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September 29, 2006

Republican Mark Foley resigns from Congress over emails to underage staffer

News_bannerRepublican congressman Mark Foley, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, will not seek re-election after being caught sending creepy emails to a 16-year-old staffer.

Will a failed pick-up for a Republican mean a successful pick-up for the Democrats?

Update: ABC has the instant messages. Julia reports that the concern trolls are keepin' it real on ABC's blog.

 

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One of the weekend's stranger news stories concerned the Floridan politician Mark Foley. Foley, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, just resigned following allegations that he had sent sexually explicit emails to under-age (which in th... [Read More]

Comments

And if two 10 year old boys have sex together, it is homosexuality or pedophilia?

No, parse, you just plain don't get it. It's not about whether I'd consider the sexual act moral, it's about the ages of the people involved. Children do not have fully formed sexual identities, and cannot legally consent to sexual relations. That's not to say youthful exploration is one child abusing another, but it is to say that when an adult uses a child for sexual purposes it is a fundamentally different action than an act between two adults. If you can't understand that I have to worry about your mental state, quite frankly.
Pedophilia is an entirely different form of sexuality, and your desire to link it to homosexuality, and now heterosexuality, is offensive. You're dancing around so much it's hard to figure out what your problem is, but stop saying sexual desire for children is the same as sexual desire for an adult. It isn't.

The last question's the easiest: minors who have sex with each other aren't pedophiles. Some people just start earlier than others. Even 30-year-olds who have sex with 16-year-olds aren't necessarily pedophiles.

About pedophiles' attractions, nobody's talking specifically about the heterosexuality of people who sexually abuse children of the opposite sex. Obviously, you can talk about heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual pedophilia (and you'll end up discovering that the vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual, even in that sense).

But you can't define things in any way you want. I'm pretty sure the analytic philosopher around here can confirm this: definitions don't exist in a vacuum. You can do trivial things like define "bachelor" to mean "unmarried adult male," but defining "unmarried" and "adult" (and increasingly even "male") requires a gigantic body of sociological knowledge. Similarly, defining homosexuality requires you to know that some people are attracted to people of the same sex, how this attraction works, what gay and lesbian cultures are, and a thousand other things.

You can invent a word, say "blick," take a random set of 1 billion living people, and say that these people have blickness and the rest don't. You can even define it for future generations, for example by saying blickness is dominant (if you have at least one blick parent, you're blick). But it won't mean anything, just like your expanded definition of homosexuality.

Similarly, defining homosexuality requires you to know that some people are attracted to people of the same sex, how this attraction works, what gay and lesbian cultures are, and a thousand other things.

Well, you can't define homosexuality, then, because we don't understand how the attraction of people to the same sex works.

I think what you are defining is homosexual identity. I think it makes sense to define homosexual acts without any reference to identity, desire or attraction. It would make perfect sense to me to say that heterosexuals could engage in homosexual acts. Men in prision, for example, who don't have access to women, can engage in homosexual acts, and I don't think it necessarily impacts on their sexual identity.

If you want to say "(homosexual) pedophiles aren't gay," I think you have a worthwhile argument. The reference is not to sexual acts but sexual identities.The point would be that enormous differences between pedophile homosexuals and androphile homosexuals are far more important than the fact that male-on-male sex was an element of both identites.

But I think it's worthwhile having an identification of sexual acts as well. That's why it's coherent to say that animals engage in homosexuality.

So you have the fact that some homosexual acts involve men sexually abusing children. Does that tell you anything at all about homosexuals who don't abuse children? No, it doesn't. Is there a concerted attempt by homophobes to convince people that the activities of people who engage in morally objectionable homosexual acts are indicative as gay people as a group? Absolutely. But I don't think the best response is to claim that sexual acts that occur between two males are not homosexual simply on the grounds that they are morally objectionable.

Parse, you originally argued that Foley wasn't creepy because he's gay, and attraction to the barely legal is an integral part of gayness.

