Is Foley a Sexual Predator?
The term "sexual predator" has been widely used to characterize Florida Congressman, Mark Foley. This puts him in the same class as a serial pedophile who targets quite young children. While I am for anything that makes the Republicans look as hypocritical as they actually are and that wrecks their election chances, the term "sexual predator" seems more than a bit over the top as a characterization of Foley.
I have heard Foley described as a "sexual predator" primarily by Republicans who are desperately pushing themselves as far away from him as they can. I have also heard Republicans say that they need to get this issue off the front pages of newspapers by election day. In short, their concern is not for the pages, but for their own political asses. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, who richly deserves to be dumped by voters in my Congressional district, once listed him as one of her top five buddies. She is now retreating from this association faster than a speeding bullet.
In fact, insofar as the evidence shows, Foley went after high school graduates who had passed the age of sexual consent, which, in most states, seems to be 16 years old. Thus, Foley cannot fairly be said to be a pedophile because he seems not to have broken any laws and if he isn't a pedophile, I don't see how he can fairly be described as a "sexual predator." The FBI has said that the evidence they have seen does not rise to the level of a crime. He does prefer his male sexual partners to be young, perhaps because he is twisted in the way that many members of NAMBLA (The National Association of Man Boy Love Association) doubtless are. But being twisted in this way doesn't make him a lawbreaker per se and so calling him a "sexual predator" would be a bit over the top linguistically. His sexual actions are no more or less appropriate than those of a male or female college professor of similar years who goes after a male or female college freshman. What that kind of relationship is is inappropriate, rather than being illegal.
Nevertheless, I think everyone should pile on the Republicans as hard as they can for Republicans and their fellow travelers to their right are the ones that are hell-bent on legislating their personal moralities. Actually, they aren't legislating their personal moral values -- Foley co-chaired the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus so he wasn't interested in legislating his -- so much as trying to represent themselves as having these values and getting whatever political mileage they can out of the effort. In short, the Republicans are being hoisted on their own hypocritical moralistic petard and that is a welcome sight.
I don't mean to make light of ex-Congressman Foley's actions. If I were the parent of a kid who had just graduated from high school and was serving as a page in Washington, I would be pretty pissed to learn that some Congressman was either sleeping with him or her or trying to. But I wouldn't see him or her as a criminal, much less a sexual predator.