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One of the benefits of an addiction to pop history is that one finds oneself equipped with a formidable array of useless trivia. For instance, I have been assured by the renowned semioticist and medievalist, Umberto Eco, that the ancient Romans did not distinguish between the colors blue and green as we do, seeing them not as distinct colors but merely varying shades of c?ruleus.
In like manner, the inestimable Mark Neuman has asserted that in the eyes of the ancient Greeks, the ideal penis size was rather smaller than the “9-inch tool” which features so prominently in the more sordid gentleman’s publications. Were the Hellenes of yore less tormented by machismo than we Freudian-plagued moderns? Perhaps, but the main reason for this diminutive Greek ideal was the popular cult of the pederast, which placed a premium on the ability to sexually abuse boys of all ages.
I mention this not to explain the poor endowment of Athenian statues, but to underline the fact that systematic homosexual abuse of boys and young men is hardly new. Given that the Catholic Church was the only institution harboring men capable of reading the Greek classics when the West rediscovered them in the 12th century, it is safe to assume that the church hierarchy has not been unaware of the potential for this form of abuse to become institutionalized for at least 900 years.
Nevertheless, Andrew Sullivan, the most coherent and intelligent “gay” writer in the media today, feels that the long-overdue unearthing of his church’s Lavender Mafia is an indication that the Vatican must overturn time-honored Catholic teachings on the evils of homosexuality, contraception, priestly celibacy and the designated hitter. This is questionable enough; what is worse is that he has unintentionally launched the argument against the existence of mainstream media bias to Himalayan new heights in insisting on a right to be considered bias-free in all circumstances, even when his personal interests are manifestly at stake.
Andrew Sullivan, you see, is not only a homosexual Catholic, but is unfortunately afflicted by one of the terrible consequences of homosexual behavior. He is HIV-positive. That is his personal problem, but where it concerns us is that he, like Parkinsons’ victim Michael Kinsley, has taken the astounding position that suffering from a life-threatening illness grants him the right to argue for political action of direct and vital benefit to him without considering it evidence of bias or a conflict of interest.
He even writes of Kinsley: “the right to privacy – especially about medical matters – would have and should have trumped that conflict of interest as a factor in ethical journalism.”
But what is of greater benefit to an individual, making money or survival? Survival, obviously. So if calling for congressional action to inflate the value of a public stock one owns is a conflict of interest worthy of termination, how can one possibly justify calling for more government spending on subsidies for AIDS drugs or stem-cell research when one’s own life is on the line?
Mr. Sullivan asks: “Does this mean that because I’m HIV-positive, my view should be airily dismissed as too biased?” Well, yeah! It is! Yet Mr. Kinsley insists that this would be a “bizarre inference.”
Now, I suppose that if in your world, Yasser Arafat is a peacemaker and all conservatives, libertarians, Republicans, Christians, Nazis, Zionists and Chinese Politburo members are indistinguishable right-wing extremists, the notion that one’s will to live could unduly influence one’s opinion on a matter directly affecting one’s chances for survival might seem just a little odd.
But at least Mr. Kinsley is honest enough to admit that his disease has trumped that famous “journalistic objectivity” which, until now, was more bulletproof than Kevlar. What happened, Michael, did you take one less 300-level journalism course than that famous bastion of journalistic objectivity and integrity, Dan Rather?
Of course, it’s nonsense to insist that journalism school magically inoculates one against bias. What Messrs. Kinsley and Sullivan have inadvertently done is to demonstrate that even if media bias can be proven, it will be considered acceptable if one is singing in the left’s Greek chorus. And so we see again that the mainstream media cannot be reformed, it can only be ignored and, eventually, replaced.
I wish both men well in their battles against their respective diseases. But I would also remind them that suffering does not give one a free pass on ethics, journalistic or otherwise.