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October 03, 2006

Democrats (and some Republicans) Call For Gay Profiling

Any treatment of the Mark Foley story must include certain disclaimers, so let's get those out of the way first.

1. Foley's conduct with the pages was despicable, inexcusable, inappropriate, sickening, and in my opinion may turn out to be worse than has been alleged so far.

2. I'm glad he is gone, good riddance.

3. If Dennis Hastert or other members of the House Republican leadership knew about the masturbatory internet chats (as opposed to the e-mails sent to a different page, which they did know about), then Hastert is no better than Cardinal Mahoney and needs to be booted out.*

Now, the question before us is whether Hastert should be booted out anyway. That's what Democrats and some Republicans are saying.

An excellent summary of the story as of last Sunday can be found at American Thinker.

What do we know so far?

In the Fall of 2005, Speaker Hastert's office was first notified of "overly friendly" emails sent by Foley to a certain page (not the one from the masturbatory chats). Hastert's office was not shown the original emails.

Now, since Hastert is not the "boss" of the House of Representatives (he's barely the boss of the House Republicans) he appropriately handed off the issue to the Clerk of the House.

The House Clerk is kind of a quasi-operations officer for the whole House, and is elected by the whole House.

The Clerk asked to see the "overly friendly" e-mails in question and was told that the parents didn't want to reveal them for privacy reasons. The issue was resolved by the Clerk's office telling Foley to stop all contact with the page.

As far as I know, nobody is claiming that Hastert ever knew of the masturbatory chats before they were disclosed last week. All he knew about was the "overly friendly" e-mails, and he didn't even know what was in them.

Now, we can have a discussion about whether Hastert's office, or the Clerk should have been more vigourous in demanding to see what was in the e-mails. But even if they had seen the e-mails, what should they have done?

Look at the e-mails in question, and ask yourself why they are disturbing. I think they are, but I have the benefit of knowing about the masturbatory chats, which provide a hell of a lot of context.

In the first e-mail, Foley asks, "how old are you now?" In the second, he comments that another page is "in really great shape." In the third, Foley asks the page what he wants for his birthday. In the fourth e-mail, Foley says, "send me a pic of you as well."

In the law of defamation, there is a concept called "defamation per quod," which is used to describe a statement that is not defamatory in and of itself, but can be defamatory if one takes into account facts that are extrinsic to the statment itself.

You might say that Foley's e-mails contain statements that are "pederastic per quod." In other words, the statements themselves are not creepy unless one takes into account a fact that is extrinsic to the statements: the fact that Mark Foley is gay.

Alarm bells could not go off in anyone's mind upon reading those e-mails unless one takes into account the sexual orientation of the author. In other words, Hastert's critics are implicitly saying that Hastert should have made two assumptions about Mark Foley in general and the e-mails in particular (which he didn't even see).

1. That Mark Foley is gay, and

2. All gays want to have sex with young boys.

Assumption number two is patently untrue, and I don't know why gay rights groups are not speaking up in outrage about this. For Hastert to come down on Foley based on the text of those four emails, Hastert would have had to assume the worst about a gay man on pretty flimsy evidence. Is that fair? Or isn't that gay profiling?

Add to that the fact that Foley was not officially out of the closet until this week. There were rumors, certainly, but Foley had always denied them. If Hastert had "outed" Foley on the basis of those four e-mails alone, Hastert would have been pilloried by the same people now calling for his head.

[Cross-posted at The Cotillion]

* As Mahoney should have been, long ago.

Posted by annika, Oct. 3, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


I have deep reservations about forming my opinions from 'news' blogs; there's really no accountability and they could be 80% right, with the other 20% carefully crafted spin.

I have a hard time believing that the subject was brought to the attention of Hastert if it was just a friendly IM asking for a pic, unless there was something about the pic that hasn't been elaborated on yet.

There will be much about this to come, so I will simply reserve judgement until I see more evidence (or coverup).

