Monday, October 02, 2006

Foleygate and Homophobia

I'm a little uneasy about Foleygate. I'm glad to see a Republican congressman go down, and I'm more than glad to see it threaten the Republican leadership. What I'm uneasy about is the element of homophobia in the scandal.

I'm not, emphatically not, saying it's homophobic to be appalled by Foley and his enablers. Underage is underage, whatever the gender. What makes me uneasy is that the magnitude of the scandal--the extent to which it ultimately hurts Republicans, and helps Democrats--depends, at least in part, on homophobia.

Yes, it would still be a scandal if the pages had been underage girls. I don't think it would be nearly as damaging a scandal. The fact that it's boys makes it a whole lot worse for a lot of the Republicans' core supporters--and that's what makes it damaging (let's face it: a scandal that only offends liberals or Democrats has no impact at all). There's a lovely poetic justice in the party of institutional homophobia losing support because of its hypocrisy on the issue, but the reality is that we would be gaining from the bigotry of their supporters. And yes, that makes me uneasy.

Thinking about Foleygate, I realized that I tend to have a gut-level 'is it good for the Jews?' kind of response to any news involving homosexuality. It seems to me that this story is not good for the metaphorical Jews. Some people are going to take it as justification for their prejudices, as reinforcing the 'predatory homosexual' stereotype. If that happens, then I'm not sure the political gain is really worth it.

So, yeah, I'll be disgusted with the behavior of Foley and (even more) the people who covered for him; I'll be glad if and when some other Republicans go down to defeat because of it. I just can't bring myself to be thrilled about the whole thing.

[That's all, folks]