News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Moral Hypocrisy in The Foley Case

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Moral Hypocrisy in The Foley Case

The Republican Congressman from Fla. was on a committee that oversaw legislation dealing with the Internet and child predators. He solicited sex from congressional interns. The IMs that Foley sent the young man contain unsavory suggestions. In the 1990s Foley attacked Clinton for his "sex addiction."

Republican leaders hid the facts for a year.

I wonder how many other skeletons will fall out of the oh-so-pure Republican party closets? ...

According to

ABC News reported Friday that Foley also engaged in a series of sexually explicit instant messages with current and former pages, all male. In one message, ABC said, Foley wrote to one page, "Do I make you a little horny?"

In another message, Foley wrote, "You in your boxers, too? ... Well, strip down and get relaxed."

Foley, as chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect.

"We track library books better than we do sexual predators," Foley has said.
The political implications of the Foley scandal have some more import than those reported in the press as of yet. These political consequences will go far beyond consensuality and age. I believe that in many a republican and religious right heart there's the suspicion that liberals and democrats actually secretly condone pedophilia. Explicated in rational terms, this innate "sense" of these people is voiced as a war against cultural values that they believe the liberal or democratic policies promote, i.e., sexual promiscuity and aberrant sexuality such as pedophilia.

The "family values" aspects of the republican and religious right political agenda are an attempt to attack this supposed liberal ideology. What this scandal is 1) espousing family values and fighting a culture war does not make you any more righteous than anyone else; 2) the hypocrisy of the rightists when it comes to policing their own when they commit these acts; and 3) the possibility that the republicans are simply mouthing family value platitudes to gain power.

I think this story is going to turn off many moderate Republicans to their party candidates. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a massive reluctance on Republican voters' part to vote, simply out of disgust at the shortcomings of the current Republican platform. Yes, the hardcore Bushistas will continue to vote for the authoritarian policies of this administration, but they may be the only ones. Even the religious right voters may find it hard to stomach the growing perception that they've been used by the neocons and Republican leadership.

There are further implications of this scandal that I don't have time to go into now. These include the notion that any attempt at cultural reform based on religious teachings is impossibility. In the first place, as Socrates used to say, you can't teach virtue, whether it's by culture or otherwise. Second, the prevalence of original sin makes any socio-cultural programme bent on inspiring or inculcating faith is impossible.

Update 1 October 4 -- Several days out, Media Matters for America documents the various dodges taken by the Bushistas and conservatives to deflect focus on the underlying scandal in this affair.

Update 2 -- Media Matters documents attempts by Republican apologists to link the Foley scandal to the supposed issue of homosexuality and pedophilia:
On October 2, Perkins issued a statement on what he claimed was "the real issue" in the Foley scandal -- the purported "link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse"; the statement was uncritically reported by the San Francisco Chronicle in an October 3 report on the scandal. Similarly, on the October 3 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews failed to challenge the claim by Perkins that "there's clear research that shows that homosexual men are more likely to abuse children than straight men." Perkins's claim appears to be based on an article on the Family Research Council's website by Timothy J. Dailey, a senior research fellow at the FRC's Center for Marriage and Family Studies, which asserts that there is a "disturbing connection" between homosexuality and pedophilia because "homosexual pedophiles commit about one-third of the total number of child sex offenses" whereas homosexuals make up only "1 to 3 percent of the population."

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