Open Forum on the Mark Foley Issue

Unless you are just returning from Antarctica, you have heard of the Mark Foley page scandal. Here are some possible questions to discuss?

-Is the closet to blame?
-Did gay staffers and congressmen cover up his activities?
Blogactive blogger, Mike Rogers, thinks the answer is to out all closeted gay Republicans. Is this a good thing?
-Will this scandal impact the November elections?
-Does this scandal have any relevance to pedophilia and/or homosexuality in general?

Suggest others and talk loud. I’ll be reading more than writing here this weekend as I am on deadline with an article but this feel free to post links to news and opinion around the blogiverse.

“I expected people to take issue” – Schoenewolf

In light of Dr. Schoenewolf’s accusations that Brentin Mock, reporter for the Southern Poverty Law Center twisted his words in the SPLC article, Mr. Mock wrote to tell a little more about his interview with Dr. Schoenewolf.

Mr. Mock asked Dr. Schoenewolf this question: “What exactly did you mean by the paragraph in which you say Africans were better off as slaves in America?”

Dr. Schoenewolf replied, “The point I made is what I was trying to say. I don’t know that there’s any other way to say it. I expected people to take issue.”

Dr. Schoenewolf is welcome to come on here and dispute this. However, this exchange paints a somewhat different picture than Dr. Schoenewolf presents in his newest NARTH article.

UPDATE: 1/17/07 – The Southern Poverty Law Center included the article by Brentin Mock in their print and online magazine, The Intelligence Report under the title, One More Enemy. I noticed that bloggers, including The Daily Kos are picking it up again.

Dr. Schoenewolf speaks out: Political correctness gone amok

Responding to controversy surrounding his writings on political correctness, Gerald Schoenewolf was interviewed by an anonymous writer for an article on the NARTH website. In an article titled: Political Correctness Gone Amok: The Latest Controversy, Schoenewolf criticizes the recent report by Brentin Mock of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He blames Mock for twisting his words regarding slavery. Schoenewolf says: “No person is better off enslaved, obviously,” Schoenewolf told NARTH. “What I tried to say, before my words were twisted by that reporter, is that despite the clear and obvious evil of that practice, we tend to forget that many of the enslaved people had been first been sold into bondage by their fellow countrymen; so coming to America did bring about some eventual good. No social issue has all the ‘good guys’ lined up on one side and ‘bad guys’ on the other.”

Let’s compare this idea with what he said in his initial article: With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa.

I will leave it to the reader to judge whether Dr. Schoenewolf’s words were twisted. I am glad he is now saying that the good done was “eventual” but that is not what it seems to me that he said in the original article. While we are on that point, I do not see why one would imply that a moral evil is of necessity associated with an eventual benefit. This assumes that the only way the current good (African-Americans are here and not in famine and war-torn Africa) could have happened is via the moral evil (slavery). On the other hand, we could look at it this way: Current economic benefits, freedoms and safeties have occured despite slavery, not because of it. Slavery was not a necessary precursor to the current situation; Africans could have come here under some other more positive circumstances if the moral evil of slavery did not exist.

Schoenewolf did not address one of his central tenets (civil rights movements are derived from Marxism) in this new defense. To wit, here is a passage from the original article:

Subsequent to Marx, various human rights groups began using his ideology to rationalize their movements, primarily in America. First came the Civil Rights Movement, which began in the 1850s and was one of the causes of the Civil War. In this case, European-Americans (Caucasians) became the oppressors and African-Americans became the oppressed; European-Americans were demonized, and African-Americans were idealized; European-Americans who had practiced slavery or segregation were viewed as all-bad and African-Americans were seen as all-good.

African-Americans were urged by various leaders to unify and rebel against European-Americans and to demand special privileges as compensation for their suffering at the hands of the latter. Civil rights leaders, like Marx and Engels before them, believed that their way, and only their way, was the valid way to look at the issue. In the 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement went into high gear, and the leaders of the movement, just like Marx and Engels, began to punish anybody who was in any way critical of the movement or had any other point of view with respect to solving racial discrimination by labeling them “racists” and “bigots” and attempting to isolate and ostracize them.

I consulted GCC Professor of History, Gillis Harp regarding the paragraph above and he had this to say:

“Hardly any Abolitionists ever read Marx or were particularly influenced by him. You (Throckmorton) are quite correct about the evangelical roots of the Abolitionist movement. The Quakers were among the first to oppose slavery in writing. The British leader, William Wilberforce — a Tory evangelical! — was about as far from a Marxist as one could get. Arthur & Lewis Tappan are good examples of American evangelicals who were Abolitionist leaders.”

