This recent story in the L.A. Times about Disgraced Congressman Mark "Maf54" Foley annoys me for two reasons:
First, it's the first story I've seen that people will use to "prove" that Foley did not have sex with underage pages. I'm sure some people will also use this story to dismiss accusations that Foley is a pedophile, because, you know, it's totally professional and appropriate to IM the pages asking them if you make them a little horny or if they have boners as long as you don't act on it. The story quotes Maf54 saying, "I always knew you were a player but I don't fool around with pages." Does that take Foley off the hook for being a sexual predator? I don't think so.
Second, the emphasis in this story on the fact that Foley is gay, and the disparaging nickname (Triple F) the pages gave him, does nothing to dispel the homophobia that runs rampant in conservative circles. In fact, this whole article seems to say that yeah, Foley wasn't a pedophile, but he was a closeted gay congressman, and hell, isn't that worse? The encounter in this story happened between two consenting adults (the page says he was 21 when the sex occurred), but because it's gay sex, and even though the sex occurred ostensibly years after this ex-page finished the high school program, it's "newsworthy." But let's not forget that the inappropriate conversations with pages still occurred while Foley was serving as a congressman.
As I mentioned before, this is the way many conservative people (and bloggers) are already thinking. And, as a gay-friendly straight woman, I find this kind of thinking particularly dangerous because it seeks to scapegoat a specific group of people to blame for an individual's unethical, unprofessional, and just plain sick behavior. I mean seriously, that's what's happening here. It seems a simple enough concept. However, some disgusting wankers (ahem, Matt Drudge, ahem) are taking another scapegoating angle, trying to blame the pages for somehow encouraging Foley's deviant behavior.
When the next GOP scandal erupts, which poor group of people will be held up for scrutiny that time?
Sidebar: The age of consent in D.C. is 16? Eww.
(Thanks to L.W. from Calitics for the link. Also cross-posted at Bring It On!)