In the post I wrote about the Ashley Madison hack last month—when the hackers were threatening to release the data if Ashley Madison didn't shut down (feels like a million years ago, huh?)—I spoke against outing all the innocent nobodies on Ashley Madison. Puritanical moralists were already celebrating the hack—even before this week's data dump—because cheaters are always terrible people, always in the wrong, and they deserve whatever they get. But whether someone was on Ashley Madison because she actually wanted to cheat or someone else was on the site because he merely got off on thinking about cheating, outing private people for their sexual conduct—even their "wrong" sexual conduct—can't be justified. (And as I mentioned then and will go on mentioning because people need to hear it: Some people have grounds to cheat, sometimes a cheater's cheating is in the best interests of the cheatee, sometimes cheating saves a marriage that ought to be saved.)
A quick word about all those puritanical moralists: Glenn Greenwald has a must-read piece today at First Thing. He condemns the glee the Ashley Madison data dump has inspired and nails the puritanical mindset that powers it:
Busybodies sitting in judgment of and righteously condemning the private, sexual acts of other adults remains one of the most self-satisfying and entertaining—and thus most popular—public spectacles. It simultaneously uplifts the moral judges (I am superior to that which I condemn), distracts them from their own behaviors (I am focused on those other people’s sins, and thus not my own), and titillates (to condemn this, I simply must immerse myself in the tawdry details of their sexual acts). To see just how current is the mentality driving the Scarlet Letter, observe the reaction to the Ashley Madison hack.
Okay, back to outing: Outing someone for their private sexual conduct—even if everyone agrees that it's wrong—is a brutal tactic that should be reserved for brutes. Who's a legitimate target for outing? I'll let Barney Frank explain: "There's a right to privacy," Frank said on Real Time. "But the right to privacy should not be a right to hypocrisy. People who want to demonize other people shouldn't then be able to go home and close the door, and do it themselves."
To which I would add: People who accuse others of trying to destroy their marriages, fundamentalists who who quite literally demonize other people, and who then go back to their apartments in Washington, DC, and cheat on their spouses are political hypocrites and legitimate targets for outing. People like this guy...
So far I feel bad for everyone who has been outed by the Ashley Madison hackers—everyone except Josh Duggar, the former head of FRC Action, the "political arm" of the antigay hate group Family Research Council. (ThinkProgress: "For the past few years, Josh Duggar, eldest son of the 19 in the Duggar clan, has been the face of the Family Research Council (FRC) at rallies against LGBT equality across the country. As executive director of FRC Action, the organization’s political arm, he helped fundraise for the organization, hobnob with Republican presidential contenders, and promote its anti-LGBT talking points, including claiming that his lesbian aunt 'chooses' her 'lifestyle' and that LGBT people are a threat to children.")
Josh Duggar—demagogue, liar, political operative—was a legitimate target for outing. I think Evan Hurst said it best at Wonkette:
Now, as we recently sexplained in important thinky pieces, you don’t out some private person who never hurt anyone, just for prowling for sex on the sly (GAWKER!). And the private information of millions of Ashley Madison users should not have been hacked and exposed by hackers. But Josh Duggar isn’t a private person who never hurt anyone; he tried to hurt lots of people, because of how they have sex, which is why it is 100 percent A-OK to take this information and use it to grind that arrogant, fundamentalist prick’s nuts into a fine powder so that we may snort it and trip holy karmic balls.
Josh Duggar has issued an apology—in which he blames porn and uses the passive voice:
I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.
In other Ashley Madison news...
Emails sent by the founder of infidelity website AshleyMadison.com appear to have been exposed in a second, larger release of data stolen from its parent company, Vice Media's online technology site Motherboard reported on Thursday.
The second dump is reportedly twice as large as the first dump.
UPDATE: So... Josh has a secret Facebook page where he's friends with lots of ladies who aren't his wife. Radar:
Just hours after Josh Duggar admitted to a porn addiction and cheating on wife Anna for “several years,” RadarOnline.com can reveal even more bombshell details of the 19 Kids & Counting star’s depraved double life: A Facebook account registered to his email address is friends with local Arkansas strippers and lingerie models.... “Smithson” is friends with 32 women, mostly attractive and young, and from the area of Arkansas where he lived before leaving for a political career in Washington, DC. He’s also a follower of a dancer at Sensations Gentleman’s Club in Arkansas, a lingerie model, and a curvy blonde blogger.
For the record: There's nothing depraved about being friends with strippers and lingerie models—or bloggers, for that matter, curvy and blonde or angular and brunette. Josh is a mess, thanks to his parents, a sad man torn between what he was both programmed to believe about sex (and imaginary friends) and the actual sex (and the actual friends) he wanted to have.