Bottom line message I get from this new article: If you express disagreement with Dr. Schoenewolf, you must be a “so-called liberal” who is intent on stiffling dialogue. It is rare that I or anyone here in the Grove would be called a liberal. We’re as much liberals as Wilberforce was a Marxist.

The article concludes with Dr. Nicolosi saying: “The bottom line,” said NARTH President Joseph Nicolosi, “is that NARTH’s mission has nothing to do with any social issue others than same-sex attraction. Our mission is to defend our clients’ rights to assert their own values and say, ‘Gay is not who I really am.'”

This sentiment would represent a shift in NARTH practice which many would welcome. If this was true, then there would have been no controversy in the first place.

UPDATE: 1/17/07 – The Southern Poverty Law Center included the article by Brentin Mock in their print and online magazine, The Intelligence Report under the title, One More Enemy. I noticed that bloggers, including The Daily Kos are picking it up again.

The Schoenewolf controversy: Afterthoughts on the apology

It has now been nearly a month since the beginning of the controversy over the article by Gerald Schoenewolf (Gay rights and political correctness: A brief history). Apparently, NARTH is finished with the issue since they issued what they are calling an apology.

I have continued to research one of the central tenets of the article and that is that Marxism informed the abolitionist movement and the subsequent civil rights movement. This appears to be revisionist history. Christianity was at the heart of this movement and indeed most likely even of the early feminist movement. Wilberforce in England became invested in abolishing slavery after his conversion to Christianity. We are not talking about a difference of opinion here; this is simply bending facts to reduce complexity to a simplistic theme – the very thing Schoenewolf accuses human rights advocates of doing. There are several other significant problems that could be raised again but I will leave it at that.

There is much troubling about all of this but what continues to escape whoever authorized the apology statement is that the credibility of any movement or organization can be severely compromised by the inability to self-correct. By issuing a statement saying that some readers misconstrued the article, they ask those same readers to suspend rationality. The “apology” feels more like a slap at those who found significant errors and expect a scientific organization to be accountable for them.

A specialty organization devoted to sexual identity issues could provide a significant public service. An organization that I would join or help develop would:

-Develop research-based guidelines to inform clinical practice
-Focus on integrating all research relating to sexual orientation and sexual identity
-Avoid policy/political statements not in keeping with the organization’s mission, and then only when supported by a significant program of research
-Have a much broader focus than homosexuality (e.g., sexual identity)
-Have elections by members for the officers of the organization

Other suggestions?

Nintendo Fusion Tour: Still recovering my hearing

Took one of the chillens to the U of Pitt this weekend for the free Nintendo Fusion Tour concert with Hawthorne Heights, Relient K, Emery, Plain White T’s, and the Sleeping. They all had their good moments, but Relient K stole the show, in my opinion. Here are some pics:

Relient K’s Matt Theissen

Hawthorne Heights (above right)

Relient K (left)

NARTH regrets the Schoenewolf “comments…misconstrued”

NARTH today issued the following apology today in relation to the Schoenewolf article…

NARTH Apologizes For Article

NARTH regrets the comments made by Dr. Schoenwolf about slavery which have been misconstrued by some of our readers. It should go without saying that we do not wish to minimize the suffering of those who have been mistreated because of race, sex, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

UPDATE: An article by Brentin Mock of the Southern Poverty Law Center provides additional comment from Gerald Schoenewolf, David Blakeslee and your humble host regarding the article about which NARTH today made comment.

Jennings and Shimkus? To tell or not to tell…

Two unrelated items that got me thinking.

1. Rep. John Shimkus, chair of the House Committee that oversees the Page Program has taken lots of heat over his handling of suspicious communications between Mark Foley and underage boys. The Springfield (IL) Journal-Register wrote today: “Shimkus has faced criticism from both parties for not telling the other two page board members last year when the parents of a former page complained that Foley had asked their son to send him a picture of himself. Members of both parties also have said that Shimkus and others who knew about the e-mail should have conducted a more thorough investigation.”

2. Kevin Jennings and GLSEN want to be a part of a proposed White House conference on bullying. Fair enough. I disagree with GLSEN most of the time about this issue. For instance, GLSEN recently criticized a research-based bullying program being used now by the state of VA because sexual orientation was not specifically named in the curriculum. On the contrary, the Olweus program is a fine program that most often gets good results and will make most schools safer.

