I have gotten a lot of comments about my Tyler Whitney post, and I thought I should address some things publicly, rather than let them get lost in the comments. Also, it's clear that I am in the minority, so I want to better explain myself (not defensively, but just so everyone knows exactly where I am coming from).
First, I am not sure Tancredo is the most hostile to gays candidate (hostile to immigrants certainly, but we aren't talking about a story exposing Tancredo of employing an undocumented gardener). He opposes gay marriage using the same tired procreation argument, and doesn't vote for any pro-gay federal legislation (there could be a legitimate federalism reason for this, though I doubt it). Now, do I think Tancredo would make even a passable president? No. I'd vote for Obama over him (A Hills v. Tom race might send me to a third party again). Tancredo is certainly not a gay-friendly politician, but I'm just not sure a gay kid working for him is exactly like a back kid working for George Wallace.
Secondly, It's true that I may have glossed over Tyler's own exercise of extremely poor judgment. Perhaps some of the things he did were awful. Apart from various connections a la six degrees from Kevin Bacon, the only thing I can find that Tyler actually SAID or DID was hold a sign that was is in extremely poor taste. (You'll notice that some of the more outrageous things in the article are attributed to associates, but the author is obviously making an attempt to connect them to Tyler). For that, he deserves to be outed? If you think so, I am afraid we are going to have to agree to disagree.
Third, do I want to give him a free pass? No, had the story been that in addition to working for Tancredo, Tyler had been convicted of a hate-based assault against gays, my opinion would be different. Matt is quite right to point out the personal responsibility aspects of this situation, and I have to agree with Matt up to a point. I'm just concerned that this punishment is not commensurate. Basically, from what I can tell, Tyler's sins are: holding incorrect beliefs, expressing them in poor taste, and having acquaintances who are even more evil. If that's all he did, sure he should be called out, but there's no reason he should be called out in such a way that I should ever have heard about it. (Please ignore the fact that even by trying to take his side, I am continuing to call attention to Tyler's situation, making his outing even more widespread). It seems like instead of washing his mouth out with soap, we are throwing acid in his eyes.
Fourth, you may think I am overreacting. "All that happened to him is that he was outed, and now he can live a more honest and fulfilling life. Plus now he doesn't have to go through the agony of doing it himself; the band-aid is already off," you may say. But it's more than that. At 18 he's finished in public policy. Pro-Gay groups (including also the libertarian leaning groups I align myself with) wont have him for what he did before he was outed. And conservatives won't have him because he's gay. Even if, as I expect (hope?), conservatives give up this anti-gay nonsense, Tyler will not be welcome as a reminder of the movement's dubious past. Furthermore, should Tyler see the light, any attempt to look rehabilitated ("I was a very misguided youth, and I deeply regret some of the things I have done") will be met with a jaundiced eye from both sides. This kid will be lucky if anyone from a city councilman up will talk to him again. That HAS to matter to him. People with only a passing, cocktail party interest in policy and politics do not go to work for congressmen running for president.
Finally, true confessions: the Tyler Whitney situation is scary to me because I see how EASILY I could have been him. I have said here before that back deep in the closet I associated with groups and supported politicians who could legitimately be criticized for being being anti-gay. I rationalized at the time "I support 75% of what they say, and I don't really care that much about social issues, anyway." (My current, continued affiliation with the GOP, certainly the more anti-gay party, is different. I no longer turn a blind eye to their anti-gay policies, and hope to help change the party from within). I am ashamed now of those affiliations and have severed them completely, but they still exist in my past. It grieves me to think that I contributed, even indirectly, to some of the pain and prejudice that I and many others are experiencing now.
Thankfully even at 18 I had the good sense to know that holding a sign in such poor taste would not only be ineffective for my cause, but could also come back to bite me. However, a few years ago I worked for a policy organization and wrote two op-eds. One was about education policy and the other was a criticism of a prominent leader in the gay community. Can you guess which one still shows up when I google my name? Though I was never mean spirited and tried to focus my criticism on legitimate problems, someone could construe the op-ed as anti-gay. (I remember at the time I wrote it, I had a paragraph along the lines of "even if he is right that XYZ," and was told to take it out, because it "ruined my argument and gave [the leader] too much ground.") I wouldn't say I am haunted by the op-ed the way I am some of my former affiliations, but I would prefer that it could recede back into history just so I don't have to deal with it if it ever does come up.
North Dallas Thirty found a few more folks who are, well, sympathetic to Tyler.