How to take this…

Timothy Kincaid

February 22nd, 2012

The Phoenix New Times is running an article about Paul Babeu which, from the perspective of a gay man, I’m not sure exactly how to take. Let me just tell you and you make up your own mind.

In a piece titled “Demands Grow for Full Investigation into Allegations Against Sheriff Paul Babeu”, they move the focus from abuse of power to a discussion of Babeu’s character.

First they quote a primary opponent running as a family values candidate: “Gould said Babeu demonstrated extremely poor judgment by posting explicit photos and information on gay websites, including adam4dam.com.” Then later they speak for themselves:

Babeu dismisses the sexually explicit photos he circulated — including to the gay hookup website adam4adam.com — as none of the public’s business and part of his personal life.

However, the state Code of Ethics for police officers — outlined by the agency that certifies cops in Arizona — declares that “whether on- or off-duty, in uniform or not,” law enforcement officials should conduct themselves in a “manner that will not bring discredit or embarrassment” to their agencies.

Then they make a comparison:

Babeu no doubt is familiar with the case of fellow ex-Chandler Officer Ronald Dible, who was fired for running a porn website with his wife.

The parallel here is that Dible also claimed he could be a law enforcement officer and do whatever he pleased during personal time.

Then they post the “sexually explicit photo” which Babeu “circulated”, it’s him with his shirt off. It’s a “private” photo, which on adam4adam means that it can only be seen by other members of the social media site to whom Babeu unlocks the picture.

Another photo of Babeu in his underwear is published by the paper but this picture appears to be a private photograph that was not posted on the site. It isn’t clear where they got this picture or why it is included.

Like I said, I’m not sure how to take this…

To me it sound like “If you have a gay social media membership and you have a private picture with your shirt off, you bring discredit and embarrassment to your employer, just like a porn producer does.” But others may have a different take on the article.

cooner

February 22nd, 2012

Hmm, sounds like a double standard to me.

I suppose an argument COULD be made that posting on a dating/hook-up site might be considered “bad,” but it’s certainly not in the same league as actually running an actual porn site. And they’d have to show equivalent cases of straight cops posting profiles on straight dating sites and being punished for it.

Also, that photo is about as pornographic as a Coors Light ad.

It’s sort of like how a straight couple kissing or holding hands in public is acceptable but a gay couple doing the same is “explicit,” “flaunting,” “shoving sexuality in people’s faces,” etc.

Jim Burroway

February 22nd, 2012

Timothy, Timothy, Timothy…

You take this exactly the way you take the media reporting over Rep. Anthony Weiner texting photos of himself in his underwear which everyone also called “sexually explicit.” You’ll recall the media also splashed that photo all over the place, leading to his resignation.

There is no double standard.

I understand that you’re angry at New Times for breaking the story. I know you want to blame the New Times for all sorts of sins, including homophobia. But you’re really trying way too hard here. I really hope you don’t reach for Glenn Beck next.

Tony P

February 22nd, 2012

The whole ‘moral rectitude’ requirement for off duty police does go a bit too far.

If a police officer wants to post pix on a4a or other sites, so be it. It doesn’t negatively impact his status as police or his department.

andrew

February 22nd, 2012

This is a total double-standard. The photo here is nothing that couldn’t be hung in Times Square (and given this guy’s build, maybe should be).

Need I remind everyone that Senator Brown of MA posed nude in a national publication 20 yrs ago? (Again, should be something for billboards in your neighborhood).

Lastly, this has no comparison to a porn site. Simply none. If he wants to hook up with guys of his choosing, so be it. I guess we should also criticize anyone who’s ever posted a ad in the “personals”.

We just aren’t used to seeing our politicians with their shirts off. By the way… if anyone has a shot of Paul Ryan… :)

TN

February 22nd, 2012

Anthony Weiner is straight and he was forced to resign. Although, I think in his case it may have been because he was cheating on his wife. I don’t think it’s a “double standard” like some others are saying. I just think it’s stupid to take peoples’ personal lives and use it to judge their ability to govern. Like another commenter said, this is nothing that couldn’t be posted in Times Square.

Lucrece

February 22nd, 2012

If gay men flirting on hook up sites is an embarrassment to the department, then what the hell is it about all those bar nights straight men have where they drink and then drink some more while skimpily dressed women throw themselves at the officers?

I do feel like it’s a double standard trying to pander to people’s immediate negative reaction to sexual expression, particularly gay male sexual expression.

The Wienergate didn’t happen just because of sending pics to someone half naked, but he sent pics to someone who wasn’t his wife, including pictures of his dick.

Also, what were these “explicit” pictures? Last time I checked, men sport these “explicit” images when they go to the beach bare-chested and in swimsuits.

Sleazy? Sure. First person to aspirefor/hold office that is sleazy? Nope. First cheater? Nope.