Seeing Kevin Jennings quoted in the context of current events made me think about how he handled a Shimkus-like issue many years ago when he was a teacher in private school. A young man, Brewster, disclosed to Mr. Jennings that he was engaged in sexual relations with an adult male. Mr. Jennings revealed this to no one at the time. A detailed summary of the Brewster stories is here.

Back to current events, Mr. Shimkus is now being widely criticized for not disclosing the Foley incident, even though, apparently the young man did not want the events disclosed.

Should Mr. Jennings have handled Brewster, the 15-16 year old boarding school charge, differently or was his Shimkus-like approach correct?

Why?

This question, and the details, are what occupies those reporting on the murders of Amish children in Nickel Mines, PA.

The Washington Post reports a detailed account of the events which concluded with comments from Fred Berlin from Johns Hopkins.

Fred S. Berlin, a Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist and expert on sexual disorders, said it would be a mistake to accept Roberts’s statement about molesting children years ago as an explanation for what happened Monday. At most, Berlin said, the molestation, if it occurred, is just one piece of a complicated psychiatric puzzle.

“People can develop a major depression and, in the midst of that, begin to feel very guilty and troubled about perceived bad acts in a way that had not been a problem for them in the absence of depression,” Berlin said. “I’m speculating here, but it’s possible he became depressed and then began to be preoccupied and ruminative and guilt-ridden about these events that occurred so many years ago.”

If Roberts did molest two young relatives 20 years ago, when he was 12, it would not necessarily mean he was bound to repeat the behavior as an adult, Berlin said.

Although many adult pedophiles begin their misconduct as young people, “there’s good evidence that a majority of adolescent sexual offenders — if indeed he was that — do not go on to be adult offenders,” Berlin said. “People assume otherwise, but there’s some pretty compelling data suggesting that there are lots of kids who do things of a sexual nature during childhood that they ought not do, and they don’t do it again.”

While I have much respect for Dr. Berlin, I have a different speculation about killer Charles Roberts. While I believe mental illness is involved, I would guess that delusions are also involved here. This sounds more like a acute psychotic condition than severe depression, although they are not mutually exclusive. It is possible that he never molested anyone but became convinced he did due to persistent and disturbing sexual preoccupations.

I recall a case where a mother asked for her daughter to be excused from school because the daughter required heart surgery in a couple of days. The mother said her daughter would not likely return to school because of the situation. The mother described elaborate plans for her care involving a hospital stay and doctor’s appointments. An astute teacher researched the matter and found no such appointments were made and then called me for a consult. We quickly intervened with protective services. We later learned that the mother’s mental health had rapidly deteriorated and she had planned to murder her daughter and then tell the school that the surgery was not successful. Other than the illogical school request, there were no warning signs. Eventually, the mother recovered and, to my knowledge, there were no further incidents. In the case of Charles Roberts, it appears there were no warning signs at all. Tragic is such a small word in this case; where are the bigger words?

Is the closet to blame for the Foley scandal?

Andrew Sullivan seems to think so. In a post about former Congressman Foley, titled the Closet, Sullivan waxes on about “what the closet does to people.” He says, “the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds – is brutal.”

He continues: “What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I’ve read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty.”

So are we to understand Foley’s behavior is causally related to being a closeted gay man? As I understand Sullivan’s argument, the cure for Foley’s pursuit of teenage boys is honesty about his homosexuality. Not that I favor dishonesty, but I am not buying Sullivan’s argument.

I say this, in part, because straights who interfere with underage youth are rarely closeted straights — are they? Debra Lafave was not closeted and still did a very bad thing.

Sullivan also writes: “In some ways, I think it was my pride that forced me to be honest with myself and others; and a deep sense that obviously this was how God made me, and it behooved me to deal with it forthrightly. ” Here he argue that self-esteem is the key – be proud of what you are and then you won’t do such things. On the other hand, I would argue that it is not self-esteem that prevents “hypocrisies” and “pathologies,” but self-control – no matter what your sexual attractions are like. Quoting self-esteem researcher, Roy Baumeister (from Myers, Social Psychology, 2005, p. 64), I agree that: “…self-control is worth 10 times as much as self-esteem.”

UPDATE: Former Rep. Foley now says he was sexually molested between ages 13-15 and that he is gay. The plot thickens…