Friday, May 14, 2010

What does society have to know about you? (UPDATED)

1st UPDATE: 8:28 p.m. EDT: Newsweek's Ezra Klein offers some thoughts on some of the things we SHOULD learn about Kagan.

ORIGINAL POST: At first I was bemused. Then I began to get annoyed. Finally I decided to find out why I had to know.

The media's inexplicable interest in fanning the flames of a non-story -- the sexual orientation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

As you assist me in figuring out why I have to know this, and more importantly why her sexual orientation has anything to do with her ability to be a Supreme Court justice, I have extended the issue a bit.

What does society have to know about you?

Consider any of the following --

1. I could choose to reveal my religious preference, but you don't have to know that.
2. I could choose to reveal my political party affiliation, but you don't have to know that.
3. I could choose to reveal my educational background, but you don't have to know that.
4. I could choose to reveal my social security number, but that would be stupid.
5. I could choose to reveal my marital status, but you don't have to know that.
6. I could choose to reveal whether I have any children, but you don't have to know that.
7. I could choose to reveal whether I own or rent my home, but you don't have to know that.
8. I could tell you if I have any siblings, but you don't have to know that.
9. I could go on....

I'm sure by this point someone has thought: 'But Anthony, you are missing the point. You are a private citizen. No one cares about you. But Kagan is a public figure and so the public's right to know is different.'

Okay, so then take that same list from above and tell me which ones you have to know about Kagan? Let's take the first one -- her religious preference. It's no secret she's Jewish, but what does that tell us about her? Is she a "good" Jew? Does she regularly and with proper respect practice the tenets of her faith? What if she had been a convert to Judaism?

Let's face it, those who really want to know her sexual orientation want to do so in an attempt to undermine her chances of joining the Court. That's their only intent.

And let's take it a step further: Her sexual orientation tells us absolutely nothing about the kind of justice she would be. Do "straight" justices have an inherent bias that favors "straight" people? Do "gay" justices have an inherent bias that favors "gay" people?

Give me a break.

So then why do I have to know Kagan's sexual orientation?

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