October 03, 2006

Democrats 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 Annika's Journal]

* As Mahoney should have been, long ago.

Posted by annika at October 3, 2006 09:57 PM

There is something missing here.

"In the Fall of 2005, Speaker Hastert's office was first notified of 'overly friendly' emails sent by Foley to a certain page..."

There is a missing link in the chain. Who notified Hastert's office of the emails? Presumably, whoever did this must have seen the emails in order to class them as 'overly friendly' - but if they were that concerned, why did they not send copies of the emails themselves to the office along with the notification?

The emails alone are hardly a serious threat. They look, as was pointed out in the entry this is a comment to, quite innocent. This would suggest either the missing person was extremally paranoid, or had access to other information which made them suspicious. What was this other information?

If Hastert's office had been given more information, then they might have done more. Instead, he passed the buck to another party, who did really nothing but ask politely for more information, and then drop the issue when none was given. Both the clerk and Hastert seemed uninterested in persuing the issue any further than a 'stop it!' request. The clerk should have done more to get the emails (They may not be very incriminating, but that wasn't known at the time) and Hastet should have been applying more pressure for an investigation. Both should have been working together to find more information from the source of the complaint - even if only so they could be sure it was insignificent.

Posted by: Suricou Raven at October 4, 2006 08:32 AM

Take the focus off of Hastert and put it back where it belongs - on Foley. Foley is the real criminal here. He is the one that perpetrated this whole thing. He is the sicko.

However, having said all of that I suppose I will be the first to question WHY these pages, regarding the IMs, didn't REPORT IT SOONER? Why on earth did they continue to engage in this behavior? I'm not blaming them I just want to know why they didn't tell someone sooner? It was IMing for crying out loud, it's not like Foley was in the same room threatening them with their lives. And they KEPT doing it! They kept talking to the sicko. They were also, what, 16 years old, not 8 years old where they would be scared out of their minds.

And in keeping with my conspiracy thinking mind I'm wondering if they were pages at all and not someone else setting up the congressman. And if it was a sting operation I'm glad they caught the son of a bitch. But that's just my crazy little thinking. LOL

Great post by the way Anika, very professional and level headed. Thanks for doing it because I just can't form a sentence about this whole situation without wanting to come unglued.

I've gone back to watching sitcoms.

Posted by: Alabama at October 4, 2006 10:53 AM

Foley is uninteresting - guilty as hell, everyone knows it. He has admitted it. What is there to debate? Hastert is where the conspiricy theories are forming.

Posted by: Suricou Raven at October 4, 2006 02:04 PM

Everything changes!



Kirk Fordham, Mr Foley's chief of staff until early 2004, told the Associated Press he had warned Mr Hastert's office of Mr Foley's behaviour more than three years ago.

Mr Fordham said he had had "more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene".

The Washington Post reported that as far back as 1995, some pages were warned to be aware of the actions of Mr Foley.


Thats Hastert implicated as well. Now, overlooking one complaint references mostly-harmless emails could be excused. Really, he had no way of knowing there was anything wrong. But this shows that something was up. Formham clearly knew what was going on, if perhaps not the full extent, and informed at least Hastert and probably others, so... yep, coverup! Some unknown party even thought to warn the pages - but didn't think to alert any type of police authority.

Before, I thought that Hastert was just a bit un-eager, possibly busy, and tried to pass responsibility onto someone else too busy to do much. But with the new evidence coming out now, this is looking more and more like deliberate, willful ignorance by several people, all of them Republicans.

Posted by: Suricou Raven at October 5, 2006 11:49 AM

That is a very unique and outstanding view point that goes to show you how the democratic party doesn't really care about gays (nor do i), or about justice (look at all of their sex scandals involving children withing the democratic party). All they care about is giving the republican pary a bad name and ruining their image. They offer no solutions, and many of their weak policies on crime do nothing but create new problems.

Posted by: Jay at October 7, 2006 03:34 PM

I know of only one recent sex scandel involving minors in US politics, and that one is Foley.

Posted by: Suricou Raven at October 21, 2006 12:01 PM