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Commentary :: Gender : GLBT/Queer : Human Rights : Media : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare : Technology
The Mark Foley scandal: Where is the crime? Down with this reactionary crusade!
12 Oct 2006
It is the capitalists and their parties who politicize sex. They claim
to be defending the innocent and vulnerable, but anyone who has seen the
pictures from Abu Ghraib prison knows that this government doesn't give
a damn about sexual torture and molestation. Their real intent is to
persecute anyone who strays outside the completely artificial bounds
prescribed by the patriarchal, heterosexual bourgeois family, and in the
process arrogate to themselves ever greater police powers.
The Mark Foley scandal: Where is the crime? Down with this reactionary
crusade!

by Fred Bergen

A Republican congressman from Florida is under investigation by the FBI
and state authorities. He has resigned from Congress in disgrace.
Condemnations and accusations are raining down on him and congressional
Republican leadership, who are scrambling to distance themselves from
Foley as the November 7 election approaches. Political pundits believe
that the Democrats may finally have an "issue" that can win them control
of Congress. The Democrats are playing it for all it's worth. For six
years they tried to position themselves as better leaders for the "war
on terror", better enforcers of the racist immigration laws, defenders
of the honor and integrity of the CIA, but they couldn't get any
electoral momentum out of it. Now they look capable of sweeping into
control of Congress as righteous enemies of child molesters and sexual
predators.

What actually happened? In 2005, the St. Petersburg Times, along with
the Miami Herald and Fox News, were sent copies of five emails that Mark
Foley allegedly sent to a sixteen-year-old former page. These emails are
said to be "sexually suggestive". About the closest they get to that is
Foley's apparent repeated requests for a "pic[ture]" of the former page.
[1] None of these outlets published the story; the Times editors
concluded it was probably just "friendly chit-chat."

The emails were first published on a website dedicated to exposing
Foley's behavior. Following this, ABC News and the Washington Post
published, or claimed to be in the possession of, transcripts of
internet instant-message conversations between Foley and two former
Congressional pages under the age of eighteen, which occurred in the
year 2003. Some of these messages are more sexually explicit.

One anonymous former page alleged to the Los Angeles Times that he had
sex with Mark Foley in the fall of 2000. At the time this page was
twenty-one years old.

Not one page or former page has pressed charges of sexual harassment,
molestation, or anything else, against Foley. No one has claimed that
the alleged sex between Foley and the twenty-one year old former page
was anything but consensual. So why is this a political issue? And why
are socialists concerned with it?

We revolutionaries think that the state has no business interfering in
sexual relations. Does this mean that we defend or excuse rape,
harassment, or molestation. Absolutely not. Sexual relations must be
based on free and mutual consent; anything else is a serious crime. But
while poisonous innuendo abounds, there has not been one scintilla of
evidence that Foley forced himself on anyone. At most he may have sent
sexual proposals via instant-message to former pages. But no one has
accused him of forcing the pages to read his messages, or of continuing
his propositions if he was told that they were unwanted. If what he is
known to have done is a crime, we say the law is unjust, because we take
a stand on principle against punishing people for mere speech or
thoughts, no matter how unpopular they may be.

It is the capitalists and their parties who politicize sex. They claim
to be defending the innocent and vulnerable, but anyone who has seen the
pictures from Abu Ghraib prison knows that this government doesn't give
a damn about sexual torture and molestation. Their real intent is to
persecute anyone who strays outside the completely artificial bounds
prescribed by the patriarchal, heterosexual bourgeois family, and in the
process arrogate to themselves ever greater police powers. And so, as
revolutionaries we must defend the democratic rights of workers, youth,
and oppressed people whenever they are attacked under the banner of
bourgeois "morality," "family values," or protection against "sexual
predators." It makes no difference to us that Foley is a utter
hypocrite, who as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited
Children, used the threat of child sexual abuse to campaign for laws
giving the state power to arrest and prosecute people for victimless
thought-crimes, and sponsored the legislation which became the "Adam
Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act" of 2006, which required
monitoring and publication of the whereabouts of "sex criminals," even
after they have completed their sentences, and a minimum 25-year
sentence for kidnapping. That he has been ensnared by his own
reactionary crusade is no consolation to the millions of victims of
bourgeois sexual "morality."

