Should The GMP Discuss Politics?

In response to Tom Matlack, Mark Ellis wonders whether straying into politics may hurt The Good Men Project.

Dear Tom,

Your post yesterday about  Rick Santorum was a good illustration of why I think partisan politics is a slippery slope for the site.

GMP asks contributors to submit honest essays and creative nonfiction in a forum which will encourage debate but ostensibly be kept free of hate coming from any point on the political spectrum. The comments of Daniel were most welcome, he really nailed it. Gays, cross-dressers, and transsexuals all post with the sense that they will be free of hateful judgments, and that’s how it should be. But Daniel pointed out that there seems to be a blind spot in the moderation when it comes to Republicans.

If that’s the way you want to go, that’s fine–I’m no stranger to that scene. You may have a need to establish or reaffirm your progressive credentials. Perhaps funding is even on the line. There are so many things contributors don’t know and don’t need to know. Believe me, I understand funding–my highest paying writing gig ended when our investors pulled out in 2008. I also understand the ugliness of partisan politics–I am paid to do battle in that arena.

I also understand that Rick Santorum is particularly reprehensible to progressives for his stand on gay marriage. But remember, President Obama is particularly reprehensible to some conservatives for his vote for partial-birth abortions, which Newt characterized in last night’s debate as “infanticide.”

It’s a tough issue, one of the toughest of our times. If you come down strongly on either side of the spectrum you’ll lose readers–although given the site demographics and ideology probably less if you stay the progressive course. The only thing I might suggest is a dedicated GMP Politics page, separate from the humanist cultural dialogues going on on the rest of the site. That way folks can click knowing what they are getting into. But in my opinion, given the overarching ideology of the site, that would soon devolve into a left-wing choir practice infested by hateful trolls.

Hate is not satire, as claimed by some on the Santorum threads. Thanks for listening.


Editor’s Note: What do you guys think? Should The Good Men Project venture into the territory of politics? Leave us a comment and tell us why or why not.

About Mark Ellis

Portland journalist and writer Mark Ellis is the author of  Ladder Memory: Stories from the Painting Trade


  1. Wyjątkowym akcjonariuszem MTU Mojego Firmy Polis S.I. jest STU Stąd Hestia S.Zaś., jakie istnieje jednym z dwóch najogromniejszych towarzyst ubezpieczeniowych w Polsce. To pierwotne plus największe towarzystwo, które zaistniało w przesłankach gospodarki kapitalistycznej, tj. po roku 1989. Jego żywą pozę na rynku testują plony skarbowe zaś spore gratyfikacyj.

  2. Liberty Direct owo następne drużyna, jakie szuka kolejnych przychodów fasadowość macierzystym, internetowo-telefonicznym targiem. Po zaczęciu sprzedaży ubezpieczeń gwoli typków

  3. Bezprzykładnym akcjonariuszem MTU Mojego Towarzystwa Ubezpieczeń S.A. istnieje STU Ergo Hestia S.Tudzież., jakie jest jednym z dwóch najogromniejszych ubezpieczycieli w Polsce. To zwierzchnie natomiast największe obecność, które zaistniało w warunkach gospodarki kapitalistycznej, tj. po roku 1989. Jego ciemną pozę na rynku testują plony skarbowe również liczne premij.

  4. Poszczególnym akcjonariuszem MTU Mojego Instytucje Polis S.I. jest STU Ergo Hestia S.Zaś., które jest jednym spośród dwóch największych towarzyst ubezpieczeniowych w Polsce. Owo początkowe i największe asysta, jakie powstało w warunkach gospodarki kapitalistycznej, tj. po roku 1989. Jego żywą pozę na rynku usankcjonują rezultaty skarbowe oraz spore kompensat.

  5. Ciekawy artykuł powinien ujrzeć światło dzienne. Już dawno nie czytałem nic tak ciekawego. $%^ddd

  6. Mark Ellis says:

    Thanks everyone, for weighing in. Daniel, you just happened on your very first comment to touch on something I’ve been wondering about for awhile: will the GMP make political discussion a regular part of the mix, and will it get ugly (like I believe the Santorum post and comments were)? Of course I don’t make these calls, but it seems as if the consensus might be that folks want some political discussion on the site. Heather has it right; as long as there is a mix of respectfully argued opinion, and no group or ideological position is made to feel unwelcome here, let’s do it!

