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Fact, Innuendo Confused in Foley Case


Ever since revelations of suggestive emails and instant message conversations between former Congressman Mark Foley and a Congressional page were revealed last Friday there has been a swarm of chatter flying over the Internet and in the mainstream press.

After ABC news revealed sexually suggestive Internet communications between Foley, a Florida Republican, and a sixteen year-old House of Representatives page, Foley abruptly resigned and dropped out of the race for re-election. After Foley apologized and pulled a Kennedy, you’d have thought the story would go away. But, people, sex sells! Even if it is kind of creepy.

Now, the FBI is investigating the incident and Nancy Pelosi is trying to make this an issue in the November election (I guess hammering the war in Iraq was working for her as well as it has been for other California Democrats!)

But before we start alleging a cover-up on the part of Republican House leadership, I have to ask: What, exactly was being covered up? Although the documents that have been made public are certainly unbecoming of a Congressman, I’m not quite sure that any lines of legality have been crossed.

First of all, let’s get this, um, straight.

Mark Foley is not accused of having sexual relations with any Congressional pages (under Bill Clinton’s definition of sexual relations, I’d note, it is physically impossible from all I can tell). Even if he were accused of such an act, in the District of Columbia, the age of consent is sixteen so no laws would have been broken.

Where the thin blue line of the law may have been crossed comes when we look at an (ironically) Foley-backed law which prohibits the solicit sexual relations with a minor (under 18) over the Internet. On the face of things, it seems Foley may have broken his own law. But that’s where the media hysteria (and general ick factor) do a disservice to the truth.

ABC, for example, leads with this headline: “E-mails Show Foley Sought to Rendezvous with Page,” to describe an instant message exchange with a former page in which Foley makes dinner plans for “Friday”.

Now a former co-worker of mine, with whom the difference in our ages is the same as Foley and the Page, called today to ask me to lunch. Would a responsible journalist write, “Gloria Malkin Seeks Rendezvous with Former Co-Worker?” That would be silly, of course.

While I do not condone Foley’s actions, nor do I claim to have all the facts, I have to say that in this case, the innuendo is laid on a little thick.

Why are we jumping to conclusions about Foley’s dinner plans? Could it be an internalized homophobia that says that all Gays are perverted, pedophilic and promiscuous? Because that is what the media is telling us – a Gay Congressman cannot go to dinner with a page without there being sex. And, perhaps for political reasons, even the Gays are buying into it.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 3:25 PM | Permalink

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