Sunday, October 01, 2006

Page Scandal

Roger and I talked about the Congressional page scandal yesterday. My most important realization from that conversation is that Congressman Foley is really just the tip of the iceberg. Of course what he did is shocking, and, in his case, hypocritical. But the bottomline is, it's bound to happen when you have a culture in the halls of Congress about the Congressional Page program that fosters the feeling that 15- and 16-year-old children are 'fresh meat.'

And that's the way many members of Congress see the pages. Back in the day of rampant, unfettered sexual harassment, girls were certainly warned to stay away from various members--but member conduct was not addressed. And that's the way it is today. From time immemorial, the attitude toward the kids who act as pages in Congress has been that they are objects that can be ogled, groped, whispered about colleague to colleague, and even propositioned. Basically, the attitude of Congressional leadership toward member conduct regarding pages has had standards roughly similar to that of the Catholic Church regarding priests and altar boys.

It's sick, because kids this age are not quite children, not quite adults, without experience or proper judgement to guide them through predatory advances from adults two and three times their age--adults who hypothetically serve as model citizens. And, legally, they're minors. For every Congressman Foley who leaps well beyond the bounds of discretion and CYA ambiguity, there are nine or ten members who behave inappropriately to pages in a manner that would get them arrested should they say, be high school athletic coaches. And for every one of the latter, there are nine or ten members who openly ogle the female pages, making comments only to other members. And then beyond that, there are other members who may not gossip about the pages, but certainly feel free to think lewd thoughts because a significant number of the people around them are doing so.

I wouldn't let my daughter be a page.

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