Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Foley Scandal

Catching with the current sex scandal (very complete wikipedia entry there) rocking the (pretenciously named) "God's Own Party" only a few weeks before mid term elections, I have to admit to being slightly confused.

Mrk Foley (52, single, apparently more or less openly gay) is basically being accused of having had fairly explicit online conversations with teenagers (about 16 years old) working as pages in the US Congress. Large extracts of the messages have been published in the media (see link above for examples). Apparently no sexual encounter ever took place.

This is perhaps not of the highest morality but I can't really see what is actually wrong here. The teenagers are supposed to be chosen from amongst the most clever of the whole country and reading the extracts they very much seem to know what is going on here and they don't really seem fussed about it. Foley is not forcing them to respond to his questions and if they weren't happy with the turn of the said conversation they could have easily skirted the subject or logged off.

This is however what the media seem to be focusing on.

The real problems in this story, I think, from a "corporate" point of view, is that the situation is wholy inappropriate; just like it would be with any individuals conducting a sexually explicit relationship at work.

There may also be worries about some power pressures underlying the relations (powerful older man v inexperienced young men keen to keep a prestigious position), which would probably then fall under anti-arrassment laws.

There is the hypocrisy of Foley who was chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which introduced legislation targeting sexual predators and created stricter guidelines for tracking them.

But finally and probably more importantly, there is the behaviour of the GOP people who have known about this for years apparently and did not really bother to do anything about it. They are now walzing back and forth between having knowing known and not having known trying to pass the buck to someone either higher or lower than them... Not a very dignified behaviour for memebers of the party who like to take the moral highground.

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