Andrew Ikeman | News Editor
I HATE SEX scandals. They are the worst. The media bears down on the perpetrators like they are O.J. speeding down the 405 with Al Cowlings riding shotgun. They had sex. Out of marriage. Oh my sweet Lord, they had sex with someone they’re not married to. They cheated on their significant others. The horror!
Cheating happens, guys—it’s as prevalent in our society as pot smoking. People do it, and everybody knows that people do it, but somehow when famous people do it, it’s a front-page story, and their whole lives are up-ended.
I find it’s the worst for political figures. Take, for example, CIA Director David Petraeus, who recently stepped down from his position due to a sex scandal involving his personal biographer. Petraeus’ career of nearly 30 years in the U.S. Army has been ruined by this scandal. People have argued that his position, which requires a certain amount of discretion, renders his behaviour deplorable, but that’s a clear case of double standards. Why is it big news if Petraeus is cheating, but not if the person at the end of the street is?
Yes, Bill Clinton cheated on Hillary, but if he wasn’t the president of the United States, it wouldn’t have been front page news. He was doing a pretty good job running the country, and the affair had little to do with his ability to run said country. Yes, it was morally wrong of him, and I feel remorse for his family, for whom the ordeal must have been extraordinarily difficult—but why was he treated differently than any other person who cheats and is caught?
I am a believer that we have become too voyeuristic as a society, and that this voyeurism is not a good thing. I realize that being in the public eye means you have to accept that you are no longer a private person, but can we at least leave what happens in the bedroom out of the equation? If what Pierre Trudeau said about the government having no place in the bedroom of the nation is true, then what place does the media have in the bedroom of the government?
If a political figure is sleeping around, it should only be considered a problem if it directly affects that person’s ability to do their job. In the cases of John Edwards, who was charged but later found innocent of using campaign finances to cover up his affair, or of Maxime Bernier, who left classified documents at his girlfriend’s house, sure, go ahead and have your firestorm—national security is national security. But when someone in the public eye is committing adultery, why should we concern ourselves in the matter?
When anonymous details were released of the Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews’ personal life as a form of protest against his legislative agenda, it made for a good read, but it was completely out of line. It embarrassed him, and really, it wasn’t remotely related to what he was doing on the Hill.
At the end of the day, dirty laundry doesn’t have a place in the public eye. Sure, it’s fun to read the tabloids, but we have to allow our politicians a semblance of privacy. Taking up public office is one of the most important things you can do for your country, and we should respect those who do so. If we wouldn’t want the world knowing our deepest, darkest secrets, why would they?