There may actually be good news in the creepy revelations about ex-congressman Mark Foley (R-Florida). Sure, a significant, but loud, minority will claim that his homosexuality is somehow related to his interest in minors, as if there is a greater likelihood of pedophilia among homosexuals. Actually, according to several sources, there is a huge media conspiracy to hide this ‘fact’. I found dozens of articles claiming that there is a link, but strangely, they were all from conservative or religious sites. I hate to commit a genetic fallacy here, but one ought to wonder about a claim, when a group with a fairly obvious bias seems so hell-bent against evidence to the contrary.
Suspecting their claims doesn’t support the opposite either. I did find scholarly articles such as this one with quotes from scientific literature:
Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).
The problem is, that link comes from “work by Dr. Gregory Herek, an internationally recognized authority on sexual prejudice (also called homophobia), hate crimes, and AIDS stigma. It provides factual information to promote the use of scientific knowledge for education and enlightened public policy related to sexual orientation….” I imagine Dr. Gregory Herek might be just as biased the other way. Oh well, that’s another post.
Back to Foley though. He finally outed himself as a gay man, but only after it was alleged that he’s a hebephile. Technically hebephile is used to describe adult sexual attractions to adolescents or children who have reached puberty which isn’t exactly the same thing as pedophilia. These ‘kids’ are actually above the age of consent in nearly every state of the union. That’s not to say his behavior was OK, moral, or even legal, it’s just not the same as him chasing after little kids. By outing himself he’s only more firmly entrenched the view of conservatives and the religious right that there is a link between homosexuality and pedophilia. According to Herek’s article, “many child molesters don’t really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women.” In other words, Foley probably isn’t really gay in the first place. That won’t stop people from further linking these issues. I can imagine that homesexuals are rather angry at Mr. Foley. Damn, it’s getting difficult to find that silver lining.
Maybe there is one thing. Foley isn’t the first gay man to be elected to public office in the U.S. He’s not even the first one to have been caught in a scandal and he’s not even the first republican in this situation. See, there are private matters one ought not put on one’s blog. Foley didn’t write about his interest in young men and most other bloggers regrain from discussing their interest in smoking pot or polygamy or witchcraft. You don’t know who’s reading your thoughts and how what you say might effect your friends, your professional life, or…even a future political career. I am as guilty of self-censorship as the next blogger, although not for anything as salacious as Mr. Foley (too bad, it’d make for good reading I am sure). Meanwhile, a gay-republican was elected to public office. Perhaps I really can write whatever I wish here without fear of it impacting my potential future campaigning?
Contrary to many arguments I’ve made in the past, maybe one can be elected in the United States without an attractive wife, happy looking family and long track record of church-based (or religious-institution based) community service. (I’m not married, have no children, and don’t belong to a religious institution, so I’d always figured any political aspirations were done from the start—oops, there I’ve gone and admitted everything I was hiding up until now.)
Wait. That’s not true at all. Foley wasn’t forthcoming about his aleged homosexuality or alcoholism. Mark Foley, now an admitted homosexual, alcoholic and alleged child molester, was, in fact, a Roman Catholic, married with children. He was elected or re-elected six times as a republican to federal office.
Damn, there’s no silver lining here after all. Unless, it’s the apparent fact that no matter who you are, as long as you’re willing to lie about it and can hide it well, you can be elected and re-elected over and over again. Either way, I may have blown my political career just by writing this blog, don’t you think?