October 1, 2006

"What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal."

Andrew Sullivan on Mark Foley:
[T]he news about Mark Foley has a kind of grim inevitability to it. I don't know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal. There are many still-closeted gay men in D.C., many of them working for a Republican party that has sadly deeply hostile to gay dignity. How they live with themselves I do not fully understand. But I have learned you cannot judge someone's soul from outside. That I leave to them and their God, and some I count as good friends and good people.
I know this is a religious scruple -- "Judge not, that you be not judged" -- but I hear very harsh judgment in what Sullivan writes about those who choose to keep their sexual orientation private. Sullivan's prose is flowery, but it's not much different from the familiar -- and comical -- way some folks spout criticisms and then tag on the phrase "I'm not judging." And "I leave to them and their God" -- how far is that from saying "Go to hell"?
What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I've read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty. While gays were fighting for thir basic equality, Foley voted for the "Defense of Marriage Act". If his resignation means the end of the closet for him, and if there is no more to this than we now know, then it may even be for the good. Better to find integrity and lose a Congressional seat than never live with integrity at all.
But I'm not judging! That's God's job.

Sullivan's hypothesis is: Keeping information about your sexual orientation private will corrupt you. His proof -- can you challenge it? -- is that he knows so many people and has seen so much. He's making a strong political argument: If you are gay, you must be open about it, and once you are open about it, you will be forced to support gay marriage. To make this argument, he's willing to imply that Foley's behavior toward a young subordinate is a manifestation of homosexuality. But many heterosexuals also pursue young subordinates. They are fully open about their sexual orientation, but somehow they do bad things too.

131 comments:

AllenS said...

Sullivan's full of crap. Foley was after underage boys, that's against the law. That's probably why he chose to stay in the "closet".

Paul Zrimsek said...
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Paul Zrimsek said...

"Integrity" seems to be less a matter of refraining from propositioning boys one-third one's own age than of agreeing with Sullivan about the DOMA.

Strangest simile ever: It was alo fueled by a conviction, as the 1980s darkened for so many gay men, that I had an actual responsibility to be out, and to advance the dignity of so many fighting literally for their lives. It was like being black in the 1950s.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't see why supporting gay rights is about being gay. The favored group is just as much challenged to recognized rights as the group that has a self-interest in having those rights recognized. If you fail to support what you stand to benefit from, you're willing to give up something you could have. Logically, you're in a more legitimate position to say no.

Doyle said...

The advantages or disadvantages of "the closet" in the abstract (and I think for a Republican congressman the former are far greater) are pretty much besides the point.

The issue is that he was known to have made unwelcome overtures to pages in 2005, and nothing was done about it. Well, they checked with the NRCC to gauge the electoral risk, but nothing that would keep young men from the fevered imagination of Maf54.

Sullivan is maybe onto something in that Foley clearly was trying to atone for his behavior by co-sponsoring legislation that criminalized it.

Self-hatred is a bitch.

So is being Dennis Hastert, Boehner, Alexander or Reynolds right now.

Dave said...

"To make this argument, he's willing to imply that Foley's behavior toward a young subordinate is a manifestation of homosexuality."

How does that follow from Sullivan's argument? I don't necessarily agree with Sullivan, but not being gay, I can't begin to understand what it means to be in the closet, out of the closet, or half-in, half-out.

PatCA said...

Sullivan is asking us to accept his huge assumption, that being in the closet causes pedophilia. McGreevy asks us to agree that being in the closet causes promiscuity. If those are not two of the most anti-gay sentiments ever...

Oh, but they're for gay marriage, so everything is okay.

Ann Althouse said...

And it's fallen out of fashion, but plenty of gay people used to reject marriage. Now it's an article of faith, and it's not a faith you get to decide whether you want to join. If you discover you're gay, you're forced to take on a whole set of a political opinions. That's awfully oppressive, the new oppression. Sullivan himself was oppressed in exactly this way for not taking the positions that supposedly went with being gay. He's worked successfully to change what the positions are, but he's using the same heavy-handed approach that was once used against him.

George said...

A few months ago in my town, a well-respected middle-aged married civic and church leader was arrested and is now in jail awaiting trial for attempting to carry out similar activities.

His "pathology" was not alleviated by his ability to marry a woman or to be wed for many years. His "pathology" would be the same if he were a homosexual. Both men are monsters--child molesters.

And if you need yet another reason to loathe The NY Times, consider its opinion piece this morning on this matter. (Sect 4, p.1)

The headline is "Thoughtless."

The text says, "Mr. Foley gets double bonus points for his helpful if imprudent use of electronic mail, which made it so easy to spread around the mirth and amusement and--oops, scratch that, we mean genuine sadness and compassion."

Whoopsy doodle! Just another "thoughtless" Congressman whose wacky mishaps spread "mirth and amusement."

gj said...

There is a difference between keeping something private, and keeping something secret. Public figures have every right to keep aspects of their personal lives private. This doesn't imply any self-destructiveness or hypocrisy but simply good boundaries.

Keeping things secret is a different matter altogether. Secretiveness implies shame, fear of discovery, and I believe ultimately lack of self-acceptance.

Being closeted as a gay person doesn't mean maintaining good boundaries and not oversharing about your personal life. It means hiding a central aspect of your identity. In the case of Republican legislators, the rationale for this is pretty clear: the party thinks that homosexuality is a disorder and actively disparages gay people.

Andrew Sullivan is talking about people who choose to live in hiding. Whether you're a Catholic Priest or a Republican legislator, once you've learned the habit of hiding, other disfunctions begin to follow.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I think Sullivan's comments should be read a little more broadly. You have to question what leads someone to spend his life pretending to be something he's not (e.g. heterosexual) and you have to consider the consequences of living one's life that way, both in terms of the comfort level you develop with lying and the energy you have to invest in disguise and fear which could be better spent elsewhere. The kind of gay man that ends up in the closet is probably more likely to be psychologically unstable and staying in the closet only exacerbates those problems.

Also, opposing DOMA is not equivalent to supporting same sex marriage.

Doyle said...

And it's fallen out of fashion, but plenty of gay people used to reject marriage. Now it's an article of faith, and it's not a faith you get to decide whether you want to join.

Ugh.

Restricting marriage to heterosexual couples is, IMHO, stupid and bigoted.

But when heterosexuals call for the Defense of Marriage, it at least has more internal consistency than when homosexuals do it.

Regardless, it's a stupid position, no matter who espouses it.

Ann Althouse said...

I think everyone is entitled to keep private facts private, and gay people don't deserve criticism any more than anyone else for embracing privacy. To say you'll probably become a twisted freak if you stay private puts a special burden on gay people. I think that's wrong. Let the individual decide.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I agree with Prof. Althouse that there is more logic to a politician too ashamed by his sexuality to admit it voting against gay rights that a closeted politician supporting gay rights.

Ann Althouse said...

Doyle: I disagree. Gay people have just as much right to oppose gay marriage as straight people do. Why isn't it more offensive for a straight person to be against it? They are denying access to something they're never going to need. Easy for them to say no.

Dave said...

"I think everyone is entitled to keep private facts private, and gay people don't deserve criticism any more than anyone else for embracing privacy. To say you'll probably become a twisted freak if you stay private puts a special burden on gay people. I think that's wrong. Let the individual decide."

Well this certainly makes sense. I remember reading an interview with Tony Kushner, the author of Angels in America and agent provocateur of gays in the 80s, and he was asked how great a threat Reagan was to gays. His response was something like "nowhere near the threat that closeted gays are to gays." I always thought that was a rather bizarre response

class-factotum said...

GJ,

I'm not sure how Catholic priests are relevant to this discussion, as they are supposed to be celibate, gay or straight. Until recently, there was no rule against ordaining gay men. They just had to promise to be celibate. Didn't matter that they were gay because they weren't going to be having sex anyhow.

Ann Althouse said...

Joseph: That's not quite what I said.

Joe R. said...

If those are not two of the most anti-gay sentiments ever..
It isn't anti-gay to say that not acknowledging your sexuality, at least too yourself, will increase the likelihood of you redirecting that sexaul desire to individuals who have a powerful incentive not to expose your 'shame', because you are in a position of power over them (priest, congressman, teacher etc.). I don't think you have to march in every pride parade and have to start every sentence with "Hello, I'm a homosexual." You don't have to tell everyone, or anyone else, but at least be honest with yourself.

PatCA said...

Joe, and others, you keep referring to him as a gay man. Is he gay or is he a pedophile?

If you say he is gay and provoked by secrecy and shame to pedophilia, on what evidence do you base that assertion?