  7. yes GMP should continue to discuss (American) politics. that Tom expresses his political opinions, does not prevent people with opposing views from writing comments or opposing articles for GMP.

    we’ve seen it in the discussions about gender that GMP publishes opinion pieces from across the debate spectrum. so i have no reason to doubt that the publishing team would not continue the same practice for submitted political articles

  8. Daniel Thompson says:


    First of all, I know that this may make me seem a bit of a dork, but I just have to say that I’m pretty jazzed to go from posting my first comment to being referenced in a “real live GMP article” in the span of 24 hours.

    Anyway, I’ll try to keep this a little shorter than my comments on the “Saint-orum” article, but I wanted to way in quickly on the Editor’s Note – the question of whether The Good Men Project should venture into politics or not. Personally, I feel that the answer is a resounding “Yes!” I’m happy that this is a conversation that Tom was starting, and I don’t think he should have to carry the banner of dispassionate objectivity just because he runs this site – I don’t want to demand that anyone have a particular opinion more in keeping in my own, but I am happy to say that I do feel free here to suggest to others that there may be better ways of expressing their opinions here to keep people coming and keep the dialogue going.

    I know that, realistically speaking, engaging in a dialogue about political figures today will ignite a few fires, start a few fights, and bring out the worst in us at times. But *most* of the topics here (and probably especially the most popular) are touchy subjects of race, gender, feminism, ethics, sex… etc. People have fought about such things pretty fiercely at times here already and I don’t think that they’re done. That said, I have seen a few people who’ve really seemed to connect. The first example that comes to my mind is writer Joanna and commenter Danny. There are some great pieces here about their initial feuds and the work that they did afterwards to get past their fight and to really deeply and fundamentally change their perceptions about certain types of people. I don’t think I can overstate how rare it is that that ever happens in life, but it happened here.

    I don’t expect that lifelong Republicans and Democrats will all be inspired to see how “there was a reasonable middle ground all along…” In fact, I don’t believe that there always is a middle ground at all, or that the “right” position is always in that mythical middle ground sweet spot. But politics *matters* and so I think that its important that The GMP *try* to tackle what different politicians are saying and what the repercussions of different political positions are for us as men, as women, and as citizens. I think that doing so will be an opportunity for many to understand the humanity of their opponents and perhaps their own part in perpetuating the cycle that hurts us all so that together we can do something about it… If we try having that discussion we *may* fail, but if we avoid that discussion we *will* fail. (Fail myself I guess for keeping that comment short – Sorry!)

  9. Anthony Zarat says:

    I was shocked by the gratuitous venom in the Santorum article. However, I assumed that “shock” was the intent.

    For me, picking a political party comes down to picking the victims who most need protecting.
    * Republicans unfairly demonize homosexuals.
    * Democrats unfairly demonize boys and fathers.

    I’ll hold my nose and vote republican. No Republican candidate suggests that gay people should be forced to take medication to “cure” them of their homosexuality. In contrast, Democrats continue to push for forced administration of Ritalin and amphetamine to “cure” boys of their “masculinity.”

    Democratic hate of boys is far more vehement than Republican hate of homosexuals, and the number of victims is far greater. An easy decision, really.

    • Should I let this comment go? Yes. Am I going to let it go? No…because I wouldn’t be me if I did. 🙂 So first let me be very clear – I’m not trying to ask you to change your political opinion. Not at all. Seriously. I’m not. My hand to Ellen DeGeneres (the closest thing I have to a deity. Joking). Okay:

      No one in the Republican camp is trying to force people to pop a pill to cure homosexuality because no pill exists. Instead they promote ex-gay therapy…pray the gay away, so to speak. Hell…Bachman’s husband was a psychologist (or therapist or whatever) who “councilled” gay people on how to theoretically become straight. They would all of them like to repeal the ban on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell…and they all support DOMA. (The one exception to all this is Ron Paul, of course).

      I would say that the Republican hate of LGBT people is equally as destructive as the Democratic hate of masculinity. And as for the number of victims…well we’d need stats on the number of boys misdiagnosed with ADD and ADHD versus the number LGBT people in the US…and as far as I know, those stats do not exist.

      So yeah, I’d like to reiterate that I am not trying to convince you to change how you vote. I’m just pointing out that both sides use hyperbolic rhetoric and policy in equally harmful ways.

      (This sounds familiar…was I talking to you about this on the Romney taxes article? 🙂 )

      • Julie Gillis says:

        I agree with you here Heather 100%. If there was a pill, you can bet the Repubs would encourage parents to give it to their kids and half those kids are BOYS. The bullying of boys due to LGBT issues is huge and no one deals with that.

