Friday, September 29, 2006

Mark Foley's Resignation

I am just back from a long day at a meeting discussing abstinence-only education at the Harvard Law School, and just logged on to read emails when I read the story about Rep. Mark Foley's resignation for sending sexually explicit emails to a 16 year old Congressional page. I actually felt kinda sick reading the emails (which are posted at ABC's website if you want to read them yourself.)

How terribly sad for everyone concerned, and how ironic that Rep. Foley has been the chair of the caucus on missing and exploited children. I wrote back in June how misguided this bill was in concentrating on registries for treated sex offenders to keep children safe from abuse.

Because the facts are again that abuse of children is perpetuated by people children and teens know and often know well. Ninety percent of the time. Just like Rep. Foley knew this young man, had his email address, and was from the content of the emails, starting to groom him for a sexual relationship.

This young man knew to tell. But not all young people do. That's where prevention has to come in.

But the other sad part of this story is I have to wonder would this story have been different if Rep. Foley had been able to publicly acknowledge that he was a gay (Republican!) man and could have lived openly among his colleagues. Might that have meant that he could have made life affirming sexual decisions with other adults rather soliciting minors on emails? Of course, that is speculation, but I have to wonder how being in the closet affected him.

Scripture reminds us to not cast the first stone. For tonight, my prayers go out to both the Foley family and the yet unnamed young man. For tomorrow, I hope that the media will use this story as a teachable moment to talk to young people about sexual abuse. If they don't, I hope you will.


Anonymous said...

There's no overt sexual connotation. The page may have just misread, he should have told...but I don't see a need to resign...just a need for Foley to explain himself more

Debra W. Haffner said...

Did you READ the transcripts of these emails? Foley suggested he take off his clothes, asked him if he was turning him on (I'm substituting language here!), and other statements...the earlier emails were classic grooming behavior. Go to to read them yourself. Rep. Foley was making sexual advances at an underage male; no misunderstanding here. What explanations would make you think any of this was ethical or acceptable behavior?

blah said...

I wonder if anyone on the GOP side will point out that 16 is the age of consent in DC, so technically the page wasn't a minor...

After McGreevey and now Foley, I think it should be evident that closeted gay officials have some serious conflicts of interest going on, enough to seriously impact their ability to govern.

Bill Baar said...

It's unfortunate to link Foley as a Gay to this story.

It's abuse plain and simple.

Abuse of a minor or abuse of someone Foley knew professionally if the age of consent is really 16.

Either way it's appalling conduct and sadly many people, Gay or otherwise, seem prone to it of late.

It's lust for power, not sexual lust, at work here.

Jess said...

Well said, Debra, indeed, particularly now that more pages have come forward with instant messages and other emails. And I totally agree, CK, that being closeted in such a public forum must be such a psychological dissonance as to negatively effect every aspect of one's life - to my mind this illustrates the negative effects being in the closet has not only on the closeted person but also those around her/him.

Not having gone through this particular struggle myself, I can't really imagine the difficulty involved in either living closeted or living openly and dealing with constantly coming out to complete strangers just by going about one's life.

Anonymous said...

I am drawn to see a parallel here.

Foley used is position of power as leverage to attempt to engage a 16 year old into sexual activity.

Yet, at the same time, there seems to be a distain for abstinence education for teens.

At this jucture of the game, we all believe Foley was "using" the 16 year old, yet at the same time, this 16 year old should be "exploring" his sexuality, and getting informed at how to "protect himself" should he choose to have sex. Perhaps Mr. Foley was offering this service for this young man.....

Am I the only one who sees a serious contradiction here?

Anonymous said...

Foley is a sexual predator and as such should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Period.

Any attempt to distract people from this fact is political spin.

Chalicechick said...

Part of the first anonymous' confusion is probably that there were two sets of IMs. The first sounded creepy but not abusive, the Republicna leadership claims those were the only ones it knew about. The second group to hit the media were the really bad ones.

This confused me, too, initially.