The most common form of kidnapping by far is not the type of nightmarish
abduction by malicious stranger-molesters that is dramatized daily in
the corporate media, but involves parental disputes in cases of divorce
or estrangement. While such situations are certainly distressing and
harmful to the child and all involved, it's hard to imagine how the
intervention of the cops and a twenty-five year minimum prison term
could make anything better for anyone. Furthermore, it is within
families and among family members or sexual couples that the majority of
rape and child abuse cases occur. Many of these would be prevented if
women had the absolute right to divorce, abortion, free medical and
child care, and guaranteed housing and employment, as part of a program
to end the enslavement of women to their husbands and male partners. How
many of these cases would also be prevented if gays and lesbians were
not forced by social stigma and discriminatory laws into "family"
relationships that had nothing to do with their feelings or desires, and
punished for the relationships that they have or want?

The capitalist "nuclear" family celebrated by bourgeois moralists as a
one-size-fits-all "tradition" is a recent invention from the perspective
of human existence on earth, and has nothing to do with the biological
or psychological needs of the human organism. It has a social purpose:
to provide a mate for the male head of household, who by virtue of her
being the exclusive sexual property of the father, can provide
legitimate sons, uncontested heirs to the man's worldly posessions. And
since the vast majority of people in the world, workers, the unemployed,
and poor peasants, have little or nothing of value to pass on to their
"heirs", the 'till-death-do-us-part family is completely useless to
them. It is imposed on them by reactionary legislation and anti-gay,
anti-women, and anti-sex morality crusades.

It is the crusading "defenders of children" who push bankrupt and sexist
"family values", who make it harder to divorce and harder for women to
control their own reproduction, who force women into the arms of men
they don't want by cutting off welfare and child-care services, and who
preach sexual ignorance and abstinence as a prudish alternative to
education for the youth. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, and their
victims, as always, are the workers and oppressed people, especially
women and gays, lesbians, bisexual and others with non-conforming sexual
identities, who, if they are not formally convicted of a crime, can
still be hounded out of their jobs and communities for their
transgressions against bourgeois "family values."

We oppose any state interference in personal and sexual relations that
are based on free, mutual consent. It is the capitalists and their
morality crusaders who break up family bonds that might otherwise be
healthy, either because they don't fit the heterosexual nuclear-family
cookie-cutter, or through the stress of overwork, poverty, and racist
police harassment.

Apologists for this bipartisan witch-hunt, pointing out the wide
disparity in ages between Foley and his contacts, will ask, doesn't the
obvious imbalance of power in these relationships (whatever their extent
may have been) mean that they can't be healthy or consensual? We ask: in
this society that is based on huge inequalities in wealth and power and
painfully distorted by racism and women's oppression, can there be any
truly "equal" sexual relationship? And how can the capitalist state, the
violent enforcer of these same inequalities, be trusted to enforce
standards of equality among sexual partners, with arbitrary age of
consent laws, or by any other means? These reformists are looking for an
excuse for police-state powers to punish private thoughts and consensual
sex (to the degree that truly free consent is possible in a society
torn apart by class antagonisms), under the banner of protecting the
helpless. Since when has the capitalist state, its police, its courts,
its laws, stood for the rights of the exploited and oppressed? Reformist
objections of this sort only prove that socialist revolution, and the
consequent abolition of social inequality, is necessary to liberate
sexuality from the chains of capitalist "morality", while at the same
time they demonstrate the reformists' fundamental loyalty to the
repressive capitalist state.

We will not conform to this bourgeois anti-gay morality crusade. Our
demands are: Stop this witch-hunt! Down with the reactionary,
hypocritical "family values" crusade! Cops and courts, out of the
bedroom! For women's and gay liberation through socialist revolution!

[1] The alleged year 2005 emails are available at
http://www.citizensforethics.org/filelibrary/FoleyEmailExchangeUpdated.p
. This is a Democratic party website dedicated to publicizing the Foley
scandal and persecuting the ex-congressman and other Republicans
involved in this scandal in the courts.
See also:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/labor_action/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/emancipation_news/

This work is in the public domain
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