The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Foley & Abuse Claims

(Ed Note: OK. I'll keep it down to one post a day. Anyway, i started writing this Tuesday night, so it doesn't really count.)

So, i was one of those people sitting breathlessly in front of my computer at 5pm yesterday, after seeing teasers that someone (first the National Journal, then his attorney) was going to "drop a bombshell" in the Foley case. I finally gave up waiting and went home only to find upon my arrival that the big news was: Foley was molested by a clergyman, between the ages of 13 and 15.

That was the "bombshell." It's not huge surprise, but it does offer an opportunity to clarify a few things, especially since Foley's attorney keeps saying stuff like this.

"Mark Foley wants you to know he is a gay man," Roth told reporters as Republicans struggled with fallout from Foley's resignation.

Foley "does not blame the trauma he sustained as a young adolescent for his totally inappropriate e-mails" and instant messages, Roth said. "He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct."

… The lawyer said Foley, who is now in treatment for alcohol abuse, never had any inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. "Any suggestion that Mark Foley is a pedophile is false," he said.

That Foley was himself molested does offer a possible explanation for his behavior, though not an excuse, as his attorney notes. Fine. As for the part about him not being a pedophile, after the term has been tossed about so much? Well, perhaps he's not. (And, attention Fox News, he's not a Democrat either.)

John over at Americablog approaches this in his post after the press conference.

So Foley's lawyer just said he never had sex with any 15 year olds. And yes, all pages are 16 and up, from what we've heard. So the question is whether Foley had sex with anyone under 18, and with anyone he met in the page program?

One more thing, his lawyer keeps saying Mark is not a pedophile. That's nice. But pedophilia is generally considered having sex with a prepubescent, usually under 13. So that again begs the question of whether Foley preys on young children.

Technically, means Foley's case is one of ephebophilia, rather than pedophilia.

Ephebophilia has been defined as a sexual preference in which an adult is primarily or exclusively sexually attracted to postpubescent adolescents

Think of literary classic Lolita, which had it as a primary theme (the heterosexual variety), as an example. Now I realize that this is probably a bit more nuance than is going to register with most people, particularly when you start parsing out age limits and ranges like 13 to 16. The difference is rather subtle, and probably beside the point, as the potential for damage isn't necessarily any less after 13 than it is before. And Foley's dual admissions imply that there is damage done.

That brings me to my next point. It's one I wish I'd considered before pushing the whole "Predatorgate" meme for a couple of posts there, because the usual suspects have finally showed up on the scene (this one caught them a bit flatfooted) dragging behind them the whole "gay = pedophile" meme that's been lurking under the surface this whole time until Foley's confession brought it out into the open. There are any number of examples out there right about now, but let's just go with this one pointed out by Ex-Gay Watch. It's Peter LaBarbera on the CWA website.

There is a higher element of this…the word is "pederasty," which is adult…ah…sexual contact, or wanting of these…ah…adolescent male boys. We've…we've seen this throughout the world of homosexuality — We've saw it in the Catholic Church scandal with they…the priests, and actually…ah…runs in the whole history of…of male homosexuality, going back to Greece. So, …ah…it's not really…ah…it doesn't do anything to deny it and say this problem isn't there. This is a component. This doesn't mean that every…this is a component of male homosexuality. This doesn't mean that every male, homosexual adult is…is doing this sort of behavior, but there is, I think, a higher preponderance of it compared to the rest of society.

Not that LaBarbera or the folks at CWA put much stock evidence or anything that's been indicated by scientific research or study (trusting 1st century religious writers and their own feelings instead) but there are some things that shouldn't need repeating, but obviously do.

Homosexuality is not caused by child molestation, as twin studies have indicated that environment isn't a determining factor.

Studies prove that homosexuality is not caused by poor parenting or child molestation, alone. This is easily verified. Consider two identical newborn twin boys who were separated at birth and raised in different homes without any contact with each other. If homosexuality were caused by something in the environment, then, if twin #1 turned out to be gay, the chances of the other twin becoming a gay adults would only be about 5%. That is because the second twin would have been exposed to a totally different environment during his upbringing. So his chances of being gay would be the same as for any other male — about 5%. But, studies have reliably shown that if one twin is gay, there is about a 55% chance that the other twin will be gay.

