I mentioned the other day about the rather juvenile whispers about a Government minister in blogs and in the dead-tree press, and what he might or might not have done behind closed doors. As you've probably seen from one of Britain's leading bloggers - and I hope you can imagine the air escaping in a sigh from my head as I type that - it's been taken a step further. Well, not so much a step further as a step down. Down into the world of pointing and giggling in the playground, down beyond the places where even the dirtiest tabloids fear to tread.
In a way this is an extension of the classic news about dicks type of story. We want to see what the silverbacks are getting up to and where they're putting their dicks; there's a kind of prurience about us as animals. But the question is the same as it always is with this kind of story: we might be interested in what's going on in other people's lives, but do we have the right to know, even if they're public figures earning public money through our taxes? What business is it of ours, really, if a couple of people decide to fuck each other - or not?
The implication with this particular story, the messy little smear running through all the nudges and winks, is that someone employed someone else, with taxpayers' money, because they wanted to fuck them. Let's be blunt about it. Except there's no evidence for that. There's no evidence that the employee is anything other than competent at their job, that they are doing a job which needs to be done (insomuch as anyone, anywhere really needs 'special advisers'), or indeed that there's anything other than a professional relationship - other than a picture of two people laughing, and the fact they once shared a hotel room, and some bollocks about the 'body language' between the two the next day.
This is truly drivel beyond belief, and it doesn't stand up. As someone who regularly writes about the failures of the dead-tree media, I'm afraid I've got to say that this is one of those occasions where bloggers look pretty cheap, tawdry and grim, and the mainstream media look a bit more sensible for deciding not to run with this kind of atrocity - though there have been the odd nudge-nudge articles here and there, but nothing as unsubtle as the hateful little cartoon we were greeted with yesterday.
But let's suppose, though, that it's all true - that these two men are doing all kinds of things to each other, enjoying the delights of each other's physical form, on a regular basis. What then? Well, in my opinion it doesn't change anything. It's only if this employee is not doing his job, and is merely being employed because he's a sexual partner, that would be something that would stick out as being unethical and immoral - but where is the evidence for that, other than the pointing and giggling?
On the other hand, if it's just a case of two people who work together having sex every now and then, you'll excuse me if I don't clutch my pearls. Who gives a flying one? This kind of thing happens in a lot of people's lives, whether they're married or not. A lot of people do get married and then realise their true sexual identity years later; it's hardly the first time that this will ever have happened. A lot of relationships are open to other partners or either sex; again, this wouldn't be breaking new ground. A lot of people have multiple partners; it's not the end of the fucking world.
I know people mentioned on my previous blog post that there might be an element of hypocrisy between this particular politician's voting record and his personal life - if the rumours are true. But again I can't see that is being reason enough to pry, I'm afraid. We're all hypocrites in a lot of ways - we all vote, speak and judge a lot more morally than we behave, if truth be told. Politicians have to represent their parties and their constituents as well as themselves when they vote on stuff - and if people have struggled with their true sexuality over the years, and have been the subject of childish tittle-tattle over their private lives, I can completely understand them not wanting to draw attention to that kind of issue.
The key to all this is that it is about what goes on behind closed doors. We don't know, we don't have a right to know, and we shouldn't think we should know. If a Government minister is perfectly competent at his job, and happens to have a sexual relationship with someone who isn't his wife, then I really don't think that is any business of ours. If he has a relationship with someone he works with, and they are perfectly competent at their job, then that is not improper either. It's not our business. It's nothing we should care about. It doesn't matter. We might want to know so we can chortle about it all in that rather pathetically infantile way that the commenters on that blog post have done, but I'm afraid if we do all that squawking and hollering we look pretty base.
What this man does or doesn't do with his dick behind closed doors is a matter for him and anyone else involved. It's not a matter for us. That he is working for the state is irrelevant. He is entitled to a private life. Whether it's as orthodox as our private lives or not doesn't matter, because it should be private. There's a nasty stink of homophobia running through this whole business. It's not the politician who should be ashamed of himself.