It’s used in politics and religion as well. One reason Spacey’s shenanigans stayed secret so long was his refusal to come out of the proverbial closet. There are defamation repercussions as well as social dynamics too complex to chart. It’s like gravity, the tide, and changing seasons. Several people he encountered kept silent because you don’t announce to the the world another person’s sexual orientation. Spacey hid behind that smokescreen—now we know it.
The tactic has been used before. Rob Bell remained silent on the belief of “Christ as our substitute” in his sermons; that irritated the evangelical community. Trump and Obama both avoided many issues; no one knows Trump’s true politics, then you have Obama’s ambiguous positions on religion and respect for America.
By not announcing which side they are on—or by not “flying their colors” as sailors might say—people can act, in some ways, like pirates: Avoid direct assault and sneak up close enough to do great damage. It’s an old tactic. But, thanks to Buzz Feed’s article A Pattern of Abuse, this tactic should be forever known as the “closet tactic”, though in all likelihood it will be known as the “Spacey tactic”.
I stand by my words last week, even with the revelations over the past week: Offering redemption is the best way to confront Spacey. He can’t be painted a villain until he flatly rejects the path to restoration—no matter how long and difficult that path is.
Just as you can’t “out” someone, to burn Spacey at the stake would be a sentencing from a guilty court and executioner. Netflix, cable networks, and a slue of others made millions off of a known-to-be perverse industry—and we gladly paid our monthly dues. If the religious right tries to burn Spacey at the stake, they will—one way or another—burn themselves with him.
We’ve all had our “closet tactic” moments. As kids we’d whine to mom and dad about “fairness” when we really just want more toys. As adults we whine to kids about “responsibility” when we really just want them to behave without us having to train them. Most of the time we don’t come out of our own various closets to admit what we really want—especially to ourselves. If someone calls us out on our huff-bluff, we respond with vengeance.
That’s one reason we hate Spacey so much.