Saturday, September 30, 2006

If you are not outraged, you will be!

The Republican head of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, who introduced a bill this summer to protect children from internet predators has just resigned as Congressional Representative from Florida. Why? Because he supposedly sent salacious emails and IM messages to underage pages. (Copies of some of them are online, and they make my skin crawl. These are not marginal in any way -- it is very clearly a sexual and smarmy conversation that you would not want any adult to have with your child.) At least one page told his parents, who told someone in congress. In 2005!!!! Apparently, according to the AP :
" Rep. Thomas Reynolds, head of the House Republican election effort, said Saturday he told Speaker Dennis Hastert months ago about concerns that a fellow GOP lawmaker had sent inappropriate messages to a teenage boy. Hastert's office said aides referred the matter to the proper authorities last fall but they were only told the messages were "over-friendly."

Oh, this is going to be interesting. This is deplorable on so many levels it is hard to list them all.

First, (and in no particular order) someone who may well be a predator, had risen to a position where his job was to protect children. The Chicago Tribune described him as "a firefighter who turns out to be an arsonist."

Second, even after the right parties were told, including the House Majority leader, it looks as though a hush-up was in force. It smacks of the self-anointed immunity of the Catholic Church when they first got the news of abuse in their ranks. It makes me wonder what else and who else has been allowed to walk free while they are known to do this in our government. The House Speaker supposedly knew in July and according to the Washington Post
"And Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) who oversees the congressional pages as head of the Page Board, the group responsible for the teenagers who work essentially as gofers and doorholders for lawmakers, knew even earlier."

Everyone involved in not doing anything says they didn't know how inappropriate the emails and conversations had been. This supposedly exonerates them from responsibility? That they didn't ask? You have a high ranking Congressman on a high visibility committee dealing with sexual predators who is accused of sexually inappropriate behavior with a minor. And they didn't ask HOW inappropriate?

Now all the Republicans are running for cover, distancing themselves in a difficult election year. Instead of demanding an immediate investigation, this has been referred to the Ethics Committee to see if an examination is warranted. Gee, it might take a while to decide..maybe even til after the elections? D'ya think?

In the meantime, how many others were there? How many others are still out there? Let's be honest about what this is -- it is about an abuse of power, no different than in the Catholic church -- where a group of men in leadership positions decide that they are immune from being held responsible to the standards that they are called upon to uphold. It is about an abuse of power where protection of an institution of power is more important than protection of our children. And it is wrong -- not just for Foley, but for all those who "protected him" from justice.


Anonymous Evelyn said...

Outrage does not begin to describe my feelings about this. I would imagine that being a congressional page should be a great honor. I cannot imagine how jaded these young people must become after having that "honor" bestowed upon them. At the same time, I'm sure that there are many in congress who are wonderful role models for the pages. Will we hear any of their stories? Probably not, and that is a shame.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous toujoursdan said...

It's just too absurd for words. One thing I read today is that he was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign fund and Log Cabin group. It is outrageous that gay groups are laying low because he was considered a friend and I am ashamed.


4:44 PM  

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