Doyle said...

Ann -

You talked about how gays "used to reject marriage."

Whether or not gays want to get married is a separate question than whether they should have the right to.

As for whether gays have every right to oppose gay marriage, I think that's true. But "arguing against interest" can also look kind of silly, as it does in this case:

"Don't give us the right to marry. We don't just want to remain single, we don't want any alternative."

I'm not denying them the right to advocate this position, but it makes a lot less sense than:

"It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

Joseph Hovsep said...

I should have said "I agree with Prof. Althouse to the extent that...

Joe R. said...
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Old Dad said...

It seems like Foley wanted his privacy, and it seems like his life worked reasonably well. I'd speculate that most who knew him thought he was gay and had the good manners not to make it an issue. I know several gay men who aren't openly out, nor do they take great pains to conceal their sexuality. My mother's hair stylist is no flamer, and he's lived with the same guy for 20 years. No one I know cares.

Maybe it's ultimately better to be out, but we all make our own choices.

That said, Foley was an idiot to IM a page, let alone hit on one. Not exactly closeted behavior. Certainly reprehensible, though.

Joe R. said...

Is he gay or is he a pedophile?Well, since we've already established on the other thread that the age of consent in DC is 16, he isn't a pedophile.
I have never claimed he is gay. He could be gay, bi or just have a fetish for adolscent boys. I was responding to the overall point that not acknowledging your homesexuality (or bisexuality) leads to other problems. If he is gay, marrying a woman proably was a bad idea.

If I had to classify him, I would say he is the general 'dirty old man'. He should have stepped down, but he shouldn't spend time in jail (if everyone is right about the age of consent). If I had to guess his orientation, I'd say gay, but I don't know.

Ann Althouse said...

Doyle: "You talked about how gays "used to reject marriage." Whether or not gays want to get married is a separate question than whether they should have the right to."

You're missing my point. Back in the 1980s the dominant position among gay rights people was that legitimating gay marriage was the wrong goal. There was a strong critique of marriage then. It wasn't just that an individual didn't want to get marriage but that marriage was a heterosexist institution to be reviled. Maybe you don't remember this but I do, and surely Andrew Sullivan does, because he was harshly criticized for his "right wing" position.

LuteLib said...

sullivan's hypothesis isn't just addressing "keeping sexuality private."

there's a huge difference between those who are merely private about their sexuality, and those who feel intense shame about who they are. many of these anti-gay leaders (surprise!) get caught up in gay scandals (Jim West, Rep. Dreier, Rep. Schrock, Rep. Kolbe, Rep. Gunderson, Rep. Bauman, Rep. McCrery, Focus on the Family's Steve Wilsey, activist Stephen White).

sullivan's arguing that spending every day hating and suppressing who you are causes some pretty awful stuff, which made Foley sick in the head. however, sullivan seems to think that the closet = child molestation. that is dumb; it plays into the "gay people molest children!" thing. child abuse is likely caused by prior abuse -- something people also try to suppress. this doesn't fit into sullivan's thesis so he throws it out.

republican leaders obsessed with the gays? that's gay.
child molestation? that's sick.

Doyle said...

So there was a time when gays, presumably in some number, objected to having bestowed on them the right to marry?

Even if that were still a large group, and I don't think it is, so what?

Their argument still is: we don't want the right to marry, which I contend is silly.

Joseph Hovsep said...
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Joseph Hovsep said...

Its a fair point that gays can have legitimate reasons for opposing marriage rights, but its not the closeted gays who raise those arguments. It tends to be people criticising the flaws in the institution of marriage itself. Without investing any time researching, I'd be willing to bet Foley or any other closeted gay politician opposing gay rights did not defend their votes on the basis of feminist or queer critiques of marriage.

Ann Althouse said...

Chris: You (and Sullivan) equate chosing to remain private with self-hatred. That's not fair. There are many reasons for choosing privacy, and shame is only one of them. Ironically, you and Sullivan are trying to shame people out of their secrecy.

downtownlad said...

Chris: You (and Sullivan) equate chosing to remain private with self-hatred. That's not fair. There are many reasons for choosing privacy, and shame is only one of them. Ironically, you and Sullivan are trying to shame people out of their secrecy.

But it IS self-hatred. I'm sorry - but any gay person who is in the closet is self-loathing to some extent. Every single one of them.

Let's see. Andrew Sullivan has been in the closet before. I've been in the closet before. Pretty much every gay person in the world has been in the closet at one point. And if you talk to them, I think most of them would agree that there was a degree of self-loathing keeping them in.

As a gay man, Sullivan's post spoke the truth to me. He is not judging Foley at all, and you've entirely misread it. He knows the contortions that Foley has had to go through to remain in the closet, and how it eats away at you from the inside. Because you are straight, there is no way you can entirely understand what he's talking about, no matter how many gay people you know or have talked to about this.

downtownlad said...

I know several gay men who aren't openly out

Well if you know they're gay, then they ARE out. Unless you're just speculating that they're gay and you could be wrong. And you shouldn't be speculating, because it's none of your business, right????

If you've told one person you're gay, then you're officially out of the closet in my book. If you're keeping the secret to yourself, then you're in.

Ann Althouse said...

Doyle said..."So there was a time when gays, presumably in some number, objected to having bestowed on them the right to marry?"

Damn right! You'd better believe it. I sat through a job talk by a lawprof candidate who took an offer at a higher ranked law school than mine. He was so against the gay marriage movement that he proposed some strange process by which gay people should be able to vote on what litigation could be brought, so the majority could prevent the litigation seeking marriage rights. He was adamant about it. (I argued with him.) And he was sure the overwhelming majority of gay people did not want gay marriage. And you should look back at how Andrew Sullivan was treated when he first started talking about gay marriage. (Are you really young, forgetful, or just out of it?)

Doyle said...

I'm sorry - but any gay person who is in the closet is self-loathing to some extent. Every single one of them.

I don't think you can just assume this.

It's very conceivable that a gay person would feel no shame about it, but would choose to keep it private to avoid negative social or professional repercussions.

There's just no way to prove shame. Only shamelessness (see: Hinderaker, J.)

downtownlad said...

Ann has a point on the gay marriage issue.

But let's ask Foley in two years where he stands on the issue. McGreevey has already admitted that he was wrong, and opposed gay marriage while he was in office to hide the fact that he was gay.

downtownlad said...

It's very conceivable that a gay person would feel no shame about it, but would choose to keep it private to avoid negative social or professional repercussions.

In this day and age? No. Look if you live and Saudi Arabia and are worried about getting killed, fine - stay in the closet. But in 2006 in America, if you're not self-loathing, you shouldn't have a problem telling SOMEONE you're gay.

Maybe Foley was out to friends and family, but just wasn't out "at work". In which case, Sullivan will be wrong. But I doubt it. I bet Foley was lying to himself, even as he was sleeping with other men.

Been there, done that. I speak from experience.

Old Dad said...

downtownlad,

Can't quibble with your definition of "out," and it's no one's business where and how we get our jollies so long as it's legal and consensual, but we can't deny human nature.

I know two guys my age (old farts) who have lived together for 25 years and never been married. Neither one makes any attempt to hide their public lives. They play golf together, eat out, go to shows, etc. They've never told me or any of our social group that they are gay. They don't have to, and no one that I know cares one way or the other. It's human nature to speculate. It's another thing to gossip or to act on gossip.

downtownlad said...

To say you'll probably become a twisted freak if you stay private puts a special burden on gay people. I think that's wrong. Let the individual decide. - Ann.

I don't think that was his point. You don't become a twisted freak by staying in the closet. You become a twisted freak by having to maintain a lie. I have seen quite a few straight people get caught up in having to maintain lies. And if the lie goes on long enough, the situation gets worse and worse and worse.

Here's a comparison for straight people. Let's say your friends and family are opposed to inter-racial marriage and you get married to someone of another race by a local judge. Except you don't tell your friends and family you got married or even with that person, because you're afraid of social ostracism. And this goes on for years. Now you're married with kids. Can you imagine hiding your spouse and children from everyone you know? Can you imagine the paranoia that must result in being seen in public with them? What do you do when your parents and friends try to set you up on a date?

Yeah - it's a completely unrealistic situation to imagine. But that's exactly what happens to gay people who are in the closet. You can't be in the closet and actually live a normal life. You have to go on blind dates with people you have no attraction to. You have to pretend to be attracted to people you're not. You can't have a relationship, because you might get caught. And if you do have a relationship - you have to lie. It is a life of fear and panic and denial. And it sucks.

Doyle said...

A combination of young and out of it.

