Bill Moyers Gay Hypocrisy Scandal
I’ve followed the discussion about the Bill Moyers “scandal” (see, for example, today’s (WSJ piece “Bill Moyers’s Name Is Linked to J. Edgar Hoover’s Abuse of Office”) out of the corner of my eye for the last couple of days and am having trouble seeing what the big deal is.
Basically, as I understand it:
- Back in 1964, then-30-year-old Moyers was an aide to President Lyndon Johnson who carried out orders to assist in some vague way an investigation by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover about allegations that Motion Picture Association president Jack Valenti was a homosexual.
- Decades later, as a PBS talking head, Moyers is a preening lefty who has “gone on to promote himself as a political moralist, routinely sermonizing about what he claims are abuses of power by his ideological enemies.”
- This constitutes hypocrisy.
Am I missing some key point?
Because, if not, this doesn’t strike me as a particularly big deal. People’s attitudes change between the time they’re 30 and 70. They learn from their own mistakes and their other life experiences. Furthermore, once-respectable views and attitudes become discredited.
In 1964, people trusted government much more than they would a decade latter, owing to Vietnam and Watergate. So, “trust me, I’m the FBI director and know what’s good for the country” becomes “abuse of power.”
On the issue of homosexuality in particular, I often turn to a single, anecdotal example of how times have changed. In 1967, lefty folk singer Arlo Guthrie, son of lefty folk icon Woody, released the Thanksgiving classic “Alice’s Restaurant.” It contained the line, “And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them.” Within maybe a decade, nobody respectable would use the word “faggot” in public in this manner. (Although, as frequently happens, the epithet eventually came back into vogue as shock language acceptable for use by people in the targeted group.)
It seems perfectly plausible that young Bill Moyers did something that seemed perfectly reasonable at the time that he’d condemn if it were happening in 2009.