Saturday, October 07, 2006

THE TRAGIC OPERA of former congressman Mark Foley

Two great articles published in the past couple of days, both trying to look a little deeper into why the GOP Foley drama happened:

Boston Globe:
The gay problem in the GOP:

THE TRAGIC OPERA of former congressman Mark Foley is the revenge of don't ask, don't tell.


We've come a long way since homosexuals had two basic options: the closet or jail. But a good portion of the electorate, most of them Republican, still seems to long for the good old days when we didn't have to think about ``those people." Both Libertarians and, generally, the Democratic Party have withdrawn their official support for the closet over time... But that leaves Republicans and the religious right trying to live a 1950s lie in the new millennium.


But what can one expect from denying grown men -- and women -- a normal, adult sex life? Whether the denial of adult intimacy comes from religious conviction or the ordinary urge toward conformity, people who run away from their sexuality nearly always have to answer to nature somehow. For people who fear abiding and mutual love, the trust and confusion of the young is a godsend. Add to that the perquisites of power, and a degenerate is born (emphasis is mine).


"Like the Catholic Church, the Republican Party in Washington guarantees its own future calamities in its enduring and steadfast habit of pretending that, unlike heterosexuality, homosexuality can be either denied or suppressed."

Washington Post:
GOP Bigotry That Backfired:

Let's deal with the circumstance that dares not speak its name: How much of the Mark Foley scandal's impact is due to the fact that he's a gay man who preyed on young boys?


It's tempting to put it all down to hypocrisy. The Republican Party has gone to such lengths to demonize homosexuality that it must pain the leadership to reveal that such a thing as a gay Republican congressman could even exist. The party has stigmatized gay people as "them," not "us" -- as a class of people whose "lifestyle" is unsavory and whose committed relationships must never be recognized, lest the republic instantly crumble to dust.


Still, I don't think hypocrisy alone is enough to explain why the Foley mess is such a big deal. I think it goes deeper.

One of the central tenets of anti-homosexual doctrine is the notion of "recruitment" -- that adult gay people lure young people into homosexuality as a way of increasing their numbers. The most extreme anti-gay activists perceive a full-fledged conspiracy. The Traditional Values Coalition, a group whose homophobia can only be called rabid, goes so far as to claim that, after being enticed into sexual acts, the "young 'initiates' into the strange world of homosexuality are to be trained to reject the moral beliefs of their parents."


In pre-feminist times, people thought of young girls as particularly delicate and vulnerable. We worried about their being compromised or corrupted by older men. It's fascinating that much of today's America seems to be more viscerally worried about young boys.


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