Posted by: will on Oct. 3, 2006

Well, I don't know that you'd have to think number 2 to be troubled by just these emails alone. Leaving aside the fact that I'm just bothered that a congressman writes so horribly (though, really, I guess I shouldn't be so shocked -- I've seen some law partners with horrendous email skills... but I digress), these emails are REALLY freaking casual for being between a congressman and a page. I interned for my congressman while I was in college and I don't think he even knew my name, let alone sent me emails asking for my picture. So unless he shows that level of familiarity with ALL of his pages/interns, I'd think it was kind of fishy, yeah, and I don't think all gays (or even very many of them) are pedophiles.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily a reason to kick out Hastert -- I don't have strong feelings about that one way or another, and I think it's very cynical but predictable of democrats to use this as an excuse -- but I don't think that you'd necessarily have to think all gays are pedophiles to find the emails a little troubling.

Posted by: The Law Fairy on Oct. 3, 2006

This is not a Dimocratic or Ripofflican thing. It is indicative of a lack of honor and integrity on the part of those who serve in Congress.

Term limits anyone?

Posted by: NOTR on Oct. 3, 2006

I just think the guy is a fucking pervert, and I'm happy as hell he got caught. Sure, it helps the Dems - hell they may even be behind the release so long after the fact - but the bottom line is the guy deserves to be in that special place in Hell reserved for those who exploit children. What an amazing creep. And, I hate to sound macho because it generally sounds very stupid, but the guy needs his nancy boy ass kicked.

As for the leadership, I'm with Will. I don't know enough for a judgement. The Dems grandstanding this, though, is pretty hypocritical given they didn't say jackshit about their own page pervert in the past.

And how about the guy busting out the "I was abused by clergy" crap. So fucking what? That's an excuse? Again, this is a man in need of a good ol' fashioned ass kicking.

Posted by: blu on Oct. 3, 2006

We have a Strawman sighting!

Posted by: Radical Redneck on Oct. 3, 2006

You know I try to be tolerant and all that. But I would say that any gay who (1)sought some high position of power, and (2) was in the closet, is probably also capable of hitting on underage kids.
It sort of goes with the territory of being a narcissist and living a false life.

Posted by: kyle8 on Oct. 4, 2006

"Hastert's office was not shown the original emails." How do we know this?

Posted by: will on Oct. 4, 2006

how do we know the sun will come up tomorrow?

because annie says so!

Posted by: annie on Oct. 4, 2006

I have to agree with Law Fairy; there's something inherently creepy about a man in a congressman's position being so interested in teenage pages. I'd feel exactly the same if they were girls. Foley's e-mails seem innocent enough on their face until you recall that he's a 52 year-old man writing to teenagers. It would be one thing if they were family, or if Foley were a close friend of their families. (When I was a teenager I used to occasionally hang out at the house of one of my parents' friends, who was in his fifties. There was nothing inappropriate about it; he'd known me since the day I was born, and I thought he was a pretty cool guy. And he was. He even loaned me his 1969 AMX once. The 390! What a rush ... but I digress.) But absent that kind of understandably close relationship, my reaction in Hastert's place would've been to wonder what Foley could possibly have in common with sixteen year-olds.

I'm only 36, and there are few sixteen year-olds I'd be interested in befriending; I just don't have much in common with most of them. Look at it this way. A 23 year-old law student clerked in my office this summer. (A smokin' hot 23 year-old law student.) If I were to start e-mailing her using the same tone Foley used with these pages, asking for pics of her and the like, I think many people would quite naturally assume I was trying to bang her. And I have a lot more in common with a 23 year-old law student than any congresscritter has in common with any sixteen year-old. There might have been plausible innocent explanations for those e-mails, but I would've wanted to hear them.

Posted by: Matt on Oct. 4, 2006

and then what...

that's the point, with which the WSJ agrees, btw.

Posted by: annika on Oct. 4, 2006


Hey Kyle8

With both hands on my dick how did you get that shot? Wearing those creepy glasses with the camera in the bridge again? But thanks for the exposure, you know what they say.

But seriously folks, I like my cheek but I take my tongue out of it some times.

Whether Foley is a despicable old queen is not in dispute. His clergy abuse, alcoholism defense is such scary cynical bullshit you gotta wonder what lawmakers have for brains or think their constituents have. He is out of Congress and if his pandering rises to a crime he will most likely be prosecuted. That is the end of that.