Timothy Kincaid

February 22nd, 2012

Now Jim you know that I am don’t assume a story is true or false just because of who presents it, be it New Times or Glenn Beck. But I do have trouble with stories that parrot family values candidates and their positions on what is moral and proper.

As for Weiner, I seem to recall that sent out not just underwear pics but also, ahem, weiner pictures (a local female radio personality quipped that he shouldn’t have). Now those pics fall within my personal definition of “sexually explicit”.

I might even buy an underwear pic as being sufficiently naughty to get a sexual label.

But if you call a pic on a website a “sexually explicit picture” and it’s the one above it means one of two things: 1) you have a standard of morality and appropriateness that is akin to that of the American Family Association, or 2) you aren’t being very honest.

But, as I said, people are going to come away with a different impression. I looked at this as though I were in Babeu’s shoes. Would I think it fair if I had the above profile and pic and some magazine implied that I was discrediting or embarrassing my employer? To me, that isn’t fair. But I others may find it so.

I know some readers will find any online site to be unacceptable. That’s cool. Some will find that match.com or other marriage/relationship driven sites to be fine, but not those of a hookup nature. Some will think any private sexual engagement is nobody’s business but their own and if you don’t want to see their weiner then don’t join the site or ask to see their private pics. And that’s fine too.

I just find it surprising that such a liberal paper has such a puritanical approach. It seems out of character, but I don’t know them well enough to label such a charge.

But I hope that New Times isn’t basing their standard about sexual explicicity around immigration policy, political party, or other such factors. That would be troubling.

Jim Burroway

February 22nd, 2012

I think your ax against New Times is showing.

How many straight elected officials do you know would escape the “sexually explicit” tag with a profile that says “vers/top, 7″ Cut. Safe Sex Only, HIV Negative”?

As for the “puritanical approach,” isn’t that the state Code of Ethics for police officers setting that standard?

Jim Burroway

February 22nd, 2012

And by the way, four posts about Babeu in three hours? Which nerve are you trying to salve?

Timothy Kincaid

February 22nd, 2012

While New Times has asserted that Babeu is in violation of the state Code of Ethics, I don’t hear anyone from any police organization, ethics watchdogs, or even right wing finger waggers backing up that claim. So, for now at least, I’ll set that aside as creative reporting.

But if Babeu and Orozco were running a webcam porn site then let me know. I’ll definitely agree with New Times and their comparison if that is the case.

I’ll definitely agree that the profile contains sexually explicit info. The kind one only sees when logging into a website like adam4adam. And had they said that, I wouldn’t quibble.

Ya know, before this is over I might buy Babeu as villain and Orozco as victim. At first blush I assumed that Babeu was, at least, a cheating lying bastard.

But since the story dropped, nothing has gone as expected. Babeu didn’t follow script by retaliating or outing Orozco. Nor did he quietly slink away.

The evidence of a crime seems very weak and limited to Jose’s attorney responding to an impression of a threat – but neither the correspondence leading to that letter nor the response to it has been presented. I’m not sure at this point whether it hold up.

But I’m not yet ready to let Babeu off the hook on that. And if the investigation reveals abuse of power, then prosecute him.

As for the New Times… they seem to have different policies about distinguishing fact from opinion than I am accustomed to seeing in a press organization. Perhaps an advocacy blogsite, but not from the indie press.

I really am beginning to get the impression that they saw an opportunity to embarrass Babeu and – for whatever reason – placed it as a higher priority than either journalistic integrity or what harm it could cause my community. I really could be wrong on that. It may not be the case at all. And it’s only a fledgling idea so don’t give it much credibility.

But I would be happier if they didn’t use language that plays on the biases and encourages the bigotries of people who suddenly have a new reason not to like Paul Babeu. Ultimately it harms us all.

Lucrece

February 22nd, 2012

>_>;

*awkward crickets*

daftpunkydavid

February 23rd, 2012

i’m sorry but i’m with timothy on this. to use a medical metaphor, it’s not an easy diagnostic, but i think your differential is very solid.

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2012

I’m afraid I still don’t see it.

New Times was pretty specific in the limits of their parallel. It was not that Babeu ran a porn site, but that he did something that, like the other case, may violate the state code of ethics, and that officers “whether on- or off-duty, in uniform or not,” are bound to not do anything that “bring(s) discredit or embarrassment.” Babeu’s claim that it was his personal life might not fly, because it didn’t fly with a former officer in a police department Babeu previously served in. I thought the limit of the parallel, which New Times specified, should be pretty obvious to anyone who bothers to read the piece.

And if the information that New Times published “bring(s) discredit or embarrassment,” then it was not New Times that did the embarrassing. It was the person who revealed his preferred sexual position and that he has a seven inch circumcised cock on the World Wide Web who did the embarrassing. What other politician or public official has done that? And can you imagine any reporter, upon finding that. sitting on it because, oh, “it’s just his private life”?