I just don't think expecting gay people to approve of, if not advocate, gay rights is totally preposterous.

Plus the Foley phenomenon (trying to crack down on your own group) is probably present to some extent in the Defense of Marriage movement as well.

Maybe there are gay Republicans who believe that by maintaining political marginalization of gay people, they (and that means them) will be encouraged to change their ways.

Maybe they see homosexuality as a disease and think it should be fought as such.

If more gay people out of the closet, this phenomenon could be actually identified and taken into account instead of just acting invisibly.

Ann Althouse said...

Downtownlad: McGreevey is an opportunist. Now he's saying what gets him ahead now. I'm not impressed.

downtownlad said...

Old Dad - Those guys sound like they're out to me.

I feel zero obligation to tell people I'm gay. When I came out, I told my friends and family. Now if I meet somebody else - I don't tell them unless they ask or if it specifically comes up. They'll figure it out eventually.

Do you tell people you're straight? I doubt it. But I'm sure you consider yourself to be "out" as a heterosexual!

amba said...

Right. A 52-year-old man allows himself to behave in a lewd and exploitative way with a 16-year-old, and it's all the closet's fault. Come on.

I thought conservatives believed in "personal responsibility"?

downtownlad said...

McGreevey is absolutely an opportunist. But I'm sure he does have a real opinion on gay marriage. And I would bet that his current one is what he really believes.

But yes - I'd rather have you Ann as the spokesperson for the gay movement over McGreevey!

downtownlad said...

Amba - If he was out of the closet, he could legally date an 18 year old.

But if you're paranoid of being found out, I think you say to yourself, well what's the difference between being discovered with a 17 or a 50 year old? Either way - my life is over if my secret is ever discovered.

Not saying it's rational. But this is how closeted people think. If I was outed when I was younger, I absolutely would have committed suicide. No question about it.

Ann Althouse said...

Downtownlad: McGreevey married a woman -- or was he married more than once? -- and used and abused her. It's obvious what he thinks of marriage: It's something to use to promote your selfish interests. People who value marriage should not ally themselves with him. He's a first-class sleazeball.

And let me say that what I think is truly inexcusable today in America is to marry someone of the opposite sex when you are not heterosexual (unless the other person knows and has reason to want the partnership in this form).

PatCA said...

Yes, in the first days of various liberation movements, gay people once took great care to establish their bona fides by refusing to "ape the patriarchy" and so eschewed marriage, romantic love, etc.--influenced by Freudian deconstruction and other liberation philosophies of the time.

Joseph Hovsep said...

and let me say that what I think is truly inexcusable today in America is to marry someone of the opposite sex when you are not heterosexual

I completely agree on the level of personal morality, but it will only be "truly inexcusable" as far as I'm concerned when gay people have the legal right to marry each other instead.

Doug said...

If you've told one person you're gay, then you're officially out of the closet in my book. If you're keeping the secret to yourself, then you're in.

My problem with this definition of in or out is that anyone who has acted upon his urges but lets on to the rest of the world that he isn't gay, to me is in the closet. Yet he has told or showed his lovers that he is in fact gay, so that would be out of the closet by your definition. I guess it is a silly semantic game, but the guy is out to a certain segment (his pool of boyfriends), but in the closet to the society he fears.

Doyle said...

Joseph Hovsep, ladies and gentleman!

Don't forget to tip your waitress.

downtownlad said...

And let me say that what I think is truly inexcusable today in America is to marry someone of the opposite sex when you are not heterosexual.

Of course. But then it's inexcusable to be in the closet too. Because if you ARE in the closet, what's the best way to stop people from thinking you are gay? Get married!

By the way - the first reaction from my family when I came out - was for them pleading, pleading with me to just give marriage a try. They still feel that way. And my brother-in-law, a devout Catholic, has convinced two of his gay friends to get married.

So I blame straight people for this situation too. They brainwash gay people into thinking that getting married will somehow cure them. And if you're a self-loathing gay person in the closet, that sounds very tempting indeed.

While I regret coming out so late, at least I never strung many girls along. I was pressured into five or six blind dates, but that's it. Although they all liked me a lot and I never called them back though, so I'm sure I harmed their ego somewhat. But it's not my fault. It's the straight people who arranged the date over my objections!

Palladian said...

What annoys me most about all of this is the continued use of the cliched "closet" metaphor. I mean, really! With all of the artistic talent among gay people, you'd think someone could be a little more creative and come up with a different metaphor after 60 years.

The other problem with all this is the now unquestionable assumption that being "gay" (another tired old metaphor) is a totalizing existential state, that it colors and informs everything that one does, believes, and is. I'm not entirely convinced that this is true, though I'm not convinced that it's not either. Is one's personality, like the DNA in each cell, inextricably tied to sexuality from birth or is it, to a greater or lesser degree, simply influenced by the realities of being in the world as a gay person?

One thing I'm certain: sexuality is not ideology. There is no unifying belief system, no dogma, no creed that I must accept because of my sexuality. I'm against tribalism, whether it be sexual tribalism, racial tribalism, political tribalism. I reject the notion that there is a dogma or way of being that I must accept as a condition of who I am. Unfortunately the tribal impulse is still alive and well in the world, as viciously enforced by gay people as it is by fanatical Muslims, American blacks, or any other essentialist grouping of humanity. I have no problem with choosing to adopt a dogma or philosophy or social code; only with the notion that because I am X, I must accept Y or be branded a traitor.

One of the sad legacies of the charlatan Freud is that it gave people the idea that they could, like a god, peer into other people's minds and into their souls and understand what they saw there. Sullivan and downtownlad assume that their experience is universal, that everyone in their existential position must have faced the same problems that they did and must make the same decisions they did. They presume a psychic similarity between them and Foley and every other gay person, and assume based on that similarity that if others do not reach the same conclusions that they did, the others must be sick, sad, deranged, evil, whatever. The freedom that enables gay people to accept their own being and to construct their lives and their minds around what they believe to be right and natural about themselves is suddenly conditional. Accept our dogma, live the way we tell you or we will shame you, accost you, abandon you! We will deny you the freedom of choice that we enjoyed, that we assume put us in the position of enforcers. Sullivan does it in an entirely underhanded way, with an almost Biblical declaration: follow me, or be left to the judgment of God in the wilderness. Downtownlad is, of course, less subtle about it.

The problem with Foley is not his sexual proclivities. The problem is, like Clinton, he used his position of power to make sexual advances on a subordinate. It's not that he was a hypocrite, it's that he arrogantly used his democratically elected position to support the enaction of laws that he did not intend to follow himself. Any politician who supports the abuse of their power in that way should be forced to resign.

Fritz said...

Ann,
It appears that Democrats would have wanted the Republican leadership to waterboard Foley. An immediate inquisition should have been undertaken. Terrorists be dammed! A Republican is always held under the greatest suspicion! Why, Senator Dodd compared the Republican leadership to the Catholic Church in handling this matter.

I'm very happy that Democrats have now come to the Republican view, 16 year olds are children! Will this mean they will support parental notification for abortions? Advocate lessor smut on TV and in our schools? Will access to porn sites at the library be discontinued? Will condoms on cucumbers be a thing of the past? I was so pleased to see our grandmother, Congresswoman Harmon, talk about these "at risk" children. Gone will be the days of adolescents finding their sexuality, they will now be called boys and girls in need of adult supervision.

Doyle said...

Will condoms on cucumbers be a thing of the past?

I hope so, Fritz. I hope so.

But it's possible the communo-islamocrat party will continue to advocate sex education.

Why? Because they hate our freedoms.

Internet Ronin said...

Palladian's comment above is worth re-reading. As a gay man, I damned tired of do-gooders with nothing better to do than tell me how I am supposed to act, think, and vote (not to mention how to walk, talk, and move my wrists).

Pretending there is some universal truth and only one true path may make some of those posting here feel good about themselves, and morally superior to others, but it is still make-believe.

Ann: I was there in the 1980's and I know what you are talking about.

Dave said...

Palladian's comments are excellent, and likely right on the money.

Seems the issue is not whether one is gar or not but rather the propriety of hitting on one's subordinate.

Doyle said...

Internet Ronin -

Act flaming, think about David Beckham, and go find a nice man with whom to raise a family (you can adopt now!).

And don't even think about voting Republican. You, a homosexual!

I also hope your wrists were appropriately limp when you typed that comment.

downtownlad said...

It's funny - Palladian has no problem dictating how I'm supposed to think. And completely misrepresnting what I'm saying.

Probably because his reading comprehension skills are close to zero.

Internet Ronin said...