In your earlier comments you seemed to be arguing that there's nothing creepy about a middle-aged man soliciting sex from a boy in his mid-teens because that's just what gay people do. I don't know whether you think it's creepier for a middle aged man to solicit sex from a 16-year-old girl.

Attraction to 16-year-olds isn't creepy, per se. It's normal and human to find other post-pubescent humans sexually attractive. The lizard brain doesn't make fine-grained cultural distinctions about when an adolescent becomes a full-fledged adult member of society.

Acting on those desires is almost guaranteed to be creepy, however. Just like bosses who sleep with their employees are virtually guaranteed to be creepy, or American sex tourists in Asia are virtually guaranteed to be creepy. Good people with power wield it responsibly. Any ethical adult instinctively understands the authority they wield over much younger people, just in virtue of being a "grown-up". As geoduck said above, kids are socialized to defer to people their parents' age.

I notice cute 16-year-old boys all the time, but I have the decency to leave the poor kids alone! I'm not a chicken hawk.

It's normal and human to find other post-pubescent humans sexually attractive. The lizard brain doesn't make fine-grained cultural distinctions about when an adolescent becomes a full-fledged adult member of society.

Lizard brain about sums it up.

If you can get past baby faces unmarked by experience and vapid conversation, I guess teenagers might be attractive. At 52 years old though, I mean . . . really.

Hysterical to see Hastert, Boehner, and the rest of the GOP spinning like dervishes trying to get their stories straight. Doesn’t make up for the Senate shitcanning the constitution last week, but it’s awfully good entertainment. Almost wish I had a TV to see how FOX news is laundering this mess.

 
I doubt the Republicans would be so upset if Mark Foley had sexually harassed just the female pages, instead.

They didn't mind George W Bush impregnating a 15-year-old girl.

And there was no such uproar about George W Bush trying to get a 14-year-old girl drunk.

In fact, George W Bush is treated like a Messiah, a Prophet, and the Second Coming of Christ.

So Mark Foley's only mistake was in the gender of his targets.

Don't you all feel like sending your kids off to be Congressional pages now?

After all, these members of Congress are the great people we trust to guide our nation along the path of righteousness.

Along with the aforesaid George W Bush, of course.
 

The lizard brain doesn't make fine-grained cultural distinctions about when an adolescent becomes a full-fledged adult member of society.

Just out of curiosity, if I don't find lizards attractive, does it mean my lizard brain is malfunctioning?

Parse, you originally argued that Foley wasn't creepy because he's gay, and attraction to the barely legal is an integral part of gayness.

Linday, that wasn't my argument at all. I didn't say Foley wasn't creepy. In fact, I said "Yes, Foley is a hypocrite. He is creepy. But the messages themselves are not. And that's what I've been saying all along. "

My original argument was Foley certainly deserves to be pilloried for hypocrisy, but the emails are "creepy" only if you think any adult male with an interest in teenage boys is creepy.

So, if I could change it to "any adult male acting on an interest in teenage boys is creepy" you and I would be in agreement. And you think Oscar Wilde is creepy. That love apparently still should not speak its name, at least when you are around.

You said that, and then you said "And that would be, I suspect, many, many gay men."

Quite ironic how the poor of Katrina were left to starve and die, but Bush’s friends get concert tickets and a free meal.

Not ironic at all, just bloody typical.

Yes, Alon, I said I suspected many, many gay men would be attracted to adolescents. Since Lindsay wrote "It's normal and human to find other post-pubescent humans sexually attractive," I don't suspect she would have a strong disagreement with that.

If your tolerance for gay men extends only to those who don't experience sexual attraction to adolescents, then I would suggest your tolerance for gay men is rather shallow. Along with Oscar Wilde, you would have no use for that creepy Allen Ginsberg, or that creepy Andre Gide. Creepy Pee-Wee Herman, and Michelangelo, and Walt Whitman, and Paul Cadmus, and William Burroughs, and Horatio Alger, and Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bayard Rustin. So many creeps.

If you define pederasty as exclusively homosexual, then it's a type of homosexual behavior, in the same way that if you made up a word that meant heterosexual child abuse, it would be a type of heterosexual behavior.