But like most of what goes on in DC, the real crime is against the American people perpetrated by those whose fear of losing power causes them to lose perspective and act like criminals. Now I was not in the room with Hastert when he made his decisions about this matter based on the "overly friendly" but not graphic emails but I am confident he was in no rush to investigate Foley, knowing what he would find (you would have to be brain dead not to recognize these emails for what they were) could not act against the best interests of the party. Politicians are concerned with POWER not the well being of 16-17 year old boys. Foley might pay them lip service; in fact I am sure he would but not big fat Denny. Will Denny escape aiding and abetting because the "friendly" emails' intent is deniable (not really but he will shrug and say shit like “What’s wrong with asking if a young man is in good physical condition? That's a nice, caring question. Where’s the harm in that?" There is no level of disingenuousness that these pigs won't stoop to when their ass in hanging out. He seems to have deniability on the "So, you're prolly gonna jerk off this weekend, right? Maybe I could lend a hand." text messages.

I have no doubt what –so-ever that they hoped to confine this matter at least until after the mid terms.

Should Denny step down? Who the fuck cares? What will he be replaced with? A congenial bi-partisan deal maker? Hardly, there are plenty more dogs in the pen.

Posted by: strawman on Oct. 4, 2006

I wasn't addressing what Hastert should've done; perhaps there was nothing he could have done. But you went beyond that claim; you asserted that that one has to assume "all gays want to have sex with young boys" in order for those e-mails to generate alarm bells. No. The fact that a 52 year-old man is writing those sorts of things to a 16 year-old of either sex, in this context, should set off alarm bells. If my daughter (who'll be 16 in fewer years than I'd like to admit) were getting such e-mails from s fifty-something former boss, I'd seriously consider kicking his ass.

Posted by: Matt on Oct. 4, 2006

It now appears the page was 18, so it looks like Foley will skate criminal prosecution. Anyone who doesn't believe that power corrupts is willfully blind. This applies to both parties, and term limits are at least part of the answer. Along with limits on the professional staff as well. My preference would be a strict 12 year limit total executive or legislative branch service.

No more pages, also.

Posted by: MarkD on Oct. 5, 2006

I stand corrected on the ages. I should not have stopped with the headline in Drudge.

Posted by: MarkD on Oct. 5, 2006


I looked more closely at that photo and I suspect the line "... and the destruction of Israel" is photoshop'ed in. It just does not look correct and the angle of the line cast back to the rear of the picture does not match the other lines. Also it is jet black and given the colors of the rest of the poster I don't think the makers would have used black. And, of course, the conflict, not that this would surprize the RW bigots, between the the "....for peace" and ....destruction" sentiments.

I could be wrong but I don't think so.

Posted by: strawman on Oct. 5, 2006

Something got knocked loose last night. Per ageofconsent.com, 16 is legal in the District of Columbia.

So, if the page were 17 and in DC, I suppose, technically, there was nothing illegal. Unbelievably, incredibly distasteful, to say the least, but not illegal.

(NOTE: Please keep in mind I just *work* in a law firm--I don't practice in one. I ain't no lawyer; those with legal backgrounds are free to tear this apart as they see fit. Heck, so are those without legal backgrounds.)

Posted by: Victor on Oct. 5, 2006

I haven't been following this very closely. I had the impression that the virtual sex occurred after the pages returned home to Florida or wherever they were from. In that case, D.C. law might not apply. There's been some stuff about this over at Volokh in the past couple of days.

Posted by: Matt on Oct. 5, 2006

Doesn't the fact that gays have waxed poetic about pederasty since the times of Xenophon count for us doing a little extra profiling here? Women, it seems, know men want to fuck them, even when they're 14, so they keep a certain appropriate distance if they're sensible. But young men are ambitious and likely less aware they're being seduced until they wake up with a dick in their mouth or realize it's time to quit going out to dinner with their favorite teacher/coach/professor or whoever. What's my point? This guy is a piece of crap, a seducer of star-struck youth?

Posted by: Roach on Oct. 5, 2006