Apparently, I am an idiot.
P.S. I am amused by the notion that the same people who were, just a few years back, howling hysterically over Bill Clinton's tortured, pedantic parsing of "sexual relations" are now the very people who are obsessed with (you guessed it) the tortured, pedantic parsing of "pedophilia."
It's a context thing, you know?
ALL RIGHT, ENOUGH OF THIS CRAP! I'm going to deal with two issues that have become annoyingly and increasingly common, then I'm going to drop it and move on so as to stop wasting any more of the oxygen in the room.
First, we have the irritating Backseat Blogger who, at the link above, writes:
I gotta love Canadian Cynic. He’s as dumb as a sack of hammers but if you think snarkiness is humour then his blog is the place to go.
For CC Foley is a “sexual predator” Yikes. That calls up images of dirty old men hiding in bushes on the look out to rape all the ripe young boys who happen to come along.
Dear BB: Let me attempt to educate you. Being a "sexual predator" has nothing to do with age, it has to do with behaviour. And when you consider a 52-year-old congressman whose pattern of behaviour involves, year after year, online sexual solicitation of various members of an incoming class of pages over whom he wields enormous power and who were, by their own admission, scared to say anything for fear of damaging their careers, that is pretty much the textbook definition of a sexual predator.
If you want to take exception with that characterization, you're more than welcome to continue to make an ass of yourself in public. Feel free. Knock yourself out.
(As an aside, I find it moderately amusing that the wingnut community has, for years, criticized gays for being promiscuous, non-monogamous, unable to commit and having such low morals as to flit from one partner to the next, but their reaction to strikingly similar behaviour from Foley is, "Hey, what's the big deal? He didn't break any laws, right? Right? So lay off." No hideous double standard there. But I digress. Onward.)
The more irritating complaint is precisely the one voiced by commenter "thickslab": that it's hideously unfair to describe Foley as a "pedophile" since, according to the actual law, he doesn't (arguably) appear to have done anything wrong. This so misses the point.
Whether or not you're a pedophile has nothing whatsoever to do with the law or whether you've broken it. The basic definition of a pedophile is simply (emphasis added) "an adult who is sexually attracted to children." Note carefully that that definition has zero to do with statutes or age of consent -- it has to do with mindset. And, taken in that light, the evidence is absolutely overwhelming that a pedophile is exactly what Foley is. And why can I say that? I'm glad you asked.
Over the last couple of days, the new GOP talking point to excuse Foley's behaviour is that he's not a pedophile, he's "just gay." This is, of course, terrifically convenient since it gets the GOP off the hook to some extent and lets them indulge in some delightful gay bashing, their sport of choice. But, if you think about it, that claim makes absolutely no sense on its face.
If Foley were "just gay," one would think that he might be attracted to other gays in a wide range of ages. Certainly, it wouldn't be hard to find appropriate partners in D.C. Come on -- middle-aged, long-time congressman, lots of political power, probably financially well off; what's not to like? And if Foley liked them younger, I can't imagine that would be a problem either. I doubt he'd have any trouble having his pick of partners in their 40s or 30s, or even the occasional 20-year-old cabana boy. But that's not what happened, is it?
Rather than simply gravitate to other gays, Foley (to the best of my knowledge) targeted exclusively teenage boys. That simply doesn't seem to fit the profile of someone who is "just gay," does it? However, even after that fact is accepted for the sake of argument, you still have people taking the position of, "Well, they were all technically over the age of consent so it's not pedophilia." With all due respect, that argument is unspeakably asinine.
If Foley had his pick of the D.C. gay community and chose to focus primarily on teenage boys, that's pretty much a pedophile red flag right there. I don't give a fuck if it was technically legal -- the man likes boys. That makes him a pedophile. But, at the risk of belabouring this, let's drive home the point with a thought experiment, shall we?
Imagine, if you will, a 40-year-old named John who likes girls. And by "girls," I mean young. Really young. There's nothing that turns John on more than a cute 12-year-old. But John's not an idiot -- he's very aware of "age of consent" laws and he has no intention of getting into that kind of trouble. But that's OK, because John knows how to handle that.
When John goes prowling for 16-year-olds, he doesn't just hit on any of them. Oh, no, he deliberately picks out the ones that look young for their age, and there's certainly enough of those. Just as some girls will look old for their age, some will, naturally, look young. So it's not surprising that John is going to be attracted to those girls who, while legally of the age of consent, don't look any older than 12 or 13. Because that the way John likes it. But John doesn't stop there.
Back at his place, John has an assortment of cute baby doll clothes for those girls he brings home and, if he slips them a few bucks, they're more than happy to dress up for him. But, again, John is always careful to check birth certificates or drivers' licenses, so there's not a chance John is going to get busted. In short, John can satisfy his craving for little girls, but stay out of trouble at the same time. Which, naturally, inspires the following question:
Is John a pedophile?
If we follow thickslab's logic, we would deny that vigorously. Nothing illegal, no laws broken, therefore, it's totally out of line to accuse John of pedophilia.
On the other hand, I think it's safe to say that anyone with a minimally-functioning brain stem would have no doubt whatsoever that John is a raging pedophile -- he's just smart enough to stay on the right side of the law. Now do you see my point?
Whether Foley technically broke the law is a matter for the authorities and the courts, and they're welcome to have that argument. Whether Foley is a pedophile is not even remotely open to debate, and I'm not wasting any more time entertaining that debate. If you want to, go wild. I have better things to do.