Thursday, August 12, 2010

Building A Better Politics

I'm a little bemused at this post from FrumForum writer John Vecchione arguing for the arrest of WikiLeaks principal Julian Assange. It's not so much the argument itself as it's the strange phrase Vecchione uses in reference to the soldier who gave WikiLeaks some 90,000 pages of classified information on the Afghan war. Vecchione uses the phrase "disgruntled homosexual soldier", the only reference at all to the source of the leak. Now it's fairly obvious that the soldier was indeed disgruntled. When one thinks of 'massive leak of classified information' the idea of a non-disgruntled soldier doesn't readily come to mind. Oh, and the soldier is in fact a soldier. So the phrase 'disgruntled soldier' shouldn't come as a surprise (unless, of course, you're simply stupid). Thus the striking part of Vecchione's phrasing is the word 'homosexual'.
I don't get it. So the disgruntled soldier is homosexual. So what? You would do just as well as saying 'disgruntled blonde soldier'. That the soldier is homosexual shouldn't need pointing out. Such a piece of information adds nothing to the larger purpose of Vecchione's post--namely arguing for the actions the U.S. is and should take with regards to Assange. From Vecchione's perspective I can understand his distaste for Assange and desire to prevent or at least curtail Assange's freedom of movement. I don't share it, but I get it.
So the soldier is gay. Why mention that at all? If Vecchione's intent were to argue for tighter security in handling classified documents then talking about the soldier is only natural. But Vecchione's focus is on Assange. All I can really conclude from Vecchione describing the soldier as gay is Vecchione doesn't like gays. Additional supposition leads me to think Vecchione not only dislikes gays but believes gays are potential security risks in the military.
The obvious, Vecchione's dislike of gays, doesn't necessarily lead to my supposition. But still, why use that phrasing at all? If your argument were against gays serving openly in the military then the orientation of the source leak makes for an easy point of entry. That's not Vecchione's argument here. What it indicates, I believe, is Vecchione's bias against gays. Such a bias appearing so randomly colors the rest of his post. Worse yet, it weakens his argument by injecting an unreasonable position within his wider argument. If something so innocuous as the source leak being homosexual bothers Vecchione then how reasonable is the rest of his argument? It puts Vecchione's objectivity into question when such objectivity is necessary to firmly establish his argument's viability.
What that leaves the reader with is an argument that, whatever its merits, lacks the needed perspective to make it truly persuasive.