Given how great a job Bruce has been doing in his posts on the Foley kerfuffle, I had thought I would leave this story to him. Yet, when I heard today that the ex-Congressman had entered “rehab for alcohol abuse and mental illness,” I almost blew a gasket.
Look, if he has a problem–and obviously he does–he should seek treatment. And to be sure, as he brings up the “trauma he sustained as a young adolescent” from the sexual abuse he suffered, at least his lawyer claims that “He continues to offer no excuse whatsoever for his conduct.”
But, now that he entered rehab, it seems to follow the pattern of the typical tabloid scandal. Celebrity has problem which gets him into trouble. Celebrity acknowledges problem, brings up past abuse. Celebrity goes into rehab.
We all have our faults, something of which I am well aware, after going through a period of pretty intense introspection during the Jewish High Holy Days. And like many Jews, I acknowledged my wrongdoing, regretted my failings, atoned for my sins and resolved to act better in the future. And the question for the year is whether I hold to my resolve. That is entirely up to me.
Countless people of faiths (and even those with no faith) engage in similar processes. Yet, it seems that celebrities (including politicians caught in scandal) have a different manner of response to their failings.
If Mr. Foley needs rehab, then by all means, he should find a program appropriate to his problem. But, he also, as any individual who has strayed, should not neglect the moral aspects of his wrongdoing. He must make it clear that he did wrong, that he regrets his past actions — and that he will do everything in his power to change his behavior.
Now that he has identified as a gay man, it would be nice if he could come forward as a moral exemplar for our community. We need gay people, particularly men, unwilling to shirk from their moral responsibilities as human beings. And to do so publicly — to challenge the notions of the anti-gay social conservatives who believe that merely by acknowledging our orientation, we have lost the ability to make moral decisions.
That means not only acting in a responsible manner, but also being forthright about our wrongdoings. Unfortunately, in making much of Mr. Foley’s past trauma and his decision to go into rehab, his lawyer downplays the moral aspects of his client’s actions.
And that is truly unfortunate. We gay people are just as capable of acting morally, of acting responsibly, as our straight peers. It’s too bad that all too many gay men in the public eye have not acted so responsibly. And that those many who do are not so forthcoming about their own moral choices.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest).
UPDATE: Looks like Captain Ed scooped me on this issue, blogging yesterday (October 3) in a similar vein, saying that Foley, needing “another weepie-show affliction . . .
Foley had his attorney float the molestation defense today. And note that it wasn’t just molestation, but molestation by clergy. Very trendy indeed.” Just read the whole thing!