        I know more and more girls in schools that are being “encouraged” to take ADD meds (not ADHD, but ADD). The issue for me is less about boys and more about controlling how people are in schools/corps.

        The republican side of things would encourage control too.

        • Anthony Zarat says:

          The issue that binds MRAs and the LGBT community together is the experience of state sponsored (legal) dehumanization.

          Every infant-boy who is mutilated at birth, every male child who is dehumanized and drugged in school, every young man who is beast-silenced by female teachers, every father who is dispossessed in family court — we know exactly what if feels like when government regards some of its citizens as less-than-human.

          The politician who I will vote for in November is a man I despise, because of his LGBT dehumanization campaign. I act based on what I believe to be the lesser evil.

          If there were a “pill” that anaesthetized the sensual part of the human brain, rendering LGBT people emotionally dead and unable to have feelings for any person at all, I KNOW that Republicans would be pushing for mandatory administration of this pill. Republicans are not “lesser evil” candidates. They are “lesser evil” because no such pill exists. In the case of boys, the vehicle for destruction is a real and present danger to their lives.

          I have always understood that government sponsored dehumanization is a trump issue, an issue in a completely separate category from all others, an issue of fundamentally greater importance, such that all other issues are diminished and irrelevant when this occurs. The fact that, in 2012 America, there is no political party that does not embrace some form of intentional state sponsored dehumanization is profoundly depressing for me. However, it is also clear to me that the greatest harm will come from Democratic administration — in part because the number of victims is greater (4.5 million), and in part because the technology exists to do great harm (Ritalin/amphetamine).

          • “They are “lesser evil” because no such pill exists.”

            Yeah and what I’m trying to tell you is that the supposed therapy that is promoted is just as bad as a pill. Homophobic bullying and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people is also a very real danger to people’s lives – many of them teens or younger.

            Again, I’m not trying to convince you to change who you vote for. I’m just trying to convince you that the threat to LGBT people is as real and dangerous as anything else.

      • I’m sorry, but what is the ‘Democratic hate of masculinity’? First of all, there is a wide gap between elected leaders crafting laws which effect all of us wholesale, and individual parents, whether you consider them misguided or not, making healthcare decisions for their children. Comparing these activities is illogical.

        Second of all, I know plenty of conservatives who jam their kids up on medication. I’d like to see one shred of evidence a person is more likely to medicate their children if they are a Democrat, or tend to vote democrat.

        • Anthony Zarat says:

          Here is the evidence, Jake DiMare. I am a lifelong Democrat by the way. I will hold my nose and vote Republican this year, because of this issue alone. Democrats have joined hands with feminists, and are waging an all out extermination war against boys and fathers. No person of conscience can vote for this.

          H.R. 1170: Child Medication Safety Act of 2003 — Sponsor: Rep. Max Burns [R-GA12]
          “To protect children and their parents from being coerced into administering a controlled substance in order to attend school, and for other purposes.”
          => Bill scuttled by Democrats, see “”

          S. 891: Child Medication Safety Act of 2007 — Sponsor: Sen. James Inhofe [R-OK]
          “A bill to protect children and their parents from being coerced into administering a controlled substance in order to attend school, and for other purposes.”
          => Bill scuttled Democrats and by President Barak Obama

          Result: Out of every four boys, one will be forced to take dangerous psychotropic drugs as a condition of attending school (amphetamine or Ritalin).

          When our descendants look back on this dark moment in history, they will question how a supposedly “civilized” society could force 4.5 million children (90% boys) to take dangerous drugs in order to “cure” them of the disease of “masculinity”. Anyone who votes democratic is complicit in this madness.

          • Again, your logic is false.

            “To protect children and their parents from being coerced into administering a controlled substance in order to attend school, and for other purposes.”

            Doesn’t this sound a little ‘Nanny state” to you? “Coerced”? What a waste of time. Millions of Americans out of work and Republicans are trying to protect parents from being ‘bullied’ by their schools?

            You know how to protect parents from being ‘coerced’? Encourage them to pull their heads out of their asses, turn off Fox news and get educated on their children’s health and behavior so they can make informed decisions.

            How I long for the days when the Republicans were ACTUALLY for a small federal government.

            • Anthony Zarat says:

              What? Government size? Nanny state? What are you talking about? What makes you think I care about any of these issues?

              I tell you that 4.5 million boys are forced to take personality killing drugs to cure them of the disease of masculinity — and you reply with nanny state?

