How America loves a good sex scandal, and we allow it to consume all of our energies. Really, people, there are better things to talk about.
Still, it’s everywhere, and I can’t help but shake my head at the sheer hypocrisy of the Republicans (Foley sending explicit instant messages to pages was the Democrats’ fault how?). When the party that thinks that the only people who should be having sex at all are heterosexual married persons has something like this explode onto the scene, it’s really hard not to take a certain satisfaction in it. Anything that helps the Republicans lose control of Congress isn’t a terrible thing, in my book.
Still, lest we get swept away there some issues to consider. However lewd and inappropriate Foley’s pursuit of the pages was (and it was), Foley is not a child molester. Katha Pollitt in her latest Nation column makes this point beautifully. Thing is, sixteen is the age of consent in Washington, D.C. (and in several other states), thereby making such activities legal (barely). Foley is far too old for these young men, certainly, but it’s not like he went after twelve-year-old boys. The way I see it, the case here is one of harassment, not of pedophilia.
One of the things that bothered me the most about the whole Lewinsky kerfuffle was that those pushing for impeachment kept talking about Lewinsky like she was a child. She wasn’t. She was twenty-two, and a college graduate. Getting involved with Clinton might not have been the best decision she ever made, but she was old enough to make it. Now these pages are considerably younger, but let’s not forget that they had some agency here too.
So what Foley did might be legal, but I don’t think there are too many people who would call it healthy. Here I think we can look at the way society (and, unfortunately, particularly the religious right society Foley was serving) treats homosexuals as a contributing factor to his behavior. No one can escape themselves, something Foley tragically spent his whole life trying to do because he believes that what he is is an abomination. Who he is was bound to come out, and because he could not build healthy, loving relationships out in the open, he tried to build unhealthy, damaging ones in secret. That’s sad, and unfortunately, this issue won’t make the evening news.
So good American that I am, I’ve been watching the show and shaking my head at the Family Values Republicans, yet I am also reminded of one of the reasons why I’m a liberal in the first place. People need to be free to be who they are. It’s really as simple as that.