Ah Doyle, a partisan hack such as yourself should be more careful. When you resort to such stereotypes as you just did, you accidentally let everyone see what really is inside that mind of yours. Not a pretty picture, it seems to me.

You're more effective when you confine your comments to parroting the Democratic Party talking points of the day.

My vote, my life, and my wrists are no business of yours, never will be, and owe nothing to the likes of you. I do thak you for publicly displaying your perverted and twisted thought process, however.

Internet Ronin said...

DTL: Where did Palladian dictate how you should think?

downtownlad said...

And the idea that Sullivan, who is despised by both the left and the right, is "dictating" how people are supposed to think on certain issues is laughable.

Nobody has spoken out more strongly against outing than Sullivan. So the idea that he is "shaming" people to come out of the closet is laughable as well.

He's just saying that being in the closet is tormenting to the soul. It is.

And gay people, who thanks to people like Sullivan, can now come out of the closet at 18, really have no idea what it's like to be in the closet through their prime adult years. So maybe those gay people should just do us a favor and shut up, as they are not speaking from experience.

downtownlad said...

Internet Ronin - On pretty much every thread in Ann's blog, where he states that I am not allowed to hold my viewpoints.

johnstodderinexile said...

I'm surprised at the assumption by Sullivan that Foley is gay. I have been given to believe that to be a predator of children of the same sex does not necessarily mean the predator is homosexual. I've never heard Michael Jackson described as gay. Is there news coverage that suggests Foley has claimed to be gay, or was living in any way as a gay man, with adult gay relationships in his history?

It sounds to me like Foley was obsessed with young boys and enjoyed the ability to say transgressive things to them without any fear that they would tell him to mind his own business. That's sick, twisted, perverted and criminal. Homosexuality is none of those things.

It is very odd that Andrew Sullivan leaped to the assumption that a man who ogles teenagers is presumptively gay. Gay friends of mine would quickly shout down a straight person who drew the same conclusion, and I think once his comments get around that community, he might have some 'splainin' to do.

downtownlad said...

There is a difference between going after 16 and 17 year olds and going after pre-pubescent children.

Both are illegal - but how many straight men were oogling Britney Spears when she was 17? Or how about Alicia Silverstone in her prime, when she was underage too? When does the average kid lose his virginity? 16 I think. To say that they are "children" who are not sexual is to deny reality. After all - it's perfectly legal for a 70 year-old to marry a 16 year-old girl in many states.

Foley's gay, no doubt about it. He's not a pedophile.

But he is a perv who is abusing his position of power.

Maxine Weiss said...

"My mother's hair stylist is no flamer,"--Old Dad

Maxine Weiss said...

I've noticed that 'Doyle' gets highly emotional when discussing these sorts of topics.

Doyle has issues.

I'm just here to be titillated, and the giddy satisfaction at someone else's misery...

......but Doyle seems to have this latent, underlying baggage surrounding this particular topic.

Doyle: Strip down and get relaxed!

Internet Ronin said...

John Stodder: While reading Sullivan, I was reminded about something in the early '80's. A local park had become a clandestine meeting place for married men seeking to have sex with men (invariably younger). A police sting netted a dozen or more men, all married.

When the newspaper headlines declared "Gays Arrested in Park Sting," local gay community leaders were outraged at the presumption.

BTW - Great blog - spent hours reading posts there the other day, as I grew up hearing "From the desert to the sea..." every night.

johnstodderinexile said...

There is a difference between going after 16 and 17 year olds and going after pre-pubescent children.

I disagree. This is a distinction without a difference. Foley is a pedophile. The text of the notes backs that up. He is a voyeur.

My son is exactly 16. If a girl near his own age wanted to have sex with him, I would assume that behavior was normal and natural -- although I hope he'd say no for other reasons.

If one of his teachers spoke to him like Foley spoke to the pages on the subject of his sex life, masturbation, etc., whether it was a female or male teacher, that person would be a pedophile in my view.

A 16-year-old boy is not a man, and a 16-year-old girl is not a woman. Even though they are technically capable of procreating, they are still developing. The laws here reflect biology as well as morality. Adults -- leave kids alone!

johnstodderinexile said...

Internet Ronin,

Thank you. I probably should be writing more on my blog, but I enjoy the discussion here. My blog is just a writing outlet. Ann Althouse is my fantasy of a next-door neighbor whose home is like a salon.

Doyle said...

Is it possible that people actually took my last post at face value?

No. Nobody's that dense.

And when has the topic of a Republican sexual predator in the hizzouse been discussed before?

Emotion shouldn't always be taken as a sign of latent homosexuality.

Requesting pics from a 16-year old page? Much better indicator.

Maxine Weiss said...

"And don't even think about voting Republican. You, a homosexual!"---Doyle

"I also hope your wrists were appropriately limp when you typed that comment."---Doyle

Noticing other guys' wrists...

The oh-so-quick denials....

Hmmmm.

Something there.

Internet Ronin said...

Emotion shouldn't always be taken as a sign of latent homosexuality.

Requesting pics from a 16-year old page? Much better indicator


True. Soliciting sex in a Capitol bathroom is an even better indicator (See Bawer, Bruce IIRC)

And having sex with an under-age page inside the Capitol Building is an even better indicator (See Studds, Gerry)

While it may be an even better indicator, placing a male prostitute on the office payroll (See Frank, Barney) gives real depth of meaning to the line that "the American people deserve the government they get and deserve to get it good and hard."

(A common misquote of H.L. Mencken, who actually wrote: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.")

Doyle said...

I can't hide from the comments that I made which were plainly (or so I thought) sarcastic.

I love the cock.

chuck b. said...

I haven't read anything about this story and I'm not an expert on pedophiles, but as I understand it most of them want pre-, or early-adolescents (a la Michael Jackson)..? But Foley's got the hots for a 16-year-old. I think it's reasonable to suspect he's got some homosexual desire going on. Whether for him it's more about exploiting his "power" or something, I have no idea.

Interesting talk about privacy and sexual orientation... I like to think I'm very post-sexual identity when it comes to my own orientation and my interactions with others, but always somewhere in the back of my mind when I meet someone or make a new friend is the consideration of when/how I disclose the fact that I'm gay. Because it's not like if I don't come out I don't have a gay identity; what I have instead--whether I like it or not--is an ambiguously gay identity.

With me, invariably, people suspect, but they can't tell for sure unless I say so--and I live in San Francisco where you can't twirl a feather boa without slapping a gay person, so people are fairly sophisticated about these things.

I often sense heterosexual discomfort when I don't come out, and that discomfort goes away when I do. I generally like to have smooth and easy interactions with others, so to that extent I do care what people are thinking about me. That's just me tho'.

MMF said...

Ann: You said "but plenty of gay people used to reject marriage."

It would hardly be surprising that in different times, gay people used to reject marriage. As a legal construct (whether or not they would choose it for themselves), it was not even remotely imaginable.

They "rejected marriage" in the same sense that I "reject circumnavigating the moon."

Although I might be interested in the idea, I can't conceive of the possiblility that the necessary circumstances will occur in the world as we know it.

Old Dad said...

downtownlad,

No, I never talk about sex at all. It never comes up damnit.

Another small point. At my age, unless you're participating, sex is boring. When some old fart starts bragging about the old lady, the usual response is "yeah, but who's going to make the play offs..."

I'm ready for everyone's sex life to get off the front page.

reader_iam said...

One of the worst experiences I ever had as a journalist (right up there with, say, talking to the closest relatives of murdered teens) was a phone call I received one time from a man crying so hard I could barely make out what he was saying. (This was something like 14-15 years ago, and the guy was in his 40s, I think.)

He had gotten "caught" having sex with another man in the restroom of a rest-stop in Pa. by police, who arrested him as part of a "cleanup" sweep. (No underage issues were involved.)

This man called to beg, through some of the most anguished sobs I have ever heard, that the paper not publish the police report in the cop briefs section because his wife and children didn't know and he was hoping to take care of the situation without ever having to tell them.

I will never, ever, ever forget that.

People certainly have the right to privacy etc., as Ann and others are saying.

But the "destructive" observations are right, as well.

Tough, hard and complex, this issue is, it seems to me. And heartbreaking.

reader_iam said...

Didn't know he was gay, of course, not just about the bust.

reader_iam said...

I often sense heterosexual discomfort when I don't come out, and that discomfort goes away when I do.

Baby, do I relate.

I don't know about generally, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I can tell you that when one of my very closest friends (after my husband, he and my best girlfriend are the two closest people in the world to me) of decades finally came out, many years ago, now, and said what had pretty much became clear as day, it was a HUGE relief. On multiple levels.