              There are many issues that confront this country. Unemployment is certainly important. I am sorry that your electoral decisions cannot be straight forward and simple. If you want to weigh economic issues more heavily than the moral issue that I discussed (the Democratic campaign to engineer an educational, economic, and healthy catastrophe for boys), that is fine.

              Don’t blame me for pointing out that the democratic party has covered itself in the blood of boys and fathers. These are the facts. Deal with them however you want to.

    • Nathan Lemmon says:

      You wrote: Democrats continue to push for forced administration of Ritalin and amphetamine to “cure” boys of their “masculinity.” Well, that’s just nonsense. People (mostly parents) who are frustrated by their sons’ inability to behave in school turn to whatever means they have at their disposal – short of beating them senseless. Parents don’t build enough activity into boys lives. That could be a problem. To say that the use of drugs to combat ADHD comes from “Democrats” is more telling of your own prejudices than anything else. In fact, your statement has no meaning at all outside of an expression of your own prejudice and the fact that you have bought into the story of the rugged individual that the Republicans have been selling for decades. Here’s a secret: They do it to control you economically. It’s really that simple.

  10. So, what are the rules now? Can we write about our thoughts on political leaders with regards to ethics? You know, like whether they are ‘good men’? Sounds a little facist to me. My suggestion is to stick with Fox news if you don’t want to hear real people criticize the GOP circus.

  11. Justin Cascio says:

    You talk about Republicans and gays as if they’re somehow similar. You might have a point: they’re both very hard to cure with prayer, for example. But other than that, I have to say that I stand with Tom Matlack, and if you follow me around the GMP, this is not a common occurrence. We work at each other in some gnarly ways, for both our benefit, I’m sure. Santorum (or “Saint”-orum), and Tom’s essay on it, I have mostly avoided as loathsome in the extreme. I was genuinely afraid that Tom liked Santorum’s politics and was about to say so. If not for your essay being brought to my attention, I would have skipped it altogether. Now that I’ve read it, I can sleep soundly tonight. It isn’t the same thing at all to enjoy sodomy as it is to want to control the reproductive rights of women. One of them is a sin against half of humanity. The other one is just some people’s idea of a good time. If only Santorum, in all of his studies of sex and reproduction (I understand he finds gay sex particularly worthy of study), could figure out the difference.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Thank you Justin. Though your comment “It isn’t the same thing at all to enjoy sodomy as it is to want to control the reproductive rights of women” made me think that while not apples to apples, controlling someone’s right to marry, love, enjoy pleasure with each other may come from the same internal value system as controlling women’s right to access accurate comprehensive healthcare (and yes prenatal testing is very important), birth control (because no one is stopping insurance companies from being covered for Viagra), and how they plan their reproductive lives. Which frankly, affects men as well as women.

      My particular disdain for Santorum and politicians like him is that they seem very very concerned with sexuality in such a regressive way. I’m sure I’d be seen as treating sexuality at a 180 to where the Right is concerned, but at least I am not in favor of making Rick Santorum act sexually in a manner I want. He’s free to live his romantic, marital and sexual live with his wife as he and she so choose. I’d never think to seek national legislation to make them behave in their bedrooms as I see fit.

      How my husband and I plan our pregnancies, our lovemaking and so forth really isn’t his business. And my marriage is far stronger when my friends and family who are gay or lesbian or trans, can receive equal protection under the law. I fail to see how that hurts anyone.

      In fact! The more wedding expenses, honeymoons, insurance policies, mortgages, birthing costs (not to mention how much raising a child puts into the economy), you’d think the fiscally conservative right wingers would be lining up at City Hall to let our brethren and sistren in for the nuptials! There’s money in it! 🙂

  12. Julie Gillis says:

    I will say though that though I find both poles of hate mongering irritating, I’m a bit sad to admit I enjoy seeing progressives step up the anger, sarcasm and such. Right Wing radio has been getting voters to froth and fume for decades. Lefties often think peace and collaboration is the way to go, and it should be, but we get smacked pretty hard when that happens. I guess it’s all war no matter what I want.

  13. Julie Gillis says:

    I think we as a country we do better if both sets of pundits (right and left) would engage in less hyperbole and more actual dialogue. I realize that there isn’t any money in that, nor web page hits on media sites owned by corporations with a vested interest in ramping up the vitriol.

    That’s always been true of politics though, yes? Calmness, rational discourse and empathy are the kryptonite to a successful political season.

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