On an open marriage

 homosexuality, horrible old man, politics  Comments Off on On an open marriage
Jan 232012

This past weekend, Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Republican primary by a considerable margin over the putative front-runner Mitt Romney. The victory was due in no small part to Gingrich’s impressive performance in the debate mediated by CNN’s John King, where he made a fiery attack on the moderator for opening the debate with a reference to recent stories in which one of Gingrich’s ex-wives asserted that he had asked her for an open marriage, presumably because he already had a mistress.

In calling King’s effort to broach the subject “despicable”, Gingrich was able to play to the crowd’s distrust of the “liberal media” and brush the issue aside, at least temporarily. King, obviously cowed, tried to walk back the question, which put Gingrich in control of the situation and allowed him to play the victim. Gingrich may be right that King’s bringing up the question was despicable, but he has no right to get offended or to go on the attack. Gingrich owes us an explanation of this open marriage, not because his married life is our business, but because he proposes to make our married lives his business.

There is also a general sense in which Gingrich’s marriages matter to a voter, because it speaks to a larger issue of integrity. Of course an individual relationship has many differences from a government office. Nonetheless, an oath is an oath, and if a man can’t hold to his vows to a single person, how will he handle his obligation to an entire nation? Yet, this does not justify any particularly close examination of marital details. Gingrich’s divorce habit and ethics reprimand tell us all that we need to know about his character. In this regard, the open marriage story adds nothing but shock value.

There it would stay, but for one thing. Like the vast majority of his Republican compatriots, Newt Gingrich opposes gay marriage. Indeed, he opposes it so vehemently that he has stated he would support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman if the “Defense of Marriage Act” were found to be unconstitutional. He even made a video to support California’s odious Proposition 8. Gingrich believes that he should have the right to define marriage for everyone in the country. He therefore owes the people a clear understanding of what marriage means to him, not only as he describes it in prepared speeches and soundbites, but also as he practices it in his life.

Does a man who cannot even commit to the woman he has presently married and not yet divorced have any right to tell a gay couple that their commitment means less than his? I submit that he does not. So, having opened this door, having asserted that he possesses the virtue to tell other people what to do in their lives and relationships, Gingrich has invited us to examine his own affairs. For him to then object when that moment of public examination arrives shows him to be a coward and a first-order hypocrite.

I, however, can object for him, because I do not propose to become America’s marriage-judger-in-chief. The open marriage story is prurient and worthless, intended to increase the stench of Gingrich’s long history of failed marriages without providing any special insight into the man. This attack is beneath us. It is even beneath Newt Gingrich, and considering what a despicable little worm he is, that’s saying something.

Jan 132010
I can barely imagine a worse place for a devastating earthquake to hit than Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. Even worse, the main shock originated very close to its largest city, Port-au-Prince, and nearby aftershocks are continuing. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, died in the earthquake itself, and given the lack of infrastructure even more may perish in the near future from disease and starvation. Many of the nation’s most significant structures (including the National Palace) have been destroyed, its slums have been flattened, and many of the buildings still standing have suffered irreparable damage and will have to be demolished.

You can help the survivors by donating to the Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Partners in Health. Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti is also taking donations for earthquake relief. I know as well as anyone how hard things are right now. I know a lot of my readers are unemployed, or living on a limited budget. Small donations add up, though, and much of what will be desperately needed in Haiti in the coming weeks and months comes very cheap. If you can spare $50, that’s great, but if you can only spare $5, give that. No matter how bad your lot is right now, I can guarantee you it’s better than living in a shattered country without power, food, medicine, or clean water.

Disgusting immoral monsters like Pat Robertson have already begun to attribute this disaster to the imagined sins of the Haitians. People of genuine moral character living in the actual world can show you that, far from being the work of some spirit, the quake is the result of geological processes that are relatively well understood. Chris Rowan’s explanation of the earthquake is particularly clear and accessible. Anyone who claims that the Haitians had it coming for any reason, much less the vengeance of an imaginary sky-man, deserves your permanent contempt.
Oct 182007
I won’t give the disgusting old bastard the benefit of a link; even leading the modest readership of this blog to his vile comments is too much a service to them. You’ll probably find them on your own before too long. I don’t want to apply clearly fallacious reasoning to the man’s own abominable beliefs, but please, when you read his dismissals of Rosalind Franklin as an autistic harpy, remember that the man is an ill-informed racist pig.

There are heroes in the world of structural biology, but Watson is no longer one of them, if ever he was. Crick at least had a chance to make his voice heard so that history will always know his side of the story. I pity poor Rosalind Franklin, who will probably be lost to the future because of Watson’s endless denigration of her personality and work.

In other news, I seem to finally have made the fold feature work.