That's trivially true, but so what? This is nothing but quibbling about the definitions of words. It says nothing about the tendencies of homosexuals or heterosexuals in general, or about what is or is not OK.

Yes, Alon, I said I suspected many, many gay men would be attracted to adolescents. Since Lindsay wrote "It's normal and human to find other post-pubescent humans sexually attractive," I don't suspect she would have a strong disagreement with that.

If you can't see a difference between finding someone attractive and pestering people with privacy-invading questions, look around this blog for my comments; you won't find me cyber-catcalling Lindsay, or asking her sexual questions. Then go to Feministing and again confirm that I don't harass any of the bloggers. That's the difference between normal and creepy.

If your tolerance for gay men extends only to those who don't experience sexual attraction to adolescents, then I would suggest your tolerance for gay men is rather shallow.

Please decide: are you or are you not making the argument that it's okay for 50-year-old men to sexually harass 16-year-olds provided that they're males?

Alon, I didn't say I suspected "many, many gay males" pester people with privacy invading questions. I said I suspected many, many gay males find teenage boys attractive.

No, I'm not making the argument that it's OK for 50 year old men to sexually harass 16 years olds, regardless of gender. I made the argument that the contents of the messages between Foley and the ex-page don't appear to me to rise to the level of sexual harassment. I think people who do find them to be examples of sexual harassment draw that conclusion because they think any expressed sexual attraction from an adult man to a adolescent boy is inappropriate. That's been my consistent point throughout this exchange.

I think a worthwhile, mutually-beneficial sexual relationship between and adult and an adolescent is possible. I think a significant number of gay men would be interested in such a relationship. I don't think expressing this opinion means that all gay men are pedophiles, or engage in sexual immoral behavior, or supports the position of people who do believe that.

The page shouldn't have to stand trial for the content of his messages: certain relationships are inappropriate based on the power differential involved, and this is one of them. And I've no problem saying the responsibilty for recognizing this falls completely, in this case, on the shoulders of the powerful congressman and legal adult whose special province happened to be the sexual victimization of minors.

I made the argument that the contents of the messages between Foley and the ex-page don't appear to me to rise to the level of sexual harassment.

Greenwald: "The page in question complained bitterly, labelled the conduct "sick sick sick," and his parents called Rep. Alexander to demand that this harassment stop."

Parse,

I think you should consider the meaning of the word "consent," "equality," and "independence" -- particularly in light of republican political philosophy and the political philosophy written about contractual relationships. (circa late 18th century.)

People enter into relationships with the state. People also enter into relationships with each other, for various reasons which may include marriage, labor, and, of course, sexual behavior.

Certain people are not considered old enough to 'consent' to various acts which include sex, marriage and various types of contractual relationships.

The abililty to enter into a "consensual" contractual relationship requires that person enter it on a (at least some what) equal and independent basis.

For example, if a 50-year-old was to marry a 16-year-old, I would find it morally wrong, because I would not consider that 16-year-old to be able to "consent" in a meaningful way.

In our society, a 16-year-old is not yet "independent" or "equal" to a 50-year-old in a meaningful way.

Our society has adjusted these "age of consents" over the years. At some points they have been very young.

Anyways -- in the modern era, where education is so important, I certainly do not consider a 16-year-old either "equal" enough or "independent" enough to enter into this sort of relationship with a 50-year-old.


(Think of this another way: Should a 16-year-old girl be able to sell her eggs to an infertile woman? Why or why not?

Should a 16-year-old girl contract out her uterus to an infertile couple? Let's say her family is poor and her mother needs an operation? Let's say they don't have health care? Or let's just say she needs money for college and doesn't want to take out student loans? Should the state, society, and her parents, allow her to do this? Why or why not?)

At this point, I think it becomes clear, how the political concepts of "independence", "equality" and "substantive consent" all come into play.

For another example, how independent, equal, or capable of "substantive consent" were those child prostitutes in the Reagan/Bush White House?

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