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    Long Way 2 Go

    Okay, I wasn’t going to write anything more about Mark Foley–trying to keep the herbed chicken and ratatouille baguette down, you know?–but Michelle Malkin has a post that’s full of links and has, I think, the best-pitched response I’ve seen so far to the whole thing:

    What I am hearing from some conservatives inclined to pooh-pooh Foley’s behavior and carry on about Barney Frank instead does not sit well with me. You can’t possibly read Foley’s communications with minors that have been disclosed so far–including his attempts to rendezvous with one–and dismiss them as merely “naughty e-mails.”

    At this point, I think the GOP is making a mistake banging the drum so hard over the apparent far left/MSM orchestration of the story. However long the other side sat on the e-mails and IMs, the fact is that Mark Foley–and Mark Foley alone–is responsible for giving his enemies something to spring upon his campaign in the first place.

    It’s interesting that so many of the same people who seem fond of referring to everyone under the age of thirty as “children” whose unworldliness must be preserved by any means necessary have taken, this weekend, to acting as if nothing short of “Lay me down and f**k me, stud!!!!” crossed the line into inappropriate sexual content. As Michael and one of the people Malkin cites say, whether Foley planned to close the deal isn’t the only, or even the primary, issue. Flirtation from a powerful adult mentor, with recommendations and network access to offer or withhold, is not in the same category as flirtation from one’s prom date.

    And yet…and yet…calling this “child abuse” (as Malkin approves of) unsettles me. This is not an apologia for Foley, mind you; assuming things are as they appear, he’s done nothing illegal, but he deserves a ruined reputation and an end to his political future. Yes, I know–I’m a childless gay guy who lives abroad and doesn’t know what it’s like for parents, et c. But it seems reasonable to expect people who are parents to know the difference between a Capitol Hill internship and church camp.

    They should also know the individual adolescents they’ve been rearing for a decade and a half. Washington is an exploitative place in many ways, including plenty that are non-sexual. A teenager who is still psychologically a child shouldn’t be permitted to spend a semester there away from parental supervision.

    Added on 4 October: So Foley’s team of handlers appears to be going for the Victimization Triple Crown–the Alkie Derby, Gayness, and the Molestation Stakes. It’s a shame to have to be so cynical, and it’s not the literal statements that make me suspicious. If it’s true that Foley was molested as a child, it must indeed have been traumatizing, and it’s certainly plausible that the pressures of his double life drove him to bona fide alcoholism. But the timing of these revelations (which Foley himself may have little to do with by this point) still smacks of responsibility-dodging, suggesting as they do that the man was simply overwhelmed by his inner demons. (And no, of course, I don’t consider homosexuality a proper source of torment in and of itself, but there are plenty in the viewing audience who do.)

    Added on 5 October: Thanks to Eric for the link and the (excessive) compliment. He has a lot of his own thoughts and more links to other people’s, as usual; his focus is on the thought-policing angle:

    Thus, the Foley scandal does what ordinary “outing” could not have possibly done. It emboldens those in the GOP for whom homo-loathing is a bread-and-butter issue, and if things go the way the activists want, maybe some of them will call for witch hunts. (According to the predictable meme of restoring morality or something.)

    That’ll teach the cowards in the closet who their friends are!

    Whenever two apparent adversaries agree with each other, it worries me. Right now, I see agreement along the following lines:

    RESOLVED: Gays do not belong in the Republican Party.

    But there’s still hope for these people who hate themselves. If they convert now, it’s not too late.

    Why, the libertarian apostates will welcome them with open arms! (Aren’t they forgetting that former leftists who become libertarians are already apostates?)

    Such condescension is a bit hard to take.

    In my view, identity politics–especially the “self hatred” meme in conjunction with “outing”–makes non-conforming gay citizens afraid to voice what they think.

    That’s a first step towards not being allowed to think what they think.

    Well, I do think that it’s still people’s own responsibility if they don’t say what they think needs to be said. Still, it’s sad that you can so readily come off as a brave non-conformist for being openly gay and republican (or Republican, or conservative, or libertarian).

    7 Responses to “Long Way 2 Go”

    1. Zak says:

      Look, these guys Foley was emailing were 16 to 18. Maybe underage, but definitely not children.

      This isn’t to say that what he did wasn’t wrong, but it certainly wasn’t pedophilia–a blatantly erroneous term bandied about way too readily–and it wasn’t child abuse either. These people were young adults. For most of history they would have been considered full adults.

    2. submandave says:

      Amen. I am so tired of all the talk of “pædophile sex scandal” and “child molester” when there is (to date) no actual sex involved and the supposed victims were sexually mature, albeit young, individuals. If nothing else, the rabid attacks from the left are doing more to reinforce the “gay = pædophile” stereotype than Phelps has ever done.

    3. Maria says:

      Why doesn’t someone label it for what it is: sexual harassment. I don’t know that Foley broke any laws…he was definitely inappropriate. Everything else I have to say has all ready been said.

      Well, maybe not everything–it is unfortunate that the issue of being molested as a teenager is being tangled up in the “explanation” of why he did what he did. It’s too bad he couldn’t just come out, apologize for his poor judgement, resign, and get his ass into counseling…messy, messy, life is so messy–especially when you’re in the spotlight.

      Anyway, ’nuff said. (For now). 😉

    4. Portia says:

      Drudge report is saying now they were both “legal”

      Also, what’s been making me want to scream is exactly that. Perhaps because of being raised in Europe, (where the laws now are the same) I find this “he’s eighteen, now he’s legal. Yesterday at seventeen he wasn’t” mind set BIZARRE.

      There is a world of difference between a predator who goes after pre-pub or barely pub and someone who might have made a mistake about someone else’s age, male or female. And many sixteen year olds look eighteen. Or twenty.

      All this said, there’s something singularly unatractive about a — old meaning — chicken hawk. And Mark Foley strikes me as unlovely. And even if his correspondents were over 18, probably a predator on the level Clinton was a predator. (Though using power and influence to get laid is also only a sin in our very civilized age. Normal procedure through most of history.)

      Still… not exactly the stuff of witch hunts. Or it shouldn’t be. And I don’t like it.

      And now, gentlemen, I’m going to go read the newest Pratchett arrived today in my mailbox. :)


    5. Alan says:

      It is comments like this

      the Alkie Derby, Gayness, and the Molestation Stakes

      that led computer labs to ban drinks.

    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, we all seem to agree (or at least, I assume Alan will agree after he wipes his mouth). One interesting anthropological point raised by Portia: I do think that having cut-offs that are recognized by the community can be a good thing. Arbitrary to a certain degree, yes, but meaningful; otherwise such rights of passage at designated ages wouldn’t be nearly universal. Granted things aren’t quite so ceremonial in America: I grew up in one of those environments in which it was common for parents to tell their fractious children, “You can make your own rules when you’re eighteen, but now you’re under MY roof.” It was always in the back of your mind that you had time to take on an adult sense of responsibility gradually and as new competencies came naturally to you…but that at a recognized point you were supposed to be ready to be on your own.

    7. When “outing” isn’t enough

      it is hard to deny the sweet, sweet justice of Republicans being politically damaged by a lurid sex scandal in Washington. — Glenn Greenwald. Yeah, and it’s also hard to deny the irresistible nature of the Foley “pedophile sex scandal.”…

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