Besides, there are scores of gay men and lesbians, including yours truly, who were never sexually abused as children. So, if we weren't molested, why are we gay?

Well.

One explanation which is popular among some religious conservatives is that homosexuality is in fact caused by demon possession. They often believe that demon possession can be passed on to all children in a family through generational curses created by the sin of a parent or grandparent. This belief is consistent with the findings of identical twin studies. However, very few people who are not religious conservatives believe in demon possession.

Sound far-fetched? Think again.

Bishop Long’s answer to “I was born that way” – “spirits can be inherited or acquired. You can have a strong domineering mama and a weak daddy that creates a spirit in the male child that makes him more effeminate. This is true for homosexuality or any other disorder in our lives.”

And, yes, I've had at least one person tell me that I was day because I "had a demon."

A kid is more likely to be molested by a relative's heterosexual partner.

Adoption expert, Carrie Craft cites the Child Welfare Information Gateway (previously National Adoption Information Clearinghouse) as stating, "A child's risk of being molested by his or her relatives' heterosexual partner is over one hundred times greater than by someone who might be identifiable as being homosexual." The study also found that of 269 cases of child sex abuse, only two offenders where found to be gay or lesbian.

Most male molesters identify as heterosexual.

70% of the men who molest boys rated themselves as heterosexual in their adult sexual preferences. These men are married, divorced, widowed, or living with an adult partner. 9% of those molesters who molest boys are equally heterosexual and homosexual and only 8% reported themselves as being exclusively homosexual (Abel & Harlow, 2001).

Some studies suggest that most child sexual abuse takes place in situations where the abusers present themselves as heterosexual.

In a classic study,1 researchers investigated 175 men convicted of sexually assaulting children in Massachusetts. About half (47%) were fixated, never having developed an adult sexual orientation. Most of the rest (40%) were exclusively heterosexual. The remainder (13%) were bisexual, sexually attracted to both women and men, but "in no case did this attraction to men exceed their preference for women. . . . There were no men who were primarily sexually attracted to other adult males." The researchers concluded that "the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater sexual risk to underage children than does the adult homosexual male."

In a more recent study,2 researchers reviewed the medical charts of 352 children evaluated for sexual abuse in a Denver children's hospital. In 74 cases, the abuser was another child or adolescent, none of whom were identified as lesbian or gay. In 9 cases, the abuser could not be identified (e.g., each parent accused the other). In 269 cases, the child (219 girls & 50 boys) was abused by an adult. Both girls and boys were most likely to be abused by their fathers, stepfathers, or other men married to female relatives. Only 2 of these 269 abusers (less than 1%) were identified as gay or lesbian. The researchers concluded that "most child abuse appears to be committed by situational child abusers who present themselves as heterosexuals."

And that's not to mention the recent stories of heterosexual child molesters and predators. Of course, some conservatives think child molestation by heterosexuals is cause for celebration.

I actually think he should get a reward that it wasn't with a boy. I actually was thrilled to see it was only a girl. I'm not saying it was good that he did it. But don't get me wrong, I was stunned that it was with a girl. I mean, there is still a normal pervert out there. It's hard to believe. There are still normal perverts? It's shocking.

Shocking? I'd say.

I could go on but Jim Burrow way over at Box Turtle News has done an excellent job of debunking the molestation myths. With footnotes, too. And his conclusion cuts to the core of this latest conservative tactic in the Foley scandal.

And while this lie is horribly libelous to gay men and women, that’s only a small part of the damage. The real harm is to our children. As long as we remain suspicious of the wrong people, predators will continue to have free reign to abuse innocent children. If they remain free from scrutiny because everyone else is focusing on gays and lesbians, more young lives will continue to be shattered and more parents will suffer the agonizing heartache of learning that they trusted someone who destroyed their child’s future. We must not allow the far right to cynically jeopardize our children’s safety to further their agenda. The consequences are far too severe for the next generation.

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