(Note: I've been scarce the last few days because I'm doing some work on the house and have been looking at real estate farther north of where we live now. Whether this is a blessing or a curse for ya'all is determined by you,lol)
By now,I'm sure most of us have heard of the disgusting exchange of instant messages between Rep Mark Foley(R) and a 16 yr old congressional page. After I spent most of my time yesterday painting,I took a break and looked around the internets to get a feel for what folks are saying about this. Some of what I'm reading disturbs me,beyond the actual content of Foley's IMs to this young man.
1)That 16 yr. olds aren't"children". Bullshit. Babies,no,but children? Yes. Some 16 yr olds are more emotionally mature than others to be sure,but a 16 yr old is not an adult. Just because a kid can drive a car and get an afterschool job doesn't make them grown. There's such a push in this culture to make kids older than their years, and frankly I think that's part of the problem. 16 yr olds can be savvy and manipulative to be sure,but they are not adults. No matter how you spin it. I don't know ANY 16 yr old that I'd consider mature enough to handle adult actions and responsibility. And you know what? That's perfectly OK. Spend some time with teens,listening to them,observing them, and you'll find these are kids trying to make the transition into adulthood,but they are not adults. Much about them is still quite childlike,no matter how grown up they may look or try to act.
2) Foley isn't a pedophile,he's something else. Ok,perhaps technically,from a professional/medical standpoint,because his victims are older children,he's not officially a pedophile,"just creepy". But to file this under"just creepy" is dismissing the damage caused by this kind of lecherous behavior.
When my sister was a teenager,a neighbor to my parents became fixated on her. To show you how fucked up my family is,my parents never confronted the guy after they found out. Which to this day absolutely STUNS me. This shit started when my sis was 13 and didn't end until she left home to get her first apartment-for FIVE YEARS. He watched her come and go from home and would call her,telling her how much he liked her outfits,asking what she did on dates,which led to him trying to pry info out of her about her sexual experiences. My sister was not emotionally equipped to deal with this,and no one protected her. At one point he crossed the line and actually went into my parents' home when they weren't there and tried to force himself on her. And she NEVER TOLD MY PARENTS because she didn't think my parents would take her side since they had done nothing in the past to stop this guy from calling her. She thought it was her fault for dressing a certain way or taking his calls. No blame EVER got placed on this asshole where it belonged. And you can bet your ass this guy went on to do it to other girls too,this kind of preditory fuck doesn't stop unless they are caught and made to pay for what they've done. And even then,they'll still justify it any way they can. So let's not make the mistake of thinking a 16 yr old can control a situation like this, that's nonsense. Mark Foley is 50+ yrs old,do the math for gods sake.
3)Sexual preditors of ALL stripes never get caught the very first time they do what they do. Law enforcement and mental health professionals can tell you that by the time one of these guys(and it is usually men who do this,in spite of all the"hot teacher"stories in the news these days)is caught there's dozens,in some cases hundreds of victims before the one that got them caught. Several news stories have stated that the pages often warned new kids to the program that Foley was a perv,to watch out for him. I'd wager this has been going on at least as long as the guy has been in office,and it likely started earlier than that.
4)This also calls into question the character of the other adults who knew about this and did nothing to protect these kids. Besides the obvious political ass covering going on,I have to wonder if Foley is just one of many who are doing the same thing or worse. You can't convince me that the GOP,with all their money and huge PR firms ,couldn't spin forcing Foley out of office as a BIG score for "family values"the second the GOP leadership knew about this. Instead,they chose to,at best ignore it,at worst cover it up. Which begs the question of who else are they trying to protect here? If the environment exists that allows this to happen,it ain't all to save one guy's political behind.
5)Jokes. Ok,I know some people confront horrors of various types by trying to defuse the ugliness with dark humor. Soldiers and Marines do it, medical professionals do it,anyone who has to deal with the most vile and base things humans do to each other does this. Without that humor,it's likely people who do these jobs would lose it completely. I get that. But I find it rather un-funny when I see folks on the left side of the political divide making jokes about this Foley asshat and his victims. The wingnuts are already trying to blame this kid,making their own ugly insinuations and jokes(one particularly disturbing trend is that the kid"knew what he was doing"), and,while I can't find it yet,a commenter at Kos has said that a wingnut blog has"outed"this kid,putting his info out on the internet. This shit AIN'T FUNNY. Child abuse ain't funny,and it's one of this nation's darkest and dirtiest little secrets that little is done about. There's plenty of other crap to joke about,god knows the GOP practically write the jokes themselves with their day to day antics. I think we can leave the child abuse jokes alone and still find plenty of giggles to go around. Think about it,do you know anyone who hasn't been touched by some sort of abuse? It's a rare thing these days for anyone to not know of at least one person in their lives who has had to deal with this sort of thing. It's not funny,and even less funny when it concerns children who have no voice and cannot protect themselves. THAT'S OUR JOB,to be their voice and protect them. So enough with the jokes. Please.
6)Finally,what the HELL is going on in this country that we seem to producing a HUGE number of sexual preditors?
A few yrs ago I did a little experiment on the internets. Back then we had AOL as our internet provider,and within AOL is a whole slew of chat rooms on every topic you can think of. I posed as a 13 yr old girl just to see if all the crap I had heard about "adult"chat rooms was true. I used the screen name "sunshine13". The second I logged into chat,I was bombarded with messages,literally so many I could not even respond to one.Asking me if I had pubic hair,breast size,if I ever sucked a guy off,if I was a virgin,etc,etc,etc. After a couple of minutes I was so disgusted that I logged off,deleted that screen name and shortly after,we cancelled our AOL service.
Something is wrong with us,and it's not just our politics and policy. We have a culture that not only encourages this behavior,but excuses it. What pisses me off is that if it were a priority to stop this madness,we would have done so by now. It's a very ugly virus we have running amok here and not anywhere near enough resources have been put into breaking this insideous cycle.