I can't say I've had the same intensity of feeling more generally, with other gay friends, but it certainly can be a little bit, let's just say, awkward, and sort of like talking through double-paned glass,or something.

Revenant said...

Even if we take gay rights issues off the table, gay conservative politicians have a powerful incentive to remain in the closet. For a variety of historical reasons the gay rights movement in America is dominated by leftists -- which is why gay rights marches tend to have non-sequiteur signs condemning the war in Iraq or global warming or whatever the latest leftie cause is. Gay conservatives are treated like dogshit even IF they strongly support gay rights, and Sullivan is well aware of this -- political positions that would be unworthy of comment in a straight politician become grounds for endless invective if the person holding them is gay.

Anyway, I don't see it as a given that Foley would have been pro-gay-marriage even if he'd been out of the closet. In addition to the "marriage is heterosexist" position noted above, there are powerful religious and cultural reasons for thinking that marriage is a strictly hetero arrangement. I don't agree with them, but many people -- including people, like my mother, who have no problem with gay men at all -- do.

knoxgirl said...

This is the most damning line:

and some I count as good friends and good people.

Gee, Andrew, how nice of you! People who don't necessarily see things just like you do--can actually be "good"! You're so enlightened!

altoids1306 said...

I'm not sure I buy Sullivan's argument wholesale, but this is (gay marriage) the only topic on which he is clear and consistent.

I agree that staying in the closet may cause certain pathological behaviors to arise, and, at the least, it's not a healthy state of being.

Does being "out" necessarily force you to support the host of policies Sullivan does? Probably, although others might prioritize their self-interests differently.

Finally - gay marriage, legalize it now, and be done with the topic. Seperationg of church and state, etc., etc. Something being legal does not give it moral sanction, so social conservatives really have nothing to worry about. Using the state as an instrument of morality is more worrisome, IMO. (The real battleground should be gay adoption, which involves an involuntary/underage party.)

John in Nashville said...

Let's see, now. Our blog hostess deems Jessica What'shername's posing in a photograph with Bill Clinton and Andrew Sullivan's writings about being in or out of the closet as more worthy of critical comment than the House Republican leadership's enabling of their Gross Old Pervert colleague. Any dance around the old maypole to change the subject?

As a commenter on Kevin Drum's blog observed, will the House Republicans' campaign slogan this fall be "No Child's Behind Left Behind"?

Elizabeth said...

Back in the 1980s the dominant position among gay rights people was that legitimating gay marriage was the wrong goal.

Ann, I recall that differently. It wasn't about reviling the institution of marriage, but about setting priorities. Marriage was guaranteed to be the issue most likely to provoke backlash right at the time when gay rights and gay people were becoming more visible and accepted.

On the other topic, I can't accept the closet as a simple choice to be "private." I know gay people who are celibate for religious reasons, but who don't deny their orientation. I know people who simply aren't gushy about their relationships, but I've never known any closeted person to be devoid of shame, or fear. The fears are about losing professional, familial, or social status, and the shame has many roots. Being in the closet isn't just about being quiet, it's about purposefully trying to redirect any suspicions of being gay. Closeted gays go on straight dates for cover; they refer to their romantic interests by the opposite gender. In short, they lie. People who are simply quiet about their romantic lives I wouldn't refer to as being in the closet. While I certainly don't think that being in the closet will cause someone to become a predator, I do know that living in the open is just healthier than hiding.

Palladian said...

Yeah, because making jokes about sex is easier than talking about issues! Keep at it, that's the way to win elections, Democrats!

Oh, and 16 and 17 year olds are children now! If you want to importune your interns and underlings you need to wait until they're at least 20, like Clinton did!

Stephen_M said...

Interesting how Gay Rectitude evolves over the decades.
It seems like there's a heavy Boomer cohort influence, no?
Gay Boomers in youth - "Marriage, BAH!"
Gay Boomers hit middle-age - "Not only do I want marriage, anyone who opposses it is sick, soulless, self-hating & other bad things. There is NO good reason to disagree about this."

Also, if you can't see that Palladian has already nailed this thread - try harder, keep trying & then don't give up.

paul a'barge said...

Downtownlad: Sullivan "is not judging Foley at all

But, Sullivan should be judging Foley. Foley is a homo pedophile who chose to use his position of power to coerce young boys.

Anyone who is promoting the outrage that Foley does not deserve judgement is a pervert themselves.

Downtownlad: Because you are straight, there is no way you can entirely understand

Horse manure. It is our humanity, and only our humanity that allows us the capacity to understand and experience empathy with those fellow humans who are moral and different.

Which brings us to Foley, who apparently is a scruple-free, homo pedophile.

Downtownlad may want to feel empathy with a pervert. Few of us do.

Palladian said...

Elizabeth, it's complicated by the fact that I don't believe sexuality is always a binary system. While I'm completely oriented toward men, I've known (and dated) quite a few men that really were attracted to both men and women, or weren't even really attracted to men, but liked to have sex with them. I don't think it's a positive thing that we went from one form of rigidity of definition to another. This gets back to my earlier point that I'm not sure that sexuality is an existential reality or an "identity" per se. I don't like the idea that "gay men" and "gay women" are a fundamentally different class or species than "straight men" or "straight women". I think of both as part of the range of male and female sexuality, of overall similarities rather than specific differences. Anyway, there are certainly people who disprove either theory, but I find my conception to be more ontologically (and philosophically) satisfying.

I think politics works (or should work) in the same way. Look how easy it is to get branded a Republican for experimenting with some "conservative" ideas. Anyway, both parties could do with a little discreet seduction from each other.

Palladian said...

Paul A'Barge, what does pedophilia mean to you? Is there some magic pixie that comes around people at the age of 18 or 17 or 16 (the magical age varies by the magic boundaries of the states), taps them on the head with some sort of Priapic wand and makes them morally and legally fuckable? Would you pluck out your eyes if you learned that the pretty, well-developed girl you were oggling turned out to be 17 3/4 years old? Does your sexuality follow strict, state-based arbitrary legal standards of conduct?

And did you know that "homo" means "man" in Latin and (as homos) "same" in Greek? While I've long ago on this blog about why I hate the words "heterosexual" and "homosexual", it's even less acceptable and more meaningless to break them up like that! Honestly, you've perverted the English (and Greek and Latin) language enough. Consider this my judgment upon you.

tjl said...

Thanks, Palladian, for the good sense of your posts on this thread. You always seem to find the rational middle path between the bigots like Cedarford and the shrill enforcers of tribal conformity, like dtl. Personally, I find it a huge relief to read such a clear affirmation of what I also believe -- that living a full life as a gay person does not require adoption of a prefabricated set of opinions with matching political agenda. If you must abdicate your right and duty to think for yourself, you are hardly any more at liberty than those in the closet.

On a related point -- it's surprising how many commenters misunderstood Ann's point that a prior phase of gay activism rejected the idea of gay marriage. It wasn't because they were self-hating or self-denying. They thought the model of hetero marriage was too restrictive, too monogamous, too "hetero-normative."

AST said...

If Foley was in the closet he should have become a Democrat. Then he could have claimed this was invading his privacy, and the rest of the arguments they used to excuse Clinton.

allens said it. Sullivan's full of crap. Blaming the "Closet" for leading you where you never wanted to go is just a denial of personal repsonsibility for one's behavior. "If only he'd been openly gay, he wouldn't have been attracted by teenage boys." And if women wouldn't wear short skirts there would be no rapes.

As far as "judge not," it should be rendered "condemn not," because we have to make judgments about people all the time. Jesus was pretty judgmental about those he called hypocrites, but he would have forgiven them if they had repented. Furthermore, repentance doesn't excuse you from the other consequences of behavior, like being publicly humiliated and loss of position.

Doyle said...

Palladian -

I think a 52 year-old congressman should stay away from the high school help.

If that makes me a slave to social norms, so be it.

Cedarford said...

johnstodderinexile - I have been given to believe that to be a predator of children of the same sex does not necessarily mean the predator is homosexual.

That is the position of some gay activists and leftists in response to the issue of gay pedophelia and the prominant Catholic priest controversy - that they really weren't gay at all, just equal opportunity pedophiles. It seems counterintuitive, not just because it is gay sex, but the investigations determine the predation is exclusive to same-sex kids, and the predator also has gay sexual encounters with other gays - consensual or prostitutes serving the chickenhawk trade..

It was a valiant propaganda try by leftist gay activists, even the newspapers went with it in saying the -say - priests were not truly gay..but eventually the preposterous aspects won over PC.

