Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Being Abroad Makes You Miss Very Important Things. We Only Found Out YESTERDAY That Eva Longoria Broke Up With Tony Parker!

This is bad news.

Former Congressman Mark Foley, who basically threw a hand grenade into the campaign heart of the Republican National Committee when all of this disgusting emails and IMs were revealed, has screwed the gays even as he finally admits that he is one.

Foley said yesterday, through his lawyer, that he was molested as a child by a priest, and that this may have contributed to the impulses that led him to become a sexual predator himself. This has become a re-play of what happened with Jim McGreevey. When the former governor of New Jersey held his “Gay American” speech, “Regular Americans” learned that gays are a) liars, b) corrupt and c) sexually aggressive against unwilling partners.

Now, Foley, by conceding that he is gay at the same time as revealing this childhood abuse, has taught to the same “Regular Americans” that gays are a) liars, b) sexual predators, c) twisted into their current, sick form by childhood sexual abuse.

Foley’s lawyer did say that Foley "does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate e-mails and IMs [instant messages]. He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct." But will anyone hear that? By announcing these messages at the same time, he’s making a pretty easy connect-the-dots picture for bigoted Americans who only want to hear that gay people are sick, or abnormal.

This amplifies a point made yesterday by Fishwatch. It doesn’t help that he’s in “rehab” and trying to combat a mysterious bout of alcoholism that none of his friends or cohorts ever noticed before. The amount of times that “treatment,” “recovery,” and “getting better” are used in the rhetoric of the scandal just add another link. “There’s something wrong with gay people,” Fox News viewers will hear. “They need to be fixed.”

The concept that a close-minded society is the cause of scandalous aberrations like Jim McGreevey and Mark Foley, rather than their innate homosexuality, is just too complicated to expect gay rights foes to grasp. Many of these people are the ones who think the world was created in seven days, remember. They like to keep it simple.

However, the most important question, we think, is this: can we get a picture of the fucking page, please? Come on bloggers, you have no journalistic integrity. Screw the kid’s right to privacy. With all this dirty talk, we need a visual!


Bald Knob said...

I agree that this is a tough situation as it affects the gay population. Foley threw all gays under the bus in an an attempt to exonerate himself, and even if he hadn't said he was gay, in reading the IMs and emails it is apparent that he is. Sadly, this is the only the latest example of a media circus covering a gay man humiliated by his acts- not unlike George Michael or McGreevey.

However, as with all setbacks and obstacles in the road to progress, the only way to surmount this is to convince those who you can convince, and respect the views of those you can't- without that respect there will be no dialogue and attitudes and differences between the sides will only grow larger.

What I mean is, there are always people you won't be able to convince. But you won't convince anyone of anything unless you try. Dismissing people from places like Kansas, Utah, or wherever whom you think believe the world was created in seven days (as many do) as being unable to discern the difference between society forcing innately gay people into bizarre acts of hiding their desires and gayness itself as a cause of that behavior doesn't help to convince anyone of anything.

I share your frustration, and disappointment in Foley, and I also understand that this blog is not typically read by "unfriendly" readers. That said, the farther apart the divide becomes between responsible, exemplary gays, and the god-fearing folk who don't understand homosexuality, the harder progress will become. The simple math is that there are a lot more people in the U.S. that believe God created the earth 5,900 years ago than there are that are gay. Convincing these people that their sense of morality and values should push them to protect gay people is the only way to push forward. If you think someone is unintelligent because they watch Fox News, who is making the assumptions?

bigmouth said...

Very well said. Point taken.

We have to say, though, that living in Spain (80% Catholic, recall) has been extremely eye-opening on this point. Americans (on both sides of the debate) are very caught up in the rhetoric of the rights of non-traditional marriage and lifestyles. There, you will here a lot more about "protection of tradition" and "slippery slopes" and "values." Here, the citizenry never lost sight of the humanity of the issue.

It's common wisdom that if a normal, upstanding gay person were to walk door to door across the United States and introduce himself, things would change. If he (or she) patiently explained to voters that every state constitutional ammendment passed against gay marraige meant that he or would not be able to visit the person that he loved in the hospital, or be able to share his health benefits with the person he loved, or inherit his estate, it is generally accepted that votes would change. Because, as you said, many voters in that group simply do not know a gay person. They don't have a human face to put on the equation. So it's all words, and values, and hypotheticals to them.