Whether Babeu finds it embarrassing or not is up to him. I think any private gay citizen, if they were sudddenly thrust into the public eye, and then had their adam4adam profile with similar details made public, they would be embarrassed. But they are not public officials, and I’m sure they might feel as though their privacy was invaded.

Babeu is, on the other hand, a public official, and a higher bar is set for him because of it. But he’s not being singled out. The list of embarrassed and embarrassing public officials is long. A public official who does not assume that every move is watched, every text message and email is saved, every web profile gets discovered, every text message gets passed along, and every microphone and camera is live, risks being discovered and potentially embarrassed — and becoming an embarrassment to those who are associated with him.

The list of politicians who got caught up in similar situations is very long. I urge you to refrain from trying to put Babeu into a special case. Unfortunately, his case is actually all too banal.

Timothy Kincaid

February 23rd, 2012

Jim

Perhaps we have a basic disagreement about what is or should be embarrassing to a public official.

When talking about embarrassment in this manner, there is a strong element of shame and shameful behavior – that which has been done (often in secret) which no right-thinking person thinks acceptable or proper. Scandal, shocking, outside of normal convention.

This is not firmly defined but depends on community and societal attitudes.

And I want to be careful to distinguish between being embarrassed and bringing embarrassment. Tyler Clementi was embarrassed but he did nothing that would bring embarrassment on anyone.

Personally, I think there is nothing inherently shameful about joining a gay social media site. Even a site that is designed for hooking up. And while it is embarrassing to have ones measurements printed in a newspaper, I personally do not think it shameful nor that it brings embarrassment to his department.

And, again, this standard varies. Some of his constituents find being gay to be shameful. Sixty years ago his position would only have been filled by a married family man associated with a Protestant church for decorum’s sake.

But so far, his fellow officers don’t seem embarrassed. They seem so far to support him and be indignant about the story.

This membership hasn’t been introduced into any investigations. It hasn’t been the focus of community outrage. And even his political rival who is running on family values has said it is a failure of judgment but did not even hint that it violated the State Code of Conduct.

So far, the only one asserting that it is inherently shameful – that is, that this membership brings embarrassment and dishonor on the face of it – the only one saying, in essence that belonging to a gay dating site such as adam4adam and posting info the is so wrong that it ceases to be a private matter and becomes a cause to fire a public official (and that is what they are saying) is New Times.

Not AFA, but the New Times. Not the local GOP, but New Times. They are the only ones who see his a4a membership and profile in terms of the State Code.

I cannot help but wonder if they would make the same argument if this were a favored politician. Would they suggest that someone else be fired for such a membership?

Perhaps. But if so then they have values that I do not share. I just don’t find joining a4a to be a fire able offense that is a violation of the code.

No doubt some of our readers share their values. If you say that you share their values I won’t debate it.

But I’m too old-fashioned small-c conservative to think that this should be public information or that it is an embarrassment to ones associates.

The New Times thinks that it has exposed shameful behavior. I think they have behaved shamefully.

To me it’s like running up and pulling down someone’s pants and screaming “I can see your underwear! Shame, shame.”. Had Babeu posted the info in public, it would be shameful. But when he posted in private and someone posing as someone else lied to gain access then abused that trust by printing the info PUBLICLY on the world wide web, I don’t see them as the admirable ones.

TampaZeke

February 23rd, 2012

It may come as a surprise to everyone but I actually side with Timothy on this one. Weiner’s situation was different for two reasons. He was cheating on his WIFE and he posted pictures of his genitals. Babeu’s a scumbag but that doesn’t mean he should be held to different standards of decency just because he’s a closeted gay asshole.

There are PLENTY of other issues with which to hang Babeu, not least of which is why he threatened his boyfriend with deportation and ruining his business and, quite hypocritically, harboring an immigrant who he knew was violating the terms of his visa.

Mitz

February 23rd, 2012

The point of the New Times article is that Babeu, one of the most vicious anti-immigrant politicians in recent memory, allegedly threatened his Mexican boyfriend (and his family). Maybe you think those allegations are of no importance, and the whole thing was just an excuse to out Babeu. That’s certainly the dominant view in the more anti-Mexican precincts of Arizona, but I’m not buying it.

There’s also the matter of hiring and paying money to someone not authorized to work here. (Babeu’s brother also hired him to work in his 2010 campaign for Justice of the Peace.) A bad law, maybe, but one Babeu enforces against other people with relish.

TampaZeke, Babeu did post pictures of his genitalia. New Times just declined to publish them. My understanding is that they belie the claim about 7 inches.

Muscat

February 23rd, 2012

I never thought I’d say this but I at least lean towards Timothy’s position on this. At the very least it would appear that there are aspects of the story being ignored in favor of “smear the (closeted) queer.”

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