Chris - sullivan seems to think that the closet = child molestation. that is dumb; it plays into the "gay people molest children!" thing. child abuse is likely caused by prior abuse.

True on both counts. And in pushing gay marriage as the reward he seeks and telling the society that he wishes to pass gay marriage that their reward will be a reduction in gay pedophelia and promiscuity, Sullivan implicitly acknowledges both are real problems. As for the widely agreed on idea that abused children or adolescents that have sexual encounters with a much older adult are damaged and far more likely to become abusers themselves? That is one of several reasons why people oppose the gay tradition of pederasty (man-boy sex and bonding)so strongly.

FRitz - I'm very happy that Democrats have now come to the Republican view, 16 year olds are children! Will this mean they will support parental notification for abortions? Advocate lessor smut on TV and in our schools? Will access to porn sites at the library be discontinued? Will condoms on cucumbers be a thing of the past? I was so pleased to see our grandmother, Congresswoman Harmon, talk about these "at risk" children. Gone will be the days of adolescents finding their sexuality, they will now be called boys and girls in need of adult supervision.

Amen! Well said. Just as long as you mean by adult supervision you mean parents and/or guardians, not teachers or welfare workers telling kids whether or not to get an abortion and "sexual ezperimentation, even with adults of the same sex like me...is healthy and normal. Much of America's present-day cultural war is over the drive to have the self-annointed "experts" employed by the State take over and usurp the parents role in child-rearing and imparting values the family holds true...

Dowontownlad - Foley's gay, no doubt about it. He's not a pedophile.

You don't know that yet. The stats show the average gay man with "chickenhawk" predilictions has numerous victims, far more than hetero predators, according to stats. Foley is 54. What other boys has he seduced, or tried to seduce? For each Catholic priest exposed, the Churches lawyers were enormously shocked (and financially bled) by numerous victims being uncovered once the can of worms was opened. The "ideal" age range for gay pederasts is 12-19.

reader_iam - He had gotten "caught" having sex with another man in the restroom of a rest-stop in Pa. by police, who arrested him as part of a "cleanup" sweep. (No underage issues were involved.)

McGreevey was also a big restroom habituee`. It's destructive behavior. It's in public places, is a public nuisance that can't be overlooked. It is also a public safety matter. In my area a park was cleaned up, arrests made, and names posted after sweeps revealed not just gay men, but drug trade and use of several inner city underaged boy prostitutes brought in by a pimp for the older gay men's use. In Maine, my cousin who is a detective, noted one of the worst beatings he ever saw was done to a gay man who groped a married couple's child in a bathroom at a public rest stop along I-95. With the woman doing the worst of it with a boat paddle. She definitely tried to kill the guy. And the couple, not caught, were described as just average tourists from out of state. Moral? Don't mess with a female's cubs..

Palladian said...

"It's in public places, is a public nuisance that can't be overlooked. It is also a public safety matter. In my area a park was cleaned up, arrests made, and names posted after sweeps revealed not just gay men, but drug trade and use of several inner city underaged boy prostitutes brought in by a pimp for the older gay men's use."

Aha, now we get to the good stuff! Bring on the Clayton Cramer style anecdotal evidence! Some inner city boy were prostituted to some opera queens somewhere! Someone's kid got groped somewhere in Maine at some rest stop! A gay guy once check me out at a urinal and snickered! They're all pederasts, I tell you! They even have a taste for 18 and 19 year olds!

I also heard that the overwhelming majority of child molesters are men! Surely the result of some sort of evilness gene in the male DNA! And did you know that a lot of crimes are committed by black people? Must be something in their savage nature! The anecdotal evidence cannot be ignored! Lock them all up! Think of the 19 year old children!

nedludd said...

For a certain segment of the gay population there ssems to be a belief that breeders are obsessed with them and sit around all day trying to figure new ways to oppress them. Here's the news flash, most straights don't give that much of a damn. Yes, you have a segment who are obsessed with everyones sex life, but most hetros I have been in contact with just don't care.

I'm straight, but my business partner of the last five or so years is gay, many of my clients (I'm a finacial planner) are gay. I don't care. I do support gay marriage (for one thing it would make my life easier as far as estate planning goes) but I do not support it by judicial fiat. So, I am opposed to MA style gay marriage, but support it if it works its way through the process. Not a quick solution, but use the courts and you could be looking at the next Roe, which over time and new decisions put many people off the fence and into opposition.

In the case of Foley, the guy seems like a scumbag, whether or not he's gay. He reads more like an asshole on a power trip than most of the gays I know, but that's just my experience.

Garage Mahal said...

Cedarford,

Read Ann's title to this thread. Then read it again, and again, and again. I suspect you might have a revelation, of sorts.

It may be highly uncomfortable to you, so I hope you're sitting down, and I hope you have some sort of support system available to you.

Internet Ronin said...

Hi Elizabeth! In RE:

People who are simply quiet about their romantic lives I wouldn't refer to as being in the closet.

Nor would I, but I have met many people who do refer to it as exactly that. It seems to me that there a lot of people who believe that If someone is not always "loud & proud" bordering on being very in-your-face about being gay, then that person is by definition a "closet case."

Internet Ronin said...

Palladian: A friend of mine who read the IM exchange came away feeling that there was definitely no "loss of innocence" there. It lasted an hour, apparently.

I'm not all that interested in who said what (as I believe Foley was wrong to abuse his office in that manner), but, given that, I would not be surprised to find out Foley was targeted because of rumors about his past behavior.

paul a'barge said...

It's interesting, is it not, how gays wail about being categorized as pedophiles, and then when one of them is caught with his hands in the pants of a child, they rally around him, defending him, and blaming society for his vile acts? Oh, they cavil, if only Foley were not in the closet, he never would have IM'ed his vile perversion onto a 16 year old boy, an employ of the government, just starting that young boy's young life in the capitol of power.

Here's what Sullivan said: "Foley, although, like any other gay man".

Palladin said what does pedophilia mean to you?

Note the relativism. We have a 52 year old homo predator preying on a 16 year old subordinate, and Palladin can't quite figure out whether the guy's a pedophile or not?

Once again, I point out that 20 years ago, self-respecting gays would have immediately condemned Foley and his apologists, such as Sullivan, Palladin and Downtown lad. Now, self-respecting gays have been drowned out by the gay moral relativists whose mantram is what does pedophilia mean? and if it only were not for the closet, he wouldn't have told that 16 year old how horny he was.

You folks condemn yourselves here. Those who condemn pedophiles and perverts who use their power in the workplace to creep out young interns continue to make the argument against yourselves.

Keep it up. We catch you, we run you out of your jobs. We catch you again, we just build more prisons.

There are two places appropriate for pedophilic homos. One is prison. The other is the closet.

Best get back in one of them.

Elizabeth said...

Palladian, you make an excellent point about the fluidity of sexuality for some folks. That's why I try to define "the closet" fairly narrowly. I guess my empathy has a certain fluidity as well. I don't have any for people who use the closet as a safe place from which to launch witchhunt attacks on other gay people; I have a lot for those who don't want to be rigidly defined, who are in circumstances that demand discretion.

JDM said...

Here's an idea: lets imagine the page is a female 16yo.

Would as much ink have been spilled? There is quite a bit of nastiness here that is misplaced, and I would go so far as to say it is coming from both "sides".

Is it pedophilia, or just something that should not be done?

I have no idea who Foley sleeps with, dreams about, etc. I dont know if he is gay or likes both women and young boys.

All I know is that he is not fit to be a US Representative, although thats not a particularly high bar.

As to whether sexually mature, but legally underage people are attractive: of course, thats how nature works. Taking knowing advantage of that however is wrong whether one is gay, straight, bi, or indifferent.

I note I have entirely avoided the actual title of the post, so I will simply say this: most people know right from wrong (see previous paragraph for definition of wrong), and we should always seek to do the right thing in our lives, irrespective of how "hard" it may seem to do right, or what "reasons' we can convince ourself mean it is OK to do wrong.

Revenant said...

I think a 52 year-old congressman should stay away from the high school help.

Sure, but the definition of "pedophile" isn't "a person who wants to have sex with people they shouldn't be having sex with".

Lusting after people in their late teens is definitely inappropriate, but it isn't pedophilia, perversion, depravity, or any of the other nouns being so excitably tossed about. :)

charlotte said...

I believe few of us know the specifics of what was said to whom and when. On other blogs, usually reliable commenters are pointing out that the MSM/Dem pedophilia! cover-up! talking points have conflated Foley's legal (but questionable) IM correspondence with the 16 year-old page (how are you/ what about the hurricane/send a pic?) with more sexually explicit but probably still legal IMs between Foley and former pages who were college-aged at the time and not exactly discouraging in their part of the extensive back and forth. Also, these latter on-line conversations are purportedly several years old, so somebody has held onto copies of the IM correspondence all this time.

