Beware the “family” organization

I don’t do political posts much. Not even ALA politics. But sometimes…

My local paper has this article today on the Foley scandal. I’m not going to recount what’s there.

What I can’t help but note, however, is the way Tony Perkins of the “Family” Research Council spins the story, all too typical of various “Family” groups (I use scare quotes because these groups use such a narrow definition of family):

Perkins said neither party “seems likely to address the real issue, which is the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse … ignoring this reality got the Catholic Church into trouble over abusive priests, and now it is doing the same to the House GOP leadership.”

Isn’t that sweet? Either Perkins is accusing Mark Foley of being gay (from FRC, it’s an accusation, not a label) or Perkins is just trying to shift the focus from a specific and real situation to FRC’s phantom devils.

I don’t use the word “evil” much. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid the word.

Update: If Slate is to be believed (not always a given), Mark Foley may be a closet gay. That really doesn’t change the situation. The story is about pedophilia and power relationships; Foley’s sexual orientation is irrelevant. [Perhaps not to some fraction of Republican voters, which may have a lot to do with "closeted," but that's a different story. What he does on his own time with consenting adults is entirely his own business.]

7 Responses to “Beware the “family” organization”

  1. Meredith Says:

    I lived in Mark Foley’s district for many years and my dad was the one who came up with the bill Foley sponsored that allowed organizations access to FBI background checks (which originally was supposed to require organizations that involve children to do a background check on all of their volunteers, but the Boy Scouts killed that). Pretty much everyone in the area thought Mark Foley was gay (except maybe Mark Foley) and there was a big article in the New Times (the alt paper in our area) about it a few years back http://www.newtimesbpb.com/Issues/2003-05-08/news/norman.html

    I think his sexuality has nothing and everything to do with it. Pedophiles can be straight or gay and are often straight. But I think the response to all this has everything to do with Foley’s sexuality. Two Congressmen had sex with female pages back in the 80s and they just got slaps on the wrists and were able to continue to serve (one until 1996). The hypocrisy is scary. Not that I think Foley deserves to serve, but neither did those guys who had sex with underage girls.

  2. walt Says:

    Meredith, May I just say I absolutely, positively agree with your second paragraph? If Foley had pulled the same stunt with an underage female page, he should have been treated identically…but more probably would have been excused on the basis of “boys will be boys” or “she was probably asking for it” or…, and you can be darn sure that “family” groups wouldn’t be pointing fingers. Arggh.

  3. Steve Oberg (Family Man Librarian) Says:

    Hypocrisy? Agreed. “‘Family’ groups…pointing fingers?” And “…all too typical of various ‘Family’ groups (I use scare quotes because these groups use such a narrow definition of family)?” Way too broad of a paintbrush, Walt.

    I consider myself (obviously) a “family” man. I’m also what some might label an evangelical Christian. My definition of marriage is, indeed, narrow. But my definition of “family” — and the one I believe most people of my ilk share — is very broad. More importantly I do not think Jesus ever defined the term in the way you’re implying that “family” groups define it. The two words (“family” and “marriage”) are related but not interchangeable.

  4. walt Says:

    Steve,

    You’re a family man. Fine. Your definition of marriage is narrow. Since I believe that government shouldn’t be in the marriage business (but should have truly equal provisions for any two consenting adults wishing to affirm a committed relationship, leaving marriage to churches), we may or may not disagree here. (Until government DOES get out of the marriage business, I think we do disagree here.)

    In this case, marriage didn’t enter into the picture at all. FOF and FRC and the other “Family” groups attempt to define family itself narrowly. I certainly agree that Jesus (based on what’s in the Bible at least, and yes, I’ve read it, both KJV and RSV, and the Apocrypha in some other version) never defined family as narrowly as “Family” groups do.

    Am I unfairly including some family groups that aren’t in fact homophobic, pro-censorship, right-wing operations along with groups like FOF and FRC? Possibly, and for that I apologize. I’ve just found that “Family” as a key word in the name of an organization seems to equate to “anti-everyone and everything except OUR definition of family” in too many cases.

    If you’re a member of organizations with “family” in their name, that in fact define family broadly and don’t use it as an excuse to hammer people whose lifestyles and decisions they disagree with, great. Maybe those groups have lower profiles. I’d love to see some of those groups publicly disassociate themselves from groups like FOF and FRC.

  5. Steve Lawson Says:

    >I believe that government shouldn’t be in the marriage business (but should have truly equal provisions for any two consenting adults wishing to affirm a committed relationship, leaving marriage to churches)

    Amen! (…he said from Colorado Springs, the belly of the beast).

    >I’ve just found that “Family” as a key word in the name of an organization seems to equate to “anti-everyone and everything except OUR definition of family” in too many cases.

    As my old bumper sticker used to say “Focus on your own damn family!”

  6. Brad K. Says:

    Walt,

    I think 20-40 years ago, most new media would not have reported the Foley ‘Affair’. Note that today the mainstream press only mentions ‘explicit emails’.

    What I find disturbing is the feeding frenzy. News departments from AP to MSNBC are making careers for newscasters and making budgets for news organizations over this story. Which happens to ‘surface’ eleven months after the fact, but one month before elections.

    This is not a story about Republicans and misconduct. This is not even about Foley. This is a dirty politics scam, perpetrated for political gain, and the news media are cashing in. I for one look to find that the initial energy behind the story came from those same ‘Family’ named organizations that just happen to have statements ready for the press. Shame on the new media for fueling this political dirty trick.

  7. walt Says:

    So Family Research Council is pushing an agenda to get Republicans kicked out of office? Somehow, I find that extremely hard to believe.

    Underage people were involved. That’s misconduct. You can call “dirty politics” all you like, but the dirt comes from the House and certain members.

    Anyway, what new media? I heard about the story on radio. I saw it reported in the newspaper. Not exactly cutting-edge new media.


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