There’s been a bit of a discussion in recent months as to whether it’s ethical or appropriate to out closeted people, particularly if they’re in the public eye. There’s one argument that states people should be outed so that there continues to be an erosion of stigmatism to being gay. There’s another argument that says the mere act of ‘outing’ someone else implies a stigma to the process and is damaging to others. There’s also the argument that it’s unethical to out someone regardless of whether it does good if it causes harm to the individual being outed.
The first thing to take into consideration is that for the most part, we should stop giving a damn what politicians and celebrities do so long as it’s legal. In an ideal world this would already happen: there’d be a strong focus on expense scandals and no focus on who put what in the how-now so long as the who, the how-now and the what were all legal. Ultimately, so long as it’s legal, it’s not something that should be deemed to be in the public interest (no matter how much the public may actually be interested to know.)
Where it does become in the public interest is when it reflects hypocritical and therefore unethical behaviour.
A person who belabours about the importance of the family values, the nuclear family, and traditional marriage, while conducting a torrid affair with a staffer should have the affair outed, regardless of the sexuality of the people involved. A person who engages in a legitimate open relationship while expressing no contrary opinion should have that respected and not be the subject of titillated gossip.
A person who rails against homosexuality or even assists in the passing of legislation diminishing GBLTI rights while secretly visiting beats, back rooms or using SmartPhone hookup apps should equally be exposed. A person who happens to be bisexual and finds an outlet for their urges while being neutral towards GBLTI rights or even encouraging of them should have their perfectly legal proclivities respected and left alone.
Ultimately it’s OK to have a point of view, even if it’s one which is considered abhorrent*, but preaching one thing and doing another is not only crass, but also highly inappropriate. But otherwise, outing is a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
Gossip isn’t in the public interest. Blatant hypocrisy is.
* So long, of course, as you accept that people are equally entitled to express their disgust in that view.