Ever since I heard about Mark Foley’s resignation from Congress, I have been trying to craft a post. Whatever I try to write, nothing seems to come out right. I find the whole story disturbing and upsetting. And I wonder about this man’s judgment.
Surely, in the wake of the allegations last year against that then-Spokane Mayor Jim West chatted with 17- and 18-year old boys online, any public figure engaged in such online chatter should have been aware that his conversations could become public information. Maybe Ex-Rep Foley took comfort in the fact that after federal officials investigated the charges against the Spokane Republican, “they found insufficient evidence to charge former Mayor Jim West with abusing his office to meet young gay men over the Internet.”
Yet, the scandal still tarnished West’s reputation and nearly two-thirds of his fellow citizens voted to recall him from office last December.
It wasn’t merely his family and the people of Florida whom Mr. Foley let down (as he said in statement). He also let down gay people. You can be sure social conservatives will be exploiting this to show how people like us prey on teenagers. And while the greatest number of pedophiles are middle-aged men preying on young girls, the stories which seem to get the most headlines are those of men hitting on teenage boys.
At this season, when we Jews seek to mend our ways and return to God in the coming year, I, aware of my own faults, want to forgive others of theirs. Mr. Foley behaved badly and did the right thing in resigning. He has begun his own process of atonement. Let us hope that the public humiliation he has suffered will cause him to examine his past behavior and behave more responsibly in the future, though no longer as a public figure.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest).