Friday, September 29, 2006

Mark Foley

The resignation of Mark Foley [See 9/29/2006 is to be regretted.

Foley may have been unwise but nothing that has come out has suggested illegality. In general, I expect that age-consonant couples work better, and I agree age of consent laws should be obeyed.

But, with only minor tut-tuting, it is fairly common for older powerful men to marry women decades younger than them (Michael Douglass, Tony Randall, etc.)

Gay people should be allowed to make the same bad decisions as straight people.

UPDATE (9/30/2006):

More has come out. Apparently some AIM messages by Foley contained much more inappropriate comments to other young men. If so, that somewhat changes the situation.

UPDATE (10/1/2006):

Very good discussion at Glenn Greenwald's blog.

UPDATE (10/2/2006)

The Chicago Tribune 10/2/2006 has a good account of the Republican's damage control efforts, and Democratic efforts to capitalize on the issue.

ABCNEWS 10/1/2006 has published the full transcript of IMs, which amount to "internet sex." No wonder Foley resigned. The young man in question does not, however, come across as exactly innocent.


Travis said...

According to the ABC news website, he made very sexual comments to the 16-year-old and was basically soliciting for sex over the internet. That is the same stuff that they use to bust the guys on those "Dateline" specials. If that is the case, he then did break the law and could go to jail. (Though, if he were a female teacher, it would just be probation.)

Paul Halsall said...

The ABC report I read indicated rather mild, if inappropriate comments. I am rather surprised by the infantilization of 16 year olds. In most states, that is the age of consent, and when they do something wrong they yend to get prosecuted as adults.

Scott Carson said...

Sixteen seems pretty young to me. I work with a lot of 18-22 year olds who don't seem responsible enough to balance their own checking accounts, let alone be on their guard against someone that much older and more experienced.

It's one thing to say that age-differences ought not to matter when both parties are responsible enough to take care of themselves, but I think that the worry in situations like this is that the power differential is such that a young man can be very seriously used by someone in Foley's position. For all I know Tony Randall was also a user, but that doesn't excuse it in Foley's case, and the fact that the women were older than 16 ought not to excuse it in Randall's case.

Not every old man is going to be a Socrates about his Alcibiades. I'm not sure it really is infantilization to protect kids against this sort of thing.

Travis said...

The ABC report that I read was not graphic, but did have incriminating info on what he said to the kid online.

You make a good point about the age of consent though. 10 years ago the age of consent in FL was 16. My friend, who was 15 at the time, was dating an 18 year old girl and a girl that I went to high school with was 16 and dating a 22 year old. I have often wondered what is so magical about hitting the age of 18. If an adult is with a girl who turned 18 2 days ago, that is fine. But if he is with a girl who turns 18 in one week, he is in trouble. Even though the two girls are at the same maturity level.

Steve Muhlberger said...


Has it occurred to you that Foley wrote a law to imprison others for doing what he did himself?

Would you trust this man on any matter?

Paul Halsall said...

Steve, the more I live, the less I think I should trust people. This particular hypocrisy does not strike me as worse than others. Unless more comes out, two things strike me; the usual tragedy of the closet; and the usual use of a gay scandal at the point of an election.

The whole story seems to have broken at , which, as you read it, is completely hostile to gay people. But it seems to have been picked up by Democratic operators. I agree with Andrew Sullivan on this - the whole thing makes me queasy.

Meanwhile the old saw of Labour Party compaign managers in the UK seems to be true here: "unmarried conservative" = "gay."