases, is to see them for what they are: sexual moralists filled with venom that their version of 'the others,' their political opponents, might somehow, somewhere, actually be doing something ( they deem ) inconsistent with their public persona.
These sexual police don't waste time seeking majority support to pass regulations governing 'appropriate' sexual conduct; they decide who's broken the rules all by themselves. They don't need bumbling undercover cops as enforcement thugs, they troll all on their own, tracking down leads in online chatrooms, phone sex lines and pornhouse 'tearooms.'
Their unbridled zeal inevitably leads to excesses that repulse all but the most faithful. From anti-gay politicians their scrutiny moved on to influential staffers, and when too many trails turned cold and the masses yelled for more, they slummed for embarrassing party pics of even the most junior congressional or White House staffers, just out of college.
And like their mirror-image ideological foes, they claim credit where it isn't due. 'Outing activist' Mike Rogers has garnered a whirlwind of press coverage for the Larry Craig sex scandal, but why, exactly?
The Craig scandal broke not because of Rogers but because some other sex cop leaked the Minneapolis airport arrest report to the Roll Call newspaper. Rogers tried to 'out' Craig months earlier and succeeded only in convincing the Idaho Statesman to join him in trolling public toilets, passing around Craig's photo. In the end, the Statesman—annoying journalist gatekeepers again—didn't even publish the results of their months-long sexual witch hunt until after the scandal had already broke.
These leftist sex police can't even claim the end justifies their mean-spirited means, since their track record for 'change' is minimal: The Virginia congressman was replaced by someone every bit as conservative and Craig will be too, most likely. But they do succeed in reinforcing the image of gay sexuality as nasty, anonymous and devoid of any connection to love and family. Congratulations on that one.
It's long past time for the rest of us to set aside the snickering at the public fall of gay rights opponents and speak out against these 'sex police' on the left, who do us no favors and are not our allies.
Chris Crain is former editor of the Washington Blade, Southern Voice, and gay publications in three other cities. He can be reached via his blog at www.citizencrain.com .