Why kink-shaming doesn’t belong in politics

Here’s a lesson in political distractions, courtesy of the Verge. It involves Bigfoot erotica and a Virginia congressional race.

Perhaps we should back up first. It started with this tweet from Leslie Cockburn, a Democrat running for Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District.

It includes a screengrab of her Republican opponent Denver Riggleman’s Instagram page, where he apparently posted what one could only call Bigfoot erotica.

The internet did its thing, and the takes and jokes proliferated. Vox did an explainer.

The Verge points out the obvious: a candidate’s (entirely legal) sexual preferences and quirks do not matter.

What should matter, in this case, is policy. And that Riggleman has campaigned with a white supremacist.

From Lux Alptraum in the Verge:

“By making a candidate’s sexual interests a part of the campaign rhetoric, we’re sending the message that the kind of smut you’re into is as important as your policy platform. And that message is problematic. It discourages talented people from even considering running for office because they don’t want their careers tanked by an accidental glimpse into their erotic psyche. It equates being aroused by something weird with noxious policy platforms that seek to oppress and disenfranchise people. Worst of all, it distracts from meaningful discussions of candidates’ actual merits and qualifications — in the specific case of Riggleman, it turns the conversation away from his truly monstrous affinity for normalizing white supremacy, a trend that is growing more widely acceptable in American political discourse by the day.

(h/t: Will Lager)