This may be perhaps the best, most concise statement about the patronizing and demeaning nature of political pigeonholing I’ve seen in a long time, and it comes from one of my good friends to boot. Guy Benson spoke to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner about the new book he co-authored with Mary Katharine Ham, End of Discussion, about the attempts to shut down debate and intimidate people in the political arena. In the interview, Guy explains for the first time publicly his perspective on the nature of pigeonholing:
If his book and job titles don’t make things absolutely clear, Benson is a gay conservative. He’s also someone who says he cares much more about “a nuclearized Iran” and “the failures of Obamacare” than most gay issues. And while he said he doesn’t think it especially matters that he’s coming out, Benson was sitting down for an interview on precisely that topic. Rather than wait for the book’s release, he decided to come out publicly before then, sitting down with BuzzFeed News recently to discuss the book, the Republican Party, and his life.
“Gay rights is not something that dominates my attentions — or my passions — and that may seem incongruous, that may seem counterintuitive to a lot of people,” he said, “but the issues that I care about most undergird the reasons why I’m a conservative and have been forever and will be a conservative moving forward.” …
“A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country is not obliged to be confined to a bedazzled ideological straitjacket because that’s how they ‘ought’ to think and ‘ought’ to vote and ‘ought’ to rank their priorities,” he said. “It’s not true, it shouldn’t be true, and I think part of liberty and tolerance and coexistence is understanding that, ‘Hey, I might have something in common with this person over here, and they have every right under the sun to disagree with me on this whole panoply of public policy questions over here.’ And if their views on those things lead them to another conclusion about how they exercise their right to vote, to jump to the conclusion that that is borne of some secret, deep-seated, self-loathing is just lazy and boring.
The headline for this post was deliberately chosen. While the news today will be Guy’s sexual orientation, the real lesson is this broadside against the enforcement of political plantations. And that particular dynamic will be very, very interesting indeed to see how that plays out in the next few days, weeks, and so on when it comes to Guy’s brilliant political commentary.
In fact, that’s how the book End of Discussion handles it too. It’s quite literally a footnote. In a chapter titled “Bake Me A Cake, Bigots,” Guy offers the personal insight in the interest of full disclosure.
I haven’t mentioned it publicly for two reasons: First, I don’t think it’s most people’s business, to be perfectly frank. Second, I didn’t want my emerging career to be colored by identity politics. My aim was to allow my work and my character to speak for me, as opposed to some category into which I could be lazily pigeonholed. The thought of my sexuality hindering or helping my career trajectory is anathema to me, so I’ve chosen to remain strategically quiet. Why “come out” now? Because I’m coauthoring a chapter that addresses gay rights at length. I decided that I owed readers this relevant piece of personal context; it’s the correct and respectful thing to do. And it’s literally a footnote.
Indeed. Who we are and the values we choose are far more important than our physical composition, whatever that may be. Collectivists insist on seeing everything through the prism of identity politics; lovers of liberty know that the individual chooses for himself. That is a far more important and fundamental point than the sexual orientation of a constant warrior for conservative principles.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Guy Benson is employed by Salem Media Group and its Townhall subsidiary that owns Hot Air, is a frequent contributor here, and has been my good friend for several years.