Of course, their info could be wrong and there's always the possibility even more damning revelations about Foley's behavior will surface, but as for now, a somewhat closeted gay Republican Representative, once his sexual predilection for teen pages (age of consent as far as we know) was exposed, has resigned. Hastert has asked for an investigation into whether any crimes were committed by him or others who had copies of the correspondence and didn't notify officials.

Sullivan is trying to blame Republicans for Foley's hidden identity and transgressions, but if he were a true conservative, he wouldn't be playing the blame game and victim card so readily. (And I say this as a Repub who has favored the legalization of gay marriage or civil unions for years.)

AlaskaJack said...

The "fluidity of sexuality"!! Yeah, that's it exactly. It's sexual fluidity that explains those 3 guys who, a few week ago, wanted to dig up a dead girl and have sex with her. It's all clear now.

Palladian said...

Yes, because sex between consenting adults is the same as trying to dig up a corpse for sex. You know us "homo preverts", lubin' up that slope with Crisco so that all of society will slip right down to screwing stoats, the corpse of Millard Fillmore, 3 legged King Charles Spaniels, rusty carburetors from '74 Karman-Ghias, holes in rocky outcroppings... who knows where the slipping will end?

AlaskaJack, eh? Vacation in Phoenix next year, give your brain a chance to thaw.

Dan said...

Ann, I think that you and Andrew are using the same word, "closet," to refer to two different groups of people.

What I will call "Group A" (for lack of a better term) closeted gays are the ones who not just prefer to keep their homosexuality a secret, but are unable even to admit their own homosexuality to themselves--even in the face of overwhelming evidence (and, frequently, actions) to the contrary. (Sometimes called being in the "closet inside the closet.")

Group B closeted gays are the ones who can admit their sexuality to themselves while choosing to hide it from others.

For gays in Group A, Andrew is absolutely right. I'm only 21, and I just went from Group A to Group B about a year ago. I spent only about a half-decade or more in Group A, and I can tell you that it is quite psychologically damaging. Multiply that several times over and I will utterly guarantee you that the result will be completely screwed up psychologically. Obviously, I can't know for certain that Foley was in fact gay and in Group A (though I consider it the most likely theory), nor can I know for certain that Foley would not still have been a dirty old man if he had been out of the closet. If, however, Foley was a Group A gay, I have no doubt that he was suffering from some serious psychological problems. The compartmentalization, the lies one tells oneself, the intellectual acrobatics one has to do to begin with the premise "I am attracted to members of the same sex" and end with the conclusion "I am straight" cannot result in a healthy psyche. I know. Take my 5 to 7 years and turn it into 35 or 40, and I cannot conceive it resulting in anything other than a very damaged individual.

Being in Group B, while certainly not a picnic, isn't nearly so damaging. While I find your phrase "embracing privacy" a little too euphemistic, it nevertheless can be somewhat accurate. (I do think you significantly overestimate the ease with which one can conceal one's sexual orientation.)

Ann, while Andrew may have been conflating the two groups, I think he was referring more to the ones in what I have called Group A. You, on the other hand, are quite clearly contemplating the ones in Group B. Perhaps the distance between you isn't as great as you imagine.


Lastly, I don't think that Andrew thinks that if you're gay you must automatically support gay marriage. But there is a level of hostility in a lot of closeted conservatives towards gay-friendly initiatives that makes it difficult to believe that that hostility is purely a matter of principle. While I think that one can be gay and opposed to gay marriage, I don't think that one can be gay and not support at least a very basic level of recognition for gay relationships. One cannot be gay (unless celibate for religious reasons) and rationally oppose, say, hospital visitation rights for gay couples--and that seems to happen with some frequency.

Revenant said...

But there is a level of hostility in a lot of closeted conservatives towards gay-friendly initiatives that makes it difficult to believe that that hostility is purely a matter of principle.

If they are in the closet, present-tense, how is it that you know they're gay? And who are you talking about?

nedludd said...

rusty carburetors from '74 Karman-Ghias,

Now that's how you identify the gay guy.

The straight ones are screwing chromed six barrel carbs from their tricked out Firebirds.

cokaygne said...

Ok I did not read all the comments here (did any of the commentators mention the age difference between Bill and Monica and their employee-employer relationship), and I did not read the piece by Andrew Sullivan, but here goes.

1. From what you quote Sullivan seems to be conflating exploitation of children and being gay. What could be a better example than that of gay-bashing? What the heck is Sullivan doing? You're right, Ann, plenty of hetero politicians have been caught lusting after young interns of the opposite sex, and no one says that those actions reflect on heterosexuality.

2. It may be that lack of an approved outlet for their sexuality in marriage encourages or condones Gay promiscuity. That is a legitimate argument for society to recognize same-sex marriage. Obviously, Foley's behavior is, at best, promiscuous, but that has nothing to do with neither his homosexuality nor his inability to legally marry a preferre sexual partner. Again, there are examples of promiscuous heterosexual politicians who have exploitative sexual relationships with much younger employees.

4. Is it not legal in some states to marry someone who is 16? If one of those same states made it legal to marry someone of the same sex, would Foley not have a problem if he and the page moved to that state?

Anyway, I hope this entire affair cements the GOP's loss of Congress, even if it is for the wrong reasons. I am so sick and tired of that gang of pompous idiots. Yes, Pelosi is an idiot as well, but, on balance, the Democrats send a better brand of itiots to Congress, and we need a check on the White House.

nedludd said...

the Democrats send a better brand of itiots to Congress,

Like the possible future chair of the Intelligence Committe, Alcee Hastings? Or maybe The Torch? Byrd?

tjl said...

Paul A. fulminates about
"how gays wail about being categorized as pedophiles, and then when one of them is caught with his hands in the pants of a child, they rally around him."

Paul, maybe your reading comprehension skills aren't up to the job, but if you go back and reread the comments you are attacking, you'll see they aren't exactly rallying around Foley. Pointing out that 16 is the age of consent in DC is not the same as condoning behavior that everyone agrees was nasty, hypocritical, and grossly exploitative of the public trust.

But then you offer this little peroration to your post: "Keep it up. We catch you, we run you out of your jobs. We catch you again, we just build more prisons."
Stirring up the village idiots to form a lynch mob to go after the homos -- that's a first for this forum.

MadisonMan said...

Chris (11:37, 1 October) suggested that Rep. Steve Gunderson was in a Gay scandal -- what was that? I only remember him acknowledging that he was Gay, and sometime after that decided not to run for re-election.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Several commenters have said that Sullivan is assuming that Foley is gay because of the page incident. That's not true. Sullivan explains that Foley is one of many people who have long been rumored to be gay in DC political circles.

Finding a 16-18 year old sexually attractive is not evidence of pedophilia. It is normal and natural to find sexually mature young people attractive. The morality and propriety of acting on that attraction, however, depends on other factors like the legal age of consent, the individual's physical and emotional maturity, the possibility of abusive power dynamics between the parties, etc. The commenters' parsing of the definition of pedophilia is not an attempt to justify immoral acts. There is a big difference between acting on sexual attraction to a sexually-immature child, which is always wrong, and acting on sexual attraction to a sexually mature 16-18 year old, which may be wrong for any number of reasons, but lacks the clear-cut evil of true pedophilia. I think people are reluctant to admit this for fear of being labeled NAMBLA sympathizers.

On NAMBLA... it is just flat out not true that the gay community is tolerant of pedophilia, as some commenters have suggested.

Shanna said...

I just think calling the sixteen year old a "child" in this situation is missing the point. Is it inappropriate for a man who is 40 or 50 to run around with a 16 year old? Of course. Is it in the same category as having sex with a 7 year old? Hell no.

I do think there may be some justice to the idea that staying in the "closet" maybe makes you think in for a penny in for a pound. So whereas if you are out or heterosexual, you may worry that you will be frowned on for sleeping with/hitting on a socially unacceptable 16 year old, if you are already convinced your being gay is what is socially unacceptable, what's one more thing? I can see that, I guess.

A sexual relationship with someone who has not reached puberty is an entirely different matter, imo. That is how I would define a pedophile. Everything else is just massively inappropriate.

Ann Althouse said...

"holes in rocky outcroppings..."

I have a perfect photograph I'll put up later for Palladian... It should drive him wild.

Shanna said...

Everything else is just massively inappropriate.
And possibly also illegal.

Still, this is probably too limiting. I may say that with kids who have recently reached puberty, say 12 or 13 year olds, I would also consider that pedophilia. But somewhere in the teen years, kids become more adult than kid. It's hard to pick that cutoff, so we let the law do it and I think most laws say the age of consent is somewhere between 16 and 18 and that sounds about right to me.

Fitz said...

"What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal."

This line of argument plays into the homosexual belief that there are thousands of gay men brutally repressed by the “closet”. We see this in McGreeve also. I assume both these men are basically straight. Do they not love their wives, get sexually aroused by women? Form lasting bonds with women?

What if these were just long held fantasies they acted on improperly? Why dose this or that single (or even multiple acts) make someone a “closeted gay” – would not (at the least) they be closeted bi-sexual’s.

Could they not have been molested as children and seek to visit this again upon other innocent victims. (This seems backed up by the literature). Or perhaps they are just horny and sexual compulsives and find sex with men (or boys) easier to come by? (and have consequently developed a taste for it)
Or perhaps the very contrary nature of homosexuality (it deviance) makes the act more exciting (forbidden fruit) and deeply erotic.


I think the deeper sub-text of Sullivan’s point is that every man who cant claim 100% certified heterosexuality in both thought and deed is a “closeted homosexual”.

Fitz said...

"I just think calling the sixteen year old a "child" in this situation is missing the point. Is it inappropriate for a man who is 40 or 50 to run around with a 16 year old? Of course. Is it in the same category as having sex with a 7 year old? Hell no."

This is an important distinction. I remember the trouble this has wrought during the “Pedophile Priest” scandal.
The distinction between Pedophilia (pre-pubescent) and Pederasty (post-pubescent –sometimes called endophilia) is marked and wide.
When those public school teachers who had sex with their students (the beautiful women all over the news) they were not described as “pedophiles”.
Pedophilia is very rare.
Pederasty is quite common (look at all the “teen” pornographic websites)

Any man who has sex with a child (post-pubescent) I consider a horrible animal. Any man who has sex with a post-pubescent young person I consider predatory but not deranged (just out of control)

Joe said...

Any buried component of your personality can rot and become toxic (now that's almost Oprah quality). Look at Peter Keaton's character in the Fountainhead. It's a theme of denial and the resulting damage it causes.

So to that extent Sullivan is correct about Foley. What is also correct and undeniable is Foley was attracted to young men--and while that may not have been illegal it was certainly pathetic (just as it would have been pathetic if he was doing this to 16 and 17 year old female pages).

Mitch said...

I'm kind of surprised that no one has mentioned Gerry Studds fiasco. The Left was a lot more supportive of that congressman, even though the conduct involved a lot more than dirty IM's. It involved plying a young man with alcohol to seduce him (date rape?), and the page involved later denied he was primarily homosexual.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Mitch, Studds was brought up in comments to a previous post on Foley. I think part of the difference in treatment is the perception of what is motivating the scandal. In 1983, it was probably more scandalous that a politician was gay than that a politician was having an affair with a young subordinate, so liberals may have been reacting more to the anti-gay components of the scandal. Today, a congressman's sexuality is still cause for scandal, but people are less willing to admit that's what's motivating their shock for PC reasons and so the youth of the page and the subordinate employment relationship comes into more focus and is harder to defend against. Of course, partisan politics is a big part of it too.

Joe Baby said...

Seems that an outcropping (eh, whoops) of Sullivan's proposition is that gay men can't be celibate.

In his latest post he gives the Vatican another lashing, while zooming by the ol' "vow of celibacy" thing.

Sullivan somehow knows the offending priests were more gay than Catholic. Odd. For if he's correct, hasn't the Vatican then done the correct thing in its recent policies re: homosexual priests?

Also, surprised the discussion (anywhere, not just here) hasn't touched on politicians + sexual promiscuity. Plenty to ponder there, but Republican + gay + underage boy is too juicy and too much potential as fuel.

I do know that it's wrong for men to disgrace their spouses and dishonor their office by preying on the staff. This goes for Foley, McGreevey, and the priests.

Bruce Hayden said...

I was not surprised that this thread generated a lot of good comments. Over the last year or so, Ann has picked up quite a gay audience. And they (you all here who are gay) are a varied bunch, which is why I figured this would be an interesting thread.

First, I can't help thinking that the Foley thing was an "October Surprise" by its timing.

Secondly, I don't think that what he did was truly pedophelia, or really even close to it, I would react negatively if he were doing similar things to girls of equivalent age.

Indeed, one of the problems with teenaged girls is that there is a whole group of more experienced guys who prey on them. I am not talking about seniors taking advantage of sophomores, though that does happen. But rather the 28 year old going after the 17 year olds.

What makes it bad, IMHO, is not the physical maturity difference, but rather the difference in sexual experience that can be so easily exploited.

Also, to the extent that this was done with pages, it is hard to distinguish it from what Bill Clinton did - some with Lewinsky, but more with his unconsenting victims. Sexual predation and exploitation by someone in power over another, is bad, regardless of sexual orientation or party affiliation.

Finally, I would suspect that the origin of homosexual and heterosexual is mapping the same distinction we see in homogeneous and heterogeneous.

Maybe the problem with the terms though is not their origin, but rather the implied assumption that there is a bright line between them, when several posters above have pointed out that that is clearly not the case. (I should note though that the belief that the line is a bright one is most likely a result of it appearing such to most of us (large majority) heterosexuals who have no attraction or interest in sex with the same sex, but a lot with the other sex).

Stach61 said...

Perhaps Andrew thinks everyone forgets his own Internet Chat scandal( The Real Andrew Sullivan Scandal
His Private Life Is None of Our Business. His Public Life Certainly Is. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0125,goldstein,25701,1.html)
and when it was him advertising for "bareback" sex partners even tho he is HIV positive it's all personal and private (sounds like the closet to me) Has he ever posted explaining this desire and why he would like to engage in such obviously risky behaviour? No because when your liberal all these things are private and shouldn't reflect on your character only when it's the conservatives get caught do the left get all indignant.

Stach61 said...

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0125,goldstein,25701,1.html
Sorry the link got cut short in previous post

Stach61 said...

http://www.villagevoice.com
/news/0125,goldstein,
25701,1.html

downtownlad said...

You know when I'm not arguing with Palladian, he does bring up some good points.

Stach61's scandal about Andrew is bullshit. There is nothing scandalous about what he did. He's HIV positive, he doesn't need to use a condom anymore. As long as he doesn't hide his hiv status, it's nobody's business plus his. It's called sereosorting - where hiv positive people choose to sleep with only hiv positive people and vice versa.

And it has done a lot to cut down on hiv transmission in the gay community.

The last thing gay people need is for straight bigots to tell us what is and what is not appropritate behavior.

Publishing details of someone's private, LEGAL conduct is certainly NOT appropriate.

I am certain that stach61 would not appreciate the entire inventory of his sex life being published.

Stach61 said...

Well first I'd suggest downtownlad would know better to make assumptions of anyone's sexual preference from a post.
But he missed the whole point really at the time Andrew was in his support for the US mode (until he got single topic ranting for gay marriage and lost all sanity .. that returned him to the liberal fold)
At the time Village Voice was attacking him as you can read if you'd bothered to read the article.
What has changed in Andrew's world that he is now revered by those same fellow travelers again? Oh yes I know he speaks truth to power again now!

What kind of self loathing would allow you to go back to those that tried to slime you before?

I think Andrew knows alot about self hating..

Stach61 said...

I was sorry that I didn't explain myself better, this being a fairly intelligent forum I presumed everyone would read the VV article and realize AS's own hyprocisy without me spelling it out sans anyone being M or F.

I am sure he didn't appear under his own nickname in this said chatroom... Did he intend to tell his potential hook up's oh even tho I have this anonymous nickname you realize I'm HIV positive? and by the way could I see some ID that proves your over (what age is it in dc anyhow?) .. Andrew lives in DC so the age of consent is 16 from what I have heard from all this mess.. so did Andrew ID card his hook ups for age and tell them he was HIV positive? that seems to me less than private... I know of cases hetero men or hookers have been prosecuted for purposely infecting others..
Perhaps just idle rambling on my part but one really must wonder about anything Andrew says with his wild political swings this way and that!

Stach61 said...

I think Andrew is suffering from thank god it wasn't me syndrome and is reformatting his Hard Drive as fast as is possible

Stach61 said...

well I have never heard of my loves and encounters in life called a inventory I can relate with the left's idea's of them being numbers not real human beings so you again give yourself away lad... try to make just one logical argument