But the fact of the matter is, gay people are people. They have foibles, and they have bad apples, and they make mistakes. It is impossible to ask every gay person to be better than every straight person to prove a point.

If you ask a Spaniard why he wants gay people to have equal marraige and adoption rights, he will look at you as though you have two heads. "Why wouldn't they have equal rights?" he will ask. "They are as much human as I am."

It is unfair to generalize the religious right, we recognize. But the fact of the matter is, the Spanish answer is the only one a true Christian would give. So why aren't we hearing it?

bald knob said...

Well-put bro. You've put your finger on one of the hearts of the problems: lack of humanity, inability to put a human face on the issue. This is not dissimilar from problems facing a lot of minority groups; people in small-town North Carolina, for example, have likely never met a Jew, and therefore, as their only examples of Jews, see people like Alan Dershowitz on TV, and that, combined with rhetoric from groups that prey on this lack of knowledge, is enough to form scary stereotypes. I see the same thing out here in the midwest- many of the most anti-black racists I encounter live far from the city, where there are no black people, and the only black people they see are on the news for professional sports or gang-related activities.

A key component to overcoming this is for good role models to step forward- and hopefully that is going to continue to happen. It is probably arguable that Jackie Robinson did as much for race relations as any other person (except for Dr. King, of course), and every time a celebrity such as Lance Bass comes out it helps to change people's perceptions... boy wouldn't it be great if a football player came out....

Aatom said...

Bravo, Bald Knob, I have never said the same thing quite so eloquently, but you've just summed up the thrust (so to speak) of my feelings on gay rights in America.

The good news is that the frustration we now feel is the frustration of seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, and recognizing that we are still pretty far from it. But compared to the darkness of decades past, I'd count that as a healthy kind of frustration. I know that I have personally changed the hearts and minds of several handfuls of dyed-in-the-wool rednecks, just by being physically real and terribly charming to them. The generational leap we are about to make as a society is going to be dramatic, and in our favor, so a bit of patience, combined with the essential dialogue that you encourage, will win the day for us. And then we can move on to the next idiotic social issue in this country.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing might be a ploy to divert attention away from other republican crimes by way of using Foley as a sacrificial lamb. The legal age in DC is 16, and he never shagged any of the kids. This rage is fueled by the media.

What surprises me is the immense negative reaction by so many gays. We're trying to tell someone else how to live his life.

Sure I'd love to see his seat vacated and filled by a Dem, and I'd love to see young pre-teens protected from mollesters, but hey, sixteen--while it's noy my personal style, isn't really such a disgusting thing.

Bald Knob said...

Absolutely. I think the unfortunate lingering impression, after all the dust settles from this matter, won't be that Foley is a pedophile or child molester (unless new stuff comes out that hasn't yet), as it sounds like he hasn't broken any laws, but rather will focus on three facts.

That Foley was molested as a child, is a gay American, and has behaved inappropriately with young adults.

Glossed over in all the focus on the salaciousness of the IMs, the focus by many gay groups on the association of Foley's homosexuality with his inappropriate messaging, and general disappointment with Congress, is the fact that Foley has, perhaps not unwittingly, has identified himself not only as a gay American- but one that was sexually molested as a child. In addition to all of the inferences that bigmout alludes to above and in the posting, this is sadly yet another impression that many people share- that being gay is not a genetic identity, but rather a conscious or subconscious reaction to life events, often times abuse or lack of parental care. While somewhat of an irrelevant matter in all of our lives, this is a critical distinction, not only for outright foes of gay people, but also for the vast population "in the middle" that is generally compassionate but doesn't really understand gay people. For example, if gayness is a mental reaction that young people form after distressing events, then many people will believe that it is something that can be reversed, or cured. Even people who don't share that view may still be unconvinced that gay issues are similar to other civil rights issues- for example, if it had been scientifically proven for decades and widely accepted that homosexuality is genetic, perhaps black leaders, such as ministers, would be more likely to be helpful rather than hateful. Certainly at least some of the vast population in the middle would more likely support equal rights if it were universally accepted that homosexuality is genetic.

As bigmouth describes, we live in a sound-bite society. Two of the big "bites" people are going to remember years after the dust settles on this matter are "molested by a priest" and "I am gay." Let's hope that Foley can help us all out by distinguishing the two.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of positive role models, Anderson Cooper needs to come out, NOW.

p/s: He would, er, make a good role model, would he not?