Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sex Scandals and Double Standards Sex Scandals and Double Standards

Charles Krauthammer in Sex Scandals and Double Standards points out that:
In 1983, Representative Gerry Studds, Democrat of Massachusetts, admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old male page. He was censured by the House of Representatives. During the vote, which he was compelled by House rules to be present for, Studds turned his back on the House to show his contempt for his colleagues' reprimand. He was not expelled from the Democratic Caucus. In fact, he was his party's nominee in the next election in his district--and the next five after that--winning reelection each time. He remained in the bosom of the Democratic Caucus in the House for the next 13 years.

In 2006, Republican congressman Mark Foley was found to have been engaged in lurid sexual Internet correspondence with a 16-year-old House page. There is no evidence yet of his ever laying a hand on anyone, let alone having sex with a page. When discovered, he immediately resigned. Had he not, says Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, "I would have demanded his expulsion." Not only is Foley gone, but half the Republican House leadership has been tarred. Hastert himself came within an inch of political extinction.

Am I missing something? There seems to be an odd difference in the disposition of the two cases. By any measure, what Studds did was worse. By any measure, his treatment was infinitely more lenient.
I would only add that the "lurid sexual Internet correspondence" was apparently with a boy who was by then 18, and no longer a page. So, the difference is between actual sex with an actual page who was a minor at the time, as opposed to sexual email with a